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Keenan Reynolds leads No. 21 Navy to 14th straight win vs. Army

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Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds was making history left and right in a 21-17 victory over Army in Philadelphia on Saturday. Reynolds set a new Division 1 rushing touchdown record, set a new Army-Navy Game record for career touchdowns and became the first player from Navy to ever go 4-0 as a starting quarterback against Army.

Reynolds passed for 113 yards and a touchdown and led Navy on the ground with 136 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns, setting the new Division 1 all-time rushing touchdown record at 85. Reynolds also scored his seventh touchdown in an Army-Navy Game, setting another gold standard for the series. As if that were not enough record setting for one day, Reynolds’ passing touchdown was his 30th career touchdown pass at Navy, which set a school record for career passing touchdowns.

With this being one of the better Navy teams coached by Ken Niumatalolo, this was no blowout. In fact, Navy had to hang on for the win as Army hung around and forced Navy to punt the ball enough times to keep hope alive of ending the losing streak against Navy. Army tried dipping into the trick play book by having DeAndre Bell unload on a deep pass down toward the end zone, but Navy’s Daiquan Thomasson got enough air to snag the football to kill what looked to be a promising drive by Army in the final minutes. It was a play that would have been praised for years to come by Army fans. Instead, it is added to a long and growing list of moments of misfortune for the long-suffering Army fans. Navy’s offense was forced to punt the ball away from their own nine-yard line, giving Army one more chance. Two incomplete passes by Kelvin White fell incomplete though and time expired.

The win for Navy was the 14th straight over Army, continuing to add on to the longest winning streak by either academy in the long historic rivalry series. Army’s last victory over the Midshipmen came in 2001.

Army did show some good fight though, which should come as no real surprise. Despite the success of Navy this season, Army always tends to bring their best performance of the season against their rivals from Annapolis. Army quarterback Chris Carter connected on some big gains with Edgar Poe to keep Army in the game, and at times in front on the scoreboard. The problem was every time Army made something happen, Navy seemed to strike right back with big plays of their own. One time, in particular, Army did it to themselves. In the fourth quarter, a promising looking drive crossed midfield only to see a fumbled snap be recovered by Navy with eight and a half minutes to play. That allowed Navy an opportunity to run some clock with a four-point lead.

Navy still has one more game to play. The Midshipmen will play Pittsburgh in the Military Bowl on a not-so-neutral field on December 28. The Military Bowl is played in Navy’s home stadium, so Navy will feel at home for the game against the Panthers. The two programs last faced each other in 2013, with Navy winning 24-21 in Annapolis. This will be the first postseason meeting between the two.

Army will head into the offseason once again not looking forward to a postseason game. Army’s 2016 season is scheduled to open right back at Lincoln Financial Field though, as Army will open the season on the road against Temple on September 3.

Georgia LB Natrez Patrick sees pot charge dropped; status for playoffs still uncertain

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Finally, there is some positive news off the field for the Georgia football program, even as some clarity on one player’s status moving forward is still needed.

According to ESPN.com‘s Mark Schlabach, the Barrow County district attorney’s office has decided to drop a marijuana possession charge against UGA linebacker Natrez Patrick. Earlier this month, Patrick was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana.  That was the junior’s third marijuana-related arrest and fourth pot-related incident in a little over two years.

Patrick was arrested in early October of this year on a charge of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana and ultimately served a four-game suspension.  In November of 2015, Patrick was arrested on a charge of misdemeanor marijuana possession and suspended for one game per university policy.  A year later, Patrick and a teammate, Roquan Smith, were investigated by police for alleged pot use although no charges were ever filed.

In this latest incident, Patrick was a passenger in a vehicle driven by teammate Jayson Stanley that was pulled over for speeding shortly after the Bulldogs won the SEC championship.

“When you get into someone’s car, you’re not going to search it to see if there’s marijuana in the car,” Patrick’s attorney, William Healan III, told Schlabach. “My client didn’t know the marijuana was there. If you’re sitting on a little piece of marijuana that you didn’t know was there, you’re not knowingly in possession of it.”

As for Stanley, he saw a driving under the influence charge dropped.  In exchange, the little-used wide receiver pleaded guilty misdemeanor possession of marijuana and speeding.

