CFT Preseason Top 25: No. 14 USC

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2013 record: 10-4 overall, 6-3 in the Pac-12 conference (tied for 2nd in South division)
2013 postseason: Las Vegas Bowl vs. Fresno State (45-25 win)
2013 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 19/No. 19
Head coach: Steve Sarkisian (34-29 overall; 1st year at USC)
Offensive coordinator: Clay Helton (5th year at USC)
2013 offensive rankings: 59th rushing offense (172.8 ypg); 70th passing offense (227.1 ypg); 72nd total offense (399.9 ypg); 60th scoring offense (29.7 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: seven
Defensive coordinator: Justin Wilcox (1st year at USC)
2013 defensive rankings: 15th rushing defense (120.6 ypg); 32nd passing defense (214.6 ypg);  13th total defense (335.2 ypg); 16th scoring defense (21.2 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: seven
Location: Los Angeles
Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (93,607; grass)
Last conference title: 2008

THE GOOD
Once USC athletic director Pat Haden cut ties with head coach Lane Kiffin during the middle of season, the Trojans played very well down the stretch. The team won six of its last seven games to finish 10-4. The offense in particular played at a much higher level. In the team’s final seven games, junior quarterback Cody Kessler threw 12 touchdowns compared to only two interceptions. Kessler had to battle earlier in the season with fellow quarterback Max Wittek to earn the starting job, but once Kessler was handed the reins, the team’s offense played at a much higher level. They did so under the supervision of offensive coordinator Clay Helton, who was retained by new head coach Steve Sarkisian. An experienced quarterback and improved system should help the Trojans play at a more consistent level on offense during the upcoming season.

THE BAD
As the Trojans prepare for the season, the team’s situation at offensive line is tenuous at best. Max Tuerk may be one of the most versatile linemen in college football — he’ll start at center for the first time this fall — and Chad Wheeler improved throughout his freshmen campaign. But the rest of the projected starters along the offensive line lack experience. Aundrey Walker was expected to provide a veteran presence and potentially start, but he has yet to practice during camp due to a lingering leg injury. Zach Banner (right tackle), Khaliel Rodgers (right guard) and Toa Lobendahn (left guard) continue to practice with the first unit, yet Banner is the only one to even appear in a game as a member of the Trojans. In fact, Lobendahn is a true freshman. It’s a unit that will require time to gel and needs to gain experience throughout the season for USC to play to expectations this season.

THE UNKNOWN
Will the Trojans ever be able to recapture the magic that once surrounded the program during Pete Carroll‘s nine-year run as the team’s head coach? It already failed to do so when named Lane Kiffin, the team’s former co-offensive coordinator, was named as Carroll’s replacement. Yet, the school went back to the same well and named Kiffin’s former running mate as the program’s newest head coach. Sarkisian seems like an ideal fit due to his history with the team, but the coach was never able to get the Washington Huskies over the hump during his five seasons with the program. Granted, USC’s talent level compared to Washington’s at the time Sarkisian took over is night and day. It has to be a concern for USC faithful that Sarkisian never finished better than 8-4 as a head coach.

MAKE-OR-BREAK GAME: at UCLA
Last season, the Trojans got the proverbial monkey off their backs by beating the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal for the first time since 2008. The next obstacle for the Trojans is overcome their cross-town rival, the UCLA Bruins. As the Trojans dealt with NCAA sanctions, Bruins head coach Jim Mora rebuilt UCLA and made the Bruins into one of the top teams in the nation entering this season. While the Bruins haven’t been able to overcome the Trojans on the recruiting trail, UCLA still won the last two contests between the teams by a combined score of 73-42. It’s likely that when these two teams meet to play on Nov. 12 the Pac-12 South division and an appearance in the conference’s championship game will be on the line.

HEISMAN HOPEFUL: DT Leonard Williams
Everyone knows that a only one player primarily from the defensive side of the football has ever won the Heisman Trophy, and Michigan’s Charles Woodson had the luxury of playing special teams and a little bit of offense too. However, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh and Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o have shown in recent years that dominant defenders in the midst of a special season can garner legitimate consideration for the sport’s most prestigious trophy. Williams is the most talented player on USC’s roster. He’s projected as a possible No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. In 13 games last season, Williams was second on the team with 74 tackles and added 13.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to think Williams will put together a season like Suh did in 2009 (85 tackles, 24 tackles for loss, 12 sacks) and establish himself as the most dominant defender in college football.

(Click HERE for the CFT 2014 Preseason Preview Repository)

Tennessee RB Tim Jordan arrested on multiple charges in Florida, including a felony firearm count

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A Tennessee football player would be the latest to trigger a reset of the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker.  If it were still a thing, of course.

Multiple media outlets reported overnight that Tim Jordan was arrested Saturday on multiple charges.  The Vols running back is facing one count each of carrying a concealed firearm, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana.  The firearm charge is a third-degree felony.  The other two are misdemeanors.

