NCF Nation: Matt Faulkner

Weekend Rewind: Non-AQs

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
1:00
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Let's take a look back at the weekend that was for the non-AQs:

The good: FIU pulled off yet another big win, this one against UCF, 17-10. The Panthers are 3-0 for the first time in school history and received votes in both polls for the first time in school history. They did it without star receiver T.Y. Hilton, who hurt his hamstring. But coach Mario Cristobal says his star player should be fine. ... Trent Steelman had a terrific game for Army, scoring three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern. It was Army's first win over a team from a Big Ten team since 1988 -- which also was the last time it played a team from that conference. And that team was -- Northwestern. ... Ohio is 3-0 for the first time since 1976 after beating Marshall 44-7. ... Ronnie Hillman had 191 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a 42-24 win over Washington State and is now the second-leading rusher in the nation. Hillman is tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns with eight this season.

The bad: Perhaps bad is a kind way of describing BYU's performance against Utah. The Cougars and Utes generally play a tough, close game. Twelve of the previous 14 meetings had been decided by a touchdown or less. Then came Saturday. BYU had seven turnovers -- three from quarterback Jake Heaps -- and lost 54-10 to its biggest rival. Incredibly, the score was 14-10 at halftime. But one mistake after another snowballed, and BYU faces some serious questions heading into its game against UCF on Friday night.

The upset: If you had asked for any non-AQ game considered a lock for a win Saturday, you probably would have picked Hawaii over UNLV. The Warriors came in as 20-point favorites, have a win over Colorado already this season and played Washington well. But the Rebels shocked the Warriors in one of the more stunning upsets of the day, winning 40-20. I admit it. I did a double-take when I saw the score. Hawaii had four fumbles, 6 yards rushing and converted 1-of-9 third-down opportunities in the disappointing loss. UNLV had scored 24 combined points in its first two losses of the season to Wisconsin and Washington State. But perhaps the UNLV victory should not come as a huge shock. UNLV has beaten Hawaii four of the last five times they have played in Sam Boyd Stadium.

Then there is Western Kentucky, which lost for the 17th straight time at home. Only this loss was to FCS Indiana State 44-16. It was Indiana State's first win over an FBS opponent since 2001.

The oh-so-close: Navy played with South Carolina every step of the way in its game, taking a 21-17 lead into the fourth quarter. But South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was just too much to contain as he ran for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the 24-21 win. ... Temple was right there with Penn State as well, holding a 10-7 lead until late in the fourth quarter. But for the second straight season, the Nittany Lions squeaked out a close victory, breaking Owls' hearts again.

The comeback: The common knock on Houston is that the Cougars generally lose at least one game a season that they should not. That looked to be happening against Louisiana Tech, as Houston trailed 34-7 with 5:11 to go in the third quarter. But alas, the Cougars have Case Keenum, who engineered a furious rally. Houston scored the final 28 points of the game to cap the biggest comeback in school history and win 35-34. Keenum began the rally with a 50-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Edwards, and he ended it with a 32-yard touchdown pass to Edwards with 1:36 remaining in the game. Keenum has now engineered three of the top four biggest comebacks in Houston history. In addition to this one, he rallied Houston from 19 points down against UTEP in a 42-37 win in 2008; and from 17 points down against UAB in a 45-20 win, also in 2008.

The heartbreak: Bowling Green had a furious late fourth quarter rally, overcoming a 28-14 deficit when Matt Schilz threw touchdown passes on two straight drives. But Wyoming blocked the game-tying extra point with 3 seconds left to hold on and win 28-27. Wyoming is 3-0 for the first time since 1996. ... San Jose State was 15 yards away from pulling off one of its biggest wins in years. The Spartans trailed Nevada 17-7 in the fourth quarter before Matt Faulkner delivered one touchdown drive and had his team marching down the field for another. But his pass in the end zone was intercepted by Duke Williams with 1:10 left and the Wolf Pack survived 17-14. The road is much tougher for Nevada next, with games at Texas Tech and at Boise State. ... Miami (Ohio) knows the feeling. Zac Dysert had a pass broken up in the end zone as time expired, and the RedHawks lost to Minnesota 29-23.

Milestone watch: TCU coach Gary Patterson earned his 100th career victory as the Horned Frogs’ head coach in a 38-17 win over ULM Patterson is 100-29 in 11 seasons, and needs 10 more wins to surpass Dutch Meyer (109-79-13, 1934-52) as TCU’s all-time winningest coach. Meyer coached TCU to its 1935 and 1938 national championships. Patterson is one of nine active head coaches to have 100 wins at their current school.

