Getty Images

No. 22 Utah hangs on for Holy War revival win over BYU in Las Vegas Bowl

7 Comments

No. 22 Utah turned five consecutive BYU turnovers into touchdowns en route to a 35-0 first quarter lead and then held on for dear life, securing a 35-28 win in the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl.

The turnover avalanche came early for BYU (9-4) after quarterback Tanner Mangum fumbled on the third play from scrimmage and Utah (10-3) cashed in with a six-play, 25-yard drive. Mangum’s next pass was intercepted by Tevin Carter and returned 28 yards for a touchdown. The Cougars’ third drive ended in another Mangum pick, this one again to Carter, who returned it 33 yards to the BYU 1. Joe Williams punched in Utah’s third touchdown one play later.

Mangum tossed his third pick on BYU’s next drive, this time to Dominique Hatfield, who raced 46 yards for another pick six. The deluge became complete when Squally Canada fumbled on the second snap of BYU’s next possession, and Travis Wilson cashed in five plays later with a 20-yard scoring dash.

All told, Utah held a 35-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the first quarter while needing only 65 yards of offense.

The teams settled from there, trading punts on seven consecutive possessions after a missed BYU field goal, until the Cougars marched 97 yards in 13 plays to dent the scoreboard with a three-yard toss from Mangum to Remington Peck with 36 seconds left in the first half.

BYU forced a Utah punt to open the second half, then moved 72 yards in 12 plays to pull within 35-14 on a 10-yard Francis Bernard run at the 10:02 mark of the third quarter.

Mangum found Nick Kurtz for a five-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter, then pulled his Cougars to within 35-28 on a four-yard run with 3:23 left.

Utah’s offense, with no points since that first quarter deluge, ran out the final 203 seconds, securing a win that, kiss-your-sister as it may have felt after that 35-0 lead, is a win nonetheless.

BYU out-gained the Utes 387-197 on the day while holding a 22-13 first downs edge. Mangum finished the day completing 25-of-56 passes for 315 yards with two touchdowns (plus one rushing) and three interceptions (plus one fumble). Wilson hit 9-of-16 throws for 71 yards while adding 15 rushes for 23 yards and a score. Utah held a 126-71 advantage on the ground.

In the teams’ first meeting since 2013, Utah’s win extended its Holy War lead to 58-34-4 in a series dating back to 1896 (today’s game was the first outside of Provo or Salt Lake City). The Utes have now won five straight meetings and 10 of the last 13.

With its current coaching staff out the door for Virginia as soon as the final gun sounded and its new head coach all but named before toe met leather, it appeared BYU’s focus these past two weeks was on anything but the opponent lining up across the line of scrimmage. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall made coaching in the Vegas Bowl a condition of his accepting the job at Virginia, but the task of managing two jobs on opposite sides of the country appeared to affect his team’s preparation for Saturday’s game. Oregon State defensive coordinator and former Cougars fullback Kalani Sitake has been all but named BYU’s next head coach.

The win gives Kyle Whittingham his fourth 10-win season in 11 tries at Utah and, after an 18-19 start in the program’s first three Pac-12 seasons, pushes his Utes to 19-7 with two straight top-25 finishes over the past two seasons. And the cherry on top of a successful season? He denies Mendenhall his 100th victory at BYU while ending their personal 11-Year War with a 7-3 advantage.

Tennessee frosh All-American OL Trey Smith out indefinitely with ‘medical issue’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A potentially serious issue has arisen at Tennessee as starting offensive lineman Trey Smith is out indefinitely with a “medical issue.” While the nature of the issue was not disclosed, Smith will miss at least the the first portion of spring practice, but his absence could linger much longer than just spring ball.

Smith is reportedly seeking further medical evaluations. Wes Rucker of GoVols247 reported there is no timetable for Smith’s return, but VolQuest, citing sources close to Smith, reported he is expected to return in time for the 2018 season.

One of the lone bright spots in Butch Jones‘s final season, Smith, a 5-star recruit from Jackson, Tenn., became the first Tennessee true freshman to start at left tackle in over 30 years. Smith was a Day 1 starter for the Vols, starting at right guard for a season-opening win over Georgia Tech.

He led the club with 41 knockdowns on the year, including eight against Alabama.

