Posted on: November 12, 2011 9:40 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
MICHIGAN WON: The rematch of last year's incredible 67-65 slugfest failed to deliver this year, as No. 24 Michigan coasted to a 31-14 victory over listless Illinois. Denard Robinson was hampered by a bruised wrist, so Fitzgerald Toussaint was a workhorse in response; Toussaint tallied 192 yards on 27 carries for the day.
WHY MICHIGAN WON: The Wolverines held A.J. Jenkins to eight catches for 103 yards and no touchdowns. Now, to the average observer, a defense does not "hold" a single receiver to those types of numbers and call it a success, but also consider that Jenkins was thrown to 20 times by Nathan Scheelhaase. So, on throws to arguably the best WR in the Big Ten, Scheelhaase's passing numbers were 8-20 for 103 yards and no scores. That's a major victory for the Michigan secondary.
WHEN MICHIGAN WON: When Jason Ford scored on a two-yard rush to bring Illinois within 24-14. The problem wasn't Illinois putting points on the board, of course, it's how long it took; the Illini drive took 6:46 off the clock, and when there's under 10 minutes on the clock when the drive starts, that's a recipe for an insufficient comeback.
WHAT MICHIGAN WON: Michigan's division title hopes are, barring Michigan State losses to both Indiana and Northwestern, over. So that's a bummer for the weekend even with this victory. But Devin Gardner at least got a great deal of snaps in relief of Robinson, and while he's clearly no Denard, he was at least serviceable. That kind of experience should be valuable down the road.
WHAT ILLINOIS LOST: Whatever mojo Illinois had at the beginning of the year is all gone. This doesn't even look like the same group of players that was out there taking the fight to Arizona State back in September. It's safe to say that even despite starting the year 6-0, Ron Zook's seat is on fire. How much more embarrassment can the Illinois program take?
THAT WAS CRAZY: Go ahead, try to wrap your mind around a Junior Hemingway catch going for -71 yards and a touchdown. Just sit and think about how that could happen. You'll be contemplating alternate universes, time warps, and reversed global polarity within one minute flat. It's really quite a thing to imagine.
Posted on: May 31, 2011 1:08 pm
Edited on: June 3, 2011 4:14 pm
By the Eye on College Football bloggers
To celebrate the (now fewer than) 100 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.
70. AGENT X, compliance disaster in-waiting, Potentially Everywhere. He's out there right now. Lurking. Ready to provide student-athletes with extra benefits at a moment's notice. "He" is Agent X, the person keeping compliance officers and athletic directors up at night. 2010 saw Agent X burst on the scene as infractions cases at USC, North Carolina and Auburn dominated the headlines. X could be a number of people, from a runner looking to steer kids to a school to an agent hoping to sign players when they eventually head to the NFL to an uncle looking to make a quick buck of the football talents of a kid.
From high school 7-on-7 tournaments to college campuses, the NCAA has taken notice of Agent X as well. They were out in the spring trying to learn more about runners' methods and a few of the major players. Compliance seminars have talked about ways to spot the tell-tale signs. USC, who was impacted by shady third parties as much as any school, hosted a summit designed to come up with way to combat the problem. Agent X is still out there though--and highly liable to pop up in a headline or two sometime, somewhere over the next few months. -- BF
69. DABO SWINNEY. head coach, Clemson. One of the reasons Swinney was promoted to head coach after Tommy Bowden's mid-season exit in 2008 was his reputation as a stellar recruiter. We saw those skills in action this past February, as the Tigers brought in multiple huge late commitments on Signing Day--enough to bring their class rank all the way up into the Top 10. It always takes a few seasons for a new coach to make the program his own, and this upcoming season could be a pivotal one for Swinney. After 2010's 6-7 record, Swinney swiftly made changes on the coaching staff, most notably bringing in Tulsa offensive coordinator Chad Morris. Morris' fast-paced productive offense hopefully will alter last season's offensive struggles, but much of that will also depend on first-year starting quarterback Tajh Boyd.
The greatest challenge for Swinney in the upcoming season (or two) will be the personnel decisions with so much highly-rated talent coming into Death Valley. With so many players from the ACC being selected in the NFL Draft, the conference has come under fire in recent years for not being able to make the most of their talent while in school. Fans have drooled over Swinney's last two classes, and there will not be an acceptable excuse for another losing season. Swinney was fast to act after 2010 finished, now his decisions will either pay off or crash and burn. At 41, Swinney has a long career ahead of him in college football, but his length of time at Clemson could depend on how the next two to three seasons play out. -- CP
68. JARED CRICK, defensive tackle, Nebraska. It's pretty much impossible to win in a physical conference like the Big Ten without superior line play, so Jared Crick's decision to come back to Nebraska for his senior season bodes very well for the Huskers ... and very poorly for their opponents. Crick, a 6'6", 285-pound beast from Cozad, NE, was second in the Big 12 in sacks and fifth in tackles for loss--both ridiculous numbers for a defensive tackle. He's going to be drawing constant double-teams this season as a result, so look for his teammates up front to have even more opportunities to make plays than usual.
