NCF Nation: Vince Davidson

New Orleans Bowl Keys

December, 17, 2010
12/17/10
11:30
AM ET
Here are three keys for Troy and Ohio in the R + L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday night.

Ohio (8-4)

1. Use receiver Terrence McCrae to your advantage. The Bobcats are not what you would call a high-octane offense, but they do have one big advantage with McCrae: his size. At 6-foot-4, he is much bigger than starting Troy cornerbacks Jimmie Anderson (5-foot-9) and KeJuan Phillips (5-9). McCrae has nine touchdown catches this season, and Boo Jackson recently set the career mark for touchdown throws at Ohio.

2. Know where Troy defensive ends Mario Addison and Jonathan Massaquoi are at all times. The duo has combined for 20 sacks this season, second-best in the nation behind Chris Carter and Logan Harrell of Fresno State. Massaquoi was second in the league with his 11 sacks, but led the Sun Belt with 17.5 tackles for loss. Ohio has generally done a good job with line protection this season -- except for the regular-season finale against Kent State. The Golden Flashes had seven sacks.

3. Balance. Troy has had a hard time slowing down the run, and Ohio has been pretty decent behind Vince Davidson. The Bobcats are a very balanced team, and are going to need both Jackson and Davidson to have steady games to give Ohio its first-ever bowl win.

Troy (7-5)

1. Paging Jerrel Jernigan. It is safe to say the Trojans have the best overall player on their sideline in Jernigan, one of the top all-purpose players in the country. He is their top receiver, punt returner, kickoff returner and primary Wildcat option. What makes him so good is his speed and his ability to break tackles. Ohio cannot afford to miss bringing him down.

2. Help Corey Robinson. The redshirt freshman threw for 3,339 yards this season in the spread offense, but has had his share of ups and downs. He had six games this season in which he threw two or more interceptions. That is not going to bode well against Ohio, which is one of the best in the country in interceptions with 17 on the season. DuJuan Harris and the running backs need to establish themselves early.

3. Cut the silly mistakes. Troy leads the nation in penalties per game (8.75) and is second worst in penalty yards per game (76.8). Combine that with a negative turnover ratio, and you have the makings of an undisciplined team. You can bet these two areas have been emphasized leading into the game.
Troy won a share of the Sun Belt Conference championship for the fifth straight season and is in a bowl game for the fifth straight year, taking on Ohio in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl on Saturday. Meanwhile, Ohio missed a chance to play for the MAC championship after losing to Kent State in the regular-season finale. The MAC has a 2-1 edge in bowl games against the Sun Belt in the last four years.

WHO TO WATCH: Troy receiver Jerrel Jernigan. One of the best all-purpose players in the country, Jernigan can do it all. He ranks No. 7 in the country in all-purpose yards, averaging 165 yards a game. He lines up in the Wildcat formation, he starts at receiver and returns punts and kickoffs. Jernigan also has a touchdown pass this season. We are not talking about a one-hit wonder, either. Jernigan holds the school and Sun Belt records for career receptions, receiving yards and all-purpose yards.

WHAT TO WATCH: Ohio running back Vince Davidson versus Troy run defense. Ohio struggled big time trying to run the ball against Kent State. Davidson only had 19 yards rushing, a week after getting 100 in a big win over Temple. Troy has had difficulty stopping the run at times this season, giving up an average of 171 yards a game. Davidson is not the only one who can run -- when backup quarterback Phil Bates is in the game, he is known to scramble, too.

WHY TO WATCH: Yes, this game has been universally panned as one of the least interesting in bowl season. But Troy is usually fun to watch in bowl games. The Trojans have gone to overtime in their past two bowl appearances -- losing to Central Michigan last season 44-41 in a thrilling double-overtime game in the GMAC Bowl, and dropping a 30-27 contest to Southern Miss in the New Orleans Bowl in 2008. There is also some history that could be made -- Ohio is 0-4 all-time in bowl games.

PREDICTION: Ohio 30, Troy 24. Troy was not as strong as it usually is this season, and has struggled at times behind Corey Robinson and on defense. Yes, Ohio blew a chance to play for the MAC title game, but the Bobcats should be able to run on Troy and control time of possession.

Non-AQ Players of the Week

November, 22, 2010
11/22/10
5:00
PM ET
Here are the non-AQ Players of the Week, as selected by each conference:

Conference USA

Offense:Southern Miss QB Austin Davis. Threw for 293 yards on 24-of-31 passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions and added his second career 100-yard rushing performance with 111 yards on 17 carries and four rushing TDs in a 59-41 win over Houston.

