Georgia v Clemson

Clemson makes ACC proud, hangs on vs Georgia

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And breathe…

Clemson and Georgia was everything it was expected to be on offense, trading blows with each other for most of the night until Clemson finally delivered a knock out blow. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd completed a touchdown pass to Stanton Seckinger midway through the fourth quarter to give the home team their largest lead of the night. Georgia cut in to a double-digit Clemson lead in the final minutes, but an offsides kick was recovered by Clemson to essentially lock up a win in a battle of top ten programs, 38-35.

This one was all about the offenses. Georgia out-gained Clemson in total yards, 544-467. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray passed for 323 yards but failed to throw a touchdown pass (he dud rush for one in the final minutes from the goal line). Murray was also picked off once by Clemson. His counterpart, Clemson’s Boyd, had a much better performance by passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for two more and had zero interceptions.

The running backs for both sides also had big time performances. Clemson’s Roderick McDowell rushed for 132 yards, but Georgia’s Todd Gurley led all players with 154 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After making some strong statements in the off-season about his confidence, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins recorded 127 receiving yards and a touchdown in the season opener.

Both teams showed they have some holes on defense, but perhaps that was expected. Georgia’s defense was not a lock-down type of defense last year but they had a knack for creating turnovers. Georgia created one turnover but the offense lost the football twice.

So, what’s next? Georgia has the tougher road ahead of them of course. Next week the Bulldogs take on South Carolina, a team that has been a hurdle for Georgia in recent years. South Carolina also gets a couple of extra days to prepare for the game after opening their season on Thursday night.

Georgia head coach Mark Richt will surely be placed back in the cross hairs of critics after losing the season opener and some already dipping their pends in the ink well to write off Richt and Georgia against their SEC East rivals from Columbia, South Carolina. It is not an easy situation to be in, but even a loss to South Carolina might not be enough to completely ruin a run for an SEC title. But Georgia was within yards of a spot in the BCS Championship Game last season and fans are waiting to see Georgia get over that hump. A season opening loss to an ACC team, albeit a good ACC team and on the road, will not sit well for Georgia and their fans. Not when Alabama steam rolled Virginia Tech, South Carolina took care of North Carolina and Florida managed to put together a solid effort despite a handful of suspensions.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is as far removed from a hot seat as possible. Clemson became the first non-SEC team to win consecutive games against top ten SEC teams, dating back to the Chick-fil-A Bowl victory over LSU last December. Clemson’s offense lived up to the hype and they should be tough to beat in ACC play. The key games on the schedule remain Florida State and South Carolina, but the Tigers should always be placed on upset alert it seems thanks to a tendency to fall victim to an act of Clemsoning at the least convenient of times.

Next week the Tigers stay home to play host to FCS South carolina State, and it should not be expected that Clemson falls victim to the FCS bug that seems to be going around this opening week. Clemson’s first road trip will come the following week when they take on North Carolina State in an early ACC contest. NC State blasted Louisiana Tech 40-14 in their season opener. The Wolfpack lost quarterback Brandon Mitchell to a broken foot, that will require surgery.

Temple adds recent NFL assistant, long-time college coach

MIAMI - 2009:  George DeLeone of the Miami Dolphins poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
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With the Cleveland Browns (again) changing regimes, George DeLeone found himself on the outside of the coaching profession looking in.  A couple of weeks later, DeLeone is back on the inside, and in a familiar locale at that.

While the school has yet to officially confirm it, the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that DeLeone has been added to Matt Rhule‘s coaching staff at Temple.  Bruce Feldman of FOXSports.com subsequently confirmed the report.

According to both outlets, DeLeone will serve as the Owls’ running-game coordinator.

The past two seasons, DeLeone worked as an assistant line coach with the Browns.  Prior to that, however, the vast majority of his 46-year coaching career had been spent at the collegiate level.  And a sizable chunk of that time was spent in the Northeast.

DeLeone’s first FBS job came at Rutgers from 1980-83.  Two different stints at Syracuse (1985-96, 1998-2004) were sandwiched between his the job at the NFL level with the Miami Dolphins (1997).  Temple was his home from 2006-07, and then UConn from 2011-13 before the Browns called.

