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  1. McNulty has been named the starter, so I'll be rooting for him to succeed. What should we expect from him? I'll use this post to talk about what he does well, and what he needs to work on to be successful in his second year as a prolonged starter. It's basically an exercise in hoping for the best. He's our QB now, so we gotta throw support behind him, to the chagrin of many. McNulty's Inconsistencies McNulty is probably the most divisive player on this forum. I hear a lot of comments about McNulty and his inability to move the offense, and his lack of arm. I won't argue these statements. These concerns are well founded and based on fact. He struggled in 2014 to move the offense. His numbers were poor in comparison to conference mates. But some of these concerns might be overblown, and not entirely his fault. I think what jumps out at me the most that is entirely on McNulty - and what I have been harping on - is inconsistency. One moment he'll make a great play downfield, or move the chains with his legs. In the next drive, he'll overthrow a sitting receiver, or won't see the open man. That's up to him to fix. If he is able to reduce his inconsistencies, and correct issues, he could potentially make the jump from bad QB to an average CUSA QB. But it will take the help of his WRs, o-line, and Canales (we'll get to that later). Now that he has been announced as starter, let's take a look at some tape. The hope is to look for what McNulty can reinforce, correct, and use in 2014 - a more Good McNulty than a Bad McNulty. But it's all based on the hope that he can make the leap. Good McNulty First we'll take a look at some Good McNulty. The next few GIFs are taken from the UTSA vs UNT game last year. In this play, UNT is running a 12 personnel set in the shotgun. The RG is immediately beat, and every receiver is covered as the DT is bearing down on him, including the dump off to the RB. McNulty tucks and runs to the right, baits the DE to outside, then turns upfield. If he continues to run, he will be lucky to make it back to the LOS before he encounters the first defender. McNulty still has the ball tucked, but keeps his eyes downfield. He spots the open receiver one on one down the sideline and chucks it to an open spot over 40 yards downfield. Here begs the question, because he had to sling it off balance, did he not have a chance to aim? Or did his arm strength prevent him from throwing the receiver in stride? I'm going with: he reacted, he didn't have the time to gauge the receiver's position and speed to be accurate, and was able to just throw it where only the receiver could get to it (but I understand that it could be just plain arm strength). Regardless, it's a heads up play that kept the chains moving, and a play he had to make several times due to pass protection issues that lingered all season. This is an example of where McNulty can prevail if he doesn't stop to think. This next clip is of the game vs FAU (ugh I know). Again a 12 personnel formation with 2 WRs on the far side of the field, and Marcus Smith stacked up (from the looks of it) as an H-back behind the TE on the near side. McNulty drops back in an extremely clean pocket. Smith beats the safety, and McNulty digs the ball out of his hip and drops the pass over the safety and LB in a spot where only Smith can grab it. He is comfortable in the pocket, drops back in rhythm, decisive in his throw, and doesn't hesitate. In many plays throughout the season, McNulty has shown that he can successfully be an aggressive gunslinger. But many plays throughout a game become offset due to inconsistency mentioned above and issues mentioned later. Baaad McNulty Now let's take a look at some of the issues that plagued him last season. This clip versus Rice is a combination of McNulty's error, and playcalling. In fact, I saw many playcalling issues in the Rice game that I had to add a section just for it. UNT is in a five wide empty set, trips left on third and short. Rice is sitting in what looks like a dime defense. What McNulty does well is release the pass in rhythm at the top of his drop back. What he doesn't do well is he stares down Harris the entire time he is dropping back, waiting for the moment he gets open. The DB reads it the entire way, and McNulty's pass is off-target, hitting the DB in the numbers. Not good. I will comment on the fact that the play had the trips receivers running right at the DBs as some sort of downfield screen pick play, so all the DB covering the middle of the field had to do was trot right over and cut Harris' route. Here's the thing though, Harris slowed down on his route. This makes me think that he was supposed to sit on the route closer to the numbers to keep some space between he and the DB, and let the blockers downfield clear a way for him, while McNulty should've passed the ball immediately. So I think what happened was, it should have been a downfield screen, while McNulty thought it was a dig because Harris drifted instead of sat. Miscue. Here's a clip of McNulty's hesitation/indecision. Five wide empty set on 1st down. Rice is in a dime package. Although the O-line falters after a few seconds, it's enough time for McNulty to look/stare left and immediately throw Caldwell on the numbers, or Terrell low for a short gain. Let them use their own skills to get extra yardage. There's hesitation since the DBs are just sitting on the routes, but Caldwell created enough room after making the corner turn his hips upfield. McNulty's one second hesitation led to all receivers being covered, and McNulty sacked Playcalling and Teammates Here's some "in defense of" talk. After looking at some highlights of opposing teams, it's just not all McNulty's fault. Many plays were designed to move the ball far down field, even on 1st and 10. In this next clip, UNT is third and very long with less than 50 seconds left at end of the first half with no timeouts at Rice's 45. UNT is in 10 personnel shotgun formation with trips bunched left. Rice is again in dime (every damn time!). McNulty is hit in 3 seconds, which is still enough time to get a pass off. Except no one is open. Everyone begins their route downfield. What ends this play quickly is the fact the RB breaks his protection and doesn't bump the DT on his way upfield, leaving the DT to just eat McNulty unencumbered. Terrell runs a delay on his route and the inside receiver runs a corner route, leaving Harris to break free on a post route. By the time this happens, though, McNulty is bracing for impact. Even if McNulty had been able to have 1-2 more seconds of a clean pocket, Harris would have been triple covered by the ball's arrival. What am I getting at? You're ahead a TD, you're 21 yards away from a first down, no timeouts. Get into field goal range. You're (Canales) allowing too much time for a play to develop downfield when your QB has been getting pressured, hit, and sacked all game. Get some yards, hurry it up and kick a field goal and increase your lead by two scores. This