NCF Nation: Matt Szymanski
How the game was won: SMU did itself in with way too many mistakes. Kyle Padron had three first-half turnovers -- two interceptions and a fumble -- that led to 10 points. His first was a fumble that Josh McNary returned 55 yards for a touchdown. Army did an excellent job getting pressure on him all day, forcing him into many of those mistakes. Padron regrouped and played a much better game in the second half, rallying SMU to two touchdowns. But Matt Szymanski missed a 47-yard field goal wide left with 4:05 to play that would have given the Mustangs the win. Couple that with a missed field goal in the first half, and you have a recipe for a loss. Army was unable to do much with the triple option in the second half, which is why the Mustangs had a chance. But give the Black Knights credit for taking advantage of the mistakes and posting the first winning season at the Academy since 1996.
Turning point: Down 16-14, SMU had a third-and-9 at the Army 33 with a little more than four minutes to go. Padron was flushed out of the pocket and nearly sacked, but the pressure only allowed him to throw a dump off pass to Darius Johnson for 3 yards. Rather than go for it, SMU decided to go for the 47-yard field goal attempt into the wind for Szymanski, who missed. That decided the game.
Stat of the game: Zero. Penalties and turnovers for Army in the game.
Player of the game: McNary. In addition to his fumble recovery returned for a touchdown, he led an aggressive defensive effort that continually harassed Padron all day. The Army defense came up big when it needed to to preserve the win.
What SMU learned: Padron has got to work on his consistency for SMU to take the next step. In this game and the Conference USA championship game, he made too many mistakes. The offensive line needs major improvement, too, because he was completely harassed and pressured in both those games. But June Jones had done a great job taking SMU to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 1984-85 and he does have a nice nucleus returning next season in Padron, Zach Line and Johnson on offense.
What Army learned: Army (7-6) not only beat a winning team for the first time this season, it won its first bowl game since 1985. Coach Rich Ellerson has done a terrific job turning around a program that had suffered mightily since its last winning season in 1996. The senior class made it a point to bring respectability back to West Point, and they did that and more. It was not good enough to make it to a bowl game for Army. The Black Knights wanted a win, and they deserved it against SMU. Trent Steelman and Jared Hassin return next season, so bigger things could be in store for the cadets.
What it means: All three service academies finish with seven or more wins for just the second time in history. It happened in 1963: Army, 7-3; Navy, 9-2; Air Force, 7-4.
Record performance: Army fullback Jared Hassin went over 1,000 yards on the season, the second Army sophomore to break the mark, joining Mike Mayweather in 1988. It is the 14th 1,000-yard season in Army history.
At quarterback, TCU's Andy Dalton moves into the No. 4 position thanks to his strong start to the season. He is completing 75 percent of his passes, with four touchdowns and two interceptions, and also has 113 yards rushing and three touchdowns on the ground. Nathan Enderle of Idaho is off the list, thanks in part to his five interception performance against Nebraska a few weeks ago.
Others to watch:
No. 3 FB Charles Clay, Tulsa.
No. 5 WR Jerrel Jernigan, Troy.
No. 4 OG Andrew Jackson, Fresno State.
No. 5 OG Marcus Cannon, TCU.
No. 5 C Kevin Kowalski, Toledo.
No. 3 OLB Dontay Moch, Nevada.
No. 5 S Shiloh Keo, Idaho.
No. 4 K Matt Szymanski, SMU.
There aren't as many non-AQ players on the non-seniors list. You'll have to check that one out for yourselves.
But it's still not enough to get SMU back into contention. Texas Tech took over possession after the kick with a 35-20 lead.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Video may have killed the radio star, according to the old English new wave band the Buggles. But expanding mediums are providing additional opportunities for reporters to share their insights with consumers in the rapidly expanding marketplace.
The Big 12 is no different, stocked with a boatload of good weekly vlogs. And work has started early, even before the season starts, at many newspapers.
The spirited competition between the Lincoln Journal-Star and the Omaha World-Herald in the coverage of all things concerning Nebraska football has spilled over into a video war of sorts.
Omaha World-Herald beat writers Mitch Sherman and Rich Kaipust talk about the need for increasing sacks and turnovers in their most recent video chat. And Lincoln Journal Star columnist Steve Sipple and beat writer Brian Christopherson discuss freshmen who will play for the Cornhuskers this season. It will continue for both papers throughout the season.
But the most effective use of video by a newspaper that I've seen so far is what the Oklahoman has done for its stellar series on Bob Stoops. A group of Oklahoman reporters provide analysis of Stoops' leadership, done with tight videography in a style much like ESPN Classic has used in its Sports Century documentaries. Despite the lack of live action footage, the use of some memorable still pictures of Stoops and Sooners was still very effective.
More newspapers are going to this synergy using different formats. I'll try to include some of the more notable ones in my upcoming posts.
