Meyer ‘to push… real hard’ for Tebow/Braxton offseason summit

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At this moment in the wide world of professional sports, there might not be a more polarizing figure than Tim Tebow.  In fact, the gap between Tebow and No. 2 likely isn’t even really that close.

Love him or hate him, idolize him or loathe him, there’s at least one certainty laced amid the media-driven drama: Tebow was one of the greatest college football players of the past two decades, if not in the history of the sport.  And his former coach at that is and/or will be pushing for one of his current players to tap into that collegiate greatness once the curtain closes on the 2012 season.

In an outstanding piece by Doug Lesmerises of the Cleveland Plain Dealer — it’s well worth the handful of minutes it will take to read it all by clicking HERE — the Ohio State beat writer spoke to both Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer and Meyer’s former Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida, Tebow, regarding one subject: Braxton Miller.

Miller is the Buckeyes’ starting quarterback playing in his first season under Meyer and who has been, in essence and almost quite literally, the offense for OSU.  So much so, in fact, that the true sophomore has already seen his name bandied about in the Heisman discussion, something his head coach acknowledged in the positive for the first time earlier this week.

Something else acknowledged by Meyer?  He wants his current and former star quarterbacks, who at this point have a cursory relationship, to go deep in the offseason.

“In the off-season, I want it more,” Meyer said. “It’s so hard when they’re busy during the season. And Braxton is still figuring out how things work. But I would love for those guys to get face-to-face, even train a little bit together, work out together. Tim is so busy, but I’m going to push for that to happen real hard.”

“Tim’s greatest strength is something Braxton needs to work on,” Meyer said. “Tim is the ultimate competitor, the ultimate grinder. There is no harder-working guy. He’s just non-stop. His whole life was nothing but be in the office, study football, go out and practice. And that’s it. And Braxton is getting better. But to be a Heisman-type player, to be a first-round draft pick, especially at that position, the amount of time you need to commit to your trade is off the charts.”

It’s clear to even the lamest of laymen that, in any offseason get-together between Tebow and Miller, Meyer’s not looking for his former star pupil to fix any mechanics that may be ailing his current one.  Rather, Meyer’s hoping the intangibles Tebow possesses in abundance — leadership, work ethic, want-to, etc. — can rub off on Miller, who Meyer described in September of this year as possessing more talent than Tebow.

At the NFL level, Tebow hasn’t even remotely caught up to the Herculean hype heaped on him both entering and exiting the 2010 NFL draft — and after the improbable playoff run.  The attributes he possessed that propelled himself to a Heisman Trophy and were the driving force behind two BcS titles during his time with the Gators?  That and his expansive knowledge of Meyer’s system can do nothing but greatly aid Miller as he continues a trajectory hurtling straight toward a limitless physical ceiling.

No. 11 USC needs special teams trickery to help hold halftime lead over UCLA

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The city of Los Angeles came out to the Coliseum expecting a high-scoring blowout but what most of the crowd came to see was a good old fashioned Pac-12 slugfest between No. 11 USC and their crosstown rivals UCLA. In a battle between two of the best college quarterbacks in the country, it was the Trojans’ Sam Darnold who managed to secure the lead 14-7 going into halftime but needed a little help along the way from his teammates to get there.

The signal-caller in cardinal and gold finished the first two quarters with 132 yards passing in another efficient —  if unspectacular — performance behind center, combining with tailback Ronald Jones (88 yards, one touchdown) to help rack up most of the offense for the home team at the Coliseum. Despite being able to move the ball up the field fairly well, USC needed a little help from the third phase of the game in order to jump out in front on the scoreboard.

That came on an amazing special teams play in the first quarter that included a little trickeration on the part of the Trojans, shifting the return team to the right with a decoy return man while Michael Pittman fielded the punt along the left sidelines and went 72 yards nearly untouched for the touchdown.

The Bruins responded however and marched right down the field for a touchdown on a Josh Rosen pass. The potential first round draft pick had the better half of the two quarterbacks outside of a late strip sack, hitting several big plays down the field and finishing with 228 yards at the break. The running game wasn’t much to write home about to the surprise of nobody on the UCLA sidelines but it was an encouraging effort for a team that hasn’t had many the past few weeks.