next, and last one (I promise) is a combo of playcalling and WR play. UNT is in 11 personnel, shotgun, 3 wide. 2nd and 10 UNT is on their own 44ish. I think Rice is in nickel. What Canales has been trying to do is clear out the middle of the field this game, which he has been doing successfully, but it's taking too long. The TE eats up 3 defenders downfield, leaving Terrell and the slot receiver one on one on the near side. The RB goes into the far side flat, taking a LB. Two things happen. Terrell is supposed to be left open underneath on his dig route. He rounds out his route, though, which allows the CB who was 5 yards away easily cut him off. The second thing that happens is that when the RB hits the flat, the X receiver (Harris?) runs a curl route, I guess, stutter stepping his way 5 yards up field. He doesn't explode off the line - was he trying to pick the LB covering the RB? Either way, he's covered by both the corner on top, and then the LB underneath. There's nowhere for McNulty to go, and by the time anything develops, it's too late. Knowing that the other receivers where clearing the middle, and with the CB 7 yards off Terrell on 2nd & 10, I think Terrell should have been given a slant route for a quick short gain. Final Thoughts There are plenty of more examples for both sides of McNulty, including playcalling and WR play, but this is getting way longer than I expected. My takeaway here is, if McNulty can improve on his decision-making and hesitance, it could offset deficiencies in playcalling and WR play, but ultimately the coach needs to call better plays, and WRs need to get open. Only Harris and Smiley are starting from last years group, we have the addition of Goree, and we've got Thaddeus (awesome name) and Khan (ditto) on the two deep. Hopefully with one more offseason under their belt, the WRs' route running is improved. I also hope that this uptempo offense will change the way Canales calls plays. I also hope that the pass protection improves. Nickel and diming the defense (pun intended?) doesn't mean you're going to get stacked boxes, as shown by Rice. UNT's desire to go 5 wide often on early downs really hurt them. McNulty's arm can make enough plays 35-45 yards downfield. I'm not concerned about that. Call plays that get the ball out of his hands at the end of his drop, and receivers beat coverage. Use our awesome RBs (Wilson>>>>>>>Prescott Line). If that happens, McNulty's play is something that won't be the reason the season falters. Cater to his aggressive gunslinger mentality. He can fit the ball in those tight windows. We seen it. I'm rooting for Big Mick to lead us through the Golden Arcs...
  2. Face Illinois at noon in HOD on ESPN. Would be a nice win for the conference.
  3. Embattled UAB coach Bill Clark was named Conference USA’s football Coach of the Year as a land-slide selection by the C-USA Media Association. Clark, who led the Blazers to an astonishing 6-6 record and bowl eligibility in 2014, led the turn-around during his first year as head coach. read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/12/medias-all-conference-usa-team-released.html/
  4. UNT coach Dan McCarney will begin interviewing candidates to become the Mean Green’s new defensive coordinator next week. John Skladany spent three seasons in that capacity at UNT before electing to retire. McCarney’s long-time right-hand man completed his career with the Mean Green this past season, the pair’s 13th working together. McCarney has said ever since announcing this fall that Skladany is retiring that there has been tremendous interest in the position. Skladany was a veteran coach who worked as a coordinator at Central Florida, Houston and Iowa State, where he spent 10 seasons with McCarney, before arriving at UNT. Read more: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2014/12/unt-defensive-coordinator-update.html/
  5. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT December 26 - Louisiana Tech vs. Illinois at Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas A teleconference was held Sunday (December 7, 2014) evening after the announcement of the school’s participating in the fifth annual Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl. The post-season collegiate football game will be played December 26 (Friday) at the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (CT) and will be televised by ESPN and aired on the Heart of Dallas Bowl Radio Network. Teleconference participants were Tim Simmons (moderator), Brant Ringler (Executive Director of the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl), Tommy McClelland (athletic director) and Skip Holtz (football coach) from Louisiana Tech of Conference USA and Mike Thomas (athletic director) and Tim Beckman (football coach) from Illinois of the Big Ten Conference. FastScripts by ASAP Sports covered the teleconference. TIM SIMMONS: My name is Tim Simmons. I handle the media operations for the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. It's our fifth annual bowl coming up, will be played on December 26th at Cotton Bowl Stadium, and kickoff is at 12:00 p.m. Central Time, will be aired by ESPN television, and Heart of Dallas Bowl Radio Network which will broadcast the game in both English and Spanish. This will be the second meeting between the two schools, Louisiana Tech won the first meeting 52 24 in 2012. The game was played in Champaign, and it was Tim Beckman's fourth game as the Illinois coach. Both teams have played in the Cotton Bowl Stadium. Illinois played there in 1966 against SMU, and Louisiana Tech was there in 2013 when they played Army. With that said, we'll open it up right now with Brant Ringler, the executive director of the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. Welcome, Brant, and just some opening comments about the matchup between Louisiana Tech and Illinois. BRANT RINGLER: Thank you, Tim, and thank you, everybody, for being on the call today. We're definitely excited about the matchup between Illinois and Louisiana Tech. We feel like we have two fantastic teams that are playing at a high level right now, obviously with Louisiana Tech just recently coming out of their championship game yesterday, and coach has done a wonderful job of turning that program around with four wins the previous year and now having eight wins this year. That's a great step up in one year. They bring an exciting brand of football on the offensive side and on the defensive side. In addition, Illinois is coming into this game under similar circumstances. They've won their last two games, so they're trending upwards. In addition, their coach has turned that program around, with two additional wins each of the past three years. So we really think we have a great match up here. And of course we're playing in the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium, as you mentioned, Tim, and that's a great place for kids to play. All the history that has been in that stadium, and these people and these players will be able to put their own mark of history in the