But the written word still remains supreme in my mind. And here are some scrumptuous morsels for a Friday morning links collection.
- Baylor coach Art Briles said that freshman QB Robert Griffin will see action in the Bears' opener against Wake Forest and that TB Jay Finley will average 16 to 21 carries per game this season.
- Denver Post reporter Tom Kensler profiles Colorado long snapper Austin Bisnow, a budding songwriter who has twice won Colorado's on-campus "Idol" competition for his singing abilities.
- Some Kansas players are saying their secondary could be better this season with Chris Harris starting in place of departed All-American CB Aqib Talib.
- Nebraska WR Nate Swift has rebounded from a childhood bout with paralysis brought about after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome 12 years ago in a story by the Omaha World-Herald's Rich Kaipust. Swift has a complete recovery and needs 41 catches to become the school's leading career receiver.
- Lawrence Journal-World beat writer Dugan Arnett writes about the joy of finding former Kansas RB Donte Bean in the cereal aisle at the Wal-Mart late one night.
- Lincoln Journal Star columnist Steve Sipple profiles MLB Phillip "Jelly Roll" Dillard, who has lost more than 30 pounds since last season in preparation for Bo Pelini's aggressive new defense.
- Jake Trotter of the Oklahoman writes about how Bob Stoops has made it a priority to involve his coaching staff's families in all aspects of the program.
- Texas Tech coach Mile Leach told fans at the annual Red Raider Club kickoff luncheon on Thursday in Lubbock that he may finally have the team to fulfill lofty preseason expectations. "I think what I've been impressed with about this group is they work together, they listen to coaching and as a result, since they're very committed to doing the best they can, you can coach them hard," Leach said. "You can ask more of them than some of the other groups I've dealt with. As a result, we're looking forward to seeing where it takes us."
- Later in the evening, Leach, defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree were among those who signed autographs for more than four hours at the team's annual Fan Night.
- Freshman TB Bradley Stephens accounted for 190 yards at Texas A&M's final scrimmage of training camp. But the most notable development could be the pass-catching abilities of backup QB Jerrod Johnson, who snagged five receptions for 47 yards playing tight end, including a 15-yard TD reception.
- Austin American-Statesman beat writer Suzanne Halliburton broke down the crowded kicking and punting competition at Texas, where incumbent K Ryan Bailey and P Trevor Gerland are facing serious challenges to keep their jobs.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Mike Jones blogs about the rules that Texas coach Mack Brown will have to consider if he plays quarterbacks Colt McCoy and John Chiles at the same time.
- Heralded recruit Darrell Scott was listed as Colorado's third-string running back and third-string punter in Coach Dan Hawkins' first depth chart released on Thursday.
- Iowa State will receive a guaranteed total of $1.8 million from their two-game series at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City against Kansas State that was announced Thursday. Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said the school averages $1 million per game in home revenues. And Pollard told the Kansas City Star's Blair Kerkhoff that both schools might seek a sponsor for the game and develop a traveling trophy for the winner of the game.
- No defensive starters saw action in Missouri's final scrimmage of training camp. But LB Sean Weatherspoon said he's excited heading into the Tigers' Aug. 30 opener against Illinois. "I think we're definitely ready," Weatherspoon told the Kansas City Star. "Guys are really excited about this season. The energy level is up. And enthusiasm is free." With backup QB Chase Patton injured, third-stringer Blaine Gabbert saw most of the action at the scrimmage, overcoming early adversity to finish strongly.
- Missouri fans are irate about a $100 seasona
l charge for reserved parking in donor lots at Faurot Field - on top of required season-ticket purchase and a donation to the school's scholarship fund. School officials told the Columbia Tribune that the school was the last in the Big 12 to charge for this.
- A sloppy defensive practice on Thursday resulted in extra running for Oklahoma players and no defensive coaches made available to the media after practice. "We're trying to be national champions, not just win the Big 12 and lose a bowl game," DT Gerald McCoy told the Oklahoman. "We're tired of that reputation."
- Senior Richie Bean and walk-on freshman Randy Bullock are vying for Texas A&M's kicking slot after last year's starter, Matt Szymanski, transferred to SMU.
- Texas QB Colt McCoy likened his first two years starting with the Longhorns to his first two years with a driver's license.
- Old-school Oklahoma State offensive line coach Joe Wickline is impossible to please, according to the Tulsa World's Bill Haisten. "All I see are errors that you can correct," Wickline said. "I'll let someone else tell these guys that they're doing a good job."
- Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman says that Oklahoma State is stuck in a rut of mediocrity.
- John Shinn of the Norman Transcript writes that Oklahoma's current collection of defensive linemen might be the best in Bob Stoops' coaching era.
