Friday, December 28, 2012

Mooney continues to be Giant Slayer in Holiday Classic

Antonio Blakeney hits jumper with 3 seconds left to lift Mooney over Ft. Myers 66-64 in Holiday Classic semis. Its the third time in three nights that Cougars beat a team that was ranked in the top 10 in their classification.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Mooney and Braden River advance to Suncoast semifinals

Cardinal Mooney has proved to be a heart-throbbing Giant Killer after two games of the Suncoast Holiday tournament at Sarasota Riverview High School.

The Cougars notched their second straight victory over a highly touted foe when it came from behind to defeat Tampa Sickles 54-50 in second round action Thursday to advance to the semifinals.

Braden River also earned a ticket to the round of four, but did it in convincing fashion with a 50-28 rout over South Fort Myers.

Braden River's Trevon Young and Cardinal Mooney sophomore Antonio Blakeney continued to show they are among the top players in the area, perhaps the two best.

Jared Williams plans on playing next season after sitting on 2012 because of injury

Jared Williams expects to be back.

The former standout running back from Southeast and Bradenton Prep missed the entire 2012 campaign at SMU due to a leg injury he suffered at the conclusion of the 2011 season in the Mustangs bowl game.

Williams was granted a redshirt and is ready to compete for the starting running back job in 2013. The position should be wide open with the graduation of Zac Line, the Mustangs leading rusher the past three seasons when he gained more than 1,000 yards each year with 1,325 in 2012.

As a true fresman in 2011, Williams rushed for 180 yards with a single game high 80 yards on 11 carries against Rice. He will be a sophomore eligiblity wise next season.

The best part for Williams is that he will be able to play for his family and friends. SMU is slated to join the Big East Conference in '13 and is scheduled to play USF at Raymond James Stadium in a date to be determined.


Bucs Gerald McCoy Pro Bowl selection draws some criticism

Gerald McCoy became the first Tampa Bay Bucs defensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since 2003 when he was selected on Wednesday.
Gerald McCoy a Pro Bowler
This is the first season the defensive tackle has been healthy and will participate in all 16 games barring the unforeseen Sunday at Atlanta. The third year pro was selected third in the 2010 NFL draft, but his first two years were marred by injuries.

 This year McCoy has recorded career highs with five sacks and nine tackles for losses for the 6-9 Bucs, who are in the midst of a five game losing streak.

McCoy was the only Bucs to be named to the team. Safety Ronde Barber, receiver Vincent Jackson and rookie running back Doug Martin were named alternatives. Jackson not making the team was a bit surprising with his 19.3 yards per reception average.

McCoy’s selection did not go without criticism. Former Buc and current WDAE radio co-host Ian Beckles of the Ron and Ian Show took the defensive tackle to task on his show today and said he did not have a Pro Bowl season.

 Beckles cited the Bucs beleaguered pass defense, which ranks last in the league, noting it influences opponents to throw a lot which allows for a lot more opportunities to get sacks and tackles for losses. With that in mind, McCoy’s stats are not that impressive, he noted.





Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pro Football Talk stands by story on Bucs player deriding coaching staff

A report in that a player with the Bucs asked mockingly if the Bucs head coaches could be sent back to college has grown a set of legs.

Some of the Bucs players, including 16 year veteran Ronde Barber questioned the quote and posed the question if it is the truth. Media types scrambled all over the find the source, but came up empty furthering speculation that maybe Barber was right.

But Mike Florio of PFT stands by the story.

Here is what Florio today on the PFT website:

“On Monday we reported in the aftermath of a 41-0 blowout loss to the Saints, punctuated by a sideline brouhaha involving assistant coach Bryan Cox and linebacker Adam Hayward, that one member of the Buccaneers privately remarked after the game, “Can we send these coaches back to college?

The story prompted a fairly quick response, with the team and multiple members of the Tampa media probing for more details, none of which were provided in the interests of honoring the promise of anonymity.

Now that the Tampa media has had a chance to ask the players about it, two days after the story broke, some players predictably have provided unrealistically sweeping denials.

That’s a [expletive] made-up quote,” cornerback Ronde Barber told the Tampa Tribune. “No one said that. I can promise you that.”

I promise you that someone did, Ronde.

Who’s in a position to be more sure? The guy to whom it was told, or the guy who has no idea what his teammates have said in the hours after a frustrating shutout loss to one of their biggest rivals? That’s why we opted not to go with the same-old “we stand by our report” when asked for a response by the Tribune, choosing instead something far more pragmatic: “If Ronde is aware of every private communication in which his 52 teammates engage, that’s even more impressive than his Hall of Fame playing career.”

Our guess is that Ronde opted to react strongly due to speculation in the local media that he was the source. As his career in Tampa likely winds to a conclusion, it wouldn’t be the ideal way to make his exit.

Regardless, we won’t say who said it. But I promise you that someone did.



Friday, December 14, 2012

Fired by USF less than a week ago, Holtz has new job

It didn't take Skip Holtz long to land on his feet and keep his money to the chagrin of the University of South Florida.

Fired by USF on December 2nd, Holtz was hired as the new head football coach at Louisiana Tech today. He replaces Sonny Dykes, who resigned to take head job at California.

Skip Holtz lands on feet quickly
Holtz inherits a program that went 9-3 and led Division I-A (FBS) in scoring averaging 52 points per game. The Bulldogs were second in the nation in total offense and fourth in passing offense averaging 350.7 yards per game through the air.

In what might be a twist of fate, Louisiana Tech had problems stopping opponents ranking 120th in total defense giving up 520 yards per game and was 117th in scoring defense allowing 38.5 points per game.

A lack of defense was the biggest criticism of Holtz during his time at USF so he will get an opportunity to show he can be a defensive fixer-upper.

 Louisiana Tech is moving from the Western Athletic Conference to Conference USA, the league where Holtz coached (for East Carolina) before he was hired by USF three years ago.

Holtz was 16-21 in his three years at USF with 14 losses in his last 16 Big East Conference games finishing in the league cellar the last two years. The Bulls were 3-9 this past season, their worst record in the history of the 16 year old program.

"I am tremendously excited for the opportunity to build on what Coach Dykes started and to lead this great team forward," Holtz told "This is a football program with outstanding student athletes, a history of winning and optimism in the future. I'm honored to be part of the Bulldogs family and I'm ready to get to work."
Willie Taggart is the new head coach at USF. But according to reports, the school owes Holtz $2.5 million (spread out over 5 years at $500,000 annually). USF athletic director Doug Woulard extended Holtz's contract through 2017 after the 2011 season despite a losing season and finishing last in the Big East.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Natalie Novak to compete for USF

Lakewood Ranch senior Natalie Novak has committed to USF where she will participate in cross country and track.

Novak said her costs will be taken care of through a combination of academic and athletic scholarships. She also considered DePaul, North Florida and West Florida. Her main events in track are expected to be the 800 meter run and the mile.
“I went to an official visit to DePaul (Chicago) and it’s a great school, but USF is a perfect fit for me. It has a great coaching staff and competes in the Big East Conference,” Novak said.

Last spring she competed on Lakewood Ranch’s 4x800 meter relay team that won the Class 3A state title. This past fall she finished 26th in the Class 3A State Cross Country meet with a personal best time of 19 minutes and 15.11 seconds.

“I am excited for her and think she will do well,” Lakewood Ranch girls cross country coach Kristina Bratton said. “It’s a perfect fit because of the weather and it’s close to home. If she went out of state and ran in colder weather it would take her time to adjust. I think she will do best in the 800. She has great speed and is an aggressive runner. “





Willie Taggart no time to relax; USF moves Miami game

New USF head football coach Willie Taggart won't have much time to get accustomed to his new job, which is fine with him. He has already hit the ground running.
Willie Taggart; photo by J Meric
The school announced Wednesday that it has moved its game with Miami from November 30th to September 28th.

