Alabama’s Christion Jones single-handedly beats Virginia Tech

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Turns out all No. 1 Alabama needed to beat Virginia Tech was two touches by wide receiver Christion Jones.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound junior opened Alabama’s scoring with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown after Virginia Tech’s first possession, then followed it up with a pinball-like 94-yard kickoff return for a score late in the second quarter to spearhead the Tide’s 35-10 win over the Hokies in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.

Jones added a third touchdown in the third quarter, a 38-yard catch from A.J. McCarron as he became the first player in Alabama history to score on a kick return, punt return and reception in the same game.

Before the rest of the country despairs over yet another weapon emerging for the Tide, it might do well to consider that Alabama was very pedestrian on offense, compiling just 206 total yards and 11 first downs. McCarron looked rusty, completing 10 of 22 passes for 110 yards and a pick to go with his touchdown strike to Jones. Bama rushed for just 96 yards (43 of it in garbage time) and averaged 2.5 yards per carry.

“We have too many good players and too many skill players on offense not to be more consistent,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said afterward. “We’ve got plenty of things to improve on.”

Take away Jones and Tech might’ve had a chance to pull the upset. The Hokies played inspired defense all night, pressuring McCarron and clogging running lanes.  But outside of a 77-yard touchdown run by running back Trey Edmunds, the offense didn’t provide much relief. Quarterback Logan Thomas was abysmal, completing five of 26 passes for 59 yards and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri.

The good news for Tech was that its defense was able to go toe-to-toe with the Tide’s offense for most of the game.  And the running game showed some life, so if Thomas can come around, the Hokies might have a chance to make some noise in the ACC.

The discouraging news for the rest of college football was that Bama played as poorly on offense as it ever has under Saban and still won by 25.

The sloppiness of Alabama’s play reveals just how hard it is to maintain focus game-in and game-out in this sport, no matter how talented the program. There’s a reason no team has ever three-peated as national champ. But it takes a little luck, too, and Alabama was fortunate to win so handily despite playing so far below its potential.

Report: starting West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler leaving to pursue career in track

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You don’t see this happen too often.

Citing multiple sources, Mike Casazza of EerSports.com is reporting that West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler is no longer a member of the Mountaineers football team.  A team official stated the redshirt sophomore “is reportedly pursuing a career in track and field,” Casazza wrote.

It’s unclear whether the track & field pursuit would take place at WVU or at another university.

According to Shuler’s bio on the team’s official website, he finished runner-up as a high school senior in the discus at the Florida state track & field championships.  He finished third in the same event as a sophomore.

Shuler, a three-star member of the Mountaineers’ 2015 recruiting class, started 10 games this past season.  However, on the most recent depth chart, he’s listed as the backup to Ezekiel Rose at one of the defensive end spots.

In 12 games, Shuler’s three sacks were tied for third on the team while his eight tackles for loss were good for solo third.

East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew will reportedly visit Alabama this weekend

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It appears the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™ is close to being implemented.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Gardner Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.  That interest has ramped up since as al.com is reporting that Minshew will be visiting the Crimson Tide’s campus this weekend.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew would be eligible to play immediately this season at UA, or any other FBS program for that matter.

Alabama’s interest in a grad transfer at the position will do nothing to quell the rumors that Hurts, the starter for each of the last 29 games over the past two seasons, is a potential candidate for a transfer. Hurts was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa in the national championship game, with the true freshman’s comeback heroics signaling a likely changing of the guard under center.

As for Minshew, he started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch cleared for spring practice

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Unlike how his 2017 season ended, Greg Dortch‘s 2018 offseason is trending much more positively.

In Wake Forest’s late-October win over Louisville, Dortch went down with what turned out to be a season-ending abdominal injury. Four months after sustaining the injury, and with spring practice right around the corner, the wide receiver has been medically cleared to fully participate in practice.

Despite missing the last month of the regular season as well as the postseason, Dortch still led the Demon Deacons in receiving yards with 722. His 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the team as well.

In the game in which he was injured, he set the school record with four touchdown catches.

Jeff Brohm stays in-house for new Purdue assistant

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When it came to filling out his Purdue coaching staff, Jeff Brohm didn’t have to look very far.

Kevin Wolthausen, the football program confirmed in a release, has been hired as the 10th of Brohm’s allotted 10 Boilermakers assistant coaches.  Per the school, Wolthausen will be working with the team’s special teams and defense.

This marks a positional homecoming of sorts for Wolthausen as he spent the 2012 season as the defensive line coach at Purdue.  Last season, Wolthausen served as a quality control coach for both special teams and defense for the Boilermakers.

In between his two stints in West Lafayette, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at UConn in 2016; the two years prior, he was the Huskies’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

In 2013, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator at Florida International.  The 60-year-old long-time college football assistant has also spent time on staffs at Louisville, Arizona, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma.