Northwestern suspends senior RB for first two games

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Northwestern running back Venric Mark only played in three games last season and missed the final six games. The Wildcats are going to be without their talented running back for just a little bit longer.

According to a release from the school, Mark has been suspended for the first two games of the upcoming season due to a violation of team policy.

“I made a mistake and am prepared to deal with the consequences of that,” Mark said in the statement. “There’s no one that holds me to a higher standard than the one I hold myself to, so nobody is more disappointed than I am. First and foremost, I feel like I let my teammates down, and that feels the worst. I’m grateful to have another season to compete with this team. My focus moving forward is on working as hard as I can in camp and supporting my teammates in practice and on gamedays so that we can achieve our goals this season.”

Mark is a valuable weapon in the Wildcats’ offense and special teams. In 2012, Mark ran for 1,366 yards, and he was named a first-team All-American as a punt returner by the Football Writers Association of America. He adds a completely different dynamic to the Wildcats offense due to his explosiveness and shiftiness.

The Wildcats have two key non-conference games to open the season that Mark will miss. Northwestern opens the season against the Cal Golden Bears on national television, and the Wildcats face the always-pesky Northern Illinois Huskies a week later. Mark’s absence will be felt during those two games.

Fortunately, the Wildcats have experienced depth at running back. When Mark was hurt last season, Treyvon Green stepped in and led the team in rushing with 736 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Green will be asked to carry the load again until Mark returns Sept. 20 against the Western Illinois Leathernecks. And then the Wildcats will have an impressive two-head monster at running back when they enter Big Ten play a week later.

North Texas turns to FCS Eastern Washington for new OC

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Nearly three weeks after losing its offensive coordinator to a Pac-12 school, Seth Littrell has filled that void on his North Texas coaching staff by dipping down to a lower level of football.

UNT has confirmed via a press release that Littrell has tapped Bodie Reeder as his new offensive coordinator.  Reeder replaces Graham Harrell, who left late last month to take the same job at USC.

The 32-year-old Reeder has spent the past two seasons as the coordinator at FCS Eastern Washington.  Prior to that, Reeder served as an offensive quality control coach working with quarterbacks at Oklahoma State for three seasons.

“Coach Reeder is one of the brightest young offensive minds in the country and we are happy to have the opportunity to bring him to Denton,” the head coach said in a statement. “He has been successful at all of his career stops at several levels of college football, most recently at Eastern Washington and Oklahoma State. I can’t wait to bring him into our family and culture and give him the opportunity to leave a great mark on our program.”

Reeder began his coaching career at Wisconsin-Stout after graduating from Eastern Illinois in 2010, spending his time at the Div. III program as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Jeremy Pruitt’s shuffled Tennessee staff includes Derrick Ansley as DC

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Jeremy Pruitt‘s coaching staff up on Rocky Top will have a decidedly different look to it when the 2019 season kicks off.

One of the most noteworthy staff announcements Friday afternoon involved Derrick Ansley, who was hired last week as the replacement for dismissed cornerbacks coach Terry Fair.  Not only will Ansley serve as Tennessee’s defensive backs coach, but he’ll also be the Vols’ defensive coordinator.  Not only that, but Ansley has also been designated as UT’s defensive playcaller, the duties of which were held by Pruitt in his first season as head coach in 2018.

One of the two co-defensive coordinators from a year ago, Chris Rumph, will retain that title as well as his duties as outside linebackers coach.  The other co-coordinator on that side of the ball, Kevin Sherrer, will lose that particular designation but remain on as inside linebackers coach.  Additionally, he’ll now serve as special teams coordinator.

Pruitt’s former special teams coordinator, Charles Kelly, left for a job at Alabama earlier this offseason.  Kelly was also UT’s safeties coach, a job that will be rolled into Ansley’s all-encompassing defensive backs duties.

On the other side of the ball, Jim Chaney, as previously reported, will be Pruitt’s new offensive coordinator, but he won’t be in charge of any position groups as Pruitt will now employ a total of six offensive assistants.

Tee Martin, whose hiring as an unspecified offensive assistant was also previously announced, will serve as wide receivers coach.  The Vols’ former assistant at that position, David Johnson, will move to running backs while the former assistant manning that position, Chris Weinke, moves to quarterbacks.

UT’s quarterbacks were previously coached by Tyson Helton, the offensive coordinator who left Knoxville in late November to become the head coach at Western Kentucky.

There are only two offensive assistants who remain in the same jobs as a year ago — Will Friend (offensive line) and Brian Neidermeyer (tight ends).

Florida State parts ways with offensive line coach Greg Frey

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A self-created hole has suddenly, but not unexpectedly, opened up on Willie Taggart‘s Florida State coaching staff.

In a statement sent out by the university, Taggart announced that he has decided to part ways with one of his assistants, Greg Frey.  Frey, who was a member of FSU’s 1993 national championship team, spent this past season, his first, as the Seminoles’ offensive line coach while also holding the title of run-game coordinator.

Below is the head coach’s statement, in its entirety:

This morning I informed Greg Frey that we are moving in a different direction with our offensive line coaching position. I appreciate the hard work and expertise Greg brought to our program and understand how important it was for him that FSU be successful. I wish Greg and his family the best as he continues his coaching career. We are working to fill this position quickly.

This past season, FSU’s line surrendered 36 sacks, a total that was 12th in the ACC and tied for 16th-worst nationally.  Even worse, the Seminoles’ 2.8 yards per rushing attempt was 129th out of 130 teams at the FBS level.

Frey came to Tallahassee after spending one season as the run-game coordinator/offensive tackles coach/tight ends coach at Michigan.  Prior to that, he was the line coach at Indiana for six seasons.

Penn State reportedly losing special teams coordinator to NFL

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Those of you who had Penn State in the “Next Power Five Program to Lose an Assistant to the NFL” pool, collect your winnings.

While nothing is official from his new employer, 247Sports.com has reported Friday morning that Penn State assistant Phil Galiano is leaving James Franklin‘s coaching staff to pursue an opportunity in the NFL.  The specific NFL club for which Galiano is leaving wasn’t divulged.

Penn State subsequently confirmed Galiano’s departure from the program.

“We are excited for Phil and his family. This is a tremendous opportunity for Phil to return to the NFL,” the statement from the school read. “We are very appreciative of Phil and everything he has done for our program over the last two years. We wish him nothing but success moving forward.”

Galiano has been with the Nittany Lions for two seasons, first as a defensive consultant in 2017 and then as special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach this past year.  Prior to that, he was the special teams coordinator at both Miami (2016) and Rutgers (2015).

From 2012-13, Galiano was an assistant special teams coach on Greg Schiano‘s Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff.

Galiano would be the second change to Franklin’s staff this offseason.  Wide receivers coach David Corley was dismissed in early January and replaced a couple of weeks later by Gerad Parker.