The Big 12 has had a very rough month of September but one of the few bright spots for the league has to be the play of West Virginia in racing out to a hot start to begin the season.
The Mountaineers started rolling on offense and didn’t really stop on Saturday afternoon but needed their defense to come up in a clutch situation to stay undefeated, putting away a pesky BYU team 35-32. As a result, Dana Holgorsen’s squad may have just installed themselves as the Big 12 favorites and de facto playoff hope after the first month of the season.
Quarterback Skyler Howard was nearly perfect on the day, going 31-of-40 for 332 yards with a score and an interception. Despite spreading the ball around to 10 different receivers in the outing, Howard’s favorite target was the uber-productive Shelton Gibson — who didn’t score but did tally 144 yards on just four catches.
BYU quarterback Taysom Hill wasn’t quite as sharp as his counterpart but did help rally the Cougars early in the fourth quarter to cut it to a one-score game with nearly six minutes left. However he tossed interceptions on back-to-back drives to end the game and drop the team to 1-4 with yet another narrow loss. Running back Jamaal Williams was a nice bright spot for the team however, as he ran for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Though the shaky ending may have caused a few scared looks at FedEx Field among the Mountaineers faithful, West Virginia will likely find themselves in the top 25 on Sunday and one of the surprising favorites to win the whacky Big 12. Holgorsen entered 2016 on a bit of a hot seat but with such a good start to the season, things appear to be going just fine in Morgantown ahead of next week’s conference opener against Kansas State.
Kai Locksley left the state of Texas, but has now found his way back.
The former University of Texas quarterback announced on Twitter Monday night that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at UTEP. The Miners’ new head coach, Dana Dimel, addressed the development on his own Twitter account.
Locksley, whose father Mike is an assistant at Alabama, was a four-star member of the Longhorns’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Maryland. After not attempting a pass or playing a down his first two seasons at UT — he ultimately transitioned to wide receiver — Locksley moved on to an Iowa junior college.
After spending the 2017 season at the JUCO, Locksley was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback at that level of football.
Thanks to Tom Herman, Gus Malzahn now has a key hole to fill on his coaching staff on The Plains.
First reported by Brett McMurphy, Herb Hand has decided to leave as the offensive line coach at Auburn and take the same job at Texas. Additionally, Hand will reportedly carry the title of co-offensive coordinator with the Longhorns.
247Sports.com subsequently confirmed the original report.
Hand spent the past two seasons as the line coach at Auburn. Prior to that, Hand spent two years with Penn State (2014-15) and four at Vanderbilt (2010-13).
Rutgers officially has its ninth offensive coordinator in as many years.
Late last week, reports surfaced that Chris Ash was set to hire John McNulty as its new coordinator. Monday afternoon, the Scarlet Knights confirmed the hiring of McNulty as the replacement for Jerry Kill, who stepped down after one season last month due to ongoing health concerns.
McNulty is a very familiar name in Piscataway as he served as the Scarlet Knights’ coordinator and assistant coach under Greg Schiano from 2004-08.
“I’m excited to welcome John back to the Rutgers football family,” a statement from the head coach began. “He has a wealth of football knowledge and experience, and I look forward to him helping develop our quarterbacks. John is a great leader, man and coach, and I’m excited to see him shape the identity of our offense.”
The past two seasons, McNulty served as the tight ends coach for the NFL’s Los Angeles Chargers. In fact, he had spent his entire time as an assistant coach since leaving RU at the NFL level, including stops with the Arizona Cardinals (2009-12), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013) and Tennessee Titans (2014-15). He also spent six seasons in the NFL prior to his RU stint — Jacksonville Jaguars (1998-2002) and Dallas Cowboys (2003).
McNulty, who played his college football at Penn State, began his collegiate coaching career at Michigan (1991-94) before moving on to UConn for three seasons as wide receivers coach.
It was a day of attrition on multiple fronts for the Purdue football program.
Monday, Brian Lankford-Johnson announced via Twitter that he has decided to transfer from the Boilermakers. While no specific reason was given for the running back’s decision to move on, it’s believed a desire for a better shot at playing time played a significant role.
Last season, the sophomore ran for 86 yards on 22 carries.
In addition to Lankford-Johnson, defensive tackle Eddy Wilson announced that he has decided to enter the NFL draft. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star Monday, Wilson acknowledged that he had let his academics slip a bit and that was the reason behind his decision to declare early.
“It had to do with academics,” the lineman told the Star. “It was a credit hour issue; I didn’t pass enough credit hours. I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t take it as seriously as I should’ve been taking it.”
The past two seasons, Wilson started nine games for the Boilermakers. Just one of those starts came during the 2017 season.