Given the high expectations, a Music City Bowl triumph isn’t exactly how Tennessee imagined ending their season. The Vols will certainly take it after a late slump in conference play though and ended with a nice postseason flourish by holding off a pesky Nebraska squad 38-24 on Friday night in Nashville.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs played a big part in the team’s victory by utilizing his arm and his legs in impressive fashion. The senior signal-caller threw for 291 yards and a touchdown — including a 59-yard scoring strike in the fourth to all but seal the victory — while also rushing for 118 yards and three more touchdowns. That was good enough to pace the team in both categories, with some distance between him and John Kelly (70 yards, one score).
As good a day as the offense had though, UT defensive end Derek Barnett was the best player on the field as he likely played his final game with the team. While he didn’t stuff the stat sheet with just six tackles, he was a factor on nearly every snap and applied constant pressure when rushing the passer. Barnett came close about a dozen times to getting to the quarterback and finally got him for his 33rd career sack with just over three minutes left in the game, moving him past Hall of Famer Reggie White for the school all-time record.
A lot of that had to do with Nebraska quarterback Ryker Fyfe, making his first start for the Cornhuskers in place of an injured Tommy Armstrong, getting rid of the ball quickly whenever he felt pressure. The signal-caller finished with 243 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for another as the team made things interesting with a nice comeback in the fourth quarter but never could overcome the speed and skill of the Vols.
Tailback Devine Ozigbo led the team in rushing with 66 yards after taking over for an injured Terrell Newby as the Cornhuskers closed out the season with a nice bounce back record of 9-4.
On the flip side, things didn’t quite go as planned in Knoxville in 2016, but the team got the ending they wanted in the Volunteer State and were able to knock off old nemesis Nebraska in a fun Music City Bowl.
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.