Rookie Coffee rushes for 129 yards in Niners’ preseason win

Don’t tell 49ers’ rookie running back Glen Coffee it’s only the preseason.

Glen CoffeeAfter rushing for 67 yards on 14 carries in San Fran’s preseason opening win over the Broncos last week, Coffee backed that performance with a 16-carry, 129-yard effort against the Raiders on Saturday night.

From ESPN.com:

Coffee, a third-round pick out of Alabama, gashed Oakland’s run defense, ripping off four runs of at least 10 yards, including a 35-yarder that led to a field goal by Joe Nedney. Coffee, who replaced Frank Gore after one series, finished with 129 yards on 16 carries.

The Niners took a little heat when they selected Coffee over fellow running back prospects Rashad Jennings and Andre Brown in April, mainly because Coffee wasn’t the most elusive or explosive back in the draft. But obviously the young man has shown great toughness and coaches have marveled at his speed and pass blocking abilities.

Frank Gore is obviously still San Fran’s best offensive weapon and their top back. But with the way Coffee has looked thus far, don’t be surprised if the Niners find ways to get him plenty of touches this season.

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Utah pistol-whips Alabama in Sugar Bowl

Brian JohnsonIn one of the more dominating performances of the bowl season, the undefeated (and still undefeated) Utah Utes flat out ran over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide 31-17 in Friday night’s Sugar Bowl.

I’ll always be the first one to admit when I was wrong and I was dead wrong when I previewed this game in my BCS Bowl Preview.

I thought Alabama would control both lines of scrimmage and wear down Utah over four quarters. Wrong. I said that Saban would shove Glen Coffee down the Utes’ throats for four quarters and that Utah would eventually cave in the second half. Wrong. I said that the Tide’s defense would shut down an explosive Utah offense, but one that hadn’t seen a decent defense outside of TCU’s in the regular season. Wrong.

What happened was that Utah was flat out the better team and they showed it Friday night. They played with more passion, more fight and more determination than any team this bowl season and they proved that they not only belong in the top 10, but they belong playing for a national title.

Utah’s game plan was executed brilliantly. Alabama had one of the best defensive lines in college football this season, but Utah quarterback Brian Johnson neutralized the Tide’s front seven by getting rid of the ball in a timely manner every time he dropped back. The result was a 336-yard, three touchdown performance and more importantly, Johnson didn’t throw any interceptions.

Then in the fourth quarter up by 10, it was Utah who wore down the Tide – not the other way around. Instead of Coffee being shoved down the Utes’ throats, it was Matt Asiata being shoved down ‘Bama’s throats as he picked up important first downs late in the fourth quarter. And Utah wasn’t doing anything unique; Asiata just lined up at quarterback, took a direct snap and rushed right up field. ‘Bama knew it was coming, but they couldn’t do anything about it.

This was by far the most impressive win of the bowl season and I tip my hat to the Utes. They were far and away a better team than I gave them credit for in my bowl preview and they were fun to watch. Too bad college football isn’t smart enough to have a playoff system so we could really see what Utah can do.

2009 BCS Bowl Preview and Predictions

The 2009 BCS Bowl Season is quickly approaching – not that anyone should care.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, but if the BCS doesn’t care about any of its five bowl games outside of the national championship game, then why should we? All the BCS essentially cares about is figuring out who the top team teams are in college football – and they can’t even do that right.

But I digress. I’m not going to burn another 1,200 words on why college football needs a playoff because it’ll just fall upon deaf ears. Instead, I’ll get into the bowl season spirit and break down the five BCS bowls, as well as hand out predictions for each game.

Predictions are essentially meaningless, but they’re fun so make sure you throw out your picks in the comment section below.

Daryll ClarkRose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, January 1, 4:30PM ET ABC
Some college football pundits believe that this one will be over with by halftime, but if Penn State uses Oregon State’s victory over USC as a blueprint for success, the Nittany Lions could make this a tighter game than most expect. PSU tailback Evan Royster has been a playmaker this year and if the Lions can employ him the same way the Beavers’ used Jacquizz Rodgers to beat the Trojans earlier this season, then maybe they can exploit USC’s quick defense. Then again, the Trojans’ D is one of the fastest and most talented units in the country and it won’t be easy for PSU to spread the field on them like they did against Big Ten opponents this season. USC has the most talented linebacker corps in the country and their secondary features two safeties in Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison that blanket the field in both coverage and run support. In order for the Lions to claim victory, quarterback Daryll Clark will have to play mistake free and not try to force action in the passing game. Offensively for USC, quarterback Mark Sanchez has been outstanding, but he will make mistakes. He threw at least one interception in seven games this year and if PSU’s defense can generate some pressure, they could force Sanchez into some turnovers and capitalize on some prime field position. But outside of getting pressure on Sanchez, Penn State needs to tackle well and limit the yards-after-catch opportunities that USC’s receivers thrive upon. Sounds basic enough, but the Trojans have one of the fastest offenses in the league and Sanchez has excelled at taking what defenses give him and in getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers. The Lions would be wise to get 11 defenders around the ball at all times, especially when USC tailback Stafon Johnson gets the opportunity to make plays.
Rose Bowl Prediction: USC 30, Penn State 17.


