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North Texas bowl eligible for first time since 2004

McCarney AP

North Texas (6-3, 4-1 CUSA) scored 21 unanswered points en route t a 28-16 victory over Rice (6-3, 4-1 CUSA) Thursday night. With the win North Texas has become eligible to play in a postseason bowl game for the first time since 2004, and for the first time under head coach Dan McCarney.

North Texas trailed Rice 16-7 midway through the second quarter, but Antoinne Jimmerson’s 42-yard run brought the Mean Green to within two points and a 65-yard punt return by Brelan Chancellor gave North Texas a 21-16 lead going in to halftime. Derek Thompson completed a 46-yard pass to Jimmerson in the third quarter to push the lead in to double digits and the defense took care of everything from there. North Texas forced three turnovers in the game and held Rice to just two third down conversions out of 13.

This has been a long time coming for North Texas. Since their last bowl trip in the 2004 season, North Texas has had eight straight losing seasons heading in to 2013. With six wins, North Texas is guaranteed at least a .500 regular season record. In McCarney’s third year n the job, North Texas has now set a career high for wins in a season for their head coach as well. North Texas won five games in McCarney’s first year and four games last season.

This North Texas team is playing with a new energy and confidence that has been missing for some time. A shot to play for the Conference USA championship is still within reach, but North Texas lost a head-to-head match-up to Tulane earlier in the season which gives Tulane the upper hand right now. Tulane is undefeated in Conference USA play and would have to lose twice if North Texas can manage to win the remainder of their games. That last part looks very possible.

North Texas ends their regular season at home against UTEP and UT-San Antonio and then on the road against defending conference champion Tulsa. The combined record of those final three opponents is 6-16 and the three sit on the bottom of the Conference USA West Division. The last time North Texas won nine games in a season was 2003.

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Would DGB stay, play for Sooners in 2015?

Dorial Green-Beckham AP

When the NCAA stunningly did the right thing and denied Dorial Green-Beckham‘s waiver appeal for immediate eligibility, most thought that the talented but troubled wide receiver would never play a down for Oklahoma and instead, eventually, make himself available for the 2015 NFL draft.

While that’s still a possibility, or even a likelihood, it’s not a certainty. At least, if DGB’s head coach’s words can be taken at face value it’s not.

Bob Stoops was asked Monday about the possibility of Green-Beckham sticking around and playing for the Sooners in 2015. Surprisingly, the coach said the player hadn’t closed the door on that football route, at least not yet.

That isn’t something that’s been decided,” Stoops said of Green-Beckham’s stay-or-go decision according to the Oklahoman. “Right now it seems that he wants to [play for OU next season] and is heading that way and we want to support him in every possible way.”

That said, most would view it as a monumental upset if Green-Beckham were playing college football in 2015.

Despite the myriad off-field issues that led to his dismissal from Missouri, Green-Beckham is still one of the most physically gifted and talented receivers in the country. Yes, some NFL teams might flag him on character issues, but more would likely drool over the prospect of adding the 6-6, 225-pound physical specimen that is Green-Beckham.

As is the case with all draft-eligible non-seniors, Green-Beckham will have until mid-January to file his paperwork and declare himself for the NFL draft if that’s the route he takes.

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CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 2 Oregon

Marcus Mariota

2013 record: 11-2 overall, 7-2 in Pac-12 Conference (2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Alamo Bowl vs. Texas (30-7 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 9/No. 9
Head coach: Mark Helfrich (11-2 overall; 11-2 in one year at Oregon)
Offensive coordinator: Scott Frost (5th year at Oregon)
2013 offensive rankings: 9th rushing offense (273.5 ypg); 21st passing offense (291.5 ypg); 2nd total offense (565 ypg); 4th scoring offense (45.5 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: eight
Defensive coordinator: Don Pellum (22nd year at Oregon)
2013 defensive rankings: 66th rushing defense (165.5 ypg); 21st passing defense (204.5 ypg);  37th total defense (370.1 ypg); 13th scoring defense (20.5 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: five
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Stadium: Autzen Stadium (58,000; FieldTurf)
Last conference title: 2011

THE GOOD
The most underrated aspect of Oregon’s football program is the commitment found within its coaching staff. It’s not to say there hasn’t been turnover in the program. Head coach Chip Kelly left the Ducks prior to last season. Defensive coordinator Nick Allioti retired during the offseason after spending 24 seasons with the program. Instead of rushing out to hire the hottest coach available on the market, the program simply promotes from within. Mark Helfrich is now entering his second season as the team’s head coach after serving as the Ducks’ offensive coordinator the previous four seasons. The team’s new defensive coordinator, Don Pellum, spent 22 years as a full-time assistant. During the last 16 years, Pellum was tasked with coaching the linebackers. While each promotion brings slight tweaks to the system, the influences of Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti during their tenures as head coach remains a part of the program. The Ducks have continued to build from the day Brooks was hired as their head coach in 1977  to today. As a result of the continuity built within program, Oregon has developed into one of the premier programs in the nation. A program that has the talent to win a national championship this season.