Helmet stickers

Ryan Griffin, QB, Tulane. Went 22-of-26 for 281 yards and tied a career high with three touchdown passes in a 49-10 win over UAB.

Logan Harrell, DT, Fresno State. Recorded a career-high 11 tackles and tied his career high with 4.5 tackles for a loss in a 27-22 win over North Dakota.

Kellen Moore, Boise State. Completed 32 of 42 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns in a win over Toledo. The 32 completions is a single-game career high for Moore, while the five touchdowns tied his career high. The five passing TDs also tied the MWC single-game record for most by a senior. The 42 pass attempts were second most in his career, as were his 455 yards.

Trent Steelman, QB, Army. Ran the ball 28 times for 108 yards and three touchdowns in a 21-14 win over Northwestern. It was his second straight three-touchdown rushing effort.

Jordan White, WR, Western Michigan. Had 13 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns in Western Michigan's 44-14 win over Central Michigan. White moved into fourth place on the career receptions list at WMU with 195, is now third in career 100-yard receiving games (13) and is tied for seventh in career receiving TDs (17).

Melvin White, DB, Louisiana. Returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a touchdown to break a tie and help the Ragin Cajuns beat Nicholls State 24-7. He also forced a fumble that led to the first score of the game.

Stanford, SJSU halftime

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
6:52
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PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Halfway through, Stanford leads San Jose State 27-3. Here's a quick recap of the action so far at Stanford Stadium:
  • Best player of the half: One guess. It's Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck. He looked a little rusty on the opening drive -- missing a pair of fades in the end zone. But he's still 10-of-15 for 95 yards and has accounted for all three of Stanford touchdowns -- a 1-yard run (a good decision to tuck and run rather than force a pass) and a couple of passing touchdowns.
  • Best play of the half: I'm a sucker for hustle plays -- and this one goes to San Jose State's Chandler Jones. After Stanford's Chase Thomas forced a fumble and defensive end Henry Anderson picked up it and went rumbling toward the end zone. Jones (174 pounds), came from across the field and dove at the legs of Anderson (275 pounds), and stopped him at the 1-yard line. Granted, Stanford scored on a 2-yard pass from Luck to Ryan Hewitt two plays later. But still, nice hustle.
  • What San Jose State has to do: On defense, well, if I knew how to stop Luck I'd be an NFL defensive coordinator. On offense, stop wasting opportunities. The Spartans finally put together a good drive midway through the second quarter, moving 62 yards on 11 plays. But kicker Harrison Waid went wide right on a 23-yard field goal. He recovered, however, with an 18-yard field goal with :49 seconds left in the first half for the Spartans first points of the game.
  • What Stanford has to do: Defensively, tighten up the zone coverage in the secondary. SJSU quarterback Matt Faulkner started to find some gaps in the second quarter. Run defense has been great. Negative rushing yards in the first half for SJSU. Offensively, the Cardinal haven't really taken any shots down field -- not that they need to with a 27-3 lead. Haven't been impressed with the running game so far (64 yards total) -- particularly in the red zone.

Spring QB competition: WAC

February, 9, 2011
2/09/11
9:00
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We continue our look at spring quarterback competitions with a look at the WAC. The league has the most turnover of quarterbacks among all the non-AQs. Only Hawaii and New Mexico State return their main starters from 2010.

Nevada

[+] EnlargeColin Kaepernick
AP Photo/Eugene TannerNevada has big shoes to fill with quarterback Colin Kaepernick headed to the NFL.
Who’s out: Colin Kaepernick, school and NCAA record-setting quarterback.

Who’s in: Tyler Lantrip. He has served as Kaepernick’s backup for the past several seasons and is a senior, so he should have the knowledge of the Pistol offense to be able to go in right away and attempt to replace Kaepernick. But it’s a much different deal when you have to start instead of hold a clipboard. How he handles the job as a starter will go a long way toward determining how far Nevada goes in 2011.

Fresno State

Who’s out: Ryan Colburn.

Who’s in: Derek Carr. The brother of former Bulldogs quarterback David Carr, Derek comes in with much hype. He played as a backup his true freshman season after battling with Colburn for the starting job, but the coaching staff wisely redshirted him in 2010 to give him three years of eligibility. In his senior year of high school, he threw for more than 4,000 yards and broke more than 20 school offensive records.

Louisiana Tech

Who’s out: Ross Jenkins.

Who’s competing: Jenkins emerged after Louisiana Tech tried several different players last season. The players to watch going into the spring: Tarik Hakmi, who played in three games last season, and junior college signee Zach Griffith from Fullerton C.C. Colby Cameron, who played in several games at quarterback last season, could be a possibility, but he moved to receiver after Jenkins won the starting job again last season. Rising redshirt freshman Taylor Burch could be in the mix. He also is playing baseball, but is expected to compete in spring football.

