A new, refreshing wind blowing through Ann Arbor?

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As we will say over and over and over again before the day’s out, it was just the first of 12 regular season games that will be played by most schools.

And this post involves a team that won their first four games of the 2009 season before falling off the face of the football earth, losing seven of their last eight.  But, still, there seemed to be something different about the 2010 Michigan Wolverines on Saturday.

In particular and most shockingly noticeable, it appears Rich Rodriguez has the key, prototypical piece in place for his version of the spread offense, something he’s lacked during his two seasons in Ann Arbor.

Whatever it was, whatever it will be, Michigan’s impressively solid 30-10 win over UConn gave rise to renewed hope that, this time, Rodriguez’s Wolverines are indeed climbing out of their two-year maize malaise.  And, if you want to lay that hope at the feet of anyone, toss it many times over in the general direction of Denard Robinson.

If you squinted hard enough at your television set, hard enough to blur away the dreads and turn a “16” on the back of the uniform into a “5”, you would’ve sworn you were witnessing Pat White v2.0 on the Big(ger) House field.  Robinson was a mirror image of Rodriguez’s résumé-stuffing weapon while at West Virginia, rushing for 197 yards to set a school record for quarterbacks.  11 of his 29 rushes went for first downs.

As spectacular as he was in the running game, he was equally efficient — and deadly — in the passing game.  Out of 22 pass attempts, Robinson completed 19 of them for 186 yards and a touchdown.  

Perhaps most importantly, and given the -13 turnover differential Michigan had during their ’09 swoon, Robinson either carried or threw the ball 52 times, and had exactly zero turnovers. 

Granted, the Wolverines will face stiffer defensive tests than what the Huskies threw out on the field Saturday, but the Huskies aren’t exactly some Div.1-AA creampuff or a Sun Belt school looking for an opening day payday; UConn finished 8-5 last year as a member of a BcS conference and were 45th in rushing defense.

Yep, I can hear you and you’re correct.  It’s way, way too early to declare a corner having been turned for anyone, let alone a school that’s been so miserable the past two seasons.

Based on today’s performance and Robinson’s potential, however, that corner is closer than it’s ever been during Rodriguez’s time at Michigan.  And, given the hot seat he’s currently squatting on, this latest hope couldn’t have come at a better time for the embattled coach.

Florida DL Taven Bryan declares for NFL Draft

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The Dan Mullen era has everyone excited in Gainesville, but one key contributor won’t stick around to see it.

Defensive lineman Taven Bryan announced Monday he will leave school to enter his name in the 2018 NFL Draft. According to the statement released on his Twitter account, it sounds as if he made his mind up during the Jim McElwain and Randy Shannon regimes and nearly returned upon Mullen’s arrival.

Bryan ranked fifth on the team with 40 tackles while also recording six TFL and four sacks, just half a sack off the team lead.

A native of Casper, Wyo., Bryan will attempt to become just the third Wyoming native to be among the ranks of active NFL players.

SMU reportedly tabs former Cal, La Tech head coach Sonny Dykes as new head coach

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Sonny Dykes will take over as SMU’s head coach, according to multiple reports. The move was first reported by FotballScoop on Monday morning, and since confirmed by ESPN and Sports Illustrated.

Dykes takes over for Chad Morris, who left last week to become the head coach at Arkansas.

Morris was hired to re-establish ties with the Texas high school community after the program flatlined under June Jones, and Dykes has a similar appeal as his predecessor. Like Morris, Dykes is a former Texas high school coach, though only briefly. (He spent one year as the running backs coach at Richardson Pearce High School in 1994.) But more importantly he’s a name that will resonate with Texas high school coaches as the son of the legendary Spike Dykes.

The younger Dykes served as an assistant at Navarro Junior College and Texas Tech before taking over as the head coach at Louisiana Tech, where he led the Bulldogs to a 22-15 mark with one WAC championship from 2010-12. That success led him to Cal, where he took the Golden Bears to one bowl game in four seasons.

He was let go after the 2016 season, and spent the 2017 campaign laying low nearby the Hilltop, as an offensive analyst at TCU.

Dykes will inherit a 7-5 SMU team that ranked eighth nationally in scoring offense and 113th in scoring defense. The Mustangs will meet Dykes’s former team Louisiana Tech in the inaugural Frisco Bowl on Dec. 20 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Interim head coach Jeff Traylor garnered significant support inside the locker room to take over on a full-time basis, so it will be interesting to see if Dykes works to keep the former Texas high school coach on staff, perhaps in an offensive coordinator capacity.

Report: Former Stanford QB Tavita Pritchard named Cardinal offensive coordinator

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It can be argued Tavita Pritchard started the current era of Stanford football. Trailing 23-17 with 48 seconds left, it was Pritchard that hit Mark Bradford for a 10-yard touchdown to push the Cardinal past No. 2 USC for a 24-23 win in 2007, at the time the largest point-spread upset in college football history and kickstarting the Jim HarbaughDavid Shaw era that continues today.

And now it will be Pritchard’s job to keep the ball he first pushed way back when rolling.

According to Bruce Feldman of Sports Illustrated, Pritchard will be named Stanford’s offensive coordinator.

Still only 30, Pritchard graduated from Stanford in 2009, but he never really left the Stanford football program. He volunteered with the coaching staff in 2010, began working with the Cardinal defense in 2011 and was promoted to the full-time coaching staff in 2013, working with the running backs.

Pritchard was moved to quarterbacks and wide receivers in 2014 and has remained there the past four seasons, but is now in line to take over the entire offense with offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren now the head coach at Rice.

Led by Doak Walker Award winner Bryce Love, Stanford concluded the regular season ranked 32nd in rushing, 61st in passing efficiency, 19th in yards per play and 39th in scoring at 32.0 points per game. The 13th-ranked and Pac-12 North champion Cardinal will meet No. 15 TCU in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28 (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Darrell Dickey to join Texas A&M staff as offensive coordinator

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Memphis offensive coordinator Darrell Dickey is taking the same job at Texas A&M, according to a report from, uh, me.

Dickey has been on the Memphis staff for the past six years, first as an original member of Justin Funete‘s staff and continued on under new head coach Mike Norvell. His 2017 unit ranked among the top five nationally in scoring, total offense and yards per play, and came within a defensive stop of winning the American championship and playing in the Peach Bowl.

Beyond Memphis, the appeal for Jimbo Fisher is Dickey’s extensive experience in Texas. A Galveston, Texas, native, Dickey broke into coaching as a graduate assistant on Jackie Sherrill‘s staff at Texas A&M and bounced around in the state as the offensive coordinator at UTEP, SMU and Texas State, and served as the head coach at North Texas from 1998-06. He led the Mean Green to four straight Sun Belt championships from 2001-04.

It will be interesting to see how much control of the offense Fisher gives to Dickey. Memphis ran 882 plays in its 12 games this season, 41st nationally, while Florida State ranked 122nd with 734 — a difference of a dozen snaps a game.