NCF Nation: Corey Robinson

Irish take wins however they can get them

September, 21, 2013
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kyle Brindza walked into the postgame interview room and took a seat, his voice hoarse from a week-long cold, thoughts of suffering his first career blocked punt -- and of missing his second field goal of the season -- nothing but a thing of the past.

Back in the locker room was a gift that Brindza, Notre Dame's do-it-all special-teamer, wanted to give to his nephew: a game-ball he received for his efforts in the Irish's 17-13 win Saturday over Michigan State, their third straight win over the rival Spartans.

[+] EnlargeCam McDaniel
AP Photo/Michael ConroyNotre Dame tailback Cam McDaniel rushed for 40 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in the Irish's win over Michigan State.
"People talk about stats and everything, but it's just pretty much, for me, to be able to -- when our offense is backed up -- flip field and put our defense in good position," Brindza said. "So I'm glad I was able to do that for our team."

Yes, it was that kind of afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium, with the Irish getting out-gained in a game that featured less than 500 total yards of offense between the two squads, on a day that began with the program suffering its first blocked punt in five years, in a contest that saw TJ Jones fumble one punt and inadvertently touch another.

Notre Dame recovered both, and in the end, its zero turnovers to Michigan State's one might have been the difference. The Irish won their 10th straight home game, a feat they have not accomplished in 14 years. They made it seven for their past seven in games decided by one score. And they improved to 12-0 under coach Brian Kelly when they do not give the ball away.

This team learned all about winning ugly during last season's run. The question now is if a similar path is what it will take to have another successful campaign.

"I would characterize it a little bit differently," Kelly said when asked about an ugly win. "I think both defenses really carried the day here today. I think Michigan State has a great defense. They're very difficult to play against in so many fashions.

"If you would have asked me last week about what this kind of game was going to be, it wasn't going to be a beauty contest. I felt like it was going to be this kind of game."

Quarterback Tommy Rees had his worst game of the season, but avoided costly mistakes. He went 14-of-34 for 142 yards on a day that Kelly said that the senior simply missed open receivers.

Notre Dame's biggest offensive weapon, however, might have been the yellow flag.

Four pass-interference penalties gave the Irish 60 yards, with another hold, a 10-yarder, coming on a third-and-9 play in the first quarter on a drive that ended with a Brindza field goal.

One pass-interference call came on third down. Another came on a fourth-and-1 on a drive that ended with a Jones touchdown right before halftime.

DaVaris Daniels drew one on a third-quarter play that could have easily been ruled against him. Two plays later, Corey Robinson drew one. Two more plays later, and Cam McDaniel was in the end zone with a 7-yard touchdown.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio had his view of pass-interference calls in a rather humorous postgame news conference. Kelly had his own view.

"When you know that the quarterback is going to throw it back shoulder, the defensive back does not know where it is, you have an advantage in that situation," Kelly said. "You're going to get some pass-interference calls when you put the ball in a good position."

Added Robinson, the 6-foot-4 freshman who led all players with 54 yards on three catches: "When the ball's in there I have to go get it, regardless of whether it's inside, outside, high or low, it doesn't matter. And I have to get around the cornerback to get the ball, and if I get the call then I get the call.

"But I have to make the catch regardless, and today I didn't make a couple of the catches, but I was fortunate to get the call. I don't got for pass interference; I'm trying to get the ball every single time, and that's the goal every time."

Matthias Farley accounted for the game's lone takeaway when he picked off Spartans freshman R.J. Shelton on an ill-advised halfback pass in the third quarter. Notre Dame scored on the very next drive.

The Irish came no closer to solving their backfield riddle, as they netted just 82 yards on 32 carries, with McDaniel again serving as the end-of-game back, getting the team's final 12 carries and even getting an unsportsmanlike-conduct call to boot.

Trailing by four with 3:12 to play and two timeouts left, Michigan State punted the ball from its own 35-yard line.

Which offense that was a bigger indictment of is a matter of debate, as Notre Dame returned favor with a three-and-out, only to see new Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell fall 12 yards short on his decisive fourth-and-20 run.

Notre Dame is 3-1 as it readies for Oklahoma. The Irish handed the nation's top defense its first loss of the season. And perhaps that's all that should be said about that.

"We know how to win close games," Rees said. "That's something we've done for a while now. I think all the guys understood what it took to close out a close one."

