Monday Football News and Notes
Monday Football News and Notes
Texas Tech (0-0) at S-M-U (0-0)
The Sports Network
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gerald J. Ford Stadium (32,000) -- Dallas, Texas. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Texas Tech 0-0, SMU 0-0. Away Record: Texas Tech 0-0, SMU 0-0. Neutral Record: Texas Tech 0-0, SMU 0-0. Conference Record: Texas Tech 0-0, SMU 0-0. Series Record: Texas Tech leads, 29-16.
GAME NOTES: There should be plenty of offense to go around when the Texas Tech Red Raiders invade Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas for a season-opening clash with the SMU Mustangs. Coach Mike Leach has mastered the spread offense at Texas Tech, and the result has been a passing offense that has finished in the top-five in the nation in each of the last six seasons. Even with all of that aerial success, this will be the first time since 2002 Leach will have a two- year starter at quarterback. Leach will also find out right off the bat whether his new-look front seven can get the job done on defense. The Mustangs, on the other hand, are still searching for their first bowl invite in two decades. With 18 returning starters, including star quarterback Justin Willis, that drought could soon be over. Like Texas Tech, however, the Mustangs will need to find out what kind of players they've got on the defensive front. Texas Tech holds a 29-16 edge in the head-to-head series with its in-state rival.
Graham Harrell is back to quarterback the offense at Texas Tech after throwing for 4,555 yards and 38 scores. A product of the system? An elite QB worthy of Heisman consideration? The debate will go on, but all Leach cares about is results. The top two receivers from last year have moved on, but in this system, that simply means senior Danny Amendola is next in line, as are a few eager underclassmen. Shannon Woods solidifies the backfield after leading the conference in all-purpose yardage with 139 per game. Even with all that firepower back in the mix at the skill positions, the area perhaps worthy of the most attention is the offensive line, which returns only one starter.
The Texas Tech defense failed to turn heads in 2006, ranking 76th in points allowed, a major reason the Red Raiders lost five games. And with six starters to replace, there are reasons to be skeptical of any kind of dramatic turnaround this fall. Defensive end Jake Ratliff was an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection last year, and he will be flanked on the opposite side by Brandon Williams, a Freshman All-American honorable mention selection. Those two will be counted on to disrupt the timing of SMU's passing game, thus helping out the secondary. With three starters returning to a defensive backfield that ranked 32nd in the nation against the pass, SMU will have to be methodical when going to the air.
With quarterback Justin Willis, who last year earned Conference USA Freshman of the Year honors, the Mustangs are certainly capable of finding success in the passing game. Willis set a school record with 26 touchdowns, against only six interceptions. His favorite target, fellow sophomore Emmanuel Sanders, is back after catching 46 balls for 605 yards and nine touchdowns. Texas Tech must find a way to slow that tandem, which promises to be a good one for the next couple of years. DeMyron Martin battled injuries and a down year in '06, but he was named a candidate for the 2007 Doak Walker Award largely because of what he did as a freshman, rushing for 854 yards and nine scores. Of course, this year he will be running behind an offensive line that returns four starters.
Defensively, SMU was Conference USA's stingiest unit against the run last season. But the team must replace three starting defensive linemen. The lone returnee, senior defensive end Cory Muse, was an All-C-USA selection after recording seven sacks. The linebacking corps returns all three starters that combined for 205 tackles in '06. Reggie Carrington and Wilton McCray are now seniors, and Tony Hawkins is entering his junior season. SMU was often exploited in the passing game, but with three starters returning to the secondary, coach Phil Bennett is hoping that chemistry will lead to better play this year.
SMU will rely on the arm of Willis, though the Red Raiders are well suited to handle the challenge. On the other side of the ball, Texas Tech will waste little time testing SMU's secondary. The Mustangs would be wise not to ignore the ground game, thus keeping Tech honest on defense and perhaps more importantly, keeping the Red Raider offense off the field. If they turn one- dimensional, a shootout-type game against Texas Tech will end in ugly fashion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas Tech 33, SMU 20
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(19) Florida State (0-0) at Clemson (0-0)
The Sports Network
GAME NOTES: Usually reserved for a few weeks into the season, the annual Bowden Bowl will conclude the first week of college football in 2007, as the 19th-ranked Florida State Seminoles and Clemson Tigers will meet up in Death Valley on Monday night. The Seminoles finished 2006 with a winning record (7-6), but suffered their first-ever losing season in ACC play with a 3-5 finish. The conference mark was good for a disappointing fifth place in the Atlantic Division. Despite the poor season, FSU did take part in its 25th straight bowl game, defeating UCLA in the Emerald Bowl, 44-27. With the victory, Florida State was able to increase its streak of winning seasons to a whopping 30 straight. Tommy Bowden would like nothing better that to put dear old dad in an early ACC hole this year. The Tigers are coming off a season in which they managed to go 8-5 overall, with a 5-3 mark in the Atlantic Division. Clemson took part in the Music City Bowl, but suffered a 28-20 setback to Kentucky. This is the ninth Bowden Bowl and after Bobby Bowden dominated the matchups early on, it has been Tommy getting the better of it of late, winning three of the last four meetings, including last year's 27-20 decision in Tallahassee. Still, FSU holds a 15-5 edge in the all-time series.
Although the FSU offense must replace five starters, this unit should be able to improve in 2007. The team was able to put up 26.5 points per game in 2006, although it struggled on the ground to the tune of just 96.5 ypg. The passing attack was much better (233.8 ypg) thanks in large part to a pair of sophomores in QB Drew Weatherford and WR Greg Carr (6-6, 212). Weatherford completed 56.1 percent of his passes in 2006, for 2,154 yards and 12 TDs. Carr was a Second-Team All-ACC honoree and made the most of his 34 receptions, scoring 12 TDs. Joining Carr on the outside this season is senior De'Cody Fagg (37 receptions, for 439 yards and one TD) and junior Richard Goodman, who has yet to start a game in his career, but a superb spring has him running with the first-team offense. The ground game struggled last year, but junior tailback Antone Smith (456 yards) is a talented back with a great upside, after averaging 5.2 yards per carry in 2006. The offensive line returns three starters from last season, including reliable left guard Jacky Claude (6-4, 290), who has started 26 games over the last two seasons.
The FSU defense was much more consistent in 2006, finishing 18th nationally overall and ninth against the run. The team does lose a pair of outstanding linebackers in Lawrence Timmons (first-round draft choice) and Buster Davis (First-Team All-American), but eight starters do return. The strength is in the secondary, where junior cornerback Tony Carter and sophomore rover Myron Rolle lead the way. Carter finished with 27 total tackles last season with two interceptions. Rolle was a First-Team Freshman All-American last season, finishing with 77 tackles and one INT. Also back in the secondary is senior free safety Roger Williams (67 tackles, team-high four INTs). Junior Geno Hayes is the sole leftover in the linebacking corps and should build on a solid sophomore season (59 tackles, nine TFLs and three sacks). All-Ameircan candidate Andre Fluellen will anchor things up front in the middle. A Second- Team All-ACC selection in 2006, Fluellen (6-4, 285) finished with 28 tackles and eight TFLs.
The Tigers will rely heavily on the ground game in 2007, and with a full arsenal in the backfield it is no surprise. The team averaged 218 yards per game in 2006 (fifth nationally). Tailbacks James Davis (sophomore) and C.J. Spiller (freshman) were unstoppable at times and combined for over 2,100 yards rushing and 27 TDs on the ground. The pair scored 29 TDs in all, either tying or exceeding the offensive output of 34 percent of the teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision (41 teams). There isn't much experience at the other positions. In all, seven starters are gone from a year ago. Junior QB Cullen Harper has played in just five games in his career, but he has earned the starting nod. A potential problem in terms of Harper's success this year, is an inexperienced offensive line, which must replace four of the five starters. However, All-ACC First-Teamer Barry Richardson is back. The 6-7, 330-pounder has started 32 consecutive games and is one of the nation's best tackles. The receiving corps is an unknown, with 6-5 junior Aaron Kelly (30 receptions in 2006) representing the best of the bunch.
