NCAA Football

Arizona State Lineman Blocks No One, Is Oblivious to Fact His QB Is Being Sacked

Arizona State's Christian Westerman needs to learn to keep his head on a swivel, or at least broaden his field of vision.

On a play when his quarterback was getting strip-sacked, Westerman was looking for the closest person to block, with no one to be found.

To be fair to Westerman, it looks like everyone on the offensive line did a poor job on the play.

[edsbs]

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Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State: Game Grades, Analysis for Red Raiders and Cowboys

In a game that featured a ton of passing, a ton of penalties and not a ton of defensive prowess, the Oklahoma State Cowboys bounced back from a relatively slow start to blow past the Texas Tech Red Raiders, 45-35, en route to a 1-0 start in the Big 12 conference.

The Red Raiders piled up nearly 160 yards of penalties, taking big plays and touchdowns away when they were most needed, and Oklahoma State took advantage, eventually securing the victory. Oklahoma State has now won its last 25 home contests against unranked opponents.

Here is the box score via NCAA.com.

 

Texas Tech Passing Offense

At first glance, you'll see Texas Tech with nearly 400 passing yards and five completions for touchdowns and think "A-plus." But scratch just below the surface, and you'll notice that as a team, Texas Tech completed 37 passes on 60 attempts, and those five touchdowns are tempered by three interceptions.

While Davis Webb played well before leaving the game with a separated non-throwing shoulder, Texas Tech was hounded all night by dropped passes. Add in a comparatively low completion percentage and we'd be hard-pressed to give the Red Raiders' passing offense anything better than a B-minus for Thursday night's fitful effort.

 

Texas Tech Rushing Offense

The Red Raiders put up only 118 yards on the ground against Oklahoma State, with DeAndre Washington leading the way with 85 yards.

As a team, Texas Tech averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and failed to reach the end zone. The fact that we're handing out a C-plus for a pretty poor showing should remind Texas Tech fans that Oklahoma State won't be the toughest run defense the Red Raiders will face in 2014.

 

Texas Tech Pass Defense

It's hard to like what the Texas Tech pass defense did against Oklahoma State, but then again, not many teams fare well against the Cowboys passing attack.

Still, the Red Raiders gave up 370 yards and four touchdowns on just 31 attempts. The only reason we're not flunking the entire secondary is the fact that J.J. Gaines and Jah'Shawn Johnson each came up with an interception on the night.

Since we're handing out some pretty generous grades to TTU, we'll keep that going with the pass defense by awarding some extra credit for the two picks. A grade of C is still all we can manage.

 

Texas Tech Run Defense

Here, Texas Tech actually exceeded expectations. After giving up literally a quarter mile (0.248, to be exact) of rushing yards against Arkansas in their last game, the Red Raiders held Oklahoma State to just 158 yards on the ground.

In the first half, OSU was held to 72 yards on 18 carries before giving up a couple of scores on the ground. We dropped the first-half A-minus to a final grade of a straight B, but head coach Kliff Kingsbury and new sole defensive coordinator Mike Smith should be pleased with the improvement. 

 

Texas Tech Special Teams

If you want to know where most of Texas Tech's painful penalties came from, just watch a tape of the special teams plays from Thursday night.

Time after time, the Red Raiders saw impressive returns wiped out due to holding, a block in the back or some other silly penalty. One even managed to wipe a 99-yard kickoff return by Jakeem Grant off the scoreboard.

These plays are also where so much of that "phantom penalty yardage" comes into play. A holding call on the 99-yard kick return only counts as 10 yards' worth of penalties, although its true impact is about 85 yards and six points.

Add in a few miscues on punts, and the special teams is lucky to get any credit at all. A D-plus is the result, and we'll need this letter to be signed by a parent.

 

Texas Tech Coaching

Kliff Kingsbury didn't have any great trouble in the first half coaching Mike Gundy down to the wire. After halftime, there weren't too many great adjustments made, but we didn't see a need for many, either.

In the end, Kingsbury and his staff just didn't have the horses to keep up with the Cowboys. Because of the plethora of penalties, however, we can't give the staff anything better than a grade of B for the evening.

Penalties reflect poorly on the coaches—something the Texas Tech staff will surely make clear to the players come their next practice.  

 

Oklahoma State Passing Offense

Like Texas Tech, you look at the raw numbers and think "A-plus."  But also like Texas Tech, there's more to look at than gaudy passing totals.

Still, Daxx Garman nearly out-passed Davis Webb (shy by just four yards) and did so on 23 fewer pass attempts. We will mark down for the two picks thrown by Garman, but we'll award him and his receivers a higher grade than we did his counterparts from Texas Tech. He gets a B-plus.

 

Oklahoma State Rushing Offense

Both halves were fairly equal in output, both resulting in around 75 yards and a touchdown.

Desmond Roland carried the ball 23 times for 86 yards to lead the way for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State didn't rely too much on the run game mainly because it didn't need to, so it's hard to mark down for that. It's similarly hard to give a sterling grade for a relatively easy evening, so we'll settle on a B-plus.

 

Oklahoma State Pass Defense

The pass defense for Oklahoma State did its job, holding the Red Raiders out of the end zone when needed and coming up with some big stops in the second half.

The Red Raiders quarterbacks were thrice intercepted on the evening, and that's certainly worthy of some recognition—and extra credit. Kevin Peterson, Seth Jacobs and Ramon Richards each got in on the action, and the Cowboys did something the Texas Tech interceptors didn't do: add a little return yardage (although it was just seven combined yards).

We think a B sounds like a nice, solid final grade. 

 

Oklahoma State Run Defense

The Cowboys put up nothing short of a B-plus performance on run defense against Texas Tech. Oklahoma State held Texas Tech to less than four yards per carry and zero ground points on the evening. 

