Two ‘ahead of the curve’ in Arkansas’ QB race

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With Tyler Wilson off to the NFL after two seasons as Arkansas starting quarterback, arguably the main focus for the Razorbacks during their first spring practice under Bret Bielema is to at least begin the process of separating contenders from pretenders at the position.

One week into the 15 allotted spring sessions?  Two of the contenders appear to be standing a bit taller than the others.

In his first extensive comments to the media since spring practice began a week ago today, Bielema allowed that a pair of Brandons — Allen and Mitchell — have nudged ahead slightly in the chase to replace Wilson.

“I think there is no doubt on offense the key is going to be who is going to be our trigger puller, and I think Brandon Allen (pictured) and Brandon Mitchell both have shown that they’ve been ahead of the curve,” Bielema said in comments distributed by the school.

The fact that Allen and Mitchell would be ahead of the quarterback game just a handful of practices into the spring makes sense.

Allen, the presumptive front-runner heading into the spring, played in five games as a redshirt freshman in 2012 as Wilson’s primary backup.  The four-star member of UA’s 2011 recruiting class started one of those games — the 52-0 lay-down at the hands of Alabama — and completed less than 50 percent of his passes (21-49) for one touchdown and three interceptions on the season.  As the No. 5 pro-style QB in his class, and on paper, it appears to be Allen’s job to lose.

Mitchell, on the other hand, comes into his redshirt senior spring after spending the 2012 season at the wide receiver position — for the most part.  In 2011, Mitchell served as Wilson’s backup after falling short in that season’s competition.

Technically speaking, though, it’s a five-man competition, with Brian Buehner, A.J. Derby and Taylor Reed (no relation) filling in the roster at the position.  The latter two came to the Razorbacks as transfers, Reed from Memphis and Derby from Iowa by way of the JUCO ranks.  Interestingly, Bielema chose to extensively single out the latter when questioned on the battle for the starting job.

“I would say that A.J. Derby has shown that he is definitely a guy that can manage a game,” the coach said. “He has been in that position and impressed us. He is a thirsty kid, who is always eager to learn.”

While Derby may be at least on the periphery of the discussion at the moment — and Reed could eventually based on experience alone (nine starts at Memphis as a true freshman in 2011) — there’s little doubt who has made the biggest impression thus far.

“I would think that the more reps we can get to those five guys the better off we are going to be, especially the top two in Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell,” Bielema said.

In other words, and until further notice, this is a two-horse race for the Hogs.

Reports: Tim Drevno stepping down as Michigan’s OC

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An offseason of change in Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan coaching staff continues, with one of the Wolverines’ million-dollar assistants stepping down.  Reportedly.

Multiple reports, including ones from The Wolverine Lounge and SI.com‘s Bruce Feldman, are indicating that Tim Drevno has decided to step down from his post as U-M’s offensive coordinator.  Drevno has been Harbaugh’s coordinator on that side of the ball each of his three seasons in Ann Arbor.

Drevno also served as the Wolverines’ offensive line coach.

Under Drevno’s direction, Michigan’s offense was tied for 91st nationally in averaging 25.2 points per game this past season.

The reports come three days after McElwain was officially announced as U-M’s new quarterbacks coach.  In the run-up to that hiring, it was reported that McElwain, the former coordinator at Alabama prior to his run as Florida’s head coach, could take over play-calling duties at U-M.

Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins to transfer from Wildcats

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An already crowded graduate transfer market has gained yet another entrant.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday night, Brandon Dawkins announced that he has decided to transfer out of new head coach Kevin Sumlin‘s football program. While no specific reason was given for the quarterback’s decision to move on, the presence of a Heisman Trophy contender, rising junior Khalil Tate, for the next two seasons likely played a significant role.

Dawkins is set to graduate this May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.

Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before Tate took over.  For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.

Fresno State DC Orlondo Steinauer headed back to CFL

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That certainly didn’t last long.

In December of 2016, it was confirmed that Orlondo Steinauer would be leaving his post as the defensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League to take the same job at Fresno State.  After one season at the Mountain West Conference school, Steinauer announced on Twitter that he has decided to move back to the CFL with the same organization.

“Orlondo is an accomplished CFL coach with a great track record at this level,” said Ticats head coach June Jones in a statement. “He’s a coach whose great work ethic, intelligence, knowledge of the Canadian game and ability to get the most out of his players will be a huge asset to our staff.

“We’re very happy to bring him home to Hamilton after an exceptional year at Fresno State.”

Prior to his one season at Fresno, Steinauer had spent his entire coaching career in the CFL, including a four-year stint as the defensive coordinator for Hamilton from 2013-16.  Steinauer, a Seattle native who played his college football at Western Washington, also played professionally in Canada from 1996-2008 prior to embarking on his coaching career.

Chris Ash adds another assistant to Rutgers staff

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It was a busy day on the assistant hiring front for Chris Ash.

Earlier Thursday, Rutgers confirmed that Noah Joseph had been hired as co-defensive coordinator as well as safeties coach.  Not long after, the football program again confirmed that Cory Robinson has been hired by Ash as well.

Robinson will serve as passing-game coordinator for the Scarlet Knights as well as cornerbacks coach.

“We are excited to have Cory and his family join our program,” said Ash in a statement. “Cory is a fast-rising young coach that will bring tremendous energy and passion to our defense. We look forward to having him develop and mentor our corners.”

Robinson spent the past two seasons as a cornerbacks coach, at Temple in 2017 and Toledo the year before.  Those were his first two years as an on-field assistant at the FBS level.