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Tag:Nebraska
Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:54 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: USC


Posted by Bryan Fischer


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at USC.

Spring Practice Starts: Wednesday, March 6.

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14.

Returning Starters: Nine on offense, eight on defense and both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Dealing with expectations.

USC safety T.J. McDonald and quarterback Matt Barkley are easy to tell apart if you see them walking around Heritage Hall or roaming around the Coliseum but they could not be more alike on paper after a remarkable run to close out last season. Both are captains, suit up in the cardinal and gold wearing number seven, each runs half the team and, most importantly to the Trojans in 2012, Barkley and McDonald announced they would return to school for their senior seasons on back-to-back days in late December. After two years without a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, the message both talked about was so clear that it's become the program's unofficial motto as they head into spring practice: unfinished business.

In many ways, this is about where everybody expects USC to be year-in and year-out given the program's history. A No. 6 ranking in the AP Poll to close out 2011 and, with 19 starters returning and a favorable schedule, expectations are running high for the first time since Lane Kiffin took over in Los Angeles.

"I really don't think it's expectations as much as it is being free - we kind of feel like we're being let out of prison," Kiffin said. "It's normal now. It's refreshing not to have the negative distractions. People will talk about expectations and all of that but the good thing is we have practice at dealing with that from our time here before."

USC will likely end up as the preseason No. 1 or No. 2 team in the country and despite scholarship limitations, will bring in ninth-ranked recruiting class with several five-star playmakers to supplement the group that will head out to Howard Jones field. It may be a return to normal with the national spotlight once again on Troy and Heisman candidate Barkley but for this group, it is something new. While the media will certainly be swarming like they did in the good old days and accolades and praise will come early and often, it's worth remembering that from the seniors to the freshman, this team hasn't faced anything like these expectations before. Will they play too loose or be wound too tight? It's something to keep tabs on.

"This is all about going out and preparing really well and practicing hard," Kiffin added. "It has been very refreshing to not deal with so much negativity and distractions, some of which was based on me and some on the sanctions."

2. New staff and new look.

For the first time in the Kiffin-era, the still youthful head coach has had to deal with some staff turnover. While the big stage the program provides has attracted more than it's fair share of coaches looking to boost their resume, the fact that two coaches left so close to spring practice definitely added a question mark or two to the team's outlook. Scottie Hazelton will take over as linebackers coach and was a surprise pick by many but he brings a solid resume that includes being the defensive coordinator at North Dakota State last season as they won the FCS national championship. It's not a flashy hire by any means and it will be interesting to see how Hazelton deals with the level of competition taking a leap but luckily for him he'll have most of last year's linebacking corps back.

USC hasn't had a full-time secondary coach since right before the 2011 season following the sudden departure of Willie Mack Garza due to NCAA issues. Kiffin took his time in landing a replacement but lured Marvin Sanders out West after he had just taken over as FAU's defensive coordinator. Mostly known for his time as Nebraska's secondary coach, Sanders has coached several top NFL draft picks and contributed to some very good Cornhuskers defenses. He'll take over a group that needs some development but is among the deepest on the team, especially at safety.

"It's going to be refreshing to have a spring with all these guys in place," Kiffin said. "There will be some growing pains but we'll be rolling by the time we get to the fall."

The final hire might have drawn the most press given new receivers coach Tee Martin's place in Tennessee lore. Though his group dealt with drops in his final season at Kentucky, Martin is known for being a good recruiter and helped turn Randall Cobb into an All-American the year before. He'll have the best group of wide receivers in the country to work with this spring, led by All-Americans Robert Woods and Marqise Lee to go along with former five-star George Farmer.

3. Line depth.

The biggest question marks surrounding the Trojans are centered on the trenches. Four of the five offensive linemen return but replacing a top three NFL Draft pick in Matt Kalil will be not be easy despite the unit becoming the biggest surprise of the team last year. The interior of the line is the strength with Marcus Martin and John Martinez solid at the guard spots and All-American candidate Khaled Holmes leading the way at center. Kevin Graf will get first shot at replacing Kaili at left tackle while Aundrey Walker will be on the other side. Both played those positions in high school and, with several starts under their belt already, should ease some concerns. Beyond that though, and depth is still an issue until the fall.

