NCF Nation: Matt Brown

Memphis

Spring Start: Feb. 28

Spring game: April 6

What to watch:
  1. Quarterback: Jacob Karam returns as the starter after throwing for 1,895 yards, 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. But coach Justin Fuente says Karam will be pushed during the spring and has to win the starting job all over again.
  2. Bump up the physicality: Fuente has said repeatedly that he wants to see his team be more physical, especially now that it is joining the Big East. The spring is the perfect chance to improve in this area. "We will play some of the same teams we played last year, but they will be the bigger, more physical teams we played last year," he said. "We have to understand that we have a lot of ground to make up. That is not ground that is made up easily."
  3. Competition at defensive back: The Tigers lose two starters from their defensive backfield -- Cannon Smith and Robert Steeples -- and Fuente is excited about the competition at this position going into the spring.
Rutgers

Spring Start: March 26

Spring game: April 27

What to watch:
  1. Quarterback: Even though coach Kyle Flood says Gary Nova is his starter, you can bet there is going to be competition at this position going into the spring, especially with a new offensive coordinator in Ron Prince. That doesn't mean there will be changes, but certainly Prince is going to want to take a look at all the players he has available to evaluate what they can or cannot do.
  2. Defensive leaders: Rutgers lost its top defensive playmakers and needs to find guys who can step in for Scott Vallone, Khaseem Greene, Steve Beauharnais and Logan Ryan, to name four. Plus, there is a new coordinator in Dave Cohen, so there might be some adjustment period.
  3. Huggins stepping up: The time is now for the highly heralded local recruit to live up to the expectations that came with him when he arrived on campus. Jawan Jamison is gone off to the NFL, so all eyes have turned to Huggins to see if he has what it takes to be the next 1,000-yard rusher.
SMU

Spring Start: March 25

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. Replacing Zach Line: The Mustangs have to replace their top runner over the past several seasons in Line, who had three straight 1,000-yard seasons. Leading the charge this spring are junior college All-American Traylon Shead and reserve back Rishaad Wimbley, who switched from defense a few seasons ago.
  2. New defensive starters: The Mustangs lost the bulk of their playmakers on defense in Margus Hunt and linebackers Taylor Reed and Ja'Gared Davis. Finding guys to step up without them is a huge priority. Watch for Zach Wood at defensive end in place of Hunt; and Kevin Pope and Robert Seals at linebacker.
  3. More consistency at QB: June Jones' offense runs best when the quarterback is at his best. Garrett Gilbert returns as the starter, but he is going to need to find much more consistency this spring and into the fall. Two numbers that have to be improved: accuracy (53 percent in 2012) and touchdown-to-interception ratio (15-to-15 in 2012).
USF

Spring Start: March 20

Spring game: April 13

What to watch:
  1. New coaches, new style: Coach Willie Taggart has promised to ratchet up the intensity and transform his team into more of a smash-mouth group. That process begins in the spring, when he has his first opportunity to really show his players what he expects out of them. You can bet he expects a lot more physicality from his offensive and defensive lines to start.
  2. Quarterback competition: Who will emerge as the starter? Will we even know after the spring? Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld, the top two candidates, have plenty of work to do as they fight to win the starting job. But this competition could very well go into the fall, when freshman Mike White arrives on campus.
  3. Defensive back improvement: This was the worst group the Bulls had a year ago and the one in most need of immediate improvement. USF registered two interceptions in 2012, tied with Auburn for the fewest among all 120 schools in the nation. And they both came in the same game -- against UConn on Nov. 3.
Temple

Spring Start: March 22

Spring game: April 20

What to watch:
  1. New staff: Matt Rhule certainly has a familiarity with Temple, having served as an assistant there under both Al Golden and Steve Addazio. But anytime a new coach comes in, there is change, so the spring gives him his first chance to really start implementing his style and what he wants to get accomplished.
  2. Quarterbacks: You can bet this competition is going to be open this spring, with Chris Coyer, Juice Granger and Kevin Newsome all returning. Coyer and Granger both started a year ago; Newsome transferred in from Penn State a few years ago. How this shakes out is one major story to watch.
  3. Running backs: Montel Harris and Matt Brown are gone, taking with them 1,426 yards rushing and 16 of the team's 21 rushing touchdowns. Jamie Gilmore got more carries as the season went on when Brown was hurt; Kenny Harper also is back and certainly will be relied upon even more.

ESPN.com All-Big East team

December, 10, 2012
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The time has finally come to announce our picks for the ESPN.com All-Big East team.

You will see that only a few selections differ from the coaches'; they made their first- and second-team selections last week. Among the notable differences: I have Cincinnati running back George Winn on the first team ahead of Pitt running back Ray Graham. I thought Graham was great this year in his return from a torn ACL. But I thought Winn was better and more consistent. He also had more total yards rushing (1,204 to 1,042 for Graham), a higher rushing average (5.3 ypc to 4.7 ypc) and more 100-yard games.

