Oklahoma certainly does not look like a double-digit underdog in the Sugar Bowl. The Sooners have more than held their own against Alabama in New Orleans tonight and reach the midway point leading the Crimson Tide, 31-17. You read that score correctly. Oklahoma is leading Alabama, a 15-point favorite, by 14 at the half. Considering Alabama has allowed 31 points in a game just five times since 2008, that is rather significant.
Alabama did open up the scoring early in the first quarter with a four-play drive covering 75 yards and ending with a TJ Yeldon touchdown run just under two minutes in to the game, but Oklahoma closed the half with a 24-10 run.
Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight threw three touchdowns in the first half to lead the Sooner charge. The first was to Lacoltan Bester for a 45-yard score to tie the game. Just minutes later the Tide re-gained the lead with a field goal, but Knight struck again with another touchdown pass inside the 10-yard line, this time to Jalen Saunders. Knight and Saunders hooked up again on a deep ball down the right sideline to give Oklahoma their first lead of the game, late in the half. The play was set up by a red zone turnover by Alabama, a Yeldon fumble as Alabama was knocking on the door step for another score.
A late interception tossed by AJ McCarron gave the Sooners time for one more score, and they acted quickly on it. Sterling Shepard took a misdirection wrap around down the right side of the field for a 13-yard touchdown run on the very next play.
Still plenty of football to be played of course, and if any team can manage to make some adjustments, you would think it will be Alabama, but now all of a sudden the tables have been turned. A game that was supposed to be one that saw Oklahoma struggle to keep up now sees Alabama looking to find a way to slow down the Sooners.
For the most recent addition to his Troy coaching staff, Neal Brown has dipped into the Football Championship Series.
The Sun Belt Conference program confirmed Tuesday that Brandon Hall has been hired by Brown as his new linebackers coach. Hall had spent the past four seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at FCS Jacksonville State.
“Brandon is an outstanding defensive coach and has experience coaching at a lot of different levels,” a statement from Brown. “He is relentless on the recruiting trail and already has developed strong relationships in the areas that we believe are key. Looking at his track record, it comes as no surprise that Brandon helped build one of the top defenses in the FCS at Jacksonville State over the last four years.”
Prior to JSU, Hall had spent time at Arkansas State, Auburn and Oklahoma.
“I’m excited for the opportunity to join this program and coaching staff,” Hall said in his statement. “You can’t help but get excited as a coach when you look at what Coach Brown and the rest of this staff has done over the past three years with the Troy program. My family and I are looking forward to becoming part of the Trojan Family and continuing the strong tradition of Troy football.”
The departure of a longtime UCLA staffer has officially been confirmed.
Late last week, reports surfaced that Angus McClure was leaving UCLA for a position at Nevada. Tuesday, the Mountain West Conference football program confirmed that McClure has been hired as Jay Norvell‘s new offensive line coach.
McClure had been with the Bruins since 2007, serving at various times as position coach for both sides of UCLA’s lines as well as special teams. Most recently, McClure had served as recruiting coordinator for the Pac-12 school.
McClure and Norvell have a prior working relationship as they were both on the same staffs at Nebraska and UCLA.
In addition to McClure, David Lockwood was announced as Nevada’s new safeties coach. Lockwood was on the UNLV staff last season after spending the previous three years as the cornerbacks coach at Arizona.
“I think we made our staff stronger with these two veteran hires,” Norvell said in a statement. “I’m excited about the experience and expertise that we have added to the Wolf Pack coaching staff.”
Former Kansas State head coach Jim Dickey died on Saturday night at the age of 84.
A Texas native, Dickey played quarterback at Houston in the 1950’s and started his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater. From there he took assistant jobs at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas and North Carolina before landing the K-State job ahead of the 1978 season. He went 25-53-2 in seven-plus seasons on the job, which doesn’t look like much at first blush until one takes stock of where the Wildcat football program was at the time.
Dickey took Kansas State to the Independence Bowl in 1982, a 14-3 loss to Wisconsin, which was the first bowl appearance in program history. He was named the Big 8’s Coach of the Year for that season.
After back-to-back 3-win seasons in 1983 and ’84, he was let go after an 0-2 start to the 1985 campaign. The program would remain historically down until future College Football Hall of Famer Bill Snyder built the program up in the 1990’s.
Dickey finished out his career as an assistant on the pre-Steve Spurrier Florida teams before retiring in 1989. He lived at a rest home in Houston at the time of his passing, according to the Manhattan Mercury. Dickey’s son, Darrell Dickey, is the former head coach at North Texas and currently the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M.
The Oregon coaching staff is going to have a specific South Florida flavor to it. Head coach Mario Cristobal is a Miami native, a former Hurricanes player and assistant, and the former head coach at Florida International. On Tuesday, Cristobal moved to bring a fellow South Floridian with him to the Pacific Northwest.
According to Grant Traylor of the Huntington (W. Va.) Herald-Dispatch, Marshall offensive line coach Alex Mirabal is leaving the staff to reunite with Cristobal in Eugene.
Sports Illustrated‘s Bruce Feldman added Mirabal will work under Cristobal, who will handle the offensive line.
Mirabal is also a native of Miami and a Florida International graduate. He spent the first decade-plus of his career working in Miami’s high school ranks before joining Cristobal’s FIU staff as tight ends and later offensive line coach from 2007-12. He landed at Marshall in 2013 after Cristobal was forced out at FIU, where he remained until Tuesday.
Under Mirabal’s guidance, Marshall finished fourth nationally in sacks allowed at just 0.85 per game. Oregon finished 54th nationally in that same metric.