Archive for May, 2010
Last season, June Jones found his quarterback to build his duck and cluck offense around. Kyle Padron showed that he was ready to take the reins, as a freshman. He will have a great starting line in front of him. But, depth on the offensive line is a question.The number twos on the depth chart are huge, and may be great, especially in the future, but three of the five are freshmen, and were in high school last year. The other two are a red shirt freshman, and a junior at center.
The Mustangs will no longer have their running back Shawnbrey McNeal, who ranked 34th in the nation in rushing last year with 91 yards per game. Padron will have his talented group of receivers to throw to. SMU’s offense was ranked 51st in the country, last year. I would expect their offense to be improved this season. Padron will be even more comfortable with June Jones’ offense, and although the Mustangs lost McNeal this team uses the run to keep defenses honest, and to set up the passing game.
Defense will be the problem, again. Last year, the defense was ranked 84th in the country. This year’s defensive line won’t scare anyone. At linebacker, there is a mix of experience and youth. The defensive backfield will be tested. A lot. The two cornerbacks consist of a senior with 1 season of play, and a red shirt freshman. The safeties are a junior with two seasons under his pads, and a sophomore with one.
Defensively, the Mustangs had trouble with the run last season, and it doesn’t look too good for this season, either, and the passing team’s are going to light them up. That’s a bad combination. As much as the offense should be improved, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the defense look worse than last season.
Then, there is SMU’s 2010 schedule. While they have four games against some of the worst teams in the country that they should beat easily, they also have eight games against teams that should present real challenges. In those eight games, some are against teams that should be able to out gun them in shoot outs, and the others are against teams that should just out muscle them.
Here is the Mustangs’ schedule, and my fearless preseason predictions of their wins and losses;
9/5 @ Texas Tech L
9/11 Bowling Green W
9/18 WA St. W
9/24 TCU L
10/2 @ Rice W
10/9 Tulsa W
10/16 @ Navy L
10/23 Houston L
10/30 @ Tulane W
11/6 @ UTEP L
11/20 Marshall L
11/26 @ ECU L
All Games 5-7
Conference Games 4-4
I just got off of the phone with Coach Burns, the ex-Miners Defensive Line coach. Those of you who watched my videos of practice, know that I loved watching him coach his players. I always said that he wasn’t just building football players, he was building men. It is the nature of the coaching business that there will always be change. I don’t remember who said it, but he said the coaching is what you do between firings. When Coach Patterson was hired as Defensive Coordinator, his specialty is d-line, and so Coach Burns was let go. Coach Burns understands that this is the nature of college football coaching, and his biggest concern was that his players not think that he had abandoned them. Coach Burns is a fine coach, and an even better man.
He called to share with me his excitment about the success of one of his players. Steve Riddick, one of El Paso’s own, and a walk on, has been signed by the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. Steve’s story is a great one. He just wasn’t supposed to make it, but his hard work, and big heart, overcame any perceived shortcomings he may have had as a football player coming out of high school. He and his father were one of my early interviews, a few years ago. Both of them are quiet, soft spoken men. Both of them exude class, and an inner strength. I enjoyed watching Steve grow as a football player, but last year was special. I watched him take on a leadership role, as he worked with his fellow defensive linemen. He didn’t get all rah rah, or loud. He would quietly talk with them, instructing them, encouraging them, correcting when necessary, always avoiding making any of it about him, always to make them better, to make his team better.
At UTEP’s Pro Day, Steve was getting his chance to show what he could do, when he pulled up with an injury while running his 40′s. Once again, it looked like he might be counted out. But, betting against Steve Riddick is a dumb thing to do, unless you are into losing your money. He got his chance to show them what he could do with the Rough Riders, and they loved what they saw. It looks like he will see playing time with them right away.
I hope to get in touch with him and bring you an interview with the newest member of the Rough Riders.
Coach Burns was also happy to tell me that Robby Felix had been picked up by the Jets. Another Miner defying the odds through hard work, determination, and heart. Congratulations to Robby.
I asked Coach Burns if he had any irons in the fire, and he told me that he has been hired as the Defensive Line Coach of the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. He joins Head Coach Dennis Green, and tells me that the Mountain Lions will be a force in the league this upcoming season. Best of luck to Coach Burns. I hope that the United Football League is a big success. There can never be enough good football for us fans.
Memphis’ disappointment with the loss of the hosting of the 2011 Conference USA Basketball Tournament, combined with their failure to be chosen to join a BCS level conference in 2005, and their subsequent feeling of rejection it left them with, has made them a little crazy. They are relentlessly pursuing an invitation for a berth in a BCS conference, and to leave C-USA. I really don’t know what all went into the decision the Big East made to take Cincinnati, Louisville, USF, Marquette, and De Paul, and leave Memphis behind. But, I think a little perspective is in order.
