Big plays help UCF overcome turnovers for Fiesta Bowl halftime lead

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If you overlooked the Fiesta Bowl, you are missing out on some good, quality entertainment. UCF leads Baylor 28-20 at the half thanks to some big plays by the offense.

UCF running back Storm Johnson gave the Golden Knights an early spark. An 11-yard touchdown run gave UCF an early 7-0 lead following a 76-yard drive over six plays. Minutes later Johnson entered the end zone once again on a shorter run to capitalize on a drive that started at midfield. Quarterback Blake Bortles had 183 passing yards in the first half, highlighted by a 50-yard touchdown pass to Rannell Hall midway through the second quarter to build a 21-13 lead and another 34-yard touchdown play to Hall for the final score of the half.

Before it turned in to a lopsided half, Baylor managed to counter with their first touchdown of the game. Late in the first quarter, quarterback Bryce Petty picked up a short touchdown run to put the Bears on the scoreboard. Petty later helped Baylor capitalize on an interception thrown by UCF quarterback Blake Bortles. Petty completed a pass over the middle to Levi Norwood, who then maneuvered out of traffic and made a run for the end zone to bring Baylor to within one point. A botched extra point attempt left Baylor trailing by one, 14-13.

Baylor got another chance immediately following the ensuing kickoff though. Johnson had the ball punched out of hands by a Baylor defender and the Bears recovered in great field position. UCF returned the favor though by picking off a pass from Petty in the end zone to protect the 14-13 lead. Five plays later Bortles connected on the 50-yard touchdown pass to Hall for the 21-13 lead.

After Petty’s summersault in to the end zone brought the Bears to within one, Bortles again led UCF to a touchdown. He did so once again by connecting with Hall. Bortles completed a pass to Hall, who managed to find an open path to the end zone down the right sideline with a blocker in front of him down field. A leap in to the end zone extended UCF’s lead to 28-20 in the final minute of the half.

Baylor kicker Aaron Jones had a last-second field goal attempt sail just right of the uprights as the half came to a close.

Alabama reportedly raids Penn State staff for new WRs coach

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Nick Saban‘s latest reshaping of his coaching will reportedly come at the expense of a Big Ten school.

Earlier Thursday, a report surfaced that Mike Locksley was being promoted by Saban to offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.  As Locksley served as Alabama’s wide receivers coach this past season, it left Saban in search of a new coach for that positional group.

According to FootballScoop.com, that search has ended as Penn State’s Josh Gattis is expected to take the job.  Gattis will also serve as the Tide’s co-offensive coordinator.

A couple of other outlets confirmed the initial report.

Gattis had spent the past six seasons on James Franklin-led coaching staff, the first two at Vanderbilt and the last four at Penn State.  In addition to receivers coach, Gattis held the title of passing-game coordinator and assistant special teams coordinator with the Nittany Lions.

UTSA names Auburn staffer Al Borges as offensive coordinator

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Frank Wilson is adding a very experienced voice to his offensive staff at UT-San Antonio.

UT confirmed in a press release Friday morning that Al Borges has been hired as the Roadrunners’ new offensive coordinator.  The 36-year coaching veteran will also serve as the team’s quarterback coach.

Borges had spent the 2017 season as an offensive analyst at Auburn.

“I am thrilled to be able to announce the hiring of Al Borges as our new offensive coordinator,” Wilson said in a statement. “Al Borges has a masterful offensive mind and a coaching style that takes advantage of the talent and skillset of the players on the roster. His unique ability to develop quarterbacks is second to none. Our coaching staff got better today.”

Prior to the one-year stint at Auburn, Borges had been an offensive coordinator at the FBS level for most of the previous 24 years.  Those stints included time at San Jose State (2015-16), Michigan (2011-13), San Diego State (2009-10), Auburn (2004-07), Indiana (2002-03), Cal (2001), UCLA (1996-2000), Oregon (1995) and Boise State (1993-94).

Twice, Borges has been named as a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

Purdue announces co-OC Tony Levine has left to pursue opportunities outside of coaching

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This is certainly an abrupt and unexpected development.

In a rather brief and terse press release, Purdue announced that Tony Levine is no longer a member of Jeff Brohm‘s (pictured) Boilermakers coaching staff.  Per the school, Levine will be pursuing unspecified opportunities outside of the coaching profession.

Below is the text of the release, in its entirety:

Purdue head football coach Jeff Brohm announced today that assistant coach Tony Levine has resigned to pursue opportunities outside of coaching.

That’s it.

The loss of Levine leaves a rather sizable hole for Brohm to fill.  Not only was the 45-year-old assistant the team’s co-offensive coordinator, but he served as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach as well.  Levine had just completed his first season with the Boilermakers.

Levine was the head coach at Houston from 2011-14 and the special teams coordinator/tight ends coach at Western Kentucky prior to coming to West Lafayette.

Report: Nick Saban promoting Mike Locksley to OC

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Nick Saban has found his fourth offensive coordinator in 14 months, and he didn’t have to go very far do so.

With rumors swirling around a certain disgraced former SEC head coach, signs had seemingly been pointing to Saban possibly, or even likely staying in-house for his next Alabama coordinator on the offensive side of the ball.  According to Chris Low of ESPN.com, the head coach plans to do just that as Mike Locksley is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator.  It’s expected Locksley will assume responsibilities as the Tide’s quarterbacks coach as well.

Locksley would replace Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills earlier this month.

Locksley has spent the past two seasons with the Crimson Tide, the first as an offensive analyst and last year as co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach.

The former New Mexico head coach last served as a coordinator at Maryland from 2012-15.  He also spent three seasons (2006-08) in the same job at Illinois.