I also have Pitt receiver Devin Street on the first team over DeVante Parker from Louisville. Parker had some flashy catches this year, but Street was way more productive and consistent. I actually went back and forth between Street and teammate Mike Shanahan for first-team honors. Both are worthy.

Defensively, I only have three linebackers on my team (no ties allowed!) so Sio Moore of UConn gets bumped. Moore had a heck of a year, no question, and linebacker was perhaps the strongest position in the league across every team. But I thought Yawin Smallwood, Greg Blair and Khaseem Greene were better. I also have Calvin Pryor at safety over Duron Harmon.

Here is the team in its entirety:

OFFENSE

QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville

RB: Montel Harris, Temple

RB: George Winn, Cincinnati

WR: Alec Lemon, Syracuse

WR: Devin Street, Pitt

TE: Travis Kelce, Cincinnati

OT: Eric Lefeld, Cincinnati

OT: Justin Pugh, Syracuse

C: Mario Benavides, Louisville

OG: Austen Bujnoch, Cincinnati

OG: Antwan Lowery, Rutgers

K: Brandon McManus, Temple

RS: Matt Brown, Temple

DEFENSE

DE: Trevardo Williams, UConn

DE: Dan Giordano, Cincinnati

DT: Scott Vallone, Rutgers

DT: Aaron Donald, Pitt

LB: Greg Blair, Cincinnati

LB: Yawin Smallwood, UConn

LB: Khaseem Greene, Rutgers

CB: Adrian Bushell, Louisville

CB: Logan Ryan, Rutgers

S: Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse

S: Calvin Pryor, Louisville

P: Brandon McManus, Temple
Steve Addazio is not a woulda, coulda, shoulda guy.

With his team's first season back in the Big East all wrapped up, and with plenty of extra time on his hands, the second-year Temple coach is not wondering about any potential wins or practices he may have gotten out of playing in another conference this season.

[+] EnlargeSteve Addazio
Eric Hartline/US PresswireCoach Steve Addazio says he's pleased with his Temple Owls' 4-7 performance this season.
The Owls' Big East switch in March culminated in a 4-7 campaign that featured a number of new faces in new places, giving Addazio plenty to be optimistic about moving forward.

"Football is about competition, it's about stepping up, it's about taking your shots as a program," Addazio said. "We stepped up this year. We learned a lot this year. We became a better program from this. … I think the development is going to be far greater, the competition higher and we're thrilled about that. That's what it is. Would you like to have a couple more weeks of practice? Yeah. But at the end of the day what they went through this year is more significant.

"I can't wait for next year. These things roll by really quick. It'll be next year soon."

Temple was greeted with two byes in the first month. The Owls played without running back Montel Harris for a majority of that first month, and they were without his replacement, Matt Brown, a majority of the last month, which also was cut short by their 11-game schedule, since they lost a game when leaving the Mid-American Conference.

A potential deal with Hawaii for a 12th game fell through two weeks ago, leaving Temple one fewer game than normal for this transition season.

Addazio loses just 12 seniors, and he welcomes back 23 freshmen who saw time this season. He will also have a healthy quarterback competition this spring among three seniors who saw Big East action.

"The way you did it is the way you did it," Addazio said. "I think we'll really grow from this. What's transition mean? You've got to get in, you've got to play, you've got to feel it, you've got to get used to the week in and week out grind. I think the best thing that happened was to get right in and play. This was a transition year for us, a rebuilding year, so I think nothing better than to come in here while you're rebuilding, while you're young and let these kid really feel this thing.

"I think we'll grow tremendously. Even though it's hard to swallow now and all that, it's about what I thought would happen. We're 4-7, we're very close to having another win or two in there. We were very competitive, so I'm proud of that, not disappointed in that. Disappointed that we're not still playing? Yes, but not disappointed in where we're headed or the effort or some of the really good football players we have along the way."

Montel Harris runs wild in Temple win

November, 17, 2012
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Back on Monday, Temple coach Steve Addazio was asked about the health of injured tailback Montel Harris.

Addazio said, "I feel good about Montel."

You don't say!

Harris gave Addazio and Owls fans plenty to feel good about Saturday, with a historic performance in a 63-32 win against Army. No hint of the sprained ankle he suffered last week against Cincinnati, either. Harris set school and Big East records with 351 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns -- a one-man force of destruction against a team known for its ability to run the ball.

But Harris stole all the headlines -- and had the most yards rushing ever against an Army opponent. The record he broke belonged to Tony Dorsett (268). That huge performance overshadowed two other major developments: Matt Brown actually had the first two rushing touchdowns on the day before leaving with a strained left hamstring early in the second quarter. The Owls were clearly all right without him.

Plus, Juice Granger made his first career start and played extremely well -- finishing with 85 yards of his own. With the way Harris played, the passing game was totally irrelevant -- he had four pass attempts all day. Incredibly enough, Army had more -- with seven attempts from Trent Steelman.

