NCF Nation: Logan Kilgore

Middle Tennessee quarterback Dwight Dasher had his appeal to reduce his four-game suspension rejected by the NCAA, so he must sit out tomorrow's game against Louisiana.

Dasher has been suspended four games for improperly accepting a $1,500 loan. He is eligible to return for the huge conference showdown against Troy on Tuesday, Oct. 5.

Without Dasher, Middle Tennessee has struggled to find any consistency. The Blue Raiders are 1-2 and face a big test in their conference opener at the Ragin' Cajuns. Jeff Murphy and Logan Kilgore have both started at quarterback, and coach Rick Stockstill has yet to announce who will start Saturday.

Kilgore has been hampered with a toe injury, which forced him to miss the second game of the season against Austin Peay. He returned last week against Memphis, but was benched in favor of Murphy after throwing three interceptions in the loss.

Middle Tennessee also has taken a hit to its offensive line: center Alex Stuart (knee) could be out for the year, while tackle Mark Fisher (knee) is doubtful for this game, and guard Brandon McLeroy is questionable with several injuries.

One of the biggest problems, though, has been turnovers. Middle Tennessee is one of the worst in the country in turnover margin, having given the ball away 10 times and taken it away just twice. Its four turnovers against Memphis led directly to all of the Tigers' 24 points.

Middle Tennessee went into the season as the consensus pick to win the Sun Belt. If it truly wants to stay in that race, it has to beat Louisiana and just weather the storm until Dasher returns. The Blue Raiders should consider themselves fortunate that he will be back just in time for that game against the Trojans.

Non-AQ quarterback injury report

September, 14, 2010
9/14/10
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Injuries to quarterbacks at several non-AQ schools have started to mount. Here is a primer:

Houston

Injured: Case Keenum has mild concussion symptoms after getting hurt following an interception he threw against UTEP last week. His status is day-to-day.

Who's in: If Keenum can't play against UCLA on Saturday, Cotton Turner would get the nod. Turner went 9-of-10 for 69 yards with a touchdown in relief of Keenum against UTEP. "Our players, when he hit the field, there’s a confidence level in him and Friday night can only help everybody’s confidence level in him," coach Kevin Sumlin said.

Memphis

Who's injured: Cannon Smith sustained a concussion against East Carolina and is out for this week's game against Middle Tennessee.

Who's in: Ryan Williams, a true freshman, played well in relief of Smith last week, going 18-of-25 for 293 yards and three TDs. Williams has played in both games this season.

Middle Tennessee


Who's injured: The Blue Raiders are actually down to their third quarterback, following the suspension of starter Dwight Dasher. Logan Kilgore, who replaced him, missed last week's game against Austin Peay with a toe injury and is still in a walking boot.

Who's in: Jeff Murphy started last week and went 23-of-36 for 301 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. Both he and Kilgore are junior college transfers playing their first season at Middle Tennessee.

North Texas

Who's injured: Nathan Tune dislocated his hip in a loss to Rice, and is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Who's in: Derek Thompson. He has played sporadically and doesn't have much experience, but there isn't much depth here. Riley Dodge, the starter last season, moved to receiver because of elbow troubles but will go back to quarterback to help with depth.

Rice

Who's injured: Taylor McHargue sustained a mild shoulder separation against North Texas last week and is out for Saturday's game against Northwestern.

Who's in: Nick Fanuzzi, who started last season but lost his job to McHargue in the fall. Fanuzzi came in against the Mean Green and led the game-winning drive in the fourth quarter and finished 12-for-23 for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Utah

Injured: Jordan Wynn sprained the thumb on his throwing hand in the season opener against Pittsburgh and is listed as day to day. He missed last week's game against UNLV and his status is unclear for Saturday's game at New Mexico.

Who's in: Terrance Cain. He is a capable player, having started eight games last season. Against UNLV, Cain went 13-of-20 for 207 yards with two touchdown passes. "We’re fortunate to have Terrance Cain as our backup," coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We had no panic, no concern because we knew Terrance was going to step in and get the job done."

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

September, 13, 2010
9/13/10
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Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 2.

[+] EnlargeAsher Clark
Ron Chenoy/US PresswireAsher Clark rushed 18 times for 121 yards in Saturday's win.
The good: Air Force really showed what it is capable of in a 35-14 win over BYU. It was the Falcons’ first win over the Cougars in six years. In fact, it was the first time coach Troy Calhoun has ever beaten BYU in his career. Jared Tew and Asher Clark showed why they are one of the best running back duos among the non-AQs, maybe even in the nation, with 198 yards combined on the ground. Jonathan Warzeka contributed as well, with six carries for 62 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, San Diego State is off to its first 2-0 start since 1994.

The bad: The MAC had some pretty brutal losses, with Ball State and Akron falling to FCS opponents. Ball State coach Stan Parrish, whose team lost to Liberty 27-23, said he thought the Flames would be able to compete in the MAC, especially behind quarterback Mike Brown. “When you have a special player playing quarterback, look at the history of our league, it’s very quarterback driven, when you have a very special quarterback like Liberty does, you can be special every week,” he said. Meanwhile, New Mexico has now been outscored 124-17 in its two losses this season.

The new: We heard all the hype about San Diego State freshman running back Ronnie Hillman and the hope that he would be able to rescue the Aztecs’ rushing attack. Hillman proved it Saturday night against New Mexico State, rushing for 150 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-21 victory. He averaged 6.8 yards a carry, a huge improvement for the Aztecs, who had one of the worst rushing offenses in the country last year. His four rushing touchdowns set a Mountain West freshman single-game high and are the most by a San Diego State player since Larry Ned had four touchdowns against Wyoming in 2001.

A few more helmet stickers: Toledo linebacker Dan Molls made a career-high 11 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one sack and two interceptions in a 20-13 road win at Ohio. Molls set up the first Toledo touchdown with a 28-yard interception return to the 2-yard line, and also had a big fourth-down sack that allowed the Rockets to beat Ohio a 20-13 win. ... Marshall DE Vinny Curry also had 11 tackles, three for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles in Marshall’s near upset of No. 22 West Virginia on Friday night. ... Arkansas State sophomore quarterback Ryan Aplin passed for a school-record 438 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. Aplin has the second-most passing yards in the nation with 716.

A few injury items to note: Houston quarterback Case Keenum (concussion) is day to day. Kent State running back Eugene Jarvis missed last week’s game against Boise State with a groin injury and is most likely out this week, coach Doug Martin said Monday. He still lists Jarvis as day to day. Middle Tennessee quarterback Logan Kilgore sat out last week’s win against Austin Peay with a foot injury, and coach Rick Stockstill said the team would know more about his status this week. Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn (thumb) missed last week’s game against UNLV and his status is uncertain for this week.

Week 3 look ahead: This is another big week for non-AQ teams playing some pretty important nonconference games. The biggest to watch: East Carolina at Virginia Tech; Air Force at Oklahoma; BYU at Florida State; Baylor at TCU and Houston at UCLA.

What we learned among non-AQs: Week 1

September, 5, 2010
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It was a terrific opening weekend for the upper echelon teams in the Mountain West Conference, with TCU, BYU and Utah posting big wins in their marquee games against opponents from the automatic qualifying conferences. New Mexico -- not so much.

We will know much, much more after Monday night, but here is what we learned through the games so far:

Don’t sleep on TCU. The Horned Frogs are happy to have everybody talking about Boise State and the national championship race. TCU has largely been left out of that discussion. But a 30-21 win against Oregon State on Saturday night should serve as a reminder that TCU has an experienced, talented squad returning and could be legitimate national championship contenders.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Tim Heitman/US PresswireTCU's Andy Dalton was a threat throwing and running the ball in Saturday's win.
Andy Dalton needs to cut down on the interceptions, but if the option works as well as it did against the Beavers, then TCU should win all its games this year. TCU rolled up 278 yards rushing. The defense limited Jacquizz Rodgers to 75 yards on the ground, a very good sign for a unit missing four starters from last season. One area that needs to be shored up -- cornerback. Greg McCoy was often a target for Ryan Katz.

BYU made two quarterbacks work, for now. It may be unorthodox in Provo, but BYU made its two-quarterback system work in the opener against Washington. Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps rotated series and both finished with 131 yards each. Nelson threw two touchdown passes and had 45 yards rushing. He had 17 pass attempts to 23 for Heaps. The offense did sputter on two drives in the fourth quarter with a chance to put the game away, but the defense stepped up with Washington mounting a late drive, batting down Jake Locker’s pass with 1:55 to win.

Could New Mexico be the worst team in FBS? It was the most lopsided game of the weekend, a 72-0 drubbing at the hands of Oregon. What is staggering is that every FCS team playing against a top-division opponent came closer than the Lobos did to the Ducks. New Mexico had eight first downs, 107 yards of total offense and five turnovers. It trailed 59-0 at halftime and gave up 720 yards. Embattled coach Mike Locksley, who went 1-11 in his debut season, is going to need to find some answers fast to keep his team from sliding.

Fresno State could be a dark horse. The Bulldogs had an impressive 28-14 win over Cincinnati late Saturday night behind Ryan Colburn, who tied a career-high with four touchdown passes. Coach Pat Hill expected improvement out of Colburn, but he had to have been pleased with the way his defense played. Going into the game, he worried about the way his team would be able to handle the spread because it has struggled against that offense in the past. Fresno State held the Bearcats and Zach Collaros in check, holding him to 219 yards passing and just 9.1 yards per completion. Robbie Rouse didn’t do much in his debut, with 40 yards on 20 carries.

