NCF Nation: internal affairs

Big East internal affairs

November, 19, 2008
11/19/08
11:09
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights have had four different tailbacks take starring roles this season. Last week, redshirt freshman Joe Martinek ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns at South Florida. The week before, Kordell Young had 143 yards against Syracuse. Earlier this season, Jourdan Brooks and Mason Robinson each had big games, but their roles have diminished of late. Coach Greg Schiano said he determines who will be the featured back each week based on the opponent. "We have to look and see what do we think we're going to try to do most in the run game, and then who fits that description best and try to rep it that way during the week," he said. "It's hard to get more than two backs ready for a game. There's always a third guy that is ready and a fourth guy that's ready, but they don't get many repetitions. I can't tell you right now who that guy will be."

Cincinnati: Should the Bearcats be concerned about kicker Jake Rogers? He lost his job early in the season after missing a few extra points, and coach Brian Kelly wondered about his confidence. But then Rogers came back and tied a school record with 13 straight converted field-goal attempts. Since then, however, Rogers has missed four straight kicks, including all three tries at Louisville. The conditions were poor at wet and windy Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, and Kelly said that had more to do with Rogers' problems than anything. "It's the development of a kicker," Kelly said. "Earlier in the year, he struggled mentally. This time, it was technique. He has a natural draw on his kicks, but they didn't draw because of the wet balls. He hit all of them well, but he missed all of them to right. Then he overcompensated. I'm sure he'll be able to correct it for this weekend."

West Virginia: The Mountaineers could be without starting center Mike Dent for a second straight game this week at Louisville. A mainstay in the lineup the past two seasons, Dent missed the Cincinnati game with a neck injury. Now he has swelling in the neck, and team officials aren't sure what the problem is. Dent could play this weekend, but coach Bill Stewart is fearful of further damage to his neck. Sophomore Eric Jobe got the start versus Cincinnati and likely will be the snapper on Saturday. "Eric Jobe is good.," Stewart said. "He's just not Mike Dent. Mike Dent isn't good, he's great. We had two pro scouts watching tape on him. He's got a chance to play at the next level.''

Pittsburgh: Fourth down doesn't necessarily mean it's time to punt for Pittsburgh. The Panthers have shown an inclination to go for it on fourth down this year, and usually with success. They have converted 13 of their 17 fourth-down attempts, a 76.5 percent rate that ranks sixth-best in the nation. An outstanding running game and a strong offensive line gives coach Dave Wannstedt confidence in going for the gamble. "I think that every time we get in a fourth-down situation our players want to go for it," he said. "That's a normal reaction. They're like the fans and the media. I think you have to look at the defense and what we feel we can execute and then try and make up a sound decision as to what your chances are of making it. You don't want to do something just to do it. We have been outstanding though."

Syracuse: Quarterback Cam Dantley has struggled in his past few games and was pulled for Andrew Robinson in the Connecticut loss. Dantley was just 3-of-12 for 19 yards against Rutgers and 4-of-16 for 38 yards with an interception against UConn. Robinson hasn't been much better in relief, going a combined 4-of-14 for 29 yards and throwing two picks in those same two games. Cody Catalina even got a couple of looks under center versus the Huskies. Coach Greg Robinson isn't saying yet who will be the starter this week at Notre Dame.

ACC internal affairs

October, 15, 2008
10/15/08
12:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GEORGIA TECH: Both quarterbacks Jaybo Shaw and Josh Nesbitt have been cleared to play on Saturday against Clemson, and the Yellow Jackets are eager to gain some respect back after their all-too-interesting 10-7 win over Gardner-Webb last weekend. In order to do that, they'll need a better performance from the offensive line, which coach Paul Johnson said "took a bigger hit than they deserved" last week. "They weren't very good but neither was anybody else, so it wasn't like it was all them," he said. Johnson said that aside from the freshmen, there are only about three upperclassmen who were actually recruited to play on the offensive line.

