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Heart of Dallas Bowl win proves Washington a team to watch in 2016

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Displaying a talent level and coaching competency far above its final 7-6 record, Washington handled Conference USA West Division Champion Southern Miss 44-31 Saturday afternoon in the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.

The Huskies led 14-7 after one quarter and, after Southern Miss gradually pulled to a 24-24 tie with 2:47 remaining in the third quarter, pulled away from the Golden Eagles by scoring 20 of the game’s final 27 points to provide the winning margin.

The majority of Washington’s near 600 yards and near 50 points were produced by a battery — freshman quarterback Jake Browning and sophomore running back Myles Gaskin — that should place the Huskies within the myriad of 2016 preseason top 25 polls and near the top of the Pac-12 preseason rankings. Browning hit 23-of-34 passes for 284 yards with no interceptions (plus 28 rushing yards), while Gaskin was the game’s breakout star with 26 carries for 181 yards and four touchdowns.

Gaskin slipped in from two and one yards out to provide both of Washington’s first quarter scores, and his 86-yarder at the 2:26 mark of the third quarter put U-Dub on top for good. His final score, a 13-yard dash with 7:53 left in the fourth quarter, put the Huskies up 41-24, effectively stretching the game out of reach.

Browning and Gaskin’s exploits, combined with a defense that entered bowl season leading the Pac-12 in both points and yards allowed, should give Chris Petersen and company plenty of optimism as the calendar turns toward next season.

That’s not to say that, despite today’s results, Southern Miss (9-4) shouldn’t feel darned excited about its trajectory, either. Todd Monken and company tripled their win total from 2014 — and that was a major success compared to the one combined victory the 2012 and ’13 seasons saw. Junior quarterback Nick Mullens hit 25-of-38 passes 331 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions to lead the Eagles, and Michael Thomas shined in his going-away party with nine grabs for 190 yards and two touchdowns.

VIDEO: LSU RB Derrius Guice squats 650 pounds

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Derrius Guice may be the most underrated player in college football.

Playing in the shadow of Leonard Fournette, Guice posted an eye-popping 8.55 yards per carry (51 rushes for 436 yards) as a freshman in 2015, then kept his big-play ability as his usage increased while Fournette battled injuries in his final college season. Guice rushed 183 times for 1,387 yards and 15 touchdowns; his 7.58 yards per carry average was the most among Power 5 rushers with at least 180 carries.

So, yes, Guice is really good. He’s also a physical freak.

LSU captured and tweeted video Friday of Guice squatting 650 pounds, more than three times his listed 212 pounds.

If — and this is a massive, Les Miles-firing if — LSU can consistently throw the ball in 2017, go ahead and make Guice your darkhorse Heisman contender in 2017.

(HT CBS Sports)

Former Miami TE Jovani Haskins headed to West Virginia

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Jovani Haskins announced two weeks ago he was leaving Miami for “somewhere else.” That somewhere else proved to be a favorite destination of other Sunshine State transfers: West Virginia.

“WVU is my new home and I can’t wait to perform in front of the fans of West Virginia!” he tweeted on Saturday.

A 3-star prospect out of Bergenfield, N.J.., Haskins was offered by West Virginia in the class of 2016 and most recruiting experts actually had him signing with the Mountaineers before a surprise commitment to Miami.

Haskins joins two former state of Florida players on WVU’s roster: starting quarterback Will Grier (Florida) and former Miami quarterback Jack Allison (Miami). The Mountaineers also employed Florida State transfer Clint Trickett at quarterback and Miami transfer Antonio Crawford at cornerback.

Haskins redshirted in 2016 and will presumably sit out 2017 before gaining eligibility in ’18. West Virginia could use the help immediately; the roster lists one scholarship tight end at present. WVU currently has two tight ends pledged for the 2018 class in addition to Haskins.

 

BYU wearing special patch in honor of LaVell Edwards

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BYU got the summer media day fun started on Friday with their football media day. BYU tends to pull out all the stops on its media day with coach and player interviews, alumni returning, and a handful of announcements about the future of the program. In addition to news about their relationship with ESPN, BYU also announced the football team will be sporting a patch this season in honor of the late LaVell Edwards.

In addition to players wearing the patch on their jerseys, BYU coaches will also wear the patch on their sleeves.

Edwards passed away in December at the age of 86. The BYU coaching legend spent 29 seasons on the sidelines in Provo and accumulated 257 wins along the way. Among those was a national championship season in 1984, which remains the most recent national championship to be claimed by a program not currently in a power conference. Edwards took 22 BYU teams to a bowl game.

Now if we can just keep getting BYU to stick to that lighter shade of blue as their main home uniform, we’ll be in great shape.

Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks found guilty of rape

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Former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks was convicted by a jury on Friday for rape of a female Vanderbilt student. Following 15 hours of jury deliberations, the verdict of guilty on one count of aggravated rape and one count of aggravated sexual battery was in.

”He’s shocked but understands that this is only the first part of this process, there’s a lot more to do from here on,” Banks’ lawyer, Mark Scruggs, said after the verdict. ”We have some really good issues to raise.”

Part of Banks’ defense was built on succumbing to peer pressure, suggesting he feared he may be beaten up by teammates if he did not participate in the scandalous activity. The jury, having reviewed videos and photos from the incident, some of which were shot by Banks, determined that was not a viable defense.

”Making fun of another person is not right, but we know it happens,” Assistant District Attorney Roger Moore said in closing arguments, according to the Associated Press. ”But it doesn’t give you a legal defense to commit a crime, particularly not an aggravated rape, an aggravated sexual battery. I mean if that’s the case, then we’d have the ‘football team defense.”’

Banks will serve a minimum of 15 years in prison. One count of aggravated rape has a minimum sentence of 15 years.

Other former Vanderbilt players had previously been convicted for their roles in the 2013 rape. Cory Batey was found guilty of aggravated rape and sentenced to 15-25 years in prison in April 2016. Brandon Vandenbeurg was found guilty and sentenced to 17 years in prison.