The outlook at defensive line is not so rosy, with three starters gone and the Pac-12 leader in sacks impressing everybody at the NFL Combine. Pencil in Wes Horton and Devon Kennard at the end spot but depth behind them and who takes over at tackle will be the reason Ed Orgeron is up late at night (and not just the Red Bull). Those inside the program expect a lot out of sophomore George Uko.

"I'm really looking at seeing how well these tackles, Aundrey and Kevin do," Kiffin said. "I also really want to seeing the continued development of our defense with so much experience coming back and with two new coaches. I really want to be a dominant defensive team like (USC in) '02 or '03. Big five turnover or seven sack games, the type where you have just a suffocating defense."

If the Trojans are going to live up to expectations, figuring things out along the lines will be paramount this spring.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:49 pm
 

Nebraska wants brains, BRAINS!

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Nebraska's athletics department will be teaming up a new lab located on the east side of Lincoln's Memorial Stadium. The school's Board of Regents unanimously approved the $5 million project on Friday, and the new lab will open in 2013.

Essentially, what Nebraska is looking to do is to study the effects of head injuries on the brains of athletes. Since my brain is only capable of discussing football-related information (and even that's debatable), I'll just quote the Omaha World-Herald's story to give you the details of the study.
On average, [developmental psychologist Dennis] Molfese said, a college football team suffers 20 to 22 significant head injuries each season. The 12 football teams in the Big Ten thus would create a pool of more than 240 student-athletes to study.

Molfese hopes to obtain baseline pictures of incoming athletes' brains to examine how they change through injury and recovery. He envisions developing iPad applications to diagnose concussions on the field. He wants to study athletes' brain patterns before and after a performance.

Molfese said the Committee on Institutional Cooperation — the Big Ten's academic arm — has received inquiries from the Ivy League, Pac-12 and other conferences about joining the effort. 
So not only could this study help football teams identify concussions faster, it could also help us understand the effects concussions and head injuries have on the brain.

Given what we've only just begun learning about concussions and their long-term effects, the more information that scientists, coaches and players can have at their disposal, the better off everybody is.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 2:27 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 2:33 pm
 

Pinkel: "No changes" to approach as SEC beckons

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We learned recently that Missouri has plenty of changes in store for their move to the SEC--higher ticket prices, new uniforms and helmets, even fielding a national No. 1 recruit. But in terms of their practical philosophy, both on the field and on the recruiting trail, Gary Pinkel says the Tigers are going to look the same way they have since his arrival in 2001.

"What we're going to do is do what we do and recruit the same players we recruit," Pinkel said in an extensive Q&A published Sunday in the Columbia Daily-Tribune. "Our recruiting evaluation is no different than what we did in the Big 12. We have our offensive and defensive schemes, and we'll do what we do there. For us, there's really no changes there."

Pinkel did say that the team's recruiting "areas" and "infrastructure" have "changed a little bit," but he added that despite the Dorial Green-Beckham breakthrough, the Tigers are pursuing the same kinds of players they've always pursued.

"You know, Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska and those people were pretty good teams. They've just got more of them (in the SEC)," he said. "It's still about blocking and tackling. And the good news is our program is still the same. We just do what we do."

Pinkel saved his most extensive remarks, however, for the switch on Missouri's helmet from the more traditional block M to the newer Missouri Tiger head--a move he said he's personally "gotten some emails" about in opposition to the switch. But Pinkel said it was a necessary move from a branding standpoint.

The truth is this — and it's all marketing Nike has done — but we have facts for the University of Missouri and not just football, but our brand is Mizzou and that Tiger head. When people see that Tiger head they know there's only one like that in the world. And it's ours. And there's only one Mizzou in the world. 

That being said, on ESPN you can have Oklahoma's helmet up there and our M helmet and when you flash by it, a lot of people won't know who that is. Most people if they glanced at it probably thinks it's Michigan. Even though Michigan doesn't have an M on their helmets, that's what they'd think.
The Wolverines are flattered, Gary. Of course, shifting to an emphasis on the Tiger just as you enter a league with two other sets of Tigers already might create some of the same issues. But who are we to argue with Nike's army of professional marketers?

