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With Franklin at Penn State, what happens next for Larry Johnson?

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One of the first staff decisions Bill O’Brien made official once he was introduced as Penn State’s head coach two years ago was retain defensive line coach Larry Johnson. He announced the news during his introductory press conference. Will James Franklin be doing the same?

Johnson is an unbelievably loved and respected coach to Penn State players so it was no surprise he received plenty of support to become the new Penn State head coach when the job was still vacant. Johnson was named the interim head coach after O’Brien left for the Houston Texans and was one of the two holdovers from Joe Paterno‘s coaching staff. Johnson’s responsibilities were with the defensive line but his overall impact on the recruiting trails have been well documented since arriving at Penn State.

When asked about his interest in the job opening, Johnson confirmed he would be interested in being named the head coach at Penn State. When it became clear Franklin was the target for the Nittany Lions, Johnson was reportedly disappointed in the developments. According to The Patriot News, Johnson did interview for the job and is committed to fulfilling his interim duties until no longer needed. Where it gets interesting from there is how Johnson handles being passed over for a promotion once again.

Johnson has turned down an opportunity for an expanded role elsewhere to remain at Penn State in his role as defensive line coach and top recruiter. When Tom Bradley did not get the job at Penn State some had hoped Johnson would before O’Brien was hired. Again, once O’Brien left there was a section of fans and players who pledged their support for Johnson to get the job. Now comes an interesting point in time where Johnson must see if there is a place on Franklin’s staff available, and what position might that be?

Vanderbilt had a respectable defense under the guidance of defensive coordinator Bob Shoop. The Commodores were generally outmatched when it came to talent level, but Vanderbilt ranked in the top half of the SEC in rushing defense, passing defense and total defense in 2013. Vanderbilt was also one of the top defenses when it came to turnovers forced, sacks and tackles for loss. If Shoop makes the move to Penn State with Franklin, how would Johnson respond? You coudl probably forgive him if he feels slighted, although it should be a priority by Penn State to do what they can to keep him a part of the staff in some capacity he is comfortable with.

To his credit, Johnson has taken on the role of good and loyal soldier at Penn State under extreme circumstances without asking for too much in return. If he wanted to leave the program by now, he would have been able to find a spot elsewhere in a moment’s notice. Johnson will make a very good assistant coach for some program in 2014. Whether that is at Penn State or not is one of the first questions Franklin will have to answer.

Trevor Knight runs for 2 TDs but Texas A&M and Arkansas tied 17-17 at Jerry World

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 24:  Trevor Knight #8 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight may not be having a very effective evening through the air in AT&T Stadium against Arkansas, but two long touchdown runs by the Aggies quarterback have been enough to give Texas A&M some life at the halftime break. Texas A&M and Arkansas are tied 17-17 at the break, thanks to Knight’s 101 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to counter a balanced Razorback offense.

Keon Hatcher put Arkansas on the giant scoreboard first in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown reception from Austin Allen. Texas A&M missed a field goal on the ensuing possession but would later capitalize on an Arkansas fumble. On 3rd and 1 from the Arkansas 42-yard line, Trevor Knight took off for a 42-yard touchdown run to put the Aggies on the board. Arkansas would respond with a field goal, but not before being stopped by Texas A&M’s stingy defensive front inside the 10-yard line in a key sequence.

The Razorbacks ran seven plays from inside the 10-yard line, including six plays inside the two-yard line. During that sequence, Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen appeared to injure his shoulder, causing backup Ty Storey to start warming up on the sideline. The good news for Arkansas was Allen would return on the next offensive possession. That drive may have ended quickly with a fumble, but the Arkansas defense held the Aggies to a game-tying field goal, 10-10.

Arkansas went back to work the next time they took the field by putting Allen in command through the air once more. Allen helped guide the offense down the field and back into the red zone with a 38-yard completion to Jared Cornelius, and Rawleigh Williams III made up for an earlier fumble with an eight-yard touchdown run for the 17-10 lead.

With the time winding down in the second quarter, Knight once again came to the rescue with a run right up the middle with very little standing in his way of the end zone. The 48-yard run in the final minute of the half may be just the momentum builder Texas A&M needed, but there will still be some work to do in the second half.

Brian Kelly calls out, lashes out at Irish players lacking ‘fire and grit’

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If you thought the Notre Dame coaching staff, specifically the defensive side of the ball, would be publicly held accountable by the head coach, you’d be dead wrong.

Following a 38-35 home loss to Duke that featured a blown 14-0 lead and fourth-quarter defensive shrinking, Brian Kelly decided instead to lash out against those players listed as first-teamers on his depth chart.  Most notably, starting quarterback DeShone Kizer was singled out after a performance that included 381 yards passing and 60 yards rushing was labeled by Kelly as “below standard” and “not acceptable” thanks to a pair of turnovers.

Aside from the longsnapper, though, Kizer wasn’t alone in feeling his head coach’s postgame wrath.

