BYU needs to build a new identity after 31-24 loss to UCF Knights

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BYU’s aspirations of sneaking into the College Football Playoff ended when quarterback Taysom Hill‘s knee exploded. The Cougars’ letdown against the Utah State Aggies Saturday carried over to Thursday night’s contest against the UCF Knights.

Hill’s replacement, Christian Stewart, wasn’t quite good enough to help BYU regain the momentum the team built during its 4-0 start to the season. Instead, the Knights (3-2) captured a 31-24 overtime victory.

Stewart, a senior, played well for stretches. After a sub-par first half, Stewart seemed to hit his stride. BYU scored all three of its touchdowns during the third frame. But the offense couldn’t manage to make key plays down the stretch or in overtime.

The Cougars sorely missed Hill’s ability to improvise and push the ball down field in the passing game. Stewart finished 22-of-37 passing for only 153 yards. While Stewart isn’t the same level of athlete as Hill, he still added 52 rushing yards. It was a solid effort during the senior’s first career start. But his play will be compared to Hill for the rest of the season. When BYU isn’t victorious, Stewart’s performance will come under scrutiny.

BYU’s disappointing stretch doesn’t fall predominantly on its new starting quarterback, though. The Cougars vaunted defense didn’t play to expectations.

The Cougars’ defense is built on toughness by winning at the line of scrimmage and aggressiveness with the ability to get to the opposing quarterbacks. Yet, the Knights gained 389 yards of total offense.

UCF quarterback Justin Holman entered Thursday’s game with 12 combined completions during the previous two contests. Holman threw the ball 51 times and completed 30 passes against the Cougars.

BYU’s defense is banged up and missing multiple starters at the moment, but Cougars defensive coordinator Nick Howell remained aggressive in his play-calling. It wasn’t enough as BYU fell short each time the defense was required to make a play at crucial points in the contest.

The cougars didn’t have answer for UCF in overtime. The Knights quickly marched 25 yards on five plays to score the game’s winning touchdown when Holman found William Stanback out of the backfield for a four-yard touchdown connection.

As Stewart leads BYU through the rest of the season, the quarterback’s goal is to make sure the program stays on track and becomes bowl eligible. Two more wins should come easily, and the program is already locked into an agreement with the newly minted Miami Beach Bowl. Although, games against the Nevada Wolf Pack, Boise State Broncos and Cal Golden Bears look far more difficult now than they did two weeks ago.

UCF, meanwhile, enters the heart of their conference schedule with a contest against the Tulane Green Wave Saturday, Oct. 18. The Knights should become bowl eligible by the first weekend of November with the Temple Owls and Connecticut Huskies on the docket after next weekend’s game.

Mike Gundy says AD ‘was very apologetic’ after recruiting criticisms

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I guess you can chalk this up to much ado about (mostly) nothing.

In a mid-June interview, Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder seemed to take a shot at his head football coach’s recruiting prowess, saying he “wants to finish higher in those… rankings than we consistently do.” After not saying much publicly since, Mike Gundy seemed to stoke that fire a little further during the Big 12 Media Days Tuesday by tersely declining to answer a question posed to him about that situation.

Not long after he was away from the podium, however, Gundy completely diffused any type of lingering issues over the comments.

“I knew what he was trying to say,” Gundy said by way of ESPN.com. “He just didn’t do a good job of getting the information out there. That’s the same thing I told him. He was very apologetic. I said, ‘Coach, I know exactly what you were trying to accomplish. You don’t have to worry about me.’

“It’s difficult to say the right thing all the time.”

Gundy added that Holder “just doesn’t have a way of saying things that fit in the society today where people understand. He’s just very, for a lack of a better term, old-school in his approach.”

The 69-year-old Holder — he’ll turn 70 in mid-August — has been the AD at OSU since 2005.  That was the same year Gundy took over as the head football coach at his alma mater.  In those 13 seasons, Gundy has led the Cowboys to a 114-53 record overall and a 69-42 mark in Big 12 play.

On June 13, it was announced that Gundy had reached an agreement on a new contract that would keep him in Stillwater through the 2023 season.  Nine days later, it was announced that Holder was on the receiving end of a contract extension through the 2021 season.

WR Brandon Martin no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster

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There’s been yet another personnel change at a Power Five school a couple of weeks before summer camp kicks off.

In an update released earlier this week, Brandon Martin is no longer listed on Arkansas’ roster. Citing sources close to the program, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette writes that the wide receiver “has run into an academic issue and is trying to regain his eligibility.”

