Jeremiah Laufasa

Pac-12 spring games wrap-up

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A recap of this weekend’s spring games from the Pac-12: 

Utah
After a disappointing season, Utah is looking to rebound in 2013 with a new addition on offense: co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson. Following the Utes spring game on Saturday, head coach Kyle Whittingham explained what Erickson’s presence has done for the offense:

“He’s adjusted the tempo of the offense, he’s simplified what we’re doing, and he’s added some elements that have been good additions–mainly utilizing the running backs in the throw game a bit more and simplifying the run game,” Whittingham said. “There’s not a whole lot of variation from one team to another team that runs the spread, but just those subtle changes can make a big difference.”

The Utes showed off that new-look offense in a 35-28 spring game. Travis Wilson, who started the final seven games at quarterback last season, threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns on an efficient 13-of-17 passing. Senior Karl Williams led the running backs with 108 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries.

Whittingham attributed Utah’s offensive production to a better, and healthy, offensive line. “The offensive line has been night and day compared to last year,” Whittingham said. “The main reason is Dan Finn has done a great job coaching them, they’ve worked their tails off in the offseason, and we’ve been able to have some continuity in the spring without any injuries. We had 17 guys in spring camp without any days missed, and I can’t ever remember that being the case.”

On defense, true freshman linebacker Uaea Masina had a game-high seven tackles.

Washington
Though Washington’s offense was missing tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins because of a suspension, the Huskies’ defense under second year coordinator Justin Wilcox was the star of UW’s spring game. Defensive tackle Connor Cree had a pair of tackles-for-loss and a fumble recovery while Josh “don’t call me” Shirley had a sack and a fumble recovery that went 60 yards the other direction.

“Of course spring games are a little vanilla. But that’s no excuse,” said quarterback Keith Price. “Quarterbacks should lead with pushing the pace. I thought we could have done a better job with that.” For what it’s worth, Price went 5-of-14 passing and a touchdown.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian has been implementing a faster, no-huddle offense this spring, but that wasn’t on display just yet.

“We’ve been faster than this,” Sarkisian said. “You are in a spring game and I want to give the fans something to see and a chance to see what fall camp will be about and the season will be about. But I am also aware of the fact we were on national television.

“We’re doing something a little bit new. You don’t want to give up all of your goodies. We want to save a few things for August 31st. That was a little bit of the challenge. And I think some of the (guys), especially the quarterbacks, got a little bit frustrated with the simplicity of the stuff we were running – and not all the stuff that we had been running for the last few weeks.”

“We’re going to be a scary offense,” Price said. “Especially when we get Austin back.”

The highlight of the day was seven-year-old Jordan Johnston, called on to the field from the stands, was asked to call a play for the Huskies offense: a toss sweep that went for eight yards.

Washington State
Suffice to say, the first year at Washington State under Mike Leach didn’t go as planned. Consistency is key if the Cougars want to improve in 2013, but the team still got off to a sluggish start in Saturday’s spring game.

“We didn’t get our work done the first half,” Leach said, “so we were going to play a full second half.”

Expected starter Connor Halliday led all quarterbacks with 406 yards and three touchdowns while Austin Apodaca went 27-of-45 for 279 yards and one touchdown. Three receivers went over 100 yards with Kristoff Williams leading with seven catches for 136 yards — including an 80-yard touchdown.

“If we’re going to be the team that we want to be next year, we’ve got to fight through those lulls at the middle of the scrimmage,” Halliday said afterward. “I think that’s kind of the biggest thing we’re fighting right now. We did get through that in the second half and moved the ball a little bit, so that was good.”

PHOTOS: Nebraska unveils new chrome alternative uniforms

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Personally, I think Nebraska’s plain, simple, traditional uniforms were among the best in all of sports but alas, I’m not the target audience.  Nor have I been for 20-plus years.

Regardless, NU’s target audience is likely pleased this afternoon as the Cornhuskers, along with apparel supplier adidas, unveiled Tuesday what is being called Husker Chrome alternate uniforms.  The release states that the new uniforms are “inspired by the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, also know as the “Star City,” and “blend crisp, modernized design with a tribute to Nebraska’s clean, classic signature look.”

Translation: “we’re hoping these appeal to recruits and current players as well as our extremely loyal and rabid fan base.”

The helmets, for what it’s worth, aren’t really that bad. At all.  From the release:

As a tribute to the traditional aesthetic of the Cornhuskers football program, the helmet features a metallic red “N” logo on the sides and is accented with player numbers featured in metallic red and metallic chrome outlining on the back of the helmet, showcasing the Star City’s ability to shine.

