Tag Archives: Oregon

A Heck of a Coaching Job by Meyer Winning National Championship with Third String QB

13 Jan

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

The Ohio State Buckeyes are on the top of the college football world and they did it in unlikely fashion.

Playing in just his third game, Ohio State Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to its first national championship since 2001.

Playing in just his third game, Ohio State Cardale Jones led the Buckeyes to its first national championship since 2001.

Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer will probably be remembered for pulling off one of the great coaching jobs not just college football history, perhaps in the history of the game.

The fact that the Buckeyes made it to the national championship game against Oregon with a third-string quarterback was a remarkable achievement. That Ohio State won it all is simply amazing.

Sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones, making just his third start, was a beast of a signal caller. He completed 16-of-23 for 242 yards and one touchdown. As a rusher, he gained 38 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Jones used his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame to physically punish the Ducks on short-yardage situations.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer answers questions after his team's win over Oregon in the first College Football Playoff National Championship. Photo by USA Today.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer answers questions after his team’s win over Oregon in the first College Football Playoff National Championship. Photo by USA Today.

Meyer said Jones was actually the second string quarterback in the spring, but lost it to J.T. Barrett during August training camp. He said Jones of a study of what happens when you get a chance to redeem yourself.

“Everybody in life has a chance to push restart,” Meyer said. “Not many people on a grand stage like Cardale has and he has pushed restart and hit the right button and that’s called selfless approach and a serious approach to how he handles his business on and off the field.”

Jones credited Meyer for challenging him and his teammates to be better football players.

“He gets the best out of us in different waJones ys,” said. “Even in the same room as far as the quarterbacks, so the way he gets the best out of us is second to none and that’s why we’re here today.”

Speaking of getting physical, running back Ezekiel Elliot ran through the Oregon defense for 246 yards on 36 carries and scored four touchdowns. Ohio State as a team had 296 yards on the ground. In the second half, the offense was on the field 23 out of the 30 minutes.

Defensively, the Buckeyes slowed down Oregon’s fast-paced offense and kept them from scoring in the red zone including a critical fourth down stop in the second quarter. Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Losing the starter for the season can devastate most teams and can ruin the most promising of seasons. Ohio State not only weathered the storm of losing its starting quarterback, it has experienced a season that I don’t think anyone saw coming when the Buckeyes lost their second string quarterback at the end of the regular season.

And somehow they won the national championship.

“That’s the essence of a good team,” Meyer said. “If you can hit the storm and come out the other end stronger, that’s a real, real, real team and how many of those are out there? I’ve done this 30 years and probably can count them on one hand.

“Some people think this is the luck of the draw. I think it’s leadership and training.”

First, the Buckeyes lost Heisman Trophy candidate and two-time Big 10 Player of the Year Braxton Miller to a season-ending shoulder injury 12 days before the season began.

That situation put the onus on backup J.T. Barrett who not only won 11-of-12 games, but became a Heisman Trophy candidate himself.

Barrett threw for 2,834 yards and 34 touchdown touchdowns passes. He also ran for 938 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

Just when things were looking rosy for the Buckeyes, Barrett suffered a broken ankle in the regular-season finale against Michigan and things looked bleak for Ohio State.

Jones made his first start in what was the biggest game of the season, the Big 10 Championship game against a hot Wisconsin squad and another Heisman candidate in running back Melvin Gordon.

In his first game as a starter against the Badger Jones completed 12-of-17 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. The Buckeyes came away with a resounding 59-0 win.

Coming into the Sugar Bowl, the College Football Playoff semifinals, all the experts said there was no way Jones and Ohio State was going to beat SEC power Alabama with a third-string quarterback.

Sho’ nuf, sho nuff … Jones led the Buckeyes to a 42-35 win to put them into the title game.

Jones came up huge against the Crimson Tide, completing 18-of-35 passes for 243 yards and one touchdown. He also had 43 yards rushing.

Not many coaches—pro or college—have made a run through the postseason without their starting quarterback. It’s rare you win anything when you’re down to your third quarterback. I can think of one that comes close.
In 1965, Baltimore Colts head coach Don Shula lost legendary quarterback Johnny Unitas to a season-ending knee injury and they lost their backup quarterback Gary Cuozzo to an injury that ended his season.

The Colts were down to their emergency quarterback, running back Tom Matte, who oddly enough was a collegiate quarterback at Ohio State, and faced the Green Bay Packers in the Western Conference playoff after the two teams finished the season tied for first place.

Matte and the Colts led Green Bay 10-7 for most of the game. Late in the fourth quarter, the Packers sent the game into overtime on a controversial 22-yard field goal that appeared to be wide right.  Green Bay eventually won it in sudden death.

Wearing a wristband with the Colts plays, Matte managed the Baltimore offense well, completing 5-of-12 passes for 40 yards and running for 57 yards on 17 carries. Matte’s wristband is on display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

Jones name will be inscribed on a national championship trophy thanks to his coach.

The Big Ten’s Bad Weekend Exposes Flaw in new College Football Playoff

8 Sep

 

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Michigan State quarterback gets a hard rush from Oregon linebacker Tony Washington.  Spartan loss to Oregon has apparently eliminated the Big 10 from playoff consideration.

Michigan State quarterback gets a hard rush from Oregon linebacker Tony Washington. Spartan loss to Oregon has apparently eliminated the Big 10 from playoff consideration.

PHILADELPHIA—The aftermath of last Saturday’s college football games has me shaking my head and coming to the conclusion that the new four-team college football playoff format is seriously flawed even before it begins.

The premier programs of the Big-10 Conference, seventh-ranked Michigan State lost to No. 3 Oregon, eighth-ranked Ohio State lost to unranked Virginia Tech and Michigan got shutout 31-0 by Notre Dame.

Those high-profile non-conference losses not only cast doubt on the conference’s credibility, but according to several college football media people, it has eliminated the Big-10’s chances of having a team in the new college playoff this season.

The headline on ESPN.com Sunday morning was crystal clear about that: “Big Ten Busted After Two Weeks.”

Ohio State lost at home to unranked Virginia Tech.  Along with losses by Michigan and Michigan State, the Big Ten's credibility as a power conference has been called into question by college football experts.

Ohio State lost at home to unranked Virginia Tech. Along with losses by Michigan and Michigan State, the Big Ten’s credibility as a power conference has been called into question by college football experts.

Really? Two weeks into the season and we’ve eliminated an entire conference from playoff contention. If you’re thinking there’s something wrong that, you’re absolutely right because there is something wrong.

Now before you go off thinking that I’m feeling sorry for the Big-10, this is not that column because they signed up for this madness.

What’s really under indictment here is the idea that the five power conferences, including the Big-10, came up with a format for themselves that had already eliminated the other five conferences—the Sunbelt, Mid-America, Conference USA, the Mountain West and the American Athletic Conference from competing for a national championship.

And now the beast that is the super conferences are feeding off themselves with a bit of elitism within their own insular group. At some point, they are going to be cries to expand the playoffs-even it is among the super conferences.

They probably won’t think of doing it until Southeastern Conference schools finds themselves where the Big-10 is now. In the cycle of sports all conferences go through their share of down years.

As it stands now, the College Football Playoff will be here for the next 12 years thanks to a $5.64 billion TV deal the super conferences made with ESPN.

A 13-person committee selects the teams for the two semifinal games while teams representing the “big five” will fill the other four bowl games with one guaranteed spot going to the highest-ranked representative from the mid-major group of five conferences.

The bone they throw to the Mountain Wests’ and Conference USA’s of the world is nothing more than a pat on the head.

For me, comparing college football’s playoff to the NCAA basketball tournament is like former Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Sen. Lloyd Bentsen telling former Vice-President Dan Quayle that he’s no John F. Kennedy.

Unlike the equality the NCAA basketball tournament where smaller schools are allowed to compete, the current College Football Playoff allows no room for the Cinderella story as we have seen in basketball.
So when a team out of a Conference USA or Mountain West and they’re undefeated or have a solid record, they won’t get the opportunity to test themselves in the spotlight.

Under this system, the smaller FBS conferences are marginalized to play in meaningless Bowl games without the opportunity to compete for a national championship. That to me is shameful because the power conferences want to hoard the money and resources for themselves.

And so this brings back to the Big-10’s so-called “elimination” from College Football Playoff in just the second week is a good reason for expanding the field. It’s ridiculous to say that a team representing any conference is out of playoff contention in early September.

Again, I have no sympathy for the Big 10 or any of the five super conferences who may not have a team in January’s playoff because you created a playoff system that freezes out the other five smaller conferences from having any chance to compete. It is a screwed up by-product of your own insular elitism and greed.

I’ve always said that there needs to be a 16-team playoff system where the conference champs of all 10 FBS conferences get automatic bids while the six at-large bids go to the highest ranked non-conference champions. That’s more fair because one loss in week two on the way to winning a conference title should not knock you out of the playoffs before October.

Unfortunately, the idea of equality of any kind in big-time college sports is a foreign concept, whether it’s giving a mid-major program like Boise State a legitimate chance to compete for a national championship in football or even sharing a percentage of the revenue with the student athletes.

Rolling the Dice: Can the Eagles Win A Super Bowl with Chip Kelly?