We’ve seen some surprises on both sides of this rivalry game and it’s not hard to think we could be in for another close, fun second half based on how these two teams played the first two quarters. Whoever manages to make halftime adjustments will likely emerge victorious but both teams are very much in this game to the dismay of the home crowd.

Love quiet as Stanford leads Cal at the half

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Stanford is halfway to keeping its namesake Axe. The Cardinal leads Cal 10-6 at the break in Palo Alto.

Stanford broke a 3-3 tie by moving 70 yards in 10 plays, the last 17 on a K.J. Costello pass to Kaden Smith. Costello hit 11-of-20 passes for 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the final play of the half.

Cal moved inside the Stanford red zone with a chance to tie, but the drive stalled at the 9-yard line and Matt Anderson booted a 26-yard field goal to pull the Bears within 10-6 with 2:43 left in the half.

On a night when he could win some points back in the Heisman race, Bryce Love has carried just six times for 17 yards.

Cal will receive to open the second half.

Report: Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall a person of interest in Oregon State coach search

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This is an intriguing potential development.

With Gary Andersen abruptly and unexpectedly stepping down earlier this season, Oregon State finds itself on the hunt for a new head football coach.  On the same day the Beavers fell to 1-10 on the lost season, a new name surfaced as a reported possibility: Virginia head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

At least, according to John Canzano of The Oregonian, who lists Mendenhall as a person of interest in the search.  Canzano writes that Mendenhall “interviewed for the job in 2014 and was the runner-up when Andersen was hired,” then goes on to put him on OSU’s short list, along with Cal offensive coordinator Beau Baldwin.

Mendenhall, should he decide to jump ship, certainly has ties to that area of the country — and to the university.

Born in Utah, Mendenhall began his collegiate playing career at an in-state junior college before transferring to, you guessed it, OSU for his last two years of eligibility.  He then began his coaching career with the Beavers as a graduate assistant and defensive line coach in 1989-90.  He then returned to his alma mater in 1995 as line coach, spending the following season as defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach.  Nearly a decade later, he became the head coach at BYU, spending 11 seasons with that program before abruptly leaving for the Virginia job after the 2015 season.

After going 99-43 with the Cougars, and after a 2-10 first season in Charlottesville, Mendenhall has the Cavaliers bowl-eligible for the first time since 2011.

Tennessee fumbles its way to a halftime deficit vs. LSU

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If only Marquez Callaway could catch a punt. Callaway’s two fumbled punts handed LSU 10 of its 17 points as Tennessee trails 17-10 at the half at a windy, rainy Neyland Stadium.

Callaway’s first fumble came at his own 15 yard line, which LSU’s Russell Gage hopped on. The Tigers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession, but it was enough to allow Connor Culp to knock through a 30-yard field goal.

Tennessee answered with a 14-play, 53-yard drive that killed over half a quarter. The 7-minute, 39-second march ended at the LSU 27-yard line, allowing Aaron Medley to tie the game with a 45-yard boot with 13:59 left in the second quarter.

LSU’s offense went three-and-out again, but Callaway again fumbled the ensuing punt, which Michael Divinity, Jr. grabbed at the Tennessee 19. LSU’s offense capitalized this time, as Darrel Williams rushed in from 10 yards out to put the Tigers up 10-3 with 11:31 left in the frame. 

Tennessee strung together another double-digit play drive that ended at nearly the exact same spot as the previous one — this one was the 28 — but swirling winds pushed Medley’s 46-yard field goal (far, far) wide left.

But as the weather picked up, both offenses came alive.

LSU closed the half by putting up its first self-made points of the night. The Tigers needed only 28 seconds to move 61 yards as Danny Etling hit Derrick Dillon for a 12-yard completion, Williams rushed for 36 yards and Etling carried for a 13-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the first half. Etling conected on 8-of-12 passes for 50 yards, and Williams led all rushers with 50 yards on three carries. Derrius Guice mustered only four carries for 10 yards.

The Vols struck back after LSU’s score, moving 75 yards in four plays and 45 seconds. Jarrett Guarantano hit Callaway for consecutive long passes, one for 26 yards and another for 46, which Callaway caught through pass interference and turned into a touchdown with 1:23 left in the first half.

hit 10-of-12 passes for 144 yards, and John Kelly led the Vols with 17 carries for 29 yards.

A 53-yard Culp field goal clanged off the right upright as time expired.

Tennessee will receive to open the second half.