Mississippi State hangs on, but faces steep road to postseason

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It was not the prettiest of games, but Mississippi State found a way to hold on for a win against Kentucky Thursday night. A fourth down pass by Kentucky fell incomplete in the final minute of the game, allowing Mississippi State to take over on downs and head in to the victory formation with a 28-22 lead.

Dak Prescott passed for 68 yards and two touchdowns for Mississippi State and he ended up being one of 11 different Mississippi State players to catch a pass in the game.Prescott’s 17-yard catch actually turned out to be the game-winning catch as he scored a touchdown on a pass from junior receiver Jameon Lewis. The touchdown catch and run by Prescott gave Mississippi State a 28-19 lead late in the third quarter. It was the quarterback’s second touchdown catch of the season.

Mississippi State needs to win two more games to become eligible for postseason play for the fourth straight season. Yeah, about that…

Three out of the next four games for Mississippi State will be played on the road. First is a game at South Carolina. Second is a trip to play Texas A&M. After that they return home, but they play host to Alabama. The odds would seem to be stacked against the Bulldogs in each of the next three games, which would theoretically pit Mississippi State with their backs against the wall in their final two games. If Mississippi State can pick up a win against Arkansas, and depending on which Razorback team shows up that is not at all impossible, that would mean Mississippi State would have to defeat their rival, Ole Miss, in a game with even more riding than the Golden Egg. Mississippi State has won three of the last four Egg Bowls, but Ole Miss is looking pretty decent this season.

Even with the win, the future of Dan Mullen continues to be an interesting storyline for the program the rest of the year. Odds are the pressure may be on for Mullen and a season without a bowl trip should only turn up the heat even more. How much the financial impact comes in to play could be enough alone to assure Mullen returns in 2014. To fire Mullen at the end of this season could cost Mississippi State approximately $6 million. Bottom line is it is not likely Mullen’s job is cut short for a number of reasons. First, it makes little financial sense to let go of him before the contract expires (in 2016). Second, even if Mississippi State finishes with a 5-7 record this season, Mullen will have a winning record over a five-year period, which is no easy task for the program. Third, no matter what happens this season he will have a winning record against Ole Miss, although two straight losses to Ole Miss at a time when the Rebels are looking to build some momentum certainly will not go over well with some. But let’s not worry about that right now.

Second Vols player this week could be on his way out

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Attrition is hitting Tennessee’s depth on the defensive side of the ball this early on in the spring.

Tuesday, reports surfaced that safety Stephen Griffin had decided to transfer out of Butch Jones’ Volunteers football program.  Two days later, it appears one of Griffin’s former teammates, linebacker Gavin Bryant, is headed toward a similar departure.

The football program has not addressed Bryant’s with the Vols moving forward.

A four-star member of UT’s 2014 recruiting class, Bryant (pictured, taking a knee to the helmet) was rated as the No. 10 inside linebacker in the country and the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Alabama. After redshirting as a true freshman, Bryant played in 21 games the past two seasons as a reserve linebacker.

Griffin, meanwhile, was a three-star 2015 prospect who played in 10 games last season. He started one of those contests.

D-II head coach to reportedly take RBs coach job at Syracuse

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It appears Dino Babers is on the verge of, once again, completing his Syracuse coaching staff.

FootballScoop.com is reporting that reporting that Justin Lustig (pictured, left) is leaving his job as the head coach at Div. II Edinboro (Pa.) College to take over as running backs coach at Syracuse.  Additionally, Lustig will serve as special teams coordinator for the Orange.

This will mark Lustig’s first job at a Power Five program.

Lustig replaces Mike Hart, who left earlier this month to take the running backs coach job at Indiana.  Tom Kaufman, who oversaw Syracuse’s special teams as well as coached linebackers, took the defensive coordinator job at an FCS program two weeks ago.

Hired in January of last year, Lustig took over an Edinboro team that finished 0-11 in 2015 and turned them into a 9-2 squad one year later.  For that turnaround, he was named the Div. II Coach of the Year.

Lustig’s last job at the FBS level came at Ball State, where he served as running backs coach/special teams coordinator from 2011-15.  He also earned the title of assistant head coach prior to the start of the 2015 season.

Former Baylor TE Tre’Von Armstead arrested in connection to 2013 sexual assault

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The cloud habitually hovering over the Baylor football program continues to get darker.  And more ominous.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, “[f]ormer Baylor football player Tre'Von Armstead was arrested Wednesday… on three second-degree felony sexual assault charges stemming from an alleged 2013 sexual assault while he was a member of the Baylor football team.” While the alleged rape occurred in mid-April of 2013, the case was suspended by the Waco Police Department, ESPN.com writes, “after the alleged victim chose not to pursue charges against Armstead and former Bears running back Myke Chatman, who she accused of sexually assaulting her at her apartment.”

The victim in that alleged assault, a former “Baylor Bruin” recruiting hostess for the football program, filed a lawsuit in late January of this year in which it’s alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed 52 acts of rape over a four-year period starting in 2011.  It was further alleged in the lawsuit that BU assistant football coaches, including current Florida Atlantic assistant Kendal Briles, contributed to what was described as a “culture of sexual violence” around the football program.

“Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor and they love football players,” Briles, the son of disgraced former BU head coach Art Briles, told one recruit according to that lawsuit, one of many the university is currently facing as a result of the sexual-assault scandal.

Despite the 2013 allegations of Armstead being involved in a sexual assault, he remained with the football program until his dismissal in September of 2015.  A little over a week ago, Armstead was arrested on multiple charges in Las Vegas after he allegedly physically assaulted a woman.

Louisville clarifies titles for revamped defensive coaching staff

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The offseason shuffling of Bobby Petrino‘s defensive coaching staff appears to be complete.

Thanks to Todd Grantham‘s move to Mississippi State earlier this offseason, Petrino was forced to overhaul his staff on that side of the ball.  Peter Sirmon, who Grantham replaced at MSU, was hired by the U of L as defensive coordinator in mid-January.

As the Cardinals kicked off spring practice this week, the football program detailed the responsibilities for the defensive side of the staff.

New defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon announced on Wednesday that he has finalized position changes on his defensive staff. Sirmon will mentor the defense, but will also coach the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Ward will coach the secondary, while Cort Dennison will now mentor the inside linebackers. L.D. Scott will stick with coaching the defensive line.

Last season under Grantham, the Cardinals were 31st nationally and sixth in the ACC in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).  They were 14th and third, respectively, in total defense (319.6 yards per game).