THE BAD
The tempo at which the Ducks operate on offense is always a double-edged sword. While the offense can be impossible to stop at times, the defense can also be gashed by opponents. When the Ducks went to the BCS National Championship Game in Jan. 2011, they surrendered 346 yards per game and the offensive’s time of possession was 27:54 minutes per game. During each of the past three seasons, the Ducks have given up more yards per game and operated at a faster pace. It’s not a good combination. The Ducks have had talent on the defensive side of the football during those years, but they simply didn’t play to the same level that finally led them to the title game. This season isn’t any different. Senior cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is arguably the best cornerback in college football. Defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a considered an early-round prospect for the 2015 NFL draft. Defensive end Tony Washington returns after leading the team with seven sacks last season. The team’s leading tackler, Derrick Malone, is also back in the middle of the defense. There is talent at all three levels of the Ducks defense. Oregon is more than just a flashy offense. The team’s defense has to play at a high level for the Ducks to be a part of the first College Football Playoff.

THE UNKNOWN
Kelly’s approach to offensive line play was there wasn’t much difference between playing guard and tackle in his system. The system hasn’t changed under Helfrich, but the importance of the tackle position is far more pertinent this season. The team’s senior left tackle, Tyler Johnstone, re-tore his ACL at the start of fall camp. It caused Helfrich to reshuffle his offensive line. Junior Andre Yruretagoyena will replace Johnstone on the blindside. There are two issues any time there are major changes along the offensive line. The first is building continuity within the unit to operate at a high level. Due to the team’s heavy zone-blocking scheme and its tempo on offense, this can be especially difficult to establish. The Ducks also lost the leadership and experience Johnstone brought to the lineup after starting 26 straight games. Furthermore, Yruretagoyena will be protecting the blindside of the one of the nations’ top quarterbacks, Marcus Mariota. The No. 1 goal for the Oregon’s offensive line this season is keep Mariota healthy. And that proposition may be a little more difficult with the veteran at left tackle.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: vs. Stanford
There is no other choice here. The Cardinal dashed the Ducks’ national championship aspirations the past two seasons. The two games were evenly matched with Stanford’s win margin at only nine points. But Stanford is as much a mental obstacle for Oregon as it is a physical one. Very few teams have slowed Oregon’s explosive offense in recent years. Yet, Stanford has seemed to find the secret recipe with their physical 3-4 defense. The Ducks simply haven’t been able to gash the Cardinal for big plays. And most of that has to do with a defensive front that consistently plays in the backfield. The Ducks averaged as least 537 yards per game the last two seasons. Stanford has held Oregon at least 120 yards below its average in each contest. Oregon simply hasn’t been able to get on track against Stanford. The Ducks can’t fail against Stanford again this year, or their season will be a major disappointment.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: QB Marcus Mariota
Let’s compare Mariota’s resume last season to Jameis Winston‘s, shall we? Mariota threw for 3,665 yards, 31 touchdowns and only four interceptions. Mariota also ran for 715 yards and nine touchdowns. Winston, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, threw for 4,057 yards, 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He added 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. While Winston was the clear favorite to win the Heisman last season, Mariota wasn’t far behind the redshirt freshman. When last year’s play is considered and  two factors are added into the equation, Mariota could be the favorite to win the trophy this season. There are two reasons why Mariota’s numbers weren’t quite as spectacular as Winston’s in 2013. The Oregon quarterback suffered a slight knee injury during the second half of the season which limited his play, and he played one less game than Winston. A fully healthy Mariota is arguably the best NFL prospect in the entire country. While professional potential doesn’t translate to college football awards, it does exclude Mariota from any excuses if he doesn’t make a national title run with the Ducks this season and capture the school’s first Heisman Trophy.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

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Ty Montgomery cleared, expected to start Stanford’s opener

California v Stanford Getty Images

After it was first thought Stanford would be without its top offensive threat for the first half of the first month of the season — at least — said threat should be back for the first half of the first game.

