Finalists for various awards continue to roll out with the 2013 regular season completed, with the Maxwell Football Club the latest to unveil its contender for a major non-playing honor.
Three finalists for the 2013 Maxwell Coach of the Year Award: Duke’s David Cutcliffe, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel. Malzahn and Pinkel, of course, will square off in the SEC championship game Saturday, while Cutcliffe and his Blue Devils will face top-ranked Florida State in the ACC title game the same day.
Malzahn is in his first year as the Tigers’ head coach and is largely responsible for one of the most stunning turnarounds in FBS history. Last season, AU was 3-9 overall and winless in SEC play; in 2013, Malzahn has led the Tigers to a one-loss season that has them playing for a conference championship and a potential spot in the BCS title game.
Entering 2013, many observers viewed Pinkel as a coach on the hot seat coming off a five-win 2012 season that included a 2-6 record in the Tigers’ first year in the SEC. Instead, Mizzou won its first outright division title since 2008 and could claim its first outright conference championship since 1960.
And then there’s Cutcliffe. All the sixth-year coach did was set a school record for wins in a season with 10 and guide the Blue Devils to their first-ever Coastal division title. Duke will play in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time in the program’s 92-year history. In the six years with Cutcliffe on the sidelines, the Blue Devils have won 31 games; in the 15 seasons prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival and dating back to 1993, Duke won a combined 33 games. Eight of those wins came in 1994.
As someone loathe to post on the myriad uniform combinations that college football teams toss out there on an almost weekly basis, I have to admit that these are… not bad. At all.
Quite fresh looking, actually.
Ahead of their black-out game against Oklahoma Saturday, TCU unveiled a new chrome helmet that the Horned Frogs will wear against the Sooners. The helmets feature purple facemasks and a rather large purple horned frog on each side of it.
While all of that stuff, the helmets and uniforms and cleats and gloves and the like, are mainly for the benefit of recruits and current players, I and my particular demographic would have to give it a hearty thumbs up. Which I’m certain means the world to the football program.
Like they have the last couple of weeks, Western Kentucky will have to get used to Marcus Ward not patrolling its defensive secondary on game days.
Ward (pictured, left) injured his knee in Week 2 and has not returned to the playing field. Unfortunately for the player and the football program, that absence will continue as the safety underwent surgery on the knee, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.
This may not be the last of the fourth-year senior in a Hilltopper uniform, though, as Ward has yet to use his redshirt season and would have a medical waiver at his disposal even if he had. It’s unclear, however, if Ward will return for another season or rather make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.
Ward has started a total of 31 games since his true freshman season in 2013, including 26 the previous two seasons. He was named preseason second-team All-Conference USA prior to the start of the 2016 season.
Perhaps more importantly, he was named a semifinalist earlier this month as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman.
All summer long, people wondered why Washington was getting so much preseason love.
After Friday night’s 44-6 thrashing of Stanford in front of a national audience, nobody is wondering anymore about the Huskies.
The sophomore backfield combo of quarterback Jake Browning (210 yards, three touchdowns) and Myles Gaskin (an even 100 yards rushing, two scores) once again powered Washington to a big win, with the offense scoring on all but two full drives on a night where everything went right for the purple and gold.
Defensively is where the Huskies really impressed though. The team swarmed to the ball on every snap, forced two fumbles, racked up eight sacks and kept Stanford under three yards a play for most of the night. The normally reliable Christian McCaffrey was kept in check in remarkable fashion, rushing for just 49 yards on 12 carries.
Just six days after a remarkable comeback win at UCLA, there wasn’t much left in the tank for a Stanford team that was missing two starting cornerbacks and just couldn’t get anything going offensively on the road in a hostile environment. Quarterback Ryan Burns did throw for 151 yards and a touchdown but was under siege most of the night thanks to some shaky play up front from the normally reliable Cardinal offensive line.
The win by Washington certainly establishes Chris Petersen’s team as the Pac-12 favorite — at the very minimum — with a chance to all but punch their ticket to the conference title game next week at Pacific Northwest rival Oregon. If the Huskies continue to look like they did on Friday in Seattle though, a berth in the College Football Playoff is certainly going to be in the cards as well.
On the first offensive play of the night for Stanford, the Cardinal picked up a first down thanks to a face mask penalty.
It was all downhill from there for the Cardinal.
No. 10 Washington lived up to their high preseason billing on Friday night by manhandling the defending Pac-12 champions in just about every way possible to jump out to a 23-0 halftime lead.
Quarterback Jake Browning threw just three incompletions on his way to 167 yards and two touchdowns and the Huskies looked every bit the part of a top five team in a wild, vintage atmosphere on Montlake. While the offense was impressive, the Washington defense was swarming as well, racking up six sacks in the game so far.
Stanford couldn’t get anything going offensively, averaging just 2.8 yards per play in the first half. Superstar Christian McCaffrey was held mostly in check, with just eight yards receiving and 31 on the ground.
To add injury to the insult of that first half, the Cardinal’s best defender — defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — was injured in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. The team is already without both its starting cornerbacks for the game so it could be a long second half for the visitors.
The game isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of #Pac12AfterDark potential but that was quite a statement made by Chris Petersen’s Huskies in the first half in establishing their credentials for the College Football Playoff.