NCF Nation: Ja'Gared Davis

Big East spring game previews

April, 19, 2013
4/19/13
9:00
AM ET
Nine of 10 Big East teams will be through with spring practices come Monday, with Rutgers serving as the outlier. With UConn, Temple and SMU all gearing up for their annual spring games this Saturday, here's a peek at what to look for.

UCONN
Fans in attendance for the noon start at Rentschler Field should keep an eye on how the offense moves under new coordinator T.J. Weist. The Huskies ranked 118th in total offense last year as coordinator George DeLeone was stripped of his duties, though he remains the offensive line coach. But the squad returns all five starters up front to protect incumbent quarterback Chandler Whitmer, as well as top running back Lyle McCombs, as the unit will look to keep pace with a defense that was nothing short of outstanding last season but is down a few stars who will hear their names called next weekend in New York.

Hank Hughes is the new man in charge of the defense, and he has Yawin Smallwood back to anchor a unit that has said goodbye to Sio Moore, Jory Johnson, Trevardo Williams and Blidi Wreh-Wilson. The Huskies boast plenty of potential in the middle with linebackers Graham Stewart, Ryan Donohue, Jefferson Ashiru and Omaine Stephens -- but that is just potential, for now.

UConn needs answers on both sides of the ball if it hopes to improve off head coach Paul Pasqualoni's consecutive 5-7 seasons.

SMU
The Mustangs will have an open practice at 9 a.m. local time at Pettus Practice Field, with many current and former players signing autographs afterward. There will be an NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition afterward for kids ages 6 through eighth grade.

The Mustangs are intriguing, first and foremost, because they brought Hal Mumme aboard as their assistant head coach and passing game coordinator. Pairing the Air Raid curator with head coach June Jones and his run 'n' shoot pedigree is a fascinating experiment in and of itself.

Kenneth Acker, who is coming off a second-team All-Conference USA season in the secondary, is another experiment this spring, with the staff splitting the cornerback wide to catch some passes with the offense.

Defensively, the Mustangs are replacing a bulk of their production from last season, with Margus Hunt, Ja'Gared Davis and Taylor Reed all gone. Kevin Pope and Robert Seals must step up at linebacker.

TEMPLE
Head coach Matt Rhule's first spring will feature live kicking and punting, normal scoring and 15-minute quarters. Who will eventually emerge as quarterback, however, is another matter. Juice Granger and Thomas Rumer will see action on the Cherry squad, which is coached by defensive coordinator Phil Snow, while Chris Coyer and Connor Reilly will take reps for the White team, coached by offensive coordinator Marcus Satterfield.

Reilly has thrived under the pro-style attack, ascending to No. 1 on a depth chart that was expected to see Coyer and Granger fight for the top spot. Coyer has seen time as an H-back in practice, but Rhule said he will remain under center. Kevin Newsome, out with a shoulder injury, has been moved to H-back.

Reigning conference freshman of the year Tyler Matakevich leads a defense that struggled across the board last season, while Levi Brown and Sean Daniels are the big guys up front worth keeping an eye on.

The live kicking and punting part of Saturday's 1 p.m. contest at Edberg-Olson Hall is worth noting in that the Owls need to replace Brandon McManus, who held the school records for field goals made and punting average.

BBVA Compass Bowl: Three Keys

January, 6, 2012
1/06/12
2:30
PM ET
You saw the preview and prediction. Now here are three keys for Pitt and SMU in the BBVA Compass Bowl:

Pitt

1. Focus. The same question has to be asked again this year heading into the BBVA Compass Bowl: What will be the motivation for the Panthers, who are playing in this game for the second straight season under an interim head coach? There is no doubt these players and this program were rocked hard by the way former coach Todd Graham left. They must put those negative emotions behind them and play for themselves and each other. This is a team that has been maddeningly inconsistent, which led to a disappointing season. Can they pull it together one final time to win their third straight bowl game?