Cardinal head coach David Shaw said Tuesday that Ty Montgomery has been medically cleared by team doctors and will play in the opener against UC-Davis.  Not only that, but the wide receiver was cleared with no limitations and is expected to start against the FCS team.

Montgomery underwent offseason shoulder surgery and missed spring practice.  It was initially feared that he would miss both the opener as well as the USC game, with the speculation being his absence could stretch deeper into the month of September and possibly bleed on into October.

However, in late July, it was reported that Montgomery was ahead of schedule in his rehab.

“It’s what he’s been waiting for, it’s what he’s been training for,” Shaw said. “He’s just attacked the rehab in such a way that it’s gotten him back a little earlier than we anticipated, and he’s ready to go.”

Having Montgomery from the get-go, even if it’s against a cupcake opponent, is significant.

Montgomery was easily the Cardinal’s top pass-catcher in 2013, leading the team with 61 catches for 968 yards and 10 touchdowns.  The next closest was Devon Cajuste‘s 28-642-5.

For good measure, Montgomery was third in the nation in kick return average (30.3) and was one of just seven players to return more than one kickoff for a touchdown (New Mexico’s Carlos Wiggins returned three for scores).

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George O’Leary again refutes retirement report

Central Florida v Louisville

Earlier this month, FOXSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, about as reliable as it gets when it comes to college football news, reported that George O’Leary was giving strong consideration to stepping down as UCF’s head coach this season, perhaps as soon as immediately after the Knights’ opener against Penn State in Ireland Saturday.

The 68-year-old O’Leary immediately and vehemently denied the report, saying “I don’t have any idea what that’s about.”

With the opener just three days away, O’Leary again addressed the speculation.  And again refuted it.

From the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi:

“You know me better than that. As good or bad as it gets, I’m going to finish what I started.”

“If you know my history, I’m not one to start something and not finish it,” O’Leary said then. “Unless somebody knows something I don’t, I don’t plan on (stepping down after the Penn State game). I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know who the sources are (for the Fox story) and I don’t really care. The only source I worry about is my source – me! I have every intention of coaching 13 games this year.”

O’Leary’s boss’s boss also forcefully refuted the report.  Well, at least the after-one-game aspect of the report.

“Coach O’Leary would never quit after one game in a season,” UCF president John Hitt told the Sentinel. “Whoever wrote that doesn’t know George O’Leary. George will retire when he retires. We hope his health stays great. He’s often said when he has two straight days when he goes to work and doesn’t have fun then he’ll retire. We think and hope it will be a good, long while before that happens.”

O’Leary has been at UCF since 2004, the first year which produced the worst season in the football program’s history: 0-11.  Since then, however, the Knights have won 10-plus games four times, the only times that’s happened in school history.

There have been rumors that Brent Key, promoted to assistant head coach earlier this offseason, is essentially the head-coach-in-waiting, with the offensive line coach set to take over the program when O’Leary hangs up his coaching whistle.

Whether that’s this weekend, after this season or a couple/few years down the road remains to be seen.

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Reports: A ‘Josh Shaw’ named in police report at time of USC CB’s heroics

Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl - Fresno State v USC Getty Images

A tale of heroics has quickly devolved into something bizarre — and potentially very sad.

According to both the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, a police report names a “Josh Shaw” in connection to a possible break-in at an apartment just a few miles from USC’s campus at some point between 10 an 11 p.m. PDT Saturday night.  That’s around the same time that a USC cornerback, also named Josh Shaw, was reportedly in the process of saving a seven-year-old nephew from drowning by jumping from a second-floor balcony, sustaining a pair of high-ankle sprains in the process.

That claim, however, has subsequently come under intense scrutiny.

From the Times:

At 10 p.m. Saturday night, officers went to the Orsini Apartments on North Figueroa Street to check on a report of a woman’s screams from a third-floor unit, police said. No one answered the door, so the officers forced entry. No one was inside.

A neighbor reported seeing a man run across or scale a balcony, and gave a general description of the individual.

Later, as officers interviewed a woman resident of the complex, they told her what the one witness had seen. She responded, “Sounds like my boyfriend, Josh Shaw,” according to Lt. Andrew Neiman, an LAPD spokesman. The woman also told the officers Shaw was at dinner with friends, Neiman said.

