Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong debuts with dominating defensive performance

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Charlie Strong wasn’t brought to Austin to take Longhorn decals off of helmets, move upperclassmen back onto campus and make players walk to campus. He was hired to coach defense and restore Texas’ identity as a hard-nosed football team.

So far, so good.

Texas completely shut down North Texas on Saturday night, defeating the Mean Green 38-7. The defense actually pitched a shutout – UNT’s only touchdown came on a botched snap inside the Longhorns’ own end zone – and actually outscored their counterparts by posting a touchdown of their own.

How about these defensive highlights?

– Texas allowed only 94 yards of total offense on 60 plays. That’s 1.57 yards per snap.

– North Texas quarterbacks completed 3-of-17 attempts for 15 yards with no touchdowns, four interceptions and a pick six. That’s a quarterback rating of minus-21.9.

– In 43 carries, eight North Texas rushers combined for a long rush of eight yards.

– North Texas was 3-of-15 on third down, and carried an 0-fer deep into the second half.

– Texas forced more punts (nine) than it allowed first downs (eight).

– When considering Texas accounted for 68 yards in interception returns, the North Texas offense had a net impact of 26 yards. That’s 16 inches per play.

The offense was a work in progress, as was expected. David Ash completed 19-of-34 passes for a modest 190 yards with a touchdown. Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray and true freshman D’Onta Foreman combined to rush 31 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

The only downer on the night was the loss of senior center Dominic Espinosa to an apparent ankle injury.  Strong offered no update in his post-game press conference.

Texas hosts BYU next week, while North Texas opens its home schedule against SMU.

WMU’s Zach Terrell claims prestigious ‘Academic Heisman’ honor

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02:  Zach Terrell #11 of the Western Michigan Broncos throws a first half pass while playing the Ohio Bobcats  during the MAC Championship on December 2, 2016 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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It’s been one helluva year for the football program in Kalamazoo.

Not only is Western Michigan undefeated at 13-0, the Broncos are on their way to a New Year’s Six bowl as the Group of Six’s representative. Now Tuesday, one of the biggest factors behind that success has been honored for his individual academic accomplishments.

At the 59th annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner in New York City Tuesday night, the William V. Campbell Trophy was presented to WMU quarterback Zach Terrell. The Campbell Trophy, often referred to as the “Academic Heisman,” recognizes “an individual [who is] the absolute best in the country for his combined academic success, football performance and exemplary community leadership. ”

Terrell is the first-ever Campbell Trophy winner from WMU.

“Zach and his fellow members of the 2016 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class represent more than just the standout athletic ability seen on the field,” said NFF chairman Archie Manning. “Their academic achievements and their contributions as leaders in the community send a powerful message about the young men who play our sport. They have taken full advantage of the educational opportunities created by college football, and they have created a compelling legacy for others to follow.”

Oklahoma’s Ty Darlington was the 2015 winner of the Campbell Trophy.

Terrell was one of 12 finalists for this year’s award. Below are those dozen players, with their GPAs and majors for good measure:

Chris Beaschler, LB, Dayton, 3.72, Mechanical Engineering
Tim Crawley, WR, San Jose State, 3.78, Business Management
DeVon Edwards, S, Duke, 3.35, Psychology
Brooks Ellis, LB, Arkansas, 3.82, Exercise Science
Carter Hanson, LB, St. John’s (Minn.), 4.00, Business Leadership
Taysom Hill, QB, BYU, 3.45, Finance
Ryan Janvion, S, Wake Forest, 3.53, Business Management
Zay Jones, WR, East Carolina, 3.56, Communications
Cooper Rush, QB, Central Michigan, 3.86, Actuarial Science
Karter Schult, DL, Northern Iowa, 3.87, Exercise Science
Tyler Sullivan, QB, Delta State (Miss.), 3.68, Biology
Zach Terrell, QB, Western Michigan, 3.66, Finance

Paul Hornung Award goes to Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers

ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 28: Jabrill Peppers #5 of the Michigan Wolverines eludes the tackle of Gareon Conley #8 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first half at Michigan Stadium on November 28, 2015 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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Jabrill Peppers is the most versatile player in college football.  Not surprisingly, an award that rewards versatility will soon be sitting on the Michigan standout’s shelf.

