NCF Nation: Nick Lamaison

The Big 12 Primer: Week 1

August, 29, 2012
Here's your weekly look at where you can find this weekend's games. My predictions will be up bright and early tomorrow morning, but let's hear yours in the comments. I'll also be revealing which one of these nine games I'll be attending this week.

Oklahoma is the only Big 12 team to open its season on the road or even away from home, and it wins the award for weirdest opening game, too.

TCU is idle in Week 1. If you're wondering where Texas A&M and Missouri went, go check the SEC blog.

SATURDAY (all times ET)

No. 11 West Virginia vs. Marshall (noon, FX): West Virginia takes on its in-state rival to kick off its first season in the Big 12. There's been plenty of hype about what Dana Holgorsen's offense will look like in Year 2. Time to stop talking and start producing. Geno Smith and receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin just might put on a show in this one.

Iowa State vs. Tulsa (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads isn't hiding from the fact that his team is the underdog in this one. Despite hosting the Conference USA member Golden Hurricane, oddsmakers have Rhoads' squad as a 1.5-point underdog. Here's guessing Rhoads is a little insulted at that, but using it to motivate his team. Will it work?

No. 21 Kansas State vs. Missouri State (7 p.m., K-StateHD.TV): Kansas State's campaign to validate last season's narrow successes kicks off with what should be simple: an FCS opponent. Don't take it for granted, though. Even last year's 10-win team needed a touchdown in the final minutes to beat FCS member Eastern Kentucky 10-7. This one shouldn't be close, but you never know.

Texas Tech vs. Northwestern State (7 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest Plus): It's been nine years since Texas Tech played a nonconference game against a BCS conference opponent, and that won't change in 2012. This time around, though, it's needed. Tech is trying to win its way back after going 5-7 last year, but the main attraction on Saturday will be Eric Stephens, who will be making his return from a terrible knee injury suffered against Texas A&M last year.

No. 19 Oklahoma State vs. Savannah State (7 p.m., Fox College Sports): Savannah State's won just one game in the FCS in each of the past two seasons. Oklahoma State won 12 and the Big 12 last season. The post-Brandon Weeden/Justin Blackmon era might have its bumpy nights, but this shouldn't be one of them. The only thing that could go wrong here is if the Cowboys unleash their hideous gray jerseys again like they did in last year's opener. True freshman QB Wes Lunt's debut has been long-awaited since he won the starting job this spring.

Kansas vs. South Dakota State (7 p.m., Jayhawk All-Access/Jayhawk Television Network): The Jayhawks have undergone a transformation unlike any other team in the Big 12 this offseason. Former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis is in charge and he brought with him an avalanche of transfers, headlined by QB Dayne Crist. Keep an eye on defensive end Josh Williams, who transferred from Nebraska. Wins have been scarce the past two years at KU, so don't expect the Jayhawks to take anyone lightly, even an FCS opponent. Coach Turner Gill's tenure got off to a rough start back in 2010 when he lost to FCS North Dakota State.

No. 15 Texas vs. Wyoming (8 p.m., Longhorn Network): This offseason, Texas has been hard at work crafting a powerful running game and a quarterback in David Ash who's better at making decisions. We'll get a preview of what's to come Saturday night. The Longhorns have looked sluggish in the past two openers against Rice, but a suffocating defense could feast on the Cowboys' spread attack.

No. 4 Oklahoma at Texas-El Paso (10:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): Oklahoma is the Big 12's only team on the road in Week 1, but the Miners have been talking a big game all summer. Quarterback Nick Lamaison told reporters he hoped to be the best QB in the game, and the university president said she told UT-Austin the team would "do our best to ensure that Oklahoma would be not as competitive after they left El Paso, because we will have shown them a surprise." Here's guessing that talk is cheap when the ball is finally kicked off. The Sooners are 31-point favorites.


