NCAA Football News
For the fourth straight season, the Oklahoma Sooners have started out 2-0.
They’ve proven they can throttle an opponent, putting away Louisiana-Monroe 34-0 in Week 1. They’ve also proven they can win the defensive battles, grinding out a 16-7 victory over West Virginia on Saturday.
Regardless of the style of play, Oklahoma has given us much to talk about.
Here are the biggest storylines in Sooner Nation heading into Week 3.
By a show of hands, who expected to see "(2-0)" following "Fighting Illini" after Week 2?
That's what I thought.
The Fighting Illini, who finished 2-10 last year without a single Big Ten conference win, have already matched their two wins from 2013 with two more games remaining before commencing Big Ten play. Next week's game pits the Illini against the University of Washington Huskies. Washington is ranked No. 19 in the nation.
The Illini have already exceeded expectations so far this season. The Illini lead the Big Ten in passing yards (yes, you read that right.) Additionally, starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is second in the conference in quarterback rating behind Indiana's Nate Sudfeld.
Illinois is quickly on their way to shutting a lot of critics up. A win over No. 19 Washington would surely put Illinois in the polls, something nobody besides the players' moms expected.
Even with a loss on Saturday, the Illini can still begin Big Ten play with a winning record pending a win over Miami of Ohio on September 28. Miami (OH) is 0-2 following a 52-14 loss to Marshall and a 41-7 loss to Kentucky. They will face Cincinnati on September 21 before heading to Champaign.
Let's assume Illinois loses one of their next two games. The Illini would begin Big Ten play 3-1 with eight games remaining. Worst-case scenario, the Illini go 3-9; sadly enough, that's an improvement from last season.
Illinois also could improve on last year's Big Ten record. Well, they at least can't regress.
As for stats, Illinois has played quite impressively. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is first in the Big Ten in passing with 728 passing yards in two games. That puts him only 633 yards behind last year's total of 1,361 passing yards in 10 games.
Because of the Illini's 45-17 win over Cincinnati, they have a tremendous amount of momentum and confidence heading into their Chicago homecoming game at Soldier Field. Their drubbing of Cincy may be just what the Illini need to have a successful season.
In a way, the Illini have already exceeded expectations by starting off 2-0 and leading the Big Ten in multiple offensive categories. At this point last season, Illinois was 1-1 with only 38 total points.
With the confidence Illinois has after Saturday's win, the Illini will only continue to improve with the help of new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit. The threat of Scheelhaase to senior wide receive Ryan Lankford has been a winning combination. With some improvement in their rushing game, the Illinois offense will be bounds ahead of what was expected.
Time will soon tell if the Illini will continue their early success. The quickly approaching conference schedule will indeed be tough, but their momentum and confidence they've built already will help them throughout the season and will propel them past their critics' expectations.
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It is never too early to talk recruiting. The 2015 prospects will be in the spotlight faster than many realize. The junior class has a lot of talent coming through the ranks, and college coaches have already begun to pluck prospects from that crop.
Several 2015 prospects would be ranked high even if they were in the 2014 class. This year's group has excellent talent, but a few juniors appear to have as much potential, if not more, than their 2014 counterparts.
A receiver in Florida would have challenged for No. 1 honors if he were a senior, while a cornerback from the Sunshine State would fit right in with this year's talented players at his position. Also, a defensive end in Minnesota is better than a couple of 2014 prospects.
The Miami Hurricanes have earned consecutive wins to begin the 2013 season at 2-0, and storylines are everywhere to be seen on head coach Al Golden's squad.
Miami's offense was supposed to be the driving force of the team, but so far the unit hasn't quite lived up to expectations. In addition, changes in the coaching staff have certainly affected the 'Canes to this point.
College football doesn't technically have a free agency market, but a certain loophole is supplying this team with some extra firepower too.
After defeating in-state rival Florida last Saturday, Miami has a bye week before a chance to create some more storylines against FCS bottom feeder Savannah State on Sept. 21 at Sun Life Stadium.
For Georgia and Michigan, Week 2 was about taking care of business against a difficult opponent at home. For Texas and USC, the second game of the season was about torturing message board servers and creating a bigger picture that could prove to be larger than an extra tally in the loss column.
It’s early, no question, but this bigger picture has an appetite and it’s going to feast at some point. Maybe not now, but Week 2's ultimate impact will likely be felt sometime in the future.