game, as well. We look forward to that. One of the additional things we've added to our game this year is we will be honoring our first responders. It's an additional touch that we have in our game, so we just want people to be aware of that as we go through our game. With that said, I appreciate everybody being on the call today. SIMMONS: Before I open it up for questions, can you talk a little bit about the sponsorship with Zaxby's Chicken? RINGLER: Yeah, Zaxby's, our new title partner came on a few months ago, and I know for a fact that they have locations in Ruston, Louisiana, and all throughout the southeast, and their program is to begin moving to the Midwest, so having Illinois in the game is a great factor, as well, and they're slowly moving into the Texas area, as well. They're excited to be a part of this game, and they're excited about this match up, as well. QUESTION: Brant, as this bowl goes in to year five, can you talk about its kind of health, vitality, viability compared to the very early first few years, and how can you keep growing it, I guess, the Zaxby's brand is a good step in that direction. RINGLER: Yeah, no doubt about it. We didn't have the ownership in the first three years. Obviously there was two owners in the first three years, and they struggled, and they reached out to ESPN and asked us to take it over, and we did. We got our feet wet last year and had a great match up with North Texas and UNLV, and this year we've even grown that match up, I believe, in having Illinois and Louisiana Tech. We feel like we're trending forward. We have Zaxby's as our new title partner, a four year deal, and that's something that the previous ownerships did not have. They had a small title partner the first couple years. I'm not going to get into the numbers and everything, but I know our deal is a lot better and more progressive than that deal. And then the third year they had a presenting partner. We're very viable right now. The City of Dallas is fully behind us, and with our new title partnership, we're strong. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 2 QUESTION: Has the continuation of being affiliated with a power five conference, as those are called now, has that been a good thing for this bowl? RINGLER: Yeah, we definitely feel that way for sure. We have the Big Ten aligned with us every other year and the Big 12 on the other side. Those conferences will bring strong teams. They'll bring strong fan bases. So we think that's definitely a benefit. And then you have Conference USA as our anchor. They have a lot of great teams in and around this region for us to pull from, and I think you'll see that when you see Louisiana Tech come to our game, and you saw it last year with North Texas at our game. QUESTION: Just wanted to get your thoughts on the fact that Louisiana Tech only being a three or four hour drive from Dallas and how maybe that played a role into them landing in Dallas just with their fan base being able to travel, and not only that but their fan base in the Dallas and Texas area in general to come out for the game? RINGLER: Yeah, we definitely take all that into account. I've done that drive a couple times already this year coming over to visit with Tommy and see the team play. It's an easy drive. It's straight to the Cotton Bowl almost, so we think that's something easy for the fans that are in the Louisiana area, but then I think your second largest alumni base is in Dallas, so we really expect a great turnout. SIMMONS: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you, you're really the kickoff of the bowl season in the Dallas Fort Worth area with the Cotton Bowl being here, the Armed Forces Bowl, followed by the National Championship game. How does it feel to be in the leadership position there? RINGLER: Well, someone has to do it, and we take pride in that. We're excited to be able to be on the front end of this area. Obviously this shows that the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex is a hotbed for football, and we're glad to be a part of that. LOUISIANA TECH SIMMONS: Tommy, welcome. Just your comments about Louisiana Tech playing in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. TOMMY McCLELLAND: We couldn't be more honored and proud to be a part of this bowl. I will say this, just as a heads up: It looks like I'm about to go under a tunnel as I've tried to get to New York here from New Jersey, so if I lose you, I'll call you right back. Willie Roaf is being inducted into the Hall of Fame so we're making our way up here, so I may lose you as I enter into the tunnel right now. We're tremendously excited about being in this game. As said by Brant, our alumni base, our second largest alumni base is in the Dallas Fort Worth area, and I think that's huge for us, but not only that, our largest fan, alumni base is in the Shreveport area, Shreveport Bossier area, which is only about a two, two and a half hour drive from the Cotton Bowl. Those two combined with all of north Louisiana puts us in position to have a great turnout. We're honored to be matched alongside Illinois and the Fighting Illini. What a great program, a storied program. We've got some history there with them, and we're honored just to be alongside them in the historic Cotton Bowl and in the city of Dallas with a great sponsor in Zaxby's. SIMMONS: Obviously a good season for your team, finished 8 5 with the championship game against Marshall and a very tough place to play against a very good team. Just your thoughts on the season for your football team. McCLELLAND: I am so proud of the job that Coach Holtz and his staff and the players have done this year. I mean, we really had some adversity, the schedule against Oklahoma and Auburn, obviously we knew that was going to be a challenge, but then stubbing our toe early with a loss at home against Northwestern State, a lot of teams could have called it at that point. A lot of coaches could have mismanaged that. But I think it's been a driver. We went on after that game and played Auburn very closely, one of the more competitive games I think that Auburn played. It didn't necessarily show on the scoreboard, but we really played them well. And then strung off I think six wins in a row, six or seven wins in a row, and honored, just this team has continued to fight, and then to have a chance to go to the Conference USA championship on the road versus Marshall, a great Marshall team, well coached and a great environment. Their fan base was very loud and obviously excited to host that game, and I felt like we brought the fight to the Thundering Herd, so we do look forward to our prep not only as a football team but as a fan base, an alumni base. All the feedback so far is this is a home run for us. We're obviously disappointed that we didn't win the championship, but this is where we wanted to be all along, and we're there, and I think our fan base feels the same way. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 3 QUESTION: You mentioned that it was your top choice and Coach Holtz said earlier today that it was obviously the top choice, whether you won or lost. How much of a priority was it, I guess, leading up? When did you start realizing when the team became bowl eligible that you wanted to make Dallas a priority? McCLELLAND: You know, I think to some degree before the season even started. We know what our bowl lineup is within the league. Again, as we think about what a bowl game means, not only obviously to a football program but to an athletic department but also to a university, Louisiana Tech University is the fastest growing university in the state of Louisiana, and due in large part to our recent recruitment efforts in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Dr. Guice and his staff have done a tremendous job of recruiting students and getting them to come over to Ruston from that area, and so for us to be in this game and be able to spend an entire week in that area, you know, it's huge for our entire university. I would say it predates probably even being bowl eligible, but obviously as it progressed along the system, that was where our eyes were focused and that's where we landed, so we're very blessed about that. SIMMONS: Tommy, thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you in a week when we have our announcement party on the 11th of December at the Cotton Bowl Stadium press box. Coach Holtz, welcome, and just like to get your opening comments about playing Illinois in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. SKIP HOLTZ: Well, really, really excited to have this opportunity, and just excited when I got that phone call from Brant earlier today. It was great energy and great enthusiasm. I very excitedly said how much we were looking forward to getting in this game and having the opportunity to play in it. I want to congratulate Illinois on their fine season. I think Coach Beckman has done a great job there, very familiar with a lot of people on that staff, Bill Cubit, the great success that he had at Western Michigan, Tim Salem and I coached together, his special team’s coordinator way back when at Colorado State, who's been a dear friend of mine in this business. I want to congratulate them on their great season, and just how excited I am to have the opportunity to play a team and a coaching staff with the reputation, the history and the success that they have had. I know it's a match up that our players are excited about and having the opportunity to be in Dallas. This is one that we are definitely coming to with a lot of excitement and a lot of enthusiasm for a lot of different reasons. SIMMONS: What was the key to your season? Obviously you've improved by four wins and got to the championship game. What was the difference this year as compared to your first year at Louisiana Tech? HOLTZ: I think there was probably a couple things. I don't know that you can just put your finger on one thing, but certainly with the addition of some new players, whether it be redshirts, transfers, things along those lines, we've got a number of first year players that played for us, and then I also think the way that the coaching staff came together, we hired three new coaches, a new defensive coordinator, and just the way everybody gelled and kind of really became a unit and became very unselfish is a lot of reasons. But the reason we're here is because of what those players did on the field, and we had some guys really step up and have special years for us because we had some of the new faces but we also have some guys that have really developed as football players and young men. So I think for all of those reasons is why we're able to pretty much double our win total from a year ago. SIMMONS: You talk about new players and this and that. Can you talk a little bit about your offense? Obviously I think you had a very productive offense this year compared to your first year there. HOLTZ: We did, a lot of growth there, especially when you look at the production with points and some of those things. I think Cody Sokol, our quarterback, who I just have great respect for, he's played these last couple weeks with a little nick in his shoulder and it'll be good that he's going to have time to get healthy to play in this game, but he was the real leader in the passing game, and what he was able to do as a quarterback in his first year as a transfer from Iowa and has done just a great job for us. And then with some of the receivers, Paul Turner being new, Carlos Henderson being new, some of the new faces out there along with guys like Trent Taylor and Hunter Lee and Sterling Griffin really have given us some explosive plays in the passing game, and then I think Kenneth Dixon in the running game has really just continued to evolve as Kenneth gets older. He's a junior now and has really grown up and is maturing as a football player. I think a lot of things have started to come together, and having the second year of being in the offense and starting to develop a little bit more of the culture, and then getting to understand really what we're looking for and what we want is part of the reason that we've been able to have some success. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 4 SIMMONS: Talk a little bit about your defense and some of the top players. HOLTZ: Manny Diaz, the defensive coordinator who came in here this last year has really done a great job. Any time you come in as a new coach, the first thing you have to do is sell yourself. He came here from Texas, and he's come in, he really did a great job of selling himself to these players. The buy in factor has been huge. They've kind of hit it off from the beginning, and I think really defensively has been the strength of this football team. I think we've got a lot of returning players from last year with everybody back in the secondary, Le'Vander Liggins, Xavier Woods, Kentrell Brice and Adairius Barnes being the four starters in the secondary that have remained healthy all year and have really done a great job as one of the top teams in the country as far as creating turnovers and interceptions. They've done a really nice job. And then at linebacker with a senior like Mitch Villemez and Nick Thomason who got his first start in the championship game last week and I thought did just a fantastic job. But I feel like we've got some linebackers that have played a lot of football for us. And then on the defensive front, Vontarrius Dora, Vernon Butler, some guys up front, and then Houston Bates, who is a transfer from Illinois, as a senior, graduated, and wanted to come back closer to home, was very fortunate that he wanted to continue to play football and some things were open, so it worked out for him to come play. He's been a real leader for us and just really done a nice job. SIMMONS: I think we've got 19 days before we play. What's on the schedule? Have you had time to plot out your schedule and when you're going to arrive in the Dallas area for the final preparations? HOLTZ: Yes, sir. We've talked about that. We're in school until the 19th. Being in the quarter