Baylor vs. SMU (6:30 p.m., Fox Sports Network): The old Southwest Conference rivalry is renewed when SMU heads fewer than 100 miles south to face the Bears in the first game since Robert Griffin III left for the NFL and won the starting job with the Washington Redskins. New QB Nick Florence is capable of putting up big numbers, too, but keep an eye on Oregon transfer RB Lache Seastrunk, and don't be surprised if he breaks a big run or two.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

September, 12, 2011
The good: It was a weekend of big wins for non-AQs. FIU picked up the first win against an AQ team in school history when the Panthers upset Louisville 24-17. New Mexico State stunned Minnesota 28-21, picking up its first win against a Big Ten team, and first win against an AQ opponent since defeating Arizona State in 1999. The Aggies have been one of the worst teams in college football -- coach DeWayne Walker has won six games there in three seasons. Taveon Rogers had two touchdowns and 88 yards receiving.

[+] EnlargeGeorge O'Leary
AP Photo/Reinhold MatayCentral Florida and coach George O'Leary dominated Boston College.
Meanwhile, Conference USA pulled out two wins against AQ opponents: UCF handled Boston College 30-3 and Rice beat Purdue 24-22. Both were milestone wins. Though UCF has beaten AQ programs before, the Knights had never done so at home. They are off to their first 2-0 start since 1998, a season removed from making the Top 25 for the first time in program history. Rice had lost 22 consecutive games to AQ opponents. The win was the Owls' first against a Big Ten team since a 40-34 win at Northwestern in 1997.

TCU rebounded in a big way against Air Force, winning 35-19 in a game that was never close. In fact, the Horned Frogs led 35-9 in the fourth quarter, and played much better on defense, even without leading tackler Tanner Brock.

The heartbreak: The MAC easily had the most heartbreaking day. Central Michigan, Toledo and Northern Illinois had leads on their AQ opponents only to come up just short.

Central Michigan led the Wildcats 13-6 at halftime and had outgained them 227 yards to 94. But the turning point came midway through the third quarter, when coach Dan Enos elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 34. Tim Phillips ran for no gain. Kentucky scored on the next play to tie the game at 13, and Central Michigan never scored again in 27-13 loss.

Toledo had Ohio State on the ropes, but the Rockets killed themselves with one mistake after another: 14 penalties for 102 yards; a missed 45-yard field goal and botched hold on a 50-yard attempt; allowing a punt return for a score. A final interception from Terrance Owens on the Ohio State 17 with 48 seconds closed out a 27-22 loss.

Northern Illinois lost to Kansas 45-42 with 9 seconds left when Jayhawks quarterback Jordan Webb threw a 6-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to B.J. Beshears. The Huskies had taken the lead with 5:03 remaining when Jasmin Hopkins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. Kansas converted two fourth down opportunities on the winning drive. Chandler Harnish finished 27-of-33 for 315 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, and added 89 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on the ground. Harnish has 11 total touchdowns in two games this season.

Not to be outdone, Fresno State and BYU each had halftime leads in their games before losing. The Bulldogs gave up a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that turned the tide and lost to No. 10 Nebraska 42-29. ... BYU led Texas 13-3 but the Longhorns changed quarterbacks in the second half and that seemed to spark them to a 16-13 win. The BYU offense has not exactly gotten immediate results from new offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. The Cougars rank No. 108 in the nation in total offense (275.5 ypg), and No. 107 in scoring offense (15 ppg). Despite that, they could very easily be 2-0.

The ugly: The offense clearly was not invited to the Louisiana-Kent State game. The teams combined for 19 first downs, seven turnovers and 15 penalties in one of the ugliest games of the day. Louisiana had 159 total yards; Kent State 186. Louisiana quarterback Chris Masson threw for 18 yards.

Army was one of the best teams in the nation last season in turnover margin, but so far this season, turnovers have been a big problem in an 0-2 start. In a 23-20 loss to San Diego State, the Black Knights fumbled eight times -- losing three. In two games, Army has given the ball away six times and is at minus-4 in turnover ratio.

