Very early bowl projections (flawed but humorous)

June 9, 2015 by Doug Smock

Note: Author whiffs on several bowls Conference USA is hooked up with this season (Miami Beach, St. Pete, NOT Cure Bowl), but not all. Have a chuckle.


AP College Football Writer
The Football Bowl Association released the schedule for the 2015-16 postseason, making it a perfect time to do the impossible and pick which teams will be playing in the record 40 bowl games set to take place between Dec. 19 and Jan. 2.

Plenty of wishful thinking involved – Texas vs. Texas A&M! – and picks all are subject to change before the season starts.

Arizona Bowl
Wyoming vs. Rice
Cure Bowl
Houston vs. Western Kentucky
New Orleans Bowl
Louisiana-Lafayette vs. Air Force
New Mexico Bowl
Louisiana Tech vs. New Mexico
Las Vegas Bowl
Utah State vs. California
Camelia Bowl
Toledo vs. South Alabama
Miami Beach Bowl
UCF vs. Georgia Southern
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Bowling Green vs. Fresno State
Boca Raton (Fla.) Bowl
Western Michigan vs. East Carolina
Poinsettia Bowl
San Diego State vs. Washington
GoDaddy Bowl
Arkansas State vs. Northern Illinois
Bahamas Bowl
Ball State vs. Middle Tennessee
Hawaii Bowl
BYU vs. Temple
St. Petersburg Bowl
Cincinnati vs. North Carolina
Sun Bowl
Louisville vs. Utah
Heart of Dallas Bowl
West Virginia vs. Marshall
Pinstripe Bowl
Pittsburgh vs. Michigan
Independence Bowl
Miami vs. Florida
Foster Farms Bowl
Minnesota vs. Stanford
Military Bowl
Navy vs. Virginia Tech
Quick Lane Bowl
Illinois vs. Duke
Armed Forces Bowl
Colorado State vs. Rutgers
Russell Athletic Bowl
Kansas State vs. Florida State
Texas Bowl
Texas A&M vs. Texas
Birmingham Bowl
Memphis vs. Mississippi State
Belk Bowl
North Carolina State vs. Missouri
Music City Bowl
Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee
Holiday Bowl
Arizona vs. Penn State
Peach Bowl
Alabama vs. Clemson
College Football Playoff semifinal at Cotton Bowl
Notre Dame vs. Auburn
College Football Playoff semifinal at Orange Bowl
Ohio State vs. Baylor
Outback Bowl
Nebraska vs. Arkansas
Citrus Bowl
Wisconsin vs. LSU
Fiesta Bowl
Boise State vs. Oregon
Rose Bowl
Arizona State vs. Michigan State
Sugar Bowl
Georgia vs. TCU
TaxSlayer Bowl
Iowa vs. South Carolina
Liberty Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
Alamo Bowl
USC vs. Oklahoma
Cactus Bowl
UCLA vs. Oklahoma State
College Football Championship Game in Glendale, Arizona
Ohio State vs. Auburn

Preseason awards, etc.

June 1, 2015 by Doug Smock

Conference USA media poll: (East) 1. WKU; 2. Marshall; 3. Middle Tennessee; 4. Florida Atlantic; 5. FIU; 6. Old Dominion; 7. Charlotte

Dave Campbell’s All-Texas stuff, as carried in, picks WKU over Marshall in C-USA East (North Texas was picked 5th of 6 in the West). (DMN ingeniously didn’t leave a URL on its story. No kidding.)

Best vote of confidence: Phil Steele picks the Herd 31st, albeit 8 spots behind Boise State.

Athlon’s all-conference picks and previews, plus prediction. Overall ranking: WKU 69, MU 70.

And the annual repository of disrespect. WKU 80, Marshall 83?