The Bulls are already scheduled to play at Michigan State on September 7th, which means they will be taking on some of the better teams from the ACC and the Big 10 early on.

USF will also play FAU on September. Now they didn't have a great season, but games between Florida schools usually come down to nail biters where a turnover here or there can decide it.

The Big East Conference asked USF to move its non-confernece games up towards the beginning of the season so it can get attention at the end with teams contending for the league title facing each other.

Another big challenge for Taggart and USF will be the return of UCF, which will join the Big East next season. The Bulls were 4-0 against UCF under former coach Jim Leavitt, but the two games at UCF were down to the wire and this one is in the road.

The Bulls other Big East road games are at Rutgers, Connecticutt and Houston. Their four conference home games are against Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis and SMU. USF will not play league newcomers Boise State and San Diego State.

The new Big East will have two six team divisions with the winners playing each other for the conference championship at the site of one of the teams.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Derrick Calloway to visit USF shortly after Taggart gets the job

The Willie Taggart effect is already in motion.

Less than four days after being named the University of South Florida's new head coach, Taggart is starting to attract some of the best high school recruits.

The latest is Manatee High defensive tackle Derrick Calloway, who announced several days after
Taggart's hire that he is going to take an official visit to USF.

Originally from Los Angeles, Calloway is one of the most sought after defensive linemen in the country. He is a four star rated player who has received offers from just about every major college program in the country, including Florida, USC, Arkansas, Arizona, Missouri and Texas Tech.

Calloway is among other touted recruits that have showed interest in USF since Taggart took the job. Less than 24 hours after he took the USF job, Fort Lauderdale University School quarterback  Mike White (6-5, 195 lbs) verbally commited to the Bulls after leading his team to the 3A state championship.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

USF fires Skip Holtz; immediately begins search for new football coach

USF head football coach Skip Holtz was fired Sunday less than 24 hours after he had coached the Bulls to the worst season in the history of their 16 year program.

In announcing the decision, USF Athletic Director Doug Woolard said Holtz's whole body of work over the last two years was taken into consideration.

Holtz finished his third year at the helm Saturday night with a 27-3 loss to Pittsburgh. The last two seasons the Bulls finished last in the Big East Conference with a 1-6 record each year. The 3-9 record turned in by this year's team is the program's worst.

The Bulls failed to qualiy for a bowl the last two seasons after going to bowls the previous six years. Holtz was 16-21 during his three years and 8-16 the last two.
"While our program remains young, having just completed our 16th season of competition, our history is rich, and the expectations of coaches, players, students, administrators and fans are high. That is why the past few months have been hard for all of us," Woolard said. "It is not easy to part ways with such a good man. I am thankful for his friendship, and for what he has done for USF Athletics.
"However, my responsibility to our students, our fan base and the university as a whole is clear. We must strive to put a more successful football program on the field. Beginning today, we will move in a new direction toward that goal."
USF will have to pay Holtz $2.5 million dollars over five years as part of the buyout from his contract, Woolard said. He also said that would not hinder the school in searching for the best possible candidate and money was not an issue.
"We will immediately begin a search for a new head coach," Woolard said. "We will move as quickly as possible, but will be as thorough as necessary to find the best fit for our football program here at USF. We will enlist the expertise of university officials, community leaders, and leaders in the world of intercollegiate athletics."
In Holtz's final game, USF was held to a program record low 117 yards and in the final 15 quarters of the season the Bulls scored one touchdown. He lost 14 of his last 16 Big East games.  
USF's offense suffered a big blow when quarterback B.J. Daniels was lost for the season on November 3d against Connecticutt. But the Bulls defense has been its biggest problem the last two seasons.

USF to fire Skip Holtz; Willie Taggart among possible replacements popular with fans

USF to announce firing of Skip Holtz at 4 pm today. List of potential candidates to replace among fans includes Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky head coach and Manatee High quarterback legend.