Marqise Lee

Leading receiver among three USU Aggies suspended for pair of games

1 Comment

Utah State’s starting loss could very well end up being an in-state rival’s gain.

Very late Saturday night, USU announced that three players — sophomore offensive lineman Tyshon Mosley, senior wide receiver Hunter Sharp and senior cornerback Bryant Hayes — have been suspended for the first two games of the 2015 season. The only reason given was unspecified violations of team rules.

The suspensions will cover the season opener at home against FCS Southern Utah and the road opener against Utah. Not only that, but the suspensions will cover two likely starters and one potential one.

Sharp was the team’s leading receiver in 2014, topping the team in receptions (66), receiving yards (939) and receiving touchdowns (7). He started 12 of 14 games last season and earned All-MWC honors after coming to USU as a JUCO transfer.

In its release announcing the suspensions, the school wrote that “Sharp led the nation with his four touchdown receptions of at least 70 yards (81, 72, 75, 70) and is one of just two Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players in the last five years to accomplish this feat along with USC’s Marqise Lee in 2012.”

While it won’t garner the headlines that Sharp’s suspension will, Mosley’s is at least as noteworthy. Last season, the then-redshirt freshman started 11 games for the Aggies at left guard, and is widely viewed as one of the best young linemen in the conference.

Not exactly an afterthought either, Hayes started three games in 2014. In 2015, Hayes was expected to at least challenge to be one of the Aggies’ starting corners.

Provided there’s recidivism involved, all three would be eligible to return from suspension for the Sept. 19 road game against Washington.

About college football’s deflated ball scandal…

6 Comments

The whole deflated ball thing isn’t exactly new, at least at the college level.

As the NFL sorts through allegations of deflated balls in New England’s 45-7 blowout win over Indianapolis last night, now seems like a good time to bring up Oregon’s 62-51 win over USC in 2012. After that game, Oregon alleged USC purposely deflated balls it used on offense in the first half of that game, with coach Lane Kiffin insisting he had no knowledge of a student manager illegally altering the balls.

USC was fined $25,000 for the incident and the student manager in question was fired. From our report from November 2012:

The report adds that officials found and re-inflated three footballs before the start of the game, and two more at halftime. The student manager claims he was not given instruction to deflate the game balls — under-inflated footballs are easier to hold onto, catch and throw, and offenses use their own footballs — if you believe that sort of thing.

Like the Patriots-Colts thing, the deflated balls didn’t have much of an impact on the game — Oregon still managed 34 points in the first half and USC only cut the final score to a respectable (I guess) 11 points when Marqise Lee caught a three-yard touchdown from Matt Barkley with three seconds left.

Kiffin, meanwhile, is reportedly a candidate to leave Tuscaloosa for the 49ers’ offensive coordinator position.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 12 Rewind

27 Comments

As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

PROJECTING CFP TOP FOUR
Thanks to fifth-ranked Alabama’s win over top-ranked Mississippi State and sixth-ranked Arizona State’s upset loss at Oregon State, there will certainly be a shakeup when the College Football Playoff committee releases its updated Top 25 rankings this Tuesday night.

Just how big of a shakeup?  That’s hard to say, if for nothing more than we have very little data on the the 13-person group’s thought process.

The Tide was leapfrogged by No. 4 TCU last week, seemingly because of the strength of the latter’s résumé.  Nothing, though, quite strengthens the ol’ résumé like a win over the No. 1 team in the country.  Mix in the Horned Frogs struggling on the road against lowly Kansas, and that Big 12 school will likely find itself on the outside of the Fine Four.  So will another from that conference, Baylor, thanks to its strength of schedule, or lack thereof.

Speaking of résumés, No. 3 Florida State’s took a significant shot this weekend.  FSU has what some would’ve consider three quality wins this season, Clemson, Notre Dame and Louisville; those first two teams suffered bad losses in Week 12, meaning the Seminoles, despite being undefeated, could find themselves at No. 4 when the rankings are released.  Some “experts” have even suggested they could be outside the Top Four entirely.  While the latter scenario seems far-fetched, the former certainly isn’t.  Remember, the committee moved one-loss Oregon ahead of FSU in the last set of rankings.

It would not be surprising at all to see the Tide, No. 2 Oregon and, yes, the Bulldogs ahead of the ‘Noles come Tuesday night.  MSU’s résumé is certainly much stronger than FSU’s, with wins over LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M surpassing anything the team from Tallahassee has done this season.  The Bulldogs, though, lost some luster aside from its first loss as each of those teams mentioned as quality wins lost in Week 12.

The other one-loss team in the Top Ten, No. 8 Ohio State, simply doesn’t have the strength of schedule to move up more than the one spot ASU’s loss hands them.  Plus, they have the albatross that is the still-inexplicable loss to Virginia Tech earlier in the year hanging around its neck, although some — some — of the stink of that loss came off as Tech upset No. 21 Duke earlier today.

