Archive for April, 2012
With the 174th overall pick, the Tampa Bay Bucs selected another Mountaineer in cornerback Keith Tandy. Now Tandy joins and is united with teammate Najee Goode who Tampa selected earlier today in round five.
While in Morgantown, Tandy was a three year starter nabbing 13 career interceptions.
Goode is selected by former Big East foe, Rutgers Coach and now Tampa Bay Coach Greg Schiano.
In 2011, Goode led the Mountaineers with 87 total tackles while also adding 5 sacks, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Goode was the on the field play caller for former Defensive Coordinator Jeff Casteel’s 3-3-5 stack defense.
Former West Virginia Defensive End Bruce Irvin was drafted 15th overall by the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks traded down from their original 12th pick with the Philadelphia Eagles.
During his career at West Virginia, Irvin compiled 61 tackles, 29 tackles for loss and 22.5 sacks at defensive end in just two seasons after transferring in from Junior College.
Earlier this week I spoke with Irvin over the phone be sure to take a listen.
With the NFL Draft just two nights away here is where I think these former Mountaineers will end up. Probably four former defensive standouts get drafted and the rest go as undrafted free agents.
Bruce Irvin – DE/OLB
Irvin has showed from the combine through his pro day that he is a physical specimen. Irvin will fit a lot better as a 3-4 outside linebacker rather than a 4-3 defensive end. As Mountaineer fans know, Irvin has elite off the edge speed which translates at any level. Irvin who gained 25 pounts since the Orange Bowl is big enough to take on offensive tackles that cannot handle his speed. Irvin had nine official visits (Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans). Expect Irvin to go to a team who needs someone to get to the quarterback.
PROJECTION: 2nd Round & 42nd Overall to the Miami Dolphins
Keith Tandy – CB
Keith Tandy is good enough to get drafted. He’s a very intelligent player who on tape seems to be always in the right place at the right time. Tandy physically maybe is a little small, but to play corner in the NFL, the guy doesn’t have to be huge. Tandy has visited Jacksonville and has been linked to the Cincinnati Bengals, and both teams need all the secondary help they can get. So if Tandy interviews well and he’s available in the later rounds, an NFL team will jump the gun to add secondary and special teams depth.
PROJECTION: 5th Round & 156th Overall to the Cincinnati Bengals
Najee Goode – LB
He’s really helped himself and his versatility should allow for him to get drafted. Goode is a guy that can play at any of the linebacker spots like he did under Jeff Casteel while at West Virginia. Goode showed up at the combine in good shape and ran a better forty than most people thought he would run. He’s got an intangible that NFL coaches’ value in “coach-ability”. Since he’s proved his athleticism, Goode is a guy that can fit as a 3-4 inside guy or a 4-3 outside backer. Expect Goode’s experience on special teams to help him fit with any NFL team. Goode proved himself throughout the process when some feel he didn’t belong at the combine. Goode, being a high character guy, has high reward for a middle round draft pick if someone takes the risk.
PROJECTION: 5th Round & 160th Overall to the Cleveland Browns
Julian Miller – DE
Snubbed by the NFL combine, Miller’s Pro Day workout proved to people that he can be a player at the next level. Personally, it seems that he’d fit great at a 4-3 standard defensive end. Miller during the season, when healthy made that WVU defense a whole lot better. Miller’s a guy that couldn’t have had a better end to the season recording a four sack game against Pitt, a solid outing against USF and then capped it with an Orange Bowl victory. The Columbus native, has very high character which NFL teams always love and are willing to take a chance on. Also, remember going into the draft Julian Miller has more colligate sacks than any other pass rusher in the draft.
PROJECTION: 6th Round & 206th Overall to the Indianapolis Colts
Don Barclay – OT
Barclay had been a staple on the WVU offensive line and had some decent games throughout the 2011 season. He had a very good outing against LSU and good defensive linemen that project to the NFL. He also played well against Vinny Curry when WVU played Marshall in week one. Now Barclay needs to work on the run game, he needs to be able to fire out of his stance and drive people off the football. Barclay could be a good backup tackle in the league.
PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent
Devon Brown – WR
One of the many WVU’s wide receivers to catch a touchdown in the 2012 Discover Orange Bowl, Devon Brown has a chance maybe to make an NFL roster as a special teams guy considering he can return punts and kicks. Brown could fit as a slot receiver in an offense with some other weapons. Expect the former Wake Forest transfer to have a chance at the next level.
PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent
Cody Nutter – LS
The value of a good long snapper means a lot to NFL teams. The Super Bowl Champion Giants, have a quality guy from Brown University of all places in Zach D’Ossie. Nutter has meant so much to the WVU program that Dana Holgorsen went and recruited a new long snapper to replace him after his graduation. Nutter might get a chance in an NFL camp.
PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent
Eain Smith – DB
Smith is a guy with good speed, but maybe hurt his stock by not showing that he can control his speed during Pro Day. In the three cone drill he struggled to stay on his feet. Smith is a guy that makes plays though like he did during the 2011 season. He could be a factor on special teams for an NFL squad, Smith could end up as a solid gunner.
PROJECTION: Undrafted Free Agent
Earlier today the Big 12 Conference hosted the first media coaches’ conference for the 2012 season. The majority of them did talk about the new program, West Virginia and the big name coaches talked about their feelings on the BCS. Here’s what I thought was interesting from the hour and a half long teleconference.
Texas Longhorns Head Coach – Mack Brown
“I hope it’s something different than what we got now, I’m really not sure what I think would be best. I don’t like our current system. I don’t like the fact that last year two teams played twice. I do not feel like the BCS gives grievance to really strength of schedule cause we had some teams play in the BCS that have played poorer teams and still had an opportunity to play. I do not like the fact that we depict between BCS and non-BCS as far as who plays. I understand the money cycle, but I’d rather the best teams play at the end…and I don’t think that happens always with the BCS.”
On Texas Run Game:
“We’re getting much better with our running game. Jeremy Hill is running the ball well, Malcolm Brown and Joel Bergeron stayed healthy for the fifteen days of spring and we had probably a more physical spring than last even spring. And then we’ve got young Jonathan Grey, VaJay Johnson and some guys coming in and we’ve got some speed in DJ Monroe as well. We feel like we’re getting where we need to be in the running game.”
On West Virginia Joining the Conference:
“Dana (Holgorsen)’s doing a great job. Just look at their bowl game with Clemson. They could always run, they play an exciting brand of offense cause of their speed and they’ve always been really physical and tough on defense. They get a lot of those kids from the Pittsburgh, West Virginia and North Carolina area, they’ve really done a great job recruiting in Florida and just watching them the past few years in the BCS they’ve just done a tremendous job…I think they come in as a team to be reckon with in our league immediately.”
Kansas Jayhawks Head Coach – Charlie Weis
On Having to Play Against WVU In Morgantown:
“I really appreciate how rowdy the fans are. They’re diehard fans and it’s a real tough place to play…The Stadium is a great venue and they have great fans. It’ll be very difficult because they are a very talented and well coached team.”
On Changing the Culture at Kansas:
“First of all, I think it’s always important to be respectful of the people who were there before you because you don’t know all the circumstances that took place while you weren’t here. My whole mentality you have to come into a program, that won two this year and didn’t win any in the conference and try to get these guys headed in the right direction where that’s just not acceptable on either end.”
Oklahoma Sooners Head Coach – Bob Stoops:
On BCS Meetings:
“I’m not for a playoff because it would ruin the bowl system and I don’t believe that would be good for student athletes, college athletes, players, – the bowl experience overall is too positive for them.”
On What Went Right in Spring:
“Relatively no injuries, and we developed more depth.”
Oklahoma State Cowboys Head Coach – Mike Gundy:
On WVU and TCU Coming into the Big 12:
“We’re really excited about the two additions of those two schools. I think everybody was well aware about having to loose A&M and Missouri. If you had to lose teams you look for tradition in football and geographical value for a television market. TCU has had great success over the last few years, they’re located in a great spot. West Virginia’s has had a lot of football success in the last twenty years, geographically it’s a reach it’s out there a little bit, but I think it was a good addition and should strengthen our football conference.”
