Cougars again have potent offense, but defensive questions

: Cougars again have potent offense, but defensive questions

By John Blanchette, Wednesday August 8, 2007
If it's getting down to referendum time on Bill Doba — and his contract and athletic director suggest otherwise — it would seem he's determined to be the master of his own destiny. In that respect, the most intriguing twist to Year Five of Doba Days at Washington State isn't a new recruit or a new scheme or even some vague new attitude. It's multi-tasking. Defensive coordinator Robb Akey's eight-mile leap to become head coach at the University of Idaho launched Doba on a nationwide search that led to his conclusion that the best man for the job was . . . him. Just for good measure, he added duties as linebackers coach. Doba's love for shirt-sleeves coaching was always obvious, but this seemed to be taking it to the extreme. "I just kind of needed to get back into it," Doba said. "I needed to get into those meetings and break down that film, work with those linebackers. If you're going to call a game, you can't just go in and call it off a sheet of paper. "Doba's defensive bona fides are established — he presided over the best unit WSU ever had in 1994. Read More.

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Lobos putting in another new offense for the MWC

By Natalie Meisler, Wednesday August 8, 2007
Another year, another offense for New Mexico.Rocky Long, whose nine years at New Mexico mark the second-longest tenure in the conference, has his third offensive coordinator in as many years. Dave Baldwin, a former head coach at San Jose State and Cal State-Northridge, comes to the Lobos after four years at Michigan State. Baldwin will install a multiple attack, replacing Bob Toledo's West Coast offense, which replaced the "just give the ball to record-setting running back DonTrell Moore" offense. Baldwin has plenty to work with at the skill positions. Sophomore Donovan Porterie owns the quarterback job after he was forced into the starting role midway through his redshirt freshman year. Read More...

SMU looks to return to postseason play in 2007

By Steve Hunt, Tuesday August 7, 2007
Quarterback Justin Willis returns after a stellar season when he was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year. Willis threw for 2,047 yards, a school-record 26 touchdowns and only six interceptions. A broken hand suffered in January limited his spring reps, but he should be ready to roll for two-a-days. In the backfield, DeMyron Martin, who missed five games because of injury, still had 394 yards on 92 touches. He will headline a solid group of backs that also includes senior Cedrick Dorsey. James Mapps, who earned 2006 C-USA All-Freshman honors, also will see time. The team's top receiver, Emmanuel Sanders, returns after catching 46 passes for 605 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman. Read More...

Navy has to rebuild defense to keep bowl streak alive

By , Tuesday August 7, 2007
Over the past four years Navy is 35-15 with a school-record four consecutive bowls, yet coach Paul Johnson sounds eternally hopeless every spring. While Johnson does have legitimate cause for concern with a defense that returns only two starters, the offense still returns seven starters, including junior quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. He will try to retain the starting job he stepped into at midseason last year following a season-ending injury to Brian Hampton. Kaheaku-Enhada performed well, keeping the turnovers in the triple-option offense to a minimum and improving his passing late in the season. But backup Jarod Bryant and third-stringer Troy Goss were good enough in the spring that Johnson wasn't ready to anoint Kaheaku-Enhada as the starter in '07. The quarterback will be surrounded in the backfield by last season's two leading rushers — rugged fullback Adam Ballard and slotback Reggie Campbell. Read More...

Honeymoon is over at UTEP for Mike Price

By Geoff Grammer, Tuesday August 7, 2007
El Paso is still in love with Mike Price, who rejuvenated the program when he arrived in 2004, but the honeymoon is over. The immediate expectations Price created in his first two seasons — each      culminating with bowl game appearances — created a fan base that likely will begin to jump ship if the Miners have a repeat of last year's 5-7 season. And when Price says last year's team — headed by the school's all-time leading passer Jordan Palmer and all-time leading receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins Jr. — was better in spring than this year's team was, things might not appear to be headed in the right direction. "Last spring, I thought we were a pretty good team," Price said. Read More...

