5 things Titans coach Mike Mularkey said about the Cincinnati Bengals

Published: Wednesday, November 08, 2017 @ 4:18 PM

NASHVILLE, TN- SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans looks on during action against the Oakland Raiders in the first half at Nissan Stadium on September 10, 2017 In Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) )
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images
NASHVILLE, TN- SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Mike Mularkey of the Tennessee Titans looks on during action against the Oakland Raiders in the first half at Nissan Stadium on September 10, 2017 In Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) )(Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals head to Tennessee this week to take on a Titans team that has won three in a row. 

Here are some of the highlights from Titans coach Mike Mularkey’s conference call with media in Cincinnati: 

1. The Bengals defense looks as good as its numbers. 

“They’re a veteran group,” Mularkey said of the team that ranks 11th in the NFL in scoring and sixth in total yards allowed per game. 

“A lot of those guys have been playing together a long time in same system. There’s not a lot of mistakes being made. It’s evident on tape. But that’s really it. The rotation that they’re using in the front keeps those guys fresh. Those numbers support a group that is playing well.”

2. The Bengals offense looks better than its numbers. 

This seems hard to believe, but he said it. 

“I’ve seen improvement,” Mularkey said. “They’ve obviously had some changes with the coordinator and had some guys hurt. As they’re getting healthier and more familiar with new coordinator I’ve seen improvement over that time.”

Cincinnati ranks tied for 28th in the league in scoring while having gained the fewest yards per game in the NFL. The Bengals sport the worst running game in the league and were held to just seven points on a franchise-low 37 plays last week at Jacksonville. 

3. Dick LeBeau is still the man. 

The Titans defensive coordinator spent 18 seasons on staff with the Bengals, including time as defensive coordinator and head coach. 

“Very, very blessed I’d say to be around an individual like him,” Mularkey said of the Ohio State grad. “He’s a great coach, but he’s a great man. Players love him. Coaches love him. He loves life. That’s the No. 1 thing he does. He cares about the players. They know that. He’s still still very, very smart. He’s still coming up with ideas that are disruptive every week.”

Including his time as a Hall of Fame cornerback for the Lions, LeBeau has spent 59 seasons in the NFL. 

“He hasn’t missed a beat since I’ve been here. I’ve worked with Dick before, and he’s still going strong.”

4. Mularkey is not apologizing for his team’s record. 

The Titans are 5-3 despite not really standing out in many areas and having to deal with an injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota for multiple weeks. 

Football Outsiders rank them 18th overall in the league, five spots ahead of the Bengals. 

“I feel really good about us,” Mularkey said. "I think the bottom line is wins and that’s what we’re in the business for. You can take all those stats and I can find something with everybody’s stats, a fault somewhere that really doesn’t matter. What matters is wins and losses. Our guys are finding ways to win.” 

5. The Titans are still bringing a rookie receiver along, too. 

The Bengals are not the only team in the league still looking to get more production out of a rookie first-round receiver who has been limited by injuries and inexperience so far. 

Corey Davis has played in three games for Tennessee, including two starts. The fifth overall pick in the draft has nine catches for 101 yards. 

Meanwhile, John Ross — taken by the Bengals three spots after Davis in the draft — is still looking for his first career NFL catch. 

“Certainly it’s much better for you if you can practice with the game plan and rep it,” Mularkey said of the effect of missed time on young receivers. “Some of the mental errors (Davis) had probably are attributed to missing all that practice time and game time. Mentally they can sit in on all the meetings, take all the notes they want but if you’re really not doing it, it’s very difficult to come in there and not have some mistakes.” 

Miami-Pitt: Live updates, score, analysis for Week 13 game (November 24, 2017)

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 11:03 AM

Miami and Pitt meet on Friday, November 24, 2017, in the regular season finale for both teams. Stay here for live updates, scores and analysis.

Miami-Pitt: Live updates, score

2:16 Q4: Pitt 24, Miami 14

Finally, Malik Rosier delivers, but it will probably be too little too late. The quarterback found wide receiver Braxton Berrios for a 39-yard touchdown.

Still, it’s a two possession game. Miami will need to recover a pair of onside kicks.

2:54 Q4: Pitt 24, Miami 7

Pittsburgh delivers one final insulting blow and now the final score will be more indicative of just how dominant Pitt was today.

A 22-yard bootleg touchdown on 4th down seals the victory for the Panthers, but it certainly wasn’t the Miami defense’s fault today. The Hurricanes managed only 176 yards on 47 plays and quarterback Malik Rosier was bad enough to warrant a benching from coach Mark Richt.

