SMU survives Temple

It was homecoming Saturday in Dallas and the Mustangs had hopes of an easy victory over the visiting Owls, but the visitors had another idea in mind. The Mustangs would come out on their first drive and showed a troubling trend of a turnover, but the defense would hold and SMU would get the ball back to score and take a touchdown lead. But Temple, behind Quarterback P.J. Walker would have another idea and end up tying the game at seven on their next drive. This is point where the SMU offense would start having issues. Walker would lead the Owls to 28 unanswered points and look to have the game in Owl control.

SMU would get a defensive stop with 3:07 left in the half and the crowd could sense a score here would help change the momentum of this game going into the half. Garret Gilbert would organize a drive down the field to lead the mustangs into the end zone and put SMU on the board for the first time since the first quarter. There was a decided momentum shift at that time as the crowd had something to cheer about before halftime. Temple would choose to run out the half and take the opening kickoff to start the second half.

Coach June Jones said in his post game press conference “If we go out and stop them, we will win the game”, Maybe June has a magic ball and we are just not privy to it yet. As the Mustangs started the second half, they got a much needed defensive stop and had a chance to pull within a touchdown of Temple early in the second half. Enter Gilbert again who seems to have a knack of doing good things when it is not expected of him, he once again led the Mustangs down the field and got a much needed touchdown to make it a 28-21 deficit. But Temple wasn’t going to lie down and let SMU stampede over them, as Walker moved his offense down the field and put temple back up by 14. This seemed to damper the crowd just a bit,

Gilbert and the Mustangs would come back and score 14 unanswered points to tie the game up, which would leave only one quarter for either team to decide who wanted it more. By this point the crowd at Ford Stadium got loud and started to let their Mustangs know they were behind them 100 percent. There was a sense of something special is happening on the Hilltop because Gilbert had 422 passing yards and 92 rushing yards going into the third quarter. Gilbert would lead the Mustangs through four drives in the fourth quarter and score 17 unanswered points to pretty much wrap up the game, but Temple and Walker had another idea. Walker would lead Temple into the end zone, but a missed onside kick would be the final nail in the coffin for the Owls. SMU would walk away a winner and survive a very strong punch thrown by their American Athletic Conference foe.

Garret Gilbert would throw for a career high and SMU record 538 yards. SMU would also set a school record with 728 yards of total offense, and a record of 34 first downs. This would also be the first time SMU has not allowed a sack since 2012 against Southern Mississippi. All in all it was a very good day on the Hilltop as SMU won the game and improved their record to 3-4(2-1). SMU will take on Cincinnati on November 9th and return home on November 16th.

 

 

Nolan Ryan “Retires”; But was it Forced?

Late last week it was announced Nolan Ryan would be retiring from the Texas Rangers front office, but during the press conference Nolan let it slip that he was resigning. It has been no secret there has been some discourse between Nolan and Rangers GM Jon Daniels, but in public, they would say it was just “media fodder” and nothing was wrong. This has led some people to wonder, was Nolan being forced out, or is he leaving because he doesn’t want to be involved with Daniels anymore?

The only two people who know the true answer will be Nolan and Jon, and they have both made it very clear, neither will tip their cap to the true answer. While the owners and rest of the front office staff want fans to believe this will be a seamless transition and will not effect the way the team plays on the field going forward. I can’t help but think this could have a bigger negative affect than most will realize right now.

Nolan Ryan brought credibility to this franchise when it was nothing more than a laughingstock and he helped engineer the turnaround of a life time. Most people will give Daniels most of the credit, but I don’t doubt for a minute Nolan had more power than most realized. And it was because of that power that Daniels started lobbying for more control and ended up getting it. But with that control, the Rangers are now losing someone who gave fans hope the team would finally bring a championship back to Arlington.

Can the Rangers win a World Series without Nolan in the front office? Yes, but those hopes will now fall solely on Jon Daniels shoulders, and if Rangers fans will look back, he had a history of making dumb decisions before Nolan arrived. Some would argue the lack of a decision this year could be at fault for the Rangers not going further in the post season. So as Rangers fans say good bye to Nolan, and try to keep positive about the future of this team, they can only hope Daniels doesn’t regress with his sole control of decisions going forward.

Can fans fully say “In Jon Daniels we trust?” only time will tell.

Tigers look to rebound in 2013

The LSU Tigers are coming off of a 10-3 season that was capped off by a loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-a bowl. They were stacked to return most of the team intact, but a few players ended up leaving early for the draft, which has only left them with 12 returning starter’s total. But Les Miles always seems to find a way to get the best out of his teams.

LSU has been able to win to win in recent years without stellar play from the quarterback position. This year Zach Mettenberger is a senior this year and is coming off a good year where he threw for 2,609 yards. Along with back up Stephen Rivers, this year looks to be one of the best years of quarterback play the Tigers have had in a while. Add in the fact they are returning running backs Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue. They should be able to take some of the pressure of Mettenberger to keep the Tigers moving down the field.