Army had Steelman and Larry Dixon finish with more than 100 yards, but the story of the day was the way Temple absolutely manhandled Army on the offensive line. Temple finished with 534 yards rushing and averaged 9.4 yards per attempt. It was simply a dominating -- and historic day -- at West Point.

TCU QB Boykin leaves game with injury

November, 10, 2012
11/10/12
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FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin left Saturday's game against visiting Kansas State late in the first quarter and headed into the locker room shortly after with an apparent injury to his throwing arm.

Boykin threw an incomplete pass to tight end Griffin Gilbert and immediately trotted to the sideline while holding his arm.

He was replaced by Matt Brown. TCU missed a field goal later on the drive and trails No. 2 Kansas State, 10-0, early in the second quarter.

Boykin was 3-of-6 passing for 24 yards and rushed four times for 21 before leaving the game.

Q&A with Temple RB Matt Brown

November, 9, 2012
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Matt Brown has pushed through an ankle injury over the past month for Temple. The senior has rushed for 266 yards and two touchdowns on the season. In Saturday's loss at Louisville, he returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown.

As Brown's career winds to a close, ESPN.com caught up with the 5-foot-5, 160-pound running back this week.

How are you feeling health-wise with the ankle?

[+] EnlargeMatt Brown
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireTemple running back Matt Brown dreams of playing in the NFL when his college days are over.
Matt Brown: I'm feeling better than I was a couple weeks ago, but I'm just trying to get back to 100 percent. I'd say I'm about 75 percent, 80 percent. It's just a work in progress. It's not fully healed, but it's gotten a lot better from where I was a couple weeks ago.

Did it just start and come about this year, or is this a problem you had earlier in your career?

MB: Just happened. South Florida game (Oct. 6).

How has it limited in you the past couple of weeks?

MB: My cutting ability. My lateral movement. The best asset of any skill player most of the time is your feet -- changing direction, your quickness, all of that comes from your feet. And with the injury I have, it's hard to put pressure on and to make certain cuts and move as quick as I want to, so that's what has really been affecting me the most.

How were you able to return a kickoff for a touchdown on that last week?

MB: Just will. Determination. Just trying to make a play. Sometimes it's mind over matter, you know what I mean? You've got to try your best not to think about it or just to work through it. Just play through it. Sometimes make it look like you're not injured, you know what I mean? Even if you really are. I feel like I just willed it. Sometimes you've just got to will your way into things.

Has there been a give-and-take process there, where Coach [Steve] Addazio has maybe been telling you not to go so hard and you're resisting that?

MB: He checks me to make sure I'm OK. In practice they've got me taking limited reps, but at the same time they're still working me in there so I can get the feel of the plays and things like that. But he definitely has a limit on how much I go. Just taking care of me.

You shared the backfield last year with Bernard Pierce. This year you guys welcomed in Montel Harris before the season. How's that dynamic been? What's the relationship like there on and off the field?

MB: It's great. Before he got here I really didn't want him to come. I knew who he was through the internet and things like that, but not personally. I really wasn't happy. But now that he's here he's like my best friend. That's who I hang out with more than anybody -- on the field and off the field. That's my best friend up here. So I couldn't be more happy that he's here. We help push each other. We're both gamers, we both play hard, we both love the game. We've got the same kind of love for this game and we both respect that in each other. It's like a real friendship thing, and we definitely help each other and push each other. It's good. I'm glad that I got somebody like that in my position group now, because before he got here it was just me, I was the oldest. We learn off each other. We're not scared to say something to one another. We're not defensive about using that criticism, so I think it's good. It worked out for the best.

How did he approach it initially? Was he cautious of stepping on anybody's toes? How did he walk into a situation like that so late?

MB: He just worked his way in. He's just a cool dude, low-key, quiet, just humble. That kind of makes you gradually like someone. He just came in, he was humble, he played hard. We respect his game and he was just a cool dude.

You guys are running behind four new starting offensive linemen this season. What has been the biggest adjustment with that?

MB: We've got some young guys up front but now, we're coming along. Beginning of the season wasn't going so well, but now I feel like our O-line's coming along and they're really working hard, and I feel like we've got the right guys in the right position. We're moving forward now. We have a young O-line, our whole O-line graduated last year, all of our veterans. We're working with what we got right now. People are going to mess up and make mistakes but they're new, they're freshmen, they're young guys. It's going to build for years to come. They're going to be great junior and senior year, but right now they're doing a great job. We came a whole long way from where we did at the beginning of the season as far as the o-line.

Going through the grind of a Big East schedule as opposed to a MAC one, what have been some difference challenges you've faced this year?

MB: Great players every week. There's no blowout games or games that we know we're going to win. It's every game can be won and every game can be lost and every game's going to be tight. We're going to have to compete and we're going to have to overcome. Most times in the MAC we had games that we knew we were going to win, or we knew we could predict, 'Oh yeah, we're going to have this many wins.' But now, go harder. Just got to keep grinding, keep competing every week. It's going to come.