VIRGINIA TECH: Coach Frank Beamer said he is preparing for the Boston College quarterback he saw on film against NC State, not the Chris Crane who threw the ball just four times against Rhode Island. "He made some great throws in that NC State game," Beamer said, "some throws down the field, right on the money, hit guys in dead stride, had zip on the ball. ... When he runs the option he's not going to be a blazer, but he kind of falls forward. You wouldn't think a big guy like that would. He presents some problems for you." Still, the Hokies' staff won't forget about backup Dominique Davis, who has also seen significant playing time.

MARYLAND: Coach Ralph Friedgen called the 31-0 loss to Virginia "one of the toughest losses" he ever experienced. He said there was a players-only meeting during the bye week and he was pleased with the two practices they had during that time. "What impressed me in our practices was not that we did everything right, that I saw a sincere desire to try to do things right." Now he's wondering if the Terps can sustain that desire on Saturday against Wake Forest. Friedgen also told reporters at his weekly news conference that sophomore left tackle Bruce Campbell will see more playing time.

MIAMI: Running back Javarris James is expected to play on Saturday at Duke after missing four games with a left ankle sprain. The addition of James and offensive lineman Reggie Youngblood could help the Hurricanes' struggling offense. "It really hurt us tremendously in that aspect because of the one-two punch that you have with Javarris and [Graig] Cooper," coach Randy Shannon said. "We can't ask Cooper to go in the game and play 20, 30 snaps and carry the football another 15 to 20 snaps and take another running routes. He's not there yet, he's a sophomore." Cooper has gained about 10 pounds since last season, but the staff noticed he wore down at the end of last season and they don't want it to happen again. The Hurricanes' ground game took another hit against UCF last week when Lee Chambers got "turf toe."

WAKE FOREST: Coach Jim Grobe told reporters on Tuesday he's not interested in the Clemson job, saying, "I'm a Wake Forest guy." Grobe said Clemson hasn't contacted him yet anyway, and he's hoping it's not a distraction for his players heading into the Maryland game. This has become an annual trend for Grobe, but it has also forced athletic director Ron Wellman to keep it lucrative enough for Grobe to stay. One thing is for sure: If Grobe is going to consider another job, it's got to be one where he can bring all of his assistants with him. In other Wake news, punter/placekicker Sam Swank is still listed as questionable with a strained right quad.

Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Owls doing it with defense: Temple coach Al Golden said for the first time since he's been on campus, players cried after Saturday's overtime loss to Connecticut. Golden said that's the first time he felt like members of the team were starting to take the game seriously.

"Before it was like football was an intramural," he said.

Golden said players are also wearing shirts and ties on road trips, being respectful in restaurants and while on their trip to Army, Golden said the manager of the Marriott where the team stayed called his squad the most well-behaved young men he'd ever seen.

Harnish's injury still unknown: Results from the MRI of Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish were inconclusive Tuesday. Harnish suffered a foot injury against Western Michigan last week and has not been able to put pressure on it since. Senior Dan Nicholson, who came in to replace Harnish, is dealing with a sore shoulder from surgery he had this offseason. That leaves redshirt freshman DeMarcus Grady as the team's only healthy quarterback heading into a bye this weekend.

Kaheaku-Enhada to play this weekend: Navy quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada will play this weekend according to coach Ken Niumatalolo. Kaheaku-Enhada has been out since Aug. 9 with a strained hamstring and until this week has practice lightly. Jarod Bryant, who has been the team's quarterback, will rotate in at quarterback and slotback. Niumatalolo said Bryant "would play a ton."

Fresno State excited for this weekend: Fresno State coach Pat Hill is ready for Bulldog Stadium to be rocking this weekend for the first-ever clash between ranking opponents on Fresno State's home turf. Hill said Saturday's primetime game against Wisconsin gives Fresno State fans a chance to be big time, something they haven't gotten to be before. Fresno State has had more than a week to prepare for this game after a bye this past weekend.

James Casey all-everything: Rice coach David Bailiff sad his team isn't ready to anoint itself C-USA champions after it's 2-0 start, but that the start is encouraging for a team that won just three games last season. Bailiff championed the leadership efforts of his seniors, including Chase Clement and Jarett Dillard. The two have been instrumental in keeping the offense moving for the Owls, as has tight end James Casey, the former defensive end, who had 11 catches for 208 yards last week.

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