Just For Argument's Sake ...
From nagging questions to soapbox moments to Heisman hype, here's a look at the hottest topics in college football.
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It's difficult to say that any offense is having problems in the wake of a 40-37 victory. But a Notre Dame offense with eight senior starters, an offense that only gained momentum over the course of the 2005 season, has lacked consistency over the first four games of the season.
Even the best offensive performance of the season -- the 41-17 defeat of Penn State -- is a bit misleading. The Irish defense scored one of the team's five touchdowns, and the special teams set up another.
The Irish running game has gained a total of 299 yards over four games. That's 108th among teams, and would be 55th among players. The offensive line, which features four seniors, has struggled to resemble a unit.
AP Photo/Al Goldis
Brady Quinn looked ordinary early in the Michigan and Michigan State games.
In total, an offense that gained more than 500 yards in seven games last season has yet to gain 400 yards in any game this season. Granted, the new clock rules have some role in that decline, but fewer plays overall doesn't account for the entire difference between 79 plays per game last season and 64 this season.
Only in the second half of the Michigan State game, when Brady Quinn threw touchdown passes of 62, 43 and 14 yards, did the Irish begin to play as expected. But coach Charlie Weis refused Tuesday to accept the idea that the comeback against the Spartans meant that the Irish had solved their problems.
"I think that would be a little presumptuous," Weis said, according to a press conference transcript. "I think we have a lot of work yet to do."
The second half looked good, in part, because Notre Dame looked so ordinary in the first half -- again. Quinn went 2-for-6 for eight yards in the first quarter Saturday night.
He started the Michigan game 3-for-13 for 14 yards, which included the interception that Prescott Burgess returned 31 yards for the Wolverines' first touchdown in a 47-21 victory.
Last season, the Irish scored on the first or second possession in 10 of 12 games. This season, they have one field goal to show for those eight possessions.
When a questioner brought the early-game struggles to Weis' attention Tuesday, he responded, "You're preaching to the choir."
Weis said he doesn't believe that defenses have "figured out" his play-calling.
"Just haven't written the right plays, I guess," he said. "But I don't think it's them figuring it out I'll always take my fair share of the blame because you can always write a different set of plays."
Weis said he has tried more aggressive play-calling early in the game as a way to shake the offensive lethargy. But consistency continues to elude the Irish. Weis, who loves to run and pass in equal amounts, does not like the numbers over the last two games: 34 rushes, 85 passes.
"I'm going to have to do a better job," Weis said, "as well as everyone else involved for us to get this fixed."
The schedule might help. Notre Dame has yet to play a team with a loss. Purdue comes into South Bend with a 4-0 record and a seven-game winning streak since starting last season 2-6. But after Purdue comes Stanford, which is 0-4, followed by an off week.
Enough about Mitch Mustain of Arkansas, Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Tim Tebow of Florida. There are more freshmen already playing well. They are also disproving the theory, which I first heard from UCF coach George O'Leary, that the farther a player lines up away from the ball, the quicker he might contribute.
That's certainly not the case with Iowa State defensive end Rashawn Parker, who leads the Cyclones with three sacks, and has another 1.5 tackles for loss.
Rick Scuteri-US Presswire
USC freshman Emmanuel Moody gained 130 yards against Arizona.
"I don't know that we could expect more out of an 18-year-old freshman in the first two games of his college career," Iowa State coach Dan McCarney said after giving Parker a game ball for his play in the 16-10 victory over UNLV on Sept. 9.
Parker, who played at Ponca City (Okla.) High, had 18 sacks a year ago, first in the state among 6A schools. At 6-foot, 245 pounds, he might not have fit the profile of what Oklahoma is looking for on the defensive line. Last February, the Sooners signed two defensive ends who average 6-3, 262.
Oklahoma does have a surprise at center, however. Chase Beeler has performed well in place of the injured Jon Cooper. Beeler played late in the Oregon game and started against Middle Tennessee.
The two top recruits at offensive tackle, Sam Young of Notre Dame and Andre Smith of Alabama, began the season as starters and alternate between swallowing defensive linemen and waving them through. But just the fact that they are starting on teams that have begun the season 3-1 speaks highly of their talent.
