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Posts Tagged ‘Western Kentucky’

U.S.C. Error Shows Need for Injury Reports

Earlier this week, U.S.C. announced that Scott Wolf, who covers Trojans’ athletics for the L.A. Daily News, was barred from attending two weeks of practice and would not be credentialed for U.S.C.’s home game against California on Sept. 22. Why? Because Wolf, doing his job, reported on an injury: Andre Hedari, per Wolf, will miss about three weeks to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. U.S.C. didn’t like that; U.S.C., like many others, has a policy that forbids media members from reporting “on strategy or injuries that are observed during the course of watching that practice or result from that practice.”

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    ‘Toppers Can Win, Even in (Lopsided) Defeat

    I love what Willie Taggart has achieved over two-plus years at Western Kentucky, but I don’t love it that much – you know, enough to pick Taggart and the Hilltoppers to give Alabama much of a challenge on Saturday afternoon. But could it happen? Could Western Kentucky come up and bite the Crimson Tide in the same way it roughhoused with Kentucky for 60 minutes last September, eventually losing, 14-3, but raising the question of whether or not the Wildcats were actually part of the SEC? There’s a chance, seeing that the Hilltoppers did hang with L.S.U. for a half last November.

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      A Few Talking Points for Confident Teams

      Nick Saban is tired of everyone loving his team. No, not just tired – Saban is upset, and you won’t like Nick Saban when he’s upset, as beat reporters from Toledo to East Lansing to Baton Rouge to Miami to Tuscaloosa can attest. Said Saban on Wednesday, upon being asked how much time his backups might see in Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, “when you people start writing stuff about people that we’re playing that doesn’t give them the proper respect, that’s not fair. It’s not fair to them, to their players who work hard. It’s not fair to our players, who need to respect them.” And then he got upset.

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        No. 85: Western Kentucky

        Sometime between questioning Kentucky’s manhood and losing by 30 points at home to Indiana State, the Hilltoppers learned how to play a little football. No, that’s not right. Western Kentucky’s growth didn’t occur overnight, all of a sudden, as a result of one momentum-changing win or loss. The program’s growth dates back to its first practice under Willie Taggart more than two years ago – exact date: March, 23, 2010 – and last year’s torrid finish merely represents the end result of many days and weeks in search of a winning formula. Taggart and the Hilltoppers have found the key. It goes a little something like this: run the football. That’s it. Gloriously simple, this, and wonderfully easy to follow. Just run, eroding away at the will of the opposition while keeping your defense off the field. While Sun Belt foes like Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette made noise by reinventing the wheel, W.K.U. took a page out of a decades-old playbook. Beauty points don’t matter when you’ve lost 32 of your last 36 games.

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          Sun Belt Offenses Catch Up With Troy

          While the underdog portion of the Sun Belt was moving forward, Troy was standing still. I don’t mean this in the big picture, but in one specific category: totals plays. Consider this:

          –Troy led the Sun Belt in total plays run from scrimmage in each year from 2007-10. The Trojans averaged 980.3 plays per season, running at least 972 plays each year with a high of 997 plays in 2010.

          –The Trojans’ offense was on the field for 867 plays last fall, which tied Florida International for fifth-most in the Sun Belt. Arkansas State led the way with 1,016 plays, followed by Louisiana-Monroe with 939 plays, Middle Tennessee with 938 plays and Louisiana-Lafayette with 893 plays.

          –And the Trojans weren’t doing more with less. Last year’s offense averaged 5.3 yards per play, a program-low since 2007. Troy averaged 5.9 yards per play in 2010; 6.5 yards per play in 2009. Both totals paced the conference. Two teams, Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette, tied for the S.B.C. lead at 5.7 yards per play last fall.

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            Idaho, N.M.S.U. Hope Sun Belt Moves West

            If Idaho and New Mexico State wish to remain part of the F.B.S. — and here’s guessing they do — each could choose to attempt to make a go of things as an Independent. There are two issues with dropping any conference affiliation: one, the Vandals and Aggies would need to find seven games to replace the conference games lost with the WAC’s disintegration; and two, the two schools would need to find a way to recoup the lost conference revenue. As an Independent, one way for the Vandals and Aggies to keep the money flowing into their respective athletic departments is to play seven or eight road games against B.C.S. conference competition every season. Is that a tenable solution for two programs that have failed to win with any consistency since joining the WAC in 2005 — and for the decades prior to joining the league?

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              Planning Ahead With a Smaller Bowl Slate

              The cart has been put seven months and six wins ahead of the horse. As announced on Wednesday, Army is set to participate in this year’s Military Bowl — that’s on Dec. 27 — if it can reach, you know, bowl eligibility. If the Cadets make it that far, they’d be pitted against a squad from the A.C.C., should that league feature enough bowl eligible teams. By the way, Army has participated in five bowl games in its history, and only one since 1997. At least the Armed Forces Bowl has a fall-back plan, I guess. Now, Army isn’t the only team that has locked itself in for a bowl bid before the games have even been played; as on in gridiron, Navy is already well ahead of the Cadets.

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                Is S. Alabama Provisional or Reclassifying?

                What’s the story with South Alabama? Are the Jaguars in the F.B.S., the F.C.S. or floating in the ether between both levels? For me, the answer would mean the difference between 123 previews and 124 — a drop in the bucket in terms of overall word count, but a fairly important distinction nonetheless, if only for my own mental sanity. Here’s the presumption: Texas State, Texas-San Antonio and Massachusetts are full-fledged members of the F.B.S. after spending last season on the F.C.S. level; South Alabama is a “provisional” member. That’s not the case. The N.C.A.A. provides the details.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.