It may go against the grain in the Big 12, but the concept of needing to step things up on defense may be starting to spread. Texas head coach Charlie Strong suggested this weekend the only way the Longhorns would be able to compete for a Big 12 title in 2014 would be to play great defense. Given his get tough act on the program recently, that makes plenty of sense, but one coach who is more known for his offensive tendencies is also getting on board with the defensive motivation in fall camp. Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury is mindful of just how important it will be this fall for his defense to get bigger and tougher.
“I think the biggest deal is getting those new defensive linemen acclimated to how we practice, how we play, understanding the schemes because they’ve got to come and play right away and they know that,” Kingsbury said when speaking with the media as fall camp opened Sunday (via Dallas Morning News). This was in response to Kingsbury’s first goal this fall camp.
Texas Tech was ranked seventh in the Big 12 in total defense last fall, allowing an average of 418.7 yards per game. The Red Raiders also allowed 30.8 points per game. Sometimes teams with the kind of offense Texas Tech offers will have some higher defensive numbers, but in a five-game losing streak last season Texas Tech allowed no fewer than 38 points in each game (38 @ Oklahoma, 52 vs. Oklahoma State, 49 vs. Kansas State, 63 vs. Baylor and 41 at Texas) and lost four of those games by double digit margins. If Texas Tech is going to climb the Big 12 ladder, that is a trend that needs to be reversed against programs they are trying to catch in the conference. Perhaps it starts with the attitude, which appears to be changing.
“This is a group of violent people — very, very violent people,” defensive end Branden Jackson said of the newcomers to The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “It’s kind of scary sometimes when we get out there and we’re just doing things that are non-contact, but these guys play full-speed all the time.”
Nobody expects Texas Tech to turn into Michigan State or Stanford on defense this season, but if they could play more like UCLA or Ohio State, that would be a good start.
At the moment, BYU is looking at one hellacious start to the 2019 season.
Thursday afternoon, BYU announced tat it has added a future home-and-home series with Tennessee. The Volunteers will serve as the host for a Sept. 7, 2019, matchup at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, with the second game set for Sept. 1 or 2, 2023, at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.
The 2019 game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two football programs.
“There’s something about those orange and white checkerboard end zones that shouts ‘Tradition!’,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe said in a statement. “When the opportunity to play a series with Tennessee presented itself, we didn’t blink. They’re a storied football program with a winning tradition, national championships, a classic stadium, incredible fans and hall of fame coaches.
“It will be a great experience to visit SEC country and play in Neyland Stadium, and later host Tennessee in Provo.”
BYU will kick off the 2019 season against Utah, followed by games against Tennessee, USC and Washington the next three weeks. They also have a pair of mid-October games against Washington State and Boise State.
UT’s other non-conference games that season include Georgia State, Chattanooga and UAB.
Lovie Smith is not a big fan of fighting amongst his Illinois players, a lesson he shared with his aptly nicknamed Fighting Illini squad Wednesday evening.
According to the Decatur Herald & Review, Illinois’ spring practice session yesterday came to an abrupt and premature end after a fight between players broke out. The names of those involved in the fisticuffs are not known as the media hadn’t been permitted to view practice.
From the Herald & Review‘s report:
…a source said Smith wanted to send a strong message about how he hates fighting and considers it an inexcusable transgression that robs the rest of the team of a chance to concentrate on getting better.
The field was cleared at about 5:35 p.m., nearly an hour before practice was scheduled to end. The players were sent to the locker room and the field was quickly cleared of equipment. Reporters were told there would be no interviews and were told to vacate the Memorial Stadium facility.
The Illini, which finished 3-9 in their first season under Smith last year, kicked off spring practice feb. 14 and will conclude it March 10 with the annual spring game.
With spring practice getting set to kick of en masse all across the country, there’s more of the expected personnel attrition settling in and coming to light.
On his Twitter account Wednesday, Andy Dodd announced that it is in his “best interest” to transfer from LSU and continue playing college football elsewhere. “This decision was not an easy one, but it is what’s best for me moving forward,” the offensive lineman wrote.
Dodd was a three-star member of the Tigers’ 2013 recruiting class, rated as the No. 17 guard in the country.
After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, the lineman played in eight games the next two seasons. He played in six games, with one start, in 2016.
Another graduate transfer has made a move, albeit with a slightly different bent than most others.
Auburn confirmed Wednesday that Casey Dunn has been added to Gus Malzahn‘s football roster. The center comes to The Plains as a graduate transfer, which makes him eligible for the 2017 season.
He also comes to Auburn from Jacksonville State, an FCS school that would’ve made him immediately eligible aside from the grad transfer exception. Oh, and his new position coach is excited to have him in the personnel fold as well.
The past two seasons, Dunn was an FCS All-American. While Dunn comes to the Tigers as a center who started 27 games at that position for the Gamecocks, he could play anywhere along the interior of the Tigers’ offensive line.
Malzahn is also very familiar with Dunn’s talent as the lineman started for the JSU squad that took him to overtime in 2015.