Of course, it's impossible to be a standout defensive tackle at Nebraska and not invite comparisons to Ndamukong Suh, Crick's former teammate. Both are terrifyingly powerful and athletic, and while Crick's production hasn't met Suh's level yet, Suh's junior stats (19 TFL, 7.5 sacks) are only marginally better than Crick's (14.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks). Crick may not meet Suh's senior-year level of performance this season, but that's really only another way of saying he probably won't be a Heisman finalist. Probably. He's a mortal lock for preseason first-team All-Big Ten, at least, and where he goes from there is up to him. -- AJ
67. CASEY PACHALL, quarterback, TCU. There was supposed to be a long, drawn-out battle to replace TCU's departiing quarterback and leader, Andy Dalton. After a few weeks of spring ball however, it was clear that the 6-foot-4, 210-pound Pachall would be the Horned Frogs signal-caller this season. With a strong arm and the ability to move around the pocket, the redshirt sophomore has more physical tools than Dalton did when he became the starter.
The redshirt year is important as it allowed Pachall to learn for a year behind Dalton and then receive some game action as the backup last season. Pachall has just nine career pass attempts -- which has to give you pause if you're a TCU fan -- but head coach Gary Patterson has raved about his performance as much as the typically understated coach can. It will be tough to fill Dalton's shoes after he won 42 games, but TCU believes Pachall will be able to fill them admirably as the school transitions from the Mountain West to the Big East. -- BF
66. 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11, day of remembrance. The second Saturday of the 2011 season won't be just another college football Saturday. It will be the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Every generation has that one moment in their history they remember for the rest of their lives -- the Kennedy assassination, John Lennon's death, the Challenger explosion -- and while the players on the field this fall were anywhere between the ages of 8 and 13 on that day, they no doubt remember exactly where they were when they first found out about the World Trade Center or the Pentagon.
Much like in 2001, when sports like football and baseball helped restore a sense of normalcy to life in this country, this day's college football will help show how the United States has healed. Obviously much has changed since then, but on this particular Saturday, when we take the time to remember that tragic day and mourn all the lives that were lost, we'll also be able to turn on our televisions and watch a game -- together -- that was played long before 9/11 and will be played for a long time after. -- TF
While Daniel Thomas left some big shoes to fill, the Wildcats offense is one that should suit Brown. Bill Snyder loves to run the football and Brown will get plenty of chances to show the Big 12 why he was such a highly rated recruit out of high school. If he can live up to the stars that were attached to his name, Brown could be the difference between another seven-win season in Manhattan or a New Year's Day bowl. -- TF
64. ZACH COLLAROS, quarterback, Cincinnati. When Collaros was the backup quarterback behind Tony Pike, Bearcats fans got to see glimpses of a talented gun-slinger who they believed could continue the success they had experienced under Brian Kelly. And when Collaros finally got the starting job for himself in 2010 under first-year coach Butch Jones, he put together a 2,902-yard, 26-touchdown campaign--good enough to lead the Big East in both categories. Unfortunately for Collaros and Jones, those numbers will not be what is remembered from last season. Instead, Bearcats fans are still on edge from the 4-8 campaign that led to the program's first bowlless season since 2005.
But Collaros shoulders just as much of the blame for last season's struggles as anyone else on the roster. In addition to leading the conference in touchdowns, he also led the conference in interceptions. There was a lot of attention on the struggles of the Bearcats' defense (which allowed 28 points per game), but as the senior starting quarterback of this team the responsibility for Cincinnati's return to the top of the conference will fall on Collaros. He'll have the talent around him to put up big numbers once again (top receiver D.J. Woods returns, and former Tennessee commit Kenbrell Thompkins is now eligible), but a restless fan base will only care about the numbers in the win column in 2011. -- CP
63. STEVE KRAGTHORPE, offensive coordinator, LSU. The mind still boggles: in 2009, just two years removed from a national title and with an attack featuring multiple blue-chip recruits and future draft picks, the Bayou Bengal offense finished dead last in the SEC in total offense. Last. 12th. Sub-Vanderbilt. With his job (quite understandably) on the line, now ex-LSU coordinator Gary Crowton led a revival last year that took the team's total offense ranking in-conference all the way up to ... 11th.
