Alabama spring game

Newcomers shine in Tide’s A-Day finale

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It’s bad enough for SEC foes that Alabama returns more than a dozen starters from its 2011 BcS title-winning team.

Now those same teams are faced with the prospect of having to deal with at least a couple of new recruits who may be ready to make an instant and immediate contribution as the Tide attempts pull off a repeat.

The hands-down star of the game was running back T.J. Yeldon, who was one of a handful of early enrollees for the Tide this past winter.  All Yeldon did was combine for 179 total yards — 88 rushing, 91 receiving — in helping lead the White team over the Crimson team, 24-15, in what’s officially called the Golden Flake A-Day Game.  Included in that total was a 50-yard touchdown reception from backup quarterback Phillip Sims.  For that performance, Yeldon was honored with the Dixie Howell Most Valuable Player of the Game Award

Additionally, fellow true freshman Chris Black caught a 44-yard scoring pass from Sims.  The catch-and-run by the wide receiver was the first of two scores on the day thrown by Sims.

“It’s really important. It doesn’t really matter about the game. It’s basically another practice for us. You basically just want to see consistency,” head coach Nick Saban said of the performance put out there by the new players in general. “How do they do consistently playing that position and doing their role and playing their role and those guys have done a great job. You couldn’t ask any more from them and like I said as a whole offense we have to keep progressing and we’re going to have some ups and downs right now. We’re learning some new plays and doing some different things but as long as we just come out and get better every day we’ll be fine.”

Unfortunately, the player to whom Sims looks up to on the depth chart didn’t fare as well.  While A.J. McCarron, who was quietly semi-spectacular in his first season as the Tide’s starter last season, matched Sims with a pair of touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions, including one on the first play from scrimmage.

Despite the uneven play from his starting QB and the stellar production from his true freshmen, Saban wasn’t getting too high or two low over either area, rather focusing on the improvement his squad made throughout the 15 spring sessions.

“One thing that never happens in college football is no one ever has a bad spring and no one ever has a bad spring game. We didn’t have one either,” Saban said in comments distributed by the team. “We had a lot of guys who made a lot of improvement this spring. We are still focusing on more and more guys knowing what it takes to win and the preparations, ability to adjust, play with poise, execute and do their job.

“None of that stuff happens by accident. It happens because of the way you prepare and the way you work. We will look and see how many guys have made progress in the regard. I think this game today was kind of a final exam for some of the players relative to spring practice. How much you improve, where you are in your development, are you ready to take responsibility for a role on the team.”

For those who are curious, the school detailed in its release that the format for this game was very similar to that of a regular season game: “he format for the A-Day game was much like a normal game, with a few minor variations primarily regarding the game clock. The game consisted of four 15-minute quarters with a running clock. The clock stopped only following scoring plays, penalties, and changes of possession. Regular clock rules were used during the final minutes of the second quarter and the fourth quarter.”

Incidentally, the game was played in front of 78,526 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, the fifth-largest attendance mark for an A-Day football game.  It was however, roughly 14,000 less than the record crowd that watched the Tide’s spring game last season.

(For all of CFT’s coverage of the 40-plus spring game action Saturday, click HERE.)

Matt Lubick on fourth job in three months, this one at Washington

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 19:  Members of the Washington Huskies band perform as cheerleaders take the field prior to the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils on November 19, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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Well-traveled doesn’t remotely begin to describe this particular FBS assistant coach.

With Willie Taggart taking over in Eugene, Oregon offensive coordinator Matt Lubick left the Ducks in December to take over as the wide receivers coach at Ole Miss.  Exactly 12 days later, Lubick left Oxford to become the offensive coordinator at Baylor.

Less than two months later, Lubick is on the move again, with Washington announcing the assistant has been added to the Huskies’ coaching staff.  Lubick will coach wide receivers and will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator.

“I am excited to add Matt to our coaching staff,” UW head coach Chris Petersen said in a statement. “He has earned a national reputation as an innovative coaching mind and a successful recruiter. Equally as important, we believe he will be a terrific fit with our staff, players and the University of Washington.”

Lubick replaces Bush Hamdan, who left last weekend for an NFL job with the Atlanta Falcons.

