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Mike Williams, tough defense helps Clemson top Auburn

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Deshaun Watson’s Heisman Trophy campaign didn’t get off to the fast start he was likely hoping for but the Clemson quarterback probably doesn’t mind escaping Auburn with a 19-13 on Saturday night.

The victory by the Tigers (ACC edition) answered plenty of questions about the No. 2 team in the country and, perhaps more interestingly, gave us insight into just what kind of year the Tigers (SEC edition) face as the 2016 season gets underway.

There were not a ton of question marks about Clemson after all. But for everybody who wondered if Dabo Swinney and coordinator Brent Venables could reload on defense for the third year in a row, it appears the answer is a resounding yes. The Tigers were swarming from start to finish at Jordan-Hare Stadium, limiting Auburn to 262 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers.

Even more impressive was the emergence of Mike Williams. The wideout was injured in the team’s opener last year and missed the entire 2015 campaign as a result. He didn’t show any signs of rust though, ending the game as Watson’s favorite target with nine catches for 174 yards and making life miserable for Auburn defensive backs on every snap.

The feel good story of Week 1 helped the offense survive some rough patches against a fairly fast SEC defense, including turning the ball over twice and getting bogged down several times when entering Auburn territory. Still, the addition of Williams to go along with Watson and tailback Wayne Gallman (123 yards and a touchdown) gives Clemson perhaps the best trio in the country on offense.

While Auburn struggled on offense all night — using three different quarterbacks — the Tigers’ defense kept them in the game under the first outing with new coordinator Kevin Steele. The offense will be what keeps head coach Gus Malzahn, firmly on the hot seat on the Plains, up at night though.

Speaking of answers, the home team bizarrely had a chance to win the game at the end thanks to a miscue by Swinney. With just 47 seconds left on the clock, Clemson opted to go for it on 4th and 4 instead of attempting a field goal from the Auburn 17 yard line. Gallman failed to pick up the first down and the team promptly turned the ball over on downs.

Auburn got as close as the 40 yard line before Sean White launched a pair of Hail Marys into the end zone. Clemson knocked both down but it was certainly a nervous ending for both teams after such a tense — and at times inexplicable — game.

Dick MacPherson’s grandson one of six added to Sean Lewis’ first Kent State staff

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Sean Lewis‘ first staff at Kent State will come armed with a famous coaching surname.

The football program announced Monday that Lewis has hired a total of six new assistants. One of the coaching sextet is Mackey MacPherson, the grandson of former Syracuse head coach Dick MacPherson.

The younger MacPherson will coach the Golden Flashes running backs after spending the past two seasons as an offensive graduate assistant with the Orange.  Both Lewis and MacPherson were on Dino Babers‘ staff at the ‘Cuse.

The other full-time assistant hired by Lewis are as follows:

Zac Barton — special teams coordinator
Brian Cochran — defensive line
Jon Cooley — safeties coach
Matt Middleton — wide receivers coach
Bill O’Boyle — offensive line

Nearly two weeks ago, Lewis announced the hiring of his coordinators on both sides of the ball.

Western Kentucky’s Joel Iyiegbuniwe declares early for draft

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There’s a new leader in the clubhouse for “Early Entrant With the Most Vowels in his Surname.”

On his personal Twitter account over the weekend, Joel Iyiegbuniwe announced that he is leaving Western Kentucky early and making himself available for the April NFL draft. The linebacker, a native of Bowling Green, Kent., stated that he came to his decision “[a]fter much thought, prayer and discussion with my family, coaches and advisors.”

This past season, Iyiegbuniwe led the Hilltoppers in tackles with 117, tackles for loss with 11.5 and forced fumbles with three. He was named first-team All-Conference USA following the regular season.

Including last season, Iyiegbuniwe had started 27 straight games at outside linebacker for the Hilltoppers.

Today is the deadline for draft-eligible players to inform the NFL of their intentions.

Kent State announces signing of ex-Auburn QB Woody Barrett

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One day after Woody Barrett announced that he has found a new college football home, the school has confirmed as much.

Kent State sent out a press release Monday evening acknowledging that Barrett has signed with the football program. After spending the 2017 season at a Mississippi junior college, the quarterback will be eligible to play immediately in 2018.

Counting this coming season, Barrett will have three years of eligibility remaining.

“We’re excited about Woody’s potential, his ability and his raw tools both throwing and running the football,” new Golden Flashes head coach Sean Lewis said in a statement. “And we’re excited to have him on campus to be training with our team as we get ready for spring ball.”

A four-star member of Auburn’s 2016 recruiting class, Barrett was rated as the No. 6 dual-threat quarterback in the country that cycle. He took a redshirt as a true freshman, then opted to transfer from the Tigers in May of last year, ultimately ending up at the JUCO level.

At Copiah-Lincoln Community College this past season, Barrett passed for 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns in nine games, adding another 485 and six on the ground.

Michigan confirms hiring of Sherrone Moore as TEs coach

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One hole on Jim Harbaugh‘s coaching staff has been filled.

The football program confirmed Monday that Sherrone Moore has been hired and will serve as Harbaugh’s tight ends coach. Moore will replace Greg Frey, who moved on to a job on Willie Taggart‘s staff at Florida State.

The 31-year-old Moore — he’ll turn 32 in early February — spent the past four seasons coaching tight ends at Central Michigan. This past season, he added the title of assistant head coach as well as taking over as the MAC program’s recruiting coordinator.

Moore began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at Louisville from 2009-12. He was promoted to tight ends coach in 2012, spending that season as well as 2013 in that role.