On Facing Dana Holgorsen:
“Ultimately I don’t know if that really matters. There’s really no difference than anyone else in our league. He may know some of our plays, we may know some of his plays. On Saturday it comes down to the players and they got to go out there and execute.”
On Replacing Star Offensive Players:
“When you lose (Brandon) Weeden and (Justin) Blackmon our two first round talents players on one side of the ball, it’s not going to look the same until we get another quarterback acclimated to the system and develop another receiver that has skills.”
Texas Tech Red Raiders Head Coach – Tommy Tuberville
On Replacing Commissioner Neinas:
“We we’re kind of saved by the bell with Chuck Neinas, I’ve known Chuck for a long time and he’s kept it going in terms of getting us back on the right track and getting everyone involved. We’ve lost two teams each of the teams the last two years, but with Chuck’s leadership it’s come out pretty good. Hopefully we get a strong personality guy that can work with everybody and put their touch on it, someone with experience somebody that’s maybe been a commissioner or a deputy commissioner for another league. I think experience is going to be the big key for us.”
Baylor Bears Head Coach – Art Briles
On facing former fellow Coach Dana Holgorsen:
“Of course I know Dana from way back and we coached together at Tech and he was a really good coach then and has done an outstanding job in his last three stops at Houston, Oklahoma State and then last year at West Virignia. He’s very familiar with this part of the country and the Big 12.”
5. Offense Benefits from Facing 3-4 Every Day
Dana Holgorsen’s offense can only get better now facing their own 3-4 every day in practice. The 3-4 is run by schools inside the Big 12, so it’ll only help the WVU offense if they see it as opposed to seeing the old 3-3-5 in practice. Yes there are scout teams during the season, but from spring practice when the team doesn’t use a scout team, the offense really was able to get accustom to facing a standard defense.
About facing the 3-4 everyday quarterback Geno Smith said, “It’s great because it is something a lot of those Big 12 teams do. It is kind of a trend there because of all the spread offenses. To see it (the 3-4) everyday will help us out as an offense because we get a chance to get actual live reps against that type of defensive style.”
4. The “EAT” Slogan Has Stood Tall Throughout Spring
Back when Coach Holgorsen and his staff held, the pre-spring media luncheon, Co-Defensive Coordinator, Joe DeForest had made it clear to the media that “EAT” (Effort-Attitude-Turnovers) would be an important part of his coaching style. Going along with implementing the 3-4 scheme, “EAT” was certainly evident throughout the spring game during the Blue’s (Defense) 43-34 win over the Gold (Offense).
The defense was able to force four turnovers, probably the most important part of the slogan. Cornerback Avery Williams recovered a fumble, Safey Matt Moro intercepted a Geno Smith pass, while cornerback Brodrick Jenkins and defensive end Will Clarke both picked off Paul Millard.
3. Pat Miller’s Injury Allowed For DB’s To Gain Depth
Maybe a blessing in disguise, Pat Miller going down in practice number eight allowed CB Coach Daron Roberts to build some at the cornerback position. Shining in the spring were corner backs Cecil Level who was the second leading tackler in the game along with Avery Williams who had the above mentioned fumble recovery. Level even laid a ridiculous on wide receiver JD Woods on a screen pass. Those two guys Level and Williams, didn’t play a ton last season. Going into the Big 12 the corners are going to have to face high tempo offenses that snap the ball 90-100 plays a game, so the defense has to be able to roll guys in and out. Those two guys in addition to Brodrick Jenkins and a healthy Pat Miller will be a luxury for WVU.
About the depth of the group, Jenkins said, “When he (Miller) went down, we were kind of slim. There were only two or three scholarship players and the rest were walk-ons. We had to let them take some snaps. I feel like Avery (Williams) and Cecil (Level) really stepped up.”