Record watch:

  • Ohio coach Frank Solich notched his 100th career win Saturday in a 30-3 win against Gardner-Webb.
  • Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis broke Brett Favre's school passing yards mark of 7,695, in a 26-20 loss to Marshall.
  • Houston quarterback Case Keenum threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-23 win against North Texas. He moved into fourth place on the FBS career list for passing yards (14,354) and tied Danny Wuerffel for sixth in career passing touchdowns with 114.
  • Pete Thomas became the first sophomore quarterback in Colorado State history to reach 3,000 yards passing. In a 33-14 win against Northern Colorado, Thomas was 28-for-42 for 259 yards and a touchdown -- but he also threw three interceptions.
Injury update: Colorado State linebacker Mychal Sisson broke his ankle in the second quarter against Northern Colorado and is out indefinitely. Coach Steve Fairchild said the hope is for Sisson to be able to return later this season. ... UTEP starting quarterback Nick Lamaison separated his shoulder in a loss to SMU. ... Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson was pulled from the loss to TCU and got precautionary X-rays after the game for an undisclosed injury. Nose guard Ryan Gardner injured his knee.

Helmet stickers

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

Jerome Long, DT, San Diego State. Had a career-high 10 tackles in a 23-20 win against Army, and his sack on a critical third-down on Army's last drive of the game took Army out of field goal range.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, FIU. Set a career-high and school record with 201 yards receiving and two touchdowns in a 24-17 upset win against Louisville.

Adrien Cole, LB, Louisiana Tech. Had 9 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and blocked Central Arkansas’ field goal in overtime, his second blocked field goal in as many games.

UCF defense. Held Boston College to three points and 84 yards passing in the 30-3 win. The Knights have yet to allow 100 passing yards in a game this season and have limited their first two opponents to three points and 260 total yards.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind

September, 5, 2011
The good: No.5 Boise State thoroughly and convincingly beat Georgia 35-21, picking up a critical first win over the SEC. But the Broncos were not the only to win a non-AQ vs. AQ game. Houston beat UCLA 38-34; BYU beat Ole Miss 14-13; Hawaii beat Colorado 34-17 and Ball State beat Indiana 27-20. The MAC now has eight wins over the Big Ten in the last three years. The Cardinals have also beaten Indiana twice since 2008, a huge first win for new coach Pete Lembo.

Speaking of firsts ... New Temple coach Steve Addazio picked up his first win, 42-7 over Villanova. Bernard Pierce ran for 147 yards and three touchdowns in the victory. New Northern Illinois coach Dave Doeren also picked up his first win when the Huskies beat Army 49-26.

The great escape: UTEP barely escaped Stony Brook, 31-24 in overtime. The Miners trailed 24-10 in the third quarter but Nick Lamaison keyed the comeback -- throwing three late touchdown passes, including the winner in overtime. Lamaison ended with 365 yards in his first career start. ... Wyoming also needed a last-second touchdown to escape Weber State. Brett Smith threw a touchdown pass to Robert Herron with 22 seconds left to give the Cowboys a 35-32 win. Weber State led for most of the fourth quarter before seeing its upset bid slip away.

The heartbreak: Utah State and Middle Tennessee felt all sorts of heartbreak after their down-to-the-wire games came up just short for them on Saturday. The Aggies had the defending national champions down for nearly the entire game. But Auburn scored twice in the final 2:07, thanks in part to an onside kick the Tigers easily recovered. Utah State lost 42-38, but if anything came out of the loss -- the nation got its first glimpse of poised true freshman Chuckie Keeton, who impressed everyone with his play in the game. You can beat Auburn won't soon forget him. Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee had its game-tying 47-yard field goal attempt against Purdue blocked and lost 27-24. The Blue Raiders led 24-17 with 9:26 left in the game, but could not hold on long enough to win. Purdue scored 17 points and gained 192 yards in the fourth quarter. "It kicks you in the gut right now, you're sick to your stomach that you lost the game," Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill said. ... New Mexico hung with Colorado State for the entire game but lost 14-10 because a familiar foe came back. Turnovers. The Lobos had three of them. Last season, New Mexico finished the season with a minus-12 turnover margin. ... Western Kentucky gave it a valiant effort against Kentucky, putting a scare into the Wildcats before losing 14-3. The Hilltoppers had more first downs and more total yardage, but also committed more penalties and turnovers in the loss. ... TCU also saw its win over Baylor evaporate when Aaron Jones kicked a 37-yard field goal with 1:04 left for a 50-48 win. Casey Pachall threw an interception to end the game. Much already has been made of the uncharacteristic defense TCU played. But contrast the end of this game with the Rose Bowl. TCU got a huge defensive play to help win the game when Tank Carder batted down the 2-point conversion attempt late in the game. But the Horned Frogs could not make one stop on Baylor's game-winning drive.