system we have just started a new quarter, so we'll be in school here until the 19th, and then we were looking at possibly coming over and practicing there to be there on the 22nd for sure, and I know the dinner that night we're looking to get over there on the 22nd and practice, and then we'll be there obviously the 22nd through the game. But the staff will be out on the road recruiting this week as pretty much everybody I think in the country is trying to get out, and with us losing last week because of the championship game, we will pretty much lift and run with our players this week and then start the real bowl preparation on Friday, as we will begin that. QUESTION: Two part question. It was obvious that you all wanted to go to Dallas, win or lose yesterday. Does it take the sting away any that you did lose and you still were able to get Dallas? And two, you mentioned Houston earlier briefly, but have you gotten the chance to talk to him after learning about Illinois and the possibility of playing against some of his former teammates and his former coach? HOLTZ: Well, being able to take the sting out of the game, I think this is about the only bowl game we could have gone to that could have taken the sting out of losing just a heartbreaking game, but you have to leave the entire game with a minute to go when they threw the touchdown pass, and it was very hard to know that everything was on the line and the conference championship. But when I came in to meet with them today and threw the PowerPoint up on the board and it had the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl, I know they had an opportunity to video us, but the team was really excited, the cheers, guys standing up. I think this is the bowl that we've wanted to be in all along. It's got a great opponent coming from the Big Ten. It's close to home. It's in Dallas. I mean, this is something that our players were really excited about, and I think when you look at some of the great destination bowls that Conference USA has when you start talking about Hawai'i and the Bahamas and some of those places, but that's not what attracted some of these players. They wanted the opportunity to play in the best bowl available, and they felt like this was really a great opportunity to be in Dallas. I know they're really excited and it definitely helped take some of the sting away so we can start looking forward to what's going to be next. Unfortunately when we had our team meeting, at that time the opponent was not yet announced, and so I wasn't really sure what was going to happen, but I know that Houston is really, I'm sure, excited. I'm sure he's got a relationship with a lot of guys on that team and an awful lot of respect for that program, for Coach Beckman and everybody that's there. I think Houston will be really excited about the opportunity, as I'm sure a lot of the people there will be excited to have the opportunity to play against him, as well. QUESTION: I wanted to ask you, do you believe that Conference USA has truly prepared you guys to play a Big Ten team the likes of Illinois? And how would you compare Conference USA with the other conferences outside the big five? HOLTZ: Let me first say this on the preparation: I think this conference, I think it's very competitive. I think you've got a lot of different things in this conference. You have teams that have a ball control mindset of run the ball, and you have teams that are going to be spread wide open and throw it all over the field. You see a lot of different offenses, and having the opportunity to play in this conference, offenses and defenses and what different teams do. But also I think the opportunities outside the conference that we've had to play three bowl teams outside of the conference when you start talking about playing at Oklahoma and at Auburn, I definitely think all those have helped prepare us for the opportunity that we're going to have on the 26th against Illinois. And I think as far as comparing this conference to the rest of the big five, I think I'm sure somebody has got numbers on what those head to head situations look like and what some of these bowl match ups are going to bring, but I think it's an excellent conference. I think there's a lot of really good football coaches in this league, and I think there's a lot of really good football players in this league, and so I certainly feel like it is one of the more competitive conferences outside of the big five, and I think it's going to be a great opportunity for us to represent Conference USA against a Big Ten opponent. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 5 SIMMONS: Coach, thank you very much. We look forward to seeing you. Any final comments you have about playing in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl? HOLTZ: I just want to say thank you to Brant and everybody involved on the committee that made this possible for Louisiana Tech to be in the Zaxby's Heart of Dallas Bowl. We are really excited about coming over there with a strong fan base and having an opportunity to play a really good Illinois team, and again, congratulations to Coach Beckman for the success that he's had, and we're looking forward to this opportunity. ILLINOIS SIMMONS: Thank you very much. Welcome, Mike. Just your opening comments about coming to Dallas and playing Louisiana Tech in the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium. MIKE THOMAS: Well, we're extremely excited as a fan base and as a program and our alumni, and really to get that call from Brant today was just tremendous, and to play in a historic venue like the Cotton Bowl with an extremely good Louisiana Tech football program, we're excited about it. We're looking forward to it. It's really a credit to our coaching staff and a very young football team, but a very young team that was led by some seniors that really finished the season strong for us. SIMMONS: Obviously your team had to win the last two games against Penn State and on the road at Northwestern. Looks like they met the challenge there at the end. THOMAS: They did meet the challenge. They knew what was at stake, and we all know, being bowl eligible doesn't necessarily mean you're playing in the postseason, but they did. It's a credit once again to the coaches and it's a credit to these kids that really when their backs were against the wall, they came out with energy, they played for four quarters and they really played their best football when it counted the most. SIMMONS: Just your thoughts about playing in Dallas, what kind of impact it will have for your alumni and obviously playing at the Cotton Bowl Stadium. THOMAS: For us we have one of the largest alumni bases in the country so we have people spread all across the country, which is important, but for us certainly Dallas is important for a number of reasons. As a program we've started to recruit there quite heavily. We have a number of kids who have committed to us recently from that area, so that will be of prime importance to us. But I think it's a very easy place for