Wednesday morning, the Louisville Sport Commission announced that Peppers has been named as the winner of the 2016 Paul Hornung Award.  The award is handed out annually to the nation’s most versatile college football player.

There were three other finalists for the award: Stanford running back and 2015 Hornung winner Christian McCaffrey, USC defensive back Adoree Jackson and Oklahoma wide receiver Dede Westbrook.

“It means a lot to me to win this award,” said Peppers in a statement. “You definitely want to do as much as possible, and you want to do it as well as you can. I think there are a lot of guys who could have won this award, so it’s just a tremendous honor to be the winner and to represent the Paul Hornung Award. I’m just going to keep to trying to get better, keep working on my faults and do whatever I have to do to help my team.”

Peppers, the first Wolverine to claim this honor, played 933 snaps in 12 games this season — 726 on defense, 53 on offense and 154 on special teams. Most impressively, Peppers played those 933 snaps at 15 different positions.

Earlier this week, Peppers was named as one of five Heisman finalists. It’s expected Peppers will leave Michigan early for the NFL, where he’s widely projected to be one of the first 10 players selected in the April draft.

Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin candidates at USF

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 6: Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns encourages his team in warmups before playing the BYU Cougars on September 6, 2014 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)
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USF appears to have lost its head coach, but there are some big names being bandied about as potential replacements.

Wednesday morning, multiple reports surfaced that Willie Taggart has left as USF’s coach to take the same job at Oregon.  Not long after, potential candidates to replace Taggart at a school in the midst of very fertile recruiting territory.

Two of those have been head coaches at schools that were Power Five programs while they were there — Strong at Texas, where he was just fired earlier this year, and Kiffin at Tennessee and USC. Schiano, one-time head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was the head coach at Rutgers prior to the Scarlet Knights’ move to the Big Ten.

Schiano was also mentioned as a candidate for the Oregon before it went to Taggart.  Kiffin is in play for the Houston job, although that program could be leaning toward Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.

Strong, though, might end up being the best option for the Bulls.

Strong served four different stints at the University of Florida totaling 14 years. He has deep and extensive ties to the state both when it comes to coaches and recruiting. While his tenure at Texas has been deemed a failure, the USF job could be the perfect one for both sides, if for nothing more than to help Strong rehab his image while continuing to build upon the foundation laid by Taggart.

Report: QB Shane Morris to leave Michigan as grad transfer

Shane Morris
Associated Press
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With Wilton Speight seemingly holding down the quarterback position for the foreseeable future, Shane Morris has decided his time at Michigan should come to an end. Reportedly.

According to ESPN.com‘s Tom VanHaaren, Morris is planning to pursue a graduate transfer from UM. Should Morris leave the Wolverines in such a manner, he’d be immediately eligible to play at another FBS school in 2017.

He has one year of eligibility remaining.

Morris came to Ann Arbor with significant hype, a four-star 2013 recruit rated as the No. 3 pro-style quarterback in the country by 247Sports.com. In four years with the program, he started a total of two games.

The first start came at the end of his true freshman season, with an injury to Devin Gardner opening the door for Morris to start the bowl game that year. His second was memorable as well.

Morris shot to the epicenter of what became a national debate over concussion protocols after his apparently concussed self was reinserted into a mid-October game in 2014. The situation brought significant criticism on the football program, but also led to the Big Ten adopting a conference-wide standard for concussion treatment.

In 2015, Morris not only lost out on the starting job to graduate transfer Jake Rudock but also fell behind Speight on the depth chart. Spight then beat him out for the starting job this season.

Both Speight and John O’Korn, who served as the primary backup in 2016, will return for the 2017 season.

During his time at UM, Morris completed 47 of his 92 pass attempts for 434 yards, zero touchdowns and five interceptions. In mop-up duty this season, he went 4-5 for 45 yards.