Middle Tennessee could be fine without Dwight Dasher. The Blue Raiders lost to Minnesota 24-17 on Thursday night, but it wasn’t a blowout without its top playmaker, ineligible for taking a $1,500 loan. Middle Tennessee had the lead at one point in the game, and the play of new quarterback Logan Kilgore was encouraging. He went 13-of-18 for 172 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Without Dasher, Phillip Tanner stepped up with eight carries for 75 yards and a touchdown. Of the five Sun Belt teams playing AQ opponents, Middle Tennessee played the closest game.

What to watch among non-AQs: Week 1

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
9:00
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The season begins tonight! With that, here are 10 storylines to watch among the non-AQ teams:
  1. Boise State defense vs. Virginia Tech running game. What happens here could largely determine who wins the game. Ryan Williams and Darren Evans present a duo at running back that Boise State rarely sees in WAC play. Add in the very mobile Tyrod Taylor, and the Broncos are going to have their hands full. Watch for Jeron Johnson and Winston Venable to set the tempo for the defense.
  2. How does BYU handle its two quarterbacks against Washington? One of the biggest non-AQ storylines of the fall has been how Bronco Mendenhall will handle playing Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps. Two-quarterback systems rarely work, but Mendenhall says he could go with two for the entire season. They are two vastly different quarterbacks. Does Heaps play in spot duty? Do they split the plays? If one is hot, does the other sit? All questions to ask going into the season.
  3. [+] EnlargeRobbie Rouse
    Jason O. Watson/US PresswireRobbie Rouse rushed 82 times for 479 yards and four touchdowns last season while backing up Ryan Mathews.
    How does Fresno State running back Robbie Rouse perform against Cincinnati? Rouse has the tough task of replacing the NCAA rushing leader from last season, Ryan Mathews. Coach Pat Hill has compared him to Darren Sproles in terms of being a physical inside runner. Another key to this game -- how does the Fresno State defense handle the spread and Cincinnati quarterback Zach Collaros?
  4. How does Logan Kilgore do in the opener against Minnesota? Middle Tennessee was the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt, but that was with Dwight Dasher at quarterback. Now that he has been suspended indefinitely, Kilgore will start. He is a junior college transfer who has yet to take a snap for the Blue Raiders. How does the team react to a new starting quarterback? How much does the team miss Dasher? How much does the offense change?
  5. Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers vs. TCU defense. The Horned Frogs have built their reputation on defense. Seven starters return, but leading tackler Daryl Washington is gone. How much will TCU miss him playing an elusive back in Rodgers? TCU had the No. 3 rushing defense in the country last year and allowed just two 100-yard rushers on the season.
  6. Pittsburgh running back Dion Lewis vs. Utah defense. The Utes are missing seven starters, including all three linebackers from last season. They do have depth on the defensive line, but the starters are going against an offensive line that weighs an average of about 40 pounds more than they do. Lewis rushed for 1,799 yards last season, and defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake acknowledges he is a “monster” to take down.
  7. Upset watch: Northern Illinois at Iowa State. Northern Illinois has Chad Spann in the backfield, one of the best rushers in the MAC. The Huskies actually had one of the best rush offenses in the country last season, ranking No. 19. Meanwhile, Iowa State struggled against the run and goes into the season hoping to prove last season was no fluke. Northern Illinois did beat one AQ school last season, Purdue in Week 3.
  8. Can East Carolina continue its reign atop Conference USA? The season begins with a conference game, hosting Tulsa. The Pirates are in for a rebuilding year. No starting quarterback has been named, and the defense is missing its entire front seven from a year ago. Tulsa could make some noise in the West. How is East Carolina going to slow down G.J. Kinne?
  9. Combined number of points in the SMU-Texas Tech game will be … ? SMU loves to throw the ball in the Run N Shoot offense. Coach Tommy Tuberville says Texas Tech will continue to throw the ball, too, with Taylor Potts. Kyle Padron should be much improved in his second year in June Jones’ system. Wouldn’t be surprised if this one ended 44-40.
  10. Do TCU and Boise State still have national championship aspirations after this weekend? Losses in their big non-conference games knock them out and would seriously damage any hopes at a BCS game, too. No one-loss non-AQ team has ever made it to a BCS game.

Lunchtime Links

August, 30, 2010
8/30/10
1:35
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This could be the week when we know what BYU will do. The Cougars face a Wednesday deadline to inform the Mountain West whether it plans to remain a part of the league for 2011-12.

Reports indicate they could still be pushing for football independence.

Houston says it has had no discussions with the Mountain West.

Nevada must rethink its funding now that it is headed to the Mountain West.

Can Boise State afford to have a big-time program? Brian Murphy of the Idaho Statesman asks that question after plans for a $100 million stadium upgrade were unveiled.

West Virginia offensive lineman Marquis Wallace has enrolled at Marshall, the Charleston Daily Mail reports.

SMU prepares for a new-look Texas Tech under Tommy Tuberville.

It's bowl game or bust for UAB.

Logan Kilgore will start for Middle Tennessee with Dwight Dasher out indefinitely.

Links from other conferences:

ACC

Big 12

Big East

Big Ten

SEC

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