Exit Crowton. And enter Kragthorpe, who arrives on the job with as tricky -- and as pressure-packed -- an assignment as any new assistant in the country. He must streamline Crowton's overstuffed playbook. He must finally produce some consistency out of quarterback Jordan Jefferson, or make the highly-combustible transition to JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger. He must overhaul a two-minute offense that in recent years has given Chinese fire drills a bad name. In short, he must make the LSU offense something much, much closer to what the LSU offense ought to be ... and if he does, the Tigers' terrifyingly athletic defense should be capable of doing the rest on the road to Atlanta. -- JH
62. BYU'S TELEVISION CONTRACT, independence-driving document, BYU. Why did the Cougars make the unprecedented decision to go football-independent in the era of the superconference? Because whether it's in Portland, Oregon or Portland, Maine, there's one thing you'll be able to do in both cities next year: watch BYU. That's the promise of the school's new-found independence and a Mountain West-free media contract that allows unprecedented access to BYU sports across the country. Nearly 140 events will air in high definition on ESPN or the school's own channel BYUtv. The rest will be available online as well as iPads, Xboxes and cellphones.
It's a new era for the school that is one of the few with a true national following. Every football game will be televised and the Cougars will see more exposure than they ever had in the MWC There's still work to be done as school officials responsible look to expand the reach of BYUtv but the promise of Cougar fans being able to finally watch their team without hunting around TV Guide is near. You might have heard about "TV everywhere," but be prepared for BYU everywhere with the new contract. -- BF
61. DENARD ROBINSON, quarterback, Michigan. Denard Robinson hardly needs an introduction. The man known by millions of fans as "Shoelace" set college football afire last year, leading the Big Ten in rushing yardage and rolling up a ridiculous 4,272 yards of total offense--good enough for second in the nation (only Bryant Moniz of pass-wacky Hawaii outpaced him). Robinson's one-man show was a delight to watch, but therein lies the problem: football is not a sport for one-man shows, especially when that man is just 193 pounds. Robinson got dinged up multiple times last season, enough to take him out of some games early, and that hammering's not going to stop any time soon.
Enter, then, incoming head coach Brady Hoke, who quickly named Robinson his starting quarterback but now must find a way to keep Robinson healthy for the span of the season. A tandem with Tate Forcier worked well at times last year, but Forcier has transferred after academic and personal issues. Devin Gardner is still around, but is he good enough to reliably spell Robinson for a few series every week? If not, Robinson's likely going to spend a lot more time in the pocket, and Atlanta Falcons fans who remember Jim Mora Jr.'s experiments in turning Michael Vick into a pocket passer probably have hair standing up on the back of their necks at the thought. No, nobody likes to see the fastest man on the field get the football only to stand still. But nobody likes to see the fastest man on the field get rocked 20 times a game and struggle to get back up, either, and that's the quandary Michigan faces in 2011. -- AJ
The 100 will return here to Eye on CFB tomorrow. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91, 90-81, and 80-71. You can also keep up with the 100 by following us on Twitter.
Tags: ACC, Agent X, Andy Dalton, Atlanta Falcons, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bill Snyder, Brady Hoke, Brian Kelly, Bryant Moniz, Bryce Brown, Butch Jones, BYU, BYUtv, Casey Pachall, CBSSports.com College Football 100, Cincinnati, Clemson, D.J. Woods, Dabo Swinney, Daniel Thomas, Denard Robinson, Devin Gardner, Gary Patterson, Hawaii, Jared Crick, Jim Mora Jr., Kansas State, Kenbrell Thompkins, LSU, Michael Vick, Michigan, Mountain West, NCAA, Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska, NFL Draft, non-BCS, North Carolina, SEC, Steve Kragthorpe, Tajh Boyd, Tate Forcier, TCU, Tennessee, Tommy Bowden, Tony Pike, Tulsa, USC, Vanderbilt, Zach Collaros
Posted on: January 14, 2011 2:41 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Brady Hoke is the new head coach at Michigan (perhaps you've heard). Hoke hasn't filled out his entire staff yet, but one move he was expected to make was bringing his strength & conditioning coach from San Diego State ; being as that's the case, that means it's the end of the line for Michigan S&C coach Mike Barwis. The fact that QB Devin Gardner bid Barwis a farewell on Twitter means all that's left is the formality of an official announcement.