 

Oklahoma State Special Teams

This is actually a difficult category in which to grade the Cowboys. On one hand, statistically the Cowboys did a fine job of holding Texas Tech in check. On the other hand, if you watched the game, you'll note that the Red Raiders did an excellent job of shooting themselves in the foot.

Can we really reward the Cowboys for Texas Tech's error-prone performance?

The Cowboys, for their part, had a pretty mediocre showing on special teams, averaging 21 yards on kickoff returns but just 0.7 yard on three punt returns.

We will, however, note that Ben Grogan connected on his only field-goal attempt of the night (42 yards) and was a perfect 6-of-6 on extra points.

Still, we can't get all of those electric returns by the Red Raiders out of our minds. A B-minus is about as good as we can do here.

 

Oklahoma State Coaching

Despite not seeing enough in the first half to give Mike Gundy and his staff much of a grade, when the final whistle blew, we didn't have any major complaints. Play-calling was about as expected, leaning heavily on the pass. And since it was working most of the evening, why change things?

The Cowboys did make some nice adjustments on defense in the second half...or was it that the Red Raiders just couldn't keep up with a deeper, more talented Cowboys squad?

Either way, we're happy with a B from Gundy and Co., and Oklahoma State fans should be, too. 

 

Unless otherwise noted, quotes or references to quotes were obtained firsthand by the writer.

Follow Bleacher Report's National College Football Featured Columnist David Luther on Twitter!

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UCLA's Ishmael Adams Returns a Kickoff 100 Yards for a TD vs. Arizona State

No. 11 UCLA is putting a whooping on No. 15 Arizona State, and Ishmael Adams put the icing on the cake with this 100-yard kickoff return touchdown to put the Bruins up 41-20.

The return is Ishmael's second return touchdown of the game.

[SnappyTV]

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Texas Tech Coaches Facepalm in Unison During Game vs. Oklahoma State

Texas Tech coaches and staff had a shared moment of struggle as the team played Oklahoma State that resulted in a synched facepalm on the sidelines. 

The Red Raiders struggled all night with penalties and interceptions vs. Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys won 45-35.

[CJ Zero]

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Ohio State Football: Previewing Surprisingly Important Recruiting Weekend

The No. 22 Ohio State Buckeyes are busy preparing for Saturday's prime-time matchup against Cincinnati, but off the field, Urban Meyer is getting ready for a surprisingly important weekend on the recruiting front.

As a result of on-the-fly visit announcements from two of Ohio State's top targets, this weekend has turned into a pivotal event for the Buckeyes' 2015 class.

Meyer called the Virginia Tech game "probably the biggest of the year" for Ohio State recruiting, according to Mike Barber of The Richmond Times-DispatchThe Buckeyes hosted numerous 2015 and 2016 prospects, including No. 1 overall recruit and 5-star defensive end Josh Sweat, 5-star running back Damien Harris and 4-star offensive tackle Matthew Burrell.

But this weekend could have just as big of an impact on the Buckeyes '15 class.

 

Rolling out the Red Carpet for Torrance Gibson

Ohio State was set to host Torrance Gibson for the Virginia Tech game, but due to a scheduling conflict with his high school football team, he was unable to make the trip.

Forced to reschedule, Gibson entertained the idea of visiting for the Michigan game, per Ari Wasserman of the The Plain Dealer. But earlier this week, the star quarterback announced his intentions to visit Columbus this weekend.

The 4-star quarterback out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was very high on Ohio State early, but the Buckeyes dropped down his list throughout the past summer. That changed in a big way when he visited during Ohio State's Friday Night Lights football camp in July—a trip that vaulted Ohio State to the top of his list.

According to the Crystal Ball Predictions from 247Sports, the Buckeyes have a heavy lead over Tennessee for Gibson's commitment.

Meyer and the Buckeyes can further their lead for Gibson this weekend.

 

Flipping Jerome Baker?

Jerome Baker is one of the top prospects in Ohio (ranking No. 2 behind Ohio State commit Justin Hilliard), and naturally, he was one of Meyer's most heavily recruited players in this year's class.

The Buckeyes were heavy favorites to land Baker's commitment this summer, but the momentum of his recruitment shifted greatly the week leading up to his announcement, when the talented linebacker verbally pledged to the Florida Gators.

That never stopped Meyer from recruiting the Cleveland product, according to Ari Wasserman of The Plain Dealer.

"I don't think they are going to just let me go at all," Baker said of the Buckeyes. "They are still coming after me."  

Meyer will have a great chance to impress Baker when he makes the trip south this weekend. The visit has Bucknuts editor Dave Biddle and 247Sports' Steve Helwagen openly wondering whether Baker will flip to the Buckeyes if Will Muschamp's struggles continue with the Gators.

If Florida can't bounce back from its loss to Alabama and string together a nice season, Baker could be wind up with the Buckeyes.

 

Stealing from the SEC

Baker's not the only recruit who could be pulled from the SEC's grasp this weekend.

The Buckeyes are also set to host 5-star Kendall Sheffield—one of the nation's most highly recruited prospects—this weekend.

Sheffield is the No. 3-rated cornerback and the No. 16 recruit nationally, boasting offers from programs such as Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon and USC. Texas A&M has an overwhelming lead for the home-state product, though, with Alabama trailing, according to 247Sports.

Ohio State is facing a long, uphill battle in his recruitment, but getting him to Columbus for a visit has given Meyer and the Buckeyes a chance.

 

All recruiting information and stats via 247Sports.

David Regimbal covers Ohio State football for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State: Score and Twitter Reaction

The legend of Daxx Garman is alive and well.

Oklahoma State's gunslinging junior quarterback broke out in his third collegiate start, overcoming an offensive explosion from Texas Tech and inconsistent passing to lead his 24th-ranked Cowboys to a 45-35 win Thursday night over the Red Raiders in both teams' Big 12 openers.

Garman stole the show, going 17-of-31 with 370 yards and five total touchdowns. His two interceptions helped Texas Tech stick around, but he more than made up for his lapses with a number of huge completions down the field.

Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb had an impressive day of his own with 374 yards and four touchdowns, but he threw two untimely momentum-swinging interceptions and did not return after suffering a late injury. 

Texas Tech-Oklahoma State hasn't been a game circled by defensive traditionalists over the last decade, and it stuck to that narrative again Thursday night. Both teams surpassed 500 yards, and there was a grand total of 11 touchdowns. 

But it was almost always the Cowboys in front. Texas Tech was able to mount an early 14-7 lead, but that was quickly followed by a 21-0 Oklahoma State run, and late efforts to pull back into the game proved unsuccessful.

Take a look at the final box score:

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy conceded after the game that there's still plenty to work on for both his team and quarterback, per The Oklahoman's Kyle Fredrickson and Fox 23's Martina Del Bonta:

Kliff Kingsbury, understandably, took a bit more exception to his team's performance, per KAMC-TV's Brian Holland:

The fireworks started early on Thursday night, with Webb leading the Red Raiders on a touchdown drive to start the game. Things slowed down until late in the first quarter, when Garman connected with James Washington on a 33-yard touchdown to tie things at 7-7.

Webb kept firing against the Cowboys' secondary heading into the second and rattled off an eight-play drive capped off by an 18-yard strike to Bradley Marquez that gave Texas Tech a 14-7 lead.

Early struggles from the Cowboys defense helped lead the way to Texas Tech's surprise lead; KFOR's Bob Barry Jr. noted what needed to change for Oklahoma State to get back in it:

But the advantage went as easily as it came. The Red Raiders turned the ball over on downs threatening to add to their lead, and after Desmond Roland drew the teams level on a one-yard touchdown run, Kevin Peterson picked off Webb to set up Oklahoma State in Texas Tech territory.

One play later, Garman hit Washington for a 39-yard score to make it 21-14, and the sudden offensive explosion prompted reactions like this one from Andrew Gilman of Fox Sports Southwest:

The Cowboys took that lead into halftime—a lead they were lucky to have after giving up a heap of passing yards to Texas Tech in the opening half. 

Early in the third, Oklahoma State extended its lead even further. And again, it was a splash play in the passing game as Garman hit Blake Jarwin for a 47-yard touchdown to put the Cowboys up 28-14.

The Red Raiders would never really go away, though. Despite the Cowboys making every effort to pull away, their defense just couldn't contain Kingsbury's air-raid attack. 

The Oklahoma State lead was 14, then seven, then 10, then 17. But even after Garman scampered for an eight-yard score that made it 45-28 with 7:39 left and Texas Tech's Webb left with an injury, backup Patrick Mahomes stepped right in to cut it to 45-35 with 5:52 remaining.

No matter what kind of fight Texas Tech put up, it didn't much matter when Oklahoma State would return fire so easily, as Zac Ellis of Sports Illustrated noted:

The Red Raiders defense eventually gathered itself together enough to force some late stops and gave Mahomes the ball down 10 with four minutes left. But the Cowboys dialed up some pressure on the inexperienced quarterback and seemingly wrapped up the game by forcing a turnover on downs.

The struggles were there for Garman at times, constantly pushing the ball down the field in an effort that resulted in two picks. But when he connected, it was for long gains, as Big 12 noted:

As RJ Young of SoonerScoop.com put best, Garman had an all-or-nothing performance:

The loss marks the second straight defeat for Kingsbury's Red Raiders, as they're coming off a 49-28 drubbing at the hands of Arkansas. Despite that, there were obvious improvements from last week, and they should be feeling confident of their chances against other top Big 12 opponents.

The Red Raiders need that confidence immediately, as they travel to face No. 25 Kansas State next weekend before playing West Virginia. 

As for Oklahoma State, it's the third straight morale-boosting win for Gundy's squad coming off a 37-31 loss to No. 1 Florida State in Week 1. After getting their conference slate off to a promising start, the Cowboys will turn around to face Iowa State at home Oct. 4.

 

Follow Steven Cook on Twitter to chat about college football.

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Arizona State's Poor Tackling Leads to 80-Yard TD vs. UCLA

The Arizona State Sun Devils football team will not have fun watching this play in the film room next week.

During the second quarter of Thursday night's game against the UCLA Bruins, Eldridge Massington was able to run 80 yards for a touchdown because of some awful tackling from the Sun Devils.

Here's another angle of the play.

[SnappyTV, Vine]

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Davis Webb Injury: Updates on Texas Tech Star's Shoulder and Return

The Texas Tech Red Raiders will be without their starting quarterback as they attempt to claw back from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit against the No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys on Thursday night.

Davis Webb landed awkwardly on his shoulder in the fourth, per Yahoo Sports' Dr. Saturday:

Red Raiders sideline reporter Chris Level (h/t RedRaiderSports.com's Aaron Dickens) reported that the sophomore quarterback suffered a dislocated left shoulder:

ESPN's Sam Ponder (h/t Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel) reported Webb's night was done at that point:

Losing Webb is a hammer blow to Texas Tech's offense. Before exiting, he had thrown for 374 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.

