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Lamar Jackson, No. 16 Louisville escape with win over pesky (and improved) Purdue squad


Everybody figured that a Cardinals quarterback would take center stage in Indianapolis as regional rivals Purdue and Louisville squared off at Lucas Oil Stadium. What might have been slightly unexpected for some is that it was former UL signal-caller Jeff Brohm who stole the show… as the head coach of the Boilermakers.

Brohm’s team showed an impressive amount of moxie under the dome and gave their top 20 opponent everything they could handle for four quarters before the Cardinals eventually were able to pull away for a 35-28 win.

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Lamar Jackson played a big role in that final scoreline and looked much more like the player we saw dazzle college football at the beginning of last year. His numbers were spectacular when glancing at the box score — 378 yards passing and two touchdowns, 107 yards on the ground — but would have been even better had he gotten any help from his run game or offensive line.

Over on defense, a new-look Cardinals unit was pinned with their backs against the wall several times thanks to short fields and had to play most of the game without the services of their best player. All-American cornerback Jaire Alexander left early in the first half while trying to run back a blocked field goal, injuring lower leg and did not return. Despite those issues, they still made plenty of adjustments to slow down Purdue in the second half and recorded four sacks and four turnovers on the night.

The real story was not about the ranked team but about how much better the Boilermakers looked after such a dreadful 2016 that prompted wholesale changes for the program. Elijah Sindelar (118 yards, two scores, one pick) got the start for the team at quarterback and threw the game’s first touchdown, but was pulled several times for veteran David Blough (175 yards, two touchdowns and interceptions) starting in the second quarter. The rushing attack wasn’t much to write home about at just 2.4 yards per carry but the new spread attack using two signal-callers was pesky enough to make things interesting from start to finish.

When you look at season openers, you tend to learn as much about the lower ranked team as the higher one and that certainly seemed like the case on Saturday night in Indianapolis. Purdue looks much more competitive than they were a year ago and may have enough on the roster to make things interesting in their head coach’s debut campaign. The flip side is that Louisville doesn’t appear as close to ACC rivals Florida State or Clemson as they would like to be at this point.

The night still belonged to the Cardinals in the end, but the old one on the other sideline had plenty to smile about too.

FAU QB dismissed by Oklahoma ‘actually thanked’ Lane Kiffin for suspension that lasted two days

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That certainly didn’t last long.

Tuesday, after the first day of spring practice, Lane Kiffin revealed that Chris Robison had been indefinitely suspended from the Florida Atlantic football program for unspecified violations of team rules; one report had the suspension connected to skipping a mandatory tutoring session. At the time, the second-year head coach indicated that the suspension was day-to-day and could be lifted at any time.

As it turns out, Thursday was that time as the quarterback returned to the practice field with the rest of his FAU teammates.

“He came in [Wednesday] and actually thanked me for it,” Kiffin said according to the Sun-Sentinel. “He said it really kind of embarrassed him nationally and humbled him that things could kind of be taken away. It was good to see.”

A four-star member of Oklahoma’s 2017 recruiting class, Robison was arrested in April of that year for public intoxication; four months later, OU announced that Robison had been dismissed from the football program.  In August of last year, Robison announced his decision to transfer to FAU and ended up taking a redshirt for the 2017 season.

Robison and De’Andre Johnson are expected to compete for the starting job vacated by Jason Driskel, who announced earlier this offseason that he was retiring from the sport.  Johnson missed most of the 2017 season after blood clots were discovered in one of his arms.

Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa (thumb) returns to practice

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In the end, it appears to be much ado about (mostly) nothing.

Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his left (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.

Wednesday, it was reported that the injury was believed to be just a sprain and that Tagovailoa could return to practice soon. That report proved prophetic as Tagovailoa was indeed back at practice Thursday, albeit on a limited basis.


The quarterback was not doing the normal drills with his teammates but was off to the side working with head athletic trainer Jeff Allen. It looked like they were testing Tagovailoa’s ability to grip the football since the injury was suffered on his throwing hand. He replicated a few play-action roll outs with the ball in his left hand. At one point, he rolled over toward where Jalen Hurts was standing and they high fived.

Until Tagovailoa is fully recovered, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.

The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are entrenched in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.

USC graduate transfer Jalen Greene heads east to play at Illinois in 2018

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Greene is turning orange. Well, Jalen Greene is at least.

The former USC wide receiver who announced he would pursue a graduate transfer earlier this month announced on Twitter that he would be heading East to play at Illinois in 2018. He will be immediately eligible to play for the Illini.

Greene was originally recruited by the Trojans as a dual-threat quarterback but eventually made the move to receiver. He caught eight passes for 98 yards at USC last season as a partial starter and added another eight receptions for 116 yards the year prior.

Illinois has already begun spring practice and has been trying several new players at wide receiver in the process to find a good complement to Mike Dudek on the outside. It seems Greene could find himself in the mix to be one of those guys when he arrives in Champaign.

Josh Heupel keeping most of Scott Frost’s playbook at UCF as spring practice begins

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There are a ton of interesting storylines as spring practice begins across the country but one of the most intriguing programs to watch might be in Orlando as UCF looks to simultaneously follow up an undefeated season while also transitioning to a new coaching staff.

ESPN’s Andrea Adelson wrote a good story on the Knights changing some things up under head coach Josh Heupel the past few months like eating with players during meals, new strength and conditioning regiments and the usual offseason stuff you typically wind up season. However there was one interesting nugget about the team’s playbook that the coach relayed:

In other areas, player input has kept a few things unchanged. Take the offensive playbook, for example. Heupel and (Scott) Frost share enough offensive concepts that the new staff has adopted the terminology that players already know on the plays they have in common. So in theory, that should allow the offense to hit spring practice, which started Tuesday, with much more familiarity than another program that has completely changed over its staff.

As they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In Heupel’s first head coaching gig, it seems he’s taking that to heart.