Now, there are now no more open head coaching opportunities in the FBS as we speak, and that means barring something weird happening, Rich Rodriguez will not be a FBS head coach for the 2011 season. He can spend the season with his family and/or making spot appearances on ESPN, and that's a fine way to pass a year or two between coaching gigs -- especially with the generous buyout Michigan gave him as part of the severance. Barwis didn't get the $2.5 million Rodriguez got, however, and it would be a surprise if he didn't actively pursue a different job for the coming season.
Therefore, the Rodriguez-Barwis connection and Michigan-Barwis connections are both effectively over, which means there is a high-level S&C coach available to anyone who wants one. And make no mistake, Barwis is still a high-level coach; his players at West Virginia under Rodriguez were fast, strong, and mean, as typified by fullback Owen Schmitt (the "runaway beer truck," as he was called by one announcer). Barwis is a new-school type of coach, emphasizing fast-twitch muscle development, agility, and endurance more than 40 times and basketball-sized biceps. In fact, he doesn't look like a typical old-school S&C coach: so thick-necked and bald that they usually look like thumbs with faces. I say that with love.
Bringing in a new S&C regime (which is to say: different methods, not just a different guy assigning the same workouts) along with a new coach has a track record of success; at Iowa , for one example, Kirk Ferentz hired Chris Doyle from Utah and made Doyle's intense workouts the centerpiece of Iowa's campaign to turn its fortunes around. The Hawkeyes were in a bowl by the third year and in the Top 10 by the fourth, and the fact that the turnaround was led by lightly-recruited players who ended up All-Americans like Bob Sanders , Robert Gallery , and Dallas Clark speaks volumes about Doyle's influence on the program's success. And while Barwis shouldn't promise he can make All-Americans out of walk-ons, he can point to Doyle's work at Iowa and his own at West Virginia as proof of what a fresh approach to strength and conditioning can do for a football program.
Of course, Barwis can and should expect to be asked why Michigan looked so physically unprepared -- especially on defense -- three years into the Rich Rodriguez era. But really, there's only so much an S&C coach can accomplish when the team has to continually throw out freshmen to play against juniors and seniors. Yes, a player typically sees the most improvement earliest in his time in a strength and conditioning program, and yes, there are diminishing returns by the fifth year. But diminishing returns or not, the aggregation of conditioning plus both in-game and practice experience had by a senior in any program is generally more than a freshman should be expected to overcome. That's more on Rich Rodriguez and Greg Robinson than anybody else, and when Barwis find a coach that agrees with that assessment and needs to make a hire at S&C, he'll probably have a job shortly thereafter.
Posted on: January 12, 2011 1:29 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 1:59 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The last time Michigan underwent a coaching transition, Ryan Mallett walked out the door towards stardom at Arkansas. And it's not looking much better for the Wolverines this go-round, either, with Denard Robinson notably non-committal in the wake of Michigan's Gator Bowl defeat and Tate Forcier not even enrolled in the school, as reported today by the Michigan Daily :
Forcier, a Sport Management major in the School of Kinesiology, was academically ineligible to play in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. on Jan. 1.With Jan. 25 as the final date to add classes at Michigan, there remains the possibility that Forcier will re-enroll. And after older brother Chris Forcier transferred out of Michigan several years ago only to be unable to find traction with any other programs, the family has said they're not interested in going the transfer route.
But that was before much of the rockiness of this season, when Forcier was beaten out for the starting job by Robinson in the spring, had his work ethic publicly criticized by teammate Troy Woolfolk (who was then, stunningly, praised for his actions by Rich Rodriguez ), watched Robinson become the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, and finally was forced to sit out the bowl game with academic issues. Considering that Forcier had been hailed as a true freshman savior just 12 months prior, Forcier's 2010 in Ann Arbor must have been a crushing disappointment.
With the expected arrival of West Coast offense coordinator Al Borges, Forcier could have an opportunity to earn back the Michigan job; Borges' pro-style attack seems much better suited to the more-accurate arm of Forcier than the dynamic legs of Robinson, who may not even bother to try to win the job in the first place. But a fresh start somewhere else may simply be too tempting for Forcier at this point, and if Robinson follows him out of town, redshirt freshman Devin Gardner will be the Wolverines' 2011 quarterback by default.
Gardner's got a ton of talent. But another year with a first-time starter at the controls -- the fourth straight for Michigan -- isn't what anyone in Ann Arbor would prefer.
UPDATE: Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon confirmed at Brady Hoke's introductory press conference that Forcier is not currently a member of the Wolverine program. It would appear that Forcier's time at Michigan is all but officially over.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 11:33 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Considering that Denard Robinson accounted for roughly 99% of the Michigan offense in the team's first three games, it's pretty hard to blame Michigan fans everywhere for holding their breath when Robinson went down during the first quarter against Bowling Green on Saturday. There probably isn't a single player more important to any team in the country.