2. Run. Pitt has experienced the most success this season when running the ball. That task got more difficult when Ray Graham was lost for the season. It will be even harder now that backup Zach Brown is questionable for the game with a bruised sternum. True freshman Isaac Bennett and Corey Davis will be relied upon to shoulder the load, so the game doesn't rest on the arm of quarterback Tino Sunseri.

3. Get after J.J. McDermott. Pitt has been terrific with its pass rush all season, tied for fourth nationally in sacks with an average of 3.25 per game. The Panthers have 39 total sacks on the season. The Mustangs have given up 27 sacks on the year, so there should be plenty of opportunity for Aaron Donald and Brandon Lindsey to get after McDermott. That obviously is a huge key if the Panthers want to disrupt their passing game -- the strength of the team.

SMU

1. Limit the mistakes. SMU ranks last in the nation in turnover margin (minus-17) and has at least one interception in 11 of its 12 games this season. Only East Carolina has thrown more interceptions than SMU’s 19 in 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information. On the bright side, Pitt only has eight interceptions this year. On the down side, Pitt did force six turnovers the last time out against Syracuse.

2. Make Sunseri win it. SMU has some pretty talented players up front. Defensive end Taylor Thompson, who has seven sacks and six forced fumbles on the season, is going to need a big game to slow down the Pitt running attack and to take Sunseri down. Ja'Gared Davis is also an important player for the Mustangs on defense -- he has 4.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Taylor Reed is a tackling machine and will be key to slowing down the Pitt run.

3. Pass game must get going. There is no escaping this -- SMU has to pass the ball in order to win. The Mustangs went 2-4 in their last six games largely for this reason: Scoring an average of 17.7 points during the stretch, SMU averaged just 223.7 yards through the air and threw six touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Panthers have been much better on pass defense in the second half of the season but will be challenged by Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson -- each has over 900 yards receiving and the duo has combined for nine of the team's 16 touchdowns this season. If SMU can protect McDermott and connect on big pass plays early to take a quick lead, Pitt could find itself in serious trouble. The Panthers are not equipped to play from behind.

Midseason report: SMU

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
10:30
AM ET
SMU MUSTANGS

Record: 4-1, 2-0 CUSA

The Mustangs made it to the Conference USA championship game last season, but now coach June Jones expects to win it. His team has its hands full in the West Division, but certainly the Mustangs have shown the potential to get back into the title game again this season. They have done it with a new quarterback. J.J. McDermott replaced an ineffective Kyle Padron in the season opener and has not let go of the starting job. McDermott has played well, throwing for 1,482 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions to rank No. 2 in CUSA in passing. Darius Johnson has proven to be a go-to receiver with 39 catches for 550 yards and four touchdowns, and leads the league in receptions per game and receiving yards a game. His teammate Cole Beasley is right behind him at No. 3 in both categories. Running back Zach Line once again is dominating on the ground, with 583 yards and 11 touchdowns already this season to lead CUSA. SMU has done a nice job on defense as well, ranking No. 2 in the league in total defense, giving up an average of 296.6 yards a game. Steps are being made, and none bigger than its 40-33 overtime win over cross-town rival TCU. It was the Mustangs' first win over a ranked team since defeating No. 22 TCU 21-10 in Dallas on Sept. 10, 2005. SMU is off to a 4-1 start for the first time since going 5-1 to begin the 1986 season. But the schedule has its challenges. The Mustangs get UCF this weekend in a rematch of last year's CUSA title game. They also have to play at Southern Miss, Tulsa and Houston. But the Mustangs have proved they can play with anybody. Will that translate into an even bigger milestone for the program this season?

Offensive MVP: RB Zach Line. You are making me choose just one? It was a tough call between Line and Johnson, but I am going with the guy who leads the league in scoring with 66 points. He has been incredibly valuable and durable once again.

Defensive MVP: LB Ja'Gared Davis. Plenty of candidates for this one as well. Taylor Thompson is third in the league with five sacks, and Taylor Reed leads the team with 39 tackles. But Davis has done a little bit of everything -- he has 28 tackles, including four for loss and 1.5 sacks. He also has an interception, forced and recovered a fumble and has six passes defended.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

September, 12, 2011
9/12/11
3:00
PM ET
Here are the non-AQ players of the week, as selected by each league. The independent players are picked by a national panel.