Elsewhere, a lineman scored a touchdown on a hook-and-lateral. I repeat, a lineman scored a touchdown on a hook-and-lateral. Also, LSU wideout Odell Beckham housed a missed field goal with relative ease and Eminem and Brent Musburger passed along gambling tips in one of the oddest live television moments ever created.
And here’s what I loved and hated in Week 2.
As first reported by Chip Brown of Orangebloods.com, Manny Diaz has been relieved of his duties as Texas' defensive coordinator and will be replaced by Greg Robinson effective immediately. Robinson was formerly the Longhorns' co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in 2004 and was hired as a football analyst by Mack Brown in mid-July.
Orangebloods.com broke the news one day after the Longhorns defense gave up a school-record 550 yards rushing against the BYU Cougars. In the post-BYU interviews, Chip Brown asked Brown if Diaz would be coaching the defense for the Longhorns' upcoming game against Ole Miss, to which Brown responded, "I haven't even gotten out of the game. I would like to watch the video."
The game video shows the Texas defense missing tackles and getting gashed in the run game, and BYU quarterback Taysom Hill rushing for 259 yards and three touchdowns against the Longhorns.
Texas confirmed Orangebloods.com's report Sunday evening. In a statement, Mack Brown said, "Our performance on defense [Saturday] was unacceptable and we need to change that. Greg will be here [Sunday night] and will get with the staff and players to start preparing for Ole Miss."
What could this mean for the Texas defense?
Robinson spent one season as the defensive coordinator for Texas before taking the head coaching job at Syracuse. In Robinson's single season in Austin, the Longhorns' went 11-1 and beat Michigan in an exciting Rose Bowl. The defense ranked 16th in rushing, 18th in scoring and 23rd in total defense under Robinson in 2004.
In his 36-year coaching career, Robinson has spent 10 years coaching in the NFL, including his time as the Denver Broncos' defensive coordinator during the team's back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1997 and 1998.
The good news is it is unlikely that Robinson will face much of a learning slump, due to his duties as a Texas football analyst. Robinson helped oversee the Longhorns' self-scouting and provided assistance in scouting opponents, meaning he is familiar with both the Texas team and its opponents.
Robinson obviously has skins on the wall, but Texas fans should keep expectations within reason, as the defensive turnaround may not happen in one game. Diaz has received the majority of the blame for the Longhorns' defensive woes, but at some point, the players have to be held accountable for their poor defensive performances since 2012.
What Robinson cannot fix is heart and effort, so if the Texas defense cannot show either of those, the chance for change will be slim to none.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar
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Sometimes an assignment comes across a writer's desk and they can do nothing but groan at the prospect of covering that subject.
Welcome to my world when I opened up the content document which contained this week's assignments.
Now my mission is to find something positive to say about a person who I am sure is a very nice fellow but unfortunately, is not much of a quarterback.
Compounding my angst is tempering my disgust at the performance young Cody offered Saturday night when the guy couldn't lead his offense to anything more than a single touchdown against a good, but not great Washington State defense.
Such is the task laid before me, and I will do my best to offer an unbiased report on a young man who I am sure would love to start this season over.
And I am sure many Trojan fans would join him in those sentiments.
For Wisconsin football, it's been hard to pinpoint areas of weakness over the first two weeks of the season. That'll happen when you outscore your opponents by a combined 93 points and don't even allow a field goal to go through the uprights.
The Badgers should feel good about themselves after annihilating Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech. Then again, it is UMass and Tennessee Tech, but Wisconsin did exactly what it was supposed to do—take care of business without having any second thoughts.
Sure, you could look at occasional lapses in coverage, a lack of pressure on the quarterback, looking down intended receivers or a failure to break out more lengthy runs, but then we'd be getting nitpicky.
The fact of the matter is that the Badgers appear to be clicking on all cylinders heading into their showdown in Tempe, and there are five storylines that help explain how head coach Gary Andersen has led Wisconsin to its successful start.
SOUTH BEND, Ind.—There were the smaller-picture questions thrown Brian Kelly's way Sunday during his day-after press conference following Notre Dame's loss Saturday night at Michigan.
How is wide receiver TJ Jones' shoulder (fine, he'll be at practice on Tuesday), Could he assess the play of inside linebacker Jarrett Grace (did good things, still has stuff to work on), and what is the status of running back George Atkinson III, who struggled catching the ball Saturday night (either catch the ball or he'll be standing next to Kelly).
