Penn State may have a number of question marks about its team heading into the 2014 season but the one things most seem to agree on without hesitation is the Nittany Lions have no issues under center. Sophomore Christian Hackenberg took some lumps in his freshman season but hit his stride as the year progressed. His season finale performance at Wisconsin offered a mighty glimpse of something special for the next few years in State College. If there is one position nobody is terribly concerned about, it is the quarterback position. That said, new head coach James Franklin should not and apparently will not shy away from trying some new things to mix things up on offense.
Yes, the wildcat will be back in State College this fall if Franklin has anything to say about it (and he does, being the head coach and all).
Speaking at an event Thursday, Franklin was asked about the wildcat and he was prepared to share some details about what could potentially happen. Franklin mentioned receiver Geno Lewis and speedy running back Bill Belton specifically, and for good reason. Lewis has some quarterback experience and Belton offers plenty of speed when healthy and has room to work. The spring game served up some potential plays that could make it to the playbook this fall.
In order for the wildcat to be effective though, Franklin stressed the need to have a threat to pass coming from Lewis or Belton or whomever may be running the offense. Hackenberg will rarely be a threat to run, so having Lewis or Belton give the defense something else to think about will be critical to the success of the wildcat. This is true not just at Penn State, but for any team looking to run the wildcat.
This video of Franklin talking about the wildcat was shared by The Patriot News (PennLive.com);
Bill O’Brien brought some new looks to the Penn State offense each of the last two seasons and really changed the way Penn State’s offense had been operating in a short period of time. He was not afraid to do things that had never or rarely been done at Penn State under former head coach Joe Paterno. When Paterno was fired in the midst of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, defensive coordinator Tom Bradley was named the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Bradley and the coaching staff wasted little time in trying a few new things as well, and that included the wildcat a little more frequently.
This is not going to drastically change Penn State’s offensive philosophy. The Nittany Lions should still have a dependable running game and a solid passing game with Hackenberg, a tight-end heavy corp and a respectable stable of running backs, but Franklin is known to mix things up a bit. That applies here as well.
For the first time this offseason, Rocky Long will be forced to fill a hole on his San Diego State coaching staff.
Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Vanderbilt had hired Osia Lewis away from SDSU. Thursday, school officials confirmed to the San Diego Union-Tribune that Lewis will indeed be leaving the Aztecs for a job with the Commodores.
Lewis had spent the past five seasons coaching the defensive line with the Aztecs; it’s expected he’ll have similar duties with the Commodores. What’s not expected is for Lewis to have the specific title of line coach as Derek Mason had previously announced the hiring of Oklahoma’s C.J. Ah You for that job.
Not only had Lewis spent the past five seasons with Long at SDSU, but he was also on Long’s staff at New Mexico for five years (2003-07) as well. During Lewis’ time at SDSU, at least one defensive lineman per season earned All-Mountain West honors, the Union-Tribune noted.
A week after losing his running backs coach to the NFL for the second straight year, Bret Bielema has looked to the Big 12 for yet another replacement.
Arkansas confirmed in a press release Friday night that Reggie Mitchell will replace Jemal Singleton as the Razorbacks’ running backs coach. Singleton left last weekend for the same job with the Indianapolis Colts.
Mitchell spent the past six season in the same job at Kansas. The past two seasons, he held the title of recruiting coordinator.
From 1997-2009, Mitchell was an assistant with Big Ten programs, with stops that included Minnesota (1997-98), Michigan State (1999-2004) and Illinois (2005-09).
“I got to know Reggie during my time in the Big Ten and he was known as a dominant recruiter,” said Bielema, “Over his career he’s recruited and developed elite running backs and athletes that had great college careers and advanced to the NFL. I’m excited about the opportunity to have Coach Mitchell join our staff.”
Stanford has officially poached Bob Stoops‘ Oklahoma coaching staff.
Following up on reports from earlier in the week, the Cardinal confirmed in a press release Friday that Diron Reynolds has been added as David Shaw‘s defensive line coach. The move is a return home of sorts for Reynolds as he served as an assistant defensive line coach for the Cardinal in 2014 before spending one season with the Sooners in 2015.
Reynolds replaces Randy Hart, who announced his retirement three days ago after spending six years at the school.
“We are very excited to have Diron return to Stanford,” said Shaw in a statement. “Not only did he work well with Coach Hart a year ago, he is well-versed in our scheme and brings a unique blend of college and NFL experience.”
In addition to his time at Stanford and Oklahoma, Reynolds served as an assistant line coach with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings from 2007-13. Prior to that, he worked with the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-06.
Reynolds’ first job at the collegiate level came at his alma mater, Wake Forest, in 1999-2000. He was the defensive tackles coach at Indiana before moving on to a decade-long stint in the NFL.
Never fully healthy since an initial injury, Luke Knott has decided to hang up his cleats and get on with his post-football life.
Iowa State announced in a press release Friday that Knott will forego his final season of eligibility in the sport because of lingering hip issues. The linebacker first hurt the joint in 2013, which forced him to undergo his first surgery. A year later, he was forced to undergo another medical procedure. In April of last year, he suffered a setback in his battle with the ongoing hip issues.
Despite the surgeries and setbacks, Knott managed to play in all 24 games the past two seasons, starting eight of those contests. Knott started five games as a redshirt freshman in 2013 before the initial injury sidelined him after six games.
In 2014, he was third on the team in tackles despite never being 100-percent healthy.
Below is a statement from Knott, followed by one from first-year head coach Matt Campbell:
Obviously, I thought about this a lot. Two years ago when I had my first hip surgery, my first thought was, ‘I’m a 19-year-old kid and I am having hip surgery?’ I made the decision to take it head on, go through rehabilitation and keep playing football. Then I had hip surgery again a year later. That was the first time I thought that football may not be in the best interest for me. I didn’t want to give up football because I didn’t want to walk away from my teammates. I barely made it through last season. You can tell when you watch the film. This is an exciting time for Iowa State and I wanted to be a part something special next year. However, going through the initial workouts, I just didn’t have it in my hip. It’s time start a different career. I have to start thinking long term. I want to be able to run around with my kids, and something like that puts it in perspective. I want to thank Coach Campbell and his staff. They were really understanding and helped ease my mind. They knew my history. This coaching staff knows what they are doing. I told Coach Campbell that the hardest thing for me was to walk away now when I feel we are on the cusp of something great. I already have a job lined up in Kansas City after graduation. Coach Campbell told us to use college football to get a degree and a career, and I felt that I have done that. I want to thank all of my coaches, my teammates and the fans. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a Cyclone.”
“I don’t know if anybody loves Iowa State football more than Luke Knott. Luke obviously comes from a great family and a great tradition at Iowa State. You just want to put your arms around a kid like Luke, because here is a guy who was straining and doing everything in his power to play, but his body wouldn’t allow him to play anymore. The thing that I appreciate more than anything is that he has already been a part of the culture change here. He was doing a tremendous job leading our program. I hope Luke stays around us. He’s a special young man and he’s already left a great legacy here at Iowa State because of his commitment to be the best.