Ask any good running back what the most unheralded skill is at the position and the odds may be pretty good the answer will be pass protection. What truly separates the great running backs from the good running backs is a will to commit to pass protection when not being handed the football. It is something some players take great pride in once they work on the skill, and that is something Michigan running back Derrick Green is soaking in with preparation for the 2014 season.
“They know we can run the ball,” Green said last week during a summer episode of “Inside Michigan Football,” according to MLive.com. “But you’ve got to be able to block first, and run second. Protecting the quarterback is the main thing for us. Running the ball is secondary, pass protection is first.”
That is a good mindset for the Wolverines after allowing 36 sacks last season. Credit must be given to new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, who is bringing a bit of a new attitude and philosophy to Michigan after serving as an assistant at Alabama the past two seasons. One of the big differences between Alabama and most of its opponents the last few years has been the ability of the offense to protect the quarterback. It is a philosophy that must be bought from all positions, not just the offensive linemen up front.
Michigan has a talented running back group with loads of potential, but for the Wolverines to truly take the next step as an offensive unit, the running backs must improve the pass blocking this fall.
(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)
USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?
After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.
Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.
The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.
A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggart “badly wants a second act” at USF. While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.
With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach. Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.
“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”
After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017. Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.
Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.
Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.
“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”
In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.
The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor. The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.
Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.
This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns. Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.
Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.
- Hunter Bryant, Washington
- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
- Brevin Jordan, Miami
- Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
- Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
- Colby Parkinson, Stanford
- Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan
With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.
Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State. The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.
The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.
According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal. Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.
Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia. A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.