Once we move off the line of scrimmage, the candidates are impressive. USC's Emmanuel Moody, who stepped in after injuries ravaged the Trojans at tailback, has rushed for 258 yards in three games, including 130 yards on 21 carries in the 20-3 victory at Arizona Saturday night. Moody started in the backfield behind classmate Stanley Havili but the fullback broke his fibula and will miss at least several weeks.
Clemson tailback C.J. Spiller, whom coach Tommy Bowden won in a recruiting battle with his father, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, caught an 82-yard touchdown pass against Boston College, a Clemson record for a scoring reception.
Spiller's classmate, Jacoby Ford, set a school record with a 92-yard touchdown for a punt return against Florida Atlantic, which just proves he's a freshman. Upperclassmen know not to field a punt inside your 10-yard line.
Florida State has played 15 freshmen this season, a number that stuns even their coach, who has seen 362 victories. "They're sometimes better than what you're playing with," he said in a press conference this week, Corner Myron Rolle, considered one of the top recruits in the nation last February, had a hand in eight tackles in the 55-7 defeat of Rice last week. Rolle's classmate, Marcus Ball, returned an interception 54 yards against the Owls and has broken up two other passes.
It's never a good sign when a defensive back leads a team in tackles, but Toledo can take some solace in the fact that Barry Church, who already has 33 stops, might have more than 40 games remaining in his college career.
There are 19 remaining unbeaten I-A teams. In addition to the four above, three others -- Boise State, Rutgers and Missouri -- are behind at least nine teams that already have lost a game.
Brian A. Westerholt/WireImage.com
Jim Grobe and surprising Wake Forest are 4-0 this season.
The problem is a combination of expectation (four of the seven came off a losing season) and schedule (six of them have played a I-AA team). The former will take care of itself with continued winning. The latter will, too, as the teams ease out of their nonconference La-Z-Boys and into the heart of their schedules.
No. 25 Missouri and, surprisingly, Wake Forest seem like the real deal. The Tigers are a senior-dominated team playing the best defense in the nation. Missouri ranks first in total defense (175. 8 yards per game) and rank no lower than 11th in the other major defensive categories.
Wake has played Duke, yes, but its Syracuse victory appears more respectable every week, and it won on the road against UConn and Ole Miss. Neither team is great, or possibly even good, but never discount nonconference wins on the road.
Both teams will be tested soon enough. Missouri has consecutive road games against Texas Tech and Texas A&M, while Wake has a home game against No. 18 Clemson next week.
The others will prove themselves this week. Texas A&M plays division nemesis Texas Tech, Purdue goes to Notre Dame, Houston plays at Miami, Boise State goes to Utah and Rutgers plays at South Florida. With the exception of Rutgers, a win by any of the other four will mean it's time to take them seriously.
It wouldn't be For Argument's Sake if we didn't address instant replay, would it?
The announcement by Conference USA that it had suspended its replay official for a ruling in the Houston-Oklahoma State game Saturday made me wonder. Which rule book is less understood: golf or college football?
My reflex answer before the last two weeks would have been golf. "The Rules of Golf," which are written in language that occasionally lapses into English, are as impenetrable and as interesting as "Robert's Rules of Order." In order to become a USGA rules official, you have to take a rules test. Studying for the bar, by comparison, is a week at the beach.
But now I am not so sure that the "2006 NCAA Football Rules" haven't surpassed "The Rules of Golf" in their intricacies, especially as regards what may and may not be reviewed.
That is at the heart of the problem in Houston's 34-25 victory over Oklahoma State. The replay official overturned the ruling on the field, saying that a fumble by Cougar Jeron Harvey at the Cowboys' 24-yard-line occurred after the player's forward progress had stopped.
The official might have been correct. However, forward progress may be reviewed only as to whether it results in a first down.
Houston coach Art Briles didn't know that. He challenged the call. Coaches are often as loud and lacking in their knowledge of the rules as television commentators and the media. LSU coach Les Miles complained after the Auburn game that a pass tipped in the secondary could not render a pass interference call against Auburn moot, that only a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage could do so.
The problem in Briles' case is that the C-USA replay official didn't know the rule, either. He reversed the ruling. The official has been suspended.
Maybe it's just that the instant replay rule is hard to grasp for veteran officials, the same way that technology can be operated better by a 12-year-old male than any 10 adults (at least as regards my 12-year-old son). It's new, it's newfangled, and nobody understands it.
