Clemson may or may not be a national title contender, but they battled back to take one more step toward a potential ACC championship run Thursday night. After a sluggish start, Clemson pulled away for a road win at North Carolina State, 26-14. Tajh Boyd had a three-touchdown night while passing for 244 yards, Martavis Bryant had two touchdowns and Sammy Watkins had 96 receiving yards for the Tigers.
North Carolina State appeared to have taken the lead when Bryan Underwood took a handoff from his own 17-yard line and swept up the right sideline all the way for a touchdown. Despite video replay showing it appeared Underwood kept his feet in on his dash up the right side of the field, officials blew the play dead after 36 yards thinking he stepped out of bounds. The play was not reviewed in the booth and North Carolina State did not challenge the ruling. This is the play in question.
To pour some salt on the wound, three plays later quarterback Pete Thomas was sacked by Clemson’s Vic Beasley, jarring the ball loose and recovered by the Tigers. Five plays later Boyd connected with Martavis Bryant for a 30-yard touchdown pass and a 20-7 lead. This all developed in a span of just over two minutes of game time, and it may have turned the entire game around.
Clemson would go on to score another touchdown early in the fourth quarter and never looked back.
Of course we will never know what would have happened if North Carolina State had taken a 14-13 lead. Maybe Clemson comes back down field to take the lead anyway. But maybe they don’t and North Carolina State holds on.
We can spend plenty of time looking back and asking “What if?” but instead let’s turn the page and discuss what is next. The big question may be if you believe Clemson is a BCS contender based on what we witnessed Thursday night. The Tigers probably didn’t convince many people of that idea, although there is something to be said for the way this team responded after getting a good battle from North Carolina State. We will be quick to look ahead to October 19 when Clemson hosts Florida State. That game could loom large for the ACC picture. If Clemson can reach their next bye week without a loss, which appears likely if they beat Florida State, then the games at home against Georgia Tech and at South Carolina could be very interesting. This assuming Clemson does not fall victim to an upset along the way, which sometimes feels more a matter of “when” and not “if.”
As for North Carolina State, the defense managed to come up with some good stops early on but ended up getting beat on some deep passes in the second half. For the most part, the Wolfpack played Clemson pretty evenly. Penalties became a factor for the home team and the lone turnover of the game, as mentioned above, came at a real unfortunate time. North Carolina State probably doesn’t have the talent to compete for an ACC title, but this could be a team nobody in the ACC will want to play this fall. A bowl game is absolutely within view for the Wolfpack this year.
Michigan’s the latest football program to see its roster hit with the annual spring personnel attrition.
The father of Kingston Davis confirmed to Sam Webb of Scout.com that his son informed UM officials earlier Friday of his intention to transfer from the Wolverines. Apparently there were two reasons that triggered the running back’s decision: a crowded backfield and chatter that he would be changing positions.
While 2016 leading rusher De'Veon Smith is gone, the Wolverines’ second-, third- and fourth-leading rushers from last season — rising sophomore Chris Evans (614 yards), rising junior Karan Higdon (425), rising fifth-year senior Ty Isaac (417) — all return. Kareem Walker, a four-star 2016 recruit rated as the No. 4 running back in the country, sat out last season because of academics but should be a part of the rotation as a redshirt freshman. They also added four-star (O'Maury Samuels) and three-star (Kurt Taylor) backs as part of their 2017 recruiting class.
A three-star 2016 recruit, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country in that year’s class. As a true freshman, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.
Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff at Fresno State is once again whole.
As first reported earlier this month, the Bulldogs have confirmed that Tedford has hired Jamar Cain as his defensive line coach. Cain will replace Tony Tuioti, who left last month — after less than two months with the football program — to coach outside linebackers at Tedford’s former employer, Cal.
“We’re excited about Jamar, I’ve had my eye on him a long time,” said the head coach in a statement. “He had a proven track record as a winner at North Dakota State, he’s highly respected in the field, a quality person, a great recruiter, and cares about the student-athletes on-and-off the field.”
Cain comes to Fresno from San Jose State, where he had spent less than two months as the line coach for the Mountain West rivals. Prior to that, he spent three seasons (2014-16) as the line coach at FCS power North Dakota State.
Prior to NDSU, Cain was an assistant defensive line coach at Wyoming (2013), Cal Poly (2009-12), and Missouri State (2006-08). While with the Cowboys, Cain was promoted to interim defensive coordinator at midseason after Chris Tormey was “relieved of his duties.”
A week after it was first reported, the new hire for Dino Baber‘s coaching staff has been officially announced,
Syracuse confirmed in a release Friday that Steve Stanard has been hired by Babers. Stanard will serve as the Orange’s defensive ends coach.
“Coach Stanard understands exactly what we want to do defensively,” Babers said in a statement. “Both his familiarity with our system and his experience running defenses at other places are tremendous assets for our program. We’re very excited to have Steve as part of our family.”
Stanard replaces Tom Kaufman, who left earlier this month for the defensive coordinator job at FCS Tennessee-Chattanooga. Kaufman had served as the Orange’s linebackers coach in 2016, his first with the football program.
The past three seasons, Stanard was the coordinator at Wyoming, but wasn’t retained following the 2016 season. This will mark his first job at a Power Five school.
“My family and I are excited and thankful to Coach Babers for this opportunity,” Stanard said. “The football tradition at Syracuse is second to none and I very much look forward to assisting Coach Babers in achieving the goals he’s set for this program – both on and off the field.”
We don’t yet know to where Aaron Cochran will transfer, but the potential landing spots have been narrowed.
Jake Trotter of ESPN.com revealed on Twitter that the Cal transfer has whittled his to-do list down to three: Auburn, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. The offensive lineman is already known to have taken an official visit to the Cowboys nearly three weeks ago.
Per Trotter, he’ll visit The Plains this weekend, then Lubbock two weeks later.
In early February, Cochran announced that he would be transferring from Cal. As he is leaving Berkeley as a graduate transfer — he’s expected to graduate this spring — the lineman would have instant eligibility at another FBS school.
Cochran started 16 of the 28 games in which he played during his Cal career. 10 of those starts came this past season.
And, regardless of where he lands, his new school will be getting a very large human being.
For what it’s worth, Cochran is listed at 6-8, 350 pound on his official Cal bio page.