One of the bigger storylines in college football heading into the 2017 season is who will replace superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson for defending national champion Clemson. The Tigers wrapped up spring football on Saturday afternoon and head coach Dabo Swinney was not shy in naming a favorite to take over under center but noted that the quarterback competition on the team is far from over.
“If we played a game today, Kelly (Bryant) would be the guy,” Swinney told ESPN after the game. “But we don’t play today. We play in September, and everything counts. I’m pleased with the spring all of them have had.”
A junior next season, Bryant has only seen limited action as one of Watson’s primary backups the past two years but is the favorite to take over in 2017. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he brings plenty of size to the position and is as good, if not better, a runner than his predecessor was. One problem going forward however? Tigernet.com reports that Bryant tore a tendon in his finger during the first series of the spring game and will need to rest it up for the next six weeks or so.
As a result, Bryant’s numbers during Saturday’s outing weren’t exactly what Clemson fans were hoping as he completed just 4 of 13 attempts for 43 yards and an interception.
Despite that type of performance, fellow signal-callers Tucker Israel, redshirt freshman Zerrick Cooper and highly touted early enrollee Hunter Johnson apparently weren’t able to close the gap between themselves and Bryant in Swinney’s eyes. The race to become the starter figures to go through several weeks of fall camp later this year but for right now at least, there’s a leader in the clubhouse among the Tigers’ four options at quarterback.
After one of the most successful seasons in recent memory at Iowa State, it appears head coach Matt Campbell will not be able to keep the band together for another run.
Campbell confirmed to The Des Moines Register on Saturday morning that offensive coordinator Tom Manning was leaving Ames and will be taking a job in the NFL. The paper later was able to confirm that the team in question will be the Indianapolis Colts for a spot on Frank Reich’s new staff. ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg says Manning will be the team’s tight ends coach.
“I’m really happy and proud of him,” Campbell told the Register.
Manning has been with Campbell for years and the two actually played (and coached) together at famed D-III power Mount Union in the early 2000’s. Both were on the same staff at Toledo and Manning served as offensive line coach both there and at Iowa State. As offensive coordinator in 2017 he guided the Cyclones to a bit of an offensive renaissance despite relying on backup quarterback Kyle Kempt for most of the season, helping the team produce the third most points per game in school history while ranking in the top five in both total yards and passing.
ISU memorably upset Oklahoma in Norman and capped off an eight-win campaign in the Liberty Bowl with a victory over a ranked Memphis team.
The move leaves two openings on Campbell’s staff for 2018 but the Register notes that graduate assistant Jeff Myers is a possibility for the offensive line job and special teams analyst Joe Houston could be the team’s potential 10th assistant coach.
The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang are almost over but one of the best moments to happen over in South Korea came early Saturday morning stateside as Team USA completed an improbable run toward a gold medal in curling. John Shuster and company wound up capturing America’s first ever Olympic curling gold medal and fittingly won by beating the No. 1 ranked team in the world from Sweden in what is now being dubbed the Miracurl on Ice.
It’s no stretch to say that curling is not just enjoying its quadrennial moment in the spotlight but is genuinely seeing interest in the sport peak in places from coast-to-coast. That even includes the bustling winter sports capital of… Piscataway.
Rutgers offensive line apparently tried their hands at curling for the first time earlier this week and The Players’ Tribune sent along a camera to see how they did against a local club.
Let’s just say that the Scarlet Knights should stick to football. That said, a Big Ten curling tournament should definitely be in the works ASAP.
Either way, congrats to Team USA on the gold medal and let’s hope their victory tour includes teaching offensive lines far and wide how to bring the, ahem, hammer.
It’s taken a little longer than he would have liked but Pat Narduzzi finally has a complete coaching staff.
Pitt announced on Saturday morning that Cory Sanders was joining the program as the Panthers 10th assistant and will be coaching the safeties. The veteran was most recently at Western Michigan in 2017 and also has head coaching experience at the Division II level.
“Cory Sanders really impressed us during the interview process,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “We will be adding a young, up-and-coming coach who has outstanding football knowledge and really excels at teaching the fundamentals. Cory is also a relentless recruiter with a great eye for evaluation. He is a great addition to our staff and now gives us two coaches—along with Archie Collins—who will focus on the secondary.”
Collins, who was hired late last month, is set to focus on coaching the cornerbacks and also heads to the Steel City from a directional school in Michigan (Central, in this case). The pair will essentially split the job that former assistant Renoldo Hill handled before he left to join the Miami Dolphins staff.
The school also announced that defensive line coach Charlie Partridge was being promoted to assistant head coach after his name surfaced in connection to several openings this offseason. Paris Johnson, a former graduate assistant for Narduzzi back at Michigan State, was named assistant director of player personnel as well.
In a stark change from most offseason news in the sport, Purdue has something positive personnel-wise to hang its hat on moving forward.
By way of the Indianapolis Star, head coach Jeff Brohm revealed Friday that David Blough is “way ahead of schedule” and has been cleared to participate in spring practice, which kicks off this coming Monday, for the Boilermakers. Just how much of a participant the quarterback will be remains to be seen, though.
“He’s doing a great job and he will be out there at spring practice and will be participating,” Brohm said according to the Star. ‘Whether it will be fully that remains to be seen. He will be out there Day 1 and doing some portions of practice.
“We’ve got to make sure we protect him, especially in 11-on-11 settings. We’ll see how the first week goes if we can progress on that.”
Blough suffered a dislocated ankle in a November win over Illinois and missed the remainder of the 2017 season. At the time of the injury, it was thought that it and the subsequent recovery process would keep the junior out of spring practice.
Blough had started the two games leading up to his season-ending injury, with Brohm confirming that the rising senior will be the starter as this offseason kicks off in earnest. Elijah Sindelar, who reclaimed the starting job after Blough’s injury, will miss spring practice as he continues to recover from a torn ACL on which he played for the last month of the regular season plus the Boilermakers’ bowl game.