A man at the front desk of the Orsini Apartments on Tuesday afternoon said Shaw was not a registered resident. The LAPD did not identify the woman in the incident report.

Witnesses described seeing “a ‘black male with dreadlocks’ leaving via a balcony,” the Register wrote. It has not been determined that USC’s Shaw, who is black and has dreadlocks, is the Shaw wanted for questioning in connection to the incident.

“No one has been arrested or named as a suspect,” a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson told the Register. “Mr. Shaw’s name was listed in the report as the victim’s boyfriend only. This is an ongoing investigation.”

Shaw’s sister confirmed to USA Today Tuesday that Shaw had saved her son, the player’s nephew, but that she was not actually at the event the heroics were alleged to have happened.  USC is currently in the process of vetting Shaw’s claims.

“He came to us with what occurred Saturday night, and I have no reason, no history to not believe Josh and his story,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said. “I think it’s important to know your team. I think it’s important to know your players.

“Josh Shaw has been a good leader for us; he’s given me no reason not to believe him. But you need to know.”

Regardless of how it happened, Shaw, a team captain, will be sidelined for a significant period of time because of the injuries to both ankles, which will have a significant impact on the Trojans’ defense on the field. And that’s not even mentioning the off-field distraction and/or circus that will come to town when he does return.

 

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Gamecocks’ leading tackler won’t start in opener vs. A&M

North Carolina v South Carolina

Mike Davis will be there for the opener, but one of South Carolina’s top players on the other side of the ball won’t be.  At least, not at the start.

Defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward confirmed Skai Moore will not start the opener against Texas A&M Thursday night.  Why?  It appears the coaching staff is looking to send a message to the linebacker and, by extension, the entire team.

“He’ll play. He’ll play early,” the coordinator said. “Just got to make sure he does what he’s supposed to do when you ask him to do something.”

With the sophomore Moore sidelined, fellow sophomore Jonathan Walton will get the starting nod against the Aggies.

Last season as a true freshman, Moore led the team in both tackles (56) and interceptions (four). For that, he was named by the coaches as a first-team Freshman All-SEC performer.

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Outland Trophy candidate won’t start at center for Beavers

Oregon State v Washington State

One of college football’s finest centers won’t be on the field during the first weekend of play when the Oregon State Beavers host the Portland State Vikings .

Junior Isaac Seumalo, who was named to the Outland Trophy watch list, is still recovering from a broken foot he suffered during the Hawaii Bowl against the Boise State Broncos. Junior Josh Mitchell will start in Seumalo’s place, according to the Oregonian.

Oregon’s offensive line as a whole was in upheaval until recent weeks. Junior Gavin Andrews was moved from right to left tackle a little over two weeks ago. Sophomore Sean Harlow will start at right tackle.

“(It’s) pretty good, considering there’s been some juggling and movement and some late injuries that forced us into some decisions about where to put people,” Beavers coach Mike Riley told the Oregonian‘s Gina Mizell. “I think it’s still a group that will be good and has a chance to get better.”

A return date for Seumalo wasn’t provided. The Beavers play the Hawaii Warriors Sept. 6, and Seumalo could return to the field where he was originally injured. The coaching staff may even look at the schedule and realize it doesn’t need Seumalo in the lineup until the third game of the season. The Beavers enjoy an early bye week and then host the San Diego Aztecs Sept. 20.

Once Seumalo returns, he may not be reinserted at center. Riley has expressed an interest in Seumalo playing right guard this season. Mitchell’s play through first game or two will dictate exactly where Riley can eventually play his best offensive lineman.

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WVU QB admits first smooch was with Nick Saban’s daughter

Nick Saban

A first kiss is a special moment in a person’s life. If you’re West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, it’s a moment that can come back and haunt you during the Mountaineers’ season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trickett revealed a little secret about himself during his Tuesday meeting with local media. His first kiss was with the daughter of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Whether or not this was a smart choice to make this public just prior to playing one of the most inventive defensive coaches in college football history is certainly in question.

Saban’s reputation as one of the most intimidating coaches in college football is well known. He could use this as an opportunity to overwhelm the Mountaineers’ offense and crush Trickett with a variety of blitz packages.

Or, Saban can take this in stride and think nothing of it. His main concern will be defeating the Mountaineers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The latter situation is far more likely, but it’s fun to think about Saban defending the honor of his daughter in a gladiatorial game of chess in which the likely outcome is Alabama emerging victorious.