C-USA preseason all-conference (coaches): RB Devon Johnson, OL Clint Van Horn, DL Jarquez Samuel, LB D.J. Hunter, P Tyler Williams, LS Matt Cincotta

Lombardi Award watch list (OL, DL, within 10 yards of snap; LBs within 5 yards from line of scrimmage): OL Clint Van Horn, LB D.J. Hunter

Rimington Award watch list (top center): Michael Selby

Outland Trophy (top lineman): Clint Van Horn

Maxwell Award (player of the year): Devon Johnson

Phil Steele

Third-team All-American: KR Deandre Reaves.

First-team All-C-USA: Reaves, RB Devon Johnson, OL Clint Van Horn, LB D.J. Hunter, S Taj Letman, P Tyler Williams.

Second team: OL Sebastian Johansson, DB Corey Tindal.

Third team: WR Deon-Tay McManus, OL Selby, DL Gary Thompson, LB Evan McKelvey.

Fourth team: WR Angelo Jean-Louis and S A.J. Leggett.



Stats for Green-White Scrimmage

April 25, 2015 by Doug Smock

(Sure as heck wasn’t a game.)


Birdsong 6-(-3), Butler 13-84, Pittman 11-127, 2 TD, Gaydosz 13-78, Holcombe 3-1, Team 2-(-12), Litton 4-5. Total 52-280 2 TDs.


Holcombe 11-16 147, 2 TDs (15 to Elzy, 44 to Beal); Birdsong 5-20, 58 yards, 2 TDs (25 to Foster, 1 to Foster); Litton 6-12-1, 61 yards, 2 TDs (6 to Green, 5 to Byrd); Garvin 0-0-0. Total 22-48-1, 266 yards, 6 TDs.


Green 5-41, TD, Elzy 3-30, TD, Gaydosz 3-29, Gammon 2-21, Jean-Louis 1-5, Pittman 1-9, Foster 2-26, 2 TDs, Byrd 1-5, TD, Knight 1-7, Beal 2-73, TD, Yurachek 1-20.


Houston 5 tackles, sack; Carter 5 tackles, fumble recovery; Riedel 6 tackles; Hunter sack; Massaquoi sack; Bee sack, safety; Dozier sack; Keller sack; Williams-Hall pass break-up; Allen PBU, Smith PBU; Huskey fumble recovery for TD.

Conference USA football coaching salaries

April 8, 2015 by Doug Smock

(On lookout for new extensions …)

Conference USA salaries

(Source: USA Today, 2014)

  1. Rick Stockstill, Middle Tennessee, $803,129
  2. David Bailiff, Rice, $780,243
  3. Doc Holliday, Marshall (extended contract), $755,500
  4. Dan McCarney, North Texas, $711,600
  5. Todd Monken, Southern Mississippi, $700,000
  6. Jeff Brohm, Western Kentucky, $600,000
  7. Ron Turner, Florida International, $551,000
  8. Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech, $510,000
  9. Sean Kugler, Texas-El Paso, $508,364
  10. Charlie Partridge, Florida Atlantic, $500,000
  11. Bobby Wilder, Old Dominion, $486,010
  12. Larry Coker, Texas-San Antonio, $402,150

(Charlotte’s Brad Lambert was not ranked, as the 49ers were still an FCS program.)

Issues in spring practice

March 22, 2015 by Doug Smock

With spring practice beginning Tuesday, here are 10 items about which I am curious:

  1. How will the Herd function at defensive end? I bet you thought I’d mention some other position, I’m sure. Gary Thompson has to be a beast on every down, not just a few. At the other end, Joe Massaquoi must tackle better and Armonze Daniel has to be legit. … and, as a reader remains me, Blake Keller can be big-time.
  2. Sandley Jean-Felix at left tackle: I wondered if Clint Van Horn might make the switch to the left side, but I know he’s pretty comfortable on the right. You know why I like Jean-Felix: his size and those long, long arms.
  3. OK, I’m not ignoring the post-Cato QB race. Gunnar Holcombe enters the spring as the leader because of his experience, however limited. I’m trying to figure out how Michael Birdsong has the “OR” designation with Cole Garvin.
  4. Michael Selby at center with Cody Collins/Jordan Dowrey at right guard: We know Selby can do it, but the RG position needs development.
  5. Welcome back Stefan Houston! He is needed to star at “Will” linebacker — and play the entire year.
  6. Hyleck Foster vs. Gator Green — at both slot receiver and punt return.
  7. Tony Pittman at running back: With Devon Johnson and Remi Watson held out of contact, how hard can Pittman push Steward Butler for carries?
  8. Chris Williams-Hall: He’s listed as No. 2 boundary corner and nickel, both behind Antavis Rowe, so he’s getting a longish look.

