Jakeem Grant

Texas Tech wins crazy penalty-filled Big 12 opener vs TCU


There was a time not so long ago we lauded the Big 12 for their quarterback arsenal. The 2013 season is certainly painting a different picture early on. Thursday night’s Big 12 contest between Texas Tech and TCU was more of a defensive exhibition but did provide some late offensive highlights as Texas Tech moved to 3-0 with a 20-10 victory over the visiting Horned Frogs.

While we generally tune in to see what Texas Tech will do on offense, Thursday night was all about the defense. TCU picked off three passes from Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield and managed to get just three points out of it. Mayfield later had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. Davis Webb came in to continue leading the offense and he soon had an impact when a tipped pass was hauled in by Deandre Washington, who then dashed down the left sideline for a 46-yard touchdown, or so it seemed. Washington dropped the football just before crossing the goal line and an official review marked the football at the 16-yard line thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Texas Tech tacked on to the play. A holding penalty would later push Texas Tech back to the 21-yard line but Webb completed a pass to Bradley Marquez for a touchdown and late 17-10 lead.

On this night, that was enough to hold on for the win, but TCU may have some griping to do with the officials late in the game. A TCU punt saw a kick-catch interference called against the Horned Frogs that looked to be non-existent on a video replay. On the ensuing Texas Tech possession a late fumble recovery by TCU was not awarded even after an official video review despite Texas Tech already having run a play. Texas Tech kept the football and added a field goal to build a ten-point lead.

Penalties were everywhere in this game as well. The two teams combined for 23 penalties which accounted for 205 yards. It was a long night for all.

TCU will return home next weekend to play SMU. The Mustangs are struggling at the start of the year, entering the weekend with a 1-1 record boosted by a 31-30 victory over Montana State. TCU’s defense will continue to be the strength of the Horned Frogs this season, as expected. Nothing from Thursday night’s game suggested otherwise, but without Casey Pachall at quarterback it is clear the Horned Frogs are struggling on offense. That is an area that could take time before TCU can be a regular threat in the Big 12. But Gary Patterson is a good coach. Give him time and he’ll get something going.

Texas Tech will stay home for another in-state showdown next week. The Red Raiders will host Texas State, playing their second season at the FBS level. Texas State is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Southern Mississippi and Prairie View A&M and they will be coming off a bye week before making the trip to Lubbock. This should be a game that sees Mayfield calm down a bit and play closer to what we saw in the first couple of games.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.