Players from North Carolina hoist kicker Nick Weiler on their shoulders after Weiler kicked the game winning 54-yard field goal against Florida State in an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. North Carolina defeated Florida State 37-35 on a field goal. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
Getty Images

54-yard FG as time expires sends UNC past FSU, pushes Seminoles to worst start since 2011

10 Comments

At some point, there will be a referendum on the state of Florida State’s defense.  For the moment, though, all that matters is The Kick.

Down by 21 points in the first half, and by 14 entering the fourth quarter, FSU managed to put 21 points on the scoreboard in the final period to stake the Seminoles to a 35-34 lead, including Deondre Francois two-yard touchdown run with just :23 remaining.  Thanks in part to a defensive pass interference penalty on the ensuing drive, the Tar Heels moved to what appeared to be the fringe of field-goal range at the Seminole 37-yard line; as time expired, Nick Weiler, whose blocked extra point in the fourth quarter seemingly loomed large in the game, said “fringe this” as he easily cleared the crossbar from 54 yards out as time expired to give UNC a stunning 37-35 win.

The loss in Tallahassee ended the Seminoles’ home winning streak at 22 in a row, which had been the longest such streak in the nation.

The story of this game was offense — or lack of defense — as UNC, in putting up 538 yards of offense, punted just one time in the game, and that didn’t come until three minutes were gone in the fourth quarter.  One other possession ended in a missed field goal and another on a missed field goal as the FSU defense simply had no answer for quarterback Mitch Trubisky (405 yards passing, four touchdowns) or wide receiver Ryan Switzer (14-158).  UNC’s defense didn’t have much of an answer for the opposition’s offense, either, as the Seminoles rolled to 595 yards.

The game served as the second ACC loss in as many contests for the Seminoles.  The Tar Heels, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 in conference play.

On the whole, though, this game was simply about the continuation of a disturbing defensive trend for FSU.

Through one-third of the season, the Seminoles are allowing an average of 44.7 points per game to its three Power Five opponents.  Even when you factor in the Week 2 game against FCS Charleston Southern, they came into this game ranked 107th in the country in scoring defense (34.7 ppg). In those three FBS games, two of them losses, they have allowed an average of 482.7 yards per game.

Injuries have certainly played a role on that side of the ball, but miscommunications and blown assignments and missed tackles have loomed much, much larger.

The loss drops the Seminoles to 3-2 on the season. It’s FSU’s worst start to a year since 2011, when Jimbo Fisher‘s second Seminoles team went 2-3 the first five games of the season.  That team would go on to win seven of its last eight, setting the stage for four straight seasons of double-digit wins.

This latest result also sets up an interesting dynamic heading into Week 6.  With Miami sitting at 4-0, next Saturday’s game will mark the first time since 2002 that the Hurricanes have come into the in-state rivalry game with a better record than the Seminoles.

Times, they are a changin’?  Quite possibly.

Washington State coach Mike Leach fires a shot at the SEC

EUGENE, OR - OCTOBER 19: Head coach Mike Leach of the Washington State Cougars looks on from the sidelines during the second quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on October 19, 2013 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Getty Images
4 Comments

Washington State coach Mike Leach is known across the country as one of college football’s most interesting characters, rambling on from time-to-time about everything from pirates to the history of Geronimo. The latest subject the quirky head coach has turned his sights on? The big ol’ SEC.

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger spoke to Leach recently as part of a profile on new Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo, and let’s just say the Air Raid guru of the Palouse didn’t hold back when discussing the state of offenses in the league widely considered to be the best in the sport.

“I’ve got bad news for all these levels people,” Leach said. “Your level isn’t special, your conference isn’t special. All this different level this, different level that. That’s crazy.

 

“This is a great time to be in the SEC, everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves  and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”

Leach, who coached in the league at Kentucky, also added some other, more colorful language to describe his impression of the SEC and the offenses teams run. While he did play at Auburn with the Cougars a few years ago, he clearly hasn’t kept up with the way things are trending down south as even pro-style stalwarts like Alabama and Arkansas are using more and more tempo and spread principles on a weekly basis.

Either way, let’s hope the Washington State athletic director is already making calls to schedule an SEC opponent in the coming years. If nothing else, any future appearance by Leach on the Paul Finebaum Show should be must-see entertainment.

Willie Taggart completes Oregon coaching staff with familiar face from USF

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 26: South Florida Bulls head coach Willie Taggart during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It probably took a little longer than most to dot the I’s and cross the T’s, but Willie Taggart has completed his coaching staff at Oregon and the latest addition is a familiar face.

The school announced Thursday afternoon that Raymond Woodie would be taking over as the Ducks’ new special teams coordinator, having previously spent the past four seasons at USF with Taggart and three more before that together at Western Kentucky.

Woodie most recently served as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator this past season but has been a linebackers coach dating back to 2012. He is regarded by many to be a quality recruiter with good ties to the state of Florida in particular and has also coached the defensive line. While his title makes him responsible for the third phase of the game for Oregon, he figures to also help out new defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt in some fashion as well.

The announcement is a bit of positive news for Taggart and the Ducks this week after a considerable bit of bad press for the program stemming from the revelation that multiple Oregon players wound up in the hospital following offseason workouts. New strength coach Irele Oderinde (who also came over from USF) was eventually suspended for one month without pay by the school as a result..

Despite Auburn interest, Texas A&M OC Noel Mazzone staying put in College Station

COLLEGE STATION, TX - OCTOBER 14:  The Texas A&M Aggies offense huddles against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on October 14, 2006 in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 25-19. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Gus Malzahn’s quest to find a new offensive coordinator has zigged and zagged in the past few days since the surprising departure of Rhett Lashlee to UConn. One place it will not be going however, is to a fellow SEC West school.

Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle reports that despite some interest in Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, the Aggies’ coach is staying put in College Station.

Mazzone arrived at A&M prior to this past season from UCLA and found early success with the Aggies and transfer quarterback Trevor Knight before a late slide in 2016. Travis Haney of 247Sports reported earlier Thursday that he could be considered the leader in the search to replace Lashlee, but it appears that will not be the case.

The longtime coaching veteran’s name being linked to Auburn isn’t too surprising considering he was the OC there from 1999-2001 but Mazzone’s hefty salary and likely high buyout figure provided some big obstacles if he wanted to reunite with the school.

Instead, it’s on to the next one for Malzahn and company.

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan coaches ride go-karts with five-star recruit in Georgia

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 17:  Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines reacts during the college football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium on October 17, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Spartans defeated the Wolverines 27-23.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
4 Comments

National Signing Day is just around the corner and that means a flurry of in-home visits by coaches across the country trying to lock up the next class of impact players for their program.

We’ve seen plenty of unique attempts by coaches to impress prospects over the years as a result, from often used cookie cakes to sleepovers and limo rides. When it comes to this subject though, few have been as creative as Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh. This week, he certainly cemented that reputation.

According to the Detroit News, Harbaugh and several Wolverines coaches took an in-home visit with five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon out of Leesburg, Georgia and went bowling with the recruit’s family before finally racing go-karts together.

And even better, there’s video via ESPN:

Solomon is also strongly considering Alabama and Georgia in addition to Michigan, but something says neither Nick Saban or Kirby Smart will be heading to the race track with the big defensive tackle on their visit. You have to love recruiting either way.