None of this takes into account new players entering the program in summer and fall … and those Raheim Husky-like players who shoot up the depth chart during the season.

Best 2-stars under Doc

February 4, 2015 by Doug Smock

I started this out as a spoof of recruiting mania, but this list has become a commentary on the character of this program, evaluation and development of talent.

Check out the best “2-star” recruits under coach Doc Holliday (using Rivals this time):

TE Ryan Yurachek
CB Antavis Rowe
S Tiquan Lang
G Michael Selby
LS Matt Cincotta
RB Devon Johnson
DE Gary Thompson
CB Corey Tindal
T Clint Van Horn
G/T Sebastian Johansson
LB Evan McKelvey
K Justin Haig
TE Gator Hoskins
DE Ra’Shawde Myers
CB Darryl Roberts
T Garrett Scott
DT Brandon Sparrow

Grades for Boca Raton Bowl

December 23, 2014 by Doug Smock


52 points, 505 total yards, 9 of 14 on third down. Tommy Shuler played out of his mind.


Between 3 red-zone stops and a statistically dominant second half, there isn’t much to gripe about.


An early loss of field position on punts, but Deandre Reaves’ TD return gave Marshall a surge.


No tough start this time for Cato, who threw, 3 brilliant TD passes.


Didn’t find much to pick at, and the preparation obviously was outstanding.


Blew away a team that could have gone to a major bowl. Give Doc a raise.

A packed Wednesday entry

December 9, 2014 by Doug Smock

Today’s weather in Boca Raton: A passing shower or two, high 72.

If you missed it, Mike Hamrick’s defense of going to Boca Raton Bowl and the very, very first look at Northern Illinois. Much more on the Huskies as weclose in on the 23rd.

I won’t run down the links here, but I have retweeted bowl ratings from Yahoo! Sports, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Awful Announcing (a very good, funny follow). Those are 10th, 14th and 8th, if I recall correctly. If you’re griping about national perception, there you go.

If you want to read the wailing from the Huntington paper, you can find that bunch of hooey yourself. I was taken aback by the writer’s references to Stephen Kopp, as if he personally lobbied for the bowl. If you didn’t know, there is no love lost between those two.

Those who say a loss to Northern Illinois would be “devastating” are exhibiting the same uppity behavior that some WVU fans have about possibly losing to Marshall. The Huskies aren’t Akron, Miami (oh) or those unlovable Buffalo Bulls, people. They are what Marshall was, 1997-2002.

One bettin’ site, OddsShark makes Marshall an 11-point favorite. A percentage of bets is listed, and it appears that line will go down. (La Tech game was down to 9½ by Saturday, according to CBS Sports.)

A few words about the 2013 Military Bowl: I don’t think beating Maryland was nearly as much of a perception boost as it was a confidence builder for the Marshall program. You saw it in the players’ eyes all spring and all August. The fourth-quarter finish was a testament to the strength program, and I think — I don’t think, I know (a Doc-ism) — it made the players buy in that much harder. These guys darn near worship Scott Sinclair.

(Consider the strong fourth quarters in the UAB, Western Kentucky and Louisiana Tech games, and perhaps Miami and Florida Atlantic. We could be talking about a 9-3 team.)

From NIU land, an opinion piece defending coach Rod Carey  and a good ready on NIU quarterback Drew Hare, an elusive sort in the Jordan Lynch mold.

Look for me to drop off this week, as I squeeze in my last two days of vacation, resurfacing before the Marshall-WVU basketball game. A Sunday 4:30 tip? Wow.




