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Archive for May, 2009

kent state# 111- Kent State (written by SarCoog)

’08 Record: 4-8 (3-5 MAC)

Overview: Arguably there is no Division 1-A program with more of a futile recent history than the Golden Flashes (at least one with an extended history and not an upstart like FIU). In the past 22 seasons the Flashes have only finished one season with a winning record and their most recent success was a 6-6 finish in 2006 under current coach Doug Martin. Sadly that’s been the high watermark under Martin and the program has still yet to move out of the cellar of the MAC. This team has one of the best backs in the MAC: senior Eugene Jarvis (801 rushing yards, 4.9 yards/carry, 9 TD) who looks to carry the load for the offense. The diminutive (5-foot-5) Jarvis missed 4 games last year with a high ankle sprain and the team production suffered as a result. Also, the Flashes lose last year’s top receiver: Shawn Bayes, but return senior WR Phil Garner (17 receptions, 192 yards) and senior WR Derek McBryde (11 receptions, 142 yards). But the loss of QB Julian Edelman and his 3,190 yards of total offense from last year, will be the biggest blow. In the trenches though, they return 4 starters, which will complement a (hopefully) healthy Jarvis in the backfield. On the defensive side of the ball, things have been a struggle and last year they surrendered 30+ points a whopping eight times. There are seven starters back, but that’s not necessarily a positive thing given their poor recent production. Junior FS Brian Lainhart posted an impressive 106 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 6 interceptions last season, and should be one of the top individual defensive performers in the MAC. They also return senior DE Kevin Logan (43 total tackles, 8.5 TFL, 5.0 sacks), junior DE Monte Simmons (34 tackles, 7.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks) and senior DT Sam Frist (38 tackles, 10.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks) on what could be a solid defensive line. The big questions for this team are: Can the offense survive without Julian Edelman or a proven receiver and will the defense improve to a point where they’ll keep the Flashes in ball games? KSU is dead last in the nation in average attendance (10,639 listed per game) and clearly the excitement is shall we say… low.

Reasons for Optimism: Even though Martin is only 19-39 during his five year tenure, he’s the 4th winningest coach in KSU football history (I give the assist to the NY Times Quad Blog for that gem). I don’t think anyone in the country has a more uphill battle for respectability than the coach at Kent State. Also the success of individual players like Julian Edelman, Joshua Cribbs and Eugene Jarvis proves that this staff can recruit talented players. In the ’08 season the Flashes defeated MAC champion Buffalo (24-21) and an improving Temple (41-38), so they can be competitive against the better teams in conference play. If Jarvis is 100% healthy and one of the new QBs can be a half-decent passer then I expect KSU to have a consistently good offense. Plus the defense can’t play any worse, right?

Reasons for Pessimism: Is it unfair for the (few) Kent State fans left to expect something more than 6-6 from their team and at best they have an outside shot at it this year. Julian Edelman was never much of a passer, but was a three-year starter and carried the offense for much of his career. The QB battle will be between senior Anthony Magazu (11-23, 205 yards, 1 TD), junior Giorgio Morgan and sophomore Sal Battles (1-2, 11 yards). Basically the offense will still most likely be one-dimensional and inconsistent with a new signal caller and without a proven passer to take the pressure of Jarvis against good defenses. Plus who thinks the Flashes defense is going to get so much better overnight?

Season Prediction: It would be one of the bigger feel-good stories in all of college football if Kent State broke their recent run of futility and made a bowl game, even if it’s a mediocre one. The more likely scenario in my opinion is the Flashes will have a repeat of last year’s 4-8 record with decent chances that they improve or regress by 1 game a piece. Basically I don’t see a huge improvement, but I also would be surprised if Martin loses his job since the expectations are rather low. 6-6 would be an unbelievable record, but not impossible if Jarvis goes unconscious during his final year.

Top Web Destination: Flash Fanatics


ulm warhawks# 110- UL-Monroe (written by Bobb-O)

’08 Record: 4-8 (3-4 Sun Belt)

Overview: The Warhawks ended the 2008 season with an offense that was rated 82nd overall and was led by Quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster. Lancaster leaves the Warhawks this year and Quarterback may be a cause for concern. Hopefully junior Trey Revell (14-28, 129 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) can step up and continue the momentum the Warhawks have built. They also return their leading rusher in junior Frank Goodin (783 rushing yards, 4.3 yards/carry, 5 TDs). The Warhawks welcome in a new defensive coordinator Troy Reffett (previously the DC at New Mexico and UTEP) to help turn around a defense that was ranked 109th overall last season. They do return their leader in tackles senior Cardia Jackson (127 total tackles, 8 TFL, 4 sacks, 2 INT). Also they return guys like senior SS Josh Thompson (108 total tackles, 3 TFL) and sophomore CB Nate Brown Jr. (70 total tackles, 1 TFL, 1 sack) in what looks like a strong secondary. The additions of a few more players will hopefully bring that ranking up. If the defense doesn’t step it up and the quarterback play struggles at first, this could be a looooooong season for the Warhawk faithful. There’s no doubt that the pressure is on for coach Charlie Weatherbie to deliver more than just .500 seasons at ULM.