Maybe it would be a good idea if all of us -- officials, coaches, media, fans -- read the rule book. Hello, Oprah? Care to revive the book club?
the idea that Sun Belt Conference players get beat up while their athletic department cashes checks?
Troy played at Florida State, at Georgia Tech and at Nebraska on consecutive Saturdays, as in Bada Bing, Bada Bang, Bada Banged-Up. Troy didn't do it out of the goodness of its heart. The school played the games for the money -- $750,000 from Nebraska alone.
If the scoreboard is any judge, the games took a toll on the Trojans. They nearly upset Florida State, losing 24-17 after the Seminoles scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns. They went into the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech tied 14-14, only to lose 35-20. And last week, the Huskers blew out the Trojans 56-0.
Surely, after three losses to teams with the biggest and fastest types of Division I-A football players, the line into the Trojans' training room would look like the line to get into a Wal-Mart at 5:59 a.m. on Thanksgiving Friday.
At least, that was the assumption before Troy trainer Chuck Ash corrected it.
"When you play good teams with good athletes, you don't get as many people hurt, because our guys are playing as hard as they can play," said Ash, who has been at Troy for 20 years. "We see more injuries after we play teams not as good. The guys at Nebraska were running by us. They weren't hitting us. Against better teams, we don't get hurt like we did [when Troy played] in Division II. Teams in the Gulf South Conference depended on physical toughness to be competitive."
Ash said he had only the normal number of injuries this week. Speed kills, yes, but only on the scoreboard. Playing against speed doesn't hurt, except the ego.
"A couple of years ago, after we played LSU so close (the Tigers won 24-20 in 2004), our guys left saying, 'We played pretty well,'" Ash said. "After we got back from Florida State this year, our guys cried. It's not, 'I hope we show up and play good,' anymore."
So how does he explain the widening victory margins over the course of the three games? Ash cited two reasons, one on the field, and one above the shoulders of his players.
"Nebraska's got the best team," Ash said. "The wear and tear may have had something to do with it. It might have been the futility of the deal. I'm not a psychologist. But David only had to play Goliath once."
Not that anyone would believe playing that type of schedule is a good thing, injuries or no injuries. And not that Troy is going to stop playing those games. Next season, Troy's nonconference road games are at Florida, Georgia, Arkansas and Ball State. Oklahoma State is actually playing at Troy. In 2008, the Trojans' road games include LSU, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.
Mike Brittingham is the guy who wins Monopoly at McDonald's, the girl who actually gets her call answered on TRL. Five years ago, Brittingham tried to decide between playing I-AA ball at the University of San Diego or St. Mary's. The former gave no athletic scholarships. The latter gave up football in 2003.
On Saturday, at Washington State, Brittingham will start at fullback for No. 3 USC.
There are thousands of walk-ons and wannabes in Division I football across the country. Brittingham, five long, hard seasons later, is an overnight success.
USC Sports Information
Mike Brittingham will make his first start for USC against Washington State.
He is starting because USC has no one else. Senior Brandon Hancock blew his knee out in August. Senior Ryan Powdrell, who switched from linebacker last spring, fractured and dislocated his right ankle against Nebraska and is out for the year. Freshman Stanley Havili broke his fibula last Saturday at Arizona.
That leaves Brittingham, followed by head coach Pete Carroll's barber.
"You always dream of playing and starting," Brittingham said. "You don't want to be out there because someone else is hurt. I never imagined all of them going down at once."
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Brittingham came to USC because former offensive coordinator Norm Chow watched video of Brittingham at Santa Ana (Calif.) Foothill High, where he won regional honors as a defensive back. Brittingham jumped at the invitation to walk on in 2002. He learned that walk-ons live life on the periphery of a major I-A program.
They lift weights at inconvenient times. When the scholarship players showered after practice and walked into their training-table dinner, Brittingham said, "You're going home to crack open what you can get."
That existence extended to the practice field.
"You have to do everything perfect," Brittingham said. "If you mess up on one little thing a scholarship guy comes in, they give him opportunity to prove he's not bad. Walk-ons, you have to prove that you are deserving. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. You can't mess up ever."
So why did he stick it out?