Grades for C-USA championship

December 7, 2014 by Doug Smock


Could be lower, considering the 3 turnovers and scoring only one touchdown in the first 58 minutes. Rushing was mostly throttled, managing 121 yards on 35 carries. Rakeem Cato struggled mightily early on. But that winning drive looked easy, as the Herd faced one third down, a third-and-3.


90 total yards in the second half is all you need to know. Another stat: When not saddled with a short field, this unit was scary good — the Bulldogs ran for 87 of their 196 yards on those short-field TD drives.


I’m going to deduct only one-plus letter for that blocked punt and the goofy turnover because of what else happened: Justin Haig hit 40, 46 and 40 FGs after not even trying one past 39 all season. Constantly gained field position on the punt game, had a punt downed at the 1. More positive than negative, though it could have easily gone the other way.


Cato had lot of trouble in the first half, when he was just 9 of 20, but rebounded. The interception was not his fault in the least, nor were the two turnovers. But that end-of-game drive — and completing that 9-yard pass on third-and-9 to finish the game — that was money.


Give all credit to Chuck Heater for keeping that defense together through what could have been 3 deflating touchdown runs. And give long-term credit for this team not panicking when there were plenty of chances to do so.


This may be low, considering the ultimate result. This game probably shouldn’t have been so in doubt, but Louisiana Tech does have an opportunistic defense. This team has had three straight tough games, so you can grouse about that. But remember, this program hasn’t accomplished this in 12 years.



My take on MU’s bowl picture

December 6, 2014 by Doug Smock

Good game-morning, all …

I have finally taken a breath and thought about Marshall’s place in the bowl picture, assuming Boise State wins the Mountain West Championship as expected.

After some reflection and a dose of selfishness, I say about this: Louisiana Tech can have the Heart of Dallas Bowl, no matter who wins the C-USA championship today. The fine folks there can make it to and from Dallas for the game at 11 a.m. Central on the 26th. For you and me, it’s the lousiest day on the calendar.

Besides, do you want to see Rutgers? The Scarlet G’Nites may be 7-5 overall, but 3-5 within the Big Ten. (Yes, they’re a Big Ten team. We’ve got to somehow deal with it.) I’m not crazy about playing a sub-.500-in-league team, I don’t care if that league is a Power 5..

Considering the Herd is not going to Hawaii, period (or so I hear) and UTEP is going to New Mexico (though I’d love to see the Herd play a Mountain West Conference member for once), it looks like some more MACtion. Ugh.

Unless that MACtion involves Northern Illinois. The Huskies are league champions and looked pretty good Friday night.

The one thing the bowl system is lacking is a good ol’ mano y mano, all-league-champion bout like the Liberty Bowl was a few years back. Yes, Marshall and Northern Illinois would excite me. Marshall and any other MAC team? No.

A few other things I wouldn’t mind: Florida seems to be a free agent of sorts at 6-5, but the Gators were 4-4 in the league. (I know, that includes Vandy and Kentucky. Work with me here.) If you can somehow swap the Gators into the Heart of Dallas instead of Illinois or Rutgers, I’d take it.)

Here’s another one I wouldn’t mind: Louisiana-Lafayette, who finished behind the bowl-ineligible Georgia Southern Eagles in the Sun Belt, is playing in the New Orleans Bowl. The Mountain West projects to be a spot short and likely would vacate that bowl. December 20 works for me, and I guarantee you this is the one of the better bowl atmosphere in the pre-New Year’s schedule. I mean game atmosphere, not just Rue Bourbon.

If my preferred matchup of MU-NIU pans out, the question is in which bowl: Boca Raton or Bahamas?

Yes, the Bahamas sounds exotic, but really? A 15,000-seat soccer stadium that you need a passport for a game on the 24th, you make the call. Me, I’m all in on Boca on the 23rd, both on location and date.

I dare the conference commissioners to have the intestinal fortitude to put that matchup together.

Marshall. Northern Illinois. Boca. The 23rd. Unless the Herd backs into the Peach Bowl, this is the best idea on the table.

Do it.