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Stanford beats Kansas State behind Christian McCaffrey, stingy defense

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Christian McCaffrey‘s second Heisman campaign is off to a much better start than his first. Especially on the final scoreboard.

The tailback racked up 210 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns as Stanford held off Kansas State 26-13 in the season opener for both teams. The Cardinal had no need to blame their body clocks for the effort but head coach David Shaw has plenty to work on after a lackluster showing in the second half gave the Wildcats a chance to claw back into the game.

Quarterback Ryan Burns finished 14-of-18 for 156 yards and a touchdown in his first start. The redshirt junior looked impressive early on in replacing school record holder Kevin Hogan and completed every pass up until halfway through the 3rd quarter. As Shaw promised, backup Keller Chyrst rotated in during the second quarter to lead a scoring drive but didn’t play much the rest of game as the offense struggled in the second half.

Luckily the Cardinal’s defense, replacing a number of key starters from last season, kept a pesky KSU offense in check most of the night. Dallas Lloyd and Quenton Meeks both recorded interceptions and the team racked up eight sacks on the night.

Kansas State failed to get much of a running game going beyond quarterback scrambles and failed to score in the red zone several times in the second half. Starting QB Jesse Ertz was generally ineffective in his first game back since injuring his knee in the opener last season but did finish the game with 207 yards passing, a score and an interception.

Ertz was downed for a safety with just over four minutes to go in the game that appeared to all but end any hopes of a win. But veteran head coach Bill Snyder had a trick up his sleeve and the team recovered an onside free kick on the ensuing play. KSU promptly marched 66 yards for a touchdown on a great throw by Ertz to freshman Isaiah Zuber to cut the lead to six.

But it was once again McCaffrey to the rescue for the Cardinal. Helped by a vicious block, the Heisman favorite ran 41 yards untouched to the end zone for the final points of the night to ice the victory for the Pac-12 favorites.

Stanford will be off next week before hosting USC in a rematch of the league title game from last year. Kansas State will play Florida Atlantic in their home opener in two weeks.

Chris Ash plucks new Rutgers assistant from Indiana

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In filling a hole on his Rutgers coaching staff, Chris Ash turned to a fellow Big Ten school to do it.

RU confirmed Thursday morning that Ash has added Noah Joseph as one of his 10 Scarlet Knight assistants.  Joseph has been named as the football program’s co-defensive coordinator and will also serve as safeties coach.

Joseph had spent the past four seasons coaching safeties at Indiana.  He was also that program’s defensive recruiting coordinator.

“I’d like to welcome Noah and his family to our football program,” said Ash in a statement. “His extensive experience coaching defensive backs in the Big Ten will be a tremendous asset for our players. He is a great teacher and outstanding recruiter.”

Prior to his time in Bloomington, his first on-field job at the FBS level was at North Texas as safeties coach from 2012-13.

Marshall’s Larry Aaron, paralyzed in New Year’s Eve shooting, dies

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Sadly, what was already a tragic situation at Marshall has taken an even more heartbreaking turn.

The Thundering Herd confirmed Thursday afternoon that rising redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Larry Aaron died earlier in the day at a Maryland hospital.  Aaron was paralyzed from the waist down after being struck by a stray bullet during a New Year’s Eve party, and passed away as a result of complications connected to those injuries he sustained in the shooting.

According to reports at the time, Aaron had stepped in front of his girlfriend to shield her from the bullets.

“Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all,” a statement from Marshall head coach Doc Holliday began. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron’s family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, Aaron played in eight games this past season.

Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to those impacted by Aaron’s senseless death.

Alabama confirms handful of staff changes, including addition of Miami’s DL coach

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An offseason of upheaval on Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has apparently come to an official end.

Early Thursday afternoon, the Crimson Tide announced the additions of two new assistant coaches as well as the promotions/new responsibilities for others on the staff last season.  As previously reported HERE and HERE, the new hires are Dan Enos as quarterbacks coach and Craig Kuligowski as defensive line coach.  Both coaches, who come to Tuscaloosa from Michigan and Miami, respectively, will also carry the titles of associate head coach.

“We are pleased and happy to have Dan Enos joining our coaching staff at The University of Alabama,” Saban said in a statement. “He brings a wealth of knowledge with five years of head coaching experience and numerous stops as an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Dan is a bright football mind and an outstanding recruiter who will strengthen our coaching staff and give our players the best chance to be successful.”

In addition to those hirings, Saban also confirmed that Mike Locksley (HERE) has been promoted to offensive coordinator and Tosh Lupoi (HERE) has been promoted to defensive coordinator.  Locksley replaces Brian Daboll, who left after one season in Tuscaloosa for the same job with the Buffalo Bills last month, while Lupoi takes over for Jeremy Pruitt, who left after Alabama’s win in the national championship game to take over as the head coach at Tennessee.

As had previously been announced, Jeff Banks will serve as special teams coordinator while also being in charge of the Tide’s tight ends.  Josh Gattis, who was confirmed as the new wide receivers coach late last month, will also carry the title of co-offensive coordinator, while Pete Golding, in addition to his duties as inside linebackers coach, has been given the title of co-defensive coordinator.

And, finally, Burton Burns will step away from his longtime role as running backs coach and take on an unspecified off-field position.  Replacing Burns in his on-field role is Joe Pannunzio, who had been in charge of tight ends.

NCAA grants Houston LB Austin Robinson another season of eligibility

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As it turns out, Houston will have the services of Austin Robinson a little while longer than originally expected.

The football program announced Wednesday that the NCAA has granted Robinson a sixth season of eligibility. While the school wrote in its release that the linebacker “received a legislative relief waiver” from The Association, the specific reasoning behind the waiver being granted is unclear.

With the NCAA’s decision, Robinson will now have eligibility he can use in both 2018 and 2019.

Robinson began his collegiate career at UT-San Antonio in 2014, playing in eight games as a true freshman before transferring to UH and sitting out the 2015 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. He then played in 11 games in 2016 and 12 this past season, starting four contests in 2017.

This past campaign, Robinson was credited with 33 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. He also had a pair of quarterback hurries on his statistical resume.