South Dakota v Wisconsin

Ball’s backup’s backup impresses in Badgers’ spring finale

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When it comes to Wisconsin’s spring game, the bigger stories involved players who weren’t there than the ones who strapped it up for the Badgers’ spring finale.

A coaching decision, which weighed the risk of injury versus the promise of very little reward, put the nation’s leading rusher in 2011, All-American Montee Ball, on the sidelines in street clothes. Danny O’Brien, the transfer from Maryland widely expected to claim UW’s starting quarterback job, still has to graduate from his former school before joining his new football program.

The spring show still went on, though, and one of Ball’s backups took advantage of not only the starter’s absence but his backup’s absence as well — James White did not play because of a knee issue. Melvin Gordon was the star of Saturday evening, rushing for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in leading the Cardinal team to a 21-0 win over the White squad.

Head coach Bret Bielema was pleased that the redshirt freshman, who rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown last season, was able to carry the running game load in Ball’s absence.

“I will say that [running backs coach] Thomas [Hammock] and myself wanted to see if Melvin could grind it out,” Bielema said. “That’s something I was happy to see. I almost think he got stronger as the day went on.

“I was really excited to see him handle the whole game.”

Bielema was also pleased with the play of at least one of his signal callers. In what will likely be the most on-field action he sees in 2012, quarterback Joel Stave completed 14-of-25 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown.

Joel just continues to impress me,” Bielema said. “Just his maturity, the way he handles it.”

Again, O’Brien is widely expected to claim the starting job at some point early on in summer camp, but Stave’s performance throughout the spring has to give the offensive coaching staff hope that, if something were to happen to the incoming transfer, the position will be in somewhat solid hands.

In Baker Mayfield, Texas set to face yet another QB who wanted to be a Longhorn

Baker Mayfield
Associated Press

Jameis WinstonJohnny ManzielAndrew LuckRobert Griffin IIIJ.T. Barrett. Oh, don’t mind me. Just recounting the number of quarterbacks with ties to the Texas football program that never received a sniff from Bevo’s famous snout.

Add another to the list, perhaps the most inexplicable of all: Baker Mayfield.

Mayfield played at Lake Travis High School in Austin, a powerhouse program in a state that specializes in them. Lightly recruited out of high school (he reportedly held only an offer from Florida Atlantic), Mayfield and his family reached out to the nearby program to see if they’d take him as a walk-on.

They said no.

“They told us he had five scholarship quarterbacks, so there wasn’t any need of ‘Bake’ coming out there,” James Mayfield, Baker’s father, told George Schroeder of USA Today. “I popped off that they had five scholarship quarterbacks that couldn’t even play for Lake Travis. That’s where our relationship stalled out.”

On one hand, it utterly boggles the mind why Texas would decline a successful high school quarterback willing to pay his own way on to the team, especially considering the state of the position at the time. On the other, one would see why Mack Brown‘s staff would pass on a kid with only an offer from FAU who says UT’s quarterbacks couldn’t start for his high school team.

Instead, Texas signed Tyrone Swoopes and Mayfield enrolled at Texas Tech. He won the starting job as a true freshman, transferred to Oklahoma, walked on and then won the starting job there.

And now he’s set to face the hometown team he at one time wished he could play for.

Mayfield has completed 88-of-135 throws for 1,382 yards with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions – good for a 178.52 passer rating, which ranks fifth nationally – while adding 138 yards and four scores on the ground. His counterpart, redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, has connected on 42-of-76 passes for 661 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions (131.74 passer rating) to go with a team-leading 67 carries for 318 yards and three touchdowns.

“As perverse as all this has been, he’s where he wanted to be,” James Mayfield said. “He’s living his dream. If he had to do it all over again, he’d do it, with the same outcome.”

Appalachian State announces five-year extension for head coach Scott Satterfield

Scott Satterfield
Associated Press

One day after it was revealed its head coach was the second-lowest paid in college football, Appalachian State announced a five-year contract extension for head coach Scott Satterfield.

“We have the right coach leading our football program in Scott Satterfield,” Appalachian State AD Doug Gillin said in a statement. “In nearly three years as head coach, he has stayed true to his convictions, built the program the right way and set Appalachian State football up for sustainable success both in the Sun Belt Conference and at the national level.”

Satterfield had earned $375,000 annually, ahead of only Louisiana-Monroe’s Todd Berry at $360,000 a year.

Satterfield, 42, is 14-14 in his third season at the Boone, N.C., school. He led the Mountaineers to a 7-5 mark in their debut Sun Belt season, and has the club at 3-1 to start the 2015 campaign.

“It’s exciting for my family and me to know that we’re going to be at Appalachian for the foreseeable future,” Satterfield added. “I’m living a dream by being the head coach at my alma mater and can’t wait to continue to work hard to help this program reach heights that it has never reached before.”