Can Steve Sarkisian avoid another 7-6 season?

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Washington under Steve Sarkisian has been nothing if not consistent during the three season preceding 2013.

After going 5-7 in 2009 in his first year as head coach in Seattle, Sarkisian’s Huskies finished 7-6 in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

But 2013 seems different. Or at least it seemed different.

It wasn’t just Washington’s 4-0 start that pointed to the likelihood of a Huskies breakout out from its 7-6 gulag. It was also the way UW looked in beating Boise State and Illinois. The Huskies played fast and furious on both sides of the ball and appeared to be ready to return to the national scene.

Even consecutive losses to Stanford and Oregon the past two weeks provided evidence that Washington was on the rebound. The Huskies competed hard and took both elite teams into the fourth quarter before folding.

But Washington may have picked a bad year to get good again.  That’s because the Pac-12 might be as good as it’s ever been.

Now, suddenly, a Huskies team that was flying high a couple weeks ago finds itself in a must-win situation this Saturday. Washington travels to Tempe to take on Arizona State, which has more-than-enough firepower to hand the Huskies their third-straight loss.

If Washington loses in Tempe, it would likely rebound to beat California and Colorado the next two weeks, which means it would sit at 6-3 heading into its final three games.

Those three games include road trips to UCLA and Oregon State — both likely to be ranked — and a home game against in-state rival WSU, which beat the Huskies last season.

In other words, a loss to ASU would set up Washington for a possible 7-5 regular season.

Seven wins.  Again.

It therefore stands to reason that this Saturday’s game against ASU is the most important game of the Sarkisian era at Washington. A loss to the Sun Devils might get the momentum rolling for Sarkisian to lose his job come December.

A win, or course, would confirm our earlier impression — that UW is a legit team and ready to take the next step to becoming a contender in the Pac-12 North.

It just goes to show you how close the line can be between success and failure in college football. Hopefully, those Pac-12 refs behave this time.

Report: starting West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler leaving to pursue career in track

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You don’t see this happen too often.

Citing multiple sources, Mike Casazza of EerSports.com is reporting that West Virginia defensive lineman Adam Shuler is no longer a member of the Mountaineers football team.  A team official stated the redshirt sophomore “is reportedly pursuing a career in track and field,” Casazza wrote.

It’s unclear whether the track & field pursuit would take place at WVU or at another university.

According to Shuler’s bio on the team’s official website, he finished runner-up as a high school senior in the discus at the Florida state track & field championships.  He finished third in the same event as a sophomore.

Shuler, a three-star member of the Mountaineers’ 2015 recruiting class, started 10 games this past season.  However, on the most recent depth chart, he’s listed as the backup to Ezekiel Rose at one of the defensive end spots.

In 12 games, Shuler’s three sacks were tied for third on the team while his eight tackles for loss were good for solo third.

East Carolina grad transfer QB Gardner Minshew will reportedly visit Alabama this weekend

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It appears the Jalen Hurts Transfer Protection Plan™ is close to being implemented.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Alabama had an interest in Gardner Minshew, the quarterback who announced late last month that he had withdrawn from East Carolina to tend to a personal matter in his home state of Mississippi.  That interest has ramped up since as al.com is reporting that Minshew will be visiting the Crimson Tide’s campus this weekend.

As a graduate transfer, Minshew would be eligible to play immediately this season at UA, or any other FBS program for that matter.

Alabama’s interest in a grad transfer at the position will do nothing to quell the rumors that Hurts, the starter for each of the last 29 games over the past two seasons, is a potential candidate for a transfer. Hurts was benched in favor of Tua Tagovailoa in the national championship game, with the true freshman’s comeback heroics signaling a likely changing of the guard under center.

As for Minshew, he started five games for the Pirates last season, throwing for 2,140 yards, 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions in completing just over 57 percent of his 304 pass attempts. Prior to his departure from ECU, he was penciled in as the Pirates’ 2018 starting quarterback.

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch cleared for spring practice

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Unlike how his 2017 season ended, Greg Dortch‘s 2018 offseason is trending much more positively.

In Wake Forest’s late-October win over Louisville, Dortch went down with what turned out to be a season-ending abdominal injury. Four months after sustaining the injury, and with spring practice right around the corner, the wide receiver has been medically cleared to fully participate in practice.

Despite missing the last month of the regular season as well as the postseason, Dortch still led the Demon Deacons in receiving yards with 722. His 53 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the team as well.

In the game in which he was injured, he set the school record with four touchdown catches.

Jeff Brohm stays in-house for new Purdue assistant

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When it came to filling out his Purdue coaching staff, Jeff Brohm didn’t have to look very far.

Kevin Wolthausen, the football program confirmed in a release, has been hired as the 10th of Brohm’s allotted 10 Boilermakers assistant coaches.  Per the school, Wolthausen will be working with the team’s special teams and defense.

This marks a positional homecoming of sorts for Wolthausen as he spent the 2012 season as the defensive line coach at Purdue.  Last season, Wolthausen served as a quality control coach for both special teams and defense for the Boilermakers.

In between his two stints in West Lafayette, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach at UConn in 2016; the two years prior, he was the Huskies’ defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

In 2013, Wolthausen was the special teams coordinator at Florida International.  The 60-year-old long-time college football assistant has also spent time on staffs at Louisville, Arizona, USC, Arizona State and Oklahoma.