Halftime: BYU’s defense sets tone against Houston


BYU quarterback Taysom Hill will receive most of the attention this season in Provo, Utah as the Cougars attempt to climb the national rankings, but BYU’s defense sets the tone for the program.

No. 25 BYU leads the Houston Cougars 23-15 through two quarters of play at LaVell Edwards Stadium. BYU’s aggressiveness on defensive positively and negatively defined the early portion of the contest.

Bronco Mendenhall‘s squad could have a far more commanding lead, but mistakes on the defensive side of the football kept drives alive for Houston. It finally resulted in a late second quarter touchdown from Houston quarterback John O’Korn to wide receiver Deontay Greenberry two plays after BYU was flagged for a personal foul. BYU’s Cougars committed another mistake as time expired when they surrendered a touchdown on a 45-yard Hail Mary pass from O’Korn to Daniel Spencer for Houston’s second touchdown within the final 1:41 of the half.

BYU gave as good as it received from Houston, though.

It started when senior linebacker Zac Stout was unblocked and tackled Houston running back Ryan Jackson in the endzone to give BYU a 2-0 lead in the first quarter. BYU’s defense continued its physical play throughout the first quarter and most of the second frame. Senior safety Craig Bills delivered three devastating hits over the middle of the field, and Houston’s wide receivers were looking over their shoulder when they ran their routes.

Yet, BYU couldn’t stop Houston once O’Korn and his spread offense started to get into rhythm. O’Korn attempted 32 passes in the first half and gained 214 yards through the air. Hill countered with 241 yards of total offense.

As these team’s prepare for the second half, their approaches will be simple. BYU must remain aggressive and physical but refrain from making mistakes, while Houston wants to keep momentum on its side by keeping O’Korn in rhythm.

Braden White named prestigious 12th Man at Texas A&M

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The 12th Man is a big, big deal at Texas A&M. In fact, it’s pretty much the brand of not just the football program, but the entire athletics department. Case in point, A&M’s athletics department website is 12thman.com.

For the uninitiated, in 1922 the Aggies found themselves short of players in a football game against Center College, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, after multiple players sustained injuries over the course of the game. Down to just 11 players, A&M student E. King Gill volunteered to suit up and stand on the sidelines in case the team needed him. Gill now has a statue outside of Kyle Field, and A&M’s student section is collectively referred to as the 12th Man.

As such, it’s a tremendous honor for an active Aggie player to be awarded the No. 12 and, after fullback Cullen Gillaspia donned the jersey for a record-tying 39 games, it’s time to hand it off to a new player.

On Tuesday, Jimbo Fisher awarded the No. 12 jersey to Braden White, a walk-on linebacker from Florence, Ala.

“I’m honored just to be able to represent this great university and everything about it,” White said. “It’s a true blessing.”

White is a redshirt junior who has checked all the boxes of a player who checks all the 12th Man boxes. He was named Defensive Scout Team MVP during his redshirt year of 2016 and was honored as the Top Conditioned Athlete at the Aggies’ 2018 team banquet. He has appeared in 18 career games, recording 16 career tackles playing primarily as a special teams contributor.

White will wear No. 12 for the first time next when Texas A&M — ranked, ironically, No. 12 in the preseason AP poll — hosts Texas State next Thursday night (8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

UConn begins building out independent schedules with BC home-and-home

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Until they tell us otherwise, Connecticut is going to try to make it as an FBS independent. This upcoming season will be the Huskies’ final one as a member of the American Athletic Conference, as the Huskies’ Olympic sports will return to the Big East and the football team will go it alone.

This will require lots (and lots and lots) of scheduling work, and quickly. As of now, the Huskies have four games on the schedule for a season that begins 12 months from now.

While it does nothing to help the 2020 slate, UConn began chipping away at the mountain in front of it on Wednesday by announcing a home-and-home with Boston College. The first game will be Oct. 29, 2022 in Storrs, with the return game going down Oct. 28, 2023 in Chestnut Hill.

The two programs have met 14 times previously; BC leads the series 12-0-2. The Eagles took the most recent meeting 39-16 in 2017.

Additionally, BC announced a 2023-28 home-and-home with Army and a Sept. 9, 2023 home game with Holy Cross.

Safety graduate transfers from Penn State to Pitt

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Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.

Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.

Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.

A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.

NC State transfer Tim Kidd-Glass tweets move to Liberty

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Hugh Freeze may be dealing with what was a significant health issue, but he’s still working his first-year roster at Liberty.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday evening, Tim Kidd-Glass announced that he “would like to thank God for allowing me to have another opportunity to further my football career… at Liberty University.” The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the safety triggered a move from North Carolina State by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As a graduate transfer, Kidd-Glass will be eligible to play for the Flames in 2019.

The past three seasons, the Virginia native played in 33 games for the Wolfpack.  He started nine of those contests, all of which came during the 2017 season.