Outback Bowl

Vincent Smith downplays Clowney hit


Despite the fact that the Michigan-South Carolina Outback Bowl was a highly entertaining, back-and-forth postseason game that featured a game-winning touchdown pass with just 11 seconds remaining — with some hack even listing it as the top bowl game of the 2012-13 season — just about the only thing that anyone wanted to talk about in the aftermath of the Gamecocks’ win was Jadeveon Clowney.

Specifically, the talk of the water cooler was Clowney’s hit on Vincent Smith that sent the Wolverine running back’s helmet on a deep post pattern in the opposite direction of the line of scrimmage.

For those who may have forgotten about it or, for some reason, never actually witnessed it, here’s the video of The Hit:


Now, while mere mortals such as you and I who would likely have ceased to exist after such a hit, Smith was just fine, other than having to hail a cab to retrieve his headgear.  He was fine physically at the time and, two weeks later, he’s fine mentally despite the replay being seemingly shown on a loop and becoming the subject of ridicule for getting blown up by the likely overall No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL draft.

Smith, though, even disputes the notion of getting blown up, answering “oh yeah, it did” when asked by Michael Rothstein of WolverineNation.com if the hit looked worse than what it actually was. “I saw it coming and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Smith added.

As is ofttimes the case with such a situation, however, there were myriad factors other than “dude, Clowney’s a freak!” involved in the hit, a confluence of events that Rothstein does an excellent job in summing up:

The simple explanation of what happened is Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan called a change in the blocking scheme, and unfortunately for Smith it gave Clowney an open path to him. The Gamecocks called a blitz before the play — something Smith recognized in pre-play reads — and his fullback chose to block the cornerback coming from the left side, where the run was supposed to go, instead of trying to take Clowney up the middle.

Before the play, Smith figured he was going to be hit in the backfield and would have to break a tackle, either from the corner or someone up the middle. He didn’t anticipate everything falling apart as it did just as quarterback Devin Gardner tried to give him the ball.

In the end, everybody’s likely correct.  Yes, it was a helluva play and hit by Clowney as has been universally proclaimed, and yes it likely looked worse than what it actually was as Smith claims.

For his part, Smith said after viewing it on replays afterward, “I forgot about it” and moved on.  Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, though, it’s not an exploding gif that will be going away at any point in the near future.

(Photo credit: South Carolina athletics)

Bud Foster says he is too invested in Virginia Tech to leave Hokies

Bud Foster

For years there was a thought that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster would one day be the successor to longtime head coach Frank Beamer. With Beamer announcing his decision to retire at the end of the season, there was never any word about Foster being handed the keys to the program. Instead, Virginia Tech has found a coach with an offensive identity in the hiring of Justin Fuente from Memphis. Given the way coaching changes can tend to go, nobody would have blamed Foster for being a tad miffed at not getting the job in Blacksburg, but he will remain the defensive coordinator of the Hokies as a key member of Fuente’s new staff. He says he has put in too much work to leave now.

“I’m rooted in here. We put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this place,” Foster said Monday. “It wasn’t hard. I wouldn’t have stayed here for as long as I’ve had if I didn’t feel like we had the opportunity to win at the highest level. I feel that more than ever right now.”

Fuente being able to keep Foster on the staff is a huge advantage. Foster not only ensures Fuente will have a dependable coach managing the defense, which should remain one of the top defensive units in the ACC as long as he stays put. Keeping Foster on the staff also allows for some tremendous stability during the transition, which can always be key when a coach with no previous ties to the university takes over a program. Foster can help Fuente get acclimated to his new surroundings and also keep valuable recruiting ties alive and well during the change.

Foster acknowledged he would love to one day be a head coach, and that dream will continue, but for now he is more interested in contributing at Virginia Tech.

“I always wanted to be a head coach. This would be a dream job. I’m happy with where I am. I’ll never be bitter. I won’t cry myself to sleep wishing “what-ifs” and they type of thing. My goal is to be the best football coach I can possibly be. I want to help this program be the best football program it can possibly be.”

Maryland wasting no time getting in touch with Mark Richt

Mark Richt

On Monday morning Georgia head coach Mark Richt said he was absolutely going to continue coaching even though his days at Georgia are coming to an end. If that is the case, Maryland would like to make that a reality for Richt.

According to a report from Inside MD Sports, Maryland has made first contact with Richt and a meeting could come as soon as tomorrow. Maryland is looking to fill a head coaching vacancy after firing Randy Edsall during the season. Richt will not be the only potential candidate to interview for the Maryland job. The Washington Post reported Monday interim head coach Mike Locksley was also given a chance to interview for the job on a permanent basis. That interview was reportedly set to happen Monday.

It would make sense for Maryland to make a call to Richt. With Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank looking to help build the Maryland program, there are sufficient funds to make a splashy hire for the program, which is showing signs of a well-structured future with plans to improve the football program. The Maryland job has some good potential in the long-term and competes in the same division as some tough opponents. That would include at least two coaches Richt is very familiar with; Ohio State’s Urban Meyer and Penn State’s James Franklin. Richt faced Meyer when the Buckeyes head coach was at Florida, and Franklin of course coached at Vanderbilt. All three were in the same SEC East Division down south. Could they be reunited in the Big Ten East in 2016?

Whatever the case may be, if Maryland can land Richt as its next head coach, it would be a tremendous hire for the Terrapins. Heck, he already has the attire for it.

Unlike Missouri, 5-7 Nebraska will jump at opportunity to go bowling

Cethan Carter

Nebraska will be first in line to accept a bowl invitation when it arrives in the mail, despite going 5-7 this season. The Huskers, who are first in line among 5-7 candidates based on APR scores, will reportedly accept a bowl invitation to fill the first vacancy left to fill once all bowl-eligible teams are slotted into the postseason mix.

Missouri released a statement earlier today saying it will not accept a bowl invitation following a 5-7 season. The Tigers would have been the second team among 5-7 teams to receive a bowl invitation based on APR scores. According to a report by Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com, Kansas State would be next in line, followed by Minnesota, San Jose State, Illinois and Rice.

Missouri and Nebraska would appear to have different agendas of course. Nebraska is coming off the first season under new head coach Mike Riley, while Missouri is in the midst of a full coaching search. The decision not to go to a bowl game allows Missouri’s coaching staff in place under the now retired Gary Pinkel to pursue new opportunities without having bowl preparations get in the way.

Maryland sack master Yannick Ngakoue entering NFL Draft

Yannick Ngakoue, Christian Hackenberg
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Maryland will have a new head coach in 2016. Whoever that head coach ends up being will have to find a way to replace one of Maryland’s best players. Defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue says he will skip his final year of eligibility with the Terrapins and declare for the 2016 NFL Draft.

Ngakoue was the second in the Big Ten with 13.0 sacks this season, trailing only Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib. Ngakoue’s sack total is a Maryland school record and was one of the few reasons for optimism for Maryland’s dreadful football season, which ended with just three wins.