But for much of the approximately 20-minute teleconference, the questions sent Kelly's way were big picture, particularly in light of the team's first regular-season loss since 2011.
"Look, when you're coming off of playing for a national championship, the bar is high," Kelly said. "So the expectations are, when you go on the road, you don't lose to Michigan, and that's really the standard that is set."
The questions came Sunday following comments Kelly made repeatedly Saturday night about the teaming needing to play smarter and more disciplined, and about Jones saying he felt like the loss was a wake-up call. The fourth-year coach was asked if there were any signs leading up to the game that his team needed a wake-up call.
"No, I mean, I think if we're in a position where we don't understand what it takes to win at Michigan, then we're missing the boat," Kelly said. "I think if you look at the game, we just have to play better and we have to coach better. I don't think there is any big-picture relevance to those quotes other than you've got to get back to work. You've got to practice harder. You've got to pay attention to detail."
One thing many who saw the 41-30 loss to the Wolverines was that this year's defense isn't what last year's was. Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon had their way with a unit that, in the first two games of the post-Manti Te'o Era, looked vanilla in a season-opening win over Temple and suspect against Michigan.
There are a number of concerns. The secondary was shredded by Gallon, who caught eight passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns. The front line couldn't contain Gardner, who threw for 294 yards and four touchdowns, and also ran for 82 yards. The linebacker corps looks like it hasn't yet recovered from not having Te'o on the field.
The secondary figures to be the least of those concerns. ND has had recruiting success at the position, and it's considered an area of depth.
The linebacker corps, particularly the inside spots, are a concern in that starters Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox are gone after this season, and there aren't any clear-cut favorites to replace them beyond Grace.
The defensive line is an even bigger down-the-road concern. Nose guard Louis Nix and end Stephon Tuitt were both loaded with preseason honors, but neither has played like an All-American through two games. Nix has five tackles, Tuitt three.
It's also an area where there isn't a lot of depth. It's not inconceivable that both Nix and Tuitt could be gone following the season, although each has a year of eligibility remaining. Last spring, end Aaron Lynch transferred to South Florida, and this summer, signee Eddie Vanderdoes jumped to UCLA.
After the Michigan game, Kelly opted not to point a finger at his defense, talking instead about the missed opportunities on offense. Sunday, he was again asked about the defense.
"I think there are going to be some times when our offense has to win some ballgames," he said Sunday. "I just felt like this was one of those nights where our offense has to bail out our defense."
Based on what happened against Michigan, the personnel concerns and the schedule ahead, it may not be the last night the offense will have to win a game.
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Boise State may have looked dominant against Tennessee-Martin this past Saturday, but no one in Bronco Nation expected anything less from Chris Petersen’s squad.
However, after the debacle against Washington to begin the 2013 campaign, many can’t help but wonder if there is a lot of work left to do if the Broncos are going to legitimately compete for the Mountain West Conference crown.
Chances are, those wondering are probably correct in their assumptions. In order to even qualify to play in the inaugural Mountain West Conference Championship Game, Boise State is going to need to improve on both sides of the ball.
We’ll take a look at what exactly the Broncos need to do in order to regain the confidence of both the fanbase and the rest of the nation that this won’t be one of the more trying seasons of Chris Petersen’s head coaching career in Boise.
Spoiler alert: Beating up on an FCS opponent isn’t quite enough.
The Texas Longhorns are two games in and have experienced two different results in the new uptempo offense. Major Applewhite's group may not be in as much trouble as the defense, but it has not alleviated any concerns moving forward.
The Longhorns are in full circus mode. Greg Robinson has replaced Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator after last night's drubbing at BYU, and the entire nation is snickering at the Longhorns' prospects for the rest of the season.
Could the Diaz demotion be the spark the program needs? Perhaps on defense, but the offense needs some help of its own. The 'Horns were unable to pull themselves out of a second-straight slow start, and figure to be a feature section of Kyle Van Noy's draft film this spring.
There were still explosive plays, but this was not the offensive machine fans wanted and the team needed to beat the Cougars. Especially with a defense that is still in progress.
But how far has this offense come in the new scheme? The answer will alleviate your concerns for this 2013 season.
College football teams sitting high and mighty in the 2013 NCAA football rankings heading into Week 3 won’t be during the same time the following week.
