Freshman kicker Quinn Nordin kicked a school-record five field goals to help No. 7 Michigan (3-0) overcome red zone deficiencies in a hard-fought 29-13 victory against Air Force (1-1) Saturday afternoon in Michigan Stadium.
For the third straight week, Michigan’s offense continued to sputter at best, leaving some questions for the Wolverines as they prepare to enter Big Ten play next week. Michigan managed to score just one touchdown against the Falcons, and the Wolverines really showed some warts trying to move the ball. Give Air Force credit for the defensive effort they presented, but Michigan only converted three of 11 third-down attempts and was unable to score a touchdown on any of their four red zone trips. It may not have cost Michigan a win today, but at some point, that trend cannot continue if the Wolverines are going to make a run for the Big Ten championship this fall.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight was never pulled from the game, but his day was far from impressive as the leader of a Michigan offense still trying to find itself three weeks into the season. Play calling lacked creativity at times as well, but that just means there is room for improvement for Jim Harbaugh and his squad. Fortunately for Michigan, they have a kicker who continues to be automatic from any distance early on and the defense continues to rise to the occasion.
Air Force did find something to work with in the second half as they worked to tire down Michigan’s defense using their trademark option attack, but the Wolverines proved to have the decisive edge anytime Air Force tried to mix things up using their speed. Michigan was just faster. On a fourth-quarter drive, with Air Force trailing 22-13, a promising drive was thwarted when the Falcons tried running Timothy McVey to the right side. The Wolverines gobbled him up behind the line of scrimmage inside the red zone and Air Force kicker Luke Strebel sailed a field goal attempt wide left. Air Force probably needed to get a touchdown on the drive anyway, but the missed field goal midway through the fourth quarter felt like a near knockout blow for an Air Force offense not known for quick drives.
Michigan now enters Big Ten play looking to finish what they failed to do a year ago; win the Big Ten East Division, and perhaps the Big Ten championship. The defense is locked in for the job. Next week, the Wolverines head to Purdue to take on a Boilermaker team that has looked like a new program this season under new head coach Jeff Brohm. Purdue is playing at Missouri today and has already pushed Louisville into the fourth quarter. Can Michigan avoid an upset next week?
Air Force will return home for a big Mountain West Conference game against San Diego State. The Aztecs will be coming off a home game against Stanford.
In an interview earlier this week, transferring Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson expressed confidence that he would be immediately eligible to play for Michigan in 2018. Whether that confidence will be rewarded, though, won’t be known for a couple of months down the road.
Patterson and other transferring Rebels football players have retained the services of Thomas Mars — known to most of the college football world as the bulldog attorney who handled Houston Nutt‘s lawsuit against Ole Miss — in their attempt at immediate eligibility next season without having to sit out the transfer season normally required by the NCAA. In an interview with Angelique Chengalis of the Detroit News, Mars revealed that a final decision on Patterson’s eligibility to play for the Wolverines in 2018 won’t be known until late January or early February.
In the interim, Mars will argue to the NCAA that Ole Miss displayed “egregious behavior,” including misleading recruits like Patterson and his family regarding the potential seriousness of the NCAA issues facing the football program, and thus the standard transfer year should be waived in this case. “At this point, there’s no room for Ole Miss to deny it unlawfully kept the NOA (NCAA Notice of Allegations) it had just received under wraps for five months while the school misled prospects and their parents about how the NCAA investigation would likely impact the future of the football program and the goals and dreams of the student-athletes who ended up signing with Ole Miss under false pretenses,” the lawyer told Chengalis.
The News also laid out the process that will play out between Patterson, Ole Miss, Michigan and the NCAA in the coming weeks:
In the case of Patterson, Michigan must send a package to Ole Miss with information that supports the premise of Ole Miss’ “egregious behavior.” Ole Miss has several options — it can support what Michigan sent, oppose it, express neutrality or not respond at all. Once the NCAA has Ole Miss’ position on this, it moves forward with its decision-making process.
“If Ole Miss supports the transfer waivers, this could be a very easy decision (by the NCAA),” Mars said.
If Patterson is able to gain instant eligibility, he’d immediately become the favorite to win the Wolverines’ starting quarterback job.
Seth Collins‘ winding journey in Corvallis has taken yet another twist.
After asking for it, Collins has been granted a release from his Oregon State scholarship, the school has confirmed. The junior wide receiver has already parted ways with the team, and no specific reason for the departure has been given.
This marks the second time that Collins has left the Beavers football program. In January of 2016, Collins, amidst speculation that he would be moved from quarterback to wide receiver, made the decision to transfer; three months later, he returned to OSU — as a receiver.
Last season, Collins was second on the team in catches (36) and yards (418). After three games this season, Collins was ruled out indefinitely because of what was described by the team as a health-related issue; he didn’t play again for the Beavers in 2017. In the three games in which he played this season, he caught 12 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown.
That illness was unrelated to the unspecified health event last season that left him hospitalized and caused him to miss not only the last two games of 2016 but spring practice this year as well.
If Collins moves on to another FBS school, it’s believed he’ll have to sit out the 2018 season. That would leave him with one season of eligibility that he can use in 2019.
It was thought that, when Collins left the first time, he was headed to Northern Illinois, so that’s certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.
You just have to love the vagaries of the annual coaching rumor mill.
The offensive line coach and running-game coordinator at Minnesota, Ed Warinner has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Paul Haynes as the head coach at Kent State. In fact, just yesterday, the former Ohio State and Notre Dame assistant had been labeled as a “strong candidate” for the opening.
Thursday night, however, FootballScoop.com tweeted that Warinner is no longer a candidate.
Less than 20 minutes after that tweet, Warinner took to his personal Twitter to confirm he is not only not a candidate for the job but claimed that he has “never been contacted by anyone involved with the school.” Left unsaid is whether those representing or associated with him had been in contact with the university.
Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen (HERE) and Syracuse offensive coordinator Sean Lewis (HERE) are the latest names du jour connected to the opening at the MAC school.
Kent State’s one of two jobs at the FBS level that remain open, although the other, Louisiana, could be closed in short order.
So much for that plan.
The odd marriage of Arizona State and long-time but not-in-a-long-time NFL coach Herm Edwards was made even odder by the fact that Edwards was retaining Todd Graham‘s entire offensive coaching staff. Less than two weeks into his tenure, however, there could be a glitch in the plans to help ease Edwards’s return to coaching as 247Sports.com is reporting that Louisiana (the school formerly known as Louisiana-Lafayette) has offered its head-coaching job to Billy Napier.
The 38-year-old Napier had just completed his first season as ASU’s offensive coordinator. He was also given the title of associate head coach upon Edwards’ hiring.
Penn State defensive coordinator Brent Pry was also one of the potential candidates for the Louisiana job who interviewed for the opening.
Whoever gets the job with the Ragin’ Cajuns will be replacing Mark Hudspeth, fired earlier this month after seven years with the program.