C-USA

Offense: Patrick Edwards, WR, Houston. Edwards had eight catches for a career-best 187 yards and a touchdown in a win against North Texas. He also extended his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 36.

Defense: Marshall's George Carpenter, LB, and SMU linebacker Ja’Gared Davis share the honors. Carpenter recorded a game-high 13 tackles in a 26-20 win against Southern Miss. He also posted two tackles for loss, including one sack, forced one fumble and recovered two fumbles. Davis had eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception, three pass break-ups and one touchdown in a win against UTEP.

Special Teams:Kase Whitehead, P, Marshall. Averaged 42.5 yards on eight punts, and backed up the Golden Eagles offense inside the 8-yard line on five of those eight kicks.

Independent

Offense: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame. Had 13 receptions for 159 yards in a 35-31 loss at Michigan.

Defense: Matt Warrick, LB, Navy. Recorded a team-high 12 tackles, a fumble recovery and pass breakup in a 40-14 win at Western Kentucky.

Special teams: Justin Sorensen, PK, BYU. Made field goals of 30, 33 and 32 yards, while making his lone PAT attempt in a 17-16 loss at Texas.

MAC
East Division


Offense: Eugene Cooper, WR, Bowling Green. Had career-highs in catches (6), yards (134) and touchdowns (4) in the Falcons’ 58-13 win against Morgan State. His four receiving touchdowns tied a school record for touchdown catches in a single game.

Defense: Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo. Had a team-best eight tackles (four solos), 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two forced fumbles, an interception and three quarterback hurries against Stony Brook.

Special Teams: Matt Weller, K, Ohio. Was 3-of-4 on field goals and a perfect 3-for-3 on extra points against Gardner-Webb.

West Division
Offense:
Eric Page, WR, Toledo. Caught 12 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns in Toledo's 27-22 loss at Ohio State. Page has now caught a touchdown pass in seven of the past eight games.

Defense: Marcus English, LB, Eastern Michigan. Posted a team-best 10 tackles in a 14-7 win against Alabama State. English added 3.5 tackles for a loss and one sack.

Special Teams: John Potter, K, Western Michigan. Made all five extra point attempts, extending his Western Michigan career record for consecutive PATs made streak to 78 straight.

MWC

Offense: Casey Pachall, QB, TCU. Completed 20-of-25 passes for 206 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, leading No. 25 TCU to a 35-19 win against host Air Force.

Defense: Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State. Recorded the first double-digit tackle game of his career, finishing with 10 stops (seven solo) and a sack in a 23-20 win at Army.

Special teams: Brian Stahovich, P, San Diego State. Put four of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and recorded a pair of kicks exceeding 50 yards in the Aztecs’ 23-20 win at Army.

Sun Belt

Offense: T.Y. Hilton, WR, FIU. Had a school-record 201 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 24-17 win against Louisville. For his efforts, Hilton was named the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week.

Defense: Winston Fraser, LB, FIU. Had eight tackles, six of them unassisted, and a 71-yard interception return for touchdown.

Special Teams: Brelan Chancellor, KR, North Texas. Broke two school records against Houston, setting the mark for all-purpose yardage and kickoff return yards. Chancellor had 286 yards on nine kickoff returns and 332 all-purpose yards.

WAC

Offense: Andrew Manley, QB, New Mexico State. Was 20-of-31 for 288 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-21 win at Minnesota.

Defense: Jonte Green, DB, New Mexico State. Led the Aggies with 10 solo tackles in the win against Minnesota. He also forced a fumble and broke up a pass while recording his second double-digit tackle game of his career.

Special teams: Devin Wylie, PR, Fresno State. Returned five punts for 110 yards, including a 67-yard return for a touchdown, in a loss at Nebraska. It was the first punt return for a touchdown against the Cornhuskers since 2001 and the first for the Bulldogs in almost two years.

C-USA BCS Buster: SMU

May, 17, 2011
5/17/11
4:00
PM ET
Next up in our look at potential BCS busters out of Conference USA is SMU, a team coach June Jones believes is on the doorstep of breaking into the system the way he did with Hawaii back in 2007. Jones has the experience of taking a team to a BCS game that nobody else does in C-USA, which should give his Mustangs an advantage. Plus, he gets to recruit in Texas, a place that is overflowing with talent. If TCU can do it in the Mountain West, why not SMU in C-USA?

Why they have a shot: The Mustangs are getting closer and closer to where Jones wants them to be now that they are in Year 4 of his program. SMU made it to the C-USA title game last season, which was earlier than even Jones anticipated. Kyle Padron has shown improvement, and Jones expects him to take the next step this season. That means connecting on more big plays in the passing game. Cole Beasley emerged as a 1,000-yard receiver last season and he is going to be even more vital in 2011. Zach Line proved to be an excellent back with 1,494 yards in 2010, and the defense returns solid players in Ja'Gared Davis, Taylor Reed, Margus Hunt and Chris Banjo. Jones said Davis and Reed have put in "unbelievable work" in the offseason. "They were good last year, and they're better now," Jones said.

Why they won't make it: The Mustangs still lack depth on the offensive and defensive lines and need a big-play receiver to replace Aldrick Robinson. The lack of depth is most concerning to Jones, but he knows it takes time to rebuild there, especially when you have inherited a losing program. The nonconference schedule is tough, with games at Texas A&M and at TCU and a home game against Navy. The TCU game actually begins a difficult four-game stretch. After playing the Horned Frogs, SMU gets a week off before hosting UCF, then it travels to Southern Miss and Tulsa. SMU also has to play Houston on the road on Nov. 19. The Mustangs start on the road at Texas A&M on Sunday night, Sept. 4. A loss there and a BCS season most likely ends.

Previously profiled

Houston

UCF, SMU set for C-USA title game

December, 4, 2010
12/04/10
11:00
AM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. -- We are about an hour from kickoff between SMU and Central Florida in the Conference USA title game. It is a beautiful day here in Florida, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s.

Here are some keys to watch:

1. SMU RB Zach Line vs. UCF defense. This was my biggest key to the game in my video preview earlier this week. Line leads Conference USA in rushing, and has used his speed and power to have a breakout season. Line, who was recruited as a linebacker, has given the run 'n' shoot offense an added dimension this season. The Knights have the best run defense in C-USA, but the linebackers are going to be needed to really step in and help slow Line down. UCF coach George O'Leary mentioned linebacker Josh Linam as a player who needs to have a big game.

2. Health of SMU QB Kyle Padron. Padron injured his ankle in the C-USA West Division title-clinching win over East Carolina last week. But Padron has practiced this week and will play. We'll see whether the injury affects his footwork and ability to potentially escape the pass rush. UCF has 24 sacks on the season. Watch for defensive end Darius Nall.

3. UCF QB Jeff Godfrey vs. SMU LB Ja'Gared Davis. The sophomore has had a breakout season for the Mustangs, with nine sacks -- ranking second in C-USA. He also has 15 tackles for loss, and has made a living of being in opposing backfields. With Godfrey's ability to scramble, Davis is going to be key in not only slowing down the UCF run game but in limiting Godfrey as well.

Non-AQ predictions: Week 8

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
9:00
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 7 were so hideous, I should be disqualified from making any more of them for the rest of the season. I mean not even a dog guesses and finishes 2-8. Wow, that hurts my fingers. Also because of all the e-mails and mailbag comments I have received, I will begin picking all games involving ranked non-AQ teams. See, I do hear you!

With a 43-31 overall record, I am ready to avenge my poor performance from Week 7. Or am I?

On to the picks!

No. 5 TCU 24, Air Force 10. Gary Patterson takes the Falcons seriously because of their dangerous triple-option. But there might be a little less danger this week with top fullback Jared Tew out (broken leg). Air Force still has the top-rated rush offense in the country and was a two-point conversion away from sending its game against San Diego State into overtime last week. But the TCU defense is looking really strong, and the Horned Frogs have never lost to the Falcons at home.