Whether by upset or an untimely matchup with a juggernaut, expect several squads in the Top 25 to watch their rank dip before Week 4. Here are those squads and why they will come up on the losing end of the scoreboard.
No. 20 Wisconsin
Wisconsin will fly south, deep into the desert to face off against Arizona State on Saturday. The Badgers and Sun Devils boast the No. 1-ranked scoring defense in the nation, neither having surrendered a single point this season. Of course, the teams that they’ve played include Sacramento State, Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech.
Something has to give, and the Arizona State offense led by Taylor Kelly will outgun Wisconsin’s, led by Melvin Gordon. Not only do the Sun Devils have an entire extra week to prepare for the showdown than the Badgers, but they’re at home and Wisconsin will struggle to adapt to Phoenix’s summer heat.
No. 23 Nebraska
Who knows how the Cornhuskers managed to pull off five-straight home games to start the season, but they still only beat Wyoming by three points in Week 1.
UCLA, who Nebraska has the pleasure of playing, thrashed its Mountain West Conference foe Nevada 58-20. The No. 15 Bruins, the Pac-12 South favorites, with their seventh-ranked rushing attack, will expose a Nebraska defense that has surrendered 47 points to sub-par competition.
No. 6 Texas A&M
If the Aggies surrendered a total of 59 points against Rice and Sam Houston State, Alabama could blow them out on Sept. 14. A.J. McCarron, T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper form one of the most talented QB-HB-WR combinations in the nation—the former being a three-year starting senior, and the latter two accumulating 1,000 yards as freshman.
Johnny Manziel is special. He’s already racked up 552 yards from scrimmage and seven total touchdowns this season. He also upset the Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium last season.
However, last season Texas A&M had a respectable defense. That’s debatable this year after it lost Damontre Moore, Sean Porter, Spencer Nealy, Dustin Harris, Steven Terrell, C.J. Jones and Jonathan Stewart to the 2013 NFL Draft and/or graduation.
David Daniels is a breaking news writer at Bleacher Report and news editor at Wade-O Radio.
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As Cornhusker fans start looking toward the Nebraska vs. UCLA matchup, they could be forgiven for being a little confused as to what they should expect. Against Wyoming, Nebraska's vaunted Blackshirt defense was shredded for 602 yards and fans saw visions of Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game flashing through their heads.
But then the Blackshirts buckled down, holding Southern Mississippi to 284 yards and 13 points in what looked to be a much more solid performance. Both Wyoming and Southern Mississippi, of course, are a level below the competition Nebraska will be facing in the B1G this season.
UCLA, however, will provide Nebraska's defense with one of its sternest tests all years. The Bruins knocked off Nebraska 36-30 in Pasadena last season, gouging NU's defense for 653 yards of total offense. So how Nebraska responds when faced with an opponent of UCLA's caliber should tell us a lot about how far the Blackshirts have progressed.
Here are five things in particular we will learn.
Thought it’s fair to make humorous quips about Bobby Petrino and motorcycles, the truth is the guy is a great football coach.
Petrino—who has left a string of haters in the dust longer than Nick Saban's—started his head coaching odyssey at Louisville in 2003, tried his hand at the NFL at Atlanta in 2007 and landed the Arkansas job in 2008.
There, he took a Razorbacks program skidding from the ill effects of the 10-season Houston Nutt era and transformed it into a fierce competitor with a realistic shot at the SEC title and a national championship.
Petrino led Arkansas to back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 2010 and 2011, which culminated in the program's first top-five finish since 1977.
But the glory and potential all crashed suddenly and dramatically when Petrino was, per Tom Weir at USA Today, fired in April 2012 after providing misleading information about a motorcycle accident. The incident uncovered a bigger scandal, which involved Petrino's hiring of—and inappropriate relationship with—a 25-year-old member of his staff.
After taking the 2012 season off, Petrino resurfaced when he was hired to replace head coach Willie Taggart at Western Kentucky, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).
The Hilltoppers, hailing from the Sun Belt conference, kicked off the Petrino era with a 35-26 Week 1 win over the SEC’s Kentucky but fell from grace in a 52-20 turnover-ridden loss to Tennessee this past Saturday.
With a 1-1 start and 14 returning starters from a 7-6 finish last season (which included the program’s first bowl appearance), it doesn't seem premature to say Western Kentucky is nothing more than a short-term launch pad for Petrino.
Petrino is a lot of things, but he’s also a proven winner. In the high-stakes game of college football, that means his name will appear on coaching wish lists soon.
While it would be a stretch to say USC or Texas would consider Petrino—both can afford to skip over guys with baggage—it’s not far-fetched to say other BCS programs would view him as a realistic candidate.
The following programs have both a potential need for a new coach and a long-term quest to become relevant in a big-time BCS conference.
Missouri's shift to the SEC and Gary Pinkel's diminishing returns make this job almost the perfect fit for Petrino.
First, you've got a coach who has done all he can at his given job. In other words, even without the move from the Big 12 to the SEC, Pinkel might have passed the point of no return at Missouri.
Next, you've got what is a solid but quiet program in the SEC East. The East is somewhat less daunting than the West but offers all the big bang if you can win it.
Plus, Petrino wouldn’t have to start over or build from the ashes at Missouri like he would be forced to do at a program like Kentucky, Washington State, Kansas or UConn.
The Missouri job is still a quality affair. The program is in need of a makeover but not a teardown or rebuild.
A step down the ladder from the Missouri, Kansas is a place coaches go to one day see their names atop a “hot seat” listing.
Yes, it's hard to keep out of trouble at a place like Kansas.
But this job is positioned in a major conference—a situation enhanced by the Big 12 slipping a bit in terms of its relative strength versus the bigger SEC and Pac-12.
So, though the task is daunting, it’s not the same thing as trying to get it done in a double-division SEC with Alabama, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Florida.
Though Charlie Weis is in only his second season at Kansas, his 1-11 debut in 2012 leaves little confidence he will be considered a long-term solution.
Illinois oozes with potential, and its Big Ten address makes it an interesting scenario for a guy like Petrino.
Think about it. If Petrino wants a departure or do-over, why not leave the South and try to pound it out in the Big Ten?
The relative weakness of the Big Ten has to make this job attractive to Petrino, who would have a much easier path to glory here than in the SEC, Pac-12 or Big 12.
Tim Beckman has proved that bringing the Illini back to life may be more difficult than advertised, especially since he is building on the devastating 2-10 mark from his debut in 2012.
But before you put all the blame on Beckman's shoulders, don't forget Illinois has only risen above the eight-win mark once since going 10-2 in 2001.
The first issue when considering Petrino for the Mississippi State job is whether the Bulldogs would part ways with Dan Mullen.
Mullen is in his fifth year at MSU and thus far has worked hard for his 29-23 record. But no matter how you slice it and no matter how great a guy Mullen is, one Top 25 finish in four tries may not cut it.
Under Mullen, the Bulldogs have never finished better than fourth place in the SEC West.
Mississippi State is another nearly perfect fit for Petrino, who likely won't have a shot at “better” jobs like LSU or Tennessee.
Mississippi State offers a big-time division (the best in the game) and a program that is moving in the right direction. The key word here is "moving"—as opposed to stagnant and troubled.
Though it would be disappointing to see Mullen go—regardless of the circumstances—it would thrilling to see Petrino take over in Starkville and scare the dickens out of the rest of the West.
Under Mike Riley, Oregon State has been like a girlfriend with multiple personalities, which makes you wonder how long the relationship can last.
From a 10-4 finish in 2006 to the depths of a 3-9 mark in 2011 and back to a 9-4 finish in 2012, Riley has been all over the place.
With the No. 25 Beavers' 49-46 loss to FCS Eastern Washington in Week 1, the crazy ride continues.
Petrino at Oregon State would be an even further departure—geographically and otherwise—than if he were to take over at Illinois.
Though it would be a difficult post, Oregon State wouldn’t be as fraught as Kansas or Illinois. It would be more like Mississippi State—a solid program in a tough-as-nails division (the Beavers share an address with Oregon and Stanford).
And if you don’t think the Beavers would hire him, remember this is the same school that gave Dennis Erickson a shot back in 1999.
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At 1-1, the Virginia Tech Hokies are about where everyone expected them to be after two weeks. Their performance against Alabama, on defense, gave Virginia Tech fans reason for optimism in 2013.
In Week 2, the Hokies made their Lane Stadium debut with a 45-3 thrashing of FCS Western Carolina. Yes, the Hokies looked good in some areas but showed the need to improve in other phases.
