With the Penn State quarterback direction heading down a different path, Steven Bench opted to transfer to South Florida in hopes of getting a better chance to start this season. This weekend that opportunity will finally come. South Florida will start Bench at quarterback as the 0-3 Bulls host the undefeated Miami Hurricanes in Tampa.
“He’s still not there where he knows our offense completely, so we’ve got to be smart with what ask him to do,” USF coach Willie Taggart said according to an ESPN.com report. “We don’t need him to be Tom Brady. We want him to be Steven Bench.”
So who is Steven Bench?
Bench is a Georgia native who was not heavily recruited, but accepted a scholarship offer from Bill O’Brien at Penn State, a good first step for O’Brien’s recruiting plan to move south. Bench backed up Matt McGloin and played only s a last resort last season. In a week two game against Virginia Bench filled in for an injured McGloin and completed two of eight pass attempts. That was Bench’s only football action in 2012, his freshman year. Bench practiced with the Nittany Lions in the spring but O’Brien chose to move in a different direction with the quarterback position with the addition of junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson and incoming blue chip quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Bench transferred to South Florida after learning he would be the odd man out in State College. His transfer came under the NCAA sanctions allowing all Penn State scholarship players to transfer to another program without having to sit out a season, a sanction that has now expired.
Bench’s first college start will come against a tough Miami defense. Miami is ranked 11th in the nation against the pass with opposing quarterbacks completing just 51.1 percent of their pass attempts. Miami has intercepted six passes and allowed just one passing touchdown. That includes two red zone interceptions and the Hurricanes have not allowed a red zone touchdown pass.
Bench will be the third starting quarterback for South Florida early in the season. Matt Floyd lost the starting job very early in the year in a season opening loss to McNeese State and Bobby Eveld was yanked last weekend against Florida Atlantic. The Bulls are ranked 113rd in the country in passing offense, averaging 135 yards per game through the air.
Florida’s secondary continues to face some depth concerns ahead of the 2017 season. The depth chart lost Chris Williamson, multiple reports confirmed today, who is opting to transfer to a new school.
The former four-star defensive back was recently guided through a position change to pad the depth at the safety position this spring. Williamson has spent the past two seasons in Gainesville and has appeared in 14 games with one start. He came to Florida as part of the first recruiting class signed by Gators head coach Jim McElwain in 2015, and he is now the fifth player from that class to transfer, according to Inside the Gators.
From Inside the Gators;
Williamson is the fifth player from Jim McElwain’s inaugural recruiting class at Florida in 2015 to transfer from the program, joining running back Jordan Cronkrite (USF), offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (USC) and tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Georgia State).
The news of Williamson’s intent to transfer comes on the same day Florida revealed it will be without safety Marcell Harris for the 2017 season. Harris suffered a torn Achilles tendon that will force the fifth-year senior to miss the entire 2017 season.
Williamson will have to sit out the 2017 college football season if he transfers to another FBS program, according to NCAA transfer rules. He will be eligible to play immediately this fall if he transfers to a program at the FCS level or below.
P.J. Fleck may not be the only person leaving Western Michigan this year. It appears as though quarterback Tom Flacco could also be out.
As reported by Andy Pepper of WWMT-TV, via Twitter, Flacco has left the football program for what is now undisclosed reasons. The school has not announced or confirmed this development, but Hustle Belt has noted Flacco’s name is nowhere to be found on the team’s roster on the school’s official website.
Where Flacco goes next is anybody’s guess at this point. If he does end up transferring to another program, he will do so with two years of eligibility to use after sitting out the 2017 season. He would be eligible to play immediately this fall if he ends up at a lower division football program.
Flacco is the younger brother of Baltimore Ravens quarterback and former Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco. Maybe Tom is following in his brother’s footsteps. Joe Flacco started his collegiate career at Pittsburgh. After backing up Tyler Palko in 2004, Flacco opted to transfer to Delaware, where he helped get the Blue Hens to a national championship game, where they lost to the same Appalachian State that upset Michigan in 2007.
When Lane Kiffin made the decision to bring Kendal Briles to FAU as an assistant, plenty of eyebrows were raised. Considering the fallout from Baylor and the connection Briles had to it, it was a controversial staff decision, to say the least. Kiffin explained at Conference USA media day FAU’s compliance office took care of conducting a thorough vetting process to make sure the hiring of Briles would not come back to haunt them.
“They really handled that,” Kiffin said, per 247 Sports. “That was more from an athletic director standpoint to handling all that stuff, talking to him and talking to people there and going through it. Then they felt sure. I was more from a football standpoint, saying, ‘Hey, I this is the guy I want to hire.’ Then they did the rest and said, ‘Hey, we feel comfortable about this.’”
This is not the first time Kiffin has had to address the hiring of the controversial assistant football coach. the new head coach of the FAU Owls though remained focused on what Briles brings to the table from a football standpoint and not what kind of baggage comes with it. A month after Briles had been hired, a report connected Briles to contributing to the disturbing culture that took over the Baylor football program under his father, Art Briles. The same report said a lawsuit alleged 52 rapes by football players in the Baylor football program.
“At the time it was not as magnified as the stuff is now,” Kiffin explained, referring to the timeline of events from hiring Briles to the release of the report. “It really wasn’t like it is now. These articles and stuff weren’t out there at the time. So there wasn’t a shock factor like now would be.”
The shock factor may have been elevated, but simply hiring anyone from the Baylor football program coming off the scandal it experienced alone was controversial enough. That it was Kiffin who made the call brought even more notoriety to the hiring.
Notre Dame defensive tackle Daniel Cage intends to take a medical red shirt this season as he battles through a series of concussions and recovers from a knee surgery over the summer, according to Cage’s mother. Although he intends to continue his football career in the future, Cage could face the possibility of having to retire if recovery does not go as planned.
Cage was expected to make a full recovery from a scheduled knee surgery earlier this summer, according to Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. What was unknown at the time was Cage had been suffering from headaches ever since being diagnosed with a concussion last November. It was the third concussion Cage has suffered since joining the Notre Dame program, which has increased the cause for alarm in treating his football plans.
“He wants to make sure it’s safe for him,” Bionne Cage, Cage’s mother, said according to Irish Illustrated. “We don’t want to put him in an environment where it’s risking a long term effect for a short term goal. Right now his head aches, his knee is healing. The process has been overwhelming and he wants to make sure he’s OK.”
At this point, Cage needs to focus on recovering from his knee surgery and hope the impact of the concussions do not linger. He would have to be medically cleared to return to the playing field.