Fox Sports Southwest's David Ubben believes that Tech made the right decision to take him out for the game, though, considering the unpredictable nature of the injury:

The road doesn't get any easier for the Red Raiders after Thursday. Next week, they travel to Kansas State to take on the No. 25 Wildcats. The week after that, they welcome in a dangerous West Virginia Mountaineers team.

In order for Texas Tech to be a serious threat in the Big 12, Webb will need to make a speedy recovery.

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Nebraska Football: How the Cornhuskers Can Avoid Looking Ahead to Michigan State

Nebraska football fans will still be savoring the Cornhuskers’ win over Miami last week, but by this stage will already be worrying about facing Illinois on Saturday. Not about the Illini themselves, of course, but about how Nebraska could be overlooking Illinois in preparation for a monster game against Michigan State the following week.

Of course, if Nebraska stubs its toe against Illinois on Saturday, that game in East Lansing won’t be nearly as monster as it would be otherwise. So how will Nebraska stay focused and get the job done on homecoming against Illinois?

 

Remember Wes Lunt and Josh Ferguson

Yes, Illinois is 3-1, but that’s with needing comeback wins over football powerhouses like Youngstown State, Western Kentucky and Texas State. So it would be easy to dismiss Illinois as a cakewalk for Nebraska after a big win against a talented (if under-coached) Miami squad.

But Illinois has talent. Quarterback Wes Lunt, a transfer from Oklahoma State, has a big arm—maybe the best raw talent at quarterback Nebraska will face all season. While Illinois has much poorer talent at both receiver and offensive line than Miami, Lunt will make throws and ask questions of Nebraska’s secondary.

And Josh Ferguson has the potential to be a big-time back in the Big Ten. The junior is averaging 6.38 yards per carry with three touchdowns in four games (courtesy of cfbstats.com). He’s no Duke Johnson from Miami, but Ferguson has plenty in the tank to give the blackshirts problems. And when combined with Lunt’s arm, Illinois’ offense can carry a one-two punch that could threaten Nebraska if given an opportunity.

Bo Pelini and the coaching staff will surely point this out to the blackshirts this week in practice, which should get their attention.

 

Remember McNeese State

In fairness, other than Miami, McNeese State might be the most talented team Nebraska has faced in 2014. And yes, that is as much an indictment of Florida Atlantic and Fresno State as it is a compliment to the Cowboys.

But at the end of the day, McNeese State and Nebraska were tied with 20 seconds to go in the game, and it was only a miraculous (perhaps Heisman-esque?) play by Ameer Abdullah to spare NU’s blushes at home.

After the contest, Nebraska knew it dodged a bullet. Abdullah said that the team “didn’t respect the game” in preparation for the Cowboys (as quoted by Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star). And in the next two games, against Fresno State and Miami, Nebraska has looked sharper and more focused, perhaps taking Abdullah’s advice to heart.

“I was reluctant to say something,” Abdullah said about his concerns regarding the team’s preparation for McNeese State, “but I promise that is the last time it will happen.”

After his performance against Miami, Abdullah and the coaching staff should have the team’s full attention, making a letdown against Illinois less likely.

 

Remember Red Rising

In addition to a bizarre 8 p.m. kickoff time, Nebraska will be breaking out the alternate “Red Rising” uniforms against Illinois. While the alternate uniforms haven’t always been a success (see UCLA last season), as a fan of the superhero costumes I can only hope that Nebraska will find success with the cool threads and avoid further superstitions.

After all, it took seven years for Nebraska to break out the “Stormtrooper” all-white look against Fresno State this year. The convincing win should, hopefully, wash away the taste of the “surrender white” look Nebraska had in Bill Callahan’s last game, a loss to Colorado in Boulder.

One can only hope that the extra juice of coming onto the field in alternate uniforms will help sharpen Nebraska’s play on Saturday night.

For a different look at Nebraska football, check out The Double Extra Point.

Or you can use the Twitter machine to follow @DblExtraPoint.

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Oklahoma State Football Fan Is Very Confused During Game vs. Texas Tech

This face is the definition of complete confusion.

During Thursday night's game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Texas Tech Red Raiders, this Cowboys fan was left speechless just before the end of the first half.

[Vine, h/t Twitter]

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Texas Football: Charlie Strong Shows a New Side After Recent Dismissals

It should be a requirement for anyone with the last name "Strong" to maintain a tough image. 

And Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong has gone above and beyond to emulate a strong persona.

When the former Louisville head coach was hired to take over the Longhorns, two of his most notable goals were to return Texas football to national prominence and to ingrain toughness within the program.

Bringing the Longhorns back to the top of college football will be an arduous task that takes time. But how soon could Strong instill toughness on his team?

In one word: immediately.

During his first meeting with the Longhorns, Strong laid out his five core values: Be honest, treat women with respect, no weapons, don't use drugs, and don't take something that does not belong to you.

Anyone who violated those rules would face significant consequences.

"I told the team right away: If you don't want to be a part of this program, break a core value. That's you telling me you don't want to be here. Starter or no starter."

He has remained true to his word.

Since January, Strong has dismissed nine players for violating his core values. The most recent dismissal occurred Tuesday.

Strong has oftentimes come off as a hard-nosed, my-way-or-the-highway type of coach when it pertained to his team abiding by his rules.

He has publicly shown little remorse for the dismissals.

But his demeanor changed this week.

 

The Softer Side of Strong

In an impromptu meeting with the local media, Strong expressed the pain and sorrow he has felt in having to make such difficult decisions. And he also gave some insight on what has occurred behind closed doors.

"I'm sorry that another player had to be dismissed. Any time a player is dismissed from this program, it hurts me, because we are here to help young men. We are not here to run young men off; that's not our job. We're here to help them, and it just bothers me," said the emotional coach.