Weekend rewind: Notre Dame Week 1

September, 2, 2013
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Here's a look back at the opening weekend that was for Notre Dame:

The good: Notre Dame ended a one-game losing streak that no one would stop talking about. The Irish's 28-6 win over Temple got them off to a sharp start in 2013, as they did not turn the ball over and had strong play from quarterback Tommy Rees and the rest of the offense.

[+] EnlargeTommy Rees
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesTommy Rees was sharp in the opening victory over Temple.
The bad: Nick Tausch missed his only field goal attempt, a 39-yard try. Kyle Brindza then missed one from 44 yards, making the Irish 0-for-2 on the day. Head coach Brian Kelly had wanted Saturday to be somewhat of an audition for his kickers, and the Irish are now left with a crucial decision to make heading into this Saturday's game at Michigan.

Biggest surprise: Kelly had harped on it throughout camp, but Rees' ball distribution was evident Saturday, as he connected with seven different receivers, including four who hauled in multiple catches. Not among them were freshmen Corey Robinson and James Onwualu, or redshirt freshman C.J. Prosise, either.

Best quote: Kelly won his 200th career game, becoming the fifth fastest to accomplish the feat (270 games) and second youngest (51 years, 310 days old, second only to Pop Warner) to do it, per Notre Dame, among college coaches with at least five years of service or 50 victories at a school that was classified as a major college. Asked during a Sunday teleconference what 200 career wins mean, Kelly said: "That I'm a pretty good coach when I recruit good players."

Next up: Notre Dame travels to Michigan for the final scheduled time, and for the second-ever night game at the Big House. College GameDay will be in town, just like it was last time. And we all know how that one ended. If the past four years are any indication, this one will likely come down to the wire. And it will likely give the winner a huge boost on the path to a potential BCS bowl berth.

What we learned about ND: Week 1

September, 1, 2013
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Here's what to take away from Notre Dame's 28-6 season-opening win over Temple.

ND1. Rees looks better. There's no such thing as a perfectly clean opening game. But Notre Dame delivered about as crisp of a performance as one could have asked for offensively, starting with Tommy Rees. He led the Irish to touchdowns on their first two drives and avoided the bad decisions that had plagued him earlier in his career, allowing Irish nation to rest easy as Notre Dame heads to Michigan for Week 2.

2. Carlisle might become a major factor. Notre Dame's first play of the game? A 45-yard rush for Amir Carlisle, who was playing in his first game with the Irish after a broken ankle cost him last season after getting a waiver to play immediately following his transfer from USC. Carlisle had a team-best 68 rushing yards on just seven carries, adding two catches for 5 yards. He looked like the best of the five running backs the Irish used Saturday, and he could grow into a bigger role in the offense as the season progresses.

3. Kicking woes need to be resolved. Brian Kelly wanted Week 1 to be somewhat of a tryout between Nick Tausch and Kyle Brindza. Kelly could not have liked what he saw, as each missed his lone field goal attempt. Michigan will be far less forgiving of such mistakes next week if Notre Dame cannot work out the kinks there.

4. Freshmen make presence felt. Notre Dame played 10 true freshmen in the opener, with Corey Robinson and Jaylon Smith earning the starts. Receivers James Onwualu and Will Fuller, cornerback Cole Luke and end Isaac Rochell saw action early, with Max Redfield and Devin Butler getting special teams action. Running backs Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston carried the ball late in the game, finishing with 35 total yards. Folston was the only freshman to catch a pass, hauling in a 9-yard grab.
Notre Dame has landed consecutive top-10 recruiting classes. Which players from those groups have the best chances of making an impact as first-year players this fall?

[+] EnlargeNotre Dame's C.J. Prosise
Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsC.J. Prosise had a 35-yard touchdown reception during the Blue-Gold Game this spring.
C.J. Prosise, WR: The 6-foot-2, 208-pound Prosise redshirted a safety last season. He switched to the offensive side of the ball before spring practices this year, and the early returns have been positive. The Petersburg, Va., native had a long touchdown catch in the open field during an open scrimmage this spring, and his 35-yard touchdown reception in the Blue-Gold game marked the only time the Irish offense reached the end zone in the spring contest. With the spring transfers of second-year receivers Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson, the opportunity is wide open for Prosise to seize the vacant slot position. He will likely enter camp as the leading candidate to bolster Notre Dame's struggling punt return unit, too.