The young guns: In the week leading up to the opener against Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes was asked who reminded him of his 17-year-old starting quarterback, Nick Isham. “Greg Brady,” Dykes said. Isham, a true freshman born in 1993, asked the Bulldogs sports information director, “Who’s Greg Brady?” Isham might be young, but he gained his first game experience against Southern Miss, going 20-of-36 for 176 yards in a narrow 19-17 loss. Keeton, Brett Smith of Wyoming and Rakeem Cato of Marshall were the two other non-AQ true freshmen to make starts and both looked poised behind center despite their teams' losses. Keeton went 21-of-30 for 213 yards, while Cato was 15-of-21 for 115 yards in a rain-shorted day against West Virginia. Smith went 27-of-41 for 294 yards and three touchdowns, but the first pass of his career was intercepted.

Helmet stickers

Boise State defense. The Broncos absolutely dominated up front in a win against Georgia. The defensive line had six sacks and constantly harassed Aaron Murray. The Bulldogs had just 13 first downs and were never much of a threat.

Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois. The Huskies quarterback threw a career-high five touchdown passes and ran for another in a 49-27 win over Army.

T.Y. Hilton, FIU. Hilton opened a win over North Texas with a 62-yard kickoff return that he almost broke for a touchdown. On the next drive, he scored on a 60-yard reception on the first play. He had 180 all-purpose yards in the first quarter and finished the game with 283 all-purpose yards, 12 shy of his own school record.

Case Keenum, Houston. In his return from an ACL injury, Keenum looked like he was back to his old self, throwing for 310 yards and two touchdown passes in a win over UCLA. He went past the 300-yard mark for the 26th time in 38 career starts.

Bryant Moniz, Hawaii. Moniz threw for 5,000 yards last season but he helped the Warriors beat Colorado with his legs. Moniz ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns -- the most rushing yards by a Hawaii quarterback since Glenn Freitas had 122 yards and four touchdowns against UTEP in 1995.

Kriss Proctor, Navy. Much was made over what Proctor would face this season -- taking over for Ricky Dobbs at quarterback. But he did more than fine against Delaware, running for 176 yards and three touchdowns in a 40-17 win. He also threw his first career touchdown pass.
Time for another edition of the mailbag. Keep your questions and comments coming. Remember, you have a better chance of getting a response if you ask something I have not answered yet. Sorry, Brandon in Allendale, N.J., I have already answered questions about being a "UCF homer." You will have to check this mailbag for my response.

Now on to some original questions:

Jonny Danger in Houston writes: I've read about the schools that made/lost money on their big bowl games (good for Ohio State, bad for UCONN). When a school goes to a bowl game do they keep a chunk of the payout themselves or does it all go into the conference pot that is then divvied up among all the schools? How much money does a non-bowl team in a BCS conference make from such payouts? Non-BCS?

Andrea Adelson: The automatic qualifying conferences get a lump sum based on the number of teams they get into the BCS. Then the conferences divide it among their member schools. Each conference divides the money up differently. As for the non-AQ teams, all five conferences receive a lump sum and then decide how to divide it up. I did a post on the breakdown earlier this week that answers your question.

Oliver in Philadelphia writes: With Temple finally getting an experienced quarterback, some serious depth on the offensive line, a stacked defense as usual and a head coach who knows what he's doing on offense, is it possible Temple finally wins the MAC and its first bowl game since 1977?

Adelson writes: I could put you in touch with Gators fans who would dispute that Steve Addazio knows what he is doing on offense. But that is another story and another blog post. Your point is well taken. It certainly is possible for Temple to win the MAC. After watching Miami (Ohio) do it last year, anything is possible I suppose. But any time you go into a season with uncertainty at quarterback, alarm bells go off for me. The defense might be stacked, but it also is losing NFL draft picks in Muhammad Wilkerson and Jaiquawn Jarrett, who was the defensive MVP of the team last season. There is no question Temple has the talent. But Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) have plenty of talent returning as well.