(Seriously, we aren't going to on this one. That new helmet is an improvement and we don't doubt Pinkel at all that casual fans might mistake the Mizzou M for a Michigan one. Not every tradition has to be maintained, especially when it "only" dates to 1971. Carry on, Gary.)

For more Mizzou football, follow Dave Matter's CBSSports.com Missouri RapidReports. 

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:15 pm
Edited on: March 2, 2012 4:22 pm
 

Terry Joseph is seventh assistant to leave Vols

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's March 2, and even after February had an extra day in it this year, Tennessee is somehow still hemorrhaging assistant coaches.

According to a report from Tennessee Rivals affiliate Volquest.com and confirmed by CBSSports.com's Bruce Feldman, Vol defensive backs coach (and recruiting coordinator) Terry Joseph has resigned to accept the same position at Nebraska. The Huskers' secondary coaching position came open when LSU hired Bayou Bengal alum Corey Raymond away from Nebraska Feb. 27. Joseph served as a graduate assistant under Huskers head coach Bo Pelini during Pelini's tenure as defensive coordinator at (you guessed it) LSU.

Joseph becomes the seventh Volunteer assistant to depart Derek Dooley's struggling program this offseason, with his decision ensuring that Dooley will enter the 2012 season with an entirely new defensive staff. The only holdovers from the Vols' 2011 staff will be offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and current wide receivers coach Darin Hinshaw. With Hinshaw having moved to the receivers' role after coaching quarterbacks last season, not one position on the Vol depth chart will be coached by the same position coach as in 2011.

On the one hand, Joseph's individual departure isn't that big a deal; it comes too late to make any impact on the 2012 recruiting class, but early enough that Dooley should be able to repair the damage both in terms of the 2013 class and in finding someone worthwhile to coach DB's before the 2012 season.

On the other, every shred of stability Dooley could hang onto in a program that's been reeling ever since its season-ending defeat at Kentucky is a huge help, and losing seven assistants in a matter of months -- many of them in moves there's no way other to describe other than "lateral" -- not only erodes that stability, it creates the image of a program that's unstable enough to have its head coach dismissed if things don't turn around.

That image, in turn, does make the program more unstable. Dooley still has plenty going for him, but the lack of confidence shown in him and his program by his now-former assistants has made what already shaped up as a make-or-break season that much more difficult. If there's a coach in the SEC in more dire need of a positive spring camp, we haven't seen him.

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Posted on: March 2, 2012 11:58 am
 

Spring Practice Primer: Nebraska



Posted by Tom Fornelli


Spring football is in the air, and with our Spring Practice Primers the Eye On College Football Blog gets you up to speed on what to look for on campuses around the country this spring. Today we look at Nebraska.

Spring Practice Starts: Sunday, March 4

Spring Game: Saturday, April 14

Returning Starters: Seven on offense, seven on defense, both specialists.

Three Things To Watch For:

1. Finding replacements on defense. The Cornhuskers may have seven starters returning on the defensive side of the ball, but there are also four pretty big departures that need to be replaced. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, linebacker Lavonte David and defensive tackle Jared Crick are all gone. That's one key player on each level of the defense and none will be easy to replace. Though having Cameron Meredith on the defensive line will make the loss of Crick easier to absorb. That being said, Dennard and David were two of the best defenders in the Big Ten last season. It's not easy to just plug in new playmakers of that caliber, and as if the job wasn't hard enough, Nebraska will also be breaking in a new defensive coordinator this season. John Papuchis was promoted to defensive coordinator after Carl Pelini left to take the head coaching job at Florida Atlantic.