The new uniforms, which you can see below, will make their debut for the Sept. 24 game against Northwestern in Lincoln.

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Michigan K Andrew David apparently transferring to TCU

FORT WORTH, TX - DECEMBER 06:  The TCU Horned Frogs mascot, "Super Frog" performs during the Big 12 college football game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Amon G. Carter Stadium on December 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. The Horned Frongs defeated the Cyclones 55-3. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Based on a couple of social media developments, it appears that TCU is gaining a placekicker/punter while Michigan is losing one.

On his protected private Twitter account, erstwhile UM kicker Andrew David changed his profile description to read, in part, “Texas Christian University Football.”  Additionally, someone who’s now apparently a former teammate of David’s took to Instagram to wish him well in his new home.

Neither football program have confirmed David’s departure/addition.

David took a redshirt as a true freshman last season after being expected to be a significant contributor on special teams immediately. Kenny Allen returns as the Wolverines’ primary placekicker after connecting on 18-22 field goal attempts and all 46 PATs last season, while UM also signed Quinn “Sleepover” Nordin this recruiting cycle. Nordin was the No. 1 kicker in the Class of 2016, and also averaged over 40 yards a punt in high school.

Suspended Irish CB Devin Butler formally charged with two felonies

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 28:  Trenton Irwin #2 of the Stanford Cardinal is tackled by Max Redfield #10 and Devin Butler #12 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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It just officially got real for one member of the Notre Dame football program.

Tuesday, the South Bend Tribune is reporting, St. Joseph County (Ind.) prosecutors have formally charged Devin Butler with one count each of resisting law enforcement and battery of a police officer.  Both of those charges are felonies, punishable by up to 2½ years in prison on each count if convicted.

On the day of Butler’s arrest, a university said in a statement that “[a]ny student arrested on a felony charge also faces dismissal from the university,” adding that “[t]he university will determine if additional sanctions should apply.” Butler was indefinitely suspended by the Irish the day after his arrest.

In an affidavit, it was alleged that Butler pushed police officers who were attempting to clear a scene outside of a South Bend drinking establishment — one of them witnessed the cornerback shoving a woman — before attacking one of the officers.  Butler allegedly tackled the officer to the ground and punched him several times before pulling off his duty belt.  Officers were ultimately forced to use a stun gun to subdue Butler.

It’s unclear what impact the formal charges filed today will have on Butler’s standing with both the football program and university.  He was already going to be sidelined until early October because of an injury.

Back on top (still): Taysom Hill named BYU’s starting QB

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 6: Taysom Hill #4 of the BYU Cougars drops back to pass against the Texas Longhorns on September 6, 2014 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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Earlier this offseason, Taysom Hill decided to change his uniform number to honor the memory of his brother, who passed away a couple of months earlier.  Now, Hill will be able to wear that number on the field and not merely on the sidelines holding a clipboard.

Following a quarterback competition that began in the spring and continued deep into summer camp, new BYU offensive coordinator Ty Detmer announced that Hill has been named as the Cougars’ starter.  As it turns out, today is also Hill’s 26th birthday, and is also just a little over six months after Hill announced that he would be returning to the Cougars for another season.

He beat out the younger Tanner Mangum to continue what’s been, thanks to injuries, a roller coaster of a career.

Hill’s 2014 season was cut short because of injury after just four complete games, while his 2015 season ended after just one game; the latter virtually guaranteed he’d be granted a waiver for a sixth season. His 2012 season also ended prematurely after an injury.

The return of Hill had set up an interesting dynamic at the quarterback position for the Cougars. Following his Lisfranc injury in the 2015 opener against Nebraska, Hill was replaced by Tanner Mangum, who proceeded to beat the Cornhuskers on a Hail Mary. A week later, Mangum pulled off a last-minute miracle again.

As Hill’s replacement, Mangum completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,377 yards, 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. In Hill’s best season, his only healthy season in 2013, he too completed 60 percent of his passes for 2,938 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Hill, though, offers something Mangum can’t — the ability to beat opposing defenses with his legs.

In that 2013 season, Hill ran for 1,344 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 13 games this past season, Mangum ran for minus-96 yards.

The upcoming season will be Hill’s final season of eligibility… maybe.  Hill could apply for a sixth season of eligibility if that’s the direction he wants to take and, based on his truncated 2014 and 2015 seasons, he would be a shoo-in for a waiver.