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.”
It appears one of Rutgers’ transferring quarterbacks has found a new home.
In late November, Chris Laviano became one of three Scarlet Knights signal-callers who decided to transfer from Chris Ash‘s football program. Over the weekend, as relayed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Laviano has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at San Diego State.
As Laviano would be coming to the Mountain West program as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately in 2017. This coming season will be his final year of eligibility.
Laviano had started 18 consecutive games for the Scarlet Knights until he was benched in October of last year.
In 2015, Laviano completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 2,247 yards, 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The completion percentage was the best for an RU player since 2008, while the yardage was good for eighth in school history.
Overall, he tossed 21 touchdowns and 15 picks during his time in Piscataway.
Doug Martin‘s 2017 on-field coaching staff will have a decidedly familiar feel to it, even as it’s in some ways brand-new.
New Mexico State announced that two coaches have been hired by Martin, Chase Holbrook and Kai Brown. The former will serve as tight ends coach, the latter as defensive ends coach.
Holbrook spent the 2016 season as a quality control coach for Mike Leach at Washington State. A former NMSU quarterback, he still owns the school’s single-season and career records for passing, passing attempts, completions, touchdowns, total offense and total touchdowns.
Brown was a graduate assistant the past three seasons for the football program.
“We are really excited about Chase coming back to New Mexico State,” Martin said. “Having a former great quarterback that has his name written all over the Aggie record book will have a huge impact on us taking that next step. Chase really believes and cares deeply about the football program here. To have a coach of his talent join our staff makes us a better program immediately. …
“Kai has been a very loyal hard working coach for us as a GA and it gives me great pride to add him to our staff in a full time role. He brings a lot of enthusiasm to our program and has a great relationship with our players.”
This will be both coaches’ first foray into full-time coaching responsibilities at the FBS level.
In late December, Fresno State hired Tony Tuioti as part of Jeff Tedford‘s first coaching staff with the Mountain West program. Two months later, Tedford’s former Pac-12 employer has poached said staff.
By way of a press release, Cal announced that Tuioti has been hired as Justin Wilcox‘s outside linebackers coach. Tedford served as Cal’s head coach from 2002-12; Tim DeRuyter, Fresno’s head coach for five seasons before being fired and replaced by Tedford, is now Wilcox’s defensive coordinator with the Golden Bears.
“Tony has a tremendous resume that showcases his diverse skill set and abilities both on and off the field,” Wilcox said in a statement. “Not only is he an excellent coach, but the experience he has as a director of player personnel will be a tremendous benefit to us in the structuring and organization of our recruiting operation. Finding someone with a skill set as unique and diverse as Tony’s is challenging. We are fortunate that we have found that in Tony and are looking forward to his contributions to our program.”
“Working at Cal for a coach like Justin Wilcox was an opportunity I could not pass up,” a statement from Tuioti began. “I have a tremendous feeling about the positive direction Cal is headed, and I really wanted to be a part of that and contribute all I could to a football program with tremendous potential.”
In 2016, Tuioti worked as a football staffer at Michigan. His last on-field job at the collegiate level came at Hawaii (2012-13, linebackers coach; 2010-11, defensive line).
It’s been close to a year and a half since Southern football player Devon Gales fractured his C6 vertebrae when covering a kick at Georgia. While the two sides will forever be linked, Georgia has gone above and beyond its duties to help improve his life.
In addition to regularly visiting him in the hospital and paying for his parents’ travel to Georgia, the Bulldogs will now raise funds to build him a house.
Gales received an NCAA Sportsmanship Award at the Bulldogs’ basketball game on Saturday, and it was announced that the UGAAA will launch a “Drive to Build a Dawg House” for Gales and his family.
“Anybody can just their prayer for you and send you on your way, but they didn’t. They took me as one of their kids, not just as another player, but as one of their children,” Gales said.
To contibute, text (707) 204-1707 to donate $5 toward the fund.