Demoted by BC, Todd Fitch takes over as LaTech’s OC

NEW ORLEANS, LA - DECEMBER 19:  Head coach Skip Holtz of the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs objects to a call during the first half of the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl against the Arkansas State Red Wolves at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on December 19, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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A promotion in 2015 was quickly followed by a demotion a year later for Todd Fitch.  Not long after the latter went down, Fitch left town for a fresh start to his coaching career.

Friday, Skip Holtz announced that Fitch has been hired as his offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech.  Additionally, Fitch will serve as the wide receivers coach for the Bulldogs.

Fitch had spent the past three seasons at Boston College, first as receivers coach and passing-game coordinator in 2013-14 before being promoted to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2015.  However, BC head coach Steve Addazio announced in mid-January that he had hired Scott Loeffler as his coordinator, effectively demoting Fitch back to receivers coach.

Three weeks later, Fitch headed south.

“I am excited to be joining a staff that is part of growing something special,” Fitch said. “This coaching staff has laid the groundwork for a program that has already done some great things and is building a foundation for future success. I am excited for the opportunity to be on a staff with Skip Holtz again and to keep growing this program.”

In addition to BC, Fitch had also been a coordinator at East Carolina and USF. Holtz was the head coach at both of those stops.

San Jose State QB Malik Watson latest to take grad transfer route

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  The San Jose State Spartans marching band plays their fight song against the Fresno State Bulldogs in the second quarter on November 29, 2013 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California.  The Spartans won 62-52.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: a college football player has decided to ply his final season of college football wares elsewhere.

The latest to take that tack is Malik Watson, who announced via Twitter that he has “decided that I will not be returning to San Jose State for my senior and will be seeking elsewhere to pursue my dream.”  As Watson will graduate from SJSU this May, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016 if he lands at another FBS school and enrolls in a grad program not offered at his former school.

Watson added that, as he awaits a new destination, he “will continue to train with my private QB coach in this meantime.”

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A California high school product who was born in Hawaii, Watson transferred from the junior college ranks to SJSU in 2014. After redshirting that first year, the 6-3, 208-pound Watson played in two games as the No. 3 quarterback on the depth chart.

In that time, Watson completed 9-of-15 passes for 59 yards and an interception. Of the 15 attempts, 14 came in the Week 3 loss to Oregon State.

Illini grad transfer T.J. Neal to visit WVU, Auburn

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMPER 27: Linebacker T.J. Neal #52 of the Illinois Fighting Illini arches of running back Ameer Abdullah #8 of the Nebraska Cornhuskersduring their game at Memorial Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Lincoln, Nebraska.  (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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T.J. Neal does not yet know where he will continue his collegiate career, but it appears the linebacker has significantly narrowed the field.

A little less than two weeks ago, Neal, after being told by the coaching staff that they were planning to move him from middle to strongside linebacker, decided to transfer out of the Illinois football program.  As he will be a graduate transfer upon earning his degree in May, Neal will be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2016.

Enter West Virginia and Auburn, two teams which have been in contact with Neal and vice versa.  According to al.com, Neal will visit Morgantown this coming Monday, then head to The Plains a week later.

Upon the announcement of an impending departure, Illini head coach Bill Cubit said the Pennsylvania native “was talking about playing closer to home.”  Even as a move to Auburn would be the exact opposite of that, Neal seems genuinely excited over the prospects.

“Being able to play down there in Alabama, it’s like a dream come true,” Neal told Brandon Marcello of al.com. “From my high school, I never thought I’d play at a big-time school like Auburn. To have a chance now, it’s exciting to play against some of the top players in the country.”

According to blueandgoldsports.com, Penn State and Pittsburgh are/were also in play. It’s unclear if he’s visited or plans to visit those schools in his home state, although it was originally thought that the Nittany Lions could be high on Neal’s to-do list.

Not only is Neal a native of McKeesport, Pa., but Tim Banks, the Illini’s co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach the past four seasons, left in December to become the Nittany Lions’ coordinator.  PSU has also seen a pair of linebackers, Troy Reeder and Gary Wooten Jr., transfer out this month, meaning the opportunity for a starting job would certainly be on the table.

Regardless, Neal expects to make a decision shortly after the Feb. 15 visit to Auburn. He would then enroll in his new school of choice shortly after his graduation from Illinois.

Neal was a two-year starter for the Illini who finished second on the team in tackles (109) this past season.  He was named honorable mention All-Big Ten for his play in 2015.