Robert Woods

Lane Kiffin gets last laugh as Alabama rolls past Florida

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Love him or hate him, Lane Kiffin is making a positive contribution to the Alabama Crimson Tide offense.

No. 3 Alabama rolled up 645 yards of total offense during its 42-21 victory over the Florida Gators.

While Alabama has been known as a run-first, methodical offense during head coach Nick Saban‘s tenure, the team’s new offensive coordinator has his unit rolling during Alabama’s 4-0.

The performance was impressive on many levels.

First, Kiffin added tempo which created explosive plays for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had two touchdown passes of 79 yards or longer in the first quarter.

Second, the offensive coordinator is doing exactly what a good coach does. He’s putting his quarterback in a position to succeed. The tempo and overall play calling helped first-year starter Blake Sims post a career day with 445 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Third, Kiffin is getting the ball to his play-makers. Amari Cooper is arguably the best wide receiver in college football. The junior wide receiver was targeted numerous times and finished the game with 10 receptions for 201 yards, which was third-best effort in Alabama history. Cooper would have broken Julio Jones‘ single-game receiving record if he didn’t have two big plays called back due to penalties.

The wide receiver shouldn’t expect his load to decrease as the season continues, though:

Finally, Alabama is still a balanced attack. Members of the Crimson Tide ran the ball 52 times. And Kiffin found a way to distribute the ball between multiple talented running backs. Derrick Henry led the team with 20 carries for 111 yards. T.J. Yeldon also had 18 carries.

All of this was accomplished against a very talented Gators defense. Excellent play calling simply exploited Florida’s weaknesses. After this drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the temperature of Florida head coach Will Muschamp‘s hot seat continues to rise.

Kiffin, meanwhile, makes Alabama’s offense as dangerous as it has ever been under Saban.

Amari Cooper buying into Lane Kiffin at Alabama

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Arguably Alabama’s best offensive weapon is on board with Nick Saban’s new offensive coordinator.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper praised Lane Kiffin, saying via AL.com’s Michael Casagrande: “Pretty cool guy. Pretty laid back guy. He pays attention to everything, every little thing. I noticed that about him when we were practicing for the bowl game.”

Kiffin has Cooper’s confidence given the former USC coach oversaw the development of Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor, and Kiffin’s showed USC game film to help his new receivers nail down route concepts.

The hiring of Kiffin was met with plenty of head-scratching earlier this year, though Casagrande writes Kiffin is already well-liked inside the football facilities in Tuscaloosa. Granted, it’s spring practice — when everything is perfect and rainbows shoot out of the goalposts — but perhaps this’ll be another Saban stroke of genius.

USC finally gets fax from Adoree Jackson

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It took a while, but 5-star athlete Adoree Jackson is officially a Trojan after his fax was received by USC on Wednesday night.

The matter was not resolved for several hours following the verbal commitment Jackson made to the Trojans at a press conference held at his school late this morning. Almost eight hours later, the fax hadn’t been received and speculation mounted that Jackson’s father might be holding up his son’s letter.

But not long after, the letter was sent and Jackson became the latest star from Serra High skill position player — Marqis Lee, George Farmer and Robert Woods being the others — to become a Trojan.

CFT Predicts: the Pac-12

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As the 2013 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we examine the Pac-12.  

While we’re at it, be sure to check out our other conference predictions: SEC, Big Ten

Pac-12 North

1. Stanford (Last year: 12-2; beat Wisconsin in Rose Bowl)
What happened last season?
Though Stanford lost arguably the best quarterback to ever pass through the program in Andrew Luck, the Cardinal did something it couldn’t when Luck and Jim Harbaugh were on The Farm: win the Pac-12. David Shaw is quickly ascending the list of best college coaches in the country. I mean, the guy did a Ted Talk. Clearly Stanford is big-time now.

So why are they ranked here?
The Cardinal are experienced and there really aren’t many glaring weaknesses on either side of the ball. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is undefeated as a starter and has a solid offensive line and running game that brings back Tyler Gaffney. The defensive front seven returns plenty of starters too, including linebacker Shayne Skov. This is a solid team all around.

Anything else?
Things get a little more interesting schedule-wise in the second half of the season. The Cardinal play UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon in consecutive weeks before ending the year against Cal and Notre Dame. Weather that schedule and Stanford will absolutely be in the national title discussion. And I’d like their chances of winning it all (meaning, by rule of the jinx, they’ll go 8-5 and OMG I’m so sorry, you guys [sad face]).

2. Oregon (Last year: 12-1; beat Kansas State in Fiesta Bowl)
What happened last season?
Another BCS win for the Ducks would end up being the final game for coach Chip Kelly, who left for the NFL shortly thereafter. But the important story line here is that the one-point safety happened and we are all now better off as humans for seeing it.

So why are they ranked here?
The Pac-12 North looks like it could play out in a similar fashion to the SEC East, where Georgia and South Carolina could be slotted in either order as 1A or 1B. Oregon is actually the preseason favorite to win the North (and the league’s championship game) — albeit by the slimmest of margins — but if it comes down to it, I’m going to go with Shaw over first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

Anything else?
There’s a lot of national focus on Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel as far as as quarterbacks go, but keep an eye on Marcus Mariota. This redshirt sophomore was efficient in his first year as a starter, throwing for 32 touchdowns to just six interceptions while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. He has great size (6-foot-4 and 211 pounds) and athleticism.

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Reports: USC’s OC will not return for 2013 season

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(Writer’s note: Yes, we know Lane Kiffin calls the plays. Yes, he’s pictured to the right. Sorry to give anyone any false hope.) 

Two days after Signing Day, USC’s coaching staff is undergoing more changes. Reportedly.

USCFootball.com (of the Rivals.com family) reported Friday night that Trojans offensive coordinator and running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will not be retained by Kiffin. Bruce Feldman of CBSSports was later able to confirm that Polamalu was indeed let go.

The Rivals report goes on to say that the move had been in the works for about the past month. USC signed 12 recruits on Wednesday and was ranked as the 13th-best class in the country. That group consisted of five five-star players and seven four-star players.

Polamalu had just completed his third season with the Trojans after spending six years with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also coached at USC as an assistant from 2000-04, and played with the team as a fullback/linebacker from 1982-85. In 2012, USC had arguably one of the most talented offenses in all of college football with the likes of Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, among many others, but the Trojans finished sixth in the Pac-12 in scoring and fifth in total offense.

While USC has not confirmed the report, Polamalu would be the fourth assistant to leave USC recently, along with defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, linebacker coach Scottie Hazelton and defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders.