If there is one aspect of the offense that should be expected to improve for Michigan in 2014, it may be the running game’s effectiveness. The Wolverines ranked 11th in team rushing in the Big Ten in 2013. The competition for playing time in Michigan’s backfield has been taking on a bit of a spotlight this summer, with head coach Brady Hoke providing an interesting update on the status of the position on Sunday during the team’s media day.
“Right now, it would be Drake Johnson and [De’Veon Smith],” Hoke said Sunday, per MLive.com, when asked about who the top candidates for playing time this fall are right now. “So, you’ve got a No. 1 and No. 1-A (there), and then you’ve got a No. 2 with [Derrick Green].”
As noted by MLive.com, the spring saw Michigan’s running stable led by Smith and Green, so it seems as though the talented Green may have slipped a bit in the mix for the time being. Or perhaps Johnson has just really impressed in the early goings of fall camp to make it impossible not to put him ahead of the pack?
Michigan’s running backs as a unit are focused on improving pass protection this year. Johnson apparently has been excelling at pass protection, which could be another reason why he might be showing more to coaches and getting early praise from Hoke. A running back’s ability to help with pass protection could come in handy in attempting to keep quarterback Devin Gardner healthy.
“They know we can run the ball,” Green said earlier this offseason. “But you’ve got to be able to block first, and run second. Protecting the quarterback is the main thing for us. Running the ball is secondary, pass protection is first.”
For the third time this offseason — a number that could ultimately turn into four — Alabama has seen a player depart Nick Saban‘s football program.
On Twitter over the weekend, Christian Bell announced that, “[a]fter a lot of thoughts and prayers,” he has decided to transfer from the Crimson Tide. The linebacker gave no reason for his departure less than two weeks before the start of summer camp, although al.com has an idea:
Alabama is very deep at outside linebacker and has several other young outside linebackers who were higher-rated recruits than Bell and were ahead of Bell on the depth chart.
Bell took a “grayshirt” for the 2015 season, ultimately enrolling in classes at UA this past January. The Birmingham, Ala., native participated in spring practice with the Tide this year.
A three-star recruit according to 247Sports.com, Bell was rated as the No. 19 weakside defensive end in the country and the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Alabama.
In January, it was reported that Shawn Burgess-Becker had decided to transfer, with the defensive back ultimately moving on to UCF. A month after Burgess-Becker’s departure surfaced, reports emerged that linebacker Adonis Thomas was leaving ‘Bama for a junior college.
Senior defensive back Maurice Smith has also been granted permission to transfer, although Smith’s family at one time indicated that the door was open for a return. Earlier this month, it was reported that UA had thus far denied Smith a release from his scholarship.
Heading into his second season in Gainesville, Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins just received a significant raise.
Collins, who signed a three-year contract paying him $600,000 annually after leaving Mississippi State to join Jim McElwain‘s staff last winter, netted a bump to $890,000 with a $150,000 retention bonus according to contract details obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Nine assistants earned at least $1 million in 2015 according to USA Today, with six of those hailing from the SEC.
Additionally, defensive line coach Chris Rumph‘s salary moved to $500,000 with a one-year extension through the 2017 season, offensive line coach Mike Summers will earn $498,500, linebackers coach Randy Shannon‘s $400,000 salary grew by just under $10,000, and new defensive backs coach Torrian Gray signed a two-year deal paying him $335,000 annually.
Florida’s defense ranked eighth nationally in yards per play allowed in 2015, helping the Gators win an unexpected SEC East championship.
In an odd way, here’s the best way to show just how far Art Briles took Baylor’s football program: his interim replacement will make more money for eight months of work than the full-time head coaches at Iowa State and Kansas.
Jim Grobe will earn $1.25 million for his work from late May through the end of the upcoming football season, according to a report from Brett McMurphy of ESPN on Monday. Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will earn $1.2 million in an incentive-laden contract this year, while KU’s David Beaty will net $800,000.
Grobe’s $1.25 million deal is also the richest for any interim head coach on record. Arkansas paid John L. Smith $850,000 for 10 months of work back in 2012.
Baylor opens its season Friday, Sept. 2 against Northwestern State.
Six Washington State football players have been named persons of interest in a brawl that left two students hospitalized and even more injured over the weekend.
According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, a group of students that included Cougars players started threw fireworks at attendees of a Pullman, Wash., party early Saturday morning. That led to a verbal altercation that soon became physical, where one suffered a bloody wound on the back of his neck and another was forced to undergo facial reconstruction surgery after suffering a broken jaw.
“We’re looking at this as a very serious felony assault level based on the injuries to two victims,” Pullman police commander Chris Tennant told the paper. “I would like to make arrests later in the week. I don’t know if that’s a realistic timeline. I expect this to be a lengthy investigation. A lot of people have to be interviewed.”
Wazzu AD Bill Moos released the following statement Monday afternoon:
“In regards to the events that took place over the past weekend, the university was made aware of the situation shortly after the incident occurred. It is our understanding there is a thorough investigation underway by local law enforcement and we will cooperate fully as we take these matters seriously. In addition, facts are being gathered within the athletic department in order to provide assistance. We have high expectations for the conduct of WSU student-athletes, and treat any alleged allegations with the utmost transparency. The WSU athletic staff is in constant communication with the Office of the President and the Office of Student Life to ensure that university leadership is aware of the continuing investigation by local law enforcement. We will refrain from further comment until the findings of the investigation are complete.”