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No. 1 Alabama tops Western Kentucky

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The bad news: Alabama’s offense slept through most of the first half. The Tide scored 10 offensive points in their first two frames and rushed for all of 13 yards on 16 carries.

The good news: When you’re Alabama, your offense can take a whole half off and your defense will still spot you a 14-point lead.

Top-ranked Alabama turned a lackluster 17-3 halftime edge into a 38-10 romp over Western Kentucky Saturday in Tuscaloosa, a clear step down from last week’s 52-6 opening blowout of USC but more than enough to continue the Tide’s status as the top team in the country.

True freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts earned his first official career win, hitting 23-of-36 passes for 287 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions while adding 19 yards on the ground. His first scoring strike came to Calvin Ridley on a four-yard toss with no time left in the first quarter, staking the Tide to a 10-3 edge on a drive started when Alabama intercepted a wide receiver reverse pass. Another interception gave Alabama its second touchdown as safety Eddie Jackson did the deed himself from 55 yards out.

Hurts’s second scoring throw, an 8-yarder to ArDarius Stewart, ended any reasonable hope of an upset for the Hilltoppers with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Alabama tacked on a pair of fourth quarter scores in the forms of short runs by Bo Scarbrough and B.J. Emmons. On the whole, though, Alabama struggled to rush the ball against the WKU front. The Tide notched just 116 yards and 3.1 yards per carry as a team; Damien Harris led the bunch with 45 yards on 11 carries. None of Alabama’s 37 credited rushes went longer than 13 yards.

Western Kentucky, for its part, failed to accomplish anything on offense. Starter Mike White was pulled after hitting 10-of-24 passes for 135 yards with a pick-six, and the entire team registered 23 yards on 22 carries. Backups Tyler Ferguson and Drew Eckels did some nice things in relief; Ferguson hit seven of his 10 passes for 55 yards, and Eckels connected on 2-of-3 passes for 26 yards and a garbage time touchdown toss to Lucky Jackson with 46 ticks remaining.

Western Kentucky (1-1) continues non-conference play at Miami (Ohio) next week, while Alabama (2-0) opens SEC play at Ole Miss.

Ex-Tennessee line coach Don Mahoney takes same job at East Carolina

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Head coach Scottie Montgomery has added a veteran assistant with SEC experience to his East Carolina coaching staff, announcing Wednesday that Don Mahoney has been hired as his new offensive line coach.

From 2013-16, Mahoney served as the line coach for the Tennessee Volunteers.  The longtime assistant spent the 2017 season at a Div. II program in West Virginia.

“Don’s wealth of experience and expertise is synonymous with a foundation we need to have in place on the offensive side of the ball here,” a statement from Montgomery said. “His background features a strong association of development and depth, two qualities which are crucial to the growth, balance and success of our unit.”

Prior to his time on Rocky Top, Mahoney was the line coach for three years at Cincinnati (2010-12).  He also coached the line during stops at Central Michigan (2007-09) and Tulane (1999-2006).

Texas QB Shane Buechele undergoes hip surgery, expected back for spring practice

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A postseason injury has forced Shane Buechele to undergo an offseason medical procedure.

Buechele suffered a torn abductor muscle in his hip/abdomen in the first half of Texas’ Texas Bowl win over Missouri and didn’t return in the second half.  Nearly a month later, the football program has announced that the quarterback will undergo surgery on Thursday to repair the damage.

If rehab goes as planned, Buechele is expected to be on the field when the Longhorns kick off spring practice March 5.

As a true freshman in 2016, Buechele started all 12 games for the Longhorns.  This past season was one marred by various injuries.

Buechele started the season opener for Texas, but ceded the job to Sam Ehlinger the next two games because of a bruised throwing shoulder.  Returning to the starting lineup in Week 5, Buechele suffered an ankle injury in the win over Iowa State that allowed Ehlinger to start the next three games.  In the last of those three games, Ehlinger suffered a head injury that left him in concussion protocol and opened the door for Buechele to start five of the last six games of the season.

Buechele and Ehlinger will be the two veterans battling for the starting job once spring practice kicks off in March.

NCAA tables discussions on limiting staff size

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It is going to take some more time to dive deep into the pros and cons of limiting the size of a football staff before the NCAA Division 1 Council decides what to do. In a statement released on Wednesday, the Division 1 Council has decided to table a legislative proposal focusing on setting parameters on the size of a football staff, meaning this topic should pop up again a year from now.

The proposal aims to cap the size of any football staff at 30 people and determine who may be eligible to participate in on-campus recruiting efforts. Those assigned recruiting duties, including head and assistant coaches, would then be required to pass an annual test on recruiting practices. At this time, however, there appears to be too much confusion and uncertainty about how the proposal would impact programs now. With so many questions about the proposal, it was best to put this one on the table and spend the next year examining how it could impact college football programs.

“I went to the American Football Coaches Association meeting, and there were a lot of questions about how this was going to work,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the chair of the oversight committee, said in a release shared by the NCAA. “The coaches wanted to know who was going to be included, how they would be certified and who was exempted.”

This topic has already been floating out there since last spring, and with recent adjustments from the NCAA to allow for a 10th full-time assistant coach, it appears this will be the next step in the evolution of ruling how large a football staff can be.

Miami’s home winning streak is officially over after Orange Bowl loss

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The Miami Hurricanes opened the new year with a loss in the Orange Bowl in their home stadium, but the Hurricanes marked the bowl game down in their records as a neutral site game. Not so fast, says the NCAA. That loss to the Badgers will go down as a home loss for the Hurricanes.

Because the NCAA officially records the Orange Bowl as a home game for Miami any time the Hurricanes happen to play in the bowl game hosted in their home stadium, the wins and losses are reflected on Miami’s home record. This is true for any team playing a bowl game in their home stadium, including any time UCLA appears in the Rose Bowl or San Diego State in the Holiday Bowl or Poinsettia Bowl.

Prior to losing to Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl this past season, Miami was riding nine-game winning streak in Hard Rock Stadium dating back to November 5, 2016. Miami will get a chance to hit the reset button on their home winning streak on September 8 with a home game against Savannah State.