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UPDATE: Sister speaks on Josh Shaw’s behalf

USC v California Getty Images

Sometimes a story is too good to be true. Could this be the latest example of that adage at work?

USC is opening an internal investigation into the story of senior cornerback Josh Shaw saving his nephew from drowning. The story shared by USC’s athletics website was inspirational and a touching one. Shaw reportedly suffered a pair of high ankle sprains while allegedly leaping from a second floor balcony into a pool below to save his nephew, who cannot swim.

A day later, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian says there may be conflicting information regarding how the injury to Shaw’s ankles were suffered.

For now, USC is keeping Shaw from meeting with the media until the university can confirm the information regarding the injuries.

UPDATE (5:00 p.m. ET): According to information obtained by NBC News, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officials said they have no record of any calls to their Palmdale station for service involving Shaw or a family member due to a near drowning.

UPDATE (8:00 p.m. ET): Josh Shaw’s older sister, Asia Shawspoke with USA TODAY on behalf of her brother. She confirmed the initial report of the football player saving his nephew — her son — but wouldn’t comment on any “speculation” that Josh Shaw injured himself during a burglary.

“The one who was supposed to be watching him turned away for a second,” she said. “And Josh, who is on the balcony, saw the incident and reacted.”

Asia Shaw also confirmed no authorities were involved in the matter since her son didn’t experience any respiratory impairment.

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Brian Kelly: Everett Golson is ‘taking next step of leadership’

Brian Kelly, Everett Golson

When Everett Golson was readmitted to Notre Dame, the quarterback had to prove himself all over again.

Golson started 11 games in 2012, including the BCS National Championship Game, but he wasn’t handed the starting position upon his return. Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly eventually named Golson the team’s starting quarterback Aug 13. Since then, Golson has grown into a legitimate leader within the program.

Kelly discussed Golson’s evolving status as a leader and updated the team’s injury situation during his Tuesday meeting with the media:

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Report: North Carolina investigates alleged hazing

Larry Fedora

It seems academic fraud, illicit benefits and NCAA sanctions weren’t embarrassing enough for the North Carolina Tar Heels football program.

Head coach Larry Fedora was eventually hired to replace the ousted Butch Davis and interim coach Everett Withers to give the program a fresh slate. Instead, Fedora is going to be  mired in yet another controversy within the program.

Allegations of hazing have been reported, according to Yahoo Sports.

“During the first week of August, redshirt freshman walk-on wide receiver Jackson Boyer was involved in an alleged physical altercation with multiple teammates in his room at the A-Loft hotel in Chapel Hill where the team was staying during fall camp. … The incident allegedly left Boyer with a concussion,” sources told Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson and Pat Forde.

The university addressed the report.

“We are aware of an incident involving members of the UNC football team that took place earlier this month. We take this allegation seriously and the University is conducting a thorough review,” Kevin Best, North Carolina’s assistant athletic director for communications, told Yahoo Sports.

If the university finds the allegations to be true, the players involved should expect to be disciplined.

“The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is committed to fostering organizations that provide a positive and safe environment for new and existing members,” the UNC Office of the Dean of Students stated. “To that end, UNC expressly prohibits hazing or any activity that puts a student’s physical, emotional or psychological health and safety at risk. The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance defines hazing as action, ‘that causes or permits an individual, with or without consent, to engage in activities that subject that individual or others to risks of physical injury, mental distress, or personal indignities of a highly offensive nature, in connection with recruitment, initiation, or continued membership in a society, fraternity or sorority, club, or similar organized group, whether or not recognized by the University.’ “

Since the school is still in the middle of the investigation, none of the names that allegedly committed the aforementioned act have been revealed.

The latest incident only adds to the concerns within North Carolina’s athletic department. The NCAA decided June 30 to reopen its investigation into academic irregularities after former UNC basketball player Rashad McCants confirmed the academic improprieties during ESPN’s Outside the Lines.

While these allegations hover over the athletic department, the football team must still prepare for its season opener against the Liberty Flames. The Tar Heels are considered a popular pick to win the ACC’s Coastal division. However, their season could eventually be interrupted by suspensions to multiple players due to foolish actions.

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SEC teams rush to schedule the Kansas Jayhawks

Charlie Weis AP

Kansas Jayhawks football is growing in popularity, albeit for all the wrong reasons.