"I feel like somehow I failed them because I wasn't able to grab them, take them under my wing and provide the right road for them to go down. Whenever I've had to dismiss players I think, 'What could I have done better to help this young man and help him with his future?' That's why they're in college, to provide a better life for the future."

Strong's emotional presence initially came as a surprise, because it was one of the first times the head coach had openly displayed compassion about the situation.

But it did not surprise his assistant coaches. Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson has seen how painful it has been for his boss when he has been left with no choice other than to kick players off of his team.

"It kills him," said Watson, who appeared to be choked up about the dilemma. "I've seen this guy believe in so many people. I can remember times at Louisville; I knew there was something bad for the team. But he saw something in certain individuals, and he changed people's lives. 

"But here's the key: They wanted their lives changed. Sometimes it doesn't work, and it's unfortunate. But he's the last guy to ever give up on a kid. The last."

Watson was Strong's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Louisville before he was hired at Texas. One of the main reason's why he moved his family across the country to follow Strong was that he respects his boss's goals, which include leading young men down the right path to achieve success throughout their entire lives.

"He believes in the things it takes to be a successful human being," Watson said. "Unlike a lot of people I have been around in this profession, he takes a role as a father figure. He really cares about what a player becomes in later life. He's an outstanding role model."

 

Dismissals, Early-Season Record Causing Criticism of Strong's Approach

It's extremely important for parents to set a positive example for their children.

The same could be said for coaches, who often play a parental role in the lives of their athletes.

People love feel-good stories, especially college football fans. Those fans applaud their favorite team's coach for changing the lives of his athletes by simply taking them under his wing and leading by example.

As long as the team is winning on the field, that is—which has not been the case for the Longhorns.

The 1-2 start to the season has caused discussion of whether Strong has been too quick to dismiss and way-too-early questions of whether Strong is the right person to lead the Longhorns.

And the criticism has reached the national level.

ESPN college football reporter Danny Kanell asked whether Strong's actions are causing him to lose his locker room.

But questioning Strong for losing his locker room three games into the season is a little extreme. 

The head coach is not asking for anything out of the ordinary, except that players follow the same rules most people grow up with.

And his decision to kick players off of his team did not happen after single slip-ups. Multiple, recurring violations of the same rule is what led to these dismissals.

At some point, the coach has to drop the hammer. Not because he is giving up or trying to be a tough-guy.

But because he has to show the 90 percent of his players who follow his rules that he means business and will hold everyone accountable for their mistakes.

"You lose your locker room when you tell someone to do something, and they don't do it. You tell them again, and they don't do it," Strong said. "Then the players look at you and say, 'You're not going to do anything, coach.'"

 

Only the Strong Will Survive

Many Longhorns have welcomed Strong's tactics with open arms, including senior cornerback Quandre Diggs.

"I don't sugarcoat things, just like coach doesn't sugarcoat anything," Diggs said at Big 12 media days. "That's how I am. That's how I was born and how I was raised. I love the way he's taking the approach and getting guys out of here that don't belong. Heck, if it was up to me, or if Coach Strong asked me, I would help him weed guys out."

Criticism comes with the job of any major college football coach. But it's a whole different ball game at a school like Texas.

Fans and boosters have expectations which are way too high and almost impossible to reach. The outcry of fans following a home loss can probably be heard from Austin to El Paso.

The criticism and speculation will continue until the Longhorns return to the top of the college football ranks.

But the difference between Strong and the Longhorns' former head coach is that Strong is not the type of person who seems to care what outsiders have to say.

He's going to continue to do it his way, the right way, and set an example of what it takes to be a successful person after football.

And in his opinion, the guys who follow his rules do not find his approach to be too extreme.

"Young people want discipline in their lives, and it's our job as a coaching staff to make sure that we provide them with discipline," Strong said. Right now, we are laying a foundation for their future. I'm not hard at all. Those guys have more fun around me then they probably will around any coach. That's just the atmosphere I provide for them. I give them a lot of chances to get it right, because I want to see them be successful."

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering Texas football. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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UCLA vs. Arizona State: Live Score and Highlights

UCLA 20, Arizona State 17 ; Late Second Quarter

A massive Pac-12 South Division contest takes place tonight at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, as the No. 11 UCLA Bruins take on the host No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils. 

The contest will begin at 7:00 p.m. PT. It can be seen on Fox Sports 1. 

Odds Shark has UCLA as a three-point favorite. A full box score can be found here, courtesy of NCAA.com

 

Bleacher Report appreciates you tuning in with us. Stay here for score updates, analysis, social media and much more! 

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UCLA vs. Arizona State: Live Score and Highlights

UCLA 27, Arizona State 17 ; HALFTIME A massive Pac-12 South Division contest takes place tonight at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, as the No. 11 UCLA Bruins take on the host No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

UCLA Player Etched Name in Arizona State Logo on Field Before Game

The UCLA Bruins have a big Top 25 matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils, and they might have been trying to get in their opponents' heads before the game.

Prior to Thursday night's contest, the Bruins wrote "UCLA" on the trident logo at midfield. If the Sun Devils see this before the matchup, things could get a little heated once it begins.

[Twitter]

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6 Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 5

The final weekend of September presents another compelling slate of college football matchups on campuses across the country. Recruits will be on the move again as another wave of official visits provides the latest stepping stone toward national signing day.

In the coming days, elite Texas talents will journey beyond state borders and a marquee Miami commit heads north. Continue reading for our weekly look at the most important prospect trips set to take place Saturday.

Begin Slideshow

Cincinnati RB Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore Dies in Motorcycle Accident at Age 19

Chamoda Kennedy-Palmore, a redshirt freshman running back at the University of Cincinnati, was killed Thursday afternoon after a vehicle crashed into his motorcycle. He was 19.

