Embree assured he’ll return, but changes to Buffs’ staff looming

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As for the next candidate to join others already on the coaching unemployment line, it appears Jon Embree will, for at least another year, avoid the firing squad.

Others on his Colorado coaching staff, however, might not be so lucky.

With a 42-35 loss to Utah in the season finale Friday, the Buffaloes fell to 4-21 in two seasons under Embree.  Included in that total is an abysmal 1-11 mark in 2012, the program’s worst winning percentage since a winless season in 1890.  The Buffs were also winless at home for the first time since 1920.

Despite the historic futility, Embree said following the latest loss that athletic director Mike Bohn has assured him he will return as CU’s head coach in 2013.  The Boulder Daily Camera seemed to concur with Embree’s assessment of his standing, writing that “[a]ll indications from school officials point toward him being retained.”  It should be noted that Bohn has yet to come out and say definitively that Embree will return.

Embree did allow, though, that changes could be coming to his staff if he is indeed given a reprieve.

“I want to make sure as I go through this that we’re doing the right things and talking to the right people,” Embree said according to the Denver Post. “I don’t have a deadline, but it’s something I’ll start thinking about and I have been thinking about it.”

If Embree’s assistants will indeed be falling on the sword, there will be myriad candidates.

Entering the game with the Utes, the Buffs were tied for 123rd in the country in scoring offense and 121st in total offense.  Unbelievably, they were slightly worse on defense — 124th in scoring and 122nd in yards allowed.  There are 124 teams at the FBS level in 2012.

If changes are indeed coming to the staff, the first places to look would be at the two men in charge of those two units, offensive coordinator and former CU star Eric Bieniemy and defensive coordinator Greg Brown.

The former, at least publicly, is not concerned about what fate may lie ahead.

“Whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” Bieniemy said when asked about his future at his alma mater. “You don’t coach this game scared. Everybody is hired to be fired. I’m going to keep working my ass off and being who I am. If they decide to go in a different direction, that’s what we do. I know who I am and I know what I’m about.”

Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

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Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

UTEP stays in-house to replace fired OC Brent Pease

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Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.

The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired.  A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.

Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.  He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.

Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.

The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff.  Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.

Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton discharged from hospital after leaving Wazzu game on a stretcher

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Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.

Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.

Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”

Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”

Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.

Tennessee LB Cortez McDowell, WR Jauan Jennings to miss the rest of the season

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A pair of wrist injuries will cost two Tennessee players the rest of their respective seasons.

Wide receiver Juaun Jennings and linebacker Cortez McDowell will miss the rest of the season, head coach Butch Jones announced Monday.

Jennings left Tennessee’s Labor Day victory over Georgia Tech in the second quarter after absorbing as he collected a catch over the middle, his third of the game. Jennings did not return to the game and will not for the rest of the season, forcing the 2-1 Volunteers to move forward without their top returning pass-catcher.

Additionally, McDowell was lost during the Vols loss to Florida on Saturday.

The McDowell injury is particularly brutal for Tennessee because it leaves Big Orange without all three of its protected starters at linebacker. Middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland, Jr., has already undergone season-ending surgery, and strongside linebacker Austin Smith injured his knee during the final week of fall camp.

On top of that, safety Todd Kelly, Jr., did not make the trip to Gainesville and could be lost for the season. Kick returner Evan Berry did not play against Florida either.

Oh, and Tennessee lost to Florida on a Hail Mary after having a first-and-goal inside the final minute.

Other than that, though, everything’s going great in Knoxville.