Wolfpack looks to O'Brien to turn things around

By Chip Alexander, Monday August 6, 2007
The firing of Chuck Amato and the hiring of Tom O'Brien as N.C. State's coach late last year left the Wolfpack players puzzled, slightly befuddled, trying to make sense of it all. "We didn't know what to expect," wide receiver Darrell Blackman said. Amato had been the Pack's coach for seven years. The players were used to his macho persona and bravado, his high-pitched orders on the practice field. O'Brien? He was another ACC coach, that stolid guy on the Boston College sideline, a fixture at The Heights. But in a matter of weeks after State's 3-9 freefall, Amato was out and O'Brien was being introduced as the new coach. Read More...

Quarterback again will be key for Friedgen, Maryland

By Bill Wagner, Monday August 6, 2007
During the six-year tenure of Ralph Friedgen, Maryland's success has been tied directly to the experience of the starting quarterback. That's not surprising considering Friedgen employs a sophisticated offense that requires the quarterback to recognize defensive alignments immediately and make adjustments at the line of scrimmage. Shaun Hill, Scott McBrien and Sam Hollenbach were all savvy players who grasped the complex attack as seniors and led the team to impressive records and bowl victories. In the two seasons in which Friedgen was forced to employ a raw, inexperienced quarterback ... Read More...

Fresno State seeks to rebound with new offensive approach

By Paul Arnett, Monday August 6, 2007
The Fresno State Bulldogs' new offensive coordinator Jim McElwain is from the Oakland Raiders. It might be the only thing that could prepare him for watching tape of last year's Bulldog offense. McElwain, the third coach to run the offense in as many seasons, will look to have more of the wide-open attack that was favored at Fresno State in the David Carr era. It's hard to be too critical of the plodding predictability of head coach Pat Hill's approach in 2006, as injuries came fast and furious on both sides of the ball. But when you average only 344 yards and 23 points per game in the WAC, criticism is certain. Several questions have to be answered fast. Can Tom Brandstater be the man under center at a program that has produced its fair share of NFL quarterbacks? He had the second-worst quarterback rating in the WAC last season, hitting a ho-hum 54.5 percent of his passes for 13 touchdowns and 1,490 yards. Declaring early for the NFL, running back Dwayne Wright took with him 1,462 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Read More...

Quarterback uncertainty problem for Western Michigan

By Steve Silverman, Sunday August 5, 2007
The Western Michigan Broncos have uncertainty at quarterback following the departure of Ryan Cubit. Head coach Bill Cubit's son played with confidence and consistency, and the elder Cubit was hoping to find his replacement by the end of spring ball. That didn't happen. Senior Thomas Peregrin, sophomore Tim Hiller and redshirt freshman Drew Burdi all still have a shot at the No. 1 job. Peregrin was the backup last season, attempting 39 passes. Hiller was super when thrust into the starting lineup midway through the 2005 season, throwing for 1,334 yards with 20 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Read More...

It's an odd year, so look out for the Ducks

By Jason Vondersmith, Saturday August 4, 2007
It's 2007, which means it's Oregon's year to be good, with so much returning offensive firepower and depth and recent history on its side. In the past three odd years — 2001, 2003 and 2005 — the Ducks have gone 29-7 and won the Fiesta Bowl and lost two close bowl games. In the past three even years, it hasn't been pretty. Oregon has fallen off to 19-18 with two bad bowl losses — including a debacle, a 38-8 loss to BYU in last December's Las Vegas Bowl, the school's worst postseason loss ever — plus coach Mike Bellotti's only losing season in 2004. The Ducks started out well last season, including beating Oklahoma (yes, we know, with a little help from the officials). Read More...

Wildcats finally can focus on football and gaining respect

By Adam Rittenberg, Saturday August 4, 2007
At first, Pat Fitzgerald's offseason theme seems trite and unoriginal. Gaining respect could be the catchphrase every summer at Northwestern. The team is perennially projected to finish in or near the Big Ten basement regardless of what it did the previous season. Northwestern's accomplishments largely go unnoticed in a saturated Chicago sports market. Its low points, like last season's historic collapse against Michigan State, trigger sentiment that the dark days are back in Evanston. Bottom line: Respect is always in short supply. But a closer examination of Fitzgerald's theme reveals it has little to do with public perception. Read More...

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