"It's a tragedy," Cincinnati associate athletic director Ryan Koslen said, per Keith BieryGolick of The Cincinnati Enquirer

According to police, Kennedy-Palmore was driving on Cincinnati's Vine Street when another vehicle swerved across two traffic lanes and struck his motorcycle. He was then taken to UC Medical Center by paramedics but was declared dead as the result of his injuries. Koslen said Kennedy-Palmore was wearing proper safety gear at the time of the crash. 

Kennedy-Palmore, who is originally from Liberty Township in Ohio, was in his second year as a walk-on with the program. In a statement confirming his passing, Cincinnati indicated that he was part of a "school-start tryout group" of players who joined the team for 2014 earlier this month.

"Our football program and university has suffered another great tragedy," Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I'm a father first and a coach second and it's always hard to put your thoughts into words during times like these. Chamoda was a talented non-scholarship player and a key member of our scout teams. He worked hard and earned his spot on the roster. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."

The previous tragedy to which Tuberville alludes is the death of former offensive lineman Ben Flick, who died in an automobile accident on Sept. 21, 2013. Teammates Mark Barr and Javon Harrison were also injured in the crash.

Kennedy-Palmore graduated from Lakota East High School in 2013, where he was the team's top running back. BieryGolick's report indicated that he originally committed to Georgetown College before deciding to walk on locally at Cincinnati. Lakota East head coach Rick Haynes indicated he was well-liked by teammates and coaches.

"Chamoda definitely led by example by how hard he worked. His teammates definitely thought highly of him," Haynes said.

The identity of the driver who hit Kennedy-Palmore's motorcycle has not been released at this time. According to Fox 19, the driver was taken to a local hospital, but there is no word on his or her condition.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter

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Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State: Live Score and Highlights

Texas Tech 7, Oklahoma State 0—Middle of the 1st Quarter

The Oklahoma State Cowboys, clinging to a spot in the Top 25 at No. 24, will host the Texas tech Red Raiders in a Thursday night showdown that also serves as the Big 12 conference opener for both teams.

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Texas Tech Unveils 'White Ombre' Uniforms for Game vs. Oklahoma State

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have a big game on the road Thursday night against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, so they made sure to dress for success.

The team's official Twitter account unveiled their "White Ombre" uniforms courtesy of Under Armour, which feature an alternate logo on the helmets, jersey and pants.

The Red Raiders will try to take down the No. 24 Cowboys at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

[Twitter, h/t College Spun]

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The Changing Identity of the SEC

"Is this what we want football to be?"

Those were the words of Alabama head coach Nick Saban in early October 2012 when preparing for Ole Miss' hurry-up, no-huddle offense led by head coach Hugh Freeze, according to AL.com's Andrew Gribble.

Fast-forward two years, and the "three yards and a cloud of dust" label synonymous with the SEC has been replaced with another—"wide open." Eleven of the conference's 14 teams are currently averaging more than six yards per play, as opposed to two in 2011.

Even Saban's team—with a little help from new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin—is lighting up the scoreboard. Through four games, the Crimson Tide are averaging 7.6 yards per play and, while not running a true hurry-up, no-huddle offense, still managing 78 plays per game.

The SEC has become a conference where defense doesn't win championships anymore; "just enough defense" wins championships. The definition of "just enough" changes based on the versatility and explosiveness of each individual team.

How did it get to this point?

 

The Introduction of the Spread

When Florida hired Urban Meyer from Utah prior to the 2005 season, critics said his offense wouldn't work in the SEC. Meyer himself even had concerns after getting trounced 31-3 at Alabama that year. 

“I was very concerned,” he told Ray Glier, then of The New York Times and now of Bleacher Report, in 2009. “I started believing what I was hearing."

All he did after that was win national championships in 2006 and 2008, help quarterback Tim Tebow win the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and win another SEC East title in 2009.

Sure, it helped Meyer that Tebow—a quarterback who is built perfectly to run his offense—decided to choose the Gators over Alabama in February of 2006. Since that time, though, spread elements have been injected into the SEC.

Auburn hired Gus Malzahn—a versatile offensive mind whose spread is more of a blend of old-school and new-school style—as its offensive coordinator in 2009 and then its head coach prior to the 2013 season. Ole Miss selected Hugh Freeze—a coach with a similar style—to replace Houston Nutt prior to the 2012 season.

That same year, Texas A&M brought first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin's flexible, pass-happy style into the conference along with Missouri, which finished ninth in the nation in rushing out of a spread attack the previous season.

The offenses have evolved from the read-option attack Meyer won with to variable attacks that blend power with open space.

When then-new head coach Gene Chizik told Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs that he was thinking about bringing Malzahn in as offensive coordinator in 2009, Jacobs wanted to make sure he wasn't just bringing in the spread, but the right kind of spread.

"What was important to me, as a spread offense like this, is it all throwing and how does the rush balance out?" Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs said. "What I quickly found out from talking to a lot of people and watching Gus' bowl game is that it's a lot of throwing, but it's a downhill football style. In this league, you have to run the ball to win."

That's exactly why Sumlin has been successful at Texas A&M. 

He came in with the reputation of being an air-raid coach who slings it all over the field. In his first year in the SEC in 2012, Sumlin's Aggies led the conference with 5.90 yards per rush and followed it up with 5.17 in 2013.

"With what we do, it's probably a little bit different than most people," Sumlin said. "Even though everybody lumps all spread offenses into one boat, that's not necessarily the truth. You have spread offenses that lead with the run that are misdirection-type offenses. You've got all kinds of different things. Certainly, no-huddle may be the contrasting factor."

It is, which brings us to the next point.

