ACC: Skip Holtz
Miami dominated in every single way, beating the beaten-down Bulls 40-9 to clinch bowl eligibility. Now we wait to see whether the Hurricanes make a decision to self-impose sanctions with ACC title hopes on the line.
All Miami has to do is beat Duke next week to make its first ACC championship game -- if the school opts against a postseason ban for the second straight year.
The Hurricanes (6-5) took advantage of a depleted USF (3-7) team -- with Stephen Morris throwing for over 400 yards and three different receivers going over 100 yards. That is pretty remarkable, considering how that position group has been depleted because of injuries and the suspension of Rashawn Scott.
But Clive Walford, Herb Waters and Phillip Dorsett each reached the century mark. And Morris became the second quarterback in Miami history to post three 400-yard passing games in his career, joining Heisman Trophy winner Gino Torretta. The 413 passing yards are the second-most USF has ever allowed.
The Bulls, meanwhile, have now failed to make a bowl game for the second straight season. A team that opened the year with such high hopes is in total disarray.
Playing without B.J. Daniels, the Bulls could muster nothing on offense. Skip Holtz made the decision to start Bobby Eveld, burning the quarterback's redshirt in the 10th game of the season. It is a move that totally backfired, as Eveld sprained his shoulder late in the first quarter and did not return to the game.
Matt Floyd came in and was largely ineffective. About the only time USF moved the ball was at the end of the first half. But a time management blunder cost the Bulls, big time. Down inside the Miami 10, USF inexplicably let the play clock run off 20 seconds, with three timeouts remaining. The Bulls settled for a field goal to trail 16-3 at the half.
They would get no closer.
This will be the third straight season the Bulls have relied on their second-stringer in this game.
With starter B.J. Daniels out for the season, USF will start either Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld on Saturday. Coach Skip Holtz has not announced a starter yet, hoping to keep the competition between his two quarterbacks going as long as possible. Floyd has been the backup all season; but Eveld has more game experience -- including the only win in program history over the Hurricanes back in 2010.
"We've got an obligation to put the best quarterback on the field, the one that gives us the best opportunity to win," Holtz said. "As much as it's the opponent, it's the game experience. Being able to go on the road and lead a team in overtime to victory and make some of the plays [Eveld] did, that sits in the back. It's still about who gives you the best chance to win by protecting the ball, but that's one of those intangible things that has to lean in Bobby's favor with his game experience."
The plan going into the season was to redshirt Eveld and go with Floyd as the backup. But after Daniels broke his leg nearly two weeks ago against UConn, the plan changed. Eveld called the last two weeks a "roller coaster" but said he would do whatever it takes to help the team out, even if it means burning his redshirt with three weeks left in the season.
The two have essentially split all the reps last week during the bye and this week as well in order to get themselves prepared for the game. As mentioned earlier, playing Miami is nothing new for Eveld. He has come on in relief of Daniels the past two seasons. During the upset in 2010, he took over at halftime and engineered a fourth-quarter comeback. His 1-yard touchdown run sent the game into overtime, and USF won 23-20 after Demetris Murray scored in the extra period.
Miami coach Randy Shannon was fired hours after the game. But for USF, it was one of the biggest wins in school history. Eveld will never forget the celebration in the locker room.
"I still get way too much credit for that game," Eveld told ESPN.com during a phone interview Wednesday. "I think I was just able to play within the system and I stuck to my reads. The coaches really made it simple as far as terminology. They tried to keep it basic and everybody executed their job."
Miami coach Al Golden said he was not too concerned over who his team would have to face at quarterback, first praising Daniels for his terrific career before saying, "We're ready for either one of them. I see that more as an offensive system as opposed to just a quarterback."
Floyd has gotten the game experience this year, coming on in relief of Daniels briefly against Florida State, and then in the fourth quarter against UConn. He had fumbles in both of those games, perhaps due to nerves. But Floyd is ready for the challenge ahead of him, should his number get called to start. And a big reason why -- the competition has made him better.
"You can’t slack off," Floyd said in an interview with ESPN.com. "You’re never supposed to slack off, but when you’ve got somebody right on your back fighting for your position, it makes you fight that much harder. Me and Bobby are doing a great job pushing each other. Either decision the coaches make is what’s best for the team."
As coach Skip Holtz said earlier this week, his Bulls are "looking down the barrel of a shotgun" when it comes to preparing for No. 4 Florida State on Sunday. The Noles come into the game with a supremely talented team that is gaining steam, with playmakers emerging on offense and a defense that has been relentless at times.
