Texas Practice Football

Manny Diaz out, Greg Robinson in as Texas’ DC

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As laughable as Texas’ loss to BYU Saturday night was, the Longhorns’ reported solution to the defensive problems is equally absurd.

According to Chip Brown of OrangeBloods.com, UT defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has been fired by head coach Mack Brown.  The move comes less than 24 hours after the Longhorns’ defense was gashed for a school-record 550 yards rushing in a loss to BYU.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman subsequently confirmed that Diaz has been fired.

The move to replace Diaz post-haste is not exactly unexpected; the individual handpicked by Brown to do the replacing, though, is.

Again according to Brown, Greg Robinson will replace Diaz as UT’s defensive coordinator.

Robinson, who was the head coach at Syracuse from 2005-08 (10-37), was hired in January of this year to serve as a “football analyst” on the Longhorn Network.  Prior to returning to UT — he spent the 2004 season as Brown’s DC — Robinson spent the 2009 and 2010 seasons as Rich Rodriguez‘s coordinator at Michigan.  The Wolverines were 82nd in total defense in 2009, 110th in 2010.  UM was 77th in scoring defense in 2009 and 108th in scoring defense in 2010.

Rodriguez was fired after the 2010 season.

UPDATED 5:13 p.m. ET: Mack Brown has confirmed that Diaz is out, Robinson is in as UT’s defensive coordinator.

“Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable, and we need to change that,” Brown said ion a statement. “Greg will be here tonight and get with the staff and players to start preparing for Ole Miss. He will be running our defense immediately. We’re very fortunate that Greg has been around, watched all of our practice video and has a good scouting report moving forward. His familiarity with the staff and players should make for a smooth transition. He knows this place, did a terrific job in leading our defense before, and I’m excited to have him back on the field. We’re back at it and working hard to beat Ole Miss this weekend.”

UPDATED 5:26 p.m. ET: Here’s the statement from Robinson on his being elevated from “football analyst” to defensive coordinator at UT.

“This is a tough deal for everyone involved, but I love The University of Texas, and Coach Brown has been wonderful to me. I’ll do anything I can to help him, so when he called, I told him I’d be there today. I know the staff, have a lot of respect for them and am excited for the challenge moving forward.

 “I’ve been around the team a lot, watched all of their film and have been self scouting and scouting opponents since I came on board in July. Because of Longhorn Network, I’ve also been able to see these guys for two to three years and am very familiar with the personnel. …

“I need to get with the staff, work with them to get a plan in place and hit the ground running. I think very highly of the defensive coaches I’m working with – Duane (Akina), Oscar (Giles) and Bo (Davis) –  so it’s critical for me to get with them and figure out what specifically we need to do moving forward. Having coached here, I do know the ins and outs and having the stability with the rest of the staff will be very beneficial.”

Amidst medical mystery, Georgia’s Trenton Thompson withdraws from spring semester classes

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 19: Anthony Jennings #11 of the Lousiana-Lafayette Rajin' Cajuns is pursued by Trenton Thompson #78 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.

First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.

Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.

In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:

Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.

As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.

Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.

Iowa State DB Mike Johnson suspended amid domestic violence arrest

AMES, IA - NOVEMBER 19: Wide receiver Keke Coutee #20 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders blocks defensive back Mike Johnson #3 of the Iowa State Cyclones as he rushed for yards in the first half of play at Jack Trice Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Ames, Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)
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Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.

As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.

She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.

“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”

Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.

Report: Former Pitt RB James Conner given clean bill of health

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James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.

Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)

He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.

Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard FournetteDalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.

Willie Taggart no longer speaking with Oregon beat reporter

TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Willie Taggart walks the sidelines during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes on September 28, 2013 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Oregon strength coach Irele Oderinde is now back at work after serving a 1-month, unpaid suspension resulting from three players being hospitalized after Oderinde’s first supervised workout with the Ducks, but the story is not over in Eugene.

According to Oregon’s student paper The Daily Emerald, Taggart is no longer speaking with the reporter who broke the story, The Oregonian‘s Andrew Greif.

“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart told the paper. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.”

Greif, for his part, stands by the story and says the paper will not issue a retraction, as Taggart requested:

“Though the description of the workouts is understandably subjective, ultimately what has never been in doubt is that three UO players were hospitalized after the first week of offseason workouts and received treatment for several days,” Greif said in an email to the Emerald.

Complicating matters for Taggart is that the university commissioned faculty athletics rep Tim Gleason, a journalism professor, to review the report. In speaking with players, coaches, trainers and AD Rob Mullens, Gleason found the report not to be inaccurate.

“It’s not an unfair characterization; it’s just that the way it gets interpreted is regrettable,” Gleason said. “In the shorthand of journalism, it resulted in an impression that may not have been completely accurate.”

Also contradicting Taggart are members of his own staff, who said off-the-record that the workouts were “military-style.” Greif quoted them anonymously when inserting that phrase into the piece:

Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.

It’s not clear where the story goes from here, except that Taggart made clear twice in his interview with the Emerald he has no plans to answer questions from Greif in the future.