Bill Davis in Seoul, South Korea, writes: Who came out of the spring as the No. 1 quarterback at UTEP? I know there were four guys after the job at the start of the spring -- Nick Lamaison, Javia Hall, Carson Meger and Tate Smith. Lamaison won the JC title at Mount SAC, Hall was a decorated Texas prep who got into Coach Mike Price's doghouse in the past for not being enough of a team leader, Meger is the undersized son of a coach who keeps beating the odds after winning a scholarship and Smith is the New Mexico transfer looking to get the keys to the car in his senior year.

Adelson writes: It appears to be a two-man race between Lamaison and Hall following the end of spring practice. Hall showed much improvement in the spring and had the best spring game of all four quarterbacks. Coach Mike Price said Hall was "outstanding" in the spring. But Lamaison does have starting experience. Price told the El Paso Times, "They've got four months to keep their position. Four months to show leadership, work with the team. Both need to learn the offense better. I was really pleased with the play of both of those guys."

Stephen Silva in Houston writes: With Case Keenum returning to the Houston Cougars, do you think we will see another season with 5,000+ yards passing? Also, do you think the Cougars will fix their defensive woes with the most recent draft class?

Adelson writes: I had a good conversation with coach Kevin Sumlin yesterday and asked him your question about Keenum. "I don't know," he said with a laugh. Methinks he probably has been asked about that a few times. As for the defense, there definitely are some good players with good size who could contribute. They have got to get their defensive line to play better to have any shot at the type of improvement Sumlin wants to see.

Lunchtime Links

May, 2, 2011
Here are your Monday links. ...

The debate over Kellen Moore's draft stock is now on the clock.

Did UCF coach George O'Leary jump the gun in saying the rivalry with USF was set to resume?

Vincent Brown is thrilled to stay in San Diego.

New Mexico State's offense made progress this spring.

Nick Lamaison is in the lead to replace Trevor Vittatoe as UTEP's starting quarterback.

Quarterbacks were productive in San Jose State's spring scrimmage.

Spring QB competition: C-USA

February, 8, 2011
We continue our look at spring quarterback competitions with a look at Conference USA. This league is actually pretty solid when it comes to its top quarterbacks, with Case Keenum coming back and joining G.J. Kinne of Tulsa, Austin Davis of Southern Miss and Dominique Davis of East Carolina among others. But a few others have some question marks:


[+] EnlargeTrevor Vittatoe
AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinUTEP is replacing school record-holder Trevor Vittatoe and has to find a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2006.
Who’s out: Trevor Vittatoe, the school’s all-time leader in passing yards (12,439), passing touchdowns (97) and total offense (12,291).

Who’s competing: The Miners will also have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2006 after Vittatoe started every game since 2007 (49 total). Redshirt freshman Javia Hall, sophomore Carson Meger, senior Tate Smith and junior college transfer Nick Lamaison are the candidates. Meger and Smith saw limited action last season, but Lamaison is the most intriguing candidate. Lamaison was the Offensive Player of the Year for both the All-California and All-American teams after leading Mt. San Antonio College to a 13-0 record. He went 300-of-499 for 3,993 yards with 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions last season and has two years of eligibility remaining.


Who’s out: Brian Anderson.

Who’s in: A.J. Graham and Eddie Sullivan return. Graham was a redshirt freshman last season and Sullivan a true freshman and both played. But the most intriguing candidate could be Conelius Jones, a January enrollee who will be eligible to play in the spring. Jones signed with Michigan out of high school last season but did not qualify academically. He sat out this last year but was able to get his test score and should be in the mix to compete for the starting job.


Who’s competing: Nobody is really out, but the job will be open again. Ryan Williams started the last 10 games last season as a true freshman but struggled with consistency. Coach Larry Porter will want to take another look at Cannon Smith, who went into the season as a starter before sustaining a concussion and then playing sporadically. There also Andy Summerlin, a junior college transfer who signed in 2010 but injured his shoulder last spring and was out for the fall. Memphis is considering moving back to the spread, but there's nothing definitive on that just yet.