USF, meanwhile, has questions just about everywhere. The offensive and defensive lines have underperformed, and there has been no consistency at running back. At least on paper, the Bulls appear to be overmatched.
But they appeared to be overmatched in 2009, too, on the road in Tallahassee. That is, until USF pulled the stunner.
"Looking back on it, I could say it is one of the biggest moments in my career thus far," quarterback B.J. Daniels said. "I’m still looking forward to many things this year, but that moment for me and especially for our team, that was pretty special. That was an opportunity for USF to make a name for themselves especially here in the state of Florida."
USF has been known to get up for its big in-state rivalry games, though Daniels said, "I definitely think our biggest motivation is winning a ball game this weekend, it would mean more to us to make sure we win in all facets -- offense, defense and special teams -- to make sure we don’t have a lot of missed assignments and penalties if we do those thing we’ll be in position to do anything we want no matter who we’re playing."
As for Holtz, this is the way he described the mood of his team this week.
"Determined is the answer. We’re 2-2 and we’re four games into the season and there’s a lot of people on the outside (saying) woe is me, the dam is broke … when it’s the same thing, the ball gets batted up, you intercept it, you win a close game on the road. But right now for this team it’s very determined, it’s upset, it’s a reality check to look in the mirror and watch yourself play in a game where you don’t play at the level your capable of. They’re embarrassed for the way we performed on Saturday and excited for the opportunity to go play a top-10 team."
This brings us to Miami head coach Randy Shannon and the delay in finalizing his contract extension with the U. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde writes today that the school is low-balling Shannon in negotiations. Some very interesting stuff here.
When he's talked money with Miami over the past several months, four formal proposals have gone back and forth, according to a source. It has become the strangest of stories.
The latest offer remains less than new Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's $1.8 million a year. It's less than new South Florida coach Skip Holtz's $1.7 million a year.
It's less than Duke's David Cutcliffe, who is the 10th highest paid coach in the ACC at a reported $1.5 million a year.
It's on par with the $1.3 million George O'Leary makes at Central Florida, the source said. This isn't to question that's a lot of money. It's to put that money in context of his peers.
How would you feel?
Just a guess here, but Miami probably felt a bit differently about Shannon in late September, when the Hurricanes were ranked No. 9 nationally after wins against Florida State and Oklahoma. Or what about in mid October, when Miami rose to No. 10 nationally after improving to 5-1 after beating Central Florida? I doubt you'd see the same penny pinching.
Apparently you're only as good as your last game, and for Shannon, it wasn't a good one. His Miami team got physically dominated by Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl, a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score (20-14). Go ahead and call me a Big Ten homer, but Miami, for all its speed, looked bad that night.
So what is Shannon worth to Miami at this point? I tend to agree with Hyde, who acknowledges Shannon's shortcomings as a first-time head coach but argues that he still deserves more than what is being offered.
He's made mistakes. Clock management. Media. Boosters. He can do better. He needs to win bigger. He says so himself.
But if this was about performance, why not build a bonus into the contract? A real bonus, like Clemson's Dabo Swinney, who had a clause jumping him from $800,000 last year to the ACC median salary of $1.75 million next season for making the conference championship game.
Shannon is asked if he'd accept a clause like that and nods his head. "Yes,'' he says.
Shannon's recruiting skills in the nation's most fertile area for talent remain strong, but he tells Hyde that the delay in finalizing a contract affects his ability to lure top prospects.
Miami might be strapped, but its football coach should never be making bottom-of-the-league money, especially when some signs of progress are there.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
With half the league off, it's a quiet day in the ACC, but there are still some interesting nonconference games being played. Here's a look at what's going on in the league on game day, and a few things coming up:
- Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is prepared to give UNC linebacker Bruce Carter some "special attention."
- In order for UCF to be considered a "trap game," Miami would first have to be on a roll, no? To reverse their misfortune, the Canes first have to fix their D.
- Which Virginia team will show up today against East Carolina? Skip Holtz is wondering the same thing about his team, who are no longer feared as the BCS busters.
- Georgia Tech is playing Gardner-Webb today, but the talk in Atlanta has already moved to Clemson.
- It's never to early to start talking about the NC State/FSU game. After all, former NC State coach Chuck Amato already is, and no, he doesn't hold any grudges. Bill Parcells told him not to.
- Wake Forest has to take care of injured punter/place-kicker Sam Swank, one of the best in the country. That could mean relieving him of his punting duties.