What's been the hardest part of coming back down to earth? You guys had the first two [Big East] wins, you surprised everybody. You've lost a couple in a row now. What's the learning process like?

MB: We're just trying to get back on track. We love the feeling of how it felt to win after those games and we're trying to get back on that path. We played some really good teams these past couple weeks, two of them were ranked, so we have a young team. I'm a senior, but we have a young team. We have like five or six seniors on our team. It's not an excuse, but at the same time we understand that, so we just have to work.

Have you ever met a guy with more energy or more intensity than Steve Addazio?

MB: Not at all. That's my man. He gets me hyped up. He gets you when you've got like a real burn. He's like a player just turned into a coach. Sometimes you think he's going to run out there and clock somebody. I just love the fire that he brings and you can see it. It's different when someone says it, but it's different when you can see it in someone. Everybody can see it in him because he's got like a burning desire, a passion. He wants to win. He wants to play hard. We love that, we feed off that. I think that's where the toughness in our team comes from.

Do you let yourself think about the NFL yet? Where is that in your mind right now?

MB: I try not to think about it as far as what's going to happen or to worry myself. I can't not think about it because football is my whole life. It's my passion in life. It's everything I love to do. It's my expression. It's how I get my anger out, everything. I can never stop thinking about the NFL, especially when older guys that graduated and I look at them and then I look at guys I played with. I try not to, in order to not overlook the rest of my college games or anything, or get in the wrong mindset or think too far ahead. But I just can't help it. That's my passion, what I want so bad. So even though I try not to, I think about it, because I know I've got to have a plan when I leave college, and that's what I want to do. That's what I really really really really really really want to do, because I can't see myself doing anything else for now. It's hard. I play the middle: I do think about it, but I try not to.

No. 10 Louisville did not need a furious second-half rally to beat Temple.

The Cardiac Cards did have a fight for about a quarter, but then cruised to the 45-17 win against the Owls on Saturday afternoon. They are off to the best start in school history, at 9-0, and their best start in Big East history at 4-0.

Not surprisingly, this one turned into the Teddy Bridgewater show.

Again.

Temple came to play on special teams and offense -- Matt Brown got the scoring going first with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Montel Harris had 95 yards into the second quarter, and Louisville found itself tied at 17 with 11 minutes to play in the second quarter. Slow starts have become all too familiar for this team.

But Bridgewater took advantage of a shaky pass defense, and Temple was simply helpless to stop the Cardinals, who closed the game on a 28-0 run. Bridgewater had three of those touchdown passes, and ended up throwing for his fourth 300-yard game of the season.

Bridgewater played three quarters and finished 19-of-28 for 324 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes. Andrell Smith had two touchdown catches, and Jeremy Wright had 10 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Louisville racked up 507 yards of total offense, as the Temple defense was completely overmatched for a majority of the game. Harris, meanwhile, finished with 125 yards and a touchdown. Kevin Newsome also got into the game late for the Owls, in his first appearance for Temple.

The Owls still have Cincinnati and Syracuse remaining on the schedule, so you have to wonder whether they will win another Big East game after getting off to a 2-0 start in league play.

As for Louisville, no question the Cards are going to be favored next week against Syracuse and then UConn before ending the season at Rutgers. If Bridgewater keeps playing the way he has, Louisville could very well end up undefeated.
TCU won the first quarter, Oklahoma State won the game.

As a result, the Cowboys control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race.

OSU defeated TCU, 36-14, at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday, scoring 36 unanswered points after facing a two-touchdown deficit in the first quarter. At 3-1 in Big 12 play, OSU joins in-state rival Oklahoma as the lone Big 12 squads with one loss and fingers crossed hoping for a Kansas State loss. The Cowboys will play both teams in their final five games and would take the Big title if they win out.

OSU’s win sets up a key Big 12 matchup between the Cowboys and Wildcats in Manhattan, Kan., next Saturday. Unlike the Sooners, OSU doesn’t have to hope for a K-State loss -- it can knock the Cats from the ranks of the unbeaten in their head-to-head matchup. OSU also travels to Norman, Okla., for Bedlam on Nov. 24. Thus, Saturday's victory combines with Texas Tech's 55-24 loss to KSU to put OSU in position to control its fate.

Cowboys quarterback Wes Lunt was shaky early in his return from injury, throwing a interception for a touchdown to TCU safety Elisha Olabode on OSU’s second possession. Lunt, a true freshman, played in his first game since injuring his knee against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15.

When Lunt finally found his groove in the second half, the Cowboys began to pull away. Lunt seemed to regain confidence after sitting out for over a month -- an encouraging development for coach Mike Gundy's team.

In the first half, OSU had three red zone opportunities and settled for three field goals as Lunt searched for his rhythm. In the second half, the Cowboys scored on five of their six possessions, including three touchdowns before running the clock out on their final drive.