Fired Oklahoma State coach Greg Adkins lands at Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 15: The Charlotte 49ers marching band plays prior to their game against the FIU Golden Panthers on October 15, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Mike Comer/Getty Images)
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Greg Adkins didn’t remain on the coaching unemployment line for long.

Earlier this month, Oklahoma State fired Adkins as its offensive line coach.  Less than three weeks later, Adkins has been hired to fill the same role for the Charlotte 49ers.

“Greg brings a wealth of knowledge and experience at all levels to our offensive line,” said head coach Brad Lambert in a statement confirming the hire. “He’s coached in the NFL, at the Power Five level and at the Group of Five level. He’s an excellent recruiter and has served as a recruiting coordinator. He’s coached different aspects, like the defensive line and tight ends — all things that can benefit our offensive line play and our offense moving forward.

“He’ll be a huge asset to our program. We see a lot of benefits in him and see him as being able to influence our young guys in a positive manner.”

Adkins had spent the past two seasons at the Big 12 OSU.  He and Lambert have also worked together on the same coaching staffs at both Georgia and Marshall.

From 2003-08, Adkins served as an assistant at Tennessee under Phillip Fulmer.

“Greg is an outstanding football coach, person and recruiter — one of those guys you want to be in the trenches with,” the former Vols head coach said. “He’ll do an outstanding job with (the 49ers) program.”

Alabama assistant who resigned under NCAA cloud surfaces at UTSA

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As our friends at FootballScoop.com put it, this is certainly an interesting hire by Frank Wilson.

UT-San Antonio announced via a press release Wednesday that Wilson has hired Bo Davis to be the Roadrunners’ defensive line coach.  Davis’ last job came as a coaching intern for the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars this past season.

Prior to that, he was the line coach at Alabama for two seasons.

“Adding a coach with an outstanding pedigree like Bo Davis is a coup for UTSA,” Wilson said. “He’s won at every level, on the biggest stages and in the biggest moments. He’s an outstanding teacher and recruiter and he has coached nationally acclaimed defensive linemen everywhere he’s been. He will be a tremendous asset to UTSA, and he gives us continued credibility in the direction this program is headed. It’s an honor to have him be a part of our staff.”

It was the manner in which Davis departed Tuscaloosa that will raise some eyebrows over this development.

In late April of last year, reports surfaced that Davis was expected to resign or be fired as Alabama’s defensive line coach after the school opened an inquiry into possible NCAA violations on the recruiting trail. The nature of the violations were not revealed, but the NCAA had launched investigations into the matter and Alabama opened its own corresponding inquiry.

A day later, the Tide announced that Davis had, ahem, “submitted his letter of resignation.” The status of the NCAA investigation is unclear.

In a report from al.com just last month, the website wrote that “[d]espite interest from several schools, a college team likely won’t hire Davis while the NCAA investigation is ongoing and until he’s served whatever penalty he gets from the NCAA.” A little over four weeks later, Davis is back in the coaching game after spending the past several months as a truck driver.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity to be a part of the Roadrunner family,” said Davis. “I’d like to thank Coach Wilson and (Director of Athletics) Lynn Hickey for giving me the chance to join a great coaching staff at UTSA. I am looking forward to an exciting future in San Antonio.”

James Johnson tweets decision to transfer from Arizona State

TUCSON, AZ - NOVEMBER 28:  Safety James Johnson #18 of the Arizona State Sun Devils during the Territorial Cup college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium on November 28, 2014 in Tucson, Arizona. The Wildcats defeated the Sun Devils 42-35.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Another day, another player leaving to look for greener playing time pastures.

The latest to suffer personnel attrition is Arizona State, with James Johnson taking to his personal Twitter account to announce his decision to transfer from the Sun Devils.  The defensive back will be graduating from ASU this May, which would allow him to play immediately at another FBS program for his final season of eligibility.

A three-star member of the Sun Devils’ 2013 recruiting class, Johnson was rated as the No. 84 safety in the country coming out of high school in California.  He held offers from, among others, Fresno State, Houston, Nevada and Oregon State.

After redshirting as a true freshman, Johnson played in 23 games the next two seasons. Injuries limited him to just one game this past season.