NCF Nation: Frank Summers

Posted by's Graham Watson

Johnson's legacy: Ian Johnson is hoping to leave some sort of mark on the Boise State program when Saturday's game against No. 17 Oregon is all said and done. Johnson said he wants Boise State to be known for more than its 13-0 campaign and Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma in 2006. The Broncos have never beaten a BCS team in a true road game, and Johnson, a senior, said he doesn't want to leave Boise with thoughts of what he could have done.

East Carolina better than Alabama?: Tulane coach Bob Toledo didn't hesitate to call East Carolina a better team than Alabama, the Green Wave's season opening opponent. Toledo justified his assertion by saying that East Carolina is a more seasoned team that Alabama, which is playing with a lot of younger players.

"In my mind they're better than Alabama," Toledo said. "These guys are an experienced football team. They're very physical and they're very athletic... There's such a fine line between a major team and a mid-major team. I just think there's much more parity in college football and I see it on the film."

UNLV moves forward: UNLV running back Frank Summers said that after Monday he was done talking about the Rebels' upset win over No. 15 Arizona State even though he admitted that the thought of the win was something he's having a hard time getting over. He said he had 25 voice mails and text messages following the game and he saved all of them to commemorate the moment. But after Tuesday, Summers said, the messages would be gone and he's be focused on beating Iowa State, a team that's never won a road game under head coach Gene Chizik.

Ball State not there yet: Despite the 3-0 record, Ball State quarterback Nate Davis isn't ready to give his team the Mid-American Conference crown. He said his team didn't play well against Akron and still has a long way to go if it wants to compete against the likes of Central and Western Michigan. The Cardinals are 3-0 for the first time since 1988, but that season Ball State started strong and went on to lose two of its last three.

Navy in reverse: Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo will spend this week trying to figure out how his high-power rushing offense came to a screeching halt in the second half against Duke last Saturday. The Midshipmen had 130 total yards and three first downs in the second half and the bulk of that came on a 68-yard touchdown pass. Niumatalolo said this weekend's game against Rutgers will be a must win for both programs.

"It's going to be a circle-the-wagons game for them. Just like it for us," he said. "We're both the same. Our backs are against the wall. We're in a very similar situation. It's going to be a dogfight."

 AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
 UNLV's upset victory over Arizona State is the program's biggest win under coach Mike Sanford.

Posted by's Graham Watson

UNLV running back Frank Summers likes to read the papers when he's on the road to see what opposing teams are saying about the Rebels.

Most teams are cordial, saying that UNLV is a tough opponent despite the fact that the Rebels haven't won more than two games in the past four seasons. But prior to Saturday's game against No. 15 Arizona State, Summers was shocked by the brashness of some stories from  the local media.

"I had seen enough in the morning's paper when it said it wouldn't be a problem if Arizona State was looking ahead to Georgia," Summers said. "I just sat there and I just asked myself, 'Hell, what does that game mean if we win tonight?' And that's all I kept telling my team. I was like, 'Look, we go out here and we beat Arizona State tonight and that Georgia game don't mean nothing.'"

Even UNLV coach Mike Sanford spoke to his team about the article that asked why the Sun Devils were even wasting their time playing the Rebels.

It was clear that while UNLV was focused on Arizona State, the Sun Devils -- or at least many of their fans -- were focused on this week's game against No. 3 Georgia. Players said the student section even had signs printed up that read, "Bring on Georgia!"

But this weekend's game between the No. 3 Bulldogs and the now unranked Sun Devils means little thanks to the Rebels, who blocked a field goal in overtime to score arguably the biggest win in program history, but certainly the biggest win since coach Mike Sanford took over in 2005.

"I think this win helps us mature and I think it gives confidence," Sanford said. "It shows us that if we do things right, we've got a great chance to win the game... Our players understanding that you need to do the things that you need to do to win, and us being very specific about those things and us doing it really helps us to buy in."

While Arizona State's game becomes a little ho-hum, UNLV's game against Iowa State this weekend carries some intrigue to see whether the Rebels are a fluke or a better team than they've been in the past.