Also add in the fact the top 4 receivers return this year, led by Kadron Boon and Odell Beckham. The passing game has been weaker because of spotty quarterback play, but with some experience at QB and the experienced receivers, look for them to put up some big numbers this season. It will be tough for Mettenberger to just sit back and survey the field because the offensive line is less experienced this season and will probably have a tougher time preventing someone to slip through and get their hands on the QB. Overall the Tigers have a strong offensive unit and will be able to put points up in bunches.

The defense took the biggest hit with a lot of players leaving for the draft, there is no senior leadership on the defensive line, and it is basically three juniors and a sophomore. This unit will have to grow up fast to be able to make their mark in the grueling SEC. Luckily the linebackers have some experience returning and can hopefully pick up the slack for the d-line. Led by seniors Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones, they will need to be a big time unit because the offenses in the SEC will take every opportunity to exploit any and all weakness.

The secondary looks to be at least as strong as last year with two returning starters and will be lead by senior safety Craig Loston. I think this unit can be a game changer for the Tigers because LSU has had a history of good athletic corners and safeties. If that tradition holds true, then this unit could be the difference of one or two losses in conference play.

The LSU tigers have a fairly favorable schedule this year with most of their toughest games being at home in always dangerous Tiger stadium. There are only two games on the road the tigers have to really be careful about, that is one trip to Alabama and an early season trip to Georgia. If the Tigers can make it out of those venues with a win, then they may have a shot at the SEC and National Championship. But losses there could relegate them back to the Chick-fil-a bowl.

8/31-TCU – W
9/7-UAB- W
9/14-Kent St. – W
9/21-Auburn – W
9/28-At Georgia – W
10/5-At Miss St – W
10/12-Florida – W
10/19-At Mississippi – W
10/26-Furman – W
11/9-At Alabama – L
11/23-Texas A&M – W
11/30-Arkansas – W
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2013 Record: 11-1

Miners looking for improvement in 2013

The Miners are coming off a very lackluster season at 3-9 and saw the retirement of their Head Coach. So, this year they will be breaking in rookie head coach Sean Kugler who was a guard at UTEP back in the 80′s but has not spent any time coaching in the College ranks. Kugler will be taking over a team who is returning 12 starters from last year. There is some hope that the Miners can find a way to get more than three wins, but it will take some work. At least they have a favorable schedule early.

This season they will be breaking in a new quarterback as well as a new coach. There are some questions as to who will win the starting job this season, but odds are the starter will end up being Texas A&M transfer Jameil Showers, who nearly beat out Johnny Manziel last year and played in seven games for the Aggies. Obviously that could be a huge gain for the Miners if he is able to acclimate himself into the offense and win the starting job, but he will have sophomore Blair Sullivan and senior Carson Meger snapping at his heels. They say Sullivan was the favorite coming out of spring ball, but Meger has some experience and started 3 games last year. No matter who wins the starting job, don’t be surprised if all three see some playing time early until a clear cut favorite is selected throughout the season.

Last year the Miners were very inexperienced at running back, but Nathan Jeffery proved to be a pivotal piece to the offense but ended up suffering some injury problems throughout the season that hampered his production. While he looks to remain healthy and the premiere running back this season, there are always guys behind him ready to step up in a moment’s notice and one of those guys is sophomore Autrey golden who had one start last year and looks for some quality playing time this season as well. Both of these guys could see some time on the field and could be a good one-two punch for the Miners offense, throw in Laquintus Dowell and this could be one of the best running back units in Conference USA.

After losing their top receiver from last year, one of the big questions is who will fill in the lower half of the depth chart and be able to compliment Junior Jordan Leslie this season. It looks like Devin Patterson will step up and be able to compliment Leslie this year and with Kevin Perry at tight end, then should be a decent unit and give Showers, or whoever is the starting quarterback the opportunity to get the ball downfield. Hopefully the offensive line, which has three returning starters from last year will be able to keep pressure off of the quarterback and give the receivers a chance to get in position to make a catch. Hopefully the youthful offense can get it going early and be in stride when UTEP gets into the last half of the season.

Luckily for the Miners the defense looks to be a little more experienced and won’t see as big of a drop off from last year. There are 5 returning starters on the defense and there are a couple of guys on the line who could be important to giving the Miners a chance to win. Seniors Marcus Bagley and Germard Reed will anchor the defensive line and should keep the d-line in similar shape as it was at the end of last season. One of the biggest changes to the defense will be senior Horace Miller will be moving from his defensive end position last year to linebacker this year. This move should help to fill in some void and sure up the linebackers into one of the more experienced units on the Miners.

