Michigan QBs splitting reps in quick-pace practices

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The Michigan quarterback competition is off to a fast start, somewhat literally.

Whether you believe there is a legitimate quarterback competition or not in Ann Arbor, the Wolverines are giving quarterbacks Devin Gardner and Shane Morris a healthy split of reps in practices already. Gardner is still working his way back to 100 percent after suffering an injury at the end of the 2013 season, but will likely end up being the starting quarterback when all is said and done. Morris opened some eyes with his play and preparation for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Gardner’s absence last year, and he is the top contender for the starting job.

New offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is challenging each as the Wolverines have picked up the pace in practices.

“We’re going to evaluate everything, just like every other position on our offense,” Nussmeier said in a report by MLive.com. “We want to create competition, we want guys to go out and compete.”

“Obviously with Devin getting healthy, it’s great he can get out here and get repetitions, it’s a new system for everybody,” Nussmeier, the former Alabama offensive coordinator , said. “It’s going to be fun to watch every player progress.”

The change in tempo has been noticeable for Gardner, who says he has never practiced at this tempo before.

“This was probably the fastest practice I’ve ever been a part of,” Gardner said. “I feel like, right now, there’s a lot of energy in practice. I’m happy with it. … Coach Nuss definitely pushes tempo, makes sure we get to the ball fast, get the calls out, do everything you need to do and then get the ball hiked.”

Does this mean we may see Michigan playing more of a quick tempo offense in 2014? With so much attention being given to the defensive substitution rule proposal — one that is expected to not have enough support — it is intriguing to see word coming out of Michigan spring practices about a quick tempo being pushed by the new offensive coordinator, ironically enough from Alabama. Nussmeier may not be a coach that specializes in the fast offensive style, but he certainly had a chance to see first-hand how it can drain a team and give you an advantage in the SEC.

Lamar Jackson leapfrogged by Baker Mayfield as Bovada’s Heisman favorite

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So much for that wagering momentum, I guess.

Entering the 2017 season as not only the reigning winner but also as seemingly an afterthought, a pair of scintillating performances to open the year pushed Lamar Jackson to the head of Bovada.lv‘s Heisman Trophy pack.  Coming off a 26-point Week 3 loss to now-No. 2 Clemson in which he totaled nearly 400 yards of offense and three touchdowns, the Louisville quarterback has seen his odds lengthen a bit from 7/4 a week ago to 11/2 in Bovada‘s latest Heisman release.

Bovada’s new betting front-runner?  Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who went from 4/1 to 7/4.  Sam Darnold, 6/1, also saw his odds shorten slightly to a Jackson-match 11/2.

Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, 10/1 in the previous odds release, is now at 9/1, same as the holding-steady-from-a-week-ago Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

There’s also, interestingly, one true freshman on the board: J.K. Dobbins.  The Ohio State running back went from off the board to 40/1 odds.  His starting quarterback, J.T. Barrett, saw his odds go from 25/1 to 33/1.

Below is the latest set of 2017 Heisman Trophy odds, again courtesy of Bovada.lv.

Illinois adds UCF grad transfer QB Pete DiNovo

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Illinois has an immediate addition to its quarterback room.  Or its wide receivers room, depending on how things play out.

Pete DiNovo confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times Monday that he has decided to transfer to the Illini.  The acknowledgment comes a month after DiNovo decided to transfer from Central Florida.

As a graduate transfer, DiNovo would be eligible to play immediately this season.  Per the player, a former high school teammate and former high school coach currently at Illinois played a role in his decision.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way everything turned out,” DiNovo told the Times. “I can come up here and learn from Lovie (Smith) and everyone else on the coaching staff.”

DiNovo began his Knights career as a quarterback — he replaced Blake Bortles as UCF’s starter before being quickly replaced himself — before being moved to wide receiver before being moved back under center this offseason.  How the Illini will use DiNovo, who has an eye on a career in coaching after his playing days are over, remains to be seen.

UTEP stays in-house to replace fired OC Brent Pease

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Not surprisingly, UTEP will stay in-house following its in-season dismissal of one of its coordinators.

The Miners confirmed Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease had been fired.  A day later, the football program announced that Brian Natkin has been given the keys to the offense by Sean Kugler and will call the plays moving forward.

Natkin began the season as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach.  He was an All-American tight end at UTEP a decade-and-a-half ago and became a full-time assistant at his alma mater in 2011.

Through three games, UTEP ranks second-to-last nationally in total offense at 204.7 yards per game and in yards per play (3.89). The Miners are also 125th (out of 130 teams) in scoring at 13 points per game.

The promotion of Natkin also means there will be some additional adjustments to Kugler’s staff.  Wide receivers coach Chuck Veliz will take over Pease’s other role as quarterbacks coach, while safeties coach Don Yanowsky assume Natkin’s duties as special teams coordinator.

Natkin will continue in his role as tight ends coach.

Oregon State QB Jake Luton discharged from hospital after leaving Wazzu game on a stretcher

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Oregon State quarterback Jake Luton was taken away on a stretcher after a tackle left him motionless on the Reser Stadium turf on Saturday.

Family members were called to the field, where medical professionals stabilized an apparently unconscious Luton and removed his face mask. The game continued, of course, as Oregon State lost to Washington State 52-23 despite Luton’s 179 passing yards and 22 rushing yards.

Luton tweeted on Saturday night that he’ll “be back.”

Luton has since been discharged from the hospital, according to The Oregonian, though his father posted a message stating Luton was probably dealing with a “thoracic spine fracture.”

Oregon State is off Saturday before hosting Washington on Sept. 30.