2. Rediscovering the T-Magic. Taylor Martinez's first two seasons as Nebraska's quarterback have been a bit of a roller coaster. He was able to stay healthy last year, but he also completed only 56% of his passes, which was actually lower than the 59% he completed as a freshman. Martinez's yards per attempt went down over a full yard as well. Some of this was likely due to it being Martinez's first year in Tim Beck's system, and Nebraska is hoping Martinez will improve in his second season under Beck. In fact, if Nebraska wants to make a serious run at a Big Ten championship in 2011, they'll need him to. So it's important for Martinez to have a strong spring and make sure that the Cornhuskers head into the summer with a clear cut leader at the quarterback position.

3. Giving Burkhead a breather. Rex Burkhead had a great season for Nebraska in 2011, rushing for 1,357 yards and 15 touchdowns en route to making the All-Conference team. While there's no reason to believe Burkhead won't have another solid season in 2012, Nebraska would be better served to find a bit more depth at running back to keep Burkhead fresh. In Nebraska's first 8 games, Burkhead averaged 110.25 yards per game, but that number dropped to 95 yards per game over Nebraska's final five contests. The Huskers went 2-3 in those games. So if backs like Ameer Abdullah and Aaron Green can show that they're capable of taking some carries this spring, it could go a long way in the fall.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 2:11 pm
 

'12 College Football Hall of Fame ballot released

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The National Football Foundation has released the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame ballot, the pool of 76 former players and eight coaches that will make up the 2012 Hall of Fame class. And not surprisingly, there's several names on the ballot that even a cursory glance would force a That guy isn't in yet? double-take. 

Here's eight of them from our perspective, acknowledging that the Eye on CFB team are too young to have gotten a first-hand look at greats like Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper or Michigan State wide receiver-turned-baseball legend Kirk Gibson. With that disclaimer out of the way, the first eight names we'd tick off on our ballot, in alphabetical order:

Trev Alberts, LB, NebraskaA pulverizing force off the edge for the Huskers in the early '90s, Alberts won the 1993 Butkus and Big 8 Defensive Player of the Year Honors. 

Tommy Frazier, QB, NebraskaJust the best option quarterback we've ever seen who just so happened to lead the Huskers to back-to-back national championships. We wouldn't bother to rank all 76 players 1-76, but if we did, we feel comfortable saying we'd put Frazier at No. 1.

Raghib Ismail, WR/KR, Notre DameOne of the game's true superstars in the late '80s and 1990, "The Rocket"'s highlight-reel returns helped the Irish to the 1990 national title and earned him two-time All-American honors, the Walter Camp Award, and a runner-up finish in the '90 Heisman balloting.

Jimmy Johnson, head coach, Miami, Oklahoma State: Howard Schnellenberger put the Hurricanes on the map, but it was Johnson who made Miami Miami--arguably the most influential college football program in Division I from Johnson's hire in 1984 through their 2001 upset loss to Ohio State in the BCA championship.

Jonathan Ogden, OT, UCLAWon the 1995 Outland, but awards and numbers don't illustrate how Ogden became -- along with the next entry on this list -- the sport's prototype offensive tackle.

Orlando Pace, OT, Ohio StateIt actually makes sense that Pace hasn't been elected yet -- this is his first year on the ballot -- but that really shouldn't remain the case long for the game's only two-time Lombardi Trophy winner.

Vinny Testaverde, QB, MiamiYes, he was an NFL bust, and yes, he flopped in the de facto 1987 national title game vs. Penn State. But that shouldn't overshadow an explosive, thrilling career for the 'Canes that saw him throw for 6,058 yards and win the 1987 Heisman. 

Derrick Thomas, LB, AlabamaHow the FBS's all-time record-holder for sacks in a season -- Thomas had a mind-blowing 27 in 1988, the year he won the Butkus Award -- still isn't in the Hall is a mystery worthy of that Sherlock Holmes guy.

Who else should get a nod? Let us know in the comments or our Facebook page. For a look at the 2011 class -- which, remember, did not include Frazier, Alberts, Thomas, Ismail, or Ogden -- click here.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: March 22, 2012 2:58 pm
 

Spring Practice Dates

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Hard to believe but it is indeed time for Spring Practice to begin. It was not too long ago that Alabama hoisted up the crystal ball in New Orleans but as of now, all 120 FBS teams are equal with a 0-0 record and only themselves to face. Here's a list of notable dates for every school this spring and, as they become available on the blog, links to Spring Practice Primers (click here to see them all). Be sure and check out Dennis Dodd's preseason top 25 as well.

