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54-yard FG as time expires sends UNC past FSU, pushes Seminoles to worst start since 2011

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At some point, there will be a referendum on the state of Florida State’s defense.  For the moment, though, all that matters is The Kick.

Down by 21 points in the first half, and by 14 entering the fourth quarter, FSU managed to put 21 points on the scoreboard in the final period to stake the Seminoles to a 35-34 lead, including Deondre Francois two-yard touchdown run with just :23 remaining.  Thanks in part to a defensive pass interference penalty on the ensuing drive, the Tar Heels moved to what appeared to be the fringe of field-goal range at the Seminole 37-yard line; as time expired, Nick Weiler, whose blocked extra point in the fourth quarter seemingly loomed large in the game, said “fringe this” as he easily cleared the crossbar from 54 yards out as time expired to give UNC a stunning 37-35 win.

The loss in Tallahassee ended the Seminoles’ home winning streak at 22 in a row, which had been the longest such streak in the nation.

The story of this game was offense — or lack of defense — as UNC, in putting up 538 yards of offense, punted just one time in the game, and that didn’t come until three minutes were gone in the fourth quarter.  One other possession ended in a missed field goal and another on a missed field goal as the FSU defense simply had no answer for quarterback Mitch Trubisky (405 yards passing, four touchdowns) or wide receiver Ryan Switzer (14-158).  UNC’s defense didn’t have much of an answer for the opposition’s offense, either, as the Seminoles rolled to 595 yards.

The game served as the second ACC loss in as many contests for the Seminoles.  The Tar Heels, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 in conference play.

On the whole, though, this game was simply about the continuation of a disturbing defensive trend for FSU.

Through one-third of the season, the Seminoles are allowing an average of 44.7 points per game to its three Power Five opponents.  Even when you factor in the Week 2 game against FCS Charleston Southern, they came into this game ranked 107th in the country in scoring defense (34.7 ppg). In those three FBS games, two of them losses, they have allowed an average of 482.7 yards per game.

Injuries have certainly played a role on that side of the ball, but miscommunications and blown assignments and missed tackles have loomed much, much larger.

The loss drops the Seminoles to 3-2 on the season. It’s FSU’s worst start to a year since 2011, when Jimbo Fisher‘s second Seminoles team went 2-3 the first five games of the season.  That team would go on to win seven of its last eight, setting the stage for four straight seasons of double-digit wins.

This latest result also sets up an interesting dynamic heading into Week 6.  With Miami sitting at 4-0, next Saturday’s game will mark the first time since 2002 that the Hurricanes have come into the in-state rivalry game with a better record than the Seminoles.

Times, they are a changin’?  Quite possibly.

A&M the landing spot for UCF RB Cordarrian Richardson

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The strange journey of Cordarrian Richardson has taken yet another twist.

The running back confirmed to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal late this past week that he has decided to leave UCF and transfer to Texas A&M.  The true freshman will have to sit out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, but will have three years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2019.

Last season, Richardson ran for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 47 carries for the unbeaten Knights.

On National Signing Day in 2017, Richardson announced via a weather balloon in outer space that he would be signing with Maryland.  A day later, however, Richardson faxed in a signed NLI… to a school that wasn’t even in his final four — UCF.  Maryland, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ole Miss, were the top four teams that appeared in his original “commitment” video.

Richardson was also heavily recruited by Florida State, which at the time was coached by new A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher.

A four-star 2017 signee, Richardson was rated as the No. 9 back in the country; the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Tennessee; and the No. 157 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was far and away the highest-rated signee in the Knights’ class that year.

Arkansas kicker Cole Hedlund reportedly transfers to North Texas

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And you can pardon the whole of the state of Arkansas if they let out a collective “thank goodness.”

Citing multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle is reporting that Cole Hedlund is transferring to North Texas.  After redshirting as a true freshman in 2014 at Arkansas, Hedlund spent the next three seasons as a placekicker for the Razorbacks.

The Argyle, Tex., native opted to transfer from UA for his final season of eligibility.  He’s the youngest son of UNT women’s soccer coach John Hedlund.

For his career with the Razorbacks, Hedlund hit on 14 of his 24 field goal attempts.  He also connected on all 91 extra point attempts.  His best season came in 2015 when he led the team in scoring with 85 points.

The past season, however, was a rough one.  After missing both field goal attempts in a Sept. 9 loss to TCU — the misses came from 20 and 23 yards out — Hedlund never attempted another kick for the Razorbacks the rest of the season.

“It was basically a PAT, and it was a perfect protection and a perfect snap. It’s inexcusable,” then-head coach Bret Bielema said at the time.

Longtime BYU defensive assistant Steve Kaufusi steps down

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A constant on BYU’s defensive staff for nearly two decades has taken himself out of the football program’s equation.

The Cougars announced Friday that Steve Kaufusi has stepped down from his post as linebackers coach.  Per the school, Kaufusi’s departure was triggered by his desire to pursue other unspecified interests.

Kaufusi, whose wife Michelle is the mayor of Provo and has two sons who will play for the Cougars this season, had spent the past 16 seasons with BYU.  From 2002-16, he coached the defensive line; he took over linebackers in 2017 and spent one season overseeing that position.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to coach at BYU for the past 16 seasons,” Kaufusi said. “I’m honored to have had the opportunity to represent the University and everything it stands for. I will always be a Cougar and look forward to watching my sons play at BYU.”

“Anyone who knows Steve knows he is an exceptional coach and mentor to young men, which you can see in the players he has coached over the years and also in his own family,” head coach Kalani Sitake said. “I wish Steve nothing but the best for his future.”

In tandem with the Kaufusi announcement, the program also confirmed that Preston Hadley has been hired.  Hadley, who played defensive back for the Cougars and coached at Weber State the past two seasons, will coach safeties in his return.

Ed Lamb, who was responsible for safeties, will take over Kaufusi’s linebackers.  All other coaches on the defensive side of the ball will maintain their current positions.

Michigan State promotes Mike Tressel to DC, adds ex-Kent State HC as DBs coach

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Mark Dantonio looked inside and out of his football program to fill some holes in his Michigan State staff.

Nearly two weeks ago, Harlon Barnett left as MSU’s co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach to take a job at Florida State.  That left Dantonio with two openings, one of which the head coach closed Friday by promoting Mike Tressel to defensive coordinator.

Tressel and Barnett had served as co-coordinators the past three seasons; the nephew of former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will now serve as the Spartans’ solo coordinator moving forward.

“Mike has done a tremendous job working with the defense,” said Dantonio in a statement. “He’s been deeply involved with everything with the defense since we first arrived here, and has helped coach some championship defenses that have been ranked consistently among the best in the nation, year in and year out. He did a great job as co-coordinator the past three years. He’s certainly earned this opportunity and I think he’ll do an outstanding job.”

To replace Barnett as defensive backs coach, Dantonio turned to Paul Haynes.  The past five years, Haynes was the head coach at Kent State before being dismissed at the end of the 2017 regular season.

This serves as a homecoming of sorts for Haynes as well.  From 2003-04, he was the defensive backs coach for the Spartans under John Smith.

The 48-year-old Haynes has also been a secondary coach at Arkansas (2012), Ohio State (2005-10), Louisville (2002) and Kent State (1999).

“We’re very, very excited about Paul,” said Dantonio. “He’s coached here before so he’s got a Spartan background. He was secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State, so he’s coached on the highest level with the secondary. He was a defensive coordinator at Arkansas as well. He’s been a head coach at Kent State, so I think that gives him a big picture feel. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He’s a dynamic person as well, so we’re excited to have him on campus.”