2. When the Offense was Able to Tempo, the Defense Struggled
In a game dominated by the defense, the first two drives the offense took it to the defense. The offense was able to tempo and move even faster than they did during the Orange Bowl. Highlighting the first drive, Geno Smith connected with Stedman Bailey for a long pass then a two yard touchdown pass and on the second drive Paul Millard led the troops while Shawne Alston capped the drive with a one yard scamper. But amidst the highlighted plays was the offense marching up the field at a very quick pace. Moving into the Big 12, that is the type of offenses the defense is going to see. So in order for the WVU defense to get better they have to be able to move and communicate when an offense tries to pick up the pace and get up and down the field.
1. The New Fan Favorite Will Be…
Jordan Thompson. This early enrollee freshman is just five-foot-seven and 159 pounds but bounces all around the field. He took a big hit in the Gold-Blue Game from Avery Williams that jarred a fumble, but he sprung right back up. According to Head Coach Dana Holgorsen, all Thompson’s teammates call him “Squirt.” The Katy High School standout wants to do big things here in Morgantown. He doesn’t want to redshirt, he wants to be on the field helping his team win. In the spring game he showed he could do that catching eight passes for 66 yards and a touchdown. Thompson’s attitude and eagerness to succeed is clearly there.
Thompson said, “National Championship, go undefeated, win the Big 12. That’s always been my goal, National Championship.”
WVU quarterback Ford Childress was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with driving under the influence.
The Dominion Post reports that Childress was arrested at 12:22 a.m. on University Avenue in Morgantown. The Morgantown Police confirm to The Dominion Post that the true freshman quarterback admitted to drinking beer. At that point Childress blew a .189 on the breathalyzer test, twice the legal limit.
“I have been made aware of the situation and am gathering facts at this time,” head coach Dana Holgorsen said in a statement to The Dominion Post. “I will take appropriate action when all the facts are in.”
Childress was released on a $250 bond.
WVU will hold its annual Gold-Blue Spring Game Saturday beginning with the Old Timer’s Game at 5:30 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium. The freshman quarterback’s status for the game is unclear.
Last season, defensive lineman Jorge Wright was arrested the day before the Spring Game and was charged for having marijuana and a gun without a license, but was still able to play in the game.
Bears Head Coach Art Briles has the daunting task of replacing three essential pieces of last seasons’ offense – Heisman Winner and quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Terrence Ganaway and wide receiver Kendall Wright. Baylor’s spring game, last Saturday proved that the Bears maybe headed in the right direction offensively. Nick Florence was 14-18 throwing for 180 yards and new tailback Lache Seastrunk rushed seven times for 135 yards.
The Iowa State Cyclones didn’t accomplish what they set out to do this spring, and that was trying to find a starting quarterback. The battle between Nick Barnett and Steele Jantz is at a standstill. The bad thing is, it isn’t because both of them are playing at high level, it is only because both guys are very mediocre. Last season Barnett and Jantz split starts. One positive to take away from the Cyclones spring game is 2011 Co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and linebacker, AJ Klein who picked off Barnett and took the ball 94 yards for a touchdown.
People may start to call Kansas, the Notre Dame of the Big 12. With new Head Coach Charlie Weis, the Jayhawks have already added three former Fighting Irish transfers to their roster. On Tuesday KU added tight end Mike Ragone, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Ragone joins former Notre Dame quarterback, Dayne Christ and linebacker Anthony McDonald. All three were recruited by Weis, when Weis was the head coach at Notre Dame.
K-State is right in the middle of spring ball, with their spring game being held on April 28th. The defense is thriving and it is because of the driving force in the interior of the defensive line. Head Coach Bill Snyder said, “Vai Lutui has picked up where he left off and continues to be prominent as an interior defensive lineman.” Lutui finished 2011 with 34 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery.
Having wrapped up practice on April 14th, Quarterback Landry Jones only played in one series during OU’s spring game last Saturday. Stealing the headlines was true freshman Trey Metoyer, who showed great hands and outstanding speed. Metoyer is expected to step in and play right away after enrolling this past January at OU. The former blue chip prospect and number two rated player in state of Texas by rivals.com, Metoyer is ready to be a play maker for the Sooners.
