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News Nuggets, 12.14.04
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Compiled from staff reports and electronic dispatches

Preview: USM, North Texas kick off bowl season


12.13.04: Musical chairs at full tilt as coaches change jobs ... List of Division I-A coaching changes ... Heisman Trophy chronology 1935-2004 ... More...
12.12.04: Title game of the Heismans set ... All-time Heisman winners list ... Blue- Gray Classic scratched again ... More...
12.11.04: Job security for SMU coach comes with lofty mandate ... Panel pushing to tie bowl bids to grad rates ... More...
12.10.04: Gamecocks' ol' man "Pops" still in the limelight ... Lou Groza Award winners ... Ray Guy Award winners ... More...
12.09.04: East Carolina releases 2005 baseball schedule ... BCA urges athletes, coaches to shun Gamecocks ... More...
12.08.04: All-Conference USA and C-USA All-Freshman teams ... Petrino waves off suitors to stay at Louisville ... More...
12.07.04: Syracuse chancellor decides to stick with Pasqualoni ... Zook selected to rejuvenate struggling Illini ... More...
12.06.04: C-USA standings, scoreboard, bowl lineup & TV ... BCS rankings, bowl pairings ''' AP football poll ... More...
12.05.04: FLwed BCS produces another messy title picture ... College football weekend: stars & storylines ... More...
12.04.04: Hectic December for Southern Miss kicks off today ... Crimson Tide basketball rolls into Charlotte ... More...
12.03.04: AP: Holtz gets the nod as coach at East Carolina ... Ross rediscovers purpose at West Point ... More...
12.02.04: Florida going to Peach Bowl with or without Zook ... Willingham refuses to throw darts at Notre Dame ... More...
12.01.04: Peach Bowl hopes Zook coaches one more game ... Juggernauts Louisville, Boise State to collide ... Bowl wrap: Eagles land in Tire Bowl vs. Heels ... More...

New Orleans Bowl Matchup

  0 at Texas 65
  13 Florida Atlantic 20
  21 at Colorado 52
  14 at Baylor 37
  30 Middle Tennessee 21
  31 at Utah St. 23
  36 New Mexico St. 26
  45 La.-Monroe 30
  27 at La.-Lafayette 17
  51 Idaho 29
  31 at Arkansas St. 7

  21 at Nebraska 17
  16 California 26
  32 at Tulane 14
  27 at South Florida 20
  35 Houston, OT 29
  3 at Alabama 27
  51 East Carolina 10
  24 Cincinnati 52
  26 at Memphis 30
  17 at TCU 42
  26 UAB 21

-------------------------------------Rushing Offense
Car Yds Yds Pg
UNT 452 2159 196.3
USM 438 1583 143.9
-------------------------------------Passing Offense
Att Cp Yds Yds Pg
UNT 220 124 1757 159.7
USM 321 154 1929 175.4
-------------------------------------Total Offense
Plays Yds Yds Pg
UNT 672 3916 356.0
USM 759 3512 319.3
-------------------------------------Rushing Defense
Car Yds Yds Pg
UNT 434 1918 174.4
USM 437 2023 183.9
-------------------------------------Pass Efficiency Defense
Att Cp Yds Tds Pts
UNT 374 234 2649 14 127.46
USM 332 171 2277 18 118.57
-------------------------------------Total Defense
Plays Yds Yds Pg
UNT 808 4567 415.1
USM 769 4300 390.9
Net Punting
No. Yds Net
Punts Avg Ret Ret Avg
UNT 67 38.4 30 274 34.3
USM 65 41.3 31 233 37.7
-------------------------------------Punt Returns
No Yds Avg
UNT 14 161 11.5
USM 25 185 7.4
-------------------------------------Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg
UNT 39 803 20.6
USM 43 955 22.2
-------------------------------------Turnover Margin
Gained Lost
Fum Int Tot Fum Int Tot Mar/Gm
UNT 10 13 23 8 2 10 1.18
USM 6 14 20 7 8 15 .45
-------------------------------------Scoring Offense
G Pts Avg
UNT 11 299 27.2
USM 11 278 25.3
-------------------------------------Scoring Defense
G Pts Avg
UNT 11 327 29.7
USM 11 288 26.2

NEW ORLEANS — Getting to the New Orleans Bowl was more difficult than ever for North Texas and prevailing in the postseason game may be even tougher.

The Mean Green open the bowl season against Southern Mississippi on Tuesday night (6:30 p.m. ESPN2) in the Superdome, the culmination of a season that was a struggle on and off the field for the Sun Belt Conference champs.

The worst of it for North Texas came just before the start of preseason practice, when junior quarterback Andrew Smith was killed in an automobile accident.

Two games into the season, Patrick Cobbs, the leading rusher in the nation in 2003, injured his knee and was out for the rest of the season.

``We probably had more adversity to overcome this year than in any of the other years,'' Mean Green coach Darrell Dickey said. ``The first year we kind of snuck up on some people. The last two years we had a veteran team. This year we were kind of an unknown.

``To these kids' credit, we just did what we needed to do and we're fortunate to be back in New Orleans.''

North Texas (7-4) overcame an 0-4 start to go undefeated in conference play for the third straight season.

Smith's death jarred the close-knit team early in the season, Dickey said. ``Then our team started coming together and playing in his honor. It helped us win some games down the stretch.''

Freshman Jamario Thomas stepped in for Cobbs, gained 247 yards against Colorado in his first start and went on to lead the nation with an average of 189.9 rushing yards per game.

``My mind-set was like, `'Man, this is happening fast,''', Thomas said. Thomas credits encouragement from Dickey, Cobbs and quarterback Scott Hall with helping him adjust.

``I started to get more used to the speed and started to understand what Scott was talking about more,'' he said.

The Golden Eagles (6-5) will try to contain Thomas with a defense led by linebacker Michael Boley, the Conference USA defensive player of the year.

``You've got to stop the run. They've got the number one rusher in the country,'' Southern Miss coach Jeff Bower said.

The Mean Green are 1-2 in their three previous trips to the New Orleans Bowl, losing to Colorado State three years ago and Memphis last year. In 2002, they beat Cincinnati.

North Texas has not played since Nov. 18, when it defeated Arkansas State, 31-7. USM did not conclude its regular season until Dec. 4, when it lost to California, 26-16, in a game postponed from September because of Hurricane Ivan.

The Golden Eagles need a victory to extend their streak of consecutive winning seasons to 11.

``The last two years we've gone to bowl games and lost them,'' USM guard George Batiste said. ``We're trying to get a win under our belt in a bowl game to make our season feel complete.''

McLendon to bolt Wolfpack for NFL draft

RALEIGH — North Carolina State tailback T.A. McLendon, an injury-prone runner who never matched the promise he showed as a freshman, will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

``I have enjoyed my time at N.C. State and have a great relationship with coach (Chuck) Amato and the other coaches,'' McLendon said in a statement released by the school Monday. ``But I have a family to take care of and I've decided that it is time for me to start thinking about my future.''

As a high school star, McLendon set several national records, including career touchdowns (178), touchdowns in one season (71) and career points (1,076). He rushed for 3,070 yards as a senior and led tiny Albemarle High to the North Carolina 1-A state championship.

He scored 35 touchdowns for the Wolfpack, good enough for third-best in school history.

But injuries stymied his progress with the Wolfpack. He missed one game as a freshman, when he was named the ACC rookie of the year and first-team all-conference after finishing with 1,101 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. He missed four more games as a sophomore, then struggled with shoulder and hamstring ailments this season.

Even when he was in the lineup he had problems. He had trouble holding on to the ball, and he was benched for nearly two quarters of the season finale against East Carolina after fumbling early.

McLendon's struggles helped keep N.C. State from qualifying for a bowl for the first time in five seasons under Amato.

``We certainly wish T.A. the best,'' Amato said. ``He is a very talented player and we hope he has great success.''

Former ECU assistants McFarland, Brindise land jobs

Former East Carolina football assistants Robert McFarland and Noah Brindise, who found themselves looking for employment last month when John Thompson was ousted as head coach of the Pirates, have landed on their feet in Nacogdoches, TX, and Las Vegas, NV, respectively.

Stephen F. Austin State officials announced Monday that McFarland, who coached ECU's offensive line this past season, has been hired as head coach at the Division I-AA Lumberjacks. Brindise, the Pirates' offensive coordinator in 2004, was named to the same position at Nevada-Las Vegas by new Rebels coach Mike Sanford.

McFarland takes over at SFA for Mike Santiago, who was fired in November after his team finished fifth in the Southland Conference at 6-5.

"I stand here today both excited and honored to be the head coach at Stephen F. Austin," said McFarland. "I've spent 19 years preparing for the opportunity to be a head coach, and I feel I'm ready for this challenge."

McFarland is no stranger at SFA, having served in the program as offensive line coach from 1991 through the 1999 season. He left SFA after the 1999 season for Central Florida, where he served as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach until joining Thompson's ECU staff in 2004.

"I believe Coach McFarland possesses all the qualities we are looking for in a new head coach and will do an outstanding job in leading the Lumberjack football program to greater heights," SFA athletic director Steve McCarty said in a statement. "Robert has close ties to SFA and his ties to Texas high school football have remained strong."

Brindise joined Thompson's ECU staff last season after two years as a quarterbacks coach on the Washington Redskins staff of Steve Spurrier. Brindise played quarterback for Spurrier at Florida from 1995-97.

"Noah Brindise is an extremely bright, up-and-coming offensive mind who comes to us highly recommended," Sanford said in a statement.

Sanford, who was lured last week from his offensive coordinator's position at Utah to succeed the retired John Robinson, had already announced that he will call UNLV's plays himself.

News Nuggets are compiled periodically based on material supplied by staff members; data published by ECU, Conference USA and its member schools; and reports from Associated Press and other sources. Copyright 2004 and other publishers. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Page Updated: 02/23/2007 12:06 PM


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