"You can't get glory without hard work," Brittingham said. "It takes hard work to get anything. You don't get anything handed to you. It wasn't like I wasn't having fun. You have days when you wonder what you're doing. You could have four bad days in a row. But then you have one good day, and you're having fun again."
It took Brittingham two years to make the two-deep on the kickoff team (he is still the backup snapper). A year ago, after three full seasons, Carroll put him on scholarship. He played in every game on special teams, making three tackles, and even caught a nine-yard pass in the 42-21 defeat of Arizona.
And now he's a starter. Brittingham played extensively during the 20-3 victory over the Wildcats last week. He ran the ball once, for four yards. He caught a four-yard pass. He blocked a lot.
This week, his parents and grandparents will travel to Pullman, Wash., to see his starting debut. At USC this week, his status on campus has been unaffected.
"I'm not a big, large guy walking around," Brittingham said. "I don't think people even know who I am."
All he is is the 10,000-to-1 shot who's about to cross the finish line in first place.
It's a rule of For Argument's Sake not to talk about the BCS in September. The season is barely a third complete. If we start discussing who gets left out now, we might as well discuss playoff pitching matchups in May.
But in the wake of the release of the initial Harris Poll, which concurs with the coaches in ranking USC No. 2 ahead of No. 3 Auburn, this is an exception.
As Auburn fans prepare their conspiracy theories, ready to show once again that The Big, Bad Media is ready to make them live through 2004 all over again; ready to show once again that the media is all Trojans, all the time, they should take a look at the Associated Press poll.
The media ranks Auburn second. No. 3 USC is 22 points behind Auburn. That's not a large margin, but it's not thin enough to read through, either.
My advice, and this comes from someone who doesn't have a vote in any poll beyond the ESPN Power 16 (where I do rank USC second and Auburn third) is simple. One, don't worry until November. No team, even Auburn, has a guarantee that it will go undefeated. Two, if you must ignore one and worry, don't go off on the media. The media believes in Auburn.
As of Sept. 26, anyway.
Editor's note: Every week, Ivan Maisel will explain how to perform a task integral to college football. It might happen on the field. It might happen on the sideline. It might have to do with tradition, or preparation, or the band, or the managers. But you'll go inside the sport as you never have before. Here goes:
It is, when executed correctly, almost impossible to stop. The quarterback takes a quick drop and throws the ball on an arc that will descend downfield at the sideline, which protects the receiver to the outside and serves as a guideline by which to measure himself. As long as the receiver positions his body to box out the defensive back, it will be just the receiver and the ball. And even if he doesn't box out the defensive back, the receiver can always can outjump him.
AP Photo/John Raoux
The fade has helped Steve Spurrier pick up wins at Florida and South Carolina.
No coach has used the fade more effectively than Steve Spurrier, both at Florida and at South Carolina. The Gators won the 1996 national championship in large part because of an offense that featured quarterback Danny Wuerffel throwing pinpoint fades to receivers Ike Hilliard and Reidel Anthony. All three became All-Americans that season, and Wuerffel won the Heisman Trophy.
"What we try to do," Spurrier said, "is we try to make the slant and the fade as close to each other as we can so that the alignment of the play is the same. Then we try to get a step on the defender. We've got to get outside leverage, typically with a fake inside, or a double fake [outside fake, inside fake and outside again]. You need a good 'stick step.' Sometimes, we go the way we fake. Sometimes we fake and go the other way."
Defenses counter that by giving the cornerback help from a safety to take the slant pattern. The corner can focus on taking away the fade.
" "The throw is somewhere between 12 and 20 yards downfield to the outside," Spurrier continued. You try to keep it in the ballpark. The worst thing you can do is underthrow it. But as long as you keep it high and outside, you got a chance for it to work because the defensive back has his back to the play."
Not always, countered Purdue secondary coach Lou Anarumo. Last Saturday, freshman nickelback David Pender deflected a fade in the end zone intended for Minnesota wide receiver Ernie Wheelright into the hands of linebacker George Hall.
"Some play into the receiver and don't look back at the ball," Anarumo said. "Some play it like [the defensive back is] the receiver. We had a guy sitting on [defending] the slant. He [Pender] can bail and go play the fade. He got a good read and knocked the ball away. It was a helluva football play."
Wheelright had inside position. He effectively had boxed Pender out. But when Wheelright leapt, hands above his head, Pender leapt higher.