Aside from replacing Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, the Oklahoma State Cowboys, defensively the Cowboys have been trying to create more turnovers. The Cowboys who host their spring game on Saturday April 21st have had two scrimmages thus far. The defense has shown the greatest improvement through spring and it showed in scrimmage number two. Coach Mike Gundy said, “Their high points were forcing turnovers. They got three turnovers and blocked a field goal. The turnovers are awesome because that gives us the best chance to win games.”
The Longhorns wrapped up spring about three weeks ago with their spring game. Going into the 2012 it is clear that Texas will have the most dominant run game in the Big 12 Conference. With David Ash and Case McCoy still even in the starting quarterback race, Mack Brown and the Texas offense will rely more on sophomore tailback Malcolm Brown. In addition to Malcolm Brown, the Longhorns saw a speed back emerge in spring camp, Heath Hohmann who at five-foot-nine is nicknamed “Little Sproles” by his teammates.
The Horned Frogs wrapped up their first spring as members of the Big 12 back in early April and in process found their starters across the linebacker core. Kenny Cain returns after leading TCU in tackles during the 2011 season and Deryck Gildon earned a starting spot at the middle linebacker position. Also to note, TCU is adding onto Amon G. Carter Stadium at the end of the process the facility should seat 50,000 people.
Junior quarterback Seth Doege was 25-49 throwing for 217 yards and a touchdown during Texas Tech’s spring game. The concern isn’t offense for TTU, but in order for them to win they will have to stop people. Without any sure starting linebackers aside Terrance Bullitt, the Red Raiders will struggle like everyone else in the Big 12 defensively.
WVU QB Geno Smith
WVU QB Paul Millard
WVU LB Jared Barber
WVU C Joe Madsen
Ford Childress looks the part, acts the part and even throws like the part. A typical pocket passer, the early enrollee freshman, Childress can has a top notch arm and a good foundation of mechanics.
Obviously, Geno Smith is the leader of this team and one of the top quarterbacks in the country, but on the depth chart, the battle for the backup job between Childress and sophomore Paul Millard is still in question.
With that in mind Dana Holgorsen’s staff has one of the biggest decisions to make since he took over the program. Paul Millard played the role of second string quarterback last season, but didn’t look all that efficient when doing so. During 2011 Millard made 15 throws and two of them went for interceptions including one in the Orange Bowl.
Now insert Ford Childress, the Kinkaid High School star, threw for 3,171 yards and 41 touchdowns during his senior year in a similar offense. Through twelve spring practices Childress has been an attention grabber in the media and on the field.
Holgorsen said, “When he (Childress) throws it, it goes exactly where you want him to throw it. It goes there, and it looks good, and it is usually extremely accurate.”
But at this point, what will benefit the program more? Holgorsen’s biggest decision isn’t who should the backup quarterback is, but whether Ford Childress should redshirt or not. WVU and Holgorsen would benefit from having Childress just practice and take reps for a whole year, that way once Smith graduates, Childress is ready to step in and compete for the starting job with Millard.
About the possibility of redshirting Childress, Holgorsen said, “It’s in the best interest of our football team. Paul (Millard) is so far ahead, because of the reps he’s had. We’ll let Ford (Childress) absorb it, take a bunch of reps and in a year from now compete. In a perfect world, yes, we’ll redshirt him, but you know how that goes.”
Barring an injury to Geno Smith, the backup isn’t going to play this season. So why would Holgorsen and his staff waste a year of eligibility on Childress. As much as Millard struggled in 2011, with the experience he has, he will be more than a steady backup this season. And since Childress would be third depth chart, there is no reason, not to redshirt because after the 2012 season Holgorsen can develop Childress over his career.
Right now that decision is still undecided at least until fall camp. Right now Childress is doing everything in his power to get on the field and is just worried about practice.
“It’s tough, but at the same time I’m getting better every day and it is getting easier and easier,” Childress said.