Defense:SMU DB Richard Crawford. Had two interceptions and six tackles in a win over Marshall. The two picks were the most for any SMU player in 23 games.

Special teams:UCF KR Quincy McDuffie. Returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in a 61-14 win over Tulane. It was his second kickoff return for a touchdown this year.

MAC

East Division

Offense: Ohio RB Vince Davidson. Had 100 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries in a 31-23 win over Temple.

Defense: Miami DB Brandon Stephens. Had a season-high nine tackles in a 19-14 win at Akron. Stephens nine tackles were all solo and marked the first time this season he led the club in tackles.

Special Teams: Bowling Green PR Eugene Cooper. Had a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 33-14 loss at Toledo on Nov. 17. It was Cooper's second punt return for a score this season.

West Division

Offense: Eastern Michigan RB Dwayne Priest. Ran for a career-high 192 yards on 35 carries and had three touchdowns in a 21-17 win at Buffalo.

Defense: Western Michigan DB Jamail Berry. Played in his third different position on an injury depleted defense and racked up a career-high 17 tackles in a 38-3 win over Kent State.

Special Teams: Northern Illinois LB Jordan Delegal. Blocked two punts in a 59-21 win at Ball State and the Huskies set a school record with three blocked punts in the game.

Mountain West

Offense:Wyoming RB Alvester Alexander. Had 147 rushing yards and a school-record five touchdowns on 23 carries in a 44-0 victory over Colorado State.

Defense:Wyoming DE Josh Biezuns. Had a career-high 3.5 sacks, four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup in the win over Colorado State.

Special teams: Utah P/K Joe Phillips. Handled kicking, punting and kickoff duties in a 38-34 victory at San Diego State. Phillips made a 32-yard field goal and five extra points. In his collegiate debut as punter, he averaged 35 yards per punt, landing four of his five attempts inside the 20.

Sun Belt

Offense:ULM QB Kolton Browning. Tied the school record with five touchdown passes in a 49-37 victory over North Texas. Browning completed 18-of-23 passes for 247 yards and also ran for 73 yards on 16 carries.

Defense: Middle Tennessee DB Rod Issac. Western Kentucky led 26-13 and had the ball at the Blue Raiders 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal when Issac picked up a fumble and went 99 yards for a touchdown, matching the longest fumble return in school history. Middle Tennessee won 27-26.

Special teams:Western Kentucky LB Bar'ee Boyd. Had two blocked punts against Middle Tennessee, the first blocks for the Hilltoppers in over two years. His second block was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.

WAC

Offense:Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz. Threw for a school record 560 yards on 32-of-44 passing and three touchdowns in a 41-7 win over San Jose State. He also moved into third place on the school’s all-time passing list with 6,330 yards.

Defense: Hawaii LB Aaron Brown. Made five tackles, including one for a loss, and made his first two career interceptions in the win over San Jose State. He returned the first interception 22 yards for a touchdown.

Special teams:Boise State K Kyle Brotzman. Made all three of his field goal attempts (20, 20 and 50) and all six extra points in a 51-0 win over Fresno State. He broke the Boise State school record in scoring and now has 418 points in his career.

Ohio in control of MAC East

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
9:19
AM ET
Ohio is in control of the MAC East after its 31-23 win over Temple in a rainstorm in Philadelphia, eliminating the Owls from contention for the conference title for the second straight season.

The Bobcats (8-3, 6-1) won Tuesday night essentially the same way they beat the Owls last season -- with better play on the line of scrimmage, a solid run game and fewer mistakes. Ohio was able to play starting quarterback Boo Jackson, who was doubtful headed into the game after suffering a concussion and facial injuries in a bar fight two weeks ago. But Jackson was cleared Tuesday and led the Bobcats to their seventh straight win.

All they have to do is win at Kent State next Friday to secure their spot in the MAC championship game for the second year in a row and third time since 2006. They are tied atop the East with Miami (Ohio) but beat the RedHawks earlier in the season. If Miami loses to Akron tonight, then Ohio clinches the East. Northern Illinois needs one more win to clinch the MAC West.

Ohio racked up 204 yards on the ground, including 100 from Vince Davidson, who also scored two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Temple (8-3, 5-2) only had 81 yards rushing and was hurt by several key injuries. Starting running back Bernard Pierce got hurt on the first play of the game, pulling up at the end of a 67-yard run with what appeared to be a hamstring injury. The play was called back because of an illegal motion penalty, a sign of things to come. Temple ended up with eight penalties for 68 yards and could not get the ground attack going with Matt Brown.