Again, it’ll all come down to what the committee values more: overall résumé or overall record.  As we saw last week, it was decidedly the former, so I’m predicting the Top Four come Tuesday will look like this:

1. Alabama
2. Oregon
3. Mississippi State
4. Florida State

I’m not saying it’s right, and I’m not saying it’s what I would do — scroll down a little to see who would be in my Top Four — I’m just saying it’s how I think the committee will look at the current state of the top of its rankings.  Or not.  One of the two.

CONFERENCE CHASE CLARITY
Well, for the most part.

With 12 weeks in the books, and just two more remaining in the regular season (three if you’re the Big 12), more than half of the nine Power Five division/league races have either been claimed (ACC Atlantic,  Pac-12 North) or have a very clear front-runner (Big Ten East, SEC East, SEC West).

(more…)

Lane Kiffin gets last laugh as Alabama rolls past Florida

29 Comments

Love him or hate him, Lane Kiffin is making a positive contribution to the Alabama Crimson Tide offense.

No. 3 Alabama rolled up 645 yards of total offense during its 42-21 victory over the Florida Gators.

While Alabama has been known as a run-first, methodical offense during head coach Nick Saban‘s tenure, the team’s new offensive coordinator has his unit rolling during Alabama’s 4-0.

The performance was impressive on many levels.

First, Kiffin added tempo which created explosive plays for the Crimson Tide. Alabama had two touchdown passes of 79 yards or longer in the first quarter.

Second, the offensive coordinator is doing exactly what a good coach does. He’s putting his quarterback in a position to succeed. The tempo and overall play calling helped first-year starter Blake Sims post a career day with 445 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Third, Kiffin is getting the ball to his play-makers. Amari Cooper is arguably the best wide receiver in college football. The junior wide receiver was targeted numerous times and finished the game with 10 receptions for 201 yards, which was third-best effort in Alabama history. Cooper would have broken Julio Jones‘ single-game receiving record if he didn’t have two big plays called back due to penalties.

The wide receiver shouldn’t expect his load to decrease as the season continues, though:

Finally, Alabama is still a balanced attack. Members of the Crimson Tide ran the ball 52 times. And Kiffin found a way to distribute the ball between multiple talented running backs. Derrick Henry led the team with 20 carries for 111 yards. T.J. Yeldon also had 18 carries.

All of this was accomplished against a very talented Gators defense. Excellent play calling simply exploited Florida’s weaknesses. After this drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the temperature of Florida head coach Will Muschamp‘s hot seat continues to rise.

Kiffin, meanwhile, makes Alabama’s offense as dangerous as it has ever been under Saban.

NFL Draft: SEC wins round two by edging Big Ten and Pac-12

4 Comments

The SEC led the way in round one of the 2014 NFL Draft with 11 players drafted by NFL teams. In the second round the SEC once again pumped out more NFL talent than just about every other conference, but the Big Ten left a significant mark as well. The SEC turned in seven draft picks, edging the Big Ten when the Seattle Seahawks drafted Missouri offensive tackle Justin Britt with the final pick of the second round.

It took a while before we finally saw some running backs drafted (three of them, in fact) but the second round focused on wide receivers and linemen.

Here is the full round two breakdown, by conference.

SEC: 7

42. WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
44. OT Cyrus Kouandijo, Alabama
51. DT Ego Ferguson, LSU
55. RB Jeremy Hill, LSU
60. DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
63. WR Jarvis Landry, LSU
64. OT Justin Britt, Missouri

Big Ten: 6

37. DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
56. WR Cody Latimer, Indiana
57. RB Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
58. CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska
59. OT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
61. WR Allen Robinson, Penn State

Pac-12: 6

33. OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA
38. TE Austin Seferia-Jenkins, Washington
39. WR Marqise Lee, USC
45. WR Paul Richardson, Colorado
47. DE Trent Murphy, Stanford
54. RB Bishop Sankey, Washington

Mountain West: 5

34. DE Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
35. OT Joel Bitonio, Nevada
36. QB Derek Carr, Fresno State
44. C Weston Richburg, Colorado State
53. WR Davante Adams, Fresno State

ACC: 3

41. CB Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
48. DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
50. LB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech

 

Independent: 3

40. LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU
46. DT Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
52. TE Troy Niklas, Notre Dame

Big 12: 1

49. TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

Non FBS: 1

62. QB Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois

Which positions were drafted in the second round?

Defensive Line: 7

Wide Receiver: 7

Offensive Line: 6

Tight End: 3

Running Back: 3

Cornerback: 2

Linebacker: 2

Quarterback: 2