Associated Press

Oregon starts fast, hangs on to outlast Nebraska

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Oregon used 14-0 runs to begin and end the first half to claim a 42-14 lead at the half. It would need each and every one of those points as Nebraska pitched a shutout in the second half, but the Ducks still held on for a 42-35 win.

The Ducks (2-0) opened the game with a 75-yard drive capped by a 32-yard strike from Justin Herbert to Brenden Schooler, then intercepted Nebraska quarterback Tanner Lee on the Huskers’ first play from scrimmage. Five plays later Herbert fired his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, an 8-yarder to Charles Nelson.

The teams traded touchdowns through the remainder of the first quarter and into the second until Oregon posted a 21-0 run to close the half, turning a 21-14 track meet into a 42-14 lapping, with scoring runs from Royce Freeman and Kani Benoit and, aided by another Lee pick inside his own territory, a third scoring strike from Herbert with 39 ticks left until the break.

Oregon closed the first half with 409 yards of total offense — Herbert was 21-of-25 for 313 yards — and the idea of Nebraska (1-1) defensive coordinator Bob Diaco making second-half adjustments seemed like a dark joke.

And then the second half started.

Nebraska moved 75 yards to pull within 42-21 to open the third quarter, then forced a three-and-out and raced 53 yards to pull within 42-28. And then Herbert was intercepted by Nebraska’s Aaron Williams, but the Huskers gained only two yards on the ensuing possession. This would be a theme for Nebraska.

Oregon’s next touch ended on a turnover on downs, but Lee was intercepted for a third time. The Ducks’ next possession missed a field goal, and then a punt, but Nebraska failed to take advantage both times. Finally, after a Freeman fumble with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter, Nebraska pulled within 42-35 on a 2-yard Mikale Wilbon run.

Oregon went three-and-out again on its next possession, and suddenly Nebraska had the ball at its own 43 and more than two minutes remaining with a chance to tie the game. But Lee was pressured into his fourth interception, into the arms of Ugochukwu Amadi. Oregon would not score in the second half, but Oregon would not need to score in the second half.

Herbert finished the day hitting 25-of-33 throws for 365 yards with three touchdowns and an interception, while Freeman pounded out 29 carries for 153 yards and two scores. Oregon rolled out 566 yards of total offense, well short of the Nebraska opponent record of 656. Nebraska ran for 109 yards as a team, while Lee was 19-of-41 for 252 yards with three scores and four costly interceptions.

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.