News, Notes & Quotes - Sept. 15

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Thursday September 15, 2016

- Mark Stoops is jumping into the Kentucky defensive room more in hopes of turning things around.

He’s on his third offensive coordinator in as many years, but the defense has struggled, too. The Wildcats have allowed 44.5 points per game in two games against Southern Miss and Florida. They’ve yet to allow fewer than 27 ppg in a season under Stoops. Since a taking a 35-10 lead on USM, Kentucky has been outscored 79-7.

“The biggest surprise is how we can play like we did in the first half of game one and then since then, disappear. That is surprising. Did not see that coming,” Stoops said. “The way we started the game, everybody — as you talk about it for so long, you work during camp and you have your home opener, game one and you go out and really play very good football on all sides for a half, and then it turns on you. That’s surprising. I thought we would handle adversity better than we have. We’re a work in progress there and we’re constantly talking about it and it’s never going to change until we show that we can do it and we perform the way we can.”

- Alabama hasn’t beaten Ole Miss since Lane Kiffin arrived in Tuscaloosa. Has Ole Miss defensive line coach Chris Kiffin been the difference? Hugh Freeze downplayed it, but recognized the relationship of brothers helps.

“I doubt very seriously if they even communicate this week until we get there. In the offseason, I doubt they’re sharing a lot of things. I really don’t know,” Freeze said on the SEC coaches teleconference. "I don’t think they’re doing a lot of communicating.

“He’s obviously been around him a lot and we know what kind of offense Lane runs, he looks for mismatches, the motions, the shifts, the splits and all the things he does. Chris has a good knowledge of that, which is helpful.”

- One of Nick Saban’s biggest keys against Ole Miss? Preventing the big plays.

That included Ole Miss touchdowns of 66 and 73 yards last year

“The big thing that is very apparent to me in the last couple years is we’ve given up big plays that have made a big difference in the game,” he said. “Last year, we had three that were really, really big plays. (In 2014), in the second half, we had a couple that got them back in the game and turned the momentum of the game around. If there’s anything I see from the past, their ability to make big plays against us has had a huge impact on the outcome.”

- How many defensive backs does Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford plan to play against Cal?

“If they make the trip, they're all going to have to play,” he said. “I read an article about Texas Tech and Arizona State, they said their defensive backs ran a total of four miles in that game. The score was 68-55, I believe. You play these type of offenses, if you think you're going to go out there and play one set of defensive backs, you're in trouble, because in the fourth quarter they will have no legs to keep up with these guys.”

- The ACC is moving the football title game out of North Carolina due to the state’s bathroom law. Orlando is reportedly a possible favorite to get the game. As it relates to football, Swinney doesn’t care where it is.

“We just want to be in it. Wherever it’s at, hopefully we can be there,” he said. “Have it here at Clemson, we’ll be glad to host it. … I’m sure they’ll get a plan. For all the teams, you just want to be in the game. The other stuff, we don’t have control.”

- But in order for Clemson to get there, what’s wrong with the Tiger offense? Swinney says it’s simple.

“Yeah, we can't catch the ball. I mean, it's really that simple,” he said. “Looking for some kind of conspiracy theory or something. The bottom line is we're not catching the ball. We had eight drops Saturday for 172 yards. We didn't have eight drops until the fifth game of the year last year. Went back and looked at it. We had four drops in the Notre Dame game in a hurricane. We didn't have eight drops total until the fifth game of the year, but yet we had eight in one game. That doesn't count the four drops that we had in the Auburn game.

“We've had 12 drops in two games. That's a problem, because we've dropped touchdowns, we've dropped easy plays. We've done a lot of good, too. You can't ever really seem to get in a rhythm.”

The Tigers are No. 102 nationally in yards per play, they’re converting just 37.8 percent of third downs and have three touchdowns in eight red zone trips.

“I know everybody wants to look for some underlying theme. But I don't know how else to say it. I coached wideouts my whole life. I'm tough on those guys. I'm sorry, that affects everything involved. It affects the defense. It affects field position. It affected third down. It affects the psyche, energy, the quarterback, the left guard. It's as simple as that.”

- Arkansas has used more three-man fronts this season, in addition to their normal 4-man fronts, and Bret Bielema says it’s about adapting to the personnel.

Both Bielema and defensive coordinator Robb Smith both have three-man backgrounds in the past, but Bielema hasn’t used it for a while.

“Defensively, you want to get your best players on the field, and that’s when that odd front started to develop for us,” he said. “Really, figure out what they do best, and anything we can do to confuse the offensive play-caller is a positive thing.”

- UNLV has released a flythrough of their big football building plans. Take a look.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to