The OSU defense was stellar in the victory, allowing one touchdown to a TCU squad that had scored 53 points in a triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech last weekend. The Cowboys allowed 344 total yards -- 4.8 yards per play -- and were particularly stout on third down, allowing the Horned Frogs to convert just 2 of 14. The Cowboys will need to continue to play defense at that level if they hope to win their second consecutive Big 12 championship.

The loss dropped TCU below .500 in the Big 12 (2-3) with West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma remaining on its schedule.

Yikes.

To make matters worse for the Horned Frogs, quarterback Trevone Boykin went down with 1:26 left in the game with an left knee injury and was replaced by Matt Brown on their final drive. So TCU could be looking at the roughest stretch of its conference schedule with its third different starting quarterback.

Welcome to the Big 12.
Gary Patterson fashions himself as a man who built his program on a foundation of doing things "the right way." After TCU quarterback Casey Pachall's failed drug test in February led to no missed game time, plenty outside the program started wondering if that foundation had a few cracks.

When Pachall committed what Patterson called "strike two" last week when he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, that foundation naturally faced yet another examination.

Patterson met with Pachall and his parents, talked to people in his profession and met with his bosses, athletic director Chris Del Conte and chancellor Victor Boschini, Jr. Patterson mentioned a barrage of emails as well from plenty of concerned people from a number of perspectives.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Cooper Neill/Getty ImagesTCU quarterback Casey Pachall plans to enter an inpatient facility and withdraw from school.
How long should he suspend the best player on his team? Patterson decided: "Who cares about a suspension?"

"I don't think one game, three games would have made a difference," he said. "You try to change people's lives. That's what this is all about."

Patterson suggested Pachall enter a treatment facility, and Pachall elected to take that option. Patterson, though, insisted on two stipulations.

First, it had to be up to Casey.

"I know enough about this to know he has to make this decision," Patterson said.

Second, he had to make sure Casey knew the door was open to return.

"You have to have hope," Patterson said. "He can come back here in January if he gets clean. Those people have to tell me that he's changed."

As for Patterson? More than a few people unfamiliar with the man rolled their eyes when he said in a release on Thursday that his job was to "win games, educate our kids and help them with their lives."

Who's rolling their eyes now? Is there any doubt that Patterson's doing for Pachall what he'd do for any of his own three sons?

Patterson knows his job is to win games, but that's not his only job. Not as a college coach.

"All you who think it’s all about wins and losses? Wrong," he said.

Make no mistake: Pachall was TCU's best player this season. He looked the part last year and proved it in the first four games of this season. Pachall leaves the team and took with him whatever chance TCU had to win a Big 12 title in the school's first year in the league.

He might have taken even more. Patterson was asked if the move could cost TCU a bowl bid.

"Maybe," Patterson said. "But I didn't think about that."

For now, his next concern is moving forward with redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin and sophomore Matt Brown. Without Pachall, his job of winning games got a lot tougher in a season that was already among the toughest he'd ever faced in more than a decade in Fort Worth.

Tuesday, though, Patterson proved he takes his job of helping his players with their lives seriously. The easy thing, Patterson said, would have been dropping the hammer and cutting him out of the program entirely. It would have appeased skeptics and sent a message to his team.

But would it have helped Pachall? Maybe, maybe not. The decision Patterson made, though? It’s clear to Pachall and the people around him that sending him to a place he can get professional help is what's best. It's up to Pachall to make it happen.

Patterson did his part, even if bringing a QB back into the fold with a past as troubled as Pachall's hurts the perception of his program next year.

The fact is, Pachall needs it. Getting help won't be easy, but if imagining what it'll be like to get back on the field this time next year pushes Pachall through a difficult day and gets him closer to being a better, healthier man, Patterson will have done his job.

That's what it's all about.
When was the last time a player worked as a third-string running back in practice during the week, and on Saturday took the field as a team's starting quarterback?

Before Saturday, it had to have been awhile. TCU's Trevone Boykin made both unorthodox moves out of necessity, but couldn't lead TCU to a win over Iowa State in the Frogs' first Big 12 home game.

[+] EnlargeTrevone Boykin
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireTrevone Boykin got his first start as the Horned Frogs' quarterback on Saturday against Iowa State.
Boykin won the TCU backup quarterback job ahead of Matt Brown, but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound redshirt freshman from Mesquite, Texas, worked at running back with Waymon James out for the season with a knee injury and Matthew Tucker a game-time decision with an ankle injury.

On Thursday morning, TCU coach Gary Patterson dealt with the news that his starting quarterback, Casey Pachall, had been arrested on suspicion of DWI. Pachall was suspended indefinitely, and all of a sudden, it was Boykin's time.

For one practice, he was the team's starting quarterback. After Thursday, it was time to go head-to-head against the Big 12's No. 3 scoring defense.