Idaho

Who’s out: Nathan Enderle.

Who’s in: Brian Reader. He spent the past two seasons backing up Enderle and is now ready to take the starting reigns as a rising senior. The Vandals also have Taylor Davis, Logan Bushnell and Justin Podrabsky on the roster.

Utah State

Who’s out: Diondre Borel.

Who’s competing: The Aggies are quite young at this position, with Alex Hart and Jeremy Higgins returning off their freshmen seasons. Higgins served as the backup, but Utah State signed a junior college transfer in Adam Kennedy who will be eligible for spring practice. Kennedy, at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds played at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, Calif., last season, throwing for 1,767 yards in 10 games on 153-of-236 passing with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also had 368 yards rushing with four touchdowns.

San Jose State

Who’s out: Jordan La Secla

Who’s competing: Matt Faulkner, a transfer from Fresno State, served as the backup last season but will have healthy competition from rising sophomores Dasmen Stewart and Blake Jurich. As a senior in high school, Jurich threw for 2,360 yards. Stewart has a redshirt under his belt, so he has been in the program for two years.

What to watch in the WAC this spring

February, 25, 2010
2/25/10
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Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:

Boise State Broncos
Spring practice starts: March 8
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

" All starters but Kyle Wilson return in 2010. Jerrell Gavins, who started at Wilson's outside cornerback position during the Fiesta Bowl (Wilson moved to safety) likely will slip into that starting slot.

" With so many players returning and few questions to answer, the Broncos can really start working on the 2010 season. This will also be a good time to sort out the offensive line (10 O-linemen had at least one start last year) and looking for some redshirted playmakers that could find their way into the lineup this season.

" Defensive line coach Pete Kwiatkowski steps in as the new defensive coordinator for Justin Wilcox, who went to Tennessee, but don’t expect any major changes to the defense. Kwiatkowski was Wilcox’s mentor and the two shared the same vision for the Broncos defense.

Fresno State Bulldogs
Spring practice starts: March 15
Spring game: April 16

What to watch:

" Fresno State lost three top backs in Ryan Mathews, Lonyae Miller and Anthony Harding and will spend the spring looking for a replacement. Robbie Rouse is the top returning back, but he’s a smaller back than the ones the Bulldogs lost. Look for Michael Harris to get a chance this spring.

" With Seyi Ajirotutu, Marlon Moore and Chastin West gone, the Bulldogs will be looking to fill their receiver depth to help starting quarterback Ryan Colburn. Coach Pat Hill noted on signing day that he wants to spread things out this year and he’s looking forward to some speed joining the team in the fall. In the meantime, sophomore Rashad Evans, redshirt freshman A.J. Johnson and sophomore J.J. Stallworth will work for playing time with Jamel Hamler and Devon Wylie.

" The defensive front, which struggled late against the running game (most notably Nevada and Wyoming), will be a focus this spring. The Bulldogs return nine starters from the bowl game, including All-WAC first team defensive end Chris Carter and linebacker Ben Jacobs.

Hawaii Warriors
Spring practice starts: April 1
Spring game: April 30

What to watch:

" The offensive line was a question heading into the 2009 season and will be again in 2010. The Warriors lose four senior starters, including center John Estes. Backups Kainoa LaCount, Matagisila Lefiti, Andrew Faaumu, Bronson Tiwanak, Clayton Laurel and Adrian Thomas will be among those competing for starting roles.

" Bryan Moniz finished the season as the starting quarterback and will go into spring ball as the leading candidate to start in 2010, but Shane Austin, who played some in 2009, will challenge for the starting role this spring. Moniz finished the season completing 57 percent of his passes for 2,396 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

" The Hawaii defense struggled some last year, but should be better if star linebacker Brashton Satele receives a sixth season. The Warriors will be looking for a new right tackle as well as a couple of starting linebackers, but the defense, which improved as the season progressed, should be a pleasant surprise in 2010.

Idaho Vandals
Spring practice starts: March 23
Spring game: April 23

What to watch:

" The top priority this spring will be reloading the offensive line. The Vandals lost four starters on the offensive line, including All-American guard Mike Iupati. The only returner is left tackle Matt Cleveland. Guy Reynolds Jr. was Iupati’s backup, and players such as Clell Hasenbank, Tevita HalaHolo and Tyron Novikoff will be competing for starting roles.

" The offense carried the team last year, especially the passing game, but starting quarterback Nathan Enderle will have to work out three new receivers this spring. The biggest loss is slot Max Komar, who made key catches all season, including in the Humanitarian Bowl win over Bowling Green.