Every position, all 22 of them, will be evaluated. Each and every position. There is no position that is untouchable on this football team. And that’s the quarterback, all the way down to — maybe the long snapper’s OK. We’re not going to touch him. But everybody else is vulnerable. …

“Guys that have fire and grit [will be on the field] — we had one guy in the entire football team that had emotion and fire. That is [running back] Dexter Williams. He’s the only one. He’s the only one that I saw. One guy.

“So, if you want to play for me moving forward, you better — I don’t care what your résumé says, I don’t care if you were a five-star [recruit], if you had 100 tackles or 80 receptions or 30 touchdown passes — you better have some damn fire and energy in you. We lack it. We lack it. Severely.

I’ve never coached above the high school level so I could be wrong here, but isn’t it the responsibility of the coaching staff to get their players ready to play, to show “some damn fire and energy?”  And, if that doesn’t happen and if they “lack it” — “severely” — shouldn’t the coaching staff, the head coach specifically, shoulder that failure instead of publicly throwing their players under the bus?

Unlike the players, though, one person who won’t see the undercarriage of said bus, apparently, is defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder.

In falling to 1-3 on the year, the Irish’s defense has been a significant part of the problem.  In each of the three losses, the Domers gave up at least 36 points, leading Kelly to give what could’ve been a dreaded vote of confidence earlier in the week.

Even after the 94th-ranked scoring offense in the country hung 38 on the Irish, and that same lacking offense marched down the field on a back-breaking 10-play drive that resulted in what turned out to be a game-winning field goal with 1:24 remaining, Kelly steadfastly stood by his defensive man.  In fact, Kelly was decidedly pleased with that side of the ball — the coaching side, that is.

“Actually, that’s probably the one area that I feel better about today,” Kelly said of his defensive coaches’ efforts. “We did what I wanted today in terms of coaching. And coaching had nothing to do with the outcome today. I was pleased from that perspective.”

Baylor WR Zamora scores two first-half TDs in first game back from suspension

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 27:  Nick Orr #18 of the TCU Horned Frogs makes a pass interception against Ishmael Zamora #8 of the Baylor Bears in the first quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on November 27, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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A weather delay may have slowed things down a bit, but Baylor and Oklahoma State may be heating up as they prepare for the second half, with Baylor holding a 21-14 lead.

Baylor wasted little time in getting in the end zone, but they had to wait a little more than an hour before being able to convert the extra point. A lengthy weather delay interrupted Baylor and Oklahoma State just minutes into the game, forcing the PAT following a 23-yard touchdown run by Terence Williams on the opening drive of the game.

The Cowboys tied things up at 7-7 later in the first quarter with a Justice Hill touchdown run of five yards. The game would remain tied into the second quarter, when Seth Russell‘s pass was tipped by his intended receiver but fell into the hands of Ishmael Zamora. Zamora took off 38 yards down the sideline for a go-ahead touchdown in his first game back from a three-game suspension for physically abusing his dog with a belt and kicking it. Zamora would come through once more in the second quarter with another 38-yard touchdown reception from Russell, this time answering a touchdown drive by Oklahoma State. The Cowboys put together a 75-yard drive following Zamora’s first touchdown, with Rennie Chiles finishing things off with a short three-yard run.

Each team has had two turnovers, so this is far from a clean game for either side so far. We’ll see if either can tighten things up in the second half.

Ducks lose back-to-back games for first time since 2007; Buffs 3-1 for first time since Big 12 days

EUGENE, OR - SEPTEMBER 24: Defensive back Ahkello Witherspoon #23 of the Colorado Buffaloes intercepts a pass intended for wide receiver Darren Carrington II #7 of the Oregon Ducks late in the fourth quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on September 24, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. Colorado won the game 41-38. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Oregon did its damnedest to keep a rather remarkable streak alive, but, in the end, they simply couldn’t.

Colorado, one week after wasting a 21-7 first-quarter lead to Michigan, jumped out to a 23-7 second-quarter lead and a 33-17 third-quarter lead on Oregon in Eugene Saturday.  It looked like it would be lather, rinse and repeat for the Buffs as the truck-pulling Ducks stormed back to take a 38-33 lead at the end of the fourth quarter.

However, Steven Montez, making his first career start, tossed a 31-yard touchdown pass midway through the fourth quarter that stood up as the game-winner as the Buffs held on for a 41-38 win.  While Colorado pushed its record to 3-1 — that’s the Buffs best start to a season since 2010, their final year in the Big 12 — Oregon has now lost back-to-back games one-third of the way through the 2016.

Such a feeling two weekends in a row, it turns out, is decidedly foreign for both the Ducks and their fan base.

What should concern the Ducks the most, perhaps, is that the Brady Hoke-directed defense allowed a first-time starter at quarterback throw for 333 yards and three touchdowns, one week after the same defense allowed three touchdown passes in the loss to Nebraska.