"We wish we had a little bit more for [time for] it. The biggest thing is he doesn’t have the experience to do it," Patterson said. "Trevone runs better, but just needs the experience of seeing the field better."

TCU's offense didn't change much with Boykin in place instead of Pachall, but to make matters worse, Tucker couldn't play to provide Boykin a safety valve. When James went down with a knee injury, Patterson said he had one back he trusted. Now, that one back was down, and only freshman B.J. Catalon and senior Aundre Dean were left.

Still, TCU managed 455 yards of offense, more than any offense against Iowa State all season.

"You’re talking about playing your first Big 12 [game] and I consider Iowa State a pretty good defense," Patterson said. "The key is you can’t throw interceptions, especially not for touchdowns, and you can’t turn the ball over. He’s got to do a better job of managing the game."

Will Boykin get another chance this week against Baylor, which has had two weeks to prepare for the Frogs? Patterson says he'll address Pachall's status at his Tuesday media luncheon, after meeting with the school's AD and chancellor on Sunday.

Boykin was responsible for three interceptions, and Catalon coughed up a pair of fumbles, including one inside Iowa State's 5-yard line.

Boykin's last interception was returned for a score, but his speediness provides a new facet to TCU's offense that Pachall couldn't.

"We’re excited about it; he gave us some options we didn’t have before," Patterson said. "We’ll move forward with that."
What was the bigger story Saturday afternoon? Temple picking up its first Big East win since it was kicked out of the league in 2004, or USF and its confounding implosion?

Depends on your perspective, of course. First, let's start with Temple, a team that showed more passion, heart and a will to win throughout its 37-28 victory. The Owls physically dominated what was supposed to be one of the best defensive lines in the Big East, allowing Montel Harris to post his best day in a Temple uniform.

Harris, finally healthy after being slowed with a sore hamstring all season, had 133 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Temple (2-2, 1-0) ran for 216 total yards. Chris Coyer got the pass game going, too, going 16-of-20 for 167 yards and a touchdown. He added 54 yards on the ground.

Special teams came up big at the end, too. Marcus Green gets a game ball for his blocked field goal to help the Owls win. USF, attempting another comeback with less than two minutes to go, threw incomplete on a fourth-and-short. But Nate D. Smith was called for roughing the passer, giving the Bulls new life. They marched into field goal range, and Maikon Bonani lined up for the potential game-winning 45-yard field goal attempt. But Green burst through with the block, and Harris scored from 35 yards out one play later to seal the win.

The only downside to the victory: The Owls may have suffered a potentially devastating injury to running back Matt Brown, whose leg bent awkwardly when getting tackled in the fourth quarter. Brown immediately clutched his knee and did not return to the game. He was having a great day, too, with 137 all-purpose yards.

Now to USF. What has to be particularly frustrating for Bulls fans is the same old storyline keeps repeating itself. Simply put, the Bulls cannot get themselves motivated for these Big East games. They play extremely well in their marquee nonconference matchups. They hung with No. 3 Florida State for most of last week's game.

But against teams that are not as heralded, there is a lack of energy and motivation, and a clear blase attitude.

That played out once again in Philadelphia. For the third time this season, USF had to fight and claw its way back against an opponent it should have beaten. USF has more talent and is much more experienced than Temple, considering the amount of starting seniors on this team. The Bulls were lucky to complete that comeback against Nevada. But it failed against Ball State, and it failed against Temple.

The Bulls (2-4, 0-2) have now lost four straight games and it appears as if they are going to have a tough time winning four of their final six games to make a bowl game. Now questions are being asked about whether coach Skip Holtz deserves to be on the hot seat. With the loss, he is now 15-16 in his third season at USF.

Holtz just received a contract extension, so he has that going for him. But no doubt Holtz is going to have a lot of explaining to do. When you are USF, you simply should not lose games to teams like Ball State and Temple.

Big East predictions: Week 4

September, 20, 2012
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Given my track record over the first three weeks, pencil in two losses on these picks. I am 14-6 headed into Saturday. Ho hum.

UConn at Western Michigan, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN3. The Huskies and Broncos got into a wild shootout last season in Connecticut. Western Michigan pulled off the upset victory behind quarterback Alex Carder, who threw for 479 yards and five touchdown passes. Carder is back, but he is without his top playmaker from last season, Jordan White. UConn, meanwhile, has not been able to do much on offense. The Huskies have scored twice on punt returns and once on an interception return this season, but do not yet have a touchdown pass. The defense will be relied on once again to win this game. UConn 23, Western Michigan 17.

Gardner-Webb at Pitt, 3:30 p.m., ESPN3. Pitt plays its second Football Championship Subdivision opponent of the season and can only hope things go better this time around, after losing the opener to Youngstown State. The Panthers should go into this game with major confidence after upsetting Virginia Tech last week, but the last thing coach Paul Chryst needs is this team getting ahead of itself. That is what spells trouble. He needs to see continued development from Tino Sunseri and both his offensive and defensive lines, which made major strides last week. Pitt 38, Gardner-Webb 3.