"It helps," Anarumo said, "to be very athletic and jump very high."
1. Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma, RB: Still the King, and since both he and Slaton are idle this Saturday, I expect he'll be here next week, too.
2. Steve Slaton, West Virginia, RB: Debated whether to drop him after his 24-carry, 80-yard day at East Carolina, but nobody behind did anything worthy of moving up.
3. Troy Smith, Ohio State, QB: The scramble and 37-yard throw for a touchdown was a keeper, all right, but the other 21 passes gained a total of 78 yards.
4. Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech, WR: He put up the numbers (six catches, 165 yards, two touchdowns) against Virginia worthy of his talent.
5. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois, RB: Yes, he ran for 198 yards and four TDs against Indiana State. But great numbers against a I-AA team are the next-to-last thing a tailback from Northern Illinois needs. The last thing, of course, would be bad numbers against a I-AA team.
Adios: Brady Quinn
1. Ohio State (1 last week): After this week at No. 13 Iowa, the Buckeyes' remaining road games are at Michigan State, Illinois and Northwestern. In other words, this is Ohio State's toughest test until Michigan.
2. USC (2): The Trojans look good enough, but they're beginning to pile up the injuries just as they did last season, when they came up one play short.
3. Auburn (3): Finally, a road game. The Tigers are experienced enough that playing on the road shouldn't matter, even in a night game at South Carolina.
4. Florida (6): The Gators' defense seems as good as advertised. Quarterback Chris Leak seems better.
5. West Virginia (4): Nothing fancy, but the Mountaineers did what they had to do in winning at East Carolina.
6. Texas (5): It will be interesting to see how much the Longhorns pay attention against I-AA Sam Houston State with Oklahoma looming.
7. LSU (7): The last five seasons, the Tigers have beaten Mississippi State by a combined 202-26.
8. Michigan (8): After Minnesota won this game last year, Gopher coach Glen Mason took the Little Brown Jug to a Minneapolis steak house to share it with the fans. Doesn't look as if the Jug will get a frequent diner's card.
9. Louisville (10): The Cardinals' next three games: at Middle Tennessee State, Cincinnati, at Syracuse. Is there a way to punch fast forward and get to the Nov. 2 game against West Virginia?
10. Oregon (11): This just in: Pac-10 coordinator of football officials Verle Sorgen and Ducks coach Mike Bellotti once shopped at the same Safeway. Oklahoma cries, "Fix!"
11. TCU (12): You like old-school football? In three games, the Horned Frogs have given up a total of 111 rushing yards and committed one turnover.
12. Oklahoma (14): Two weeks to prepare for Texas. A win will ease the sting of the Oregon loss. A loss will replace it.
13. Georgia (9): How does Mark Richt get himself into these quarterback messes? He spent three seasons keeping D.J. Shockley from getting upset behind David Greene. As soon as Joe T returns to health, Richt will be juggling three quarterbacks.
14. Tennessee (15): Erik Ainge. He threw four touchdowns against Cal, and has thrown four touchdowns and four picks in the three games since.
15. Iowa (16): The Ohio State game is the biggest thing to hit Kinnick Stadium since the epic victory over Michigan in 1985. Believe me, that's saying something in Iowa City.
16. Cal (--): DeSean Jackson might be the fastest player on a football field west of Ted Ginn Jr. Jackson might be faster.
Adios: Boston College (13)
No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 13 Iowa
Saturday, 8 ET, ABC
The local papers in Hawkeyeland are writing stories about tickets going for $1,000, or to put it in perspective, about 425 bushels of corn. The emotion will be as high as an elephant's eye in Iowa City, according to everyone but Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, holed up as usual with his staff and his video.
"I'm probably the worst guy in the world to ask," Ferentz said Tuesday. "The people where I stop to get my coffee have no idea there's a game this week."
Who knew there was monastery with a Starbucks in Iowa City?
Everyone else in the black-and-gold part of the state is gonzo. It's the second night game ever at Kinnick Stadium, and Iowa fans expect it will go a whole lot better than the first. No. 1 Miami beat No. 23 Iowa, 24-7, in the 1992 season opener.