The Owls -- the preseason favorite to win the East -- also lost starting middle linebacker Peanut Joseph late in the first half with an undisclosed injury.

“In games like this, you need your best players to play their best game," Temple coach Al Golden said. "I don’t think we got that overall and obviously we have those two guys down hurt."

Still, Temple had its opportunities. Trailing 17-10 early in the fourth quarter, Mike Gerardi threw an interception at midfield. Carl Jones returned it down to the 27, but a penalty gave Ohio the ball at the Owls 11. Ohio converted that turnover into points and a 24-10 lead.

Ohio went up 31-10 on Davidson's 41-yard TD run, but Temple refused to give up. The Owls scored twice in the span of a minute late in the game to make it 31-23 with 1:13 to go. But the ensuing onside kick appeared to be mis-hit, as Brandon McManus kicked the ball straight into the teeth of the Ohio coverage, with no Temple players around the area.

"We have a long way to go," Golden said. "As a program we have a long way to go. We’re competing two years in a row for a chance to play in a championship game. When I came here, that’s what I said I want us to do, to be in the upper third of the conference every year."

What to watch in the MAC this spring

February, 16, 2010
2/16/10
11:00
AM ET
Here's a breakdown of three issues facing each team in the MAC heading into the spring:

Akron Zips

Spring practice starts: March 24

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

" New head coach Rob Ianello takes over an Akron squad that hasn’t had a winning season since 2005. The Zips struggled last year averaging 19.25 points per game on offense and gave up 28.75 points per game on defense. This spring's goal will be to find playmakers to bring both sides of the ball on par with the rest of the league.

" The Zips had a running back by committee system last year, but none of their backs had more than 250 yards. Two of the team’s top three rushers are gone and the rest are freshmen and sophomores. Ianello signed five tailbacks in his first class.

" The defense struggled to put pressure on the quarterback as the Zips finished with 11 sacks. Opponents scored touchdowns on 66 percent of opportunities inside the red zone. Shoring up the defensive line and the linebackers will be an emphasis this spring.

Ball State Cardinals

Spring practice starts: March 24

Spring game: April 17

What to watch:

" Sophomore quarterback Kelly Page tries to regain the starting role after missing the second half of the season with thumb surgery. The Cardinals were winless with him in the lineup, but he improved as the season progressed. Redshirt freshman Aaron Mershman will vie for the role in the spring before highly-touted recruit Keith Wenning joins the competition in the fall.

" Running back MiQuale Lewis and tight end Madaris Grant are both awaiting word from the NCAA about a possible sixth season. Both are team leaders and are the top players at their respective positions.

" Losing defensive coordinator Doug Graber is a blow to the Cardinals. Although he was only with the team for a season, the defense was one of the team's bright spots and got better as the season progressed. The Cardinals have yet to name a replacement.

Bowling Green Falcons

Spring practice starts: March 19

Spring game: April 16

What to watch:

" Replacing quarterback Tyler Sheehan will be one of the biggest chores since he took 95 percent of the snaps for the past three seasons. Aaron Pankratz was the backup last year and the leader heading into spring. But redshirt Matt Schiltz, walk-on Kellen Pagel and December enrollee Caleb Watkins will all be in the mix.

" Freddie Barnes was the Falcons best offensive weapon and it will be hard to find a replacement. Overall, the Falcons lose three of their top five receivers, and one of those returning is running back Wille Geter.

" Rebuilding the defense will be a priority after losing seven players, including the entire line backers corps and three-fourths of the secondary. There is a lot of young talent waiting, it is just a matter of gelling during spring ball.

Buffalo Bulls

Spring practice starts: March 20

Spring game: April 24

What to watch:

" Losing quarterback Zach Maynard, who decided to transfer last month, hurt their offense. He would have been the starter heading into the season, but now sophomore Jerry Davis and redshirt freshman Alex Dennison will duke it out this spring before two freshmen arrive in August.

" The Bulls have to replace top receivers Naaman Roosevelt and Brett Hamlin and have several candidates to do so. Juniors Terrell Jackson, Marcus Rivers and Ed Young, and redshirt freshmen Fred Lee and Alex Neutz will compete for playing time.

" New head coach Jeff Quinn is going to install a more wide-open offensive system at Buffalo, however finding the right guys to play it will be a challenge. There are athletes remaining at Buffalo, but the loss of players such as Maynard and Roosevelt will make the transition slower.

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