'Saturday Storylines' — Debuts for Barkley and Paulus

Leave a comment

In the game of the day, how will Virginia Tech’s young trio of running backs do when facing Alabama’s staunch run defense led by nose guard Terrence “Mount” Cody? Freshman Ryan Williams will start in place of injured Darren Evans, but he’ll be fighting for carries with fellow freshman David Wilson and sophomore Josh Oglesby.

While Georgia head coach Mark Richt puts his 10-2 road record versus ranked teams on the line at No. 9 Oklahoma State, two of the nation’s best wide receivers will be on display. Cowboy junior Dez Bryant deservingly gets a lot of love, but there aren’t many out there with more potential than Bulldog sophomore A.J. Green.

Will Michigan be able to leave its troubles behind (at least for three and a half hours) and find solace on the field at the Big House? Perhaps, but it would be a lot easier if they didn’t find Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller and the rest of the Broncos out there waiting for them.

The Syracuse football program doesn’t deserve any or our attention, but former Duke point guard Greg Paulus’ debut as a one-and-done starting quarterback will be fascinating. One thing’s for sure, Minnesota is more than happy to see him back there taking snaps.

Just like Paulus, Matt Barkley hasn’t played in a real football game since high school . . . but he’ll turn 19 on Tuesday. For the first time in USC’s storied football history, a true freshman starts at quarterback. Trojan boss Pete Carroll certainly has figured out a way for us to care about a game involving San Jose State.

After seeing Boise State basically go 13-0 on Thursday night (yes, they’ve got that many regular season games), No. 20 Brigham Young knows it must beat Oklahoma to keep pace with the Broncos in the hunt for a BCS berth. Both teams have four new starters along the offensive line to protect their prized passers. Max Hall figures to be in more jeopardy than Sam Bradford, but all of it will make for good TV.

Although denying any involvement (yeah, right), Notre Dame got that pesky billboard taken down. Supporters hope that isn’t the only defensive action taken by the Irish this week. Self preservation while facing Nevada’s pistol offense could prove to be much tougher than practicing censorship.

There are several new quarterbacks taking over the reigns at high profiles programs in Week 1. Most notably they are: Jarrett Brown (West Virginia), Joe Cox (Georgia), Blaine Gabbert (Missouri), Greg McElroy (Alabama) and Dom Natale or Tom Savage (Rutgers). In some cases, they’re filling the cleats of an all-timer at their school. That’s never an easy assignment, no matter who you line up against.

Is Ole Miss ready for its close-up? Much has changed in the last year for the Rebels. Are they ready for the spotlight that comes along with a target? Sunday’s short drive up to underrated and over-motivated Memphis will provide the initial indication.

Labor Day finds a pair of programs that have been working overtime to get back to national prominence. The Florida State-Miami series used to reside at the top of the college football pantheon. The Seminoles and Hurricanes are both on the climb back up and will eventually get there, but the one that uses the other as a stepping stone earns a crucial recruiting advantage in the region.

Ohio State co-DC Jeff Hafley reportedly rebuffed interview overtures from Cincinnati Bengals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Cincinnati Bengals were rebuffed in its pursuit of an SEC defensive coordinator this past week.  As it turns out, they pursued another coordinator at the collegiate level — and were shot down yet again.

According to a report from the NFL Network, the Bengals sought an interview with new Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley for their still-vacant coordinator job. “However,” the report stated, “he’s not going to renege on his commitment to OSU after taking the job last month.”

On Jan. 7, the Buckeyes confirmed Hafley and Michigan assistant Greg Mattison had been named as co-coordinators on Ryan Day‘s first OSU coaching staff.

The 39-year-old Hafley — he’ll turn 40 in April — has spent the past three seasons as the defensive backs coach for the San Francisco 49ers.  All told, Hafley worked at the NFL for the last seven seasons.

Hafley’s last job at the collegiate level coming at Rutgers in 2011 as part of the coaching staff of Greg Schiano, who was let go by Day as OSU’s defensive coordinator early last month.

Ex-Illinois WR Mike Bellamy returning to Illini as RBs coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

A familiar face will reportedly be next up on the offensive side of Lovie Smith‘s Illinois coaching staff.

Bob Asmussen of the Champaign News-Gazette was one of a handful reporting Friday that Smith is set to name Mike Bellamy as his new running backs coach.  While there’s nothing yet official from the football program, a school official stated that a staff announcement could come as early as this weekend.

The hiring of Bellamy, who would replace an assistant lost to a MAC school, would mark a Champaign homecoming on a couple of fronts.

In the late eighties, Bellamy was a first-team All-Big Ten wide receiver and second-team All-American kick returner for the Illini.  Then, from 2012-15, Bellamy served as wide receivers coach at his alma mater.

The past two seasons, Bellamy was the wide receivers coach at Toledo.  In between his stints at Toledo and Illinois, he was a quality control coach at Mississippi State in 2016.

Arkansas reportedly hiring Auburn staffer for on-field role

Getty Images
Leave a comment

One SEC West school has turned to another from the same division to fill a hole on its coaching staff.  Reportedly.

According to 247Sports.com, and citing two sources familiar with the decision, Chad Morris is expected to hire Kenny Ingram as Arkansas’ defensive line coach. Morris’ move to add a new assistant to his Razorbacks staff was triggered by John Scott‘s move to South Carolina earlier this offseason.

Ingram, who played his college football at Arkansas State, has spent the past two seasons as the Director of Player Relations at Auburn.

Prior to his time on The Plains, Ingram worked as the defensive line coach at Cincinnati from 2015-16.  From 2006-09, he was on the coaching staff at Memphis, including a turn as defensive coordinator his last season with the Tigers.

In 2012, Ingram worked with the defensive line at his alma mater ASU.

Lincoln Riley’s brother named App State running backs coach

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Garrett Riley is a bright, accomplished coach in his own right, but until he wins back-to-back Heismans with two different quarterbacks (or, at least becomes a head coach in his own right), he’s going to be known as his big brother’s little brother. With that in mind: Lincoln Riley’s brother has been announced as Appalachian State’s new running backs coach.

“I’m excited to be part such a traditionally successful program,” Riley said in a statement. “I’m humble and grateful to have the opportunity to be around this organization and work with Coach Drink and the rest of the staff that I’ve known about for several years. Look forward to continuing the great success that Appalachian State’s had, and I can’t wait to start working with the players.”

Garrett followed Lincoln to Texas Tech and East Carolina before branching out on his own at Kansas, where he joined the staff as an offensive analyst in 2016 and was promoted to quarterbacks coach in 2017 and tight ends/fullbacks coach in 2018.

Appalachian State has not announced an offensive coordinator under new head coach Eli Drinkwitz — and certainly the head coach, a former offensive coordinator himself, will have tremendous sway on his favored side of the ball initially — it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Riley become the Mountaineers’ offensive coordinator in 2020 or 2021. “We’re looking to be cutting edge on offense, and we expect him to continue to push that,” Drinkwitz said Friday. “His experience coaching in North Carolina will also benefit our program.”