Texas uses defense, run game to beat K-State

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This was just what Mack Brown needed.

With his starting quarterback out of the game due to a head injury and the pressure on to beat Kansas State for the first time since 2003, his Longhorns (2-2) came through with a much-improved defensive effort and a solid running game to defeat the Wildcats, 31-21.

“The defense played much better. We’re 1-0 in the Big 12 and moving forward,” Brown said afterward.

The previous two games saw the Texas defense allow a combined 822 yards on the ground, but the Wildcats (2-2) were held to just 124 yards on Saturday night. The Longhorns ran for a combined 256 yards and averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in those games, but they rushed for 226 yards and 5.3 yards per carry against K-State.

In other words, Texas seems to have fixed what had been ailing it the most. At least for now.

The game certainly didn’t end up like Texas thought it would. Up 17-7, the Longhorns looked like they might roll, but they lost starting quarterback David Ash to a head injury at half time. Case McCoy came on in relief of Ash and Texas decided to play things close to the vest. McCoy attempted just nine passes so the Longhorns fed the ball to sophomore running back Johnathan Gray, who rumbled for a career-high 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

Texas held a 31-14 lead with nine minutes to play, but Kansas State came storming back. A Jake Waters one-yard touchdown dive put the Wildcats to within 10 with seven minutes to go. Then Waters again drove K-State inside the Texas seven-yard line, this time with two minutes left. However, Waters fumbled the ball away on a keeper and the Longhorns recovered. K-State penetrated as deep as the Texas 11-yard line in the closing moments thanks to a 40-yard punt return by Tramaine Thompson, but Waters fumbled again to seal the game for Texas.

It wasn’t a particularly pretty win, but it snaps a five-game losing streak by Texas to K-State and keeps the Longhorns alive in their quest for a Big 12 title. Plus, it gives Brown a brief reprieve from the torrent of criticism coming his way.

The bright side for Kansas State was the play of Waters. The junior college transfer had his best game of the season, completing 19 of 30 passes for 275 yards, while also rushing for 26 yards and a score. If he can cut down on his turnovers, he has a chance to develop into one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. It doesn’t get any easier for the Wildcats defense, which must face Oklahoma State and Baylor in its next two outings.

Arizona State AD picks up $350,000 bonus after Sun Devils APR scores are released

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We discussed the release of Academic Progress Rate (APR) data from the NCAA on Thursday and some of the bonuses that college football coaches received for their teams’ performance in the classroom. Well, those coaches should have had Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson as their agent because his APR-related bonus puts all others to shame.

Per The Arizona Republic, Anderson — a former agent, it should be noted — is getting a whopping $348,310 in bonus money as the result of the Sun Devils’ latest APR score. Here’s how the paper breaks it down:

Under terms of a new contract signed last fall that pays $800,000 in base salary, Anderson will receive $348,310 in academic bonuses. That breaks down to $136,000 for football’s 975 (out of 1000) APR score, $120,000 for ASU’s overall APR score and $92,310 for six teams receiving public recognition awards for an APR in the top 10 percent nationally.

$350k! For comparison’s sake, USA Today notes that Florida State AD Stan Wilcox picked up $17,000 in APR bonuses. That bonus for Anderson was nearly as much as New Mexico State’s Doug Martin was paid in total salary.

No matter what you think about the whole paying of college athletes or the NCAA system at large, it seems pretty clear by some of the figures in coaches and athletic directors salaries that there is plenty of money to go around.

LSU QB Myles Brennan’s dad downplays transfer of Joe Burrow, not worried about depth chart

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LSU’s quarterback race heated up after spring practice thanks to the transfer of former Ohio State signal-caller Joe Borrow but the incumbent at the position does not appear to be worried about him coming in and taking the starting job.

Well, at least that quarterback’s dad isn’t worried. Owen Brennan, father of sophomore QB Myles Brennan, spoke to The Sun Herald about the situation in Baton Rouge and it certainly doesn’t seem like the latter is planning on transferring himself and seems quite confident in becoming the starter for the opener against Miami.

“Here’s what I think: I think Joe Burrow has three years and 15 pounds on Myles. That’s it,” the elder Brennan said. “I don’t think he has a huge upper hand.

“I think (Myles is) in a very, very good position to compete for the starting job. I really do… That’s just my opinion. If I thought the opposite, if they were bringing in Tom Brady or something, I’d say, ‘hey, Myles, look …’ But I don’t see him in that position.”

The younger Brennan saw action in six games last season and is the only player on the roster to have thrown a pass for the Tigers, throwing one touchdown against a pair of interceptions. Redshirt freshman Lowell Narcisse also made some noise in the spring to where coaches thought the race was fairly even and would push into fall camp. That’s certainly the case now with Burrow joining the team this summer.

It’s not surprising to hear a dad is confident in his son’s abilities and thinks he’ll become the starter but the real question on everybody’s mind over the next few months is what Ed Orgeron thinks about the race in what is becoming a very big season for him at LSU.

Punters are transfers too: Northwestern picks up grad transfer punter Jake Collins from WKU

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Punters are transfers too and Northwestern just picked one up.

The Bowling Green Daily News is reporting that Western Kentucky punter Jake Collins was given his release from the school and will be a graduate transfer to Northwestern. He is listed as a redshirt freshman and will be immediately eligible.

Collins has been the Hilltoppers punter the last three years and averaged 40.2 yards per punt last season. If you’re scratching your head hearing the name or school and wondering where you remember him from, Collins went viral for perhaps the worst fake punt in the history of fake punts when WKU played Florida International:

Collins will likely wind up replacing Hunter Niswander with the Wildcats after he graduated. His departure does leave WKU without a punter listed on their roster though some changes and walk-ons might wind up filling the spot for the 2018 season.

Clemson preseason depth chart lists Kelly Bryant as top QB, Trevor Lawrence as backup

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While some coaches fight tooth and nail to release any information about their program like who might be starting a game (cough, Jim Harbaugh, cough), that is not exactly how Clemson’s Dabo Swinney runs his shop. Case in point came Wednesday when the team released a “preseason” depth chart that featured few surprises but plenty of talent as the Tigers likely begin the year in the top four of just about everybody’s early polls.

Of course, the one storyline most people will focus on is the quarterback position for the team. Senior Kelly Bryant is listed as the starter as expected following spring practice but it is notable that there’s now a clear pecking order behind him as he fights off five-star freshman Trevor Lawrence, who was the clear No. 2 at the position following the transfer of Hunter Johnson. There seems to be some distance between Lawrence and fellow (redshirt) freshman Chase Brice, which means just about everybody will be wondering if No. 2 at the spot will eventually take over if Bryant gets off to a slow start in 2018 after some struggles in Clemson’s postseason run.

Elsewhere, there were a handful of positions that raised an eyebrow, including running back Travis Etienne jumping over last year’s starter at the position in Tavien Feaster. Adam Choice will also see plenty of time as that’s yet another deep spot for the team. Also notable is Kendall Joseph sliding over to take the starting job at middle linebacker in place of the guy who manned the same spot last season in Tre Lamar.

The school also notes that they have 17 returning starters (including both specialists), including their fearsome defensive line that “is the first in NCAA history to have four returning players who have been a first or second-team All-American previously.” Needless to say, Clemson will once again be the heavy favorite to win the ACC and make yet another trip to the national championship game.