Texas stomps Sooners in statement game

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The Texas Longhorns played as if head coach Mack Brown‘s job was on the line. If that was the case, then Brown should be pretty secure as the head coach for at least one more week. Texas snapped a dismal three-game losing streak to Oklahoma with a 36-20 victory in the Red River Rivalry, giving the Longhorns even more momentum in Big 12 play. The Longhorns are now 3-0 in Big 12 play and have control of their path to a Big 12 title. Not so long ago that felt like more of a dream than a reality.

Texas executed a game plan that worked very well against Oklahoma, and perhaps having extra time to prepare for it benefitted Texas. Texas played last Thursday night at Iowa State while Oklahoma played last Saturday. Texas put up 444 yards of offense, including 254 rushing yards and the Longhorns thrived on third down conversions, ending the day with 13 third downs conversions in big spots. The defense allowed just 263 yards to the Sooners, just the first time Texas held their opponent to fewer than 346 yards this season. The team was disciplined as well, getting called for just three penalties for 15 yards compared to eight Oklahoma penalties for 63 yards.

This was exactly the game Texas needed, and not just for Brown’s job security. Few believed Texas had what it took to beat Oklahoma. Few believed Texas should even enter this weekend with a perfect Big 12 mark, considering the controversial call that went in their favor against Iowa State. A win against Kansas State meant far less than it would have a year ago, and the images of BYU gashing Texas on defense still linger. But all of that is behind them now, because Texas played well on offense,defense and special teams. The coaching was brilliant on this afternoon, a welcomed change for Longhorn fans suffering from past editions of the Red River Rivalry.

There are still some questions about this team moving forward, but slowly but surely Texas may be answering them as this season unfolds. As you might expect, Brown is not worried about what this game means for his future.

“I’m not worried about that, we’ll worry about TCU,” Brown said in a postgame interview.

Texas visits TCU next weekend to get their second half of the season underway. The second half includes three road games, highlighted by the season finale at Baylor on December 7. After next weekend’s game against the Horned Frogs, Texas may get their toughest challenges before Baylor at home, with Oklahoma State and Texas Tech visiting Austin in November. Entering this weekend, the Cowboys and Red Raiders were ranked in the top 25.

Time will tell how this season continues to develop for the Longhorns, but for one afternoon at the Texas State Fair, all was good and that’s all that matters.

SEC leads NFL Draft for 11th straight year as Alabama and Michigan set school records

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The 2017 NFL Draft has come and gone, and once again it is the SEC claiming another NFL Draft national championship. A grand total of 53 players from the SEC were drafted by NFL teams. It is the 11th straight year the SEC has had the most players drafted by NFL teams.

The ACC ended the draft with 42 players drafted, followed by the Pac-12 (36) and Big Ten (35). The Big 12 ended the draft with just 14 players drafted.

Helping to contribute to the SEC’s NFL Draft total was Alabama setting a school record with 10 players drafted.

Alabama’s nine players drafted in the first 80 picks was also a new Alabama record.

Michigan ended up having more players drafted than any other Big Ten team, slipping past Ohio State by the time the draft closed up shop this year. For the Wolverines, 11 players ended up being drafted. The previous school record for draft picks was 10, set in 1972 and tied in 1974. Head coach Jim Harbaugh will get plenty of the praise for developing that many players getting a chance to be drafted, but Brady Hoke should be recognized for recruiting those players as well (and blamed for not developing the talent he brought in).

 

Air Force changes rules for football players with NFL aspirations

AP Photo/The Colorado Springs Gazette, Michael Ciaglo
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One of the top players from Air Force was ineligible to be drafted by the NFL this weekend, and it had nothing to do with NFL rules. It also had nothing to do with NFL teams backing away from a particular player due to off-field concerns. Instead, a policy at Air Force is what is to blame for wide receiver Jalen Robinette not moving on to the NFL at this time.

The U.S. Air Force will not approve requests from academy graduates to defer their two years of active duty in order to be allowed to play professional football. Just a year ago, the Department of Defense changed the policy to allow for the possibility, which made it possible for Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds to be allowed to play. Reynolds later joined the Baltimore Ravens. Reynolds had received a recommendation to be allowed to play by the U.S. Naval Academy.

“The Air Force notified academy leaders [Thursday] that the service would not approve requests to waiver active duty military commitments for cadet athletes,” a statement from Air Force read. “Cadets will be required to serve two years active duty prior to entering Ready Reserve, which would allow their participation in professional sports. The Air Force places tremendous value on our cadet athletes and their contributions to the nation as we continue to build leaders of character, engage in combat operations overseas and continue to ensure our highest military readiness at home.”

Because of the policy change and confirmation, Robinette was not able to be drafted. He may still have been a long shot to be drafted by an NFL Team, but the policy also means he is unable to be signed as an undrafted free agent as well.

Rawleigh Williams carted off at Arkansas scrimmage

AP Photo/Chris Brashers
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Any time a player that has previously undergone neck surgery goes down on the field and needs to be carted off is quite the scary moment. On Saturday, the Arkansas football program had that exact scare when Rawleigh Williams went down on the field in pain and ended up having to be carted off the practice field during the Arkansas scrimmage.

Williams was placed on a stretcher and taken out of the facility on a cart to receive medical attention. His legs and arms were moving on the ground, a slight sigh of relief given the hit and his injury history. In 2015, Williams was carted off and had to undergo surgery on his neck. Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said the injury concern on Saturday was apparently not related to the previous neck injury, which was expected to have a full recovery.

It is an unfortunate ending to the spring for Williams, because all indications seemed to be he was certainly improving running the football. Bielema said earlier in the week Williams was running with more patience, which is always a key for a running back.

Arkansas moved its final scrimmage of the spring indoors due to bad weather rolling through the area.

Justin Herbert shines in first Oregon spring game under Willie Taggart

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A glimpse of a brand new era of Oregon football took center stage in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday as the spring football season drew to a close. Willie Taggart showed fans a little bit of what to expect from Oregon in the fall as the program looks to bounce back from a down season under the coach who has shown a knack for improving programs. As is usually the case in a spring game, Oregon’s quarterback situation was under a microscope, and sophomore Justin Herbert took advantage of the opportunity.

Herbert completed 16 of 26 passes for 327 yards and established a connection with wide receiver Darren Carrington. The two connected for three touchdowns in the game. Sophomore Travis Jonson and early enrollee Braxton Burmeister also saw playing time in the game, but Carrington was confident in saying this is Herbert’s job to lose.

”Our chemistry has definitely improved this spring, and it’ll improve more by the time fall comes, but Herbert, I mean, that’s the guy right now to beat,” Carrington said after the spring game.

As for the team as a whole, Taggert knows there is much still to address as a new system and style are implemented and the roster adjusts physically to the demands of the new coach.

‘We’re still building. We’re nowhere where we need to be as a football team yet. We have some good players. We don’t have a lot of depth that we need to have, that’s going to be a work in progress,” Taggart said. ”The thing for us as coaches is just to make our guys better than they were before. If I guy wasn’t good enough we want to make him look better than he was before. If I guy was good we want to make him great.”

Og course, it wouldn’t be an Oregon spring game without having that typical Oregon uniform flair. Even with a new head coach and with the talk suggesting the Ducks will go for a more traditional approach to uniforms in the fall, the spring game was used for some sizzle on the unis.

Oregon’s spring game crowd of 36,821 assured the Ducks of having the highest spring game attendance among Pac-12 school for a third consecutive year.