First, let’s take a look at Memphis’ rich athletic history, and then we can compare it to a few other members of this “miserable” conference. Memphis, or West Tennessee State Normal School as it was called then, first fielded a football team in 1912. These Tigers have appeared in 7 bowl games in their history, and have a record of 4 wins and 3 losses. In their first bowl game, they beat East Tennessee State in the 1956 Burley Bowl. In 1971, they beat San Jose State in the Pasadena Bowl. In the 2003 New Orleans Bowl, they beat North Texas. The GMAC Bowl of 2004 matched them against Bowling Green, and they suffered their fist bowl game loss. In 2005, they were once again bowling, and they beat Akron in the Motor City Bowl. In 2007, they were back in the New Orleans Bowl, pitted against Florida Atlantic, to whom they lost. Finally, in 2008, in the St. Petersburg Bowl, they lost to South Florida.
Throughout their football history, some of their rivalries have included Southern Miss, UAB, Cincinnati, Louisville, Ole Miss, and Arkansas State. Southern Miss leads them with a 37-21-1 record. Against UAB, they are 4-7. They hold the edge over Cincy, 18 to 12. Louisville has a 22-19 advantage over the Tigers. The Rebels of Ole Miss have dominated their series 46-10 with two ties. But, they do have the lead intheir series with Arkansas State, 28-22 with 5 ties.
I compared the Tigers’ football records with a few current members of C-USA. I simply took the first three schools that came to mind. I think the three I used are a fair comparison. Houston was an original member of C-USA football teams, and Rice and UTEP are members who were brought into the conference in 2005. I looked at records from 1972-1986, 1987-1995, years prior to the formation of C-USA, 1996-2004, the years before the departure of the teams to the Big East, and 2005, 2008, the years after the reconfiguration of the conference, as easily available from the member’s media guide.
|Team Memphis Houston UTEP Rice
1972-86 67/93/5 97/70 25/145 43/118/2
1987-95 43/54/2 44/54 37/78 32/65
1996/04 44/59 38/65 34/69 47/54
2005-08 22/28 32/20 22/26 21/28
Totals 176/238/7 211/209 118/318 140/265
Bowl Records 4/3 8/10/1 5/7 Unk.
Memphis’ basketball program first gained national prominence in 1973, losing to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament title game. In 1985, they made it to the Final Four, losing to Villanova. That accomplishment was stricken from the record books by the NCAA, due to recruiting violations. Their coach, Dana Kirk, was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury on 11 counts of tax evasion, filing false tax returns, obstruction of justice, and mail fraud. Testimony included ticket scalping, money from boosters to give to players, and kickbacks from promoters. He spent 4 months in a federal prison. In addition, the Tigers were not allowed to compete in the 1987 NCAA Tournament. In May of 2009, the NCAA accused Derrick Rose of having another student take his SAT, and forced the Memphis basketball team to forfeit their 38 wins for the 2007-08 season, including their appearance in the Final Four.
|Team Memphis Houston UTEP Rice
1972-85 295/124 294/132 238/128 130/274
1986-95 204/115 159/111 209/90 121/135
1996/04 154/113 101/162 117/117 125/132
2005-08 99/52* 84/47 77/55 41/81
Totals 752/404* 638/452 641/390 417/622
* 38 wins were forfeited for the 2007-08 season.
NCAA Tourn. 22 18 16 Unk.
NIT 16 9 9
National Championships 1
Track and Field/Cross Country
Some of the data was difficult to sort through, and so I wouldn’t stake my life on it. But, for the most part, I think it is an accurate representation of the overall picture of the athletic histories of these four members of C-USA. I did only use Men’s sports, and not all of those. It seems to me that Memphis has no more reason to expect inclusion to a BCS level conference than any number of other schools. They have had an impressive run in basketball in recent years, but that is tainted by the forfeiture of their most impressive season. Most of all, it seems pretty delusional for them to think that they are so far above the other members of Conference USA. If the conference is a miserable conference, then they are a perfect fit, especially considering how miserable they have been, lately.
