Across the Web: Cal Bears

Written September 14th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

For this week’s Across the Web feature we visit with our friends from SBN’s California Golden Blogs.  The CGB was gracious to take some time and answer our questions and they even took it one step further for us.  We get the insight from a couple of different members as Kodiak and NorCalNick give us some of their views and opinions.

1. What do you make of last weekend’s PAC 12 success over the Big Ten. UCLA, ASU, and Oregon State all with wins?

Kodiak: Well, as good Cal fans, this naturally gives us a feeling of doooooom. The early reviews would be that UCLA and ASU have upgraded their coaching. Both schools seem to have underperformed relative to their recruited talent lately, particularly UCLA. Oregon State is always a bit under the radar, but Mike Riley does a great job. He might be the best coach in the Pac-12. He’ll have a down year here and there, sure. When he has veteran players, I wouldn’t want to face him.

NorCalNick: I think it’s clear that those three teams have improved immensely over last season, which isn’t a huge shock – UCLA finally has a head coach that won’t allow the talent they have to underachieve, and last year’s Oregon St. squad was unbelievably young and unbelievably injured.

That said, I think the fact that all three games were played on the west coast might have something to do with the clean sweep. Playing at home is always an advantage, but that advantage only seems to get amplified when one team is travelling 2/3rd of the way across the country.

Headed To The League

2. Cal has regularly had a speedster receiver returning kicks. Is there such a player on the roster today that OSU should worry about?

Kodiak: Brendan Bigelow is the designated speedster on kickoff returns. He’s finally recovered from a couple of HS knee injuries. Prior to getting hurt, his highlight films were a bit unreal. We haven’t really seen him unleash his potential yet, but there is plenty of coachspeak hype with how he’s starting to light it up in practice.

The guy to worry about is Keenan Allen on punt returns. He’s not a true burner, but has amazing agility and instincts in the open field for a bigger receiver.

On the other hand, Cal’s special teams units are poorly coached, so it’s all about individual brilliance by the returners and not so much a well-executed blocking scheme.

3. Given that the rest of the Nation only ever hears about USC and Oregon out of the PAC 12, we often have trouble identifying players on other teams. Name a player on each side of the ball we will know about after the and why? Read More

Across the Web: UCF Knights

Written September 7th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

For this week’s views from enemy lines we travel down south to Florida…  No we didn’t ask Mike Bianchi any questions.  We did stay with the Orlando Sentinel though, and their UCF writer Iliana Limon.  Check out Iliana’s answers as she gives us some insight on UCF’s program, and take a listen to her visit with our BBN bros at The Empire.

Huh. A bit loud in here...

1. How does George O’Leary like to attack his opponents offensively? Is he primarily a ground guy, air guy, or is he more flexible depending on the defense?

UCF coach George O’Leary definitely prefers to use a tough rushing attack to establish pass plays. He believes in ball-control offense, which tends to set up his defense for success when his offense performs well.

2. We’ve seen UCF oscillate between good seasons and mediocre/bad ones on about a three year cycle since O’Leary arrived. Do you see that continuing into the future? How do you envision the future of the program under O’Leary?

Like all coaches, O’Leary aspires to win on a consistent basis. The key to his success is sustaining depth. He has struggled to string together back-to-back strong senior classes, who are expected to be the leaders of his program. When reserves don’t see early playing time and have other options, they tend to leave UCF and erase key components of what will one day be a senior class. It appears the program is finally starting to turn a corner with some well spaced out classes that could provide consistent leadership year after year.

3. What type of defense does UCF employ? Do you think it will be up to the task of facing Urban Meyer’s offense, albeit imperfectly run?

UCF runs a multiple or 4-3 defense. The Knights prefer to get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. The emphasis is on playing assignment-sound football and being as disruptive as possible. It’s hard to say how successful UCF’s defense will be against Ohio State. The Knights have great depth and talent, but some fundamental mistakes — including poor tackling form — popped up last week against Akron and could be a much bigger headache for the Knights at Ohio State.

4. With Latavius Murray possibly out for the game, do you think the Knights change their offensive philosophy at all? Read More

Across the Web: Miami Redhawks

Written August 31st, 2012 by Gary Russell II

Every week, we try to be nice to one of the folks from the other side of the field. This week’s conversation was easier than usual, as our friend and MAC expert Matt Sussman from SBN’s Hustle Belt returns to spill the beans on the RedHawks.

Hugs!!

1. How important is the experience between QB Zac Dysert and WR Nick Harwell to the team as a whole and how does it free up others to be successful?

They’re definitely the names on the scrolling marquee, but the issue is: who else can make plays? Andy Cruse, maybe, but right now that’s the list. Teams can game for those two and let Dysert have his 300 yards. But if a semblance of a running game can manifest, or if the offensive line can block, then you can use Harwell in all sorts of ways to make the rest of the team better.