9:04 Q4: Pitt 17, Miami 7

Mark Richt has seen enough. After Malik Rosier’s worst three quarters of the season, the coach has turned to backup quarterback Evan Shirreffs.

The experiment didn’t work any better. Shirreffs and the Miami offense quickly went 3 and out, with 2 incompletions and a sack.

End 3: Pitt 17, Miami 7

Christopher Herndon bailed Miami out with a 1st-down pickup, but only momentarily. The Hurricanes’ next drive lasts only six plays before being forced into another punt situation. Miami is up to 164 yards on 49 plays. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has run 88 plays today.

1:47 Q3: Pitt 17, Miami 7

Miami is in major trouble. Usually when the Hurricanes struggle, they’ve figured it out by this point. Instead, Miami’s offense has never looked worse.

Pittsburgh scores a short touchdown to stretch the lead to double digits during the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes right now have 129 yards on 44 plays.

Halftime: Pitt 10, Miami 7

For the second straight week, Miami goes into halftime with a deficit. A touchdown run by quarterback Kenny Pickett with 35 seconds left gave Pittsburgh a late lead before the Hurricanes tried one play and went into the half.

Miami’s defense was solid, forcing a pair of turnovers, but the Hurricanes offense couldn’t capitalize. Miami didn’t score a single point off either of those two takeaways and is averaging only 4.0 yards per play.

5:48 Q2: Miami 7, Pitt 3

A crunching hit by defensive back Sheldrick Redwine brought the turnover chain back out, but another quick punt squandered another opportunity for Miami.

Even with the help of a Pittsburgh penalty, the Hurricanes went three and out, and it only got worse on special teams. Punter Zach Feagles punted the ball only 13 yards.

7:03 Q2: Miami 7, Pitt 3

The U is probably back. The next question: Is Ahmmon Richards back? After putting together one of his biggest games of the year last week, the star wide receiver made one of his best plays of the year to give Miami the lead. Quarterback Malik Rosier found Richards just short of the end zone and Richards tapped his toes inbounds then turned to sneak the ball inside the pylon.

The Hurricanes’ offense is finally rolling. Miami went 90 yards in eight plays, thanks to 2 catches for 33 yards by Richards.

14:01 Q2: Pitt 3, Miami 0

A turnover chain saved the day for Miami, but the Hurricanes’ offense couldn’t take advantage. A bad snap by Pittsburgh turned into a fumble recovery for linebacker Michael Pinckney and Miami promptly punted into the end zone.

For the second straight week, Miami is back to its old ways. Against an inferior opponent, the Hurricanes offense is scuffling, Miami is losing the field-position battle and Pittsburgh has a chance to take a two-score lead. The Hurricanes are averaging a measly 1.9 yards per play.

6:45 Q1: Pitt 3, Miami 0

Pittsburgh is on the board first, capping its second drive of the game with a 46-yard field goal. Miami’s defense has been solid so far, holding Pitt to only 3.4 yards per play, but the Hurricanes first drive was plagued by a penalty on the punt return and didn’t go anywhere.

Despite managing a first down, Miami is averaging only 0.7 yards per play after quarterback Malik Rosier took a long sack. He’ll get his second chance to go to work, this time with better field position.

Miami-Pitt game time, information

Date: Friday, November 24, 2017

Time: 12:00 p.m. ET

Location: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Weather: Sunny, high of 50 degrees

Miami-Pitt football TV channel

Miami-Pitt can be watched on ABC.

Miami-Pitt football live stream

Miami-Pitt can be watched online at WatchESPN.

How can I listen to Miami-Pitt on the radio?

Miami-Pitt can be heard on the Miami Hurricanes Sports Network, WQAM 560.

Miami-Pitt preview, keys to the game

Miami has known for several weeks that it will face Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte next Saturday. The Hurricanes’ primary focus on Friday, though, is completing an undefeated regular season – their first since 2002 – and setting up a potential playoff elimination game against the Tigers in a week’s time.

Standing in the Hurricanes’ way, though, is Pitt. The Panthers will miss out on a bowl for the first time in a decade thanks to an inconsistent level of performance throughout this entire season. On Senior Day, however, their aim is to play spoiler and send the Hurricanes to a damaging loss to knock them from the ranks of the unbeaten and out of the College Football Playoff race altogether.

The Hurricanes’ performance last Saturday against Virginia was unconvincing for a while as the Cavaliers held a 28-14 lead in the third quarter. But Miami used 30 straight points to turn the tables and escape with a 44-28 victory in its home finale at Hard Rock Stadium. That led Mark Richt to warn his team that lackadaisical play would be their downfall if it was not able to clean up its mistakes.