Reasons for Optimism: The Warhawks play a decent schedule. They have set themselves up for a few wins. They also have a few games that could go either way and winning those games could make the difference in being bowl eligable or watching the games in December. Also bringing in a new defensive coordinator also raises expectation and a hope of success for the future. Bringing back the leading rusher and tackler from last season is a great thing.

Reasons for Pessimism: Having a new quarterback can be a struggle. Also having a new coordinator can also bring bad feelings. The players may struggle with the new 3-3-5 scheme. this could lead to problems on the defensive side of the ball. This was the side that struggled all of last year.

Season Prediction: I will say 6-6 and this depends on the Quarterback play and how quickly the defense learns the new system. It could very easily be worse and it’ll take a .500 series for Weatherbie to be allowed to stick around in Monroe.

Top Web Destination: Warhawk Nation

iowa state# 109- Iowa State (written by ElViento)

’08 Record: 2-10 (0-8 Big XII)

Overview: The Cyclones begin the 2009 season with their third coach in four years. Dan McCarney had been the coach in Ames since 1994, and had success. Under McCarney, ISU halfback Troy Davis finished second in Heisman Trophy voting in 1996. In ’98, the Cyclones snapped a 15-game losing streak against in-state rivals Iowa, and proceeded to rattle off five straight victories in the Cy-Hawk rivalry. In 2000, McCarney took the Cyclones to their first bowl game in 22 years, starting a streak of ISU going to five bowl games in six years. However, after a 4-8 season in 2006, McCarney was politely “asked” to step down. He did so, leading the way to the ill-fated Gene Chizik era. (When Chizik picked his new staff, defensive coordinator John Skladany was replaced. After a year at Central Florida, guess where Skladany ended up?)

Chizik was the highly-touted defensive coordinator at Texas-Austin. In Chizik’s first year, ISU’s defense improved, but the team still finished just 3-9. In Chizik’s second year, the Cyclones started the season 2-0, but lost the last ten games of the year, and Chizik and his staff were much-maligned for their in-game decision-making. With recruiting dropping, some might’ve suspected that Chizik was on the hot seat. However, quite the opposite thing happened: Chizik was hired away by Auburn. Enter Paul Rhoads, previously the defensive coordinator at (ironically enough) Auburn. Rhoads brought in a new staff, including a familiar face for Cougars. Rhoads hired OC Tom Herman away from Rice, and DC Wally Burnham away from South Florida.

The leading candidate to start at QB is last year’s starter, junior Austen Arnaud (247-401, 2792 yards, 15 TD, 10 INT), but after an impressive spring game from redshirt freshman Jerome Tiller, Rhoads remained uncommitted about handing the job entirely over to Arnaud, saying, “When you pair them up athletically, Austen still has the edge right now. Still, there is no denying that there is something about a game that brings out the best in Jerome.”

Reasons for Optimism: There are reasons to be optimistic about Iowa State’s offense in 2009. Arnaud put up some very respectable numbers as just a sophomore last year, and Running Back Alexander Robinson (703 rushing yards, 4.6 yards/carry, 6 TD), also a junior-to-be, has been ISU’s leading rusher each of the last two years. He improved his yard per carry average from 3.9 to 4.6 in 2008, prompting ESPN Big XII blogger Tim Griffin to call him one of the three most underrated players in the conference. Robinson also had most of his best games towards the end of the 2008 season, indicating improvement even as the season went on. The defense, which in the past (*cough*under Skladany*cough*) has been a strength for the Cyclones, has fallen greatly, but figures to be on the rebound. Rhoads has a proven track record as a DC in the SEC, and Burnham’s defenses at USF were among the best in the nation.