2. Miami took a shot at Florida last year and very nearly caught the Gators napping. Is there a feeling around the Redhawk program that we might see something similar again this season?

I do remember that Miami-UF game, and a lot of it had to do with simply pouncing on turnovers and capitalizing on mistakes. If I recall the RedHawks didn’t score a touchdown that game, but it took until the fourth quarter for the Gators to finally pull away and make it look like a decent win. Now, MU teams are always annoying to opponents so they could make this one look close in the first half just like that game. But it’s going to require the complete cooperation of a Buckeyes offense running a new system with butterflies in their stomachs.

3. How do you see the Redhawks attacking this Buckeye defense on Saturday? Read More

Across The Web: THE GAME

Written November 25th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

For our last blogger chat of the season, we approached several writers for TTUN to see if they could manage to actually string a few one syllable words together… but unfortunately, most of them were in jail. Then we remembered that the great MZone had re-opened their shop, and were happily cranking out photoshop coping mechanisms. We emailed Yost about joining us, and once he’d sobered up he sent us what you see below.  Be sure to follow their stuff on twitter, and also on an upcoming edition of “COPS”.

Do you ever feel dirty rooting for the Maize and Blue?  Do you ever get one of those shudders like pure evil has settled into your soul?

Wonder What He's Been Eating?

Never dirty, just horribly dazed watching what passed for our beloved Wolverines the last three years.   And if you’ve been following the Maize and Blue this season, as you know, the only evil emanating out of A2 is of the Pop Evil variety.  While, as the world knows, the evil that spews forth from Columbus is more of a Mordor strain.

What’s your favorite memory of The Game? On the other end of the spectrum, what play or game gives you nightmares?

Near the top of the “good” list are ’95 and ’96 when Michigan wasn’t given a chance and Ohio State was undefeated and, I believe, #2 in the country both times.  Of the two, I think I enjoyed ’96 a tad more just because it was in Columbus.  That was the 13-9 Michigan win that swung U-M’s way when Shawn Springs slipped and fell allowing Tai Streets to score on a 69 yard slant.  OSU had been up 9-0 at halftime and you could almost hear the dread as it settled over the stadium.  My god, I’m getting weepy just thinking about it again.  But I digress.

Actually, at the top of my fave list has to be ’97 when #1 Michigan faced off against #4 OSU with everything on the line.  The Game initially looked to be a Wolverine rout with Charles Woodson returning a punt for a TD (you seen that replay once or twice, right?).  But when OSU cut U-M’s 20-0 lead to 20-14, you could hear a car key jingle pin drop in The Big House.  Thankfully, Michigan held on and then won the Rose Bowl to claim a National Championship.

It was the stakes of ’97 and what a victory meant that made it so meaningful and memorable.  Conversely, that’s precisely why 2006 still gives me nightmares.  For the first time in history, Michigan and Ohio State were #1 and #2 at the time of The Game.  OSU had the big lead at halftime but Michigan fought back.  With 6:49 left, Michigan had cut the lead to 35-31.  OSU had the ball on the Michigan 38 yard line, 3rd and 15.  Troy Smith rolled out and threw an incomplete pass.  Michigan was gonna get the ball back with a chance to drive down for the winning score.  But… Read More

Across The Web: Penn State

Written November 17th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

Today, our long time friend Mike Pettigano from Black Shoe Diaries swings by the clubhouse to give us insight on the Penn State season as well as some of his thoughts about what might be next for the Nittany Lions. We also talk about fair media coverage… and agree that it’s not happening. Mike was the one that brought PSU’s efforts with RAINN to our attention… worth your time to get involved.

Penn State spent a good portion of the early part of the season struggling to find an offensive identity.  Has the coaching staff worked out some of the kinks, or is the PSU offense still a work in progress?

MMMMMMMoxieeeee!!!

The offense suffered a pretty big hit this past week losing Mike McQueary’s services on the sideline. He was the guy running the show, calling in the plays, substitutions, personnel packages. Granted, the reasons for his absence dwarf the problems on the field last week. But it’s the football-related answer to your question. Silas Redd has become the offense since late September, but he suffered a minor shoulder injury this week that kept him out of practice so far. He should be ready to go for the game this weekend, as he’s the most physically well-conditioned player I’ve seen in a long time. The guy was averaging 28 carries over three weeks in October, yet still churned out 100-yard games like it was nothing. However, Redd hasn’t been able to win games on his own. The quarterbacks have to be at least functional. And whatever the view on Matt McGloin may be, he’s the starting quarterback now. As long as McGloin avoids stupid mistakes, he can be a decent game-manager. That’s all Penn State needs in a quarterback, but hasn’t gotten much of it against decent opponents this season.