He was a consensus Freshman All-American in 2017 and was rated by PFF College as the No. 1 offensive linemen among all freshmen and the No. 7 overall freshman in 2017.

Former Arizona State DB Robbie Robinson arrested for ‘terroristic threat’

Getty Images
3 Comments

Former Stanford and Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin was detained and questioned by authorities on Friday after a social media post contained a vague threat to a school shooting, but that wasn’t the only such incident involving a former football player and a possible school shooting to emerge on Friday.

Former Arizona State defensive back Edward “Robbie” Robinson was arrested Friday night after making “terroristic threats” against students and staff at ASU after a social media account purporting to be his said he was trying to buy a gun to “spray the stadium up.”

Here is the tweet in question.

In another post, Robinson’s account posted a screenshot of a text message exchange with someone claiming to be an Arizona State police detective saying, “You’re not in trouble. We just want to talk to you.”

ASU police notified the campus after receiving word of “threats of violence against members of the Sun Devil athletics community,” according to the Arizona Republic.

Robinson (left, No. 6) was a 3-star recruit out of DeMatha Catholic High School in Hampton, Va., who signed with the Sun Devils as part of their 2016 class. He has not been enrolled in school for more than a year, according to the Republic.

Bond for Robinson was set at $50,000, and a GoFundMe account had raised just over $1,500 toward that number at press time. However, Robinson was still tweeting as of Saturday evening.

 

Former Michigan WR Drake Harris announces transfer to Western Michigan

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Michigan wideout Drake Harris announced  in November he’s leaving Ann Arbor for his final season of college football. On Saturday, we learned Harris is heading west. But not that far west.

Harris revealed in an Instagram post he will enroll at Western Michigan as a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately for the Broncos. “I’m happy to announce that I will be playing my last year of eligibility at Western Michigan University, while pursuing a masters degree. Excited to get working with Coach Lester and the rest of the coaching staff for a great year next season. Go Broncos,” he wrote.

Harris was one of the prized members of Brady Hoke‘s final recruiting class, but never found his footing as a Wolverine. In 25 career games, Harris caught nine passes for 60 yards.

He’ll join a receiving corps that returns intact but could use help. Western Michigan returns all eight wide receivers who caught a pass in 2017, but none of them snagged more than 30 receptions. WMU ranked 111th in completions and 116th in passing en route to a 6-6 finish in Tim Lester‘s first season as head coach.

Harris will face Syracuse in his first game as a Bronco — Aug. 31 in Kalamazoo — before returning to a familiar place for Game No. 2. Western Michigan visits the Big House on Sept. 8.

Jimbo Fisher vows to change culture at Texas A&M

Getty Images
10 Comments

If there was one thing that really seemed to put Kevin Sumlin on the hot seat during his time at Texas A&M, it was the Aggies seemingly annual collapse in the second half of the season and inability to finish games they had the potential to win. That explains some of the reason why the school ponied up to lure Jimbo Fisher from Florida State in a $75 million hire late last year.

While most of the outside focus on Fisher’s move to College Station has been centered on that humongous contract, there’s little question that hiring a national title-winning coach was a coup for the team. That subject was brought up again on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show Friday evening and ESPN college football analyst Booger McFarland relayed a rather interesting conversation he had with the coach earlier this year in which Fisher said something you typically don’t hear made public. You can head to the 8:18 mark (or there abouts) for the interview.

“I talked to Jimbo in Atlanta. I told Jimbo point-blank — the same thing I told you guys about Texas A&M the last several years — A&M is a soft program,” McFarland said. “Jimbo looked me in the eye and was like, ‘You know what, you’re damn right. We are soft, but I’m going to change that.’”

Something says that Fisher and the Aggies strength coaches are going to use the comments as a bit of a challenge in the weight room and during spring practice over the coming months as they lay the groundwork for the 2018 season. Even the most ardent maroon and white supporters would probably agree with the sentiment that the team went a little soft toward the end of Sumlin’s tenure but it’s not everyday you see a coach call out his new program quite like that.

Maybe it’s something in the water down there in College Station though, judging by some other comments by the school’s athletic director, but one thing is for certain — things are going to be very different at Texas A&M going forward.