Greg Bryant, RB: Bryant will not officially enroll at Notre Dame until June 17, but he has the potential to become an immediate contributor to the Irish offense. The ESPN150 prospect form Delray Beach, Fla., was ranked second nationally among running backs, making him one of the top running back recruits Notre Dame has landed in recent memory. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Oklahoma de-commit should get a chance to compete in a deep but untested backfield after the departures of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.

Malik Zaire, QB: The early enrollee drew rave reviews from the staff this spring and figures to have a shot to play this fall after the suspension of Everett Golson. The southpaw is a dual-threat signal caller from Archbishop Alter in Kettering, Ohio. ESPN rated Zaire No. 6 among quarterbacks from the Class of 2013, and coach Brian Kelly said that he will get an opportunity to compete like everyone else in camp for the starting spot.

Corey Robinson/James Onwualu, WR: Both players enrolled this spring and found themselves getting plenty of time all over the field after Neal and Ferguson left the program. The 6-foot-4.5, 197-pound Robinson, the son of hoops Hall of Famer David, has the size and speed to go up and get anything in sight on the outside, as evidenced by a deep, diving, juggling catch he made during an open scrimmage. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Onwualu should also get a chance to contribute inside immediately after displaying flashes of athleticism early.

100-day checklist: Notre Dame

May, 21, 2013
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Notre Dame does not have quite as many question marks heading into the 2013 season as it did last summer. For one, the Irish have their quarterback of the future. They also have a coach who proved during a perfect 2012 regular season that he is the right man for the job. And they have -- for the next 24 years, at least -- erased questions about their relevancy within the college football landscape.

But no teams are perfect (seriously, it hasn't been done since Auburn in 2010-11). So, with 100 days standing between us and the college football season -- and 102 standing between the Irish and their Aug. 31 opener against Temple -- we will take a look at three things the program needs to cross off its checklist this summer.

1. Find offensive playmakers: George Atkinson III bulked up this offseason and did not run for the track team to focus on adding to his workload. He is the most experienced man in an Irish backfield that lost its top two rushers from a season ago, but he will be pushed by redshirt sophomore Amir Carlisle, redshirt freshman William Mahone, junior Cam McDaniel and incoming freshman Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston, both of whom are four-star prospects. The three-man battle to replace Tyler Eifert at tight end, meanwhile, will be waged among Troy Niklas, Ben Koyack and Alex Welch.

2. Integrate incoming freshmen: Bryant and Folston are two of the incoming freshmen who appear ready-made for the college level. Linebacker Jaylon Smith and safety Max Redfield figure to see time as freshmen, too. Early enrollee receivers such as Corey Robinson and James Onwualu, both of whom saw added time following the spring departures of Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson, also may see playing time.

3. Stay levelheaded. This really shouldn't be much of a problem for a program and players who seemingly always have the bull's-eye on their back, regardless of the win-loss record. Still, a renaissance 2012 campaign and a return to college football's elite will only up the ante for this group to do similar things this fall, especially with so many pointing to Alabama's title-game rout as a sign that 2012 may have been a fluke.

QBs the story in college football this fall

May, 20, 2013
5/20/13
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The 2013 college football season could showcase one of the best college quarterback classes ever. Here are five reasons why:

1. BEST TEAMS IN 2012 RETURN THEIR QUARTERBACKS
Each of the top six teams in last season’s final AP poll returns its leading passer. The last time that happened was entering the 1982 season. That 1982 group led to the famed 1983 NFL draft class that boasted six quarterbacks chosen in the first round -- including Hall of Famers John Elway, Jim Kelly and Dan Marino.

2. BEST PASSERS ARE RETURNING
Each of the top five and 10 of the top 11 quarterbacks in terms of passing efficiency return to school. In all, seven players with a passing efficiency of at least 160 last season are coming back, more than in the previous three seasons combined.

3. DIVERSE ARRAY OF NFL TALENT
This class is expected to produce a number of NFL starting quarterbacks. Four of Todd McShay’s top 15 prospects in the 2014 draft are quarterbacks (Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Alabama’s AJ McCarron).

Yet, showing how deep this class is, Brock Huard ranks Georgia's Aaron Murray, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and Ohio State's Braxton Miller ahead of either McCarron or Manziel on his quarterback draft board.