“We better tighten up the screws or we’re going to be in trouble,” Richt said on his weekly radio show on WQAM in Miami. “Every little detail matters. That’s where we gotta tighten up the screws on offense, defense and special teams. I mean, we made enough mistakes in all three phases to get beat.”

Against the Cavaliers, Malik Rosier did throw 3 touchdowns while running for another, but he also threw 3 interceptions. The defense allowed Kurt Benkert to throw for 384 yards and 4 touchdowns against just 1 interception. In Miami’s defense, it did hold Virginia to just 55 yards on 28 carries.

Pitt is looking to shake off an emotional loss against Virginia Tech during which it had 1st-and-goal at the Hokies 1-yard line with just seconds to go, but it was unable to punch in the tying touchdown as Virginia Tech rallied for a huge goal line stand to hang on for a 20-14 win. Kenny Pickett saw the bulk of the action at quarterback for the Panthers, throwing for 242 yards, no touchdowns and 1 interception on 15-of-23 passing.

A couple of positives will be on the mind of the Panthers on Friday. They were able to handle Josh Jackson well despite the loss – Jackson was just 17-of-37 for 218 yards, throwing a touchdown and an interception. Pitt will look to replicate that as it faces Rosier, and if it does, it may be able to end the season with one of the bigger upsets in college football this year.

Pitt has Miami on upset alert: No. 2 Canes in trouble

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 2:58 PM

No. 2 Miami is in trouble on the road at Pitt. The second-ranked and undefeated Hurricanes are trailing, 17-7, with less than 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter at Heinz Field.

Pitt, which entered the game with a 4-7 record, scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 10-point lead. Panthers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett ran in a 6-yard score near the end of the first half to put Pitt up 10-7. Pitt added to the lead late in the third quarter when Qadree Henderson took a 5-yard shovel pass from Pickett into the end zone.

The Hurricanes are one of 4 undefeated FBS teams remaining in the country, and they are joined by No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 14 UCF. The loss is an obvious blow to Miami’s College Football Playoff chances, but the Hurricanes will still play Clemson for the ACC title game next Saturday in Charlotte.

Miami, which has wins over Notre Dame and Virginia Tech on the season, still has a 32 percent chance to make the College Football Playoff field if the team loses to Pitt, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Chip Kelly reportedly not headed to Florida, making Scott Frost a likely Gators target

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 3:18 PM

Chip Kelly is no longer a candidate to take the open Florida coaching job, according to Yahoo Sports’ Pat Forde. Kelly and Scott Frost were reportedly two of the top candidates for the Gators’ open job, leaving Frost as a potential front-runner.

Nebraska has reportedly already been in contact with Frost, a former Huskers quarterback who powered UCF to an 11-0 start to the season. Frost denied reports that he and the Huskers were “close” to a deal in a press conference following UCF’s win over Temple last week .

Nebraska plays Iowa at 4 p.m. ET on Friday in the Huskers’ season finale. The Huskers do still have Mike Riley as their coach, but his time in Lincoln appears to be headed to a close. His team’s 5-7 record and the abundance of reports of Nebraska’s interest in Frost point to this being his final game as Huskers head coach.

If Nebraska would love to hire Frost, Florida could throw a big wrinkle into that plan

A perfect Nebraska timeline probably proceeds something like this:

  1. Nebraska releases statement parting ways with Mike Riley on Saturday following its Friday game against Iowa.
  2. Nebraska reaches out to Frost, who says he would love to return to Lincoln and coach his alma mater.
  3. Nebraska releases statement saying it has hired Frost, holds press conference, says it found its “No. 1 candidate.” Unlike some teams, the Huskers will honestly mean it.

Kelly being ruled out at Florida means Frost might get a harder look from the Gators. Having lost one prime candidate, Florida could push hard for Frost. The UCF coach would be a home run for Nebraska, but that’s partly because Frost is high-profile enough to get looks for just about any big job. It’s possible Florida disrupts Nebraska’s perfect timeline and offers Frost more money, a much easier recruiting situation and a program that won its most recent national title in 2008, not 1997.

This will certainly be something to watch as the weekend goes on.

Report: Chip Kelly out of the running for Florida job

Published: Friday, November 24, 2017 @ 3:16 PM

Chip Kelly will reportedly not be the next coach of Florida, according to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports.

According to Forde, Florida has moved on from Kelly and will focus on Scott Frost as the primary target for the coaching vacancy. Frost is the coach at Central Florida. The Knights are unbeaten and take on USF on Friday before potentially playing in the AAC championship game next week.

With Florida now out of the picture, many expect Kelly, who coached at Oregon before working in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers, to take the  UCLA job.

Florida’s season wraps up on Saturday, when the Gators play Florida State at Noon ET.