LSU holds off TCU, wins 42nd non-conference game in a row

20 Comments

No. 12 LSU used a balanced offense and a stingy defense to hold off No. 20 TCU, 37-27, at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Saturday. With the win, the Tigers extended their non-conference win streak to a record 42 games in a row.

It wasn’t easy, though, as TCU kept things close for most of the game.

LSU’s edge in physicality made the difference…as it usually does. The Tigers pounded the proud Horned Frogs defense to the tune of 197 yards on the ground as Terrance Magee led the way with a game-high 95 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit on just 16 of 32 passes, but he produced 251 yards through the air and completed several clutch throws. The Tigers ran 80 plays, held the ball for 35 minutes, converted 13 of 19 third down attempts and piled up 448 yards. All in all, it was a pretty good debut for new LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs couldn’t seem to get anything going in the passing game. Casey Pachall, TCU’s 2011 starter who sat out most of last season, started the game and completed just nine of 16 passes for 75 yards and an interception in the first half. Trevone Boykin took over in the second half and wasn’t much better, completing six of 12 for 70 yards.

Despite holding the TCU offense in check, though, LSU couldn’t pull away as the Frogs took advantage of a second-quarter B.J. Catalon 100-yard kickoff return to stay within striking distance. The Tigers led, 16-10, at the half despite outgaining the Horned Frogs 254 to 104.  LSU then dominated in the third quarter as  Magee’s two touchdown runs sandwiched another score by Catalon and the Tigers appeared to be in control heading into the fourth quarter, leading 30-17.

That quickly changed.

A TCU punt backed the Tigers up on their own one-yard-line and two plays later a bad exchange between Mettenberger and running back Alfred Blue resulted in the Horned Frogs taking over at the LSU six. Waymon James punched it in and, suddenly, the Horned Frogs were back in business. A 39-yard field goal by Jared Oberkrom made it 30-27 with over seven minutes to play.

But Odell Beckham return the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to the TCU 25-yard line and Mettenberger then found Jarvis Landry on a 20-yard touchdown pass and the margin went back to 10. TCU failed to rally and Les Miles escaped with his 31st-straight non-conference win in his time at LSU.

You have to feel good about this win if you’re an LSU fan. For the first time in a while it looks like the Tigers offense could be showing signs of life. It wasn’t always pretty, but Metternberger made the plays he needed to make in order to beat a quality opponent.

So while many figure Texas A&M to be the main challenger to Alabama in the SEC West, maybe they shouldn’t sleep on LSU just yet.

Longtime ESPN play-by-play man Mike Patrick announces retirement

Getty Images
Leave a comment

ESPN’s roster of college football play-by-play announcers suffered a high number of attrition of late. Brent Musburger retired. Brad Nessler replaced Verne Lundquist at CBS. Sean McDonough moved to Monday Night Football. Now the dean of ESPN’s Saturday voices is going away, too.

Mike Patrick announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 32-year run that began in 1982, three years after the network launched.

“It’s wonderful to reflect on how I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do with my life,” Patrick said. “At the same time, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some of the very best people I’ve ever known, both on the air and behind the scenes. While I’m not sure exactly what’s next for me, I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with new life experiences.”

His biggest assignment came as the voice of ESPN’s Sunday Night Football from 1987 until the package moved to NBC after the 2005 season, but outside of that he was one of the Worldwide Leader’s leading college sports voices. He was the lead voice on the network’s ACC basketball package, he called the Women’s Final Four for a decade and a half, and he was a leading voice on the College World Series and served as the play-by-play man for ESPN’s Thursday night and Saturday night packages, before ESPN turned its Saturday primetime window into the top package owned by the network.

You may remember this moment.

ESPN will say goodbye to Patrick through a pre-recorded tribute voiced by Rece Davis airing throughout the day on SportsCenter and a tribute during the network’s coverage of the Louisville vs. Duke basketball game tonight (9 p.m. ET).

Heisman winner Chris Weinke hired as Tennessee’s running backs coach

Getty Images
3 Comments

It can be argued that the only reason Tennessee has a national championship is because of Chris Weinke. As we know, the Vols claimed the 1998 national championship by defeating Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl, the first national championship game of the BCS era. Tennessee won that game, 23-16, thanks in large part to a pick-six thrown by Marcus Outzen, a third-string quarterback forced into action due to an injury by the two signal callers ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s how a Sports Illustrated article described Weinke and that FSU team in its 1999 preview issue:

Don’t think of 1999 as a new season for Florida State, think of it as the resumption of an old one. Before quarterback Chris Weinke was dumped on his head and suffered a season-ending ruptured disk in his neck in a 45-14 win over Virginia last Nov. 7, no team in the country was playing better than the Seminoles, who had bounced back from an early-season defeat at North Carolina State. So how cruel was this? Upset losses suffered by Ohio State, UCLA and Kansas State sent 11-1 Florida State to the national title game in the Fiesta Bowl, but without its best quarterback. The Seminoles and backup signal-caller Marcus Outzen struggled on offense and lost to Tennessee.

Nevertheless, Tennessee won that season’s title, Weinke would lead Florida State to the 1999 national title and take the Heisman Trophy a year after that. The past is the past.

But now the past is the present, as the former Florida State quarterback on Wednesday was announced as Tennessee’s running backs coach.

“I’m excited to have Chris Weinke on our staff to coach running backs,” Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt said in a statement. “He has played the game at the highest level and what he has accomplished on the field speaks for itself. He is also an outstanding coach and teacher of the game, coaching in the NFL, in college this past season and at the high school level. He has a great eye for talent and knows the game on the offensive side of the ball as well as anybody I’ve been around. He will be a great fit for our Tennessee program.”

Weinke entered the NFL as a 26-year-old and lasted seven seasons with the Panthers and 49ers before moving into coaching. He first worked as a trainer at IMG Academy, then moved onto coaching the high school program, where he went 19-2 as head coach and offensive coordinator. From there he deposited a stint as the Los Angeles Rams’ quarterbacks coach before spending the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Alabama, where he hooked up with Pruitt.

Weinke will be charged with re-building the Vols’ backfield after losing John Kelly to an early entry into the NFL draft. Rising sophomore Ty Chandler is Tennessee’s leading returning rusher, carrying 71 times for 305 yards and two touchdowns in 2017.

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

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Getty Images
1 Comment

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.