Reasons for Pessimism: The Cyclones have a ways to go. They’re 1-3 against the MAC in the last three years, lost by 11 to D-1AA Northern Iowa in 2007 (you’d think ISU would have learned its lesson after only beating UNI by 1 the year before), and have a 3-21 record in Big XII play since 2006. Recruiting has a long way to go to catch up to the rest of the Big XII, even the Big XII North. According to Scout, Iowa State has finished in the bottom two in the Big XII for every class since 2005, and show just one commit in the 2010 class. (A QB, Jared Barnett, whose only other offer was from…[drum roll]…the University of Houston). It’s not easy to recruit to Ames, a city of 50,000 in central Iowa, and the Cyclones aren’t exactly cornering the market on the local kids.

Furthermore, the OC Herman is not exactly a sure-thing. He has spent just two years in Division 1-A, both at Rice, where one could argue that he mostly just rode the coattails of Chase Clement, Jarrett Dillard and James Casey. In Rice’s five games against BCS-conference foes under Herman, Rice did not top 24 points in a single contest. Those are the teams Herman’s going to have to start gameplanning for on a regular basis.

Season Prediction: There are some winnable non-conference games for ISU, like North Dakota State, Kent State and Army. While the Hawkeyes are the more talented team on paper, it always seems to be a close matchup when Iowa and Iowa State play, especially when ISU hosts, which they do this year. The turning point of the season for ISU is October 3, when the Cyclones play Kansas State on the road, in their Big XII opener. If ISU can go 3-1 in non-conference play, a win against the Wildcats would go a long way towards getting ISU bowl-eligible. I predict ISU wins three non-conference games, but wins just two in Big XII play, to go 5-7.

Top Web Destination: Cyclone Sports Report and Cyclone Fanatic

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ElViento: Okay, so the A.J. Morris-Ryan Berry pitching duel wasn’t terrible. But both pitchers probably got left in too long, and the final score ended up being a pedestrian 7-6, with the Wildcats pulling out the W.

But here’s an impressive pitching feat that you don’t see every day:

EDIT: The Austin Wood no-no has been broken up. Wood threw 12.1 innings of hitless relief for UT-Austin against Boston College today, before a Tony Sanchez two-out single in the bottom of the 19th inning. Wood left the game after throwing 13 innings of scoreless, two-hit relief.

Texas-Austin went on to win by a score of 3-2 in 25 innings.

I swear, none of those numbers are typos.

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SarCoog: My allegiances are to the Houston Cougars first and foremost, but I can’t deny that Rice Owl baseball played a huge role in my development as a sports fan and more specifically as a college baseball fan. In the old Reckling Park I would watch with my dad and marvel at the seemingly weightless aluminum bats that allowed guys like Lance Berkman to blast the ball into orbit. Now that I’m old enough to appreciate the place (and its new renovations), I can still have the same great baseball experience.

But enough reminiscing such, let’s get to the match-up tonight at the Houston Regional between the Rice Owls and Kansas State Wildcats. In around a century of intercollegiate athletics, this is the first time the Wildcats’ baseball program has made the NCAA tournament. They’re led by the big bats of guys like: Carter Jurica (.364, 4 HR, 44 RBI), Justin Bloxom (.363, 11 HR, 59 RBI) and Jordan Cruz (.327, 11 HR, 51 RBI), along with an astonishing 147 team stolen bases. But the real story is pitcher A.J. Morris who is one of the top pitchers in college baseball and has a microscopic 1.84 ERA in 107.1 innings pitched, along with a 13-1 record and 4 complete games. His mound opponent is an interesting story too though and Rice pitcher Ryan Berry is in fact a former high school teammate of Morris’ at Humble High in suburban Houston.

ryan berry

Ryan Berry: rockin’ the nerd chic

Berry has had a pretty remarkable three-year career himself and this year has a perfect 7-0 record, with a 1.84 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched and has walked only 15 batters. He’s been named a 1st team All-Conference USA pitcher in each of his three seasons and even got a tryout with Team USA after the College World Series last year. To the Rice faithful Berry (a mechanical engineering major) represents a combination of the brains and talent… plus he looks straight out of Revenge of the Nerds. What do American sports fans love more than athletes that defy the norm in a comical way? Nothing, that’s what.

The winner of this Owl/Wildcat matchup goes to the winners bracket and has a much easier path to winning the Houston Regional. Oh and I’d be remiss also if I did not mention Rice’s freshman phenom 3rd baseman Anthony Rendon who’s hitting .374 with 19 homers and 64 RBI and was the Conference USA MVP and freshman of the year. Rice coach Wayne Graham, a man not prone to exaggeration said that Rendon could’ve broken Lance Berkman‘s 41 homer single season total if they still used the “beast ball” aluminum bats.

Finally, any entry involving Rice athletics (that isn’t also involving the Houston Cougars) must include this video

You’re welcome.

 

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SarCoog: I’ve been starving for some football recruiting news since the creation of Scott & Holman and on Wednesday the Cougars brought in their 9th commitment of the class of 2010: Rodney Williams, a 6’1″ 260 pound defensive tackle from Skyline HS in Dallas. He also had an offer from UTEP and was being recruited by the likes of Kansas, UNLV, Texas A&M,Oklahoma, Arizona and Arizona.

Rodney WilliamsRodney Williams

First off, keeping in mind that he is still only a high school junior he’s still a tad small for someone playing the DT position. Thankfully the Cougars have a great strength & conditioning program with Larry Jackson that’ll allow Williams to put on some much needed muscle mass. Williams will never be the massive 300 something pound run-stuffer at the ‘three technique’ position, but that’s not what the Cougars need generally. Outside of the SEC and Big Ten, the ‘power running’ attacks are being replaced with the spread offenses that necesitate smaller, quicker defenses.

Everything I’ve read about Jackson and the limited film I’ve seem (only highlight reels sadly) indicates that he has a good motor guy who does not get overwhelmed because of his size and uses his hands well. It’ll be interesting to see whether any of the big name schools make a run at this kid during or following his senior season. So far Kevin Sumlin has a very good track record of holding onto the highly sought-out prospects.

It’s good to see that so far out of the current 9 commits, 7 of them are on the defensive side of the ball. Good defenses take a solid foundation and while the results may not be immediate I am at least confident that Sumlin and this staff truly care about the defensive side of the ball.

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ElViento: This is the second installment in my “Conference USA vs. the World” series, a look at how UH and the rest of the conference have fared against differing levels of competition. Also see, C-USA vs. the ACC. All figures listed below are since 2005, the year that C-USA became cemented at its current twelve schools.

 

The Big XII Conference

 

Conference USA Record vs. the Big XII: 1-22 (.043)

Helping the Cause: Houston beat Oklahoma State in 2006, by a score of 34-25. However, the Coogs have lost two games to the Big XII, as well.

Making us Look Bad: Rice is on the hook for six of the twenty-two losses.

Toughest Opponent: UT-Austin and Texas Tech have each gone 6-0 against C-USA.

Punching Bag: Umm, Oklahoma State lost a game. Does that count? Their 2008 victory over UH evened the score on that one, however.

Ducking Us: Iowa State, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska have all neglected to schedule a C-USA team.

Most Impressive Only Win: In 2006, Kevin Kolb piled up 313 yards, 4 touchdowns and no picks against the team he originally verballed to out of high school, the Cowboys of Oklahoma State. Houston went on to win 34-25, as Jackie Battle rushed for 108 yards, while Mark Hafner, Biren Ealy, Donnie Avery and Vincent Marshall each caught a pass for a score. The now recently-graduated Ernest Miller had a critical late-game pass breakup in the win.

Most Disappointing Loss: Central Florida won C-USA in 2007, and UT-Austin had a down year, with three Big XII losses, but the Longhorns still pulled out a 35-32 victory when the two teams met in Orlando.

Best Game: UCF’s loss to UT-Austin. The Knights trailed 23-10 in the third quarter, but rallied to take a 24-23 lead early in the fourth. It was not until Jamaal Charles’ 46-yard scamper for a score with 3:37 to play that the Longhorns could rest easy. UCF ended up losing by just three points, despite being outgained by 162 yards.

Biggest Blowout: Texas A&M hung a 66-8 loss on SMU in 2005, with Reggie McNeal throwing for 349 yards and 5 scores. Depressing factoid about that game: SMU was still good enough to beat Houston at Robertson later that year.

Moral Victory: A UAB team that won just two games in C-USA play nearly pulled off the unthinkable against Oklahoma in 2006, losing by just seven points, 24-17. The Blazers actually held a lead with as few as 16 minutes to go. This is no slouch OU team we’re talking about, either. The same Sooners won ten other games that year, but will be most remembered for a certain 43-42 loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Upcoming Schedule: Houston, Rice and UTEP play a pair of games against Big XII competition this year. The Coogs host Texas Tech before traveling to Oklahoma State. Rice plays roadies at Tech and OSU, and the Miners host Kansas and travel to Austin. The Longhorns will also host UCF, while the Jayhawks will host Southern Miss. Tulsa travels to Norman to take on the Sooners, and UAB will make its way to Kyle Field for a match-up against the Aggies of Texas A&M.

Best Hope for Victory: Really, none of the above games look better than a coin flip for C-USA. Hold out hope for Houston against Texas Tech, Southern Miss at Kansas, or UTEP hosting Kansas (if the Miners can find something resembling a defense.)

