Lesson from the Dean
Terminology doesn't always translate from one sport to the next, but coaching techniques sometimes do. North Carolina football coach Mack Brown, who has worked across campus from Dean Smith for 10 seasons, remarked last week on Smith's "very high energy on the boundary...bench...sidelines...whatever they call it," then added that he had learned some useful strategies by watching Smith, who resigned as Tar Heels basketball coach last week after 36 seasons in Chapel Hill. "HE had his substitutions so calculated because he'd determined how many minutes a young player could compete effectively," Brown said. "We're doing that now in football. If a [backup] can play 15 plays, he'll be better for those 15 than the starter who plays 60."
Brown pointed to his defensive ends as an example. Seniors Greg Ellis and Mike Pringley start, but junior Ebenezer Ekuban—who regularly rotates into the lineup—is tied for the team lead with four sacks. Freshman Stephon McQueen is one of those 15-plays-a-game guys.
Brown, whose fourth-ranked Tar Heels beat Wake Forest 30-12 last Saturday to improve to 6-0, says there's a reason so few schools are successful in both football and basketball. "Our coaches and players get along well," he says of the harmony between the two North Carolina programs. "That's unusual. At most schools there's a fight over money, contracts or fans, or there's jealousy. Coach Smith and Coach [Bill] Guthridge [Smith's longtime assistant and now his successor] reached out to us. They come to every game."
There are 13 unbeaten teams left, the least respected of which is New Mexico. If the 6-0 Lobos figure out a way to stop Rice this week, they'll have to be taken seriously. After their 27-14 upset of BYU, the 4-2 Owls are averaging 376.3 yards on the ground, only 25.5 less than Nebraska. Rice's 1997 rushing average would have led the country in seven of the last eight seasons....
Kansas State junior Michael Bishop set a school record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 196 in the Wildcats' 41-11 whipping of Missouri, yet coach Bill Snyder asked Bishop not to make himself available to the media for interviews after the game. "This is not a team of individuals," Snyder said. So why does K-State put the players' names on the backs of their jerseys?...
There likely won't be an uglier play this season than the opening kickoff at Auburn last week. Louisiana Tech special-teamer Suaese Ta'ase leveled Auburn kicker Jaret Holmes and then hit him again when Holmes was down. Ta'ase received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and was ejected. Fortunately, Holmes was not injured....
Clemson won the first 29 games it played against Virginia, back when the Cavaliers were the definitive homecoming opponent. Virginia broke the streak in 1990, and in the last eight meetings between the teams the Cavaliers lead the rivalry 4-3-1. Virginia's 21-7 victory last Saturday spoiled the Tigers' homecoming.
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