4. LITTLE QB TURNOVER IN SEC
The SEC is in prime shape to win its eighth straight national title with 11 of 14 starting quarterbacks from last season returning to school. Among the 11 are the starters of the top three teams in each division including Manziel, Murray and McCarron.

Last season, Manziel set the SEC record for total offense with 5,116 yards. Murray is on pace to set conference records for most career passing yards and total offense, and McCarron is the two-time BCS national champion.

5. AWARD WINNERS BACK ON CAMPUS
The SEC isn’t the only conference returning elite quarterbacks. The Big Ten, Mountain West and MAC each return their first- and second-team quarterbacks from last season. So would Conference USA and the WAC if realignment hadn’t altered those conferences. The Big 12 is the only conference that doesn’t return either its first- or second-team quarterback.

Among the returnees, Boyd could challenge the ACC record for total offense in a career, Troy’s Corey Robinson is on pace to shatter the Sun Belt’s career record for total offense, and Jordan Lynch returns after leading Northern Illinois to its first ever BCS bowl game last season.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The first public plays in Notre Dame uniforms for Corey Robinson and Amir Carlisle are being put on hold.

The two will sit out Saturday's Blue-Gold spring game as a precautionary measure, coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday.

Robinson is recovering from a hyper-extended elbow while Carlisle nurses a broken collarbone suffered March 23.

Kelly said that Carlisle returned to practice in pads Wednesday but was limited to no contact.

Robinson, who enrolled this spring, presumably injured his elbow while making a diving, one-handed catch during Saturday's scrimmage, the entirety of which was open to reporters and others on hand for the coaches clinic.

Carlisle has yet to take a snap in a Notre Dame uniform after transferring from USC following his freshman season of 2011, getting a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately and then breaking his ankle before last spring, forcing him to redshirt in the 2012 season.

Dan Fox, Bennett Jackson, Nicky Baratti, Chase Hounshell and Tyler Plantz are all out Saturday as well. The first three of those players have been used lightly this spring while recovering from offseason shoulder operations. Hounshell will miss the 2013 season after suffering a serious shoulder injury this spring, similar to the one that forced him to miss last season.

Kelly said the offense, wearing white, will be scored Saturday against the defense, wearing blue, with no live special-teams play, though Kyle Brindza will punt.
Asked if early enrollee freshman James Onwualu would line up in the slot or outside this season, Mike Denbrock offered an answer befitting his depleted group: "Yes."

The Notre Dame outside receivers coach has found himself with a smaller pool of talent to work with this spring following the transfers of sophomores Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson, forcing him to mix and match faces all over the place in hopes of finding the best solution for the Irish passing game.

"We're kind of trying to find a way to incorporate everybody that we've got available to us right now kind of in the mix, and kind of put them in some different places and give some other guys some opportunities," Denbrock said. "Anytime that you're a little bit short numbers-wise, you've got to find them somewhere. So we're not going to practice any shorter, we're not going to take any fewer reps, so we've got to find bodies to do it."

Eight scholarship receivers remain on the roster, with two more, Torii Hunter Jr. and William Fuller, on the way this summer.

Denbrock likes the two freshmen he has right now, saying that Onwualu and Corey Robinson have impressed in their short time on campus.

"Corey Robinson, everything he does that comes near him -- his catch radius reminds me a lot of Tyler Eifert in that even if the ball's somewhere on the perimeter, he's going to find a way," Denbrock said. "Great ball skills, good knowledge of the game of football, surprisingly, even though he's from a small school in Texas and is basketball-oriented maybe family-wise, but has done a really nice job.

"James Onwualu is a tough guy, physical, loves the game, plays with tremendous passion. Good skill-set. Those guys are a pleasant surprise. And when you sit down and you think -- and we talk about this sometimes when we're watching practice film -- and you go, 'This guy's supposed to be getting dressed for the prom, and here he is out here competing,' and those guys are doing a great job."

The Irish lose four of their top-six pass-catchers from a year ago, but even the returnees could see themselves spread to different spots of the field.

Senior TJ Jones, whose 50 grabs last year tied for the team lead, is a candidate to play in the slot after the loss of Neal and the graduation of Robby Toma. So, too, is converted safety C.J. Prosise.

"I'd say the jobs open for anybody, all comers," Denbrock said. "Anybody who proves they've got the ability to go in there and do something positive for our offense is going play in there. We don't obviously have as much depth as we'd like to have, so that's a great opportunity for a lot of guys to do a lot of different things and not pigeonhole themselves into one specific position, but get out there and perform and earn your reps."