The Rebels showed flashes of being that better team in the first half against Utah. The Rebels played to a 14-14 tie at the half and forced the Utes high-powered offense to either punt or turn the ball over during their first four possessions. Utah managed 171 yards in the first half, but the bulk of those yards came in the second quarter after the Rebels lost two starting linebackers to injury.

"We always knew we could put games together. It was just about why we couldn't put them together, what was going on with penalties and just executing," Summers said. "But we did use the Utah game as an example and we knew that we could play well. So we just kind of fed off that game against Utah, fed off the momentum of the first half heading into Arizona State. We were angry that we didn't complete that game. We took that chip on our shoulder in that Arizona State game."

Sanford said Saturday's game was the first time his team did all the right things. After mounting just 90 yards of total offense in the first half, it fought back and put up 255 yards the remainder of the game. Arizona State had 248 yards in the first half, but managed just 125 yards the rest of the way. The Rebels had no turnovers and just five penalties. They converted on two of three fourth-down opportunities.

And after falling behind 20-10, the Rebels scored 13 unanswered points to win.

"We've got to focus on the positives and why we won," Sanford said. "The whole deal is getting confidence from this. Knowing that we did the things to win. And then on the other side of it, that was last week and this is this week. When we come back in on Tuesday, it's all Iowa State. We can't live in the past."

In just the few days since the Arizona State win, things already have changed around the UNLV program. For the first time since 2003, the Rebels have a winning record. It's also the first time since 2003 that the Rebels have two wins this early in the season.

Senior defensive tackle Jacob Hales said that more guys were coming in on Monday - the team's day off - to study up for this weekend's game against Iowa State. No one wants the feeling the team had during its six-hour bus trip from Tempe, Ariz., to Las Vegas to fade.

"Football's not like baseball, it's not like golf, it's a game of passion and it's a game of momentum," Hales said. "After the game, on the bus ride home and even [Monday], I couldn't believe how well we're playing and I can't believe how we won that game. It's such a big game for us because we did so many good things that we've never done before in this program. Winning an overtime game, winning on the road, winning against a ranked opponent. It feels good to be a part of that. It's just a matter now of keeping it going."

Sayonara Salt Lake

July, 24, 2008

Posted by's Graham Watson

SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City, I hardly knew you, mostly because I was stuck in the Hilton Salt Lake City Airport the last few days. But I'll always remember your Polygamy Porter T-shirts, which I'm kicking myself for not picking up.

WAC Media Days are over and I'm headed home. Over the next few days, the blog will be a little lighter than usual as I attempt to move from St. Louis to Denver. Even I need a bit of a break.

After I settle into my new place, I'll be couch-tied until I head back to Utah on Aug. 3. I plan to be at the first day of Utah's fall camp and then head up to BYU. I'll get another day at home before heading to Notre Dame, Ball State, and Northern Illinois. As camps progress, I'll visit the Texas schools and some other C-USA and MAC schools. That should answer any questions about whether I'll cover the other side of the country.

I learned a few things while covering the media days of the Mountain West and the WAC that I wanted to share:

  • Coaches in these conferences do not wear suits and ties to media days, which makes the entire atmosphere casual.
  • You are more likely to see the coaches of these conferences mingling with media at social functions than you are the coaches from other conferences.
  • A lot of the coaches in these conferences claim that they can't, don't and won't golf. Yeah, I'm talking about you Kyle Whittingham and, you too, Pat Hill.
  • The Mountain West gave me my first-ever mini helmet.
  • Utah State coach Brent Guy is a big fan of the blog. Thanks for reading coach!
  • Nevada defensive lineman Mundrae Clifton is nicknamed "Big Hungry," which I think is a great nickname.
  • It really bugged Devin Moore when I reminded him that he was 35 yards short of 1,000 last season.
  • Chase Holbrook did not dispute that his mother could have founded
  • Utah quarterback Brian Johnson wants to be a broadcaster and Air Force's Travis Dekker wants to be a doctor.
  • UNLV's Frank Summers was a big baby -- literally.
  • Robb Akey might be the most positive coach coming off a 1-11 season.
  • And that I am exhausted.

I hope everyone enjoyed the coverage this week. It's not over, it's just beginning.