Sark plans to play a bunch of guys
Washington opens up this week with Eastern Washington. Head coach Steve Sarkisian says he plans to get a lot of guys "involved in the action at wide receiver, defensive line, linebacker and safety...you're going to see guys in the third series of the game...creating depth on your roster...a change of who we are and what we've been the past couple of years."
Sark, at his press conference today, reminisced that he called Eastern Washington head coach Beau Baldwin after they won the national championship last season..."and then I remembered that we play them this year."
No comment on the gentleman seated to Sark's right in the video.
Switching to the 3-4
Last season East Carolina finished 6-7 despite ranking 120th in the nation in total yards and 119th in points allowed.
Head coach Ruffin McNeill recognized the need for a change to his defense. "So, right after the season we made the decision to make the change."
McNeill cited three main factors for making the switch. First, he felt it fit their personnel better as the Pirates seemed to have a surplus of linebackers; but not enough depth along the defensive line. Second, he felt that the quality and quantity of recruitable talent within their geographic base was far stronger at linebacker than for defensive linemen. Third, McNeill believes that the 3-4 is a more flexible option for the Pirates in Conference USA where they face more passing oriented offenses.
Once the decision was made to make the switch, McNeill sent his staff to visit with coaches at BYU and with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
McNeill and his Pirates open up Saturday night at South Carolina, a certain test for the new defense.
Elon's HC: I am Tony Dungy
This week Jason Swepson will coach his first game as a head coach when his Elon Phoenix play at Vanderbilt.
Swepson has served the last 13 seasons as an assistant under Tom O'Brien at Boston College and N.C. State. In total, Swepson has served as an assistant for 19 seasons now, and credits O'Brien, Tom Coughlin and Jack Bicknell as three of his mentors.
That's a successful, albeit stoic group. Develop your plan, deliver your plan, take action on your plan, do not deviate from your plan.
Swepson says he learned his coaching philosophy from these men. "It's structure. It's discipline. There's a start and there's a finish."
Over the years, Swepson said he read up on authoritarians such as Vince Lombardi and Bear Bryant; but when he picked up Tony Dungy's memoir it really hit home, "I was like, 'OK, I can apply the principles I learned from Coach Coughlin, Coach O'Brien and Coach Bicknell; but this is who I am, Tony Dungy' and I can kind of just mix it all together and see if it works."
Swepson has set a schedule for the year for his staff and players. Staff arrive at 7AM and leave by 9:30. For the players, meetings begin at 2:45, practice starts at 4PM and dinner is served at 6:30.
Swepson also tries to show more personality than some of his mentors did publicly. "I think the kids understand that I like to laugh and I like to have fun and do all that; but when we blow the whistle after stretch, it's time to work....And that's probably what's different from a Coach Coughlin and maybe a Coach O'Brien. When you came into the building, you were under the gun with them."
Sports marketing paying off
A few weeks ago LSU announced that for the eighth straight year they have sold out their allotment of season tickets for Tiger Stadium. They also set a new record for season ticket sales this year selling nearly 69,000 season tickets.
Capacity is over 92,000 but many of those seats are reserved for students, opponents and a limited number are sold on a mini-plan or individual game basis.
No doubt the results on the field are what is driving season ticket sales; but we also believe that LSU's sports marketing department is doing it's part as well. LSU seems to invest more heavily in marketing videos and materials than some other programs; but the return that they are achieving seems to show this is a wise decision by athletic director Joe Alleva and his staff.
Here's the latest video: Mike vs. the Duck
Florida coordinators to be on the field
Will Muschamp announced today that Charlie Weis and Dan Quinn will both be on the field and calling the game.
Running backs coach Brian White and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson will be in the box.
Regarding the defense, Muschamp said, "Dan is going to call it and I'll be on the headset."
Muschamp did seem to take an opposing view of that which Lane Kiffin is taking, in saying that the players who perform best in practice are those that will see the field on game day. Sounds like Muschamp is looking for his best 22.
Florida Atlantic ventures into The Swamp Saturday night at 7.
The DII SEC West
This offseason six schools left the DII Gulf South Conference to form the Great American Conference. Thus, the Gulf South is left with only 5 schools (Delta State, North Alabama, Valdosta State, West Alabama and West Georgia).
Speaking honestly, West Alabama's first year head coach Will Hall said, "No offense to anyone; but that was four, five or six wins you could count on each year. What's left is like the SEC West."
Hall takes over a team that went 7-4 last season; although the 4 losses came by a combined nine points. In an interview this weekend, Hall said the biggest difference between himself and former head coach Bobby Wallace was that, "He (Wallace) is one of the most patient people I have ever met and I am probably one of the most impatient...Every team takes on the attitude of it's head coach. Our team will take on the attitude of being impatient."
Senior wide receiver Gerald Worsham said, "It (last season) was very frustrating, we knew we could do better and we were nine points away from maybe being No. 1....We've never had much senior leadership and Coach put this right into the seniors' hands."
Hall and West Alabama open the season Thursday night at South Alabama. The "SEC West" portion of the schedule comes late as they play all four conference opponents between weeks 7 and 10.
Work backups in to keep your #1s fresh
Last season USC's defense got worn down. Going into game 1, Lane Kiffin says he plans to play a number of backups on defense throughout the game.
"We're going to play a lot of guys...We don't want to happen what happened last season in which 3 times our opponents drove the field 60 yards and scored to beat us the last time they had the ball."
Kiffin says he'd rather play some backups throughout the game to ensure that his starters aren't gassed at the end of each game.
Middle linebacker Chris Galippo said, "The difference between playing 40 plays and playing 75 plays, when it's the fourth quarter in a two-minute situation, it's huge."
Kiffin explains his thinking in this video (skip the first 1 minute which is injury update and announcing the captains).
Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel is one of the best at getting his players to do what he asks of them.
Stec teaches his players to understand that this is their defense, "Not my defense."
Senior linebacker Will Ebner said of Stec who served in the Marine Corps in the mid 70's, "He's got that military background, which you can sense and feel...but, when you're off the field, he's the first one to give you a hug and love you up. When you have a coach like that who you can connect with and you can love off the field, it makes it that much easier to play for him and do what he asks of you on the field.
Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune wrote a great article on Steckel this weekend.
One note that we found interesting, Stec is one of 5 coaches currently on the Mizzou staff that played Center in college. Matter asked Stec how good he was in college, "They'd all be sitting on the bench if we were on the same team together," he joked.
Missouri opens up Saturday with Miami (OH) at home.
Here's a short video of Stec coachin'em up.