According to the Knoxville News, the Tennessee football player was seen speeding and swerving into the bicycle lane.  From the News:

The officers stopped the vehicle and reported smelling “a strong odor of cannabis emanating from inside.” Jordan, 20, was behind the wheel, and a 17-year-old male was in the passenger seat. Both seemed “extremely nervous,” the warrant reads.

Jordan told the officers he was carrying a gun in his back pocket without a concealed carry permit, according to the warrant. The handgun, a Ruger LCP pistol, was found in his back pocket, loaded and unholstered.

Inside the vehicle the detectives reported finding a small bag containing about 9.25 grams of marijuana, as well as a scale and several small plastic bags.

Thus far, the Tennessee football program has not commented on the development.

Jordan was a four-star member of the Class of 2017 for the Volunteers.

The past three seasons, Jordan has appeared in 36 of UT’s 37 games.  This past season, Jordan’s 428 yards were third on the Vols.  The year before, he was second on the team with 522 yards on the ground.

All told, Jordan has rushed for 1002 yards and four touchdowns during his time in Knoxville.  The Florida native has also added 26 receptions for another 227 yards coming out of the backfield.

Miami transfer RB Lorenzo Lingard granted immediate eligibility at Florida

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Florida has officially added immediate help to its football roster.  From an in-state rival, no less.

In December, it was confirmed that Lorenzo Lingard had entered the NCAA transfer database. In early January, Lingard announced on Twitter that he is transferring to Florida and will continue his collegiate playing career with the Gators.  A couple of days later, Florida confirmed the running back’s addition to the football roster.

It was thought that Lingard will have to sit out the 2020 season.  However, Lingard confirmed late this past week that he has been granted a waiver from the NCAA.  That will allow the back to play immediately for the Gators in 2020.  He’ll also have two additional years of eligibility that he can use starting in 2021 as well.

Lingard made the announcement on his personal Twitter account.

“Approved to play this year,” the back wrote. “Best birthday gift ever.”

A five-star member of The U’s 2018 recruiting class, Lorenzo Lingard was rated as the No. 2 running back in the country. He was also the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Florida and the No. 25 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. The back was the highest-rated signee in the class that year for the Hurricanes.

A knee injury essentially cost Lingard the last half of his true freshman season. This past year, he appeared in just two games.

During his brief time at Miami, Lingard ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. All of that production came in 2018.

Florida and Miami are not scheduled to play at any point the next three seasons.  They will, though, renew the in-state rivalry in 2024.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including Texas A&M’s president stating that Texas is ‘not relevant to us anymore’

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The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on May 31, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Poppin’ bottles: SEC opens the taps by approving revised alcohol policy for conference stadiums
THE SYNOPSIS: More than half of the 14 conference schools have embraced the concept of alcohol and football on fall afternoons.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Jimbo Fisher still hasn’t signed his 10-year, $75 million contract with Texas A&M
THE SYNOPSIS: This was one of the more odd storylines of the 2018 offseason.  Or any offseason, really.  Three months later pen was put to the contract.  The 10-year, $75 million contract.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Lee Corso inks extension to remain part of ESPN’s College GameDay show
THE SYNOPSIS: A college football institution.  Still.

2014

THE HEADLINE: 2014 Oklahoma State signee now facing five felonies
THE SYNOPSIS: Devon Thomas was, not surprisingly, removed from the roster.

2013

THE HEADLINE: A&M president: Texas is ‘not relevant to us anymore’
THE SYNOPSIS: What I hear when both sides talk about renewing the rivalry? “Blah. Blah. Blah-freaking-blah.

Georgia Southern announces one-year extension for head coach Chad Lunsford

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As Chad Lunsford continues to build the Georgia Southern football team, he’s been afforded some additional security.

Friday, Georgia Southern announced a one-year contract extension for its head football coach.  Lunsford is now signed through 2024.

“My family and I would like to thank Dr. Marrero, Jared Benko and the Athletic Foundation for this contract extension,” Lunsford said in a statement. “Georgia Southern is a special place and we are very proud to be a small part of such an awesome program. We will continue to work hard to help our student-athletes to grow as GS Men. Our program is on the rise and we are excited about the commitment shown to us as well as our commitment to give back to the University and the Athletic Department.”

In October of 2017, Tyson Summers was fired as the Georgia Southern football coach.  Lunsford replaced him on an interim basis.  A month later, Lunsford was named the permanent replacement.

GSU went 2-10 that 2017 season.  In the two years since, the Eagles have gone 17-9.  Included in that was a 10-win 2018 season.  During that campaign, the program claimed its first-ever bowl win as an FBS program.

“Chad Lunsford’s management of our football program, from developing young men of character to coaching them on the field, has been exceptional,” said athletic director Jared Benko. “He is a leader that is committed to doing things the right way. Chad represents our institution and state with great pride – both on and off the field. We look forward to his continued leadership of our football program.”