us to get to from the Midwest, and certainly, like I said, playing in a historic venue, playing against a tremendous opponent, so we're really excited about it. QUESTION: How concerned were you about the fact that when you woke up this morning there was a chance that the Big Ten might have one team that was left out, and there was some speculation that you guys might be at a little bit of risk there. THOMAS: Well, I think there are a few Big Ten teams that were probably having a little bit of a sleepless night last night, and there were some things that had to play out. As a matter of fact there's some things that had yesterday played out differently, we would have had a better night's sleep. That being said, there's a lot of moving pieces. There's a lot of moving pieces within our conference. There's a lot of moving pieces outside of our conference. But at the end of the day I think we're worthy to be playing in postseason. We've played by NCAA standards the 10th strongest schedule in the country, and we've played a lot of strong opponents. As a matter of fact we played nine bowl eligible teams this year. So I think we're worthy of it, I think we're ready for it, and like I said, we're certainly excited about coming down to Dallas. SIMMONS: Mike, thank you very much. Coach Beckman, welcome, and just your thoughts about playing Louisiana Tech and playing in the Cotton Bowl Stadium. TIM BECKMAN: Well, first and foremost, it's an honor for this football team, for this coaching staff, everybody involved in our football family here to be involved in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Tim, I can't tell you what this means to this football team, knowing that we've got a great opponent in La Tech, Skip Holtz, a friend of mine. I've studied a lot when he was at South Carolina with him, Tony Petersen, another great offensive coordinator that of course we've run in to one another before in this great game of football, and then Manny I mean, Manny is known throughout this country as being one of the top defensive coordinators. You know, it'll be a challenge, there's no question about it. But what an outstanding opportunity for this football team and this coaching staff. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 6 SIMMONS: Talk a little bit about your offense this season and maybe some of the top players. Obviously you probably had your best game against Northwestern rushing and points wise. BECKMAN: Well, I'll tell you, we started out the football season with a quarterback named Wes Lunt, and he really led us through some games there, really at the end of games, fourth quarter wins, just driving us down, had some outstanding numbers, and he goes down against Purdue and we have to bring a senior quarterback in in Reilly O'Toole. Reilly comes in, and Bill Cubit, our offensive coordinator, fabulous job. You're talking about our first quarterback being a thrower and our second quarterback being maybe a little bit more of a runner, and he came in in the second half of this football season and knocked off a Minnesota team when they were rated, and then of course beat Penn State at home and Northwestern. You had a young man that rose to the occasion, that met the demands of being a senior and being a leader. I'm sure Reilly would be the first one to tell you that he didn't do it alone. We've been able to rush the football a little bit and throw the football. We've got really three quarterbacks that played for us this football season, and we can do some different things with each one of them. SIMMONS: Will your quarterback be back, the original starter, or is he out for the season? BECKMAN: No, he came back, he really did. He came back for we break the season down into quarters, and he came back for the fourth quarter, the last three football games, and was ready and prepared. You know, Reilly was playing so good for us, we had to make decisions each week on which quarterback was going to start for us, and we felt we played both of them until the Northwestern football game when we just went with Reilly. SIMMONS: Talk a little bit about your defense and some of the stand outs. BECKMAN: Well, again, number wise, defensively, I will say this: In the big games that we've had in the second half of the football season, the Minnesota game, the Penn State game and the Northwestern game, if you look at them stat wise, the defense won you those football games. We had a big interception at the end of the Minnesota game that we returned for a touchdown excuse me, a fumble that ended up winning us a football game. Great defensive stand by Coach Banks and the defense against Penn State, to kick a field goal at the end of the game to win it, and then five big turnovers against Northwestern that they created. All four of them were inside the 50 yard line. Again, the defense has stood up in those crucial games for some crucial victories. SIMMONS: Talk a little bit about playing in Texas. I think this is maybe the fourth time that Illinois has had a football game in Texas. One was a bowl game in 2010 against Baylor. How important is it for you to play in the Dallas Fort Worth area and play at the Cotton Bowl Stadium? BECKMAN: It's huge. We have a great alumni base throughout this country but big in the state of Texas and Dallas. Like Skip, I'm a former a son of a father that coached college football, and mine happened to be a little bit in the pros, and we spent some time in the state of Texas. I got to play a little bit of high school ball at a place called Forest Park. It's now called Westbrook down in Beaumont, Texas when my father was at Lamar University. I got to travel with him to Louisiana Tech as a high schooler before they played Louisiana Tech when he was at Lamar. I've got the utmost respect for Texas football, the fan base, the electricity when you go to football games. It's just phenomenal. Being a coach that coached at Oklahoma State, also, and playing the likes of all the teams down there in the state of Texas, it's an outstanding venue for football and one we're blessed to be a part of in Dallas. QUESTION: How did your players and fans react to Dallas as a bowl destination after you don't really know how it's going to shake out late in the process? BECKMAN: Well, I think they were fired up. We tried to make something special because it's been since 2011 since we've been to a bowl game. Our players have been fighting, and they've been trying to put the fight back in the Illini. We had a tough year a couple years ago, and we've been battling back since then. Hey, for an opportunity to play with this senior class for another three weeks in the great state of Texas and in Dallas, our players are very, very excited. ZAXBY’S HEART OF DALLAS BOWL TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT, Page 7 QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Houston Bates. I know he was with your program, had a pretty good season, transferring back home to play for Louisiana Tech. If you can just kind of, I guess, talk about that match up going against one of your