17 Jan
Chip Kelly is hoping his up-tempo spread offense can take the Eagles to a Super Bowl title.

Chip Kelly is hoping his up-tempo spread offense can take the Eagles to a Super Bowl title.

By Chris Murray

For the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and The Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA—Perhaps the one question Eagles fans  have for Chip Kelly, the  Birds new head coach, is will his fast-paced, no-huddle, spread-option offense will be good enough to bring the franchise its first Super Bowl title?

Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie is hoping that Kelly can turn the Birds fortune’s around as quickly as he did during his four seasons at Oregon.  While with the Ducks, Kelly compiled a 46-7 record, which included a trip to the 2010 BCS National Championship game. He also served as the team’s offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job.

“Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles,” said Lurie in a statement released by the team. “He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team.”

Kelly does have a tough act to follow after former Birds head coach Andy Reid, who finished his 14-year tenure as the winningest coach in Eagles history with nine playoff appearances, six division titles, five trips to the NFC title game and one conference title.

After interviewing with the Eagles for over nine hours in Arizona shortly after his team’s victory over Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl two weeks ago, Kelly had originally opted to stay at Oregon. Why he apparently changed his mind is not known.

There is speculation that Oregon maybe facing NCAA sanctions because Kelly used a recruiting service. According to ESPN.com, Kelly said he wasn’t running away from anything and had been cooperating with the NCAA.

In four seasons at Oregon, Kelly’s up-tempo, spread offense averaged 44 points per game. Last season, the Ducks rolled up 49.6 points per game. The Oregon offense is run exclusively from the shotgun formation with the quarterback opting to run, pass or hand it off to a running back usually up the middle of a defense.

It is an offense that requires the quarterback to be mobile and would put him in situations where he would be hit by the defense.  Kelly’s challenge will be to make that offense work in a league where the defensive linemen and linebackers are as fast as some running backs. It’s not like the Eagles are going to be playing Washington State or Cal every week.

Several teams around the league use a version of the spread option offense including the Washington Redskins, the New England Patriots, the San Francisco 49ers, the Carolina Panthers and the Seattle Seahawks.

“It’s starting to form more toward that offense. Anytime you have dual threat quarterback, it puts pressure on the defense that they can do numerous things throwing or running the ball,” said San Francisco 49ers running back LaMichael James, who played for Kelly at Oregon.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said he’s even learned a thing or two from Kelly’s uptempo offense.

“I was interested to hear how he did it. I would say he expanded it to a different level and it was very interesting to understand what he was doing,” Belichick said.  “Certainly I’ve learned a lot from talking to Chip about his experiences with it and how he does it and his procedure and all that.”

Perhaps the ideal quarterback to run Kelly’s version of the spread option could be Michael Vick, the Eagles starting quarterback until late in the season. The only problem is that Vick, while he is still a good runner, has been injury-prone and has committed a large amount of turnovers over the last two seasons.

It’s highly unlikely that the team will bring the 33-yea r-old Vick back simply because they would have to pay him $16 million. The former Virginia Tech’s age and history of injuries is definitely not an incentive for the team to shell out that kind of money.

Meanwhile, Nick Foles, who is your requisite NFL-style drop back quarterback, said he has never played in a read option-spread offense and would prefer to play in a more conventional style. Can Kelly adjust his coaching style to suit what Foles can do as a quarterback?  We’ll see.

“I catch myself watching him in awe sometimes. Nick is a hell of a football player. That kid’s a warrior. He’s as good as anyone in the country,” Kelly told a Tucson, Ariz. newspaper after his Ducks beat Arizona in 2011.

One quarterback from the collegiate ranks that could possibly fit Kelly’s system is West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who played in a spread-option offense. He has a strong arm and completed 71 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,205 yards and a career-high 42 touchdown passes during his senior year.

Another thing to consider here is will Kelly be smart enough to surround himself with a coaching staff that’s familiar with the NFL, especially on the defensive side of the ball? For the last two seasons, the Eagles defense has been from mediocre at best to downright awful, especially in the secondary.

Eagles players, via Twitter and the team’s website, are saying they are excited to have Kelly as the new head mentor.

“He’s a brilliant mind. We have a lot of weapons on the Eagles that kind of assimilates to what he was doing at Oregon,” Eagles center Jason Kelce.

If anything, Eagles fans are hoping Kelly can be as successful as a Jimmy Johnson who went from winning national championships at the collegiate level to winning Super Bowls as a pro coach.

The biggest fear is that he could flame out like collegiate coaches Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino and Nick Saban, who had their shot in the NFL, but came up miserably short.

 

ESPN.com and the Associated Press contributed to this story.