Urban renewal begins as Miller shines in OSU romp

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The naming of Urban Meyer as the head coach at Ohio State was easily the marquee hiring of the 2011 coaching carousel. And, with two BcS titles stapled to his coaching resume’ and despite NCAA sanctions that make the Buckeyes ineligible for the postseason, the anticipation for the 2012 season was nearing a fever pitch prior to kickoff at the Shoe Saturday.

After a sluggish first quarter, the anticipation was validated.

Miami of Ohio actually held a 3-0 lead with the first 15 minutes in the books, but 35 consecutive points reeled off by the No. 18 Buckeyes over a span of about 15 minutes left no doubt that, as expected, the Urban Era at Ohio State would kick off with a nonconference win.

Perhaps the most positive development during the 56-10 win was the continuing, well, development of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.  Upon Meyer’s hiring back in December, the former Florida coach seemed most excited over the prospect of coaching Miller in his version of the spread offense.

An athlete of exceptional talent, Miller was limited his true freshman season last year by both his inexperience at this level and the coaching staff — starting all but one of the Buckeyes’ 13 games last season, Miller attempted just 157 passes, with a game-high 25 in the regular-season finale.  With Meyer in charge, and with the confidence the coach has in the player, Miller attempted 24 passes in his two-and-a-half quarters of play.

Even as Miller completed just over half of those passes (14), he totaled 205 yards passing — just the second time in 13 career games he’s gone over that modest mark — two touchdowns and, most importantly, no interceptions.  Certainly Miller was helped by his receivers on a couple of occasions — Devin Smith, anyone? — but the sophomore seemed more at ease in the opener than he did at any point last season, a direct result of the confidence Meyer and his offensive coaching staff has in the player.

And, Meyer saw exactly what he wanted to see headed into the game.

“But I think one of the things about Braxton Miller that I really had to see, and I did see today, is that the objective with Braxton is to make him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback that manages,” Meyer said in quotes distributed by the school following the win.

Of course, being the athlete that he is, Miller complemented the marked improvement in the passing game with his usual stellar effort on the ground, leading the Buckeyes in rushing with 161 yards and another score (65-yard run).  Add it all up, and it means Miller accounted for 366 of OSU’s 538 yards of total offense and three of the seven offensive touchdowns — again, in less than three quarters — in his first game under Meyer.

Yes, the level of competition must be taken into consideration.  Still, the excitement displayed by Meyer prior to the start of the season was very much justified based on the small taste Miller gave OSU fans in Columbus.  And made it seem like the best may be yet to come.

Jerry Kill to make health-related decision on future as Rutgers’ OC

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Once again, Jerry Kill‘s health could force him to step away from the game.

Citing multiple unnamed sources, nj.com is reporting that the Rutgers’ offensive coordinator “is evaluating his options and is expected to make a health-related decision in the coming days” on his coaching future. The 56-year-old Kill was hospitalized in September of this year after suffering what was described as a minor seizure related to his ongoing battle with epilepsy, although he returned to his coaching duties shortly thereafter.

Ahead of an official decision, the website added, head coach Chris Ash has been informing prospects on the recruiting trail of the possibility that Kill might not be with the Scarlet Knights because of the issues that stretch back years.

In October of 2015, Kill was forced to step down as Minnesota’s head football coach because of health issues related to ongoing epileptic seizures.  Prior to joining the Rutgers staff, Kill spent the 2016 season in a non-coaching role at Kansas State.

In the year prior to Kill’s arrival, RU was 127th nationally in points per game (15.7) and 18th in total offense (283 yards per games).  In Kill’s first season in 2017, they were 121st in the former category (18 ppg) and 129th in the latter (263 ypg).

Nebraska’s Scott Frost confirms he will indeed coach UCF in bowl game

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After a little uncertainty, Scott Frost will indeed finish what he started this season.

After Frost led them to a perfect regular season and AAC championship, UCF earned the Group of Five’s bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl. In between the title win and bowl announcement, however, Frost was hired as the head coach at Nebraska. At the time, all of the sides involved indicated that Frost and his coaching staff, all of whom are following him to Lincoln, would be coaching the Knights in that bowl game.

As recently as late last week, however, there was some uncertainty as to whether Frost would actually lead UCF in the New Year’s Day Peach Bowl matchup with Auburn.  Tuesday, though, Frost was back at UCF with his undefeated Knights team and confirmed that he will coach them one last time, calling it “an honor” to do so.

“There’s some unusual circumstances but we’re gonna handle this as we would any bowl game of this type,” Frost said according to the Omaha World-Herald. “Our staff is completely committed and we’re going to do everything we can for this football team. …

“It’s an honor to be invited to this game. These players have poured their hearts out to accomplish a lot this year. There’s been a lot of circumstances swirling around this season and that’s been tough to navigate but they’ve been great with that. I’m grateful we have a chance to give them their best possible chance to put on the best show in Atlanta and win a football game.”

Frost had been on the road recruiting for his new team before returning to Orlando Monday night.  He and his assistants will remain there through Thursday as they continue preparing for the bowl game, then will continue recruiting duties for the Cornhuskers right up until the dead period starts Dec. 17 while continuing prep work for the Knights’ postseason.

Unlike in any other year, there’s an early signing period that starts on Dec. 20 and goes for 72 hours.  After that early signing period ends, there’ll be just a week or so left until Frost takes the field one last time as the Knights’ head coach.

Sonny Dykes to coach new team, SMU, in bowl game vs. old team, Louisiana Tech

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This is something you don’t see every day, in a couple of ways.

Monday night, SMU confirmed reports that had surfaced earlier in the day that Sonny Dykes has been named as the Mustangs’ new head football coach.  Dykes replaces Chad Morris, who left for the same job at Arkansas late last week.

At an introductory press conference Tuesday afternoon, Dykes’ new boss, athletic director Rick Hart, revealed that the new coach will get to work immediately as he will coach the Mustangs in their bowl game Dec. 20.  Dykes will immediately begin assembling his coaching staff to help in preparation for the Frisco Bowl.

And SMU’s opponent in the Frisco Bowl?  Louisiana Tech, which Dykes was the head coach of from 2010-12.  After going 22-15 in three years at Tech, he left for the same job at Cal in December of 2012.  He went 19-30 with the Bears before being fired after his fourth season in 2016.

Jack Cichy won’t seek sixth season, leaves Wisconsin for NFL

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One snakebitten Wisconsin linebacker has decided to call it a career, at least when it comes to the Badgers.

Jack Cichy announced in a Players’ Tribune article Tuesday that he will be leaving UW and making himself available for the 2018 NFL draft.  The fifth-year senior could’ve, because of injuries, applied for a sixth season of eligibility.

“I’m excited for what’s to come, but I can tell you that deciding to leave Madison was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Cichy wrote. “This place has become my home. …

“I’m a Badger for life.”

Projected to be one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten this season, Cichy was instead sidelined for the entire year after suffering a torn ACL during summer camp this past August.  Last season, Cichy started the first seven games for the Badgers before going down with a torn pectoral muscle that sidelined him for the remainder of the year.  Despite missing nearly half the season, he was still named honorable mention All-Big Ten.

All told, he started 11 games during his time in Madison, which began as a walk-on in 2013.