The 2015 season is supposed to be a big season for young running backs. You know the heavy hitters already — Nick Chubb, Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette etc. — but here’s one you may not know. There were plenty of performances worth recognizing after the first weekend of college football was put in the books. One you may have overlooked was Old Dominion running back Ray Lawry. Against Eastern Michigan, Lawry rushed for 223 yards and four touchdowns, both new career highs for the sophomore. Both are numbers that now lead the nation out of the gates of a brand new college football season.
The New Jersey native came through in a big way for Old Dominion by rushing for a 45 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game Lawry broke loose on a 54-yard touchdown run too. It would seem, perhaps depending on the opponent, Old Dominion has a little home-run threat to utilize in the running game. Time will tell how effective he is on a regular basis once Old Dominion’s schedule gets a little tougher. That will not happen this week, with Norfolk State coming to town. The following week though, against North Carolina State, could be different. Old Dominion pushed NC State last season in Raleigh, and now Old Dominion gets a chance to score an upset win over the ACC opponent on their home field. Lawry should play a key role in that upset bid.
Lawry did not go unrecognized by Conference USA. On Monday the conference awarded him Offensive Player of the Week. He ended his day just one yard shy of the school record for single-game rushing yards. Lawry should once again be able to pile up some big numbers this weekend as Old Dominion hosts Norfolk State. The Spartans were just routed by Rutgers in the season opener, and should have their hands full once again with Old Dominion’s ground attack.
Lawry rushed for 947 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for Old Dominion, as the program underwent its transition year from FCS to FBS. He ended the season with a career-high 213 rushing yards in the last game of the season against FAU and set his single-game rushing touchdown bar of four touchdowns earlier in the year at Western Kentucky.
So much for that plan.
The odd marriage of Arizona State and long-time but not-in-a-long-time NFL coach Herm Edwards was made even odder by the fact that Edwards was retaining Todd Graham‘s entire offensive coaching staff. Less than two weeks into his tenure, however, there could be a glitch in the plans to help ease Edwards’s return to coaching as 247Sports.com is reporting that Louisiana (the school formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has offered its head-coaching job to Billy Napier.
The 38-year-old Napier had just completed his first season as ASU’s offensive coordinator. He was also given the title of associate head coach upon Edwards’ hiring.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry was also one of the potential candidates for the Louisiana job who interviewed for the opening.
Whoever gets the job with the Ragin’ Cajuns will be replacing Mark Hudspeth, fired earlier this month after seven years with the program.
Vernon Hargreaves wasn’t retained by the new coaching staff in Fayetteville, but he’ll end up remaining in the SEC anyway.
Missouri confirmed Thursday that Hargreaves has been hired by Barry Odom and added to the second-year head coach’s staff. The veteran assistant will serve as Odom’s inside linebackers coach.
“I’ve known Vernon for a number of years and have always respected the way his position plays the game,” said Odom in a statement distributed by the school. “He will be a great teacher and mentor for our student-athletes. His experience will be so valuable for our program; I’m excited about Vernon and his family joining our Mizzou family.”
Hargreaves spent the past three seasons as the linebackers coach at Arkansas. Most notably, he served in the same capacity at Miami from 1998-2005.
Hargreaves also spent time on staffs at Houston (2013-14), South Florida (2010-12), East Carolina (2007-09), Florida International (2006) and UConn (1985-97). He was also the special teams coordinator at USF and ECU in addition to being a position coach.
As Willie Taggart constructs his first coaching staff at Florida State, he’s added yet another familiar face.
Taggart, FSU announced earlier Thursday, has hired Telly Lockette as the Seminoles’ tight ends coach. Lockette had spent the past three seasons as the running backs coach at Oregon State.
Prior to that, Lockette was a member of Taggart’s coaching staff at USF as running backs coach for two seasons and maintains deep ties to the fertile recruiting soil of South Florida.
“I’ve known Coach Lockette for a long time and am excited he is joining our staff at Florida State,” Taggart said. “He was an important part of my first staff at South Florida and has gained Power 5 experience with his last three seasons in the Pac-12. Coach Lockette is a tremendous recruiter and coach who does a phenomenal job developing student-athletes on and off the field. While we were at South Florida he was the primary recruiter for the Miami area and helped us sign a number of impact players, including Quinton Flowers, Khalid McGee and Deatrick Nichols. His expertise will benefit our current and future Seminoles.”
The job with Taggart at USF was Lockette’s first at any level of college football. The first 10 years of his coaching career were spent at the high school level, including a five-year stint at Miami Central from 2008-12.
Almost without fail, it pays to have your name circulating through the annual churning of the coaching rumor mill.
The latest example is David Gibbs, with the Texas Tech defensive coordinator being rumored as a target for the same job with Herm Edwards at Arizona State over the past few days. Fast-forward to Thursday night, and Tech announced that it has finalized a new two-year contract extension with Gibbs. The coordinator is now signed through the 2019 season.
According to the school, Gibbs’ pay will be bumped from $550,000 per year to $650,000. That number puts Gibbs right in the middle of Big 12 DC pay.
“We are fortunate to have one of the top defensive coordinators in the country in Coach Gibbs,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury said in a release. “Since the conclusion of the regular season, finalizing this new contract to keep Coach Gibbs at Texas Tech has been a priority for myself and [athletic director] Kirby [Hocutt]. We look forward to continuing to build one of the nation’s top defenses in the years to come under Coach Gibbs.”
Long a punchline, the Red Raiders’ defense has steadily improved in the three years under Gibbs. This season, their 27 takeaways led the Big 12 and are the most in a season for the football program since 2008. They’re also currently seventh in the country with four defensive touchdowns.
With Gibbs back, he’ll have 10 returning starters with which to work next season.
“There isn’t a better person to work for than Kliff Kingsbury, and I’m looking forward to continue building this program with him,” Gibbs said. “There is still plenty of work that needs to be done, but I’m excited about the future of our team.”