Memphis Commercial-A-Pee-le by Dan Walkiningaloshes|23 May, 2010
FEMA and the Red Cross are converging on Memphis this weekend. FEMA will be bringing in 20,000 Portable Toilets and 200,000 sandbags in an attempt to control the increasing citywide flooding. The Red Cross will be distributing 100,000 sets of disposable hearing protectors, and a two week supply supply of Maxi-Pads for approximately 60-70 thousand Memphis Tigers fans. Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr. has asked the President to declare the city of Memphis a disaster area, in response to the catastrophic pissing and moaning that has gripped the city since the awarding of the Conference USA 2011 Basketball Tournament to the city of El Paso, Texas. The pissing and moaning coming from Memphis is being described as the worst pissing and moaning seen and heard in these parts since the Great Diaper Rash Outbreak of ’48. Kimberly-Clark is said to be preparing to airlift 200,000 boxes of Kleenex into the city, to help control the rampant shedding of tears, which threatens to turn Memphis into the Venice of Tennessee.
”Its just not fair!” “Its too far to ride the Grey Dog all the way out there.” “But, we have the FedEx Forum, and they don’t even have a hanging scoreboard!” These are just a sampling of the whining coming from the Tigers’ fans as they squat, and hike up their skirts. The female fans are bitching, too, complaining of cramps brought on by the moving of the tournament to El Paso, from Memphis. The streams of yellow run down the legs of the Tigers fans, puddling and splashing as they stomp their feet and slam their hands onto their hips. Whining loudly, so as to be heard over their male counterparts, the female fans are doubly stricken. They have lost what they consider their God-given right to host the tournament, and they are having to battle the male Tigers fans over the city’s supply of feminine hygiene products.
The Memphis Tigers, for their first ten years of basketball in C-USA were unable to win a championship competing against the basketball powerhouses of the Metro Conference, and the Great Midwest Conference brought together by the formation of C-USA in 1995. Cincinnati, Charlotte, Marquette, Louisville, St. Louis, UAB, and De Paul played in the conference tournament championship games from 1996 through 2004. Finally, in 2005, the last season any of these teams other than UAB would play in C-USA, the Memphis Tigers played Louisville in the FedEx Forum for the tournament championship. The Tigers lost. But, that game began a string of 5 championship games played in the FedEx Forum. Memphis won the next three championship games against UAB, Houston, and Tulsa. The one against Tulsa was later voided, along with all of the Tigers’ wins for the 2007-2008 season for cheating-eerrr, NCAA infractions. In 2009 the Tigers beat Tulsa again, and this time they weren’t caught breaking the NCAA rules.
Then, for some stupid reason, like the people of Tulsa put together the winning bid to move the tournament to Tulsa, the tournament was moved to the BOK Center, in Tulsa. Sure enough, no FedEx Forum, no Memphis Tigers in the championship game. And now, the nightmare has returned. Some other team, in some other city, has outbid the Memphis people to host the 2011 C-USA Basketball Tournament. You can understand the Memphis fans despondency. In 10 C-USA championship games not played in the FedEx Forum the Tigers were never one of the 20 teams involved.
”There’s no barbecue!” “It isn’t even on the eastern side of the Mississippi River!” “Its in a desert.” More yellow stained socks, and soaking yellowed, bunched panties are shoveled into the quickly filling Pyramid by Tennessee National Guardsmen, as the pissing and moaning continues, unabated.
”Why did they leave us in this loser conference?”, moans a Memphis fan. Why, indeed?
In Total Offense, Tulsa was ranked 35th in the nation. But, as good as the offense was, the defense was equally as bad, ranked 35th worst in the country in Total Defense. The Golden Hurricane averaged 410 yards per game on offense, but gave up 397 yards per game defensively. Sophomore Quarterback G. J. Kinne was ranked 25th in the nation in Total Offense, averaging 261 yards per game. His favorite target, Wide Receiver Damaris Johnson will be back this season. Johnson averaged 94 yards per game receiving last season. The Golden Hurricane have added Wide Receiver Jameel Owens to their receiver corps. The transfer from OU was a Parade All-American. Of the top five receivers on last year’s team, four will be back, and Owens should be able to step right in and replace departed WR Slick Shelly. The four top running backs all return. All in all, the offense returns practically intact, and with lots of experience. With an offense built around the pass mostly, playing in C-USA West, where pass defense sometimes seems to be as elusive as leprechauns, unicorns, Bigfoot, and the chupacabra, you can expect Tulsa to once again be in the upper 25% of the nation’s offenses.
But, they lose cornerback John Destin, the team’s leading pass thief. Also gone is middle linebacker Mike Bryan, the player with the team’s second most tackles, last season, and James Lockett, the fifth leading tackler on the team. Other than those three, the defensive leaders are back, although they lack experience in some positions. The 85th ranked defense will have a tough time improving on that ranking, this season. There are some coaching changes that may have something too do with changing that, though. Tulsa’s cornerbacks coach last season, Galen Scott has left, and joined the Memphis Tigers staff. Co-Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach, Ron West has moved on to the Illini staff. Coming over from Texas A&M to coach the Defensive Secondary is Van Malone, who spent 5 seasons with the Detroit Lions a few years back. Jess Loepp will return to the field from his position of Director of High School Relations, to become the Outside Linebackers Coach.