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
One day. I oversleep one day, and I see this from loyal reader VTballer: "yo Heather wake up! its about time for ACC in the morning."
So it is, my friend.
Here's a look at what's going on around the league:
- This one's for you, VTballer -- RB coach Billy Hite told Josh Oglesby he's playing three backs, but Oglesby says, "I've only seen two."
- It's Georgia Tech's turn to carry the ACC banner, as the Yellow Jackets will try to represent the league against SEC opponent Mississippi State. Oh, and don't question Paul Johnson on his fourth-down decisions, otherwise you're a moron.
- FSU DT Budd Thacker's back -- "wide-eyed, scratching and clawing."
- Miami second-year assistant coach Wesley McGriff is making the Hurricanes' secondary "Army tough."
- ECU coach Skip Holtz isn't taking NC State lightly. He remembers what happened last year. History is unlikely to repeat itself, though, especially with the latest injury to hit the lineup -- Alan-Michael Cash is out indefinitely. Huge loss. ECU is down a man, too.
- UNC is preparing for Tyrod Taylor and his happy feet. Coach Butch Davis says, "Don't bite the cheese."
- Speaking of cheese, the Terps are trying to avoid another trap against Eastern Michigan.
- People were asking for my pick on the Wake Forest-FSU game on Monday's chat. You should ask Christian Ponder, who says the Noles are "not going to lose." It's not like they're taking the Demon Deacons lightly, though. Derek Nicholson deemed it their "ACC championship game."
- Clemson offensive tackle Chris Hairston answers questions about his motor scooter accident.
Today is mailblog day, so check back later. I'm awake now.
|AP Photo/Nell Redmond|
|East Carolina's T.J. Lee runs for a touchdown after blocking a Virginia Tech punt in the fourth quarter of ECU's 27-22 upset win.|
The senior receiver from East Carolina had been the subject of many irate rants by coach Skip Holtz for various mistakes throughout the game.
Lee had been called for a 15-yard penalty after a chop block. He missed a block during a called quarterback run that led to short yardage for Patrick Pinkney on a third down and 2. He was late coming out of the huddle and called for an illegal substitution. He was assessed a penalty for two guys in motion.
"It was like, just put a grenade on your chest and pull the pin," Holtz said.
It seemed like every time Lee came off the field, Holtz had another reason to yell in his direction. But something in Lee told him that wasn't how the first game of his senior season was going to end.
With less than two minutes remaining and Virginia Tech in punt formation, Lee broke free on the left side and got his hands on the ball and blocked the kick. He chased it down and ran it 27 yards into the end zone for the game-winning score.
"I told (coach Holtz)I was going to make up for it," Lee said. "But I didn't know I was going to get it like that."
It was Lee's first punt block on his first game with the first-team blocking unit.
"T.J. Lee is a senior, who had made some mistakes earlier in the game and I had been riding him hard," Holtz said. "I knew he was frustrated because he wanted to get back in there and boy he went in there and he changed the course of the game.
"I got on him hard and I'm going to have to go and apologize to him now."
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Frank Beamer won't be the only coach on the sideline in Charlotte on Saturday tempted to use two quarterbacks.
East Carolina coach Skip Holtz has a similar situation with Patrick Pinkney and Rob Kass, who started seven of the 10 games he played in. Kass brings the size and arm strength, while Pinkney is more experienced and multi-dimensional. He started five games and completed 60.5 percent of his passes (121-for-200) for 1,358 yards with 11 TDs and four interceptions in 2007.
Beamer brought Tyrod Taylor into the lineup last year when the pass protection wasn't at its best and Taylor used his feet to make plays, but Sean Glennon is the veteran pocket passer who led the Hokies to the ACC title.
The only difference -- so far -- is that Holtz knows who is starter will be.
"We have two quarterbacks that have played a lot of football for us and last year we did roll them," Holtz said. "Patrick got the start and performed very well early in season and then Rob came in and there were times when we utilized both of them and we have continually tried to develop each one of their weaknesses.
"We're probably in a very similar situation to Virginia Tech in that we've got one of a more prototype passing quarterback and then we have one who is probably more athletic and can do some more things with his feet. I think that having to prepare for Virginia Tech and not knowing what quarterbacks you're going to get, I do realize the value of having both of them. I'm not going to say that Rob won't play, but Patrick has earned the opportunity to start."
We'll find out today which one of Beamer's quarterbacks earned that opportunity.
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
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2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
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12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
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