Injuries were the talk of fall camp as the Hokies lost several contributors. Things were so bad that starting tailback J.C. Coleman sprained both ankles in practice on the same day.
Injuries aside, what's the biggest early-season storyline for the Hokies?
Here are five storylines we find the most intriguing just two weeks into the season.
Over the past several years, the Oklahoma Sooners have been known as a football team that would throw up and down the field effortlessly. The Sooners took advantage of skilled passers such as Jason White, Sam Bradford and Landry Jones, shaping their offensive identity around these sure-armed quarterbacks.
This year seems to be a completely different story.
Just two weeks into the season, the Sooners are having trouble finding a rhythm in their passing game and much of the offense is reliant on the legs of running backs Brennan Clay and Damien Williams.
True freshman quarterback Trevor Knight was named the starting QB before the season despite many believing that honor would be given to fan favorite Blake Bell.
In his first two starts, Knight has gone 21-of-48 passing with four touchdowns and three interceptions. His dismal passing last Saturday against West Virginia forced Sooners head coach Bob Stoops to replace Knight with Bell early in the fourth quarter.
You'd have to say Trevor Knight is passing the ball WORSE tonight than in the opener. The int.in WVU's end zone is OU's 3rd turnover @kfor— Bob Barry, Jr. (@bbjsports) September 8, 2013
Despite being subbed in for Knight at a crucial point in the game, Bell did not get many opportunities to prove himself, getting only one pass and two rushing attempts.
The junior accounted for 11 touchdowns last season at the QB position. He mostly entered into games in goal-line situations and even had an offensive package named after him called the "Belldozer" package.
With great size at 6'6", 252 pounds, Bell has the ability to power his way through the defensive line for short-yardage pickups.
love that Trevor Knight....great attitude when Blake Bell goes into the game, clapping for him #fullsupport— Bill Jones (@ou_billjones) September 8, 2013
Bell is not known for his passing ability, which is why Knight was given the starting job this season. But without a QB that can pass effectively, Stoops might have to reevaluate the Sooners' offensive identity.
The running game saved the Sooners in Saturday night's matchup with the Mountaineers, as Clay and Williams combined for 165 rushing yards. Bell provided 21 additional yards on just two carries.
Nevertheless, it seems change is necessary for the Sooners' offensive identity this season. They do not have the privilege of watching Landry Jones throw up and down the field like last season, and since the Sooners do have a capable rusher in Bell at the QB position, it may be time for the Sooners to adjust.
Transitioning to a ground-and-pound offense is not necessarily a bad thing either.
Before the Jason White era, the Sooners were known for a tough, schematic running game that proved successful with multiple national championships. Does anyone recall the Sooners teams featuring running back greats Billy Sims, Greg Pruitt, Joe Washington or Steve Owens?
The Clay-Williams dual threat has the potential to be very effective this season for the Sooners. It may not be comparable to the rushing seasons of any of the greats previously mentioned, but it does not have to be as long as the Sooners defense continues to prevent offenses from putting up many points.
Needless to say, the Sooners' coaching staff will have a few issues concerning the offense to resolve this week before heading to Tulsa this Saturday.
Will a change take place in the Sooners' offensive identity? Only time will tell.
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With the college football season now in full swing, that means many programs will be hosting recruiting visits during home games in the coming weeks. All of the visits will be scrutinized, especially those involving the top uncommitted recruits in the country.
Visits are crucial in the college football recruiting process, as they give prospects the chance to tour a campus, hang out with the team, observe a game-day atmosphere and see how coaches conduct themselves on the sidelines and in the locker room.
Looking ahead to what's on tap regarding possible recruiting visits for this season, the nation's best uncommitted prospect could pay an ACC team and Big Ten team visits, a defensive end from Georgia does not have definite plans although three SEC schools will see him soon, and an athlete from Los Angeles appears to be set to visit a trio of powerhouses in the Midwest.
Only one-sixth of Notre Dame's regular season has been completed, but the storylines surrounding the 2013 squad are aplenty.
After two weeks of action, the Irish own a record of 1-1.
Believe it or not, Notre Dame's 41-30 loss at Michigan on Saturday night was the Irish's first regular-season loss since a 28-14 defeat at Stanford on Nov. 26, 2011.
The defeat caused Notre Dame coaches and fans to take a step back and look at the program on a macro level, leading to the emergence of the following budding storylines.