If Michigan wants to compete for the Big Ten title this season, it needs Robinson. Tate Forcier and Devin Gardner may have filled in quite well in Robinson's absence on Saturday, but the rest of the Big Ten isn't Bowling Green. Which is why Wolverines fans can be relieved to know that Robinson is going to play against Indiana this Saturday as a few days of rest is all his knee needs to heal.
In fact, Michigan quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said Robinson could have come back into the game against Bowling Green had it actually been competitive in the second half. Instead Smith and Rich Rodriguez decided to take the cautious route, as both men know how important Robinson is to the team's success and don't want to risk an injury if they don't have to.
Which is something Rodriguez is also trying to preach to his quarterback.
"I wish he would have stepped out before he got hit," said Rodriguez, who said a few days of rest should be enough. "That was the first thing. Denard is such a competitive guy, he wants to score on every snap. You don't want to hinder him from that thought, because sometimes he can. But when a hit's inevitable and you're not going to get anymore yards, scoot out of bounds and go to the next play."
Not surprising to hear considering how Rodriguez's job is tied to Robinson's health as well. The last thing he needs is for Robinson to go down to an injury and then watch his team go 1-7 in conference play again this season like they did in 2009, because he won't survive it for a second year.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 1:48 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Denard Robinson is yet to return following his injury in the first quarter , and without him Michigan is having a bit more trouble against Bowling Green than they'd like. After taking a 21-0 lead following Robinson's injury the same Michigan defense that showed up over the last two weeks against Notre Dame and UMass returned for the Wolverines, giving up successive touchdown drives to Bowling Green.
Tate Forcier would come on for Devin Gardner -- who had originally replaced Robinson -- late in the second quarter and led the Wolverines on a touchdown drive to extend the lead to 28-14.
While Robinson's absence will get most of the attention in this game, the simple truth is that whether he's in the game or not, it's Michigan's defense that will have the most say in the outcome of this game. If they can show up in the second half and stop Bowling Green then this game is already over. If they don't, and keep playing the way they have been in recent weeks, well, then anything can happen.
In fact, Rich Rodriguez may be considering bringing Robinson back in for the second half if his knee isn't anything serious.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 12:44 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 12:45 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
After shaking the Bowling Green defense up to the tune of 188 yards (60 passing, 128 rushing) through half a quarter, Michigan quarterback and human highlight reel Denard Robinson shook himself up. Following a 46-yard run Robinson was tackled along the sideline and looked to have come down pretty hard on his knee.
He sat on the sideline in pain for a bit while being attended to by Michigan's trainers before eventually moving to the bench for further evaluation. Devin Gardner came on for Robinson and summarily led the Wolverines on another touchdown drive to give Michigan a 21-0 lead in the first quarter against Bowling Green.
There is no word on the severity of Robinson's injury, but given that the game already seems to be over, it wouldn't be all that shocking if Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines played it safe by keeping Robinson out for the rest of this game. Considering that Robinson is currently making his way to the Michigan locker room -- with a smile on his face -- odds are that's exactly what Rodriguez's plans are.
Updates on Robinson's status as we learn more.
Posted on: September 4, 2010 9:28 pm
Edited on: September 4, 2010 9:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Well, so much for Tate Forcier dismissing all those transfer rumors last month as nothing but that: rumors.
If you were watching Michigan beat Connecticut earlier on Saturday afternoon, you no doubt saw the shot of Forcier sitting on the sideline alone and with a towel over his head. No doubt pondering his future as he watched Denard Robinson light it up, and then, after seeing Robinson leave the game with an injury for a while, Devin Gardner getting the call to replace him.
It seems that Forcier has come to a conclusion on his future in Ann Arbor. More specifically, that there won't be one.
As Forcier walked off the field looking as if his team were on the losing end of their 30-10 victory he was approached by reporters who know doubt wanted to ask him about the game and his feelings. Forcier didn't even give them a chance to ask.
"All you need to know is I'm out," he told them.
Forcier then retreated to the locker room, and upon leaving he ignored autograph seekers, gave a few hugs, and walked off with his cell phone to his ear.
This isn't the most shocking development, as the signs have been there for a while. First, Forcier not having the Michigan wings on his helmet during practice, the rumors of his transfer, and then his demotion to third string on the depth chart. It wasn't as much a question of would he transfer, but when?
Of course, nothing is official yet, and this all could have just been an emotional reaction to a bad day for the sophomore quarterback. Still, i wouldn't expect to see Forcier standing on the sidelines at the Big House in the maize and blue ever again.