" The Idaho defense was one of the worst in the country allowing 433.23 yards per game and 36.00 points per game. More often than not, the Vandals were trying to outscore their opponents instead of stopping them defensively. Eleven players with starting experience from last year’s bowl team return; the only loss is strong safety Jeromy Jones. But with the way the defense played last season, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of those positions open this spring.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Spring practice starts: March 17
Spring game: April 10

What to watch:

" The loss of running back Daniel Porter and tight end Dennis Morris takes out a lot of the offense and scoring the Bulldogs had in 2009. New head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin will spend the spring looking for playmakers to fit their wide-open offensive style.

" Wide receiver will be a key competition this spring for Louisiana Tech’s new spread offense. Tennessee transfer Ahmad Paige and LSU transfer Tim Molton are both eligible and will join RP Stuart, Cruz Williams and Phillip Livas in the receiving corps.

" Louisiana Tech will be looking for some consistency in the punting game after Cade Glasgow struggled last year. Overall, the Bulldogs punting game averaged 32.91 yards per game, which ranked last in the WAC. The Bulldogs didn’t recruit a punter, so expect some potential walk-on help.

New Mexico State Aggies
Spring practice starts: April 5
Spring game: May 1

What to watch:

" Second-year coach DeWayne Walker was unhappy with the team's scoring, especially in the second half of the season, which prompted him to replace his offensive coordinator and running backs coach. His main priority this spring is finding some consistency at quarterback. Jeff Fleming and Trevor Walls return and redshirt freshman Tanner Rust and true freshman Andrew Manley will challenge, but junior college transfer Matt Christian is the favorite to be the starter.

" The running game was the one bright spot for the offense last season with Seth Smith rushing for 1,016 yards, but he had just one rushing touchdown. Redshirt freshman Marquese Dunn will get a look this spring and will challenge for playing time as Walker looks for playmakers.

" Shoring up a total defense that allowed 423.62 yards per game and 31.62 points per game will be Walker’s project this spring. The Aggies return some key players, but Walker said most of the help on the defensive line will come in the fall.

Nevada Wolf Pack
Spring practice starts: March 5
Spring game: April 3

What to watch:

" The running game is Nevada’s bread and butter and it should stay that way with quarterback Colin Kaepernick and star running back Vai Taua returning. However, the Wolf Pack need to spend this spring working on depth with players such as Lampford Mark, Mike Ball and Stefphon Jefferson.

" The offensive line needs to replace Kenneth Ackerman and Alonzo Durham this spring in order to keep the running game effective. Center Jeff Meads and tackle Jose Acuna are the primary backups for those two spots. The Wolf Pack also will look to build offensive line depth across the board.

" The Nevada defense will spend the spring learning a slightly altered 4-3 defensive scheme under new defensive coordinator Andy Buh. The defense has been the weak link of the Wolf Pack for the past few years, so shoring that up this spring will be a high priority.

San Jose State Spartans
Spring practice starts: March 12
Spring game: April 22

What to watch:

" For the second consecutive season, San Jose State had trouble producing offense mostly because of inconsistent play at quarterback. Jordan La Secla returns as the incumbent, but junior college transfer Matt Faulkner, who enrolled in January, will challenge this spring.

" For as much as the passing offense struggled, the rushing offense was worse. Lamon Muldrow, who led the team with 592 yards and three touchdowns last season will be counted on in the running game, but the Spartans signed three running backs for 2010, including Forrest Hightower, who will challenge in the fall.

" Most of spring practice will be spent learning the new coaching staff and the new offensive and defensive schemes. The Spartans are transitioning from a spread offense to a more traditional style that will incorporate an H-back and a tight end. The Spartans also will move toward an attacking style defense, but will stay in a 4-3 base that will feature both man-to-man and zone coverage.

Utah State Aggies
Spring practice starts: March 23
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

" The primary concern this spring will be finding running back depth after star Robert Turbin suffered a torn ACL during winter workouts. All eyes will be on Michael Smith, Derrvin Speight and Kerrwynn Williams as they try to pick up the slack.

" Second-year head coach Gary Andersen is showing his commitment to defense after shuffling several players on that side of the ball. Nathan Royster is moving from defensive tackle to end, Junior Keiaho and Devin Johnson are moving from end to linebacker, wide receiver Cameron Sanders has moved to defensive back and the Aggies are hoping to get some defensive contribution out of Page Clifford, a transfer from Utah.

" There should be some good competition at wide receiver this spring with Matt Austin returning from injury and Travis Van Leeuewen coming off a redshirt season. Mid-year signees Xavier Martin and Dontel Watkins also will challenge for starting roles. Utah State had a good passing offense with 246.75 yards per game from starter Diondre Borel.

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