Temple at Penn State, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2. The Owls nearly pulled the upset last season, losing 14-10 after Penn State scored with 2:42 remaining. But this game seems to provide Temple its best shot yet at beating the Nittany Lions for the first time since 1941. Penn State is a team that has been left depleted because of sanctions leveled as a result of an unthinkable sexual-abuse scandal, and just picked up its first victory of the season last week. Temple did get the extra week to prepare, so here's hoping the Owls straightened out their turnover and penalty problems. But are Montel Harris and Matt Brown 100 percent? Reports say yes. They need to be at their best to pull the upset. I just think Penn State has enough on defense to slow this team down. Penn State 20, Temple 17.

USF at Ball State, 4:30 p.m., Big East Network. The Bulls are in desperate need of a bounce-back win and have to go on the road to get it. The biggest question in this one: Can USF play better up front along the offensive and defensive lines? Both groups did not play up to their capabilities last week against Rutgers. Ball State likes to spread the ball around and has run for more than 200 yards in each of its first three games. I think USF will win, but this is not going to be an easy one. USF 30, Ball State 20.

Rutgers at Arkansas, 7 p.m., ESPNU. I started changing my mind on this game this past Saturday, after I saw the train wreck that is Arkansas football right now. Rutgers has looked great on defense, so-so on offense and terrible with penalties, but at least this is one unified team playing behind its coach. Not sure what is going on in Fayetteville. Bottom line for me: If Tyler Wilson plays, Arkansas wins. I think he has the capability of making plays against the Rutgers secondary, undersized compared to the Arkansas receivers. If he does not play, Arkansas has nothing in the way of offense. As I write this today, it does not look good for Wilson. So I think Rutgers will rely heavily on Jawan Jamison and the D to pull the ... Upset! Rutgers 23, Arkansas 17.

No. 20 Louisville at Florida International, 7 p.m., ESPN3. Louisville lost at home to FIU last season, but the chances of the Cardinals dropping two straight to this team are pretty remote. Teddy Bridgewater is playing incredibly well for Louisville right now, the run game is working better than at any point last season and FIU no longer has T.Y. Hilton, the man who scorched the defense a year ago. Louisville 38, FIU 17.

Syracuse at Minnesota, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network. The Orange hit the road to play another team from an automatic-qualifying conference in Minnesota, off to a surprising 3-0 start. Minnesota will be without starting quarterback MarQueis Gray and rely on Max Shortell as the starter in this one. Shortell is not nearly the running threat Gray is, so that could be an advantage for Syracuse. As is having quarterback Ryan Nassib, who has thrown for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns. Marcus Sales is having an outstanding year as well. Syracuse 33, Minnesota 27.
Well, neither game was a beauty to watch, but both Maryland and NC State survived their Big East opponents to pull out victories Saturday afternoon. Here is a quick look at both.

Maryland 36, Temple 27: For those Terps fans who had visions of another collapse (ahem NC State), give credit to true freshmen Perry Hills for leading this team on a defining drive. Maryland was in huge danger of blowing a 26-3 halftime lead after Temple clawed its way back to within 29-27. But Hills led an 11-play, 75 yard drive -- with a huge 38-yard throw to Stefon Diggs on third down. Justus Pickett scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

For an offense that was absolutely dreadful in a loss to William & Mary last week, there were major signs of encouragement. Maryland had 19 first downs and 334 total yards. Maryland only had 13 first downs last week against William & Mary. The Terps had 12 in the first half against Temple.

And there was moxie in that final drive. No folding up the tents with so many youngsters on the field. But there were also signs of discouragement -- running back Wes Brown had two fumbles -- one led to the touchdown that pulled Temple within two points late; Diggs muffed a punt return, and Hills also had a fumble early on. Somehow, Maryland is 2-0 after turning the ball over eight times in two games, and delivered one of the biggest early surprises of the day.

For Temple, the Owls just made too many mistakes to overcome. There were four personal fouls, and seven penalties for 72 yards; a safety on a bad snap; three turnovers, nine first downs and only 230 total yards. Running back Matt Brown (ankle) was banged up; and in and out of the game. There were some flashes in the passing game with Chris Coyer (playing with a 101 degree fever) but this team is not built to pass when it falls behind by 23 points. So much for looking like the best team in the state of Pennsylvania

NC State 10, UConn 7: The offense was missing for both teams in this game, as neither looked ready for prime-time. But you could say the Wolfpack made one more big play than the Huskies, and that was the difference in the game. Mike Glennon was better than last week, but still not great. Still, his beautiful 46-yard touchdown pass to a super-stretched out Bryan Underwood was the longest gain for either team.