Hide the Children: It’s going to take some minor miracles for Rice to stay close at Oklahoma State. Same goes for Central Florida at UT-Austin.

Cougar Connection: After splitting two games with Oklahoma State, the Cougars travel to Stillwater this year to finish that series. At the same time, Houston begins a home-and-home with Texas Tech. You know, that one Big XII team from Texas willing to schedule us.

Did You Know?: Houston, Rice and SMU has some level of familiarity with the Big XII, as they used to be part of the Southwest Conference, alongside UT-Austin, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Baylor.

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Bobb-O: Sports are serious business, but honestly days like Wednesday happen and you can’t help but laugh

Hilarity #1

Game 5 of the Western Conference finals was last night and the Lakers ended up winning the game 103-94. That is great and everything but in my version of the game, no one cares about that. It was this dunk and then everything else. That’s right, that is Chris “douchebag” “Birdman” Anderson getting posterized by Lamar frickin’ Odom. I will pose a new idea for the sports world. from now on when someone gets posterized can we call it getting Bradleyed.

“Anderson is a Douche”

Hilarity #2

Carlos Zambrano had one of the best meltdowns by a player or coach ever.  I think the runner was safe. Not by much but he was safe. After watching the video the best part is not Zambrano,but it is Lou Piniella‘s facial expressions during Zambrano’s meltdown. You could tell he thoroughly enjoyed it. That video has made me wonder the best coach meltdowns ever. My co-bloggers can attest I may be an expert at these. I now give you my top 5 meltdowns of all time.

5) Carlos Zambrano throws ball and destroys Gatorade machine.

4) Dennis Green after a shocking Cardinals loss

3) Lou Piniella on many occasions

2) “This was brought to me by a mother….with children”

1) Phillip Wellman of the Mississippi Braves loses his mind

Honorable Mention: Bob Knight throws a chair

SarCoog: I’m lodging an official protest that the Bob Knight chair-throwing incident wasn’t the top coach meltdown or incident ever. I mean it’s become so famous and iconic for coaches absolutely losing their shit… ever. The honorable mention should be when Knight grabbed Indiana student Kent Harvey for having the gall to say: “Hey Knight, what’s up” and the kid ended up with bruises on his arms. Now THAT should have gotten consideration Bobb-O. Also, screw Lamar Odom and the Los Angeles Lakers.

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SarCoog: Just about an hour ago Dan Wolken of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported that the University of Memphis men’s basketball program is being accused of committing major violations under former coach John Calpari during the 2007-08 season.

The main accusation is that Memphis was a party to “knowing fraudulence or misconduct” as it related to an SAT exam taken by a player whose name is redacted in the NCAA report due to privacy laws. The allegations of fraud would only have an effect on the 2007-08 season, as that was the only season this unnamed player was on the Memphis team (hint: the only player on that team to play just that one year was Derrick Rose). Wolken and the Commercial Appeal obtained the aforementioned report by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). There are also allegations that the associate of a player was provided with $2,260 worth of free loging for team road games. According to Wolken there’s a good chance that the Tigers may have to forfeit all wins from the 2007-08 season.

Although Calipari is not specifically named in the report, he has been asked to appear at a June 6th hearing relating to the above allegations. I don’t know whether the NCAA will ever get Calipari’s dirty fingerprints on the alleged violations… but it happened under his watch and it would only confirm the suspicions of so many observers in the basketball world. Personally, the more I’ve learned about Calipari and his recruiting methods, the more queasy I become. We’ll never find out the full extent of his rule bending and breaking, but it really takes the luster off of his recent accomplishments (the C-USA win streak, Final Four, Recruiting, et cetera). Also, if now NBA super-rookie Derrick Rose is at the center of this alleged fraud, as all evidence indicates, then it would not be unreasonable for Memphis to have to forfeit their 38 wins and that 2007-08 Final Four run.

John-Calipari eyes closed“If I close my eyes this will allllll go away…”

The violations won’t affect Josh Pastner and the current Memphis coaching staff, but it remains to be seen whether Kentucky and Calipari get caught in the huge shitstorm the potential sanctions that will come from these violations. Will this eventually lead to the non-existence of Calipari’s 60+ game C-USA winning streak because of the forfeits? Does Tulsa get to claim ownership of the 2007-08 mens basketball title?

Bobb-O- Hell Ya! 26-8 record here we come. Also with that record we would have made the tournament. So will everyone please remove Penders’ ass from the hot seat and begin to kiss it.

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