 

Tempo, Tempo, Tempo

FBS instituted a rule change prior to the 2008 season that gave us a 40-second play clock that resets when the previous play ends, similar to the NFL. It replaced a 25-second play clock that wouldn't start until the umpire spotted the ball—whenever that was. 

The result allowed teams that ran no-huddle offenses to not only sprint to the ball as they have in the past, but get the snap off quicker because officials wanted to keep play moving.

"The biggest change is tempo," said Florida head coach Will Muschamp. "With how quickly people are getting on the ball, snapping the ball and getting more snaps in the game, that to me is the most challenging aspect from a communication standpoint defensively. It effects technique, it effects fundamentals and creates fatigue, which creates cowards of us all."

In the SEC, that has led to a steady creep of offensive prowess as coaches and programs realized the benefits of tempo.

"Five years ago, if you look at what teams were averaging in yards per game and points per game, the game has certainly changed," said Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze.

Now programs can blend traditional smashmouth elements with wide-open elements found in spread offenses to keep opposing defenses on their toes while still wearing them down through speed and strength.

The rule change in 2008—Muschamp's first year as Texas' defensive coordinator—was something that created a perfect storm.

"It was an eye-opener for me in 2008 going to Texas," he said. "With some of the talented quarterbacks in the league at the time. Sam Bradford, we had Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell was at Texas Tech, Robert Griffin III was at Baylor, [Todd] Reesing was at Kansas. There was a bunch of really good quarterbacks, and the tempo of the league was really fast."

That served as a precursor to what was to come in the SEC. 

The ability to play fast, the evolution of the spread, quarterbacks recruited specifically to run it and an injection of creative play-callers have put defensive-minded SEC coaches into a bind.

"I think the fast pace of play and the way college football is right now definitely favors the offense, that’s why we see the points that we see," Saban told my B/R colleague Marc Torrence. "I think you have to have a lot more patience on defense. I think the whole approach to how you prepare for a game has to be completely different than what it used to be."

The more things change, though, the more they stay the same. 

"The tempo has changed," Jacobs said, "but the 'ball' is still the same."

 

Simplicity

Increased tempo in college football has simplified the game for everybody. Instead of complicated play calls, a focus on running a high number of plays has simplified the play-calling process.

Instead of wordy play calls in a huddle, teams signal in plays quickly through hand signals, pictures and numbers. This was a point of criticism while former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was going through the draft process.

"Our method is ‘simplistic equals fast,'" he told ESPN.com's Jon Gruden (via ProFootballTalk.com) in 2011. "It’s so simple as far as, you look to the sideline [and] you see 36 on the board. And that’s a play. And we’re off.”

While that may hurt players moving on to the next level, it also presents challenges to defensive coaches at the college level.

Take Saban, for example. Instead of scheming to stop an offense, his No. 1 goal is simply to get his team lined up properly, which means plays that aren't exotic and an advantage that the offense has neutralized.

It goes beyond the game itself, though.

"It's been a little bit of a work in progress," Saban said. "When you have the new offenses, on defense, you have to be realistic about what you can implement and play in the games. We've always been more of a pro-style, match personnel and have a lot of different packages of things we can do on defense. You waste time practicing because you can't get it in the game when they go fast and don't substitute."

The Crimson Tide offense is actually going more uptempo itself these days, which has benefited its defense.

"We actually forced our offense to be a no-huddle team too has helped us on defense," Saban told Torrence. "Even though we don’t go fast all the time, just the fact that we can practice against a no huddle-type team rather than huddling up. Then, all the sudden, here’s a game where you have to go no-huddle and the players are used to that routine and how they have to play."

Exotic offenses have forced defenses to simplify. As is the case in the game itself, when you force the opposition to play your game, you have the advantage.

 

Recruiting

Size doesn't matter anymore; speed does.

Sure, having a 330-pound monster in the middle of the defensive line will certainly help teams that run 3-4 defenses, but even those ends can't simply be space-eaters anymore. 

Defenses need speed outside—like Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen—in order to get off blocks and make plays, not just free up room for linebackers. 

New offenses that force defenders at all levels to run have changed the way SEC teams recruit defensively.

"We want to get longer and faster," Freeze said. "We're not so much concerned with defensive linemen or our backers being a certain weight. We think we can add weight once they get there. You have to recruit speed. If you can't run on the defensive side, it makes for some long afternoons. People are so good now at exploiting matchups and putting their guys in space with these offenses."

Instead of having outside linebackers who can go into the hole and stand up powerful running backs, you need outside linebackers who can do that and go east and west to track down speed-rushers and quarterbacks off the edge and, at the very least, occupy those lanes and turn plays back inside.

Freshman Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans is a perfect example of teams adjusting to the speed of the game. Playing the same "Jack" linebacker position as 265-pounder Courtney Upshaw played in 2011, the 225-pound Evans has already made an impact for the Crimson Tide this year, notching six tackles and one sack through four games.

“Rashaan is a freak,” fellow linebacker Reggie Ragland told Torrence, B/R's lead Alabama writer, earlier this season. “And when you’re a freak, you deserve to be on the field. He’s putting that time in to be that player that Coach Saban and Coach Smart and (outside linebackers) Coach (Lance) Thompson want him to be.”

The injection of speed and creativity has forced coaches to react in the recruiting game, which has allowed a guy like Evans to make an immediate impact in the toughest conference in the nation.

 

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a co-host of the CFB Hangover on Bleacher Report Radio (Sundays, 9-11 a.m. ET) on Sirius 93, XM 208.

Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of cfbstats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports. Information from B/R's Alabama lead writer Marc Torrence was used in this story. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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5-Star DE Byron Cowart Sets Visits: Where Does He Fit Best?

