Heisman race beginning to take shape

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Maybe the Heisman can’t be won in September, but it can certainly be lost. Two weeks into the season, we’re beginning to see the first signs that the race is taking shape.

Braxton Miller’s candidacy hangs by a thread. Marcus Mariota is surging. Aaron Murray survived an elimination game. Todd Gurley impressed against a tough defense. Tajh Boyd underwhelmed. Teddy Bridgewater continued to dominate lesser foes. The Baylor duo of Bryce Petty and Lache Seastrunk are now hanging around the periphery of the race.

All the signs point to what should be a particularly intriguing campaign.

Here’s quick rundown of what happened this weekend with some of the main contenders:

Braxton Miller –– Miller, the front runner headed into the season, missed most of Ohio State’s game with San Diego State, which puts his Heisman hopes in serious jeopardy. Missing one game — and maybe more — will affect his overall numbers and make it difficult to have Heisman-worthy production at season’s end. If he doesn’t have a big game next week against Cal, he’s done.

Marcus Mariota — The Oregon quarterback shined in a rout of Virginia, passing for 199 yards and rushing for 122 while totaling three touchdowns. It seems likely that Mariota is headed for a huge season and as the quarterback for a team contending for the national title, he might soon replace Miller as the front runner in this race.

Aaron Murray — Murray had his back against the wall and he came through with a great game in a win over South Carolina. He was 17 of 23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns while making some really clutch throws. If he can have this kind of game against LSU and lead UGA to the SEC East title, he’s probably a lock to get to New York.

Todd Gurley — The sophomore running back also had a good game against South Carolina, rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. He’s on the verge of firmly establishing himself as the top running back candidate in the race.

Tajh Boyd — The Clemson quarterback threw for 169 yards on 14 of 23 passing against South Carolina State. No touchdown passes and just a touchdown run was a disappointing result considering he needs to have huge numbers at season’s end to win the trophy. There is plenty of time for him to make up for this lackluster production, but this game makes it a bit harder.

Teddy Bridgewater — The junior ripped Eastern Kentucky for 397 yards and four touchdowns on 23 of 32 passing. His numbers after two week are stellar, though it came against weak competition. Still, he’s doing exactly what he needs to do to stay in Heisman consideration.

Bryce Petty — He may not be a real candidate just yet, but he’s playing like one. He went 13 of 16 for 338 yards and two touchdowns against Buffalo and also scored once on the ground. His production should be fantastic this season and if Baylor contends for the Big 12 title, then he should emerge as a contender.

Lache Seastrunk — If Gurley gets a running back challenger, it should be Seastrunk, who had 150 yards and three touchdowns in one half’s work against Buffalo. He’ll need to catch fire and approach the 2,000-yard mark to have a real shot at Heisman glory, but it seems possible in that Baylor offense.

I think there’s a good chance the Heisman winner and most of the finalists comes from this group, though I’m not discounting the possibility that other candidates may emerge. There’s still a long way to go and a lot can happen in this crazy sport.

Reports: Tim Drevno stepping down as Michigan’s OC

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An offseason of change in Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan coaching staff continues, with one of the Wolverines’ million-dollar assistants stepping down.  Reportedly.

Multiple reports, including ones from The Wolverine Lounge and SI.com‘s Bruce Feldman, are indicating that Tim Drevno has decided to step down from his post as U-M’s offensive coordinator.  Drevno has been Harbaugh’s coordinator on that side of the ball each of his three seasons in Ann Arbor.

Drevno also served as the Wolverines’ offensive line coach.

Under Drevno’s direction, Michigan’s offense was tied for 91st nationally in averaging 25.2 points per game this past season.

The reports come three days after McElwain was officially announced as U-M’s new quarterbacks coach.  In the run-up to that hiring, it was reported that McElwain, the former coordinator at Alabama prior to his run as Florida’s head coach, could take over play-calling duties at U-M.

Arizona QB Brandon Dawkins to transfer from Wildcats

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An already crowded graduate transfer market has gained yet another entrant.

On his personal Twitter account Thursday night, Brandon Dawkins announced that he has decided to transfer out of new head coach Kevin Sumlin‘s football program. While no specific reason was given for the quarterback’s decision to move on, the presence of a Heisman Trophy contender, rising junior Khalil Tate, for the next two seasons likely played a significant role.

Dawkins is set to graduate this May, which will make him eligible to play immediately in 2018 at another FBS school if that’s the tack he takes.

Dawkins started nine games in 2016 and the first four games this past season before Tate took over.  For the Wildcats portion of his playing career, Dawkins completed just over 56 percent of his 334 passes for 2,418 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  He ran for another 1,582 yards and 20 more touchdowns.

Fresno State DC Orlondo Steinauer headed back to CFL

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That certainly didn’t last long.

In December of 2016, it was confirmed that Orlondo Steinauer would be leaving his post as the defensive coordinator of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League to take the same job at Fresno State.  After one season at the Mountain West Conference school, Steinauer announced on Twitter that he has decided to move back to the CFL with the same organization.

“Orlondo is an accomplished CFL coach with a great track record at this level,” said Ticats head coach June Jones in a statement. “He’s a coach whose great work ethic, intelligence, knowledge of the Canadian game and ability to get the most out of his players will be a huge asset to our staff.

“We’re very happy to bring him home to Hamilton after an exceptional year at Fresno State.”

Prior to his one season at Fresno, Steinauer had spent his entire coaching career in the CFL, including a four-year stint as the defensive coordinator for Hamilton from 2013-16.  Steinauer, a Seattle native who played his college football at Western Washington, also played professionally in Canada from 1996-2008 prior to embarking on his coaching career.

Chris Ash adds another assistant to Rutgers staff

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It was a busy day on the assistant hiring front for Chris Ash.

Earlier Thursday, Rutgers confirmed that Noah Joseph had been hired as co-defensive coordinator as well as safeties coach.  Not long after, the football program again confirmed that Cory Robinson has been hired by Ash as well.

Robinson will serve as passing-game coordinator for the Scarlet Knights as well as cornerbacks coach.

“We are excited to have Cory and his family join our program,” said Ash in a statement. “Cory is a fast-rising young coach that will bring tremendous energy and passion to our defense. We look forward to having him develop and mentor our corners.”

Robinson spent the past two seasons as a cornerbacks coach, at Temple in 2017 and Toledo the year before.  Those were his first two years as an on-field assistant at the FBS level.