Back to school, back to school …

January, 15, 2013
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Spring semester classes began Tuesday at Notre Dame, which also means that a handful of new faces are now regulars inside the Guglielmino Athletics Complex.

As football media relations director Brian Hardin officially announced on Twitter, and as coach Brian Kelly added, the new names to know are Steve Elmer, Mike Heuerman, James Onwualu, Corey Robinson and Malik Zaire.

For some more info from ESPN RecruitingNation on these newcomers, click the links below.
Both Zaire and Heuerman are ESPN300 prospects. The big absence, of course, is that of four-star linebacker Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing), who spurned Notre Dame for Florida last week amid Kelly's flirtation with the Philadelphia Eagles. Nonetheless, 17 more commitments are expected to sign their national letters of intent come Feb. 6, with the Irish set to usher in a top-5 recruiting class as they look to continue the momentum generated from a return to the national title game.

Welcome to the Bayou

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
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BATON ROUGE, La. -- Greetings from Tiger Stadium. We have a big one between LSU and South Carolina.

Two top-10 teams and two very, very talented defenses will be going at it under the lights Saturday in one of college football's best environments.

The Tigers are limping in after that 14-6 loss to Florida, but interesting things happen under the lights in this place, and something tells me The Hat will have a few new things in store for the Gamecocks. It will be interesting to see how South Carolina deals with not just the crowd noise but with its own emotions after last week's blowout victory over Georgia.

This is South Carolina's first real road trip and the Tigers have their backs against the wall.

It'll be interesting to watch both of these offenses tonight. The Gamecocks have been very balanced and have one of the SEC's most efficient quarterbacks in Connor Shaw. That fractured shoulder hasn't been much of an issue at all. The Gamecocks will face their toughest test up front, and that is a concern for offensive-line coach Shawn Elliott. His line has been shaky at times this year, and the tackle spots are key. Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell will have their hands full with Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo going at them.

For LSU, the Tigers were already without top offensive lineman Chris Faulk and will now be without starting left tackle Alex Hurst, who continues to deal with personal issues. Josh Dworaczyk will start at left tackle, where he has really struggled. Trai Turner will also start for the injured Josh Williford at right guard, while Vadal Alexander will start at right tackle; both are freshmen. LSU will have three underclassmen starting on the offensive line ... with Jadeveon Clowney, Devin Taylor and Kelcy Quarles to battle.

Talk about a lot of pressure up front ...

Gamecocks shuffle offensive line

September, 22, 2012
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COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina offensive line coach Shawn Elliott didn't hide his disappointment this week regarding how his guys had played up front to this point.

Sure enough, the Gamecocks are making some changes for the Missouri game.

Sophomore Corey Robinson will start at left tackle with sophomore Mike Matulis moving to right tackle. The odd man out is sophomore Cody Gibson, who had started at right tackle each of the past two games.

Redshirt freshman Brandon Shell started at left tackle in the opener against Vanderbilt, but struggled. That's when the Gamecocks moved Matulis over to left tackle and inserted Gibson at right tackle.

This will be South Carolina's third different starting lineup in four games against what should be the Gamecocks' stiffest test to date for their offensive line. Missouri has a lot of speed on defense and won't be hesitant about bringing the pressure.
Receiver Corey Robinson (San Antonio/San Antonio Christian), son of basketball Hall of Famer David Robinson, committed to Notre Dame late Tuesday, becoming the Irish's ninth commitment for the class of 2013 and, more importantly, their sixth since Saturday.

"On the trip, I felt it myself. I felt the connection," David Robinson told our Damon Sayles. "I felt this could be a place where I could leave my son and feel good about it. The decision wasn't all mine, so I wanted him to be sure, too."

How quickly things have changed. Notre Dame entered the spring on the heels of Tee Shepard's de-commitment, the school's fifth from the 2012 class. Momentum was gone and then, with a strong Junior Day showing this past weekend, it suddenly shifted back in Notre Dame's favor.