Spring Practice Dates
ACC First Practice Spring Game
Boston College February 18
Spring Primer 
March 31
Clemson March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Duke February 22
Spring Primer 
March 31
Florida State March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Georgia Tech March 26 April 20
Maryland March 10
Spring Primer 
April 21
Miami March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
North Carolina March 14
Spring Primer 
April 14
N.C. State March 23 April 21
Virginia March 19
Spring Primer 
April 14
Virginia Tech March 28 April 21
Wake Forest March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Big East First Practice Spring Game
Cincinnati March 1
Spring Primer 
April 14
Louisville March 21 April 14
Pittsburgh March 15
Spring Primer 
April 14
Rutgers March 27 April 28
Syracuse March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
Connecticut March 20
Spring Primer 
April 21
South Florida March 21 April 2, April 9
Big Ten First Practice Spring Game
Illinois March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Indiana March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Iowa March 24 April 14
Michigan March 17 April 14
Michigan State March 27 April 28
Minnesota March 24 April 21
Nebraska March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Northwestern March 3
Spring Primer 
April 14
Ohio State March 28 April 21
Penn State March 26 April 21
Purdue March 7
Spring Primer 
April 14
Wisconsin March 22 April 28
Big 12 First Practice Spring Game
Baylor March 19 April 14
Iowa State March 20 April 14
Kansas March 27 April 28
Kansas State April 4 April 28
Oklahoma March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oklahoma State March 12 April 21
TCU February 25
Spring Primer 
April 5
Texas February 23
Spring Primer
April 1
Texas Tech February 17
Spring Primer
March 24
West Virginia March 11 April 21
Pac-12 First Practice Spring Game
Arizona March 5
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arizona State March 13 April 21
California March 13 None
Colorado March 10
Spring Primer 
April 14
Oregon April 3 April 28
Oregon State April 3 April 28
Stanford March 27
Spring Primer
April 14
UCLA April 3 May 5
USC March 6 April 14
Utah March 21 April 21
Washington April 2 April 28
Washington State March 22 April 21
SEC First Practice Spring Game
Alabama March 9
Spring Primer 
April 14
Arkansas March 14 April 21
Auburn March 21 April 14
Florida
March 14 April 7
Georgia March 20 April 14
Kentucky March 21 April 21
LSU March 1
Spring Primer 
March 31
Mississippi State March 21 April 20
Ole Miss March 23 April 21
Missouri March 6
Spring Primer 
April 14
South Carolina March 12 April 14
Tennessee March 26 April 21
Texas A&M March 31 April 28
Vanderbilt March 16 April 14
Others First Practice Spring Game
Notre Dame March 21 April 21
Boise State March 12
Spring Primer 
April 14
BYU March 5 March 30
Air Force February 24 None
Army February 13 March 9
Navy March 19 April 14

Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:25 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:26 am
 

Reports: Kiffin makes two staff hires

Posted by Bryan Fischer

With Spring Practice only a few weeks away, USC head coach Lane Kiffin had three open coaching spots and little time to fill them. As of Sunday, he had filled two of the spots, hiring North Dakota State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton to coach linebackers and Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator Marvin Sanders to coach defensive backs, according to multiple reports including the LA Times.

The pair replace Joe Barry, who left to coach linebackers for the San Diego Chargers, and fill a void left after Willie Mack Garza resigned as the secondary coach right before the 2011 season.

Hazelton spent six years with the Bison, the last two coordinating the defense and won the FCS championship last season. Sanders spent only two months at Florida Atlantic, following Carl Pelini from Nebraska where he served as defensive backs coach for four seasons and sent several players to NFL. In addition to his stop in Lincoln, Sanders also served as defensive coordinator for two seasons at North Carolina.

The school has not officially confirmed the hires but numerous recruits were told during USC's Junior Day on Sunday.

The Trojans begin spring practice on March 6th. Kiffin still has to find a replacement for wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore, who left to take the same position with the Oakland Raiders.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com