The final stretch of 5-star prospect Byron Cowart's recruitment will feature four official visits to campuses across the country. He announced his intentions Thursday to spend time at Florida State, Florida, Alabama and Oregon:

Cowart, rated the nation's No. 1 strong-side defensive end in 247Sports' composite rankings, holds dozens of scholarship offers. He used his first official visit at Maryland earlier this month.

The 6'4", 250-pound prospect is among the most physically impressive recruits in the 2015 class. Cowart combines immense raw power with rare speed (clocked at 4.60 seconds in the 40-yard dash), covers the run and chases down quarterbacks.

He tallied 72 tackles and 13 sacks last season at Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida. Cowart has collected 23 tackles and three sacks through four games as a senior.

Now that we know where he's headed this fall, let's break down each visit and explore which option appears to present an ideal opportunity for the devastating Sunshine State defender.

 

Florida

The Gators have been viewed as a prohibitive favorite in this pursuit for a while, and that perception remains predominately steady through September. Cowart is projected to sign with Florida by 90 percent of predictions in 247Sports' Crystal Ball.

He's already spent significant time on campus and returned to Gainesville for game action earlier this season. Cowart plans to attend the team's Nov. 15 showdown with South Carolina.

Though the cause of Florida's woes under head coach Will Muschamp is often an anemic offensive attack, the team's latest defeat at Alabama proved there are plenty of holes to fill on defense. The Gators picked up some quality pieces last signing day, headlined by 5-star New Orleans defensive tackle Gerald Willis, but they could use a high-impact pass-rusher off the edge.

Cowart could immediately improve the program's 3rd-and-long defensive group and work his way into the rotation as a true freshman. He's been at or near the top of the list for Florida in this recruiting cycle since its early stages, but uncertainty swirling around the coaching staff doesn't exactly create a stable environment for high school prospects.

"The scary thing about it is I'm really comfortable with Florida," Cowart told Bleacher Report's Kynon Codrington. "The reason I say scary is the stability in the coaching staff. 

 

Oregon

Oregon naturally stands out on this list due to lack of proximity, but this visit shouldn't surprise those who've followed Cowart's recruitment. Earlier this year, he told 247Sports reporter Justin Hopkins (subscription required) the Ducks are a mainstay among his favorites.

"Oregon has always been up there for me on my list of schools," Cowart said.

Oregeon is competing with three teams that have won national championships in recent years and allow him to stay in a familiar region. Despite those challenges, don't discount Oregon in this race.

The Ducks are known as an offensive juggernaut, but equal talent on the other side of the football could vault Oregon into a new level. Cowart could quickly become the face of an improved Oregon defensive unit.

The team has struggled to sign top-tier defensive linemen and is still searching in this cycle. Cowart, who will be in attendance for an Nov. 22 game against Colorado, would be one of Oregon's most important signings in program history.

His biggest fan is willing to follow him to the West Coast.

"My mom and I were discussing that we've never really lived in the same place for more than five years," Cowart told Codrington. "Wherever I go she is probably going to go with me. She said she wouldn't have a problem moving to a place like Oregon, so that gave me the green light to visit them and see what it's about."

 

Florida State

The Seminoles have come on strong in recent months, giving the Gators a fight for his top in-state destination. Florida State, like Florida, has enjoyed recruiting success when it comes to addressing the defensive front. 

Jimbo Fisher and company are still firmly in the picture for top overall prospect Josh Sweat, the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in this class. Seminoles fans would be celebrating wildly if the team manages to bring both elite defenders to campus next year.

Cowart could ultimately decide to stay in his home state after surveying the options, and if the choice comes down to coaching staffs, it's difficult to see him choosing the Gators over Florida State. Fisher has the best job security in college football for anyone not named Nick Saban and is putting out an on-field product that's far superior than what Muschamp can muster at the moment.

The Seminoles are set to host Cowart on campus for an annual battle with Florida. It's the ideal time for Florida State to showcase where it stands in comparison to the Gators.

 

Alabama

Cowart, like all athletes interested in Alabama, must accept the fact that playing time could be hard to come by as an underclassman. Saban has assembled five straight top-rated recruiting classes, packing the roster with an array of blue-chip prospects.

Despite the presence of so many standouts, especially along the defensive line, Cowart is a talent who shouldn't shy away from elite competition. He is, after all, elite himself.

"People tell me that Alabama is too big and that I'll never play if I go there, but only you know what you are capable of based on what you see," Cowart told 247Sports reporter Charles Power (subscription required). "You can't tell me I can't play at Alabama, because I know what I saw. They compete and they work hard. That's what Alabama is about and that's what I'm about."

Cowart traveled to Tuscaloosa for spring game festivities. He'll return in October to watch the team take on Texas A&M in one of the most anticipated college collisions this season.

It will be interesting to see how his experience at Alabama holds up against the three Cowart has planned for November.

 

Verdict

Given the question marks surrounding Florida's staff right now, it's difficult to view the Gators as his best fit. If Muschamp stays on board, Cowart is more likely to land in Gainesville. 

Oregon offers him a chance to become an immediate program-changer, whereas he'd just be the latest 5-star recruit to sign with his other options. The Ducks are in dire need of young, dynamic defensive linemen to contend with an incredible stockpile of Pac-12 passers for years to come.

Florida State and Alabama both have a wealth of talent on their rosters. While there won't be a clear path to playing time with either program, the Seminoles aren't nearly as loaded along the defensive edge as Saban's squad.

Accounting for program success and stability, along with positional need, Florida State seems to be the strongest fit for Cowart at this stage. Still, there's a long way to go until his recruitment comes to end.

 

Recruit ratings and stats courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.

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