No. 21 Stanford’s offense proving Cardinal are still a Pac-12 threat

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Anyone who watched No. 21 Stanford (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) in the season opener at Northwestern may have thought the Cardinal were in for a long season with no offense to show for it. How quickly Stanford has turned things around now with two straight wins in Pac-12 play with 83 points scored. On Friday night the Cardinal put 42 on the board against Oregon State (2-2, 0-1 Pac-12) to pull away from the Beavers in the Pac-12 North battle. All of a sudden Stanford once again looks like a real threat in the Pac-12, and looks equipped to take on Oregon later on this season, along with upcoming games against Arizona and UCLA.

Christian McCaffrey pounded the ball on the ground for Stanford with 206 rushing yards. Barry Sanders added 97 yards and scored two touchdowns, and quarterback Kevin Hogan was effective with his arm, completing nine of 14 pass attempts for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Friday night showed Stanford get back to the earlier roots of their rise as a program under Jim Harbaugh, with the running game setting the tone the way Toby Gerhart used to do before the Cardinal started riding high with Andrew Luck. That si the recipe for success at Stanford, especially since Hogan can tend to be a bit up and down at times. If Stanford is going to run the football as well as they did against Oregon State, then they will wear down opposing defenses and run the clock well in conference play. Stanford held the football for 34:35 in the win, and going 7-for-12 on third down conversions was a big reason why.

“We ran the ball very physically,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said after the game. “We’ve got a very physical offensive line that’s jelling together and we’ve got some dynamic runners who can make plays.”

Stanford gets their next two games at home in Palo Alto, and they will be pretty big matchups. Stanford will get what could or should be a ranked Arizona team coming in necxt week. The Wildcats are hosting UCLA tonight, so a loss could potentially drop No. 16 Arizona out of the top 25. Regardless of tonight’s result, Arizona should be a good challenge for the Cardinal. Stanford then gets 12 days to prepare for a Thursday night game at home against UCLA. UCLA enters tonight’s game at Arizona ranked ninth in the nation in the AP poll, and the Bruins face Arizona State next week.

This is a key stretch for Stanford if the Cardinal are to make a serious run in the Pac-12. All eyes may want to shift ahead to November 14 when Oregon visits Stanford, but the Cardinal have some huge opportunities to get through before that highly anticipated Pac-12 North matchup.

Arizona State confirms Boise State’s Zak Hill as new OC

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At the end of the regular season, Herm Edwards fired the bulk of Arizona State’s offensive staff. Nearly two weeks later, the reshaping of the assistants on that side of the ball has commenced in earnest.

Following up on speculation that had been growing in recent days, ASU on Saturday announced that Zak Hill has been hired as Edwards’ new offensive coordinator. Hill will replace Rob Likens, who was a part of the post-regular-season purge.

“Zak is very well versed in offensive football,” the head coach said in a statement. “He comes from winning programs and he played the quarterback position. I like that. He’s good at building an offense around the personnel that he has available to him. He will force the defense to adjust with multiple formations and personnel groups. His style fits the DNA of what we want on our coaching staff. He’s an excellent teacher.”

The past four seasons, Hill served as the coordinator at Boise State. Prior to that, and aside from a one-month stop at Hawaii, Hill spent seven seasons as the passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at FCS power Eastern Washington.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and I truly believe it is a great situation for me at ASU,” Hill said. “I appreciate Coach Edwards believing in me and having the trust to bring me on and I am thankful to Ray Anderson and the Sun Devil administration for their support in making this happen. I am really excited to get down there and I know we have some exciting weapons on offense. I look forward to putting together an explosive, fun offense that our fans will love to watch.”

“I am humbled at this opportunity. I also want to thank everyone at Boise State for a great four years and I am grateful for all the support I have received from Bronco Nation,” he added. “I would especially like to thank Coach Harsin for his leadership and my years at Boise State and the opportunity he afforded me to grow as a coach.”

In addition to Hill’s, uhhh, addition, ASU also confirmed Derek Hagan and Prentice Gill as offensive assistants. Their specific titles and responsibilities were not detailed.

Hagan, who played wide receiver for the Sun Devils and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015, was an offensive analyst at ASU this past season. Gill served in the same role at Oregon.

Dabo Swinney lays out new responsibilities for offensive staff

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Jeff Scott spent a dozen years at Clemson, including the last five seasons as co-offensive coordinator, before taking the head job at USF earlier this month. Despite his importance to Dabo Swinney‘s success, there won’t be too much change for the defending national champions moving forward.

Friday, Swinney confirmed that he will not be filling Scott’s co-coordinator position and will instead allow Tony Elliott to serve as the sole coordinator. Elliott and Scott have shared coordinating responsibilities each of the past five seasons.

Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter will maintain his current responsibilities as well as add the title of passing-game coordinator.

Additionally, Tyler Grisham, who played for the Tigers from 2005-08, has been promoted to wide receivers coach, a responsibility previously held by Scott. Grisham had been serving as an offensive analyst for the program.

“We have a good plan for all that stuff and have a great group of people here,” the head coach said. “We’re excited about getting it all settled out.”

Swinney also reiterated that, as had previously been laid out, Scott will return to the team next Thursday and will remain through however long the Tigers’ postseason run lasts. Clemson will face Ohio State Dec. 28 in one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals.

Ohio State’s Justin Fields the way-too-early 2020 Heisman favorite

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You say the tears aren’t even dry yet from Joe Burrow‘s acceptance speech and we’re already looking ahead to 2020?  You’re damn right we are.

Saturday night, Burrow claimed the 2019 Heisman Trophy in record-smashing fashion, with the quarterback becoming just the second LSU Tiger to claim the most prestigious trophy in the sport.  Quarterback Justin Fields finished third in the voting, one of three Ohio State Buckeyes to land in the top six in the voting.

Speaking of Fields, one online sportsbook has the sophomore listed as a 5/2 favorite to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy.  Fellow sophomore Trevor Lawrence of Clemson is right behind him at 3/1.

The next closest is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at 7/1.

A handful of the players who finished in the Top 10 in the voting — Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State running back JK Dobbins, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — have eligibility remaining, but are expected to leave early for the NFL draft.  If any of them opt to remain in school, that would obviously change the odds moving forward.

USC transfer QB Jack Sears appears headed to San Diego State

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Jack Sears may have left USC, but it doesn’t appear he’ll end up leaving the state of California.

After finding himself fourth on the quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that “Sears has committed to San Diego State as a graduate transfer who would enroll during the spring semester.”

As a graduate transfer, Sears would be eligible to play for the Aztecs in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

As of yet, the Mountain West Conference school hasn’t confirmed Sears’ intentions.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.