Although Alabama still tops the polls heading into this weekend’s mega-tilt against No. 6 Texas A&M, plenty of questions remain surrounding Nick Saban’s club.
The Tide, who enjoyed a bye last week, have their share of issues—most of which come from the offensive side of the ball.
On the other hand, the defense and special teams units were both dominant in the 35-10 rout of Virginia Tech in the season opener.
What are the biggest storylines surrounding the Tide?
Every team is undefeated in a college football preseason. No matter the expectations, talent or depth, everyone still has a chance to have a great year.
Perhaps no individual, coach or player epitomized the optimism that comes attached to the preseason quite like Texas coach Mack Brown did in an interview with Yahoo! Sports in August.
“I want to finish at Texas,” Brown told Yahoo! Sports. “If I’m healthy and we win, I’m going to try to make 2020. I think it would be fun to do that, get back on another roll."
The irony of Brown's comments was that he entered 2013 with mounting pressure to succeed. The 2010 BCS championship against Alabama seems so long ago now. Since then, the Longhorns have struggled to try to climb their way back to the top of the Big 12—let alone all of college football.
2010 was a disastrous 5-7 campaign that eventually resulted in a major assistant coaching overhaul. 2011 and 2012 saw mild improvements and back-to-back bowl wins. Still, there have been no conference titles and no Red River victories over Oklahoma—two crucial goals for this program—since 2009.
With 19 returning starters and a wide open conference, there were no more excuses for the Longhorns heading into 2013. Still, Brown was sure about his team's chances this year. And about his future.
“I’m not going to [be fired],” Brown told Yahoo! Sports.
Whether that holds true remains to be seen, but the first coaching casualty for UT this year has been recorded just two games in. On Sunday afternoon, Brown announced that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz had been fired. The decision came less than 24 hours after the Texas defense gave up 550 yards rushing to BYU in a 40-21 embarrassment in Provo.
"Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that," Brown said in a statement.
The decision to relieve Diaz of his duties so swiftly is uncharacteristic of Brown. Former 'Horns offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who took a bulk of the blame for the problems during the '10 season, wasn't let go until the end of the season.
And even then, Davis "resigned" while offensive line coach Mac McWhorter and defensive line coach Mike Tolleson "retired," according to UT.
But when asked by reporters after Saturday's loss if Diaz would be coaching the next week against Ole Miss, Brown said, "I haven't even gotten out of the game. I'd like to watch the video."
According to Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman, Brown viewed the game tape on his iPad during the flight back to Austin and again when he got home. Per Bohls, Brown saw no defensive adjustments.
Hours later, Diaz was let go. If that doesn't signal that Brown is well-aware of his own job security, perhaps nothing will. There are few places where an eight or nine-win year is truly unacceptable on a consistent basis. Texas is one of them.
Diaz was a successful defensive coordinator in his one year at Mississippi State and considered a fast riser in the coaching ranks when he came to Texas. In 2010, the Bulldogs ranked in the top-30 in the country in points allowed, giving up roughly one touchdown less per game than 2009. However, the 'Horns' defense worsened statistically every year Diaz was the defensive coordinator.
Last year, it ranked as the worst in the history of the program.
Brown replaces Diaz on an interim basis with Greg Robinson, a former DC at Texas who currently serves as a football analyst for the program. Robinson's tenure as a DC ended on a sour note at Michigan when the Wolverines ranked 110th in the country in total defense under him.
If there's one thing Texas has, though, it's athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Though bringing on Robinson as interim defensive coordinator already has some shuddering, the chance to salvage that unit is not impossible.
If it doesn't happen, though, the cries for Brown's job are only going to get louder (whether or not Texas listens is another question). And if Brown is willing to release one coordinator two games into the season, what else is he willing to do to keep the 'Horns from falling off? The Texas offense has shown signs of potency, but struggled to run the ball and protect quarterback David Ash on a consistent basis.
Would Brown dismiss offensive coordinator Major Applewhite if the Longhorns offense falls apart? The difference here is that, unlike Diaz, Applewhite has a connection to Brown.
But Brown has gone against his usual grain once already this season in an effort to pull a quick fix. Brown could have easily let Diaz go after 2012, but chose to bring him back for another year.
He then promptly fired him not even a month into the season.
That's not the sign of someone who feels he has seven more years of coaching left in him. The optimism Brown expressed just a month ago appears to be long gone.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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