Sports information directors from around the country are constantly flooding my inbox. Game notes and press releases are constantly coming in to my inbox every day and I try to at least skim through each as they come in or when I have a chance to catch up. This evening I received one from Louisville and came across an interesting little stat about the series between Louisville and Kentucky.
According to Louisville’s records, the team winning the rushing battle has won each of the last 18 meetings between the bitter in-state rivals. This led me to quickly check the rushing numbers after two games and wouldn’t you know that Kentucky has been more productive on the ground out of the gates? Of course, Louisville also has a Heisman Trophy contender throwing passes for them, so perhaps this rushing stat is not quite as relevant this weekend.
Louisville has run the football 68 times for a total of 277 yards (averaging 4.07 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns. They did this against Ohio and Eastern Kentucky, far from top-level competition. Though only accounting for a small sample size, Louisville ranks 83rd in rushing offense. Again, having Teddy Bridgewater playing quarterback helps overcome any perceived lack of a running game. Louisville ranks fifth in the nation in passing offense. Louisville added former Auburn running back Michael Dyer to their roster this season but is listed third on the depth chart this week. Louisville’s running game is instead led by Senorise Perry and junior Dominique Brown.
Meanwhile, Kentucky has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of their first two games, against Western Kentucky and Miami Ohio. Kentucky has rushed 71 times for 478 yards (averaging 6.73 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns. Kentucky ranks 32nd in run offense, again using a small sample size of just two games.
Can Kentucky find a way to get the ground game moving once again? Louisville held Kentucky to just 93 yards on the ground last year while rushing for over 200 yards on offense. Kentucky’s running game is spearheaded by senior Raymond Sanders and junior fullback Jalen Whitlow and adds some young blood with freshman Jojo Kemp. The Wildcats are looking to get back to playing competitive football, and there will be no better opportunity to make a statement than by utilizing a strength in the running game to their advantage if possible against Louisville.
If there is one stat you are keeping track of in this weekend’s game, perhaps that will be it.
Despite this being a new year, John Humphrey simply can’t shake the injury bug.
In 2017, Humphrey missed four games after injuring his knee in Arizona State’s season opener. On Thursday, the rising redshirt junior suffered another injury, albeit significantly more serious than the first as first-year head coach Herm Edwards confirmed that the wide receiver will miss the entire 2018 season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Humphrey was a three-star member of Oklahoma’s 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 61 wide receiver in the country and the No. 67 player at any position in the state of Texas. In April of 2016, he announced his decision to transfer from OU; a month later, he announced his decision to transfer to ASU.
After sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Humphrey put up huge numbers in his Sun Devils debut, catching seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in ASU’s season-opening win over New Mexico State. In large part because of that first injury, however, he finished the season with just 13 catches, 177 yards and the one touchdown.
Prior to the second injury, he had been penciled in as a starter for ASU this season.
Nearly four months after ostensibly being fired as athletic director, John Currie has an official severance agreement with his former employer.
Tennessee announced Thursday evening that “it has completed an amicable resolution parting ways with former… Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics John Currie.” Currie had been earning $75,000 a month during a paid suspension; the university stated in its release that Currie will be paid a sum total of $2,220,454 (and 60 cents, for accounting purposes) no later than April 1 of this year.
Additionally, the release noted that Currie “will be paid his salary through March 22, 2018.”
In the midst of a football coaching search fiasco that included a Mike Leach hire that wasn’t, Currie was ousted as the AD at UT on Dec. 1 of last year and replaced by former Vols head football coach Phillip Fulmer. Between then and today’s announcement, Currie had been technically employed but suspended with pay by the university.
Earlier this month, it was announced that Currie had been hired as an executive-in-residence at Robert Morris University.
That certainly didn’t last long.
Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.
As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.
“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”
A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program. In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.
Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport. Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.
In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.
The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.
Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.