No. 9 Utah 44, Colorado State 3. The Utes beat Wyoming last week, but had three interceptions and are still lacking when it comes to creating turnovers. They are going to have to do better than minus-6 headed into their tough stretch, which starts next week at Air Force. Colorado State quarterback Pete Thomas can throw the ball, but not sure how much progress he will make this week.

UPSET SPECIAL: Navy 20, Notre Dame 18. The Midshipmen have not made things easy on themselves this season. Essentially all of their games have come down to the fourth quarter. While the offense might not be as prolific as expected, the defense has been terrific and kept this team in games. Last week against SMU, Navy forced three turnovers and held the Mustangs to 21 points. Notre Dame has had problems stopping the option, and Ricky Dobbs is not pressing as much.

SMU 38, Houston 28. My how the tide has turned in the West Division of Conference USA. Houston has dropped two straight, and it is the Mustangs who are alone in first place and in control of their own destiny. Ja’Gared Davis will cause fits for true freshman quarterback David Piland, and Kyle Padron will be able to throw on a Houston defense that continues to struggle.

UPSET SPECIAL II: Miami (Ohio) 28, Ohio 21. The emergence of the RedHawks has been one of the most pleasant surprises in the MAC and college football. Their three-game turnaround from last season is the best of any team so far this season. They sit alone atop the East at 3-0, but Ohio is right behind at 3-1 in this crucial matchup. Ohio has won four straight in the series, but the Miami defense makes the difference in this one.

BYU 20, Wyoming 17. Two of the worst scoring offenses in the country face off in a fight for their bowl lives. BYU is averaging 14.7 points a game and Wyoming 11.6 points a game. The Cowboys rank last in rushing defense, and that is going to be the difference. Because BYU has proved it can run the ball behind a strong offensive line and JJ Di Luigi. Coach Bronco Mendenhall promised more power running, and that should work this week.

Hawaii 44, Utah State 24. The Warriors are coming off a big win over Nevada, while Utah State had a week to prepare for the best passing offense in the country. Utah State has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the WAC this season, so it is hard to figure the Aggies out. But we do know Hawaii will pass and pass some more. The Warriors have won four of the five meetings between the school in WAC play.

Northern Illinois 30, Central Michigan 20. The Chippewas have won three straight in the series, but they are on a four-game losing streak and are 1-3 in the division, an unusual spot for them after winning the MAC championship three of the last four years. Many figured this would be a rebuilding year with Dan LeFevour gone and a new coach in Dan Enos. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois has won four straight and has found a groove with Chad Spann and Chandler Harnish leading the way on offense.

Middle Tennessee 27, ULM 24. The Blue Raiders need this game in the worst way. At 2-4, they are in a fight to become bowl eligible, though they have only played two conference games to date. ULM has needed two comebacks to beat FAU and Western Kentucky -- two of the worst teams in the league.

UTEP 31, Tulane 21. UTEP beat up on some bottom feeders en route to a 5-1 start. But the Miners stumbled on the road at UAB last week (one of two picks I got right!) and had only 229 yards of total offense. They are banged up going into this game but should have enough to beat the Green Wave, who are improved over last season.

Non-AQ Picks, Week 7

October, 14, 2010
10/14/10
9:00
AM ET
Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC | Non-AQ

My picks in Week 6 were much improved at 8-2, thank you very much. Although I still have a BYU problem. Picking against the Cougars did not work, either. My upset special panned out, so at least there is that. With a 41-23 overall record, I am ready for Week 7.

On to the picks!

NC State 40, East Carolina 27. As much as I want to believe in the Pirates, I do not know if they have the defense to be able to slow down Russell Wilson. But I think I have a pretty good idea. I will give credit to them for one thing -- making all their games quite entertaining to watch. One area to note, East Carolina will be without safety Derek Blacknall, who has been suspended for a helmet-to-helmet hit he delivered last week against Southern Miss.

UPSET SPECIAL: Army 30, Rutgers 20. Army is coming off a big win at Tulane. Rutgers lost to Tulane earlier this year. That is not the reason I am picking the upset special. The Scarlet Knights have struggled all season, nearly losing to FIU, losing to an undermanned North Carolina, and losing to Tulane. Yes, Rutgers looked much better last week with Chas Dodd at quarterback, but Army has an experienced, opportunistic defense that will present him problems. Army leads the nation in turnover margin, and the Black Knights have scored 86 points off 16 takeaways while allowing only 10 points on four giveaways.

Ball State 24, Eastern Michigan 20. The Cardinals had one of their worst games under coach Stan Parrish last week in a loss to Western Michigan, and now they get winless Eastern Michigan to ease the suffering. This game is not going to be a walkover. The Eagles have come close in a few of their conference games this season, and will keep this one close, too.

Houston 31, Rice 24. The Cougars are not going to blow anybody out with a freshman playing quarterback. Will I regret those words? Maybe. David Piland did throw for 300 yards last week, but he had no help. The running game was totally stymied. I think Houston will have an easier time rushing the ball Saturday, but this one is going to be a fight until the end.

SMU 33, Navy 23. Call this upset special No. 2 since the Midshipmen are 1.5 point favorites to win the game. Though the Midshipmen are coming off a big win against Wake Forest and Ricky Dobbs looked more like himself, SMU is really looking solid on offense behind Kyle Padron. The defense has stepped up, too, behind Ja’Gared Davis, who will wreak Havoc for Dobbs.

No. 4 TCU 34, BYU 14. I know BYU is 2-4, but am still surprised the Cougars are 29-point underdogs. Perhaps they found a spark on defense now that Bronco Mendenhall is in charge, but this team is not anywhere near improved enough to win this game. TCU has too much talent on offense and defense. Andy Dalton is completing 82 percent of his passes at home this season, and the TCU defense will be able to slow down JJ Di Luigi and force true freshman Jake Heaps into mistakes.

No. 23 Air Force 24, San Diego State 20. The Aztecs have been on the losing end of two heartbreakers, and both games featured bad calls that cost them. They have a very real chance at upsetting the Falcons if they can get their run game going. Air Force coach Troy Calhoun has made it a point to stress to his defense it must improve against the run. In the end, Tim Jefferson and that triple offense are going to be too much for a defense that is still learning and improving.

No. 19 Nevada 45, Hawaii 44. A shootout, island style. Nevada has not beaten Hawaii in Honolulu since 1948, and it is a difficult task for any team to make the long trip out to the islands. But Nevada is playing well on offense, behind Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua, and on defense, where Dontay Moch continues to bust through double teams and chip blocks for tackles behind the line. Moch will be able to pressure high-flying Bryant Moniz enough to rattle him and take him out of rhythm.

UAB 30, UTEP 27. I got some e-mail into the mailbag yelling at me for not noticing UTEP, which is off to a 5-1 start. I have noticed all right. It has played just one team with a winning record. The other FBS teams it has beaten have a combined three victories. That includes a last-second win over Memphis. So I am not quite ready to declare UTEP for real, though I will say Trevor Vittatoe is a joy to watch. UAB is coming off an embarrassing loss to UCF, but this as close to a must-win as you can get. The Blazers find a way to pull it out.

North Texas 28, FIU 27. This has been a disastrous season for the Mean Green as injuries have taken a serious toll throughout the team. They are down to their fourth quarterback in Chase Baine, but having Lance Dunbar in the backfield gives them a chance. They have lost their two conference games by a combined six points. FIU is improved, but the Panthers have had problems against the run. Dunbar is in line for a big game.

Midseason Report: SMU

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
7:30
AM ET
SMU Mustangs

Record: 4-2 (3-0 Conference USA)

Coach June Jones said his team was ahead of schedule last season, when it made a bowl game for the first time since 1984. He wanted to temper expectations slightly going into 2010, but now the Mustangs are looking like a contender to win Conference USA. Kyle Padron is off to a great start, building off the way he ended last season. But even better, SMU has found a great complement to him with Zach Line in the running game. Line leads Conference USA with 92 yards a game, making SMU more than just a passing fancy. Jones has a history of turning programs around, and the Mustangs are no exception. Their two losses came in non-conference games, playing Texas Tech and TCU tough. It has become clear that it’s only a matter of time before SMU is a champion again, an incredible rebirth following years of misery. There is life after death.

Offensive MVP, QB Kyle Padron -- Padron has thrown for 1,564 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions this season, overcoming a shaky offensive line and some bumps and bruises to become a leader on the offense. He appears to be hitting his stride, with back-to-back 300-yard passing games in important conference games. Padron also leads Conference USA in passing efficiency.

Defensive MVP, LB Ja’Gared Davis -- The sophomore has emerged this season as a serious player of the year contender. Through six games, Davis has seven sacks, with at least one coming in every game. He has spent a good amount of time in the opponent’s backfield as well, notching 12 tackles for loss. Davis also returned a blocked field goal 77 yards for a touchdown.

Lunchtime Links

October, 6, 2010
10/06/10
12:30
PM ET
Troy beat Middle Tennessee 42-13 on Tuesday night. Who wants a little more mid-week football? UAB-UCF is on tap tonight.

Now on to some links:

Middle Tennessee defensive tackle Dwight Smith played with a heavy heart, after losing his mother and grandmother in the last week.

The Boise State defensive line is dominating.

Back-to-back shutouts for TCU would show some style.

SMU linebacker Ja'Gared Davis has become a big hit in the 3-4 defense.

Chase Blaine will make his first collegiate start Saturday for North Texas, but Riley Dodge is putting off surgery on his broken wrist and could be available as a backup.

New Mexico State could be without starting quarterback Matt Christian on Saturday because of a shoulder injury.

Is Temple-Northern Illinois a MAC title game preview?

Navy RT Matt Molloy is out for the season after sustaining another concussion last week against Air Force.

Marshall has struggled with the new spread offense.

Non-AQ helmet stickers: Week 5

October, 3, 2010
10/03/10
1:09
AM ET
Yes, Hawaii is still playing, but we are going to give out our non-AQ
helmet stickers anyway:

Temple running back Matt Brown: Brown started in place of Bernard Pierce, who missed the game with a sprained ankle, and had a career day. Brown ran for a career-high 226 yards on 28 carries and added a career-high four touchdowns to help Temple come from behind to beat Army 42-35. His four rushing TDs tied the Michie Stadium record first set by Tony Dorsett in 1975. The last time a Temple player had four rushing touchdowns in a game was Walter Washington against West Virginia in 2003.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. The Falcons broke a seven-game losing streak to Navy with a 14-6 win to put them ahead in the race for the Commander-in-Chief Trophy. It was Calhoun's first win over Navy, and broke the Midshipmen's 15-game service academy winning streak. Air Force held Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs for the first time in his 17 starts.

SMU linebacker Ja'Gared Davis. Davis had a blocked field goal returned 77-yard for a touchdown in a 42-31 win over former Southwest Conference rival SMU. It was his first career touchdown. Davis also had a sack and has six this season. He has had at least one sack in each game this season.

Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle. Enderle completed a career-high 30 passes on 49 attempts and threw for 380 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-13 win over Western Michigan. Enderle hit 10 different receivers, and his TDs went for 30, 24 and 4 yards. The Idaho defense stepped up, too, with three sacks, four tackles for loss, six pass breakups, four quarterback hurries and two turnovers.

Louisiana defensive lineman Jermaine Rogers. Rogers blocked an extra point with 31 seconds remaining to help the Ragin' Cajuns hold on to defeat North Texas 28-27. Louisiana nearly blew a 28-14 fourth-quarter lead but have Rogers to thank. Quarterback Chris Masson had 310 yards passing and two TDs in the win.

Nevada running back Vai Taua. Taua ran for a season-high 188 yards and three touchdowns in a 44-26 win over UNLV. It was his fourth straight 100-yard game, and his highest rushing total since gaining 263 yards against Fresno State on Nov. 7, 2008. Taua also added a 22-yard touchdown reception late in the second quarter.

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