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  • “It comes down to you”: Inside the dream (and nightmare) of kickers

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    Back in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, all eyes were on Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson as he lined up for a field goal at the end of regulation against Oklahoma State with the score tied at 38 a piece.

    The first attempt came from the middle of the field and the 35-yard attempt would have won the game…but it sailed wide left. Then, in overtime, Williamson had a shot at redemption with a 43-yard try, but he missed that as well.

    Oklahoma State went on to kick the game winning field goal in overtime to win 38-35, and when  an emotional Williamson got to the locker room and pulled out his phone, he had over 100 texts and nearly 2,000 Facebook friend requests (mostly from Oklahoma State fans) along with countless Facebook messages that said everything from “I hope they pull your scholarship” and “I hope you die,” to “I hope the team ties you up in the locker room and beats you,” in much more colorful language

    In the video below, Williamson says that after returning to campus he didn’t go to class for two weeks, and opted to stay secluded in his room trying to sleep the day away and later turning to alcohol to numb his pain. When he did eventually venture out of he tried to fly under the radar by not wearing any Stanford gear, for fear of being recognized.

    The turning point for him was months down the road, during November of the 2012 regular season against #2 ranked Oregon up in Eugene. After missing a pivotal 42-yard field goal in regulation that would have sent the Cardinal to the Pac-12 title game, Williamson jogged off the field and looked at David Shaw who told him, in the simplest of terms, “You need to grow up and start making those kicks.”

    Instead of being upset at the straightforward approach from his head coach, Williamson realized he was right, and returned the the field in overtime tied at 14 for another field goal attempt…and nailed this one

    This video chronicles the story of Williamson’s mindset and journey from lining up for the game winner in that Fiesta Bowl, to the implications it had on his life in the months afterwards, and finally to his return to the field and legendary status after nailing that kick in OT against the Ducks.

    It’s not just kickers, this is a great reminder that there are players, people, and coaches behind some of the biggest tragedies and triumphs in college football, and sports in general.

  • “Either we develop players really well, or those recruiting rankings are way off”

    At Mississippi State’s campus Pro Day yesterday, Dan Mullen was asked about the guys participating in the Bulldogs Pro Day that weren’t necessarily highly recruited guys, some of whom have blossomed into potential first round picks, and NFL caliber players.

    His response provided an alternative perspective that many may have never considered before around draft time.

    “One of two things is happening. Either we develop players really well, or those recruiting rankings are way off. I don’t know, there’s probably a little bit of both in there.” Mullen noted.

    As coaches, oftentimes when we look at programs that are winning at a high level without the four and five star recruits, we chalk it up to the coaching and support staffs really developing their players better than anyone else because most coaches say that the recruiting rankings don’t matter to them.

    But as Mullen says, maybe the initial recruiting and star rankings are just way off…or maybe it’s a mix of both.

  • Video of the Day – Spring football begins in Lubbock

    Thursday March 5, 2015

    Video of the Day

    Spring football begins in Lubbock

  • One statistic that virtually guarantees a winning season

    Oregon Florida State

    Want to win games next season? Force more turnovers than your opponent. And in other news, water is wet, the sun is hot and that friggin’ dress was black and blue.

    We all know that teams that can simultaneously force takeaways and limit giveaways are more likely to win games, but did you know just how powerful the turnover statistic is? So powerful that, at a certain point, the right turnover margin makes victory almost guaranteed. A year ago, SB Nation’s Bill Connelly revealed that teams that register a plus-four or greater turnover margin win more than 90 percent of the time, and often in a blowout. This makes sense.

    But what about at a macro level? FootballScoop examined the last seven seasons of turnover margins and found that among the 53 teams that forced an average turnover margin of greater than one per game, 52 of them posted winning seasons. (Why seven seasons? That’s as far as back as the CFB Stats database goes.)

    Fifty-two out of 53. Force a fraction more than one turnover per game than your opponent and your team has a 98.11% chance of a winning season.

    Teams that master turnovers aren’t just winning, most of them are winning big. Fifty of them won eight or more games, 40 won nine or more games, 32 won 10 or more games, 27 of the 50 eligible teams (excluding independents Navy and Army and FBS transitional club UTSA) won or shared a conference or division championship, three went undefeated and two won national championships. The clubs listed below averaged 9.9 wins per season, and most of them took claimed some sort of hardware along the way.