Unfortunately for the Miners the least experienced unit on the defense could prove to be the most costly for them. They lost five of their top eight guys from last season, but hope by bringing in JUCO players like Nick Gathrite could help add a little bit of experience to the secondary. If these guys can gel in fall camp and prepare themselves for some tough passing attacks, then maybe there will be hope for the defensive unit. Hopefully the defense line and linebackers will be able to get enough push to keep the secondary from being exposed by some of the better passing teams the Miners will face.

Either way you slice it, youthful or experienced, you still have to play the schedule you are given, and teams won’t take it easy on you because of a rookie head coach or a youthful team. The Miners should be good enough to surpass their win total from last year, but getting to bowl eligibility will prove to be a tough task since they have five of their last six games on the road to end season. A new coach can breathe a lot of excitement into a program and hopefully that excitement and scheme change could be the difference of winning two games or winning six games.

9/7- New Mexico- W
9/14- At New Mexico St. – W
9/21- UTSA- L
9/28- At Colorado St.- L
10/5- Louisiana Tech- L
10/12- Tulsa- L
10/26- At Rice- L
11/2- At Texas A&M- L
11/9- At North Texas- L
11/16- Florida Int. – W
11/23- At Tulane – W
11/30- At Middle Tenn- L
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2013 Record: 4-8

Red Raiders youth will hinder in 2013

Texas TechThe Texas Tech Red Raiders are starting a new regime this season after the sudden departure of former head coach Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati. Now enter “prodigal” son Kliff Kingsbury, whose ties run as deep in Lubbock as anyone else within the program. Kingsbury took over the Tech program at the end of last year, while Kingsbury has no previous head coaching experience, he is a former Tech quarterback and has been the offense coordinator at Houston and Texas A&M. His hire has fired up people in Lubbock for the first time since Mike Leach was pacing the sidelines. But can a rookie head coach take a very young team and turn them into a winner?

Kingsbury’s first task will be finding a quarterback to run his offense and the front runner is going to be Sophomore Michael Brewer, but going into the first year under the new head coach, there will be learning curves abound because Brewer has not started a game in college as of yet. He was the backup last year and saw a little playing time, but not enough to be ready to take the reins of what looks to be a high powered offense. If Brewer can come in and prove he is ready, then look for him and the Texas Tech offense to put up impressive numbers because Kingsbury looks to bring back an “Air Raid” type system that fans in Lubbock loved under Mike Leach. Obviously if Tech is going to throw the ball around at will, then they will need some sure handed receivers to be able to make the plays.

Two of the top three receivers return from last year Led by seniors Eric Ward and Javon Bell, look for the receivers to be able to at least match last year’s production and possible even surpass it because Kingsbury’s system will rely more on the pass than his predecessor’s did. But if the defenses are queued in on the passing game, then they will need to make sure there is a running back strong enough to pick up some slack and give them hope to move the ball. Junior Kenny Williams hopes to be able to fill that void and help the offense gain yardage in chunks. Don’t look for the running game to always be a hand off, with a good passing attack, there will be chances for the running back to make plays off of a pass play too. Even though this offense is young and only has five returning starters from last year, they will probably put up points in bunches and eat up yards like crazy because of the new scheme.

The defensive side of the ball looks to be more experienced, but not by much and Tech will need them to make big stops to be able to come close to matching last year’s win total. With eight returning starter’s returning for the defense, they will rely on their experience to help keep them in games when it is late and in a hostile environment. First team Big XII defensive end Kerry Hyder will be the leading force on the defensive line, look for him to find creative ways to get into the back field and come close to getting his hands on the quarterback. Luckily for the defense the Line backing unit will return intact this year and could be the difference makers when the d-line can’t get the push into backfield. Look for some changes though as the defensive line will now be a three man unit and the linebackers will be a four man unit.

It will be up to the defensive front to make more plays because the defensive backs are less experienced this year and could be a troublesome spot for the Red Raiders against teams with a solid passing attack. I don’t see the defense being a huge game changer for Texas Tech this year, but I think they could be the difference maker for one or two extra wins this year.

Overall Texas Tech looks to have a team who can be on the verge of matching last year’s win total, but with the inexperience in key positions, I don’t see them working out 8 wins this year. They have a favorable schedule early in the year and that is where most of the wins will come from. The final six games of the year will be a tough test for the young team and if they find a way to squeak out two wins in that stretch will be a miracle for the Red Raiders. They fall back this year, but will only look to improve under Kingsbury.

8/30- SMU – W
9/7- Stephen F. Austin – W
9/12- TCU – L
9/21- Texas St. – W
10/5- At Kansas – W
10/12- Iowa St. (HC)- W
10/19- At West Virginia -L
10/26- At Oklahoma -L
11/2- Oklahoma St –W
11/9- Kansas St. – W
11/16- Baylor -L
11/28- At Texas- L
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2013 Record: 7-5