former players, and have you followed his season at all, and do you still keep in touch with him? BECKMAN: Well, I'll tell you what, first and foremost, Houston Bates is an outstanding young man. It was a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to coach him, to be honest with you. I'm more of a defensive minded coach, and of course Houston was big for us defensively because he was involved in our defensive packages and really was a leader of what we had here defensively. We knew that he had an opportunity to get closer to home, and it was very, very important to him to do that, be closer to his mother, and he graduated in his four years and had that opportunity to go play another year. We have been following him. As a matter of fact, he's got a lot of close friends on this team, do a lot of hunting together, and we've followed him quite a bit. He's doing an extremely great job that we knew he would do. I think he even had a pick, which was great to see him do that because I remember a couple times in practice I was kind of concerned about his hands, and he'll laugh at that. I'm proud of what Houston has done, and I know he's a darned good football player. QUESTION: I know you got the chance to play Louisiana Tech back in 2012. I think that was your third or fourth game. Probably a totally different team. They were pretty much a pass happy offense, one of the best offenses in the country, and now the defense this year has kind of led Louisiana Tech to the west title. Maybe compare and contrast what you've seen, how much studying you've done thus far, just based off initial reaction comparing them from 2012 to present day? BECKMAN: Well, to be honest with you, I can't tell you a whole bunch of them. Maybe a couple blips I saw Houston. We had 16 recruits in here this weekend so I was very busy with that. You know, but I know the Louisiana Tech program, because again, my father was in that conference, and I remember the respect that that program has always had. I can remember. I know Tony, as I've mentioned before, and very much respect him, and then of course I know don't know Manny personally other than the couple times we've talked on the phone, but I know Manny has done a great job with that defense. They came in here two years ago and were a very, very good football team, and we didn't slow them down, and they really took it to us. They were a good, good football team. We know that challenge will be in front of us, and I'm sure our players will be prepared and ready to play. SIMMONS: Coach, we have 17 days or 16 days. What are you going to be doing with your team for the next couple weeks? BECKMAN: Well, I'll tell you, I've been blessed being around Jim Tressel and being around Urban Meyer and Mike Gundy and a lot of things we do I've definitely learned from them. We have already practiced three practices already. I felt it was important to get our young players involved in some things that can further their careers as we move them forward. I gave a break to our seniors and to a lot of our starters. They're still at practice but did not participate in it. We will utilize these Thursday, Friday and Saturday to do the same, but our seniors will be back involved in those practices, and then we go into finals the following week. I'm not going to, of course, touch anything or have anything to do with practice while our young men are getting A's and B's, and that's what I look forward for them doing. Then we'll get it started, and look forward to getting down there on the 22nd, and really excited about spending our time in Dallas. TIM SIMMONS: Coach, thank you very much, and we look forward to seeing you the next couple weeks, and maybe this week at our announcement party on the 11th. Thank you very much.
  6. http://www.conferenceusa.com/genrel/120214aac.html Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky Statement on UAB: "We are aware of the study but disappointed with the decision to discontinue the sport of football at UAB, particularly because of its effect on the lives of the student-athletes and coaches that have worked so hard to restore the quality of the program. We don't fully understand the decision, nor agree with it, but do respect it and the authority of the UAB Administration to make it. As a conference, we will move forward in our pursuit of excellence in athletics and academics, with the primary goal of providing a positive educational experience for all of our 5,000 student-athletes. Our universities have invested in athletics, and in facilities to support athletics, and are focused on their student-athletes and the contribution college athletics makes on their campuses and in their communities. UAB has been a contributing member to the Conference since its inception and has expressed a strong interest in remaining a member, a topic that the Conference's Board of Directors will take up in the months ahead. The Conference's current bylaws require all members to sponsor football."
  7. Alabama-Birmingham officials are expected to announce this week that they will shutter their football program, USA Today and Sports Illustrated reported on Sunday. If true, it will be a blow to Conference USA, and as such, a blow for Old Dominion’s football program. UAB would be forced to withdraw from the conference, which requires schools to play football. First-year coach Bill Clark, who guided UAB to a 6-6 record this season and bowl eligibility, will have his contract bought out and athletic director Brian Mackin will be fired as part of a reorganization of the athletic department. UAB’s football program has struggled over the years, but the school is a large, urban university in a state that is football crazy. Birmingham is the nation’s 43rd-largest TV market. Read more: http://www.hamptonroads.com/2014/11/demise-uab-football-blow-conference-usa-and-thus-blow-old-dominion
  8. Editors note: this guy can flat out recruit and was the best recruiter on the Dickey staff back when he was here. Malone’s experience recruiting in the Lone Star State is likely a factor in his name being connected to the SMU opening. Prior to Malone’s two-year stint in Tulsa, he coached defensive backs one season at North Texas and four seasons at Texas A&M. The Cowboys’ pass defense has allowed an average of 282.8 yards through the air per game this season, a mark that ranks No. 120 nationally. read more: http://newsok.com/media-report-oklahoma-state-cornerbacks-coach-van-malone-candidate-to-become-next-defensive-coordinator-at-smu/article/5371835
  9. UNT shot 48% from the field in the first half including 63% from deep. The Mean Green had shot just 25% from three point range so far this season. Jordan Williams led the team with 12 points in the first half. Arkansas jumped out to a 50-43 lead before Bobby Portis went to the bench with his 3rd foul. Michael Qualls was leading Arkansas with 18 points and 7 rebounds with 11:10 to go in the game. Portis had just 2 points and 7 rebounds at that point. The Mean Green had just retaken the lead 55-54, before the Hogs hit a three to go back up 57-55. Read more: http://www.midmajormadness.com/2014/11/29/7304847/north-texas-gives-arkansas-all-they-want