Despite the fact that the linebacker’s charge was dropped, Schlabach writes that “[i]t wasn’t immediately known whether Patrick would be available when the No. 3 Bulldogs take on No. 2 Oklahoma in a College Football Playoff semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game… on New Year’s Day.” The Macon Telegraph, meanwhile, writes that when “[a]sked if this decision meant Patrick would not be considered a third-time offender under the UGA student-athlete handbook, athletics director Greg McGarity declined to comment.” Three drug-related offenses are grounds for dismissal according to university policy.

Patrick started seven of the nine games in which he played at inside linebacker this season.  Even as he missed nearly one-third of the regular season, Patrick is still sixth on the Bulldogs in tackles with 35.

Rice makes hiring of Michigan assistant Brian Smith as DC official

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Rice’s new head coach has officially plucked an assistant from Jim Harbaugh‘s Michigan coaching staff to fill a key position on his first with the Owls.

The Conference USA football program confirmed Wednesday night that Brian Smith has been named by Mike Bloomgren as his first defensive coordinator. Smith spent the past two seasons as the Wolverines’ defensive backs coach.

The stint in Ann Arbor was Smith’s first coaching job at a Power Five program. His first coaching job at the FBS level came at his alma mater UMass, where he was linebackers coach in 2004 and wide receivers coach in 2005.

In between those two collegiate stints, Smith spent eight seasons (2007-14) with the NFL’s New York Jets, beginning as a quality control/offensive coach before moving up to help with the secondary his last couple of seasons with the organization.

In addition to Smith, Bloomgren, who came to Rice earlier this month after serving as offensive coordinator at Stanford, also announced the hiring of North Carolina Central University head coach Jerry Mack as his coordinator on that side of the ball. Mack had previously coached at this level as wide receivers coach at Memphis (2011) and South Alabama (2012-13).

In his four years heading the FCS program, Mack guided the Eagles to a 31-15 record and three Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championships.

Two-time winner Dabo Swinney one of seven finalists for Bear Bryant coach award

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Not surprisingly, yet another coaching award has a decidedly familiar feel to it.

Wednesday, a group of seven finalists were announced for the 2017 Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, one of the nation’s top award for college football coaches. Named in honor of the Alabama legend, those seven finalists are:

  • Paul Chryst — Wisconsin
  • Clay Helton — USC
  • Scott Frost — Nebraska, for his work at UCF
  • Gus Malzahn — Auburn
  • Jeff Monken — Army
  • Kirby Smart — Georgia
  • Dabo Swinney — Clemson

Swinney is looking to become the first coach in the 32-year history of the award to win it three consecutive years, after becoming the first to win it in back-to-back years. In January of 2017, Swinney joined Boise State’s Chris Petersen (2006, 2009) as the only two-time winners.

In addition to Swinney, one other College Football Playoff semifinalist, Smart, is up for the honor.

Smart, Swinney, Helton and Frost all led their respective teams to conference championships, while Chryst and Malzahn made it to their league title game. Monken guided the service academy to its best season in over two decades and has the chance to, with a bowl win, become just the second Black Knights coach (Bob Sutton, 1996) to reach 10 wins in a single season.

Reports: LSU line coach leaving to become OC at BYU

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A little over two weeks after replacing a playing legend at the university, BYU appears set to look to the SEC for some offensive help.

FootballScoop.com was the first to report, with the Baton Rouge Advocate and Salt Lake Tribune among others subsequently confirming, that BYU is set to hire LSU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes as its new offensive coordinator.  Grimes, in his fourth season with the Tigers, spent three years (2004-06) as the line coach for the Cougars.

The 49-year-old Grimes replaces Ty Detmer, who was fired a little over two weeks ago after just one season as his alma mater’s coordinator.

It’s expected that Grimes will remain at LSU through the Citrus Bowl against Notre Dame New Year’s day before moving on to his new/old home.  This will mark Grimes’ first job as offensive coordinator at any level, although he served as running-game coordinator at Arizona State (2001-03) and Colorado (2007-08).

Even as Grimes’ move to BYU is not yet official, it appears LSU has already found a replacement.