Clemson had a strong 2006 on the defensive side of the ball as well, giving up a mere 280.8 yards per game, showing the ability to really stifle opposing passing games (177.7 ypg). Although seven starters return to this unit in 2007, the losses are severe. Up front, rush end Phillip Merling (46 tackles, three sacks) will have the large task of replacing All-American Gaines Adams (ACC Defensive Player of the Year) as the top pass rusher on the team. Sophomore end Ricky Sapp (6-4, 240) could surprise a lot of people as well. Veterans Antonio Clay, Nick Watkins and Tramaine Billie bring stability to the linebacking unit, while DBs Chris Clemons and Michael Hamlin do the same in the secondary. Watkins led the team with 116 stops a year ago. Sophomores Crezdon Butler and Chris Chancellor should be able to step up as starters this year at the CB spots. Butler had three interceptions as a true freshman last season. Chancellor is a speedster with solid ball-hawking skills.
The Seminoles have certainly come back to the pack after reigning atop the ACC for a long time. That being said, expect FSU to rebound this season and compete for the Atlantic Division crown. Winning in Death Valley though, is not easy and Clemson's lethal ground attack may just neutralize anything FSU is able to get going.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Clemson 24, Florida State 20
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Bowdens: Dad vs. son is no longer fun
September 2, 2007
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) -The Bowden Bowl used to be a can't-miss affair for all members of college football's famous family. These days, the once joyous father vs. son matchup has turned into a game to get past - and much easier for some Bowdens to miss.
``I don't know if my mother's coming,'' Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said during his weekly news conference.
She isn't, Florida State's athletic department said Friday.
And Ann, the woman who famously wore a half Clemson, half Florida State sweater in the Death Valley stands the first time her husband, Bobby, took on her son's Tigers in 1999, might not be the only Bowden absent Monday night for the ninth Bowden Bowl.
Also unlikely to attend is Tommy's brother, Jeff, who resigned as Florida State's offensive coordinator under harsh criticism for the team's play.
``We don't like it anymore,'' Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. ``To me, Tommy does the same thing I do, keep it in the confines of Florida State vs. Clemson.''
That's certainly not the way the series began eight years back.
Bobby's team was ranked No. 1 and headed for its second national title of the decade going into the series' inaugural father-son game. Tommy was an up-and-comer, hired to turn Clemson back into winners after he led Tulane to an undefeated season the previous year.
To top it off, a Seminoles victory would be Bobby's historic 300th.
College football couldn't get enough of the Bowdens that week, following their every move. A caravan of TV trucks trailed the family to northern South Carolina as Bobby watched Tommy's boy, grandson Ryan, play high school football.
The nationally televised game lived up to expectations. Son Tommy used some of his dad's trickery to take a 14-3 lead against the more powerful Seminoles. But then Bobby's team showed its skill, rallying for two late touchdowns and a 17-14 win.
Father and son met at midfield when it was over, Bobby joking that Tommy ``out-tricked me 3-0.''
Both sides left smiling, anticipating more thrills as Tommy's program grew to challenge Bobby's supremacy in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Instead, big time college football got in the way.
Tommy's Tigers lost the next three games against his dad by a combined score of 143-65, each defeat bringing increased fan scrutiny whether the younger Bowden was the right man for the Clemson job.
When Tommy arguably saved his job with his first win over Bobby, 26-10, in 2003, it left Seminoles fans angry about their team's lost chance at the national title.
The Tigers have won three of the past four games with Florida State, those defeats increasing pressure on Tommy's brother Jeff, who eventually resigned.
Tommy, the third of six children, understands Jeff's reluctance at watching the team he helped coach for 13 years move on without him. Like most older brothers, though, the Tigers coach couldn't pass up a dig at his younger sibling.
``He's cleaned the garage out a whole bunch, done landscaping and painting,'' Tommy said. ``He got yard of the month twice.''
Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning said Tommy keeps his emotions out of the game and away from players and staff. ``He's candid with us but he also knows there are some things that are on a need-to-know basis and that we don't need to know,'' Koenning said.
This year's game features father and son trying to recover from disappointing seasons.
The Seminoles went 7-6 a year ago, the team's fewest wins under Bowden since going 7-4-1 in 1986.
Clemson looked like the class of the ACC in 2006 with its 7-1 start. But the Tigers lost four of their final five, putting Tommy back on the hot seat.
``Both of us are coming off frustrating years. Usually it's just us and not them,'' Tommy Bowden said. ``That adds a little bit different flavor to it.''
