Auburn may have turned in one of the wildest rides to the SEC championship and BCS title shot in the 2013 season, but Bear Bryant Award winner Gus Malzahn knows there is still plenty of work to be done before being able to take the next step in 2014.
“We had some deficiencies in some areas we were trying to cover up,” Malzahn said Wednesday on Yahoo! Sports Radio. “It all starts with recruiting and now that we’ve had our defensive staff that has been intact for a year, they can specifically recruit to those areas.”
Auburn should see a nice momentum swing in recruiting leading up to National Signing Day. The Tigers picked up steam in recruiting the last time they won the SEC championship, and that should once again be the case with Malzahn gaining more national respect and showing just what his program is capable of doing moving forward.
Auburn’s strength came in the running game. Tre Mason rushed his way to record-setting performances and was named a Heisman Trophy finalist. He now takes his game to the NFL as one of the many early entrants to the NFL Draft this season. Even without Mason in 2014 the Tigers are going to be expected to run the ball well. The question is whether or not they can develop a complimentary passing game for the times when they will be forced to make some plays through the air. This may seem silly to say given how it was a passing play that made much of the storied season at Auburn possible, but Malzahn knows his team caught some breaks last season and does not want to have to rely on those miraculous moments too often. Malzahn seems optimistic in his quarterback, Nick Marshall.
“He’s got a big-time arm, and we didn’t throw it a lot, but we really feel like he’s going to be able to do that, be very effective,” Malzahn said. “We’re excited about him.”
Auburn should certainly be one of the top teams to reckon with in 2014. Playing in a division with Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M can throw some hurdles in the way, but all three will be breaking in new starting quarterbacks, shuffling coaching staff or replacing a number of other key players around the field as well. With four playoff spots available to compete for a national title next season, Auburn looks to have a good shot lined up if they can handle their schedule in the fall.
Helmet sticker to AL.com.
Surprisingly, Mike Riley has a self-made hole on his Nebraska coaching staff.
In a move that wasn’t on most if any radars, Hank Hughes will not return in 2016 as NU’s defensive line coach, Riley revealed Friday. No reason was given for the the departure of the assistant.
“I want to thank Hank for his hard work and contributions to our football program over the past year,” Riley said in a statement. “We continue to build our program with the pursuit of championships always at the forefront of everything we do, and we will look for a great coach, teacher and recruiter to enhance our defense.”
Regardless of the reason or reasons — and the fact that Riley made certain to note that a replacement would be “a great coach, teacher and recruiter” points to at least a couple — it wasn’t an expected development. From the Lincoln Journal Star:
There was no sign of such a move Thursday night, with Hughes present at the Big Red Bash that celebrated the 2016 recruiting class.
Hughes had just completed his first season with the Cornhuskers. Additionally, it was his first season as an assistant on a Riley-led coaching staff.
As the Journal Star notes, Hughes was in the midst of a two-year deal that was to pay him $300,000 annually.
If Roquan Smith is to win a starting linebacking job as some project, he’ll have to do so coming from behind.
Georgia confirmed in a press release Friday that the linebacker underwent successful surgery last month to repair a damaged wrist. As a result, Smith (pictured, No. 3) will be sideline for all of the 15 spring practice sessions that will commence next month.
The good news is that, according to UGA director of sports medicine Ron Courson, “[a] full recovery is anticipated and he [is] expected to fully participate in summer workouts.” Additionally, there should be no limitations placed on Smith’s participation in summer camp that will kick off the beginning of August.
Smith was a four-star member of the Bulldogs’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 outside linebacker in the country; the No. 9 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 77 recruit overall according to Rivals.com. He was one of the highest-rated players in UGA’s class.
As a true freshman, Smith played in 12 games. He was named as one of the football program’s five Newcomers of the Year following the 2015 season.
As the assistant coach shuffle continues in college football, Boston College is welcoming back a familiar face to the sidelines. Paul Pasqualoni has officially been added to the assistant coaching staff as a defensive line coach. Pasqualoni spent the 2015 football season working as a defensive line coach for the NFL’s Houston Texans. He brings plenty of coaching experience with a 43-year career in the football coaching world, including head coaching stints with Syracuse and UConn.
“It is a great thrill for me to announce the addition of Paul Pasqualoni as the defensive line coach at Boston College,” Boston College head coach Steve Addazio said in a released statement. Addazio started his coaching career as an assistant on Pasqualoni’s Western Connecticut State coaching staff. “His experience, passion for the game, high integrity and knowledge of Boston College and of New England football will be a tremendous asset to our program and to this university.”
Boston College also announced the addition of Rich Gunnell, a former Boston College wide receiver, as a wide receivers coach. Gunnell graduated from Boston College in 2009 after registering 181 receptions for 2,459 yards and 18 touchdowns and serving as a team captain during his college career. He joins BC after two years as a high school head coach in Framingham, Massachusetts.
“It is a dream come true to coach at the school that I played for, was a captain for, did my graduate assistant work at and will work with the exact position that I played,” Gunnell said. “I couldn’t be happier and I feel like I am back at home. Boston College is a small, close-knit community. This place helped mold me into the person that I am today and many of the people who were there when I was in school are still here today. I am just excited to be back around the same people.”
Addazio made a couple of other internal coaching moves with his staff as well. Tight ends coach Frank Leonard has been promoted to assistant head coach and Al Washington will move from special teams coordinator to defensive line coach.
The college football career of Oregon running back Thomas Tyner has come to an unceremonious end. Oregon has announced Tyner has taken a medical retirement from football, a year after missing the entire 2015 season due to a shoulder injury.
“We thank Thomas and wish him well,” Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich said. “We will continue to support his efforts to graduate from the University of Oregon.”
Tyner was a five-star recruit for Oregon in the Class of 2013. The Beaverton, Oregon native was the top-rated recruit in that recruiting class, which also included offensive lineman Evan Voeller and four-star athletes Tyrell Robinson and Tyree Robinson.
“Thank you for all the support over the years,” Tyner said in a brief statement posted on his Twitter account Friday. “Couldn’t have been more blessed to have been party of such a great community, I have the [utmost] respect for the staff and my teammates. Now it’s time to get in the books and finish up in school. Much love to you all and Go Ducks!”
Tyner rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns in his freshman season and 573 yards and five touchdowns as a sophomore before a midseason injury put him on the sideline for five games. He returned for Oregon’s College Football Playoff run and rushed for 124 yards against Florida State in the Rose Bowl semifinal game before rushing for 62 yards against Ohio State in the national championship game at the end of the 2014 season. Tyner missed the entire 2015 season, which led to Royce Freeman taking on the leading rusher role for the Ducks.
It would have been fun to watch Oregon run with Tyner and freeman, but alas sometimes health concerns have an unfortunate knack for taking a talented player out of the game, and that just stinks.