    Of the teams that forced 1.01-or-more turnovers per game than their opponents…..
    98.11% had winning seasons
    94.33% won at least 8 games
    75.47% won at least 9 games
    60.38% won at least 10 games
    54% won at least a share of a conference or division championship

    There are a number of examples of teams using an exceptional turnover margin to post historic seasons. Army’s only winning season since 1996, a 7-6 mark in 2010, can be explained third-best 1.23 turnover margin in 2010. Rice experienced a smattering of winning seasons in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, but the Owls’ 10-win season in 2008 was the programs first since 1949.They posted a 1.15 turnover margin that season.  Buffalo’s only winning seasons over the past seven seasons, eight-win campaigns in 2008 and 2013, coincide with 1.43 and 1.15 turnover margins.

    Even the lone outlier makes sense. A Baylor team led by first-year head coach Art Briles and quarterbacked by true freshman Robert Griffin III went 4-8 despite posting a fourth-best 1.33 turnover margin. Baylor has now completed five straight winning seasons and back-to-back Big 12 championships while posting an even 1.00 turnover margin in each season.

    Every team in college football wants to force turnovers while preventing its own, and few prove capable. The 53 clubs listed below represent a notch above six percent of the total seasons played since 2008. But there is no surer bet on a Saturday and over the course of the fall to winning games and hosting a trophy than mastering the art of ball control.

    2014TO MarginRecord
    Oregon*1.5313-2
    Michigan State1.4611-2
    TCU*1.3812-1
    Georgia1.2310-3
    Louisiana Tech^1.149-5
    Arizona State1.0810-3

     

    2013TO MarginRecord
    Houston1.928-5
    Louisville1.3112-1
    Florida State*!1.2114-0
    Oklahoma State1.1510-3
    Buffalo1.158-5
    Missouri^1.1412-2
    Arizona State^1.0710-4

     

    2012TO MarginRecord
    Oregon1.6212-1
    Boise State*1.5411-2
    Kansas State*1.5411-2
    Kent State^1.4311-3
    Mississippi State1.238-5
    LSU1.2310-3
    UTSA1.208-4
    Fresno State*1.159-4
    Florida1.1511-2
    Ohio1.159-4
    SMU1.087-6
    Northwestern1.0810-3
    Louisiana Tech1.089-3

     

    2011TO MarginRecord
    Oklahoma State*1.6212-1
    LSU*1.4313-1
    Toledo^1.239-4
    Houston^1.1413-1
    Wisconsin*1.1411-3
    N.C. State1.088-5

     

    2010TO MarginRecord
    Virginia Tech^1.3611-3
    Tulsa^1.3110-3
    Army1.237-6
    Ohio State*1.1512-1
    Maryland1.159-4
    Wisconsin*1.0811-2

     

    2009TO MarginRecord
    Air Force1.698-5
    Rutgers1.549-4
    Boise State*1.5014-0
    Alabama*!1.3614-0
    Ohio State*1.3111-2
    Arkansas1.158-5

     

    2008TO MarginRecord
    Oklahoma*1.6412-2
    Florida*!1.5713-1
    Buffalo^1.43 8-6
    Baylor1.334-8
    Wake Forest1.31 8-5
    Ohio State*1.23 10-3
    California1.159-4
    Rice^1.15 10-3
    Navy1.15 8-5

    * won or shared conference championship
    ^ won or shared division championship
    ! won national championship

  • Inside Scoop: Talking recruiting with Matt Dudek

    Inside Scoop is back with Arizona’s director of on-campus recruiting Matt Dudek. The man behind Arizona’s recruiting efforts and social media branding, Dudek has been a frequent FootballScoop interview subject for some time now. This time around Scott and Matt discuss the lay of the land both in the Arizona program and the college football recruiting world at large.

    A few of the topics:

    – The over-the-top ridiculousness of Arizona’s Wildcat Olympics.

    – How Rich Rodriguez emphasizes family in every aspect of the Wildcats’ program. The first thing visitors see upon entering the football offices is a photo of the entire staff with their families.

    – “Something Coach Rodriguez asks in our recruiting meetings: does he play any other sports?” Why? It keeps a player in competition all year round versus devoting three months to games and nine months to workouts, and movements learned in basketball and baseball, for example, are things a kid won’t learn in football but prove useful on the gridiron nonetheless.

    – How to rise in the recruiting industry, and more programs looking to hire women in recruiting and operations roles.

    – Why Instagram is the most popular social media hangout of recruits, but Twitter is the preferred medium for recruiters.