The theme for Saturday, Sept. 1 in Happy Valley: change, to the fullest extent.
For the first time in over four decades, Joe Paterno wasn’t roaming the home sideline at Beaver Stadium. The Jerry Sandusky scandal changed everything in at Penn State all the way down to the decision to put names on the backs of the classic blue and white uniforms.
The NCAA sanctions, the departures by running back Silas Redd (among others) — it wasn’t what Bill O’Brien envisioned when he took over the program.
But things actually started out promising enough for the Nittany Lions against Ohio. Though just a touchdown favorite, Penn State’s offense immediately looked like an improved unit from a year ago despite losing Redd and not having a proven quarterback. Then, halftime came and everything changed. PSU’s 14-3 lead slipped away. The Nittany Lions offense stalled and everything began looking like a reincarnation of 2011.
Penn State never scored another point and lost to a good Ohio team 24-14. It was truly a story of one half going in the exact opposite direction of the other.
And that was against Ohio — again, a good team, but a beatable one. Penn State travels to Virginia next before facing Navy and Temple. PSU might earn a couple of wins there before Big Ten conference play begins later this month. This has the potential to be a long and difficult season for the Nittany Lions.
The defensive front seven is good, but they can’t be on the field for over half the game. If the offense can execute like it did in the first half, Penn State can go over .500 this year. If the offense plays like it did in the second half, this team will struggle to win five games.
I have little Doubt O’Brien can get things done at Penn State over the long haul — there were flashes early — but consistency already looks like it’s going to be a problem for this team.
And Cory Butler-Byrd‘s trek out of Kyle Whittingham‘s doghouse has officially commenced in earnest.
Monday, the Utah wide receiver pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal in connection to an incident last month in which he allegedly damaged police property. The criminal mischief charge will be dismissed if he, among other stipulations, stays clean for the next year.
Butler-Byrd had been indefinitely suspended from the program since the initial incident. Tuesday, the football program announced in a press release that “Whittingham has reinstated Cory Butler-Byrd to the team for practice and other team activities, effective immediately.” However, he remains indefinitely suspended from participating in games.
“There is no timetable for his potential return to competition and he will not be available to the media for comment this season,” the release added.
After transferring to the Utes from the junior college ranks, Butler-Byrd began his FBS career as a cornerback. He began the transition to receiver during the 2015 season, then exited spring practice this year as the starter as a slot receiver for the Utes.
Butler-Byrd started five games last season as a corner/receiver (three at CB, two at WR), intercepting three passes and catching one pass for a 54-yard touchdown. He also returned eight kicks for 233 yards and a touchdown.
Raymon Minor reverses transfer course, returns to Virginia Tech
In mid-August, Virginia Tech announced that Raymon Minor had decided to leave first-year head coach Justin Fuente‘s Hokies football program and transfer elsewhere. Exactly 11 days later?
Tuesday, Fuente confirmed that Minor has returned to the team and will play for the Hokies in 2016. The linebacker won’t be returning on scholarship; rather, he’ll continue his career in Blacksburg as a walk-on.
It’s not clear what the impetus was for Minor’s change of heart.
247Sports.com had Minor rated as a four-star prospect in the Class of 2014, with the recruiting website putting him as the No. 19 athlete in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Virginia. The only recruits rated higher than Minor in the Hokies’ class that year were safety Holland Fisher and running back Shai McKenzie.
After redshirting as a true freshman, Minor played in eight games last season.
PHOTOS: Nebraska unveils new chrome alternative uniforms
Personally, I think Nebraska’s plain, simple, traditional uniforms were among the best in all of sports but alas, I’m not the target audience. Nor have I been for 20-plus years.
Regardless, NU’s target audience is likely pleased this afternoon as the Cornhuskers, along with apparel supplier adidas, unveiled Tuesday what is being called Husker Chrome alternate uniforms. The release states that the new uniforms are “inspired by the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also know as the “Star City,” and “blend crisp, modernized design with a tribute to Nebraska’s clean, classic signature look.”
Translation: “we’re hoping these appeal to recruits and current players as well as our extremely loyal and rabid fan base.”
The helmets, for what it’s worth, aren’t really that bad. At all. From the release:
As a tribute to the traditional aesthetic of the Cornhuskers football program, the helmet features a metallic red “N” logo on the sides and is accented with player numbers featured in metallic red and metallic chrome outlining on the back of the helmet, showcasing the Star City’s ability to shine.
The new uniforms, which you can see below, will make their debut for the Sept. 24 game against Northwestern in Lincoln.
Michigan K Andrew David apparently transferring to TCU
Based on a couple of social media developments, it appears that TCU is gaining a placekicker/punter while Michigan is losing one.
On his protected private Twitter account, erstwhile UM kicker Andrew David changed his profile description to read, in part, “Texas Christian University Football.” Additionally, someone who’s now apparently a former teammate of David’s took to Instagram to wish him well in his new home.
A photo posted by Jon Runyan Jr. (@jon_run1) on Aug 22, 2016 at 12:33pm PDT
Neither football program have confirmed David’s departure/addition.
David took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after being expected to be a significant contributor on special teams immediately. Kenny Allen returns as the Wolverines’ primary placekicker after connecting on 18-22 field goal attempts and all 46 PATs last season, while UM also signed Quinn “Sleepover” Nordin this recruiting cycle. Nordin was the No. 1 kicker in the Class of 2016, and also averaged over 40 yards a punt in high school.