To recap the past four days ...
  • Saturday: Offensive tackles Colin McGovern (New Lenox, Ill./Lincoln-Way West) and Hunter Bivin (Owensboro, Ky./Apollo), the latter a Watch List member, commit to the Irish following Junior Day.
  • Sunday: ESPNU 150 Watch List quarterback Malik Zaire (Kettering, Ohio/Archbishop Alter) and Watch List offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey (Philadelphia/William Penn) commit to Notre Dame, giving the Irish four commits in a two-day span after entering the weekend with a three-man class.
  • Monday: Athlete Rashad Kinlaw (Galloway, N.J./Absegami) commits, giving the Irish their first cornerback in the last two classes.
  • Tuesday: Robinson commits following a trip to Wake Forest.

Watch List tight end Jacob Matuska (Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley,) athlete James Onwualu (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and Watch List offensive tackle Steve Elmer (Midland, Mich./Midland) are the Irish's other commitments.

A strong junior season has put San Antonio Christian receiver Corey Robinson on the map of elite colleges.

Notre Dame was the first to offer Robinson, a month ago, following the 6-foot-4, roughly 200-pounder's 42-catch, 660-yard, 10-touchdown campaign.

You may have heard of his father, David, who is in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame after a lengthy career with the San Antonio Spurs.
"I don't know if I'm the type of player my dad was, where I can go somewhere and bring them to national prominence like he did with Navy basketball," Corey said. "I want to go somewhere where I love the coaches and the atmosphere and where I feel comfortable. I'll be spending eight months there. I want to have a shot at going to the highest level of football.

"Sure, there's pressure, but the pressure's nice because it makes me work harder. I'm David Robinson's kid, and people don't really know me as Corey right now. That gives me reason to work. I want to be the best, and if I'm going to be the best, I don't want to be in the shadow."

To read more on the Robinsons, check out Damon Sayles' story.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
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Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each conference. The independent players of the week are selected by a national media panel.

Conference USA

Offense: Case Keenum, QB, Houston. Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane. Keenum led the biggest comeback in school history in a 35-34 win at Louisiana Tech, completing 25-of-40 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns to overcome a 27-point third quarter deficit. Griffin completed his first 11 passes for 164 yards and finished the game 22-of-26 for 281 yards and a career-high-tying three touchdowns in a 49-10 win over UAB.

Defense: Korey Williams, LB, Southern Miss. Williams led the Golden Eagles with 10 tackles, seven of which were solo stops, in a 52-6 win over Southeastern Louisiana. He added one tackle for loss and an interception return for a touchdown.

Special teams: Nick Adams, KR, UAB. Adams set a UAB single-game record with 194 kick return yards and took a Tulane kickoff back 92 yards for a touchdown in a loss to Tulane.

Independent

Offense: Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Had 28 carries for 108 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern.

Defense: Robert Blanton, CB, Notre Dame. Grabbed an interception deep in Notre Dame territory and returned it 82 yards, setting up a game-sealing field goal for the Fighting Irish over Michigan State.

Special teams: George Atkinson III, RB/KR, Notre Dame. Had 142 yards on four kickoff returns, including an 89-yard touchdown, in a 31-13 home win over No. 15 Michigan State. Atkinson is the first Fighting Irish freshman to return a kickoff for a score since Raghib Ismail in 1988.

MAC

East Division
Offense: Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio.
Threw for a career-high 285 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Bobcats to a 44-7 victory over Marshall and improve to 3-0 on the year -- its best start to a season since 1976. He also also rushed for a touchdown and a season-best 53 yards.

Defense: Dwayne Woods, LB, Bowling Green. Had a game-high 12 tackles and two tackles for loss in the Falcons’ 28-27 loss to Wyoming.

Special Teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Was a perfect 3-for-3 on field goals, connecting from 20, 21 and 34 yards and was 5-for-5 in extra-point attempts in a win over Marshall.

West Division
Offense: Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan.
Had 13 catches for a season-high 177 yards in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan. White had two touchdowns and a career-best 241 all-purpose yards.

Defense: Travis Freeman, LB, Ball State. Had a season-high 12 tackles in a 28-25 victory over Buffalo.

Special Teams: John Potter, K, Western Michigan. Scored for 14 points in a 44-14 win over Central Michigan with five extra points and a career-matching three field goals (33, 43, 43).

Mountain West

Offense: Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State. Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State. Moore went 32-of-42 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns. The 32 completions are a single-game career high for Moore, while the five touchdowns tied his career high. Hillman rushed for 191 yards on a career-high 32 carries and tied his career-high with four touchdowns in a 42-24 win over Washington State.

Defense: Larry Parker, DB, San Diego State. Josh Biezuns, DL, Wyoming. Parker helped forced three turnovers, including two fourth-quarter interceptions, as the Aztecs beat Washington State 42-24. The two interceptions were the first two of his career. Biezuns forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, had two sacks for 15 yards and combined with fellow senior defensive lineman Gabe Knapton to block the potential game-tying extra-point attempts with 3 seconds left as Wyoming beat Bowling Green 28-27.

Special teams: Greg McCoy, DB, TCU. Returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the second half, setting the tone for TCU to score 14 points in the opening 4:18 of the third quarter in its 38-17 win over ULM.

Sun Belt

Offense: Corey Robinson, QB, Troy. Set new career highs for pass attempts (63), completions (36) and rushing yards (33) in a loss to Arkansas. His 373 passing yards were the third most of his career.

Defense: Isame Faciane, DT, FIU. LaDarrius Madden, DB, Troy. Faciane had arguably the biggest play of the game against UCF when he picked up a fumble by Jeff Godfrey and returned it 51 yards for a game-tying touchdown in the win over the Knights. Madden had six total tackles and a 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Special Teams: Melvin White, DB, Louisiana. Made the momentum turning play against Nicholls State with a 68-yard blocked field goal return for a touchdown. The Cajuns outscored the Colonels 24-7 after the blocked field goal.

WAC

Offense: Mike Ball, RB, Nevada. Rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns in Nevada’s 17-14 win at San Jose State.

Defense: Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State. Recorded a career-high 11 tackles and tied his career-high with 4.5 tackles for a loss of 23 yards in a 27-22 win over North Dakota.

Special teams: Jake Hurst, P, Nevada. Punted six times for 259 yards, A 43.2-yard average, in the win over San Jose State. He had a long of 49 yards and placed two inside the 20-yard line.

Troy spring wrap

May, 10, 2011
5/10/11
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2010 overall record: 8-5

2010 conference record: 6-2, co-champs

Returning starters

Offense: 4, defense 8, punter/kicker 2

Top returners

QB Corey Robinson, DE Jonathan Massaquoi, LB Xavier Lamb, S LaDarrius Madden

Key losses

WR Jerrel Jernigan, WR TeBiarus Gill, RB DuJuan Harris, DE Mario Addison

2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)

Rushing: Shawn Southward (643 yards, 7 TDs)

Passing: Robinson * (321-of-505 for 3,726 yards, 28 TDs, 15 INT)

Receiving: Jernigan (822 yards, 6 TDs)

Tackles: Lamb* (91)

Sacks: Massaquoi* (13.5)

Interceptions: Jimmie Anderson*, Madden* (three each)

Spring Answers

1. Corey Johnson did well. The junior college transfer appears to be the heir apparent to Jernigan, one of the best players in school history. Coach Larry Blakeney said of Johnson, “It looks like he could give us a burst down the middle.”

2. Depth in the defensive backfield. Blakeney says he is deeper at safety and cornerback than he has ever been, and really was impressed with the springs Brynden Trawick and Angelo Hadley, two junior college transfers who could have an immediate impact. That should help the Trojans improve their pass defense, which ranked No. 100 nationally.

3. More running. Even though Harris is gone, Blakeney is hopeful about his running back situation with the return of Southward and Chris Anderson. He praised D.J. Taylor as well, a former walk-on now on scholarship. He also mentioned that Gavin Ellis and Jim Teknipp give Troy options at tight end, because both can help with the power running game and can also get down field.

Fall Questions

1. Offensive production. Troy lost its top three receivers in Jernigan, Gill and Jason Bruce. They accounted for over half of the team’s receiving yards. Seeing Johnson step up was a positive. Jamel Johnson had a good spring, and Chip Reeves is going to be counted on as well. No question Troy needs new faces to step up to fill the big void.

2. Replacing Addison. It appears John Robles is in the lead to replace Addison, who started opposite Massaquoi. R.J. Roberts also competed with Robles in the spring, and both will have a lot of work to do to make up for the 10.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss that Addison had last season.

3. Better defense. Troy has plenty of returning starters and players returning. Is that a good sign because they have experience, or a bad sign because this is a unit that ranked No. 89 in the nation last season? Blakeney has stressed playing better defense this year. With depth at linebacker and in the secondary, that is possible.

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