  10. Virginia’s Max Valles and Stanford’s Blake Martinez were named Linebacker Performers of the Week by CFPA, while Vigil shared honorable mention honors with Michael Johnson (ULM), Skai Moore (South Carolina), Tra’Mayne Bondurant (Arizona), Marquel Lee (Wake Forest), Derek Akunne (North Texas), Jovan Santos-Knox (Massachusetts), Christian Holmes (Mississippi State) and Zack Ryan (Ball State). Read more: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865616295/USU-football-senior-linebacker-Zach-Vigil-recognized-by-College-Football-Performance-Awards.html?pg=all
  11. Evan and Harry welcome back Ashton Campbell creator of Beyond the Green to recap the very disappointing UNT loss at El Paso as well as saying goodbye to our seniors in the final home game this Saturday at Apogee versus FIU. We also say goodbye to the great John Skladany and look at other odds and ends as the team closes out the season. http://www.gomeangreen.com/forums/podcast/gmgpod141.mp3 Click here for the direct audio link This post has been promoted to an article
  12. Florida: Sources tell us that Marshall head coach Doc Holliday is very much a candidate for the head coaching vacancy at Florida. Holliday has served as head coach at Marshall for the past five seasons. From 2005-2007 he was on Urban Meyers staff at Florida serving as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. Holliday went on to join the staff at West Virginia where he served two years as associate head coach before being named head coach at Marshall following the 2009 season. Holliday won 10 games at Marshall last season and currently has his team 10-0. Read more: http://footballscoop.com/the-scoop/
  13. If you haven't watched the series you should as I think it gives great insight into what a great coach and person John Skladany is. I hope that Ashton will do a special segment on Skladany to honor his outstanding career. Thank you Coach Skladany for your contributions to our program. We wish you only the best. GMG
  14. DRC: Development of promising QB vital, but defensive struggles, lack of playmakers other than Harris concerning: http://www.dentonrc.com/sports/sports-headlines/20141005-football-williams-masking-different-problems.ece
  15. FAU favored by 7. Will FAU keep rising after beating UTSA? Or will FIU rise to the challenge at home. I guess we should pull for FIU in this game no? PS make sure to get your Pick'ems for this week in before the game tonight! Click Here for Link
  16. So I half-way wish I was quicker on the draw for this one... the comedic timing would have been better. You'll see... LEVITY CURES ALL! My god, those CSC people are nuts. And what the hell is wrong with the people selecting our in-stadium music? I mean, c'mon. The Chicken Dance?!? ​The first half was nothing short of utter embarrassment... Which led to 1000 Dajon Williams threads... EDIT: substitute "faculty" for "coaches" and "arraignment" for "next game"... DOUBLE EDIT: a brief bit of language... so maybe don't play it at work. BUT THEN MAC AND CANALES RELENTED!!! I'm so very excited for this Saturday. TRIPLE EDIT: Eric Capper trollin' hard. https://twitter.com/eric_capper/status/511551738222899200
  17. Place - name - correct picks 1 outoftown 13 1 UNTnewbie 13 3 DallasGreen 12 3 forevereagle 12 3 laxtonto 12 3 Mean Green 93-98 12 3 NT03 12 8 adman 11 8 Army of Dad 11 8 bstnsportsfan3 11 8 curtisdaa 11 8 MeanGreenTexan 11 8 NTEdgex2 11 8 Runners Nation 11 8 scratch1976 11 8 Texas Stranger 11 8 UTSA 11 18 akriesman 10 18 Andrew 10 18 BIG DAWG 10 18 Censored by Laurie 10 18 Christopher Walker 10 18 Cnelson203 10 18 ColoradoEagle 10 18 Cr1028 10 18 Craig Murphy 10 18 goherd24 10 18 GrandGreen 10 18 Green Crazy 10 18 GreenBat 10
  18. On his team’s offensive struggles: “We knew they were a pretty good defense. We knew they were more talented than what they’ve had been given credit for. But I didn’t expect us not be able to block them at all. I knew it was going to be a challenge. We scripted a lot of things to get the ball out quickly, but we did not do what we needed to do to win the football game. It’s hard for the quarterback to go back and throw anything when he doesn’t have the time. We could not protect the quarterback.” Read more: http://collegesportsblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/overheard-smus-june-jones-on-poor-offensive-line-play-two-qb-system.html/
  19. Called the athletic dept on Friday and ordered 2 season tickets for section 106. The good news, it's the last two in that section that are seated next to each other. He couldn't tell me the exact number but did say they are nearly double from last year! Continue this trend and it's going to be an awesome atmosphere! He also indicated the SMU game is basically sold out, they are just developing some promotions to sell the wing section now. Really looking forward to the 1st home game.
  20. The 2014 Conference USA lineup could turn out to be deep if all goes according to plan. A 13-team league this season (Charlotte will join as a full-time member in 2015), C-USA should have no problems filling its five bowl tie-ins. The knowledge that those bowl spots are out there gives WKU added motivation seeing as it came from a league where two of the last three seasons it couldnt get a postseason spot despite a winning record. Theres a lot of stability now where were at, WKU coach Jeff Brohm said. Theres a lot of opportunities if we succeed and do well, so theres a lot of motivation to win, but we also understand that every week its going to be extremely tough and weve just got to take it one game at a time. You hear that a lot, but we have to do that and focus on that and becoming the best players and team we can be. Read more: http://www.bgdailynews.com/sports/wku/marshall-north-texas-frontrunners-in-c-usa/article_02d8d652-3804-547d-9f16-2a22af861d99.html?mode=jqm
  21. To hear league commissioner Britton Banowsky tell it, Conference USA finally has reached stability for the first time in several years. The past couple seasons have seen the exits of several longtime conference members. Gone are Memphis, SMU and Central Florida. Joining the exodus are Houston, Tulane, Tulsa and East Carolina. In their stead, last year Conference USA added Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Texas-San Antonio, Florida International, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech to the football mix. This season, the league welcomes two more additions to the fold — Old Dominion and Western Kentucky. Charlotte, although technically a member of Conference USA, won't officially join the league's football lineup until 2015. By and large, members — both old and new — believe Conference USA is set up for long-term stability and success. Read more: http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/story/sports/special-edition/2014/08/21/conference-usa-taking-shape/14374959/
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