Can we look ahead on Utah State’s schedule already?

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Utah State is in firm control in San Jose Friday evening, leading the Spartans by a score of 23-6. Chuckie Keeton has completed 16 of 24 passes for 147 yards and two touchdowns and the defense has kept San Jose State quarterback David Fales from doing too much damage, holding Fales to 168 yards and an interception.

If the game follows this theme in the second half, Utah State should cruise to a Mountain West Conference victory. Because San Jose State does not appear to be much of a threat tonight, I took it upon myself to start looking ahead on Utah State’s schedule and reminded myself just how big the next two games will be for the Aggies.

Next week Utah State gets BYU, who has managed to reach halftime with a lead in their home game against Middle Tennessee State at the half in Provo. The week after that? Boise State.

Talk about a chance to make a statement for Utah State. This program had their early opportunities to make some noise on the road but ultimately came up on the wrong side of the scoreboard at Utah and at USC. Those losses pretty much eliminate Utah State from any BCS Busting possibilities, but the next two weeks will offer a chance for some in-state bragging rights against BYU and to take a lead in the Mountain West Mountain Division against Boise State. Have I mentioned yet Utah State gets these two crucial games at home? They do.

Playing in a state that has Utah in the Pac 12 and BYU enjoying life as an independent, scoring a season split is a pretty big deal for a Utah State program that has grown so much in a relatively short period of time. Winning both games would have been better of course, but a split should be another positive step for the program.

An even bigger step could come when Utah State hosts Boise State, the program all BCS Buster programs aspire to be. The Broncos could be ripe for a loss as well. This year’s Boise State team has played well on offense outside of the week one loss at Washington, but Boise State has already taken a hit on the road (last week at Fresno State) and Utah State looks to have the ingredients needed to give a good challenge to Boise State – a talented quarterback and a solid defense.

Of course, now that I have tempted the college football gods, I may have just jinxed Utah State and rendered all of the above commentary pointless.

USC graduate transfer Jalen Greene heads east to play at Illinois in 2018

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Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.

The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.

Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.

Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.

Josh Heupel keeping most of Scott Frost’s playbook at UCF as spring practice begins

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There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:

In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.

David Beaty elevates Cassius Sendish from GA to Kansas safeties coach

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It didn’t take long nor did David Beaty have to look far for Kansas’ new safeties coach.

The school confirmed on Thursday morning that graduate assistant Cassius Sendish, a former Jayhawks team captain and defensive back, would be taking over as the team’s new safeties coach to complete the staff for 2018.

“I am honored and proud to represent the University of Kansas football program,” said Sendish in a statement. “I hold this place near and dear to my heart and I am truly grateful for the opportunity to work at my alma mater. I can’t thank Coach Beaty and the rest of the football staff enough for allowing me to come aboard and be a part of something special.”

Sendish replaces Todd Bradford on the staff after he made the rather head-turning move to leave coaching and take a new job in the oil industry. Recently hired Bill Miller will continue to coach linebackers while the newest hire will team up with defensive coordinator Clint Bowen to handle the secondary.

There will be plenty of time for everybody to settle into their new on-field roles as the Jayhawks will open up spring practice on March 31st.

Heisman winner Johnny Manziel’s NFL comeback makes stop at San Diego Pro Day

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Former USC quarterback Sam Darnold held his Pro Day on campus Wednesday and likely solidified himself as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Less than 24 hours later though, a former first round pick seemed to draw just as much attention a few hours south of Los Angeles.

That’s because Heisman Trophy winner and ex-Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel was down at FCS powerhouse San Diego’s Pro Day throwing passes and helping out a few of the Toreros’ NFL hopefuls in decidedly un-Southern California type conditions.

Few players had a more buzzed-about Pro Day than Johnny Football did back at Texas A&M and while he’s not throwing passes for a team just yet, at least it was cool to see the former superstar return to a campus with a football in hand Thursday. No word on if this gets Manziel closer to a comeback at the next level but it sounds as though it certainly didn’t hurt one of the most excited college football players in recent memory.