Doom for Sooners? Texas thriving on third downs, leads 23-10

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The Texas Longhorns entered today’s edition of the Red River Rivalry ranked 69th in the country in third down conversion success. You would not know that by watching the Longhorns today. You also may not realize Oklahoma’s defense is ranked 11th in the nation in third down defense.

Texas is leading Oklahoma at halftime, 23-10, and has the success on third down to thank for it. The Longhorns converted nine out of 12 third down attempts, a 75 percent success rate. The Longhorns had entered today converting on just 40.26 percent of their third down attempts, so clearly Bob Stoops and his defense have something to review at the half. If Texas continues to extend drives with that kind of success, Texas could very well wear down Oklahoma on their way to their first win in the Red River Rivalry since 2009.

The Texas game plan has been incredibly solid and focusing on the running game. Johnathan Gray leads all players with 82 yards and Case McCoy has been dependable with 125 passing yards and a touchdown, a 59 yard strike down the right sideline to Marcus Johnson on a wild third down conversion. The offense has been efficient, but the defense has done their part as well. Defensive lineman Chris Whaley intercepted a pass from Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell and returned it for a touchdown in the first quarter to give Texas a 10-3 lead. Oklahoma’s only touchdown of the half was set up by a long kickoff return by Roy Finch. Damien Williams rushed in for a short touchdown run to get the Sooners on the board and cut the Texas lead to 20-10. Had the score stayed that way who knows if Oklahoma could have built off of that momentum at the break. Instead, Texas made the most of their short time until halftime and tacked on three more points with a 43-yard field goal from Anthony Fera. Before Oklahoma had that long kickoff return, Fera had kicked a 50-yard field goal.

Can Texas keep it going in the second half, or will Oklahoma battle back?

Miami wideout Ahmmon Richards sits out Hurricanes’ scrimmage with pulled hamstring

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The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.

The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.

The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.

Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.

FAU-bound John Franklin III says he wasn’t having fun at Auburn

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John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.

The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.

The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.

The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.

Alabama RB Bo Scarbrough misses practice for second time

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A running back is on the loose in Tuscaloosa and no, that’s not as good as it sounds for the Crimson Tide.

Beat reporter Alex Byington noted on Saturday that star tailback Bo Scarbrough was noticeably absent from Alabama’s practice on Saturday when it came time for media viewing periods, the second straight time that he’s been out of sight on the field.

The Tuscaloosa News followed up on the matter and reports that Scarbrough’s attendance (or lack thereof) was “nothing serious” and Nick Saban confirmed as much later in the afternoon by saying the running back was sick with an illness that kept him out.

Sophomore Josh Jacobs also missed the viewing period on Saturday.

Scarbrough has had a light work load the past several months as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered in the national championship game. The presumed starter is still expected to be good to go for the season opener against Florida State but the absences at practice will at least make things interesting in the next two weeks at a crowded position on the depth chart.

Four-star DT Tyler Shelvin will redshirt at LSU after NCAA partially denies eligibility

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The state of Louisiana’s top recruit will not be playing for the state’s top football team this fall.

Four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin will enroll at LSU next week, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, but will not be eligible to play in 2017 following a ruling from the NCAA on his status. The news is a big blow not only to Shelvin, but to the Tigers who are thin on the interior defensive line and were hoping to rotate in the 380-pounder this year.

Shelvin’s high school coach told the paper that the NCAA “partially denied” the defender’s eligibility, forcing him to redshirt in his first year on campus. He reportedly took several classes over the summer in order to meet requirements but apparently fell short of hitting the association’s standard to be cleared.

The loss of Shelvin’s services is a tough one after he turned into one of the center pieces of head coach Ed Orgeron’s top 10 recruiting class from February. The Tigers have had a history of talented defensive tackles running into eligibility issues in the past but the rather thin depth chart in the middle of the defensive line made bringing in Shelvin a priority.

That is not to be the case however, as LSU will move forward sans the big defender just two weeks out from the start of the season.