Neither offensive line has much to brag about. UConn has had issues now for two straight games with its run game. Going into this one, coach Paul Pasqualoni said he wanted to see a huge improvement out of this group, but he didn't get it. Neither team was able to run the ball. NC State had 54 yards on the ground; UConn had 35 -- and 15 of those came on one late run. The NC State offensive line, which is supposed to be among the best in the ACC, had problems containing what is shaping up to be one of the best defenses in the Big East.

UConn had six sacks and a really terrific defensive performance, but unless its offense can score, UConn is going to be in for a rough year.

At least NC State cornerback David Amerson had a bounce-back game. He got his first interception of the year, and then preserved the win when he broke up a fourth-down pass attempt by Chandler Whitmer with a little over a minute to go. Whitmer was just not very good for UConn, throwing three interceptions and never putting his team in position to win.

The Pack’s 10 points were the least in a victory since beating South Carolina 10-0 in the second game of the 1999 season.

Big East power rankings: Week 2

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
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From my seat, there were only a few really outstanding performances this weekend and one really, really horrible one. So let's see how the new and improved power rankings shake out.

1. Louisville (1-0). The Cardinals looked like the Big East preseason favorite in their win over Kentucky, showing a hugely improved offense. The Cardinals had over 200 yards rushing -- including two backs to go over 100 yards -- looked dominant up front and have an even better Teddy Bridgewater behind center. The defense needs some work, though. Previous ranking: 1.

2. USF (1-0). They did not turn in a dominant performance, but hey a win is a win and USF will take it. The Bulls just need some more consistency on offense after a really so-so performance. USF coach Skip Holtz said afterward of his offense, "There seemed to be a lot of confusion." That's gotta get fixed up in a hurry against Nevada. Previous ranking: 2.

3. Rutgers (1-0). The Scarlet Knights also were slow out of the gate on offense in a win over Tulane, managing just 309 total yards. But Jawan Jamison looks like he's ready for an even better season, and the defense was as good as expected, holding Tulane to 8 yards rushing. Previous ranking: 3.

4. UConn (1-0). I seriously considered putting the Huskies at No. 2 after their 37-0 opening win over UMass. They had the second-best performance of the weekend thanks to a stifling defense that recorded its first shutout since 2007 and didn't allow UMass to cross midfield. But UMass is not as good as Tulane or Chattanooga, so the Huskies are here. Big test against NC State this Saturday. Previous ranking: 5.

5. Cincinnati (0-0). The Bearcats are here through no fault of their own. They haven't played a game yet! A win changes things. Previous ranking: 4.

6. Temple (1-0). The Owls looked good in their Big East debut against Villanova. Matt Brown had an excellent day, rushing for 145 yards and a touchdown. Now there has to be more consistency out of the passing game. Previous ranking: 8.

7. Syracuse (0-1). If you want to talk about the most heartbreaking losses on the weekend, Syracuse has to be right at the top. A questionable late hit called essentially allowed Northwestern to come back and win the game 42-41. Syracuse showed some definite bright spots, particularly Ryan Nassib. But this is a tough start with USC looming. Previous ranking: 7.

8. Pitt (0-1). I only have one thing to say. Pitt lost for the first time EVER to an FCS team. That is all. Previous ranking: 6.

What we learned in the Big East: Week 1

September, 2, 2012
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1. Pitt has some work to do: A home loss to an FCS opponent, one in which the Panthers trailed from start to finish? Not good. Coach Paul Chryst said afterward that he didn't feel his team was dominated in the trenches, which will be a problem when Pitt gets into conference play. The Panthers made the kind of history they didn't want to in their final year of Big East play: being responsible for the end of the conference's 57-game winning streak against FCS teams.

[+] EnlargePitt's Paul Chryst
AP Photo/Keith SrakocicThose within the Pitt program are responding to coach Paul Chryst's consistency and commitment.
2. UConn's D may be one of the league's best: The linebacker play in particular -- a position in which the Huskies return all their starters -- looked dominant. Yes, they were playing a first-time FBS team in UMass, but they made sure to give the Minutemen a rude awakening, holding them to three first downs and 59 total yards in a shutout.

3. Ryan Nassib can play, but help is still needed: You can't ask for more than what Syracuse got out of the quarterback position Saturday. But it dug itself a deep hole with poor secondary and special teams play, allowing Venric Mark to set Northwestern up nicely on both kick and punt returns, one of which he returned 82 yards for a score. Three turnovers won't help, either.

4. B.J. Daniels looks like B.J. Daniels: If USF wants this to be the year it rises to the top of the Big East, it will need its fourth-year starting quarterback to be more consistent. Yes, he looked great at times, completing 15 of his first 18 passes. But his fumble and interception led to 10 Chattanooga points. Big East defenses will be less forgiving.

5. Will Temple get the most out of Montel Harris?: Coach Steve Addazio didn't sound too concerned after Harris spent the second half of Friday's win in street clothes because of a hamstring strain, but given his knee problems entering Temple, it will be worth monitoring. Fortunately for the Owls, Matt Brown looked even better than last year. Having a potent two-man backfield will be important come Big East play.

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