Bobby hired four new offensive assistants, including coordinator Jimbo Fisher from LSU to replace Jeff Bowden, and find the team's firepower of the past.
Tommy's worked with his coordinator, Rob Spence, to find more touches for the team's playmakers at running back, James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
Along with the relief the winning coach will feel, comes the worry about their loved one's prospects for the season.
``The family aspect of it the last few years has made it more difficult, I don't think there's any doubt about that,'' Tommy said.
If Tommy was off the schedule, ``my wife would talk to me again,'' Bobby Bowden said.
``It's tough on ol' Ann Bowden,'' her husband of 58 years said. ``She loves her children.''
Re: Monday Football News and Notes
CFB - Texas Tech at SMU (4:00 PM ET – ESPN)
An old Texas-style shootout is on tap for Saturday afternoon when ESPN brings you Texas Tech and SMU from Dallas. For the Red Raiders, motivation against a Conference USA opponent could be an issue. For the Mustangs, big expectations for ’07 and the hopes of knocking off an in-state Goliath will be the driving forces.
Texas Tech and SMU renew old Southwest Conference rivalry this time in Dallas. The Red Raiders will throw the ball with junior gunslinger Graham Harrell behind center. Issues arise with wide outs and linemen having to be replaced, as the cupboard is as bare as it has been in Mike Leach’s tenure. Texas Tech defensive philosophy is pressure at the line of scrimmage with minimal blitzing and they appear to get better each year on this side of the ball.
SMU scored the third most points in school history (325) and has nine starters back, including QB Justin Williams, WR Emmanuel Sanders and versatile RB DeMyron Martin. The Ponies will score points and could easily improve on last year’s total. The defensive line lost three starters and this area is imperative to be reconfigured for the Mustangs to surpass last season’s success.
Key Trend – Home team is 4-0 ATS in Texas Tech and SMU series.
These teams have met four times in the last five years with Red Raiders winning all of them. The Mustangs did however cover both home tilts and with explosive offense will have chance to enhance this trend.
Re: Monday Football News and Notes
CFB - Florida State at Clemson (8:00ET – ABC)
Bobby Bowden looks to avoid a fourth loss in the last five "Bowden Bowls" when his 19th-ranked Florida State squad begins its 2007 campaign against Atlantic Coast Conference Atlantic Division rival Clemson on Monday night.
These two ACC schools are off disappointing seasons and will face off trying to start fast in 2007. “Bowden Bowl” publicity is much like Lindsey Lohan, a tired act, and venerable Bobby Bowden turned his coaching staff upside down. Most importantly enter offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher who will talent, just not like he had at LSU. The Seminoles defense will still be fast and hard hitting and try to carry ‘Noles against arguably toughest schedule in the country.
Clemson has 50 lettermen returning, yet is still thin on game time experience. Only 11 starters are back, with just four on offense. Luckily one is running back James Davis who will key attack. On defense, talented linebackers on a mission have two ways skills. Starting backers Nick Watson and returning Anthony Waters will be heat seeking missiles ready to create hits and force miscues.
Key Trend – Clemson is 6-1 ATS hosting Florida State.
If Clemson can win season opener, the schedule could allow Tigers to gel before heading into more difficult portion starting late September. Florida State is 1-6 ATS when visiting Memorial Stadium in the Palmetto state.
The 2006 season was a relative disaster for Bobby Bowden, the all-time winningest coach in college football history with 366 victories.
The Seminoles posted just a 7-6 record - their worst since a 5-6 mark in 1976, his first season with the program. Florida State also went 3-5 in the ACC, a league they dominated not that long ago.
Embattled offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, Bobby's son and Tommy's brother, resigned and was replaced by Jimbo Fisher, who had done wonders with Louisiana State's offense. Last week, quarterback Drew Weatherford beat out fellow junior Xavier Lee to run Fisher's first Seminole offense.
Clemson got off to a 7-1 start last season before the team sputtered to a 1-4 finish, including a 28-20 loss to Kentucky in the Music City Bowl.
The end of the season certainly did not help the job stability for Tommy Bowden, who is 60-37 at the program since 1999.
Cullen Harper will make his first start at quarterback for Clemson. No Tigers signal-caller has beaten a top-20 team in his initial start.