Mark Richt returned to his alma mater this year to win national championships but his first task in the postseason was to end Miami’s decade-long drought of frustration when it came to bowl games.
After Wednesday’s 31-14 Russell Athletic Bowl triumph over West Virginia, you can cross that one off the list for the head coach in his first season in Coral Gables.
Quarterback Brad Kaaya bounced back from a slow start to light the Mountaineers vaunted secondary on fire (282 yards, four touchdowns) and the Hurricanes used a nice second quarter surge to leave any doubt about the final outcome in this one for their first win in the postseason since 2006.
Keying that run was terrific young wideout Ahmmon Richards, who turned a short pass into a 51 yard catch-and-run for the team’s first touchdown. That would be the first of five straight scoring drives for Miami that included big plays from David Njoku and Braxton Berrios to find the end zone among others. The rushing attack wasn’t much to write about for the team (82 total yards) but with so much success through the air it’s no surprise to see them trend away from it until needing to kill the clock late in the fourth quarter.
Things didn’t start out all that bad for West Virginia, which had a swarming defense early in the game that didn’t allow a first down in the entire first quarter. Things quickly went down hill after allowing the first score however and the team never could get on track offensively as quarterback Skyler Howard proved ineffective. Even the normally productive running game for the Mountaineers failed to get much going on the night as their signal-caller led them in most statistical categories on the ground.
As a result, Miami was able to move on and capture their ninth win to close out a very good debut year with the school for Richt and his new coaching staff. While the Hurricanes will suffer some key losses to graduation and the NFL Draft, the team likely returns their quarterback and a host of playmakers on both sides of the ball and should enter the top 20 of next year’s preseason polls with plenty of momentum.
WVU does pick up their third loss of the season in the process for what was otherwise a very impressive bounce-back campaign for the team — the bowl performance notwithstanding after getting beat up down in Orlando.
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.