On the offensive side, Lake Travis’ Chad Morris, highly successful in Texas High School football, will become the Co-Offensive Coordinator, and Quarterbacks Coach.
Here is Tulsa’s 2010 schedule, and my fearless predictions;
9/ 5 @ ECU L
9/11 Bowling Green W
9/18 @ OK St. L
9/25 Central Arkansas W
10/ 2 @ Memphis W
10/ 9 @ SMU L
10/16 Tulane W
10/30 @ Notre Dame L
11/ 6 Rice W
11/13 @ Houston L
11/20 @ UTEP L
11/27 Southern Miss. L
Tulsa gets a little better, but defense will still give up too many yards, especially against the pass, and too many points. Add to that the fact that they have a very tough schedule, and they are dealing with some critical coaching changes, and they have a tough row to hoe. If the coaching changes turn out well, and soon, Tulsa may get to a 7-5 record. If the players struggle with the changes, they could fall to 3-9. They could out gun SMU and So. Miss, or they could be outgained, and outscored by Memphis and Tulane. I think I have given myself plenty of wiggle room with all of that, and should be in the ball park with my 5-7 prediction. Time will tell.
We have lots of time on our hands, so let’s take a look at Conference USA West for 2010. I am going to start with the University of Houston.
In 2009, the University of Houston went 10-3 before losing to the Air Force Academy 47 to 20 in the Armed Forces Bowl. Two of those wins were by a single point, beating Texas Tech 29-28, and Tulsa 46-45. In Total Offense, Houston’s team was the nation’s leader, piling up 563 yards per game. Their leader, quarterback Case Keenum, was the nation’s leader in Total Offense with his 416 yards per game. But, as is often the case with teams with high octane offenses, that offense was offset to some degree by a defense that was one of the worst in the country. Giving up 451 yards per game earned them the 111th spot on the list of 120 teams in the FBS Division.
The offense should hold on to their number 1 ranking, as they return the key members of their offense. Case Keenum will have his four best pass catchers back. James Cleveland, Tyrone Carrier, Patrick Edwards, and Charles Sims averaged 101, 74, 73, and 54 yards per game, respectively through the air. Charles Sims chipped in another 49 yards per game on the ground, along with the 52 yards per game contributed by Bryce Beal, the Cougars’ two top running backs. They will have to replace offensive lineman Carl Barnett, who started in all of their games. But, that means that the other four offensive line spots will be filled by returning starters. So, basically, the best offense in the country will be back, with more experience than the had at the start of last season.
As for the defense, it is hard to say what to expect when the team loses four of the top seven tacklers on the 111th ranked defense. That may be a bad thing, or it may be a good thing. But, presumably, they were better than the ones coming up. But that was last year, and this is this year. The Cougars are switching to a 3/4 defense this season. The team’s leader in tackles per game was middle linebacker Marcus McGraw, and he will return for the 2010 season. He made seventy-five solo tackles, and assisted on eighty-one others. But, they lose numbers 2 and 6 of their players with the most tackles in Outside Linebackers C.J. Cavness, and Tyrell Graham. Those two accounted for 92 solo tackles, and another 120 assists. Last year, the Cougars ranked 115th in rushing defense, and losing Cavness and Graham may hurt them as they try to improve on that. Their Pass defense ranked 72nd, giving up 225 yards per game. The lose two of their top three cornerbacks, Brandon Brinkley and Carson Blackmon. Brinkley had 50 solo tackles and 4 interceptions, and Blackmon had 29 solo tackles, and 1 interception. They will have Jamal Robinson back at cornerback. He led the team with 5 interceptions, and was eighth on the list of tacklers with 38 solos and 20 assists.
I predict that their offense will remain the best in the land, but their defense will be as bad, and maybe worse than it was last season. They lost some key players, and are putting in a new defense. I see them winning 7 and losing 5 of their games. Here is their schedule, and my predicted wins and losses.
9/ 4 Texas State @ Houston W
9/10 UTEP @ Houston L
9/18 @ UCLA W
9/25 Tulane @ Houston W
10/ 9 Miss. St. @ Houston L
10/16 @ Rice W
10/23 @ SMU W
10/30 @ Memphis W
11/ 5 UCF @ Houston L
11/13 Tulsa @ Houston W
11/20 @ So. Miss. L
11/27 @ Texas Tech L