Per a school spokesperson, however, the door has been left open for Martin, who would be a redshirt junior this season, to eventually return to the Razorbacks football team. Martin’s head coach, though, doesn’t seem as optimistic.

Don’t know if he will become part of our roster again,” Chad Morris said at the SEC Media Days Tuesday. “I don’t know at this point. ..

“I do not see that happening right now,” the head coach added when asked if he could see the receiver rejoining the team this year.

Martin came to Arkansas from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, rated as the No. 1 junior college receiver in the Class of 2017 and the No. 7 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite rankings.

In his first year in Fayetteville, Martin caught nine passes for 119 yards. Both of those totals were eighth on the Razorbacks, while his 13.2 yards per reception was sixth on the team.

CFB Hall of Fame Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera, dubbed Señor Sack, passes away

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Former Texas Tech defensive tackle Gabe Rivera passed away on Tuesday. He suffered a perforated bowel while attending a social services function on Friday night and his family was preparing to move him to hospice care when he passed on Tuesday morning. “Gabriel went home to the Lord at 9:25,” Rivera’s wife, Nancy, told KENS-TV in San Antonio.

A San Antonio native, Rivera played defensive tackle at Texas Tech from 1979-82, where he earned All-American status after recording 62 tackles and five sacks as a senior. “He was one of the most dominating defensive lineman to ever play the game and a loyal Red Raider throughout his life,” Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt said in a statement.

Selected 21st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1983, Rivera, dubbed “Señor Sack,” recorded two sacks in his first six games, but was left paraplegic after getting in an automobile crash in October.

“From the accident in ‘83, it took maybe five, six, eight years to get control,” Rivera said in 2012. “At one time, I just changed my life and started going forward. I was mad at the world, mad at God and stuff.”

He moved home to San Antonio after the injury, where he remained and raised a family until his death. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and Texas Tech’s Ring of Honor and had his No. 69 jersey retired in 2014.

Rivera was 57 years old.

Northern Illinois, Miami (Ohio) to play for Mallory Cup

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The Mid-American Conference has a proud history of fostering future College Football Hall of Fame coaches. From legends such as Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler to modern day titans such as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, the MAC has served as the launching pad of coaching greatness for generations. But despite all that talent, only one coach won the MAC at two different schools: Bill Mallory.

Mallory went 39-12 as Miami (Ohio)’s head coach from 1969-73 — he took over for Schembechler, who left for the Michigan job — and led the RedHawks to a perfect 11-0 season, a No. 15 final AP ranking and a win over Florida in the Tangerine Bowl in ’73. That success led him to Colorado, but he was let go after the 1978 season. After sitting out the ’79 campaign, Mallory got back in at Northern Illinois, guiding the Huskies to a 25-19 mark from 1980-83. His 1983 team went 10-2, beat Cal State Fullerton in the California Bowl and won the Huskies’ first of four MAC titles.

Mallory parlayed that 1983 season into the Indiana job, where he remained until his 1996 retirement. In 27 years as a head coach, Mallory went 168-129-4, including a 64-31 record in nine combined seasons in the MAC.

To honor his May 25 passing, Northern Illinois and Miami (Ohio) announced Monday they will play for the Mallory Cup moving forward. The first such game will take place on Nov. 14 in DeKalb, Ill.

“Bill Mallory was a special coach and a great man who left a lasting legacy in the Mid-American Conference and certainly at NIU and Miami,” NIU AD Sean Frazier said.  “The Mallory Cup honors a man whose impact on both programs should and will be remembered each time our teams meet on the football field.  We’re happy to work with our colleagues at Miami on this initiative and invite all fans to be here at Huskie Stadium on November 14 for the first Mallory Cup game.”

“Miami is proud to partner with Northern Illinois University in the creation of the Mallory Cup,” added Miami AD David Sayler. “It is a fitting tribute to a wonderful man and coach that has meant so much too so many. Although Miami and NIU will not play every year in football, it is good to know that when we do, Bill Mallory will be honored and remembered for the tremendous legacy he has left here in Oxford and in DeKalb.”

The Huskies and RedHawks have played 17 times in a series that dates back to 1970. NIU holds a 9-8 advantage; Miami won seven of the first nine meetings, but Northern Illinois has taken seven of the last eight, including the most recent match-up by way of a 45-12 decision on Oct. 17, 2015.