Read the rest after the jump...

Florida knocks off No. 1 Alabama, heading to national championship game

Florida-AlabamaPerhaps no team in college football has played better over past two months than Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. And thanks to their impressive 31-20 victory over No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday, Tebow and the Gators will head to Miami to play in college football’s national title game on January 8.

In the end, the Crimson Tide didn’t have enough offensive firepower to knock off Urban Meyer’s Gators, who just had too many players to control. The started to wear down the Gator defense in the third quarter, but couldn’t muster any points in the fourth and it wound up being their pitfall. The stout ‘Bama defense couldn’t contain Tebow, either, who threw for 216 yards and three touchdowns, including a five-yard scoring pass to Riley Cooper with 2:50 remaining in the game, which turned out to be the nail in the coffin.

It’s hard to place blame on running back Glen Coffee, who rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown, but QB John Parker Wilson couldn’t come up with enough big plays throughout the course of the game. He threw for just 177 yards and outside of a 64-yard pass to Julio Jones in the first quarter, Wilson struggled throwing vertically against an extremely fast Florida defense.

What’s amazing is that Florida scored 31 points against a fantastic Alabama defense and did so without Percy Harvin, who is their most explosive playmaker. The Gators’ win is truly a testament to how good this team is to knock off a previously undefeated Tide program, which had stifled their opponent’s offenses all season.

And does Tim Tebow get thrown back into the Heisman discussion after this game? The Big 12 quartbacks – Colt McCoy, Sam Bradford and Graham Harrell – have been impressive, but Tebow has been on an absolute tear and in the biggest game of the season, he produced. His leadership, determination and heart have also been unrivaled this year.This is why college football should wait until after the championship game is played to crown the Heisman winner, because what if Tebow outshines Bradford or McCoy yet one of those two Big 12 QBs win the award? It’s kind of ridiculous not to wait until the BCS bowl games are played to crown a Heisman winner.

So Florida is in (assuming of course that the BCS doesn’t screw things up, which of course is still a major possibility), and will await the result of the Big 12 Championship Game. If Oklahoma beats Missouri, it’ll be the Gators and the Sooners in the national title game. If MIZZOU produces a massive upset, than all hell breaks loose and college football fans will pray all of the BCS’ computers explode and mass chaos ensues.

The Official Alabama-Florida Prediction Thread

All right, most of us know that predictions are worthless in sports. Nobody really knows what will happen, even if we think we do.

But predictions are also fun and with this being championship week in college football, I thought it would be fun for everybody to throw out some game predictions on the Alabama-Florida game. It can be a full a full game analysis or just a score projection – it’s up to you.

I’ll walk onto the dance floor first:

Perhaps no team in college football is playing better than the Gators are right now. They’re outscoring opponents by an average of 24 points per game, own the top turnover margin in the nation and since their loss to Ole’ Miss in late September, have destroyed teams by a 414 to 97 margin.

But this game will come down to defense, which just so happens to be ‘Bama’s specialty. The Tide are allowing just 11.5 points per game and less than 250 total yards. Their defensive front four is one of the best in the nation and as a unit, the ‘Bama defense is the sixth best in all of college football.

For as well as Florida has played since losing to the Rebels, this won’t be a walk in the park like some purists believe. ‘Bama isn’t undefeated by accident and although they had a few close calls throughout the year, that will only help them if this SEC Championship Game turns out to be the dogfight many expect. The key will be whether or not Alabama can produce enough offense to win. Their running game is solid with Glen Coffee, but they’re going to have an incredibly hard time putting the ball in the air against a UF team that is allowing just 172.9 yards per game this season.

Prediction time – I’m taking Florida. The Gators just have too many weapons (assuming Percy Harvin plays) and Tim Tebow makes things happen around the goal line. This won’t be a blowout, but Florida’s defense should contain John Parker Wilson and the ‘Bama passing attack, although they might have trouble keeping Coffee contain because the Tide can dominant the line of scrimmage at times.

Florida 24, Alabama 21. The Gators win, but the Tide cover the spread. ‘Bama is 5-0 against the spread in their last five games and have covered the last five times in this matchup. I’ll take the gift 10-points from oddsmakers, especially considering ‘Bama could win outright.

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