Michigan head coach Brady Hoke seems to have a knack for suggesting there is a battle for a starting job at positions that likely already have the starters figured out. After trying to suggest there is a competition at quarterback this offseason, Hoke is also setting the tone for the defensive backs despite having a pair of players that combined for 10 interceptions last season. The message is clear though; there is room for improvement across the board in Ann Arbor.
Fall camps in college football should always be seen as an opportunity to take advantage of a clean slate across the roster, but Michigan has senior cornerbacks Raymon Taylor and junior Blake Countess the likely starters for the upcoming season, whether Hoke confirms that or not. Hoke sees these two players as leaders but goes on the record of saying “they’ve got to play every day.”
“I think Blake and Ray, they’re both older guys, who have played a lot,” Hoke said Friday, according to MLive.com. “Then you’ve got (sophomores) [Jourdan Lewis] and [Channing Stribling], guys who have done a nice job (developing). The leadership from Blake is going to be important, and from Raymon. But there’s also great competition. They’ve got to play every day. … They all know, they’d better have a day, every day.”
Why would Hoke shy away from just leaning on his upper classmen, including one earning first-team All-Big Ten honors last fall (Countess)? Simple. Michigan’s pass defense needs to improve and cut down on big plays by opposing offenses. Everybody on defense needs to step things up this season in order for Michigan to improve in the win total and Big Ten standings. If Michigan State has a no-fly zone in effect, all air traffic appears to be seeing clearer skies in Ann Arbor.
The Wolverines ranked seventh in the Big Ten in pass defense in 2013, the lowest conference ranking since Hoke was named head coach following the Rich Rodriguez era, which ended with Michigan ranked 11th (out of 11 teams at the time) in the Big Ten’s passing defense ranking. The 231 passing yards per game allowed last season by Michigan was the second highest total allowed dating back to 2007.
As for the quarterback situation, Hoke previously has said he plans to have a starter figured out early in camp. Spoiler alert: It will (most likely) be Devin Gardner.
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.
Warren Ball may be leaving Ohio State, but he’s not leaving the state of Ohio.
The OSU running back has decided to transfer out of the Buckeyes football program and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. Specifically, that continuation will involve a 125-mile move to the northeast as George Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal reports that Ball will enroll at Akron and play his football for Terry Bowden‘s Zips.
As Ball is set to graduate from OSU this semester, he will be eligible to play immediately in 2016. This upcoming season will be his final year of eligibility.
Ball was a four-star member of OSU’s 2012 recruiting class, rated as the No. 16 running back in the country; the No. 12 player at any position in the state of Ohio; and the No. 193 player overall by Rivals.com. Ball ran for 189 yards on 41 carries the past three seasons, with 28 of those yards coming on 10 2015 carries.
ElevenWarriors.com writes that “Ball’s apparent transfer has no impact on Ohio State’s scholarship grid for 2016, as he was already on his way out of the program following last season,” adding that “[t]he Buckeyes still sit at 87 scholarships after National Signing Day.”
An injury at the end of the 2015 season could have a significant impact on Louisville’s defense for the whole of the 2016 season.
Linebacker Trevon Young sustained both a dislocated and fractured hip in the UofL’s Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M late last December. A day later, Young underwent surgery to, the Louisville Courier Journal writes, “put his femur back in place and insert a plate around a chipped piece of his hip socket.”
Six weeks later, Young remains on crutches, and will remain on them for at least another five weeks as part of a rehab process that could take as little as eight months to as many as a dozen. As a result, Miles Young, the player’s father, tells the Courier-Journal it’s unlikely his son will play during the 2016 season.
The injury that will likely cost Young the upcoming is certainly a unique and rare one, but one that’s not expected to be Bo-level bad.
The doctor in Nashville told the family he had not seen a similar hip injury suffered in a football game – only in a traumatic event like a car accident – however the bone fracture was less severe than originally feared, so “it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” Miles Young said.
Mr. Young said, to his understanding, the fracture is considerably less serious than the infamous one suffered by former star NFL running back Bo Jackson in the early 1990s.
While Young was just a part-time starter in 2015, his 8.5 sacks were second on the team and seventh among all ACC players.He had been expected to be a more significant contributor to the Cardinals’ defense in 2016.
The expected loss of Young is compounded by the transfers last month of Keith Brown (HERE) and Nick Dawson-Brents (HERE), a pair of linebackers who combined to play in 26 games last season.