 

Whispers are that Silas Redd may not be healthy enough to play on Saturday, and it was announced that McGloin will be the starter (rather than sharing time with Bolden) – How does that impact the Lion Offense against Ohio State? Read More

Across The Web: Purdue Boilermakers

Written November 11th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

Our weekly visit with “enemy” bloggers comes to a screeching halt in front of the palatial mansion that houses the Boiled Sports braintrust- greatest building in the city limits, since they tore the West Lafayette Women’s Clinic down. The fellers were good enough to not kick us off of their porch, and instead gave us time for a little Q&A. Be sure to check out our side of the story over at their one stop spot for all things Boilertastic.

After Boiling the Zooks for Homecoming, Purdue has dropped two straight. What do you sense is the attitude of the team as the season enters it’s last month?

Hey. Let's do... stuff.

We think the team — the players, especially — has shown remarkable resiliency. We’ve seen teams nearly quit in the past or roll over or look scared and that’s one thing Danny Hope has going for him — these guys don’t seem to fear anyone. Which, frankly, is more than we can say for the coaching staff, who seem to get conservative at weird times and play not to lose, etc. The Illinois game is a good example — Purdue looks quick, dominant, fresh, prepared, etc., and races out to a 21-0 lead, doing many things right, few things wrong and seemingly turning a corner. Then in the second half they managed only three first downs, two of which came on the same drive. And why? It wasn’t the players decided the game was over — it was ludicrously scared play-calling.

The team doesn’t back down, though, as I said and despite being slapped around in Ann Arbor and Madison, we still saw our corners locking up with WRs and jawing after the play, for example. They may not be winning, but they’re not scared, and we sort of like that. Hey, you have to like something these days.

Two years ago, the Boilermakers defeated Ohio State in a game that has since been known as “Purdue Harbor” (when it is known at all).  What does Purdue have to do to make this Saturday “Purdue Harbor 2″? Read More

Across The Web- Indiana

Written November 4th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye
Another visit with a brother from another mother, this time in the form of Crimson Quarry’s John M. Be sure to check out CQ’s coverage of all things Hoosier, we’re excited to have him back for another visit!

0-5 is a rough way to start in the Big Ten.  What does Kevin Wilson need to do to get this Indiana team a conference win? Now that he has more experience, do you think Wilson is the right fit for Indiana?

Top Of The Billboard Charts

Well, he needs to beat Purdue.  That’s the only hope for a conference win.  IU could improve its play 100 percent in each of the next two games and wins at Ohio State and at Michigan State still would be unlikely.  The offense, led by true freshman QB Tre Roberson and RB Stephen Houston, seems to be coming around, but to have any hope of beating Purdue, we will have to cobble something together on defense.  As for Wilson, I think it’s too early to say.  I really liked his qualifications when he was hired and I still do.  I really liked the qualifications of his staff and I still do.  This season has been a disappointment, particularly on defense, and Wilson seems willing to blow things up to some degree and start from scratch.  We’ll see if it works.  Plenty of successful coaches have had rough first years (Barry Alvarez, Bill Snyder, Bill Mallory at IU).  Plenty of unsuccessful coaches have had rough starts as well.  It’s just too early to tell.

What is one thing that Indiana fans are hopeful can get sorted out by the end of the season? Read More

Across The Web: Wisconsin

Written October 28th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

This week, we’ve got our friend and the guy in charge of Bucky’s Fifth Quarter, Adam Hoge, joining us for a little give and take. This is his third visit to tBBC , and it worked well for Buckeye hoops, but not so much for pigskin… Be sure to check out our side of the conversation at B5Q!

1. Russell Wilson has had an obvious impact on the field for the Badgers this season.  Has he also had a significant impact to this team off the field?  What was the fan reaction to his arrival on the team?

Welcomed Addition

It’s truly remarkable how seamless the transition was for Russell Wilson. He had been in Madison for less than two months when he took the field in the opener against UNLV and he had the entire offense mastered. But what’s even more impressive is that his teammates voted him a captain in such a short time. Wilson is a great football player and is very smart, but his leadership skills are off the charts. You saw that come to life last weekend when he led the Badgers back in the fourth quarter at Michigan State.

As for the fan reaction, it was nuts, has been nuts and will continue to be nuts. The term floating around Madison is “Russell Mania” and that sums it all up. The recruitment of Wilson was the story of the summer in Wisconsin and it was probably the second-biggest college football story of the offseason behind the Ohio State drama.

2. Has the addition of Wilson substantially changed the “Power Run” offensive style Wisconsin has preferred since….well, the beginning of time?  How would you describe the offensive attack now? Read More