- Missouri freshmen players Rolandis Woodland and Drew Temple are all but assured of redshirting if they are ever cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center, several Missouri papers reported. Temple is the younger brother of former Missouri leading rusher Tony Temple.
- Veteran Lawrence Journal-World columnist Bill Mayer goes far into his personal "Way Back Machine" to compare Kansas' current football fever to previous seasons.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
A ticking clock on the Waco Tribune-Herald's home page reminded me that football season is just around the corner. As of Monday morning, it's only 31 days and counting until the Big 12's openers on Aug. 28 when Wake Forest travels to Baylor and South Dakota State faces Iowa State.
I bet most of my readers are as excited as I am. As such, here's a few Big 12 links to feed their college football appetite on this fine Monday morning.
- The Daily Oklahoman's Berry Tramel ranks the Big 12's games this season -- 1 through 96.
My take -- I basically agree with most of Tramel's rankings, although he might lean just a tad too much to tradition. Texas-Arkansas isn't going to be as good as he thinks -- unless Bobby Petrino is the second coming of Frank Broyles to the Ozarks.
- Tom Shatel learned at Bo Pelini's Football Clinic about the inspirational power of embroidered jock straps.
My take -- An even bigger story is that Shatel's bosses at the Omaha World-Herald finally have jumped into the current century. Finally, they will allow his must-read columns about the Cornhuskers to be read for free by Internet viewers. Stop the presses!
- Austin American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls says that Bob Stoops still is the best college coach in the country not named Pete Carroll.
My take -- Stoops remains the major reason why Oklahoma is the overwhelming favorite in the Big 12 in the eyes of most observers.
- It's been a long time since last season ended for Nebraska's most devoted fans, according to Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal-Star.
My take -- These fans better be careful what they ask for -- particularly if Nebraska's defense is torched for pinball-type numbers again this season.
- New Dallas Morning News Big 12 columnist Chuck Carlton breaks down the six burning questions facing South Division teams.
My take -- Hey Nebraska fans. I can't wait for the season to begin, either.
- Former Texas A&M kicker Matt Szymanski has resurfaced at SMU, the Bryan/College Station Eagle reports.
My take -- Maybe the new surroundings will help Szymanski, who never seemed to recover from his ill-advised decision to enroll in college a year early. SMU sounds like a fresh start, but what does a kicker/punter really have to do around June Jones?
- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy wishes that players like CB Jacob Lacey weren't rushed into the lineup too soon, according to Scott Wright of the Daily Oklahoman.
My take -- Gundy is right on this one. And maybe a slew of talented junior-college players might reduce how many freshmen have to play this season -- particularly on defense.
- The Lincoln Journal-Star's Steve Sipple writes that Nebraska offensive coordinator Shawn Watson is hinting at increased competition for playing time in the Cornhuskers' backfield.
My take -- Backup Roy Helu Jr. must be a stud. Because I still think that Marlon Lucky is one of the most valuable players in the Big 12, even though he tends to mope more than my 3-year-old when things don't go his way.
- Dave Matter of the Columbia Tribune scans the Nebraska media guide with a fine-toothed search engine. Bill Callahan appears mention on only two of the 208 pages.
My take -- Quite frankly, I'm surprised Callahan is even mentioned that much.
- Texas QB Colt McCoy had a few tips for Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford to avoid sophomore speed bumps. "Your freshman year, it's like you start driving a car ... you stop at every stoplight, put your blinker on, you never go above the speed limit," McCoy told Jake Trotter of the Daily Oklahoman. "In the second year, you have your driver's license, it's a little tempting, you pass on the double yellow line, you do some crazy things."
My take -- Bob Stoops better hope that Bradford didn't watch "Speed Racer."
- Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told the Denver Post that a potential Colorado-Air Force game would be a natural fit for both schools.
My take - Was Calhoun reading my blog post about dream non-conference rivalries the other day? I only hope that DeLoss Dodds of Texas and Mike Garrett of USC were doing the same.
- New Iowa State recruit Beau Blankenship broke his leg a few years ago in an ill-advised attempt to form-tackle a runaway tractor.
My take -- Iowa State coach Gene Chizik will make sure the 5-foot-8, 207-pound Blankenship's defensive forays are limited once he gets to college.
- Defrocked Kansas big hitter Tom Kivisto surfaced in Tulsa, Okla., over the weekend to read a statement about his removal as CEO and president of SemGroup. Interestingly, there was no mention of his donation to his old school for construction of a new football facility.
My take -- Considering Kivisto has only paid a quarter of his $12 million gift for the football center, Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins has got to be sweating just a little.
- And finally, here's an oldie-but-goodie from the You Tube vaults back when Mike Sherman was hawking cell phones in Wisconsin.
My take -- If Sherman is successful in Aggieland, they'll do more than just post his commercials on the Internet. More like naming buildings after him.