DeAndre Smith

Shafer fills another hole in ‘Cuse coaching staff

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Slowly but surely, Scott Shafer is filling the holes in his first Syracuse coaching staff.

On the heels of adding a linebackers coach over the weekend, Shafer announced Monday that DeAndre Smith has been hired to coach the Orange’s running backs.  Smith will replace Tyrone Wheatley, who is one of four assistants to follow Doug Marrone to the Buffalo Bills.

“DeAndre Smith is a dynamic recruiter who has experience covering all parts of the nation to bring in some of the best student-athletes.” Shafer said. “He has a proven track record, year after year, after year, tutoring several high-profile running backs every team he has coached in college football.”

Smith spent last season at New Mexico and as RBs coach and held the same title at Illinois the two years prior to that.  He also spent time on coaching staffs at Northern Illinois, UNLV and Miami of Ohio.

The release announcing Smith’s hiring noted that he has mentored nine 1,000-yard rushers in 14 years of collegiate coaching.

“Our running backs will be physical and very intelligent on the field,” Smith said. “We have to secure the football and we have to make plays. It is an honor to be part of the great running backs tradition at Syracuse. When you walk through the Carrier Dome and see the history and tradition of running backs it is inspiring. I want to continue to build on that and continue the tradition of great Orange running backs.”

Shafer now has two spots on his nine-man staff left to fill.

(Photo credit: New Mexico athletics)

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian

Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
Associated Press
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.