NCF Nation: Trae Johnson

Lunchtime Links

December, 23, 2010
Will Navy and San Diego State need to bring in canoes for the S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl tonight? We will have to tune in and find out.

On to some links:

With its win over Utah in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Boise State fans are left to wonder what could have been.

The time is right for the Utes to move on.

Boise State's defense got the job done.

Terrance Cain is saddled with Utah's loss.

Touchdown Trae Johnson reaches the finish line for Tulsa.

The draft prospects of Northern Illinois running back Chad Spann are unknown.

Temple may have made a mistake with the hiring of Steve Addazio.

Jared Tew, Kevin Fogler and Brian Lindsay say they are healthy for Air Force leading into the Independence Bowl against Georgia Tech.

Sheraton Hawaii Bowl

December, 6, 2010
Hawaii Warriors (10-3) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane (9-3)

Dec. 24, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

This could be one of the most fun matchups all bowl season -- two of the most prolific offenses in the nation matching up against each other. The Golden Hurricane rank No. 5 in the country in total offense (503.5 ypg) while the Warriors rank No. 8 (496.9 ypg). Tulsa is also one of the hottest teams, having won six straight, including a momentum-changing win over Notre Dame on Oct. 30.

The Golden Hurricane lost their two Conference USA games by a combined five points, or else they would have been playing UCF in the league title game. G.J. Kinne has thrown for 3,307 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season, while Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz has thrown for a nation-leading 4,629 yards with 36 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Warriors have a terrific duo in Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares. The Golden Hurricane have a terrific trio in Damaris Johnson, Charles Clay and Trae Johnson.

But what separates Kinne from Moniz is his ability to run. Kinne leads the team with 557 yards on the ground and seven touchdowns. It’s important to note that Hawaii was able to shut down Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the best dual threat quarterback they have faced this season. That was the biggest win of the year for the Warriors. Hawaii has a tremendous home-field advantage at Aloha Stadium, and has won four of its last five appearances in this game.
Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each program heading into the spring:

Central Florida Knights
Spring practice starts: March 19
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:
  • The Knights will need to develop offensive line talent after allowing 2.54 sacks per game and failing to block for a rushing offense that ranked 82nd in the country. The Knights return all but two offensive linemen and have one coming in the spring.
  • The quarterback battle will heat up with early enrollee Jeffrey Godfrey, who already has impressed coach George O’Leary. Godfrey will compete against Rob Calabrese for the starting role.
  • The Knights will have to find replacements for three key members of the defensive line -- DE Jarvis Geathers, RT Torrell Troup, LT Travis Timmons. The defense was the main reason the Knights finished 8-5 and won their final five games.
East Carolina Pirates
Spring practice starts: March 22
Spring game: April 17

What to watch:
  • With a new coach, a new system, and a crop of new starters, East Carolina will have its work cut out for it this spring. New head coach Ruffin McNeill needs to replace 15 players with starting experience, which won’t be easy with just a month to work.
  • The most underrated positions the Pirates have to fill are punter and kicker. All-American Matt Dodge is gone as is kicker Ben Hartman, who set the school record for career scoring. Finding replacements for those two is a top priority.
  • New offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will be implement Texas Tech’s offensive system with just two scholarship quarterbacks and a team that relied on its running game. Riley is confident he can install all of his spread offense this fall, but there’s no telling how quickly the Pirates will pick it up.
Houston Cougars
Spring practice starts: March 27
Spring game: April 24

What to watch:
  • The one thing that really kept Houston from an undefeated season was its defense. Brian Stewart, who was named the defensive coordinator in January, inherits a young team with a lot of talent, but he has some work to do to catch the defense up to the offense by September.
  • Quarterback Case Keenum returns for his senior season, but his center, Carl Barnett, does not. Barnett started 39 games, so Keenum will have to establish a good rapport with his new center this spring. Blake Sargent, who was the backup last year, appears to be the front-runner.
  • Even though the Cougars did not lose many starters on offense, coach Kevin Sumlin will look for more athletic players to rotate into the mix. Last season, 19 players had at least one catch and 12 had double-digit catches.

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