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  • 2014 Offensive Coordinator of the Year – Finalists


    The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards, presented by ProGrass, are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. Finalists were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors and other athletic department personnel. The winner will be chosen by the previous winners of this award and will be announced on Monday December 8th.

    The 2014 FootballScoop Coaches of the Year will be recognized and will receive their awards at an event held in their honor at the American Football Coaches Association’s annual convention in January in Louisville, KY.

    Previous winners of the Offensive Coordinator of the Year award are Kevin Wilson (Oklahoma, 2008), Bryan Harsin (Boise State, 2009), Gus Malzahn (Auburn, 2010), Kliff Kingsbury (Houston, 2011 and Texas A&M, 2012) and Philip Montgomery (Baylor, 2013).

    Tom Herman, Ohio State

    Ohio State’s season appeared to have cratered before it started when quarterback Braxton Miller was ruled out for the season on Aug. 19, but instead the Buckeyes’ offense has improved upon its 2013 version that went 12-0 in the regular season. Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett ranks second nationally with 33 touchdown passes and set a school single-season record with 42 touchdowns responsible for. The 10-1 Buckeyes rank among the top ten nationally in total offense, yards per play, scoring offense, first downs, third down conversions and plays of 10-plus yards.


    Key Stats

    • 6th in plays of 10+ Yards (202)
    • 5th in scoring offense (44.3 yards per game)
    • 7th in yards per play (6.88)
    • 3rd in third down conversions (52.78%)
    • 6th in first downs (26.5 per game)

    Bill Legg, Marshall

    Every offense coordinator strives to create balance and efficiency, and none have done that better than Bill Legg this season. The 11-0 Thundering Herd rank second nationally in total offense, first in yards per play (by nearly a full foot per snap), third in yards per carry, and 10th in yards per pass attempt. As a result, Marshall is tied for second nationally with 66 total touchdowns and places fourth scoring offense. While quarterback Rakeem Cato ranks 10th nationally in passing efficiency with 28 touchdowns and nine yards per attempt (sixth), running back Devon Johnson is third in the country in rushing and leads the nation in yards per carry for all runners with at least 160 carries.


    Key Stats

    • T-2nd in total touchdowns (66)
    • 1st in yards per play (7.79)
    • 3rd in yards per carry (7.05)
    • 10th in yards per attempt (9.0)
    • 1st in plays of 20+ yards (89)

    Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, TCU

    Arriving from Houston and Texas Tech respectively, Meacham and Cumbie have set the bar in terms of turnarounds under first-year coordinators. Meacahm and Cumbie have turned TCU from an 4-8 team that struggled to score to a top five team that beats people in part because of an explosive offense that scores from anywhere on the field. The Frogs have jumped from 106th to fourth in total offense, 105th to 17th in yards per play, 88th to second in scoring offense and 104th to eighth in plays of 20-plus yards. The pair’s use of quarterback Trevone Boykin has completely transformed his career, leaping him from out of the top 100 to third nationally in total offense with 3,021 passing yards and 548 rushing yards. TCU also set a Big 12 record with 82 points against Texas Tech on Oct. 25.


    Key Stats

    • 2nd in scoring offense (45.9 points per game)
    • 4th in total offense (541.6 yards per game)
    • 8th in plays of 20+ yards (191)
    • 8th in passing offense (323.6 yards per game)
    • Boykin ranks 3rd in individual total offense (356.9 yards per game)

    Doug Ruse, Georgia Southern

    It’s one thing to jump a division and hold your own, but what Doug Ruse and the Georgia Southern offense have done is on an entirely different level. Under first-year head coach Willie Fritz, Ruse has melded the Eagles’ traditional triple option with modern day spread concepts to lead the nation in rushing offense – and by a whopping 30 yards per game. In fact, Georgia Southern’s 384-yard average would have led FBS in any of the past seven years; Army’s 2012 squad is the next closest at 369 yards per game. Their 52 rushing touchdowns are 11 more than second-place Wisconsin, and they rank second nationally with 7.49 yards per play. The Eagles are in place to win the Sun Belt Conference in their inaugural campaign, and posted a combined 966 yards of total offense and 61 points in close losses to N.C. State and Georgia Tech.


    Key Stats

    • 1st in rushing offense (384.2 yards per game)
    • 2nd in yards per carry (7.26)
    • 9th in scoring offense (40.6 points per game)
    • 2nd in yards per play (7.49)
    • 8th in third down conversions (51.15%)

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  • Butch Jones has introduced “No Sweat / Perfect Thursday” practices at Tennessee


    At his press conference today, Butch Jones was asked about how his team, especially the younger players, seem to be recovering late in the season. The SEC schedule can be a grind, even more so when you’re playing a bunch of freshman and sophomores.

    Jones answered by talking about how they’ve adjusted their practice schedule over the past few weeks to help their young players recover from “hitting the wall”.

    “We now have ‘Perfect Thursdays,’ and ‘No Sweat Thursday’s’ where we actually do not practice.” Jones said of the changes to the practice plan.

    “It’s all a mental day. It’s all about rest, recovery, meetings, and walkthroughs. We don’t want them breaking a sweat.”

    “So it’s a big mental day, it gets their body back, and then we try to spark the central nervous system 24 hours prior to competition. On Friday now, we have about a 40 minute practice, where we gear it up and we get after it pretty good.”

    Jones went on to explain that the renewed focus on recovery has just as much to do with adapting to sports science research as it does being a young team.

    Interesting strategy. That’s not a move you can make if you’re not plugged into the pulse of your team, which is an area Jones excels in.

  • Photo: Here’s the Bret Bielema in an afro photo you’ve always wanted

    Saturday was a good day for Bret Bielema. He beat Ole Miss 30-0, secured a bowl berth in his second season, and got to finally wear an afro.

    Wait, what was that last part?

    Bret Bielema afro

    That’s offensive line recruit Jalen Merrick, and he also got offensive line coach Sam Pittman in on the act.

    Sam Pittman afro


    Judging by Merrick’s tweet – “The people of Arkansas are great loved this town, university and the football team” – Bielema and Pittman seemed to connected with him, which is the point of putting on those fabulous afros in the first place.

    (Via Dr. Saturday)


  • Sorry, Western Kentucky (you, too, La Tech and Rice), your conference is rooting against you

    Marshall is 11-0, two wins away from a perfect season. No one knows where exactly the Thundering Herd would rank in the College Football Playoff’s Group of Five hierarchy, but the folks at the Conference USA league office and those wearing green in Huntington, W. Va., like their chances should Marshall remain unscathed.

    “It’s huge for all of the members of our conference,” Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky told, Marshall’s official athletics site. “We’ve had teams in this position before (in the Bowl Championship Series era), and there is still football to be played. But if Marshall gets that opportunity to get into one of those Playoff access bowls, it would be great.”

    To get there, though, Marshall must beat Western Kentucky this weekend and either Louisiana Tech and Rice a week later in the Conference USA championship. Banowsky didn’t come out and say he’s rooting against the Hilltoppers on Saturday, but he didn’t have to; Marshall’s success will come at the expense of a 6-5 Western Kentucky team looking to secure a bowl berth under first-year head coach Jeff Brohm. There’s no way around it.

    And Banowsky isn’t wrong here. Not at all. His job is to secure the best possible footing for his conference, and a Marshall appearance in the Peach Bowl is just that in terms of exposure and in real dollars – millions of them, in fact. C-USA is already in line for upwards of $12 million thanks to the new playoff system, but a Marshall appearance would generate an extra $6 million for the conference.

    There are no guarantees Marshall receives the Group of Five automatic berth even if the Thundering Herd finish undefeated. The selection committee has not ranked Marshall yet, but they haven’t ranked current Mountain West leader Boise State or current American leader Memphis yet, either.

    Still, the league as a whole has much more to gain with a Marshall win on Saturday than seeing Western Kentucky move to 7-5.

    It’s an odd position, though, for one team to potentially take a giant leap forward on behalf of its conference, but do so while stepping on the shoulders of its C-USA siblings.

    “We went through realignment again (losing seven members) and now we have Marshall having a great season. Having a bell cow like Marshall this season is big for us,” Banowsky said. “It’s cool. It’s a great opportunity for the conference.”

  • The FootballScoop Four: Our latest brackets

    CFB Playoff

    Not much changed across the College Football Playoff landscape this week, but we’re now in position for things to really start changing with two weeks left in the season.

    In advance of Tuesday’s fifth bracket reveal, here’s how each of us see things stacking up.

    SCOTT (@FootballScoop)

    No. 1: Florida State logo

    No. 2: alabama.120

    No.3: oregon.120

    No.4: mississippi-state.120

    Last two out:  Baylor.120 and tcu.120

    ZACH (@Zach_Barnett)

    No. 1: alabama.120 With Auburn this week and the SEC Championship next, Alabama will either solidify its hold on the No. 1 ranking, or fall out of the Playoff picture completely.

    No. 2: oregon.120 It’s very tough to beat a good team twice in the same season, and it looks like that’s what Oregon will have to do with UCLA in an effort to reach the Playoff. But first, a visit to Corvallis to meet Oregon State. Remember last season, when Oregon pulled out a 36-35 final in Eugene? This is no gimme.

    No. 3: Florida State logo Another week, another close call. With Florida and Georgia Tech waiting, expect both of those teams to run it 50 times or more at FSU’s 43rd-ranked rushing defense.

    No. 4: Baylor.120Sure, the Bears won by 21, but don’t you have to look at their 49-28 win over Oklahoma State as something of a missed opportunity? With a 14-0 lead five minutes in it looked like Baylor was ready to blow the roof off the Cowboys in the 63-14 range, but they just never pulled away. Oh, and while we’re at it, TCU beat that same Oklahoma State team by 33.

    Last two out:  tcu.120 and ohio-state.120

    Big games for both of these teams this week with Mississippi State facing Ole Miss in Oxford. Break out the red and blue, Frogs and Buckeyes.

    DOUG (@CoachSamz)

    No. 1: oregon.120 Oregon manhandled Colorado, as expected, setting up a potential trap game in the Civil War match up with Oregon State. The Ducks benefited the most from Florida State’s stumble against Boston College in my mind, and an argument can be made for them in the top 2.

    No. 2:   alabama.120 This weekend is huge for Alabama. Auburn has struggled the past few weeks, but we all know that means nothing when it comes to the Iron Bowl. A blowout win could catapult them to my #1 spot, a win keeps them at #2, and a loss could be just what Baylor needs to make the top 4. I forsee the Tide struggling more in this one than the SEC title game.


    No. 3:  Florida State logo Still not impressed with Florida State, but somehow they find a way to win the close games, and that has to count for something, doesn’t it?


    No. 4: mississippi-state.120A 51-0 drubbing of an SEC opponent, even if it’s a down Commodore squad, is enough to keep Mullen’s guys in contention. I really wish they could match up with Alabama again in a best of three match up to really help clear the muddy water a bit.

    Last two out: Baylor.120and tcu.120


    Baylor is just waiting on one team to slip up, or have a close call, and they’ve got a case to be in the playoff.

    TCU can say the same.