As conferences attempt to improve their non-conference schedules in order to be more attractive options for the College Football Playoff, the Jayhawks are one of the few teams which play in a Power Five conference that are still classified as a potential “cupcake” on the schedule.

SEC teams, in particular, have been quite interested in scheduling the Jayhawks in recent weeks.

Kansas’ reputation precedes itself. The program can’t escape the fact its 9-39 the past four seasons. And the Jayhawks are expected to finish last in the Big 12 Conference again this season. The program is essentially seen as a loophole in the SEC’s mandate.

The Jayhawks aren’t eager to regularly play against teams from the best conference in college football. And it may be the first time the program can actually turn down requests from other programs.

Schedules are generally created years in advance. The Jayhawks have a full non-conference slate through 2017, and they’re not exactly playing against powerhouse programs. The one team that’s been highly successful the Jayhawks face during that period is the Duke Blue Devils this season.

Kansas does currently have one opening in its non-conference schedule in 2018. And the program has two openings for the 2019 and 2020 season. SEC teams may have to fight over those opportunities to actually play Kansas in the future. At that point, Kansas may be able to leverage a home-and-home series with an SEC program.

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Iowa converts frosh LB to FB due to depth issues

Aaron Mends

In an attempt to build depth in Iowa’s backfield, freshman linebacker Aaron Mends will get a look at fullback, according to The Gazette‘s Marc Morehouse.

The move was necessitated by a season-ending injury to Iowa’s starting fullback, Adam Cox. Mends will now be the team’s only depth at fullback behind junior Macon Plewa.

Mends was considered a three-star recruit as a linebacker, but he doubled as a starting running back in high school. Mends also held offers from Iowa State and North Dakota State.

While the Hawkeyes hope Mends can make the transition to the offensive side of the football, the team certainly doesn’t envision him as their starter this season. Mends is far from a traditional fullback at 200 pounds. The team’s starting tailback, Marc Weisman, is 240 pounds.

This was supposed to be a season for Mends to potentially redshirt and develop as a linebacker. Instead, he’s now one play away from accepting a critical role in the Hawkeyes’ running game.

(Photo courtesy of the University of Iowa athletic department)

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Finally, somebody asked Johnny Manziel for his take on Ohio State

Johnny Manziel

Because inquiring minds want to know, we now have Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel on the record about his state of Ohio State in the fallout of star quarterback Braxton Miller going down for the 2014 season with a right shoulder injury.

“I don’t wish that for anybody,” Manziel said of Miller’s injury, according to Cleveland.com. “So hopefully everything in that situation works out for him. I hope he’s able to get a medical redshirt and be able to play, because first and foremost, I’m a fan of Braxton.”

It should be noted Miller does not need a medical redshirt year. He still has a redshirt year to spare, which will be used this season. Miller underwent successful surgery Tuesday morning. Manziel was also willing to shed some light on what it takes for a redshirt freshman to step into a starting role under center, which is exactly what J.T. Barrett will be doing this fall in Miller’s absence. Manziel, of course, stepped into the spotlight at Texas A&M as a redshirt freshman under different circumstances, but he could still relate.

“Ohio State is obviously a very big deal but, I mean, a (redshirt) freshman coming in and taking over for a program like that, I think he’s got a good situation with Coach [Urban] Meyer being there and being able to put him in good situations to be successful,” Manziel said. “So I think more than anything he needs to depend on him, Coach Meyer, who’s been through it all.”

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UCLA center may be questionable for opener

Deandre Coleman, Jake Brendel

UCLA will start the 2014 season with one of the most hyped quarterbacks around the country with Brett Hundley. But who will be the player responsible for snapping the football into Hundley’s hands? That responsibility has been expected to belong to Jake Brendel, but with the season opener days away there could be some wait and see.

According to an Orange County Register report, Brendel suffered an MCL injury two weeks ago. The severity of the injury is said to be “pretty moderate,” according to the report and head coach Jim Mora has been noncommittal on his playing status for the season opener against Virginia.

Brendel has started 27 straight games for the Bruins and is on the watch lists for the Outland Trophy and Rimington Trophy. He was a team captain last fall and has been named a captain for 2014 as well. If he is unavailable, look to the Bruins to give guard Alex Redmond a shot at the job. He has been taking first team snaps in the middle of the line and Mora has said he has performed well.

“He looks good (at center),” Mora said, per Orange County Register. “Alex could play anywhere up front.”

UCLA gets the season started on Saturday at Virginia at noon eastern.

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