Jeremiah Laufasa

Pac-12 spring games wrap-up


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

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.

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.”

Report: Penn State’s Sandusky settlement sum reaches $93 million

Jerry Sandusky

The cost of the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky scandal continues to take a toll on Penn State University. According to a recent report from the Associated Press, the total payout total Penn State has paid to victims of the former defensive coordinator have reached nearly $93 million.

The AP report says recent financial statements from the university show an additional $33.2 million in payments related to claims connected to Sandusky’s crimes. There may be more claims to sort through as well, which means the sum of the payouts could continue to rise. Penn State previously agreed to pay 26 people connected to the Sandusky scandal a total of $56.7 million. To date, 32 claims have been paid off by the university.

Penn State agreed to pay off a $60 million fine issued by the NCAA, with the money going toward addressing child sexual abuse in the state of Pennsylvania. even after the NCAA lifted all terms of the sanctions levied against the university and football program in September 2014, Penn State remained committed to paying the entire fine as a part of a settlement with the NCAA. The NCAA lost a fight to distribute the fine money nationally, so the money will be used in-state.

Sandusky is appealing his court decision finding him guilty of 45 counts of sexual abuse to children, netting him a sentence between 30 and 60 years (effectively a life sentence for the 71-year old convicted felon).

Miami suspends wide receiver shortly before kicking off vs. Pitt

Tyre Brady, Maurice Canady
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Former Big East foes square off in ACC play today when Miami visits Pittsburgh for a noon kickoff. The Hurricanes, however, will be without one offensive player. Sophomore wide receiver Tyre Brady has been suspended by the team for a violation of team rules. The nature of the violation, as is usually the case, has not been clarified beyond that vague description.

Brady is eighth on Miami’s roster with 112 receiving yards and a touchdown. Brady was listed second on the two-deep depth chart for Miami behind starter Herb Waters, Miami’s second-leading receiver with 585 yards and a touchdown.

USF keeps pressure on Temple as UCF joins infamous club

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UCF became the 17th team in college football history to go a full season without celebrating one victory. That adds up to a lot of free bar for patrons at one local establishment this season. UCF’s 0-12 disaster of a season was dealt a final blow by rival South Florida, who tuned up the Knights by a score of 44-3 Thursday night in Orlando. While UCF joined a list no school ever wants to be a part of, USF made sure the pressure will be on Temple to get by Connecticut Saturday afternoon. A loss by Tempel against the Huskies, who just toppled Houston last week, and it will be the Bulls who play for the American Athletic Conference championship next week at either Navy or Houston. The winner of the Navy-Houston game Friday will host the conference championship game.

USF ends its regular season having won four straight games, the last three coming in blowout fashion. After losing at Navy 29-17, USF rallied with a 22-17 victory at East Carolina and followed that up with a decisive 44-23 victory against Temple, a 65-27 thrashing of Cincinnati and last night’s 44-3 demolishing of UCF. Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers pass for three touchdowns and rushed for two more. USF outgained UCF 455-203 and the defense forced two turnovers in the win. Because USF defeated Temple, the Bulls own a head-to-head tiebreaker that comes into play in the AAC East if Temple loses one more game for an identical conference record. A Temple win against UConn clinches the division for the Owls, who would also play on the road against either Navy or Houston.

UCF is the first winless team in the FBS since Miami Ohio and Georgia State in 2013. It is also the second time since 2000 UCF has gone through a full season without a win. The Knights also had losses pile up against them in 2004, when the Knights were part fo the MAC. UCF’s season saw head coach George O’Leary step down earlier in the season, so the program is now turning a page to find a new head coach. There is still some potential to build something at UCF. After all, this program was in and won the Fiesta Bowl just two seasons ago against Big 12 champion Baylor. The job should be an attractive one for a number of candidates as well.

Trick play by Texas Tech cemented Texas’ bowl-less season

Jakeem Grant

For just the second time since 1998, the Texas Longhorns will not be going to a bowl game this season. A home loss to Texas Tech sealed a winless season for the Longhorns, leaving them at the mercy of a waiting list to get in if they happen to pull a stunner against Baylor in the season finale to go 5-7 and hope there are bowl vacancies to be filled. In other words, don’t count on it. The fate of the Longhorns this season may have been expected for weeks or months, but the final nail in the coffin may be have delivered by a Texas Tech trick play that saw Jakeem Grant  sneak down the left sideline and dodge a couple of defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove to be the game-winning score.

Up 41-38, Texas Tech forced a Texas turnover on downs at the 40-yard line of the Longhorns with 2:51 to play. Despite Texas having a couple of timeouts to spare, Texas Tech appeared  to line up in a victory formation. Perhaps inspired by the fumblerooski, Kliff Kingsbury had his offense set in a formation that would make it difficult to tell which player had the football until it was too late. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back deep and appeared to fake a hand-off on his way. Meanwhile, Grant was running with the ball to the left side of the field and found daylight. In the blink of an eye, Texas Tech expanded its lead to 48-38.

Texas still found a way to make Texas Tech sweat it out though. Daje Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 42-yards and received an extra 15-yards due to a facemask penalty to the Red Raiders special teams unit. Two plays later, Chris Warren III ran eight yards for a touchdown. On Texas Tech’s final possession of the game, there would be no tricks. After Texas was forced to burn each of its two remaining timeouts, Texas Tech set up in a true victory formation for the final two plays of the game as the clock expired and Texas saw its postseason eligibility expire in sync.

This will mark the second straight losing season in Austin for the Longhorns after Texas lost a bowl game last season to end the season at 6-7. The last time Texas had back-to-back losing seasons was in the old Southwest Conference with David McWilliams as the head coach. Texas had consecutive losing and bowl-less seasons in 1988 and 1989. But at least Texas made an appearance in the AP Top 25 in those disappointing seasons. The Longhorns have now gone two straight seasons without appearing in the top 25 for the first time since 1986 and 1987.