These Hawkeyes are ranked 10 spots higher, and come in at 4-0 with victories that mimic Ferentz's methodical manner (that excludes the 20-13 double-overtime win at Syracuse, where Iowa quarterback Drew Tate did not play because of an abdominal strain). Ohio State has won in similar fashion -- slowly, inexorably pulling away from Northern Illinois, Texas, Cincinnati and Penn State.
Ferentz, in his matter-of-fact way, pointed out the quality of athletes on the Buckeyes' sideline.
"I'm out of the Heisman stuff," Ferentz said. "I tell you what: Troy Smith means an awful lot to his team, and they're ranked pretty high. We got a lot of matchup problems right now."
Iowa likes to put linebackers on wide receivers. That worked great the last two years, with linebackers like Chad Greenway and Abdul Hodge. Middle linebacker Mike Klinkenborg, the hero of the 27-17 victory over Iowa State, is a good player, but he's not yet on the Greenway level. With receivers such as Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez, the Hawkeyes have work to do.
The Ohio State defense, its inexperience aside, is doing what Jim Tressel teaches. They use field position to squeeze the life out of their opponents.
"If you turn the ball over, you're going to lose," Ferentz said. "If you act like a turtle in a shell, you lose that way, too. We're going to have to make some plays. Unfortunately, you don't have too many opportunities."
Iowa has as talented a backfield as anyone in the Big Ten with quarterback Tate and tailback Albert Young. The offensive line is a work in progress. But the fans at Kinnick Stadium will be ready to pounce on Ohio State at the least hint of success for Iowa. It's Ohio State's game to lose. The Buckeyes won't, but they will be tested.
No. 24 Georgia Tech at No. 11 Virginia Tech
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Two teams accused of underachieving of late will play Saturday with the ACC Coastal Division at stake. In fact, given the state of the rest of the division -- Miami, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke -- the winner's fans can go ahead and start booking tee times in Ponte Vedra for the first weekend in December.
Don't adjust your set. The teams are playing in Lane Stadium for the second consecutive season, an ACC scheduling quirk that Yellow Jacket coach Chan Gailey shrugged off. It will help if his players can shrug off last year's 51-7 loss in Blacksburg as easily. Virginia Tech is the toughest place in the ACC to play, depending on how obnoxious you find the Seminole War Chant. The noise comes early and often from Hokie fans. Having experienced it once might not make it any easier when the experience turned into a complete meltdown.
If you believe that Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball will find All-American wide receiver Calvin Johnson to keep the Yellow Jackets in the game -- and I do -- the big question becomes new Hokies quarterback Sean Glennon. Georgia Tech brings pressure, as Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn can attest. Glennon hasn't played against a defense that will make him think as quickly as Georgia Tech will. Glennon has played well enough thus far (51-83-3, 777 yards, 6 TDs) to lead the ACC in passing efficiency.
Five games into the season, the 4-0 Hokies finally get an opponent that doesn't drizzle out of a frozen yogurt machine. This game will feature a lot of speed and a lot of defense. The Hokies, thanks to the scheduling quirk, should take control of the ACC Coastal this week.
Houston at Miami
Saturday, 6 ET, ESPN2
This game has become bigger than anyone expected it might be. The Cougars are 4-0 for the first time since the Andre Ware-David Klingler era. Quarterback Kevin Kolb already has thrown for 1,193 yards, 12 touchdowns and only one interception. The competition has been soft, but a victory at the Orange Bowl would put a new name in the sweepstakes for one of the new BCS bids.
The Hurricanes are 1-2 and returning from an off week filled with speculation about the identity of the next head coach.
Larry Coker, however, is not dead yet. He called the idea of this being a must-win game "an overstatement." But Coker did allow that, "The main thing we have to do is get our act together and play the way we know how to play."
The question is whether the 31-7 loss at Louisville two weeks ago is how the Hurricanes know how to play. The answer is no. There is more talent at the U than this. The problems are legion. The offense has not begun to click under new coordinator Rich Olson, and the special teams, always a Miami strength, have been anything but. Miami doesn't rank higher than seventh in the ACC in any kicking-game statistics.
Coker vowed that the return game would improve, and expressed confidence in beleaguered senior kicker Jon Peattie (1-of-3). If Miami can overcome Miami, it should have plenty remaining to defeat Houston. These days, that's a big if. But if Miami doesn't defeat Houston, it's hard to imagine there would be any ifs remaining about the future of Coker.
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