Arkansas lets No. 7 Alabama off the hook, 14-13

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With a sellout crowd inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium and the 1964 national championship team in the house, Arkansas appeared primed to end its 14-game SEC losing streak in a big way after taking a 13-7 lead on a 54-yard catch-and-run from Brandon Allen to A.J. Derby with 4:43 to go in the third quarter.

The Razorbacks touched the ball five times after that. Its play distribution? Three combined carries for its workhorse running backs – one Jonathan Williams rush for two yards, two Alex Collins carries for five yards – and 15 touches for Allen. In those 15 touches, Allen rushed once for 14 yards, was sacked three times for a loss of 18 yards, and completed 3-of-11 passes for 27 yards with a game-ending interception. That’s 23 total yards – 1.53 yards per play – with a turnover, while neither of its backs touched the ball in the final 11 minutes of the game.

Not surprisingly, Arkansas didn’t score again, and Alabama took home a 14-13 win.

Mistakes were the name of the game for Arkansas. The Hogs should have opened the scoring after Allen hit Kody Walker for what should have been an easy five-yard touchdown pass, but Trey DePriest punched the ball out of his arms and through the back of the end zone for a touchback. Arkansas also had a first quarter field goal try that could have opened the scoring, but holder Matt Emrich couldn’t handle the snap.

With the game still scoreless midway through the second quarter, Arkansas safety Alan Turner let a Blake Sims pass hit off his chest and fall incomplete. Two plays later, Sims hit T.J. Yeldon for a 22-yard touchdown to give Alabama a 7-0 lead.

Arkanas immediately responded by marching 81 yards in 10 plays for a three-yard Williams plunge, but John Henson‘s extra point was tipped and sailed wide left. That would prove to be the difference in the game.

After Arkansas took a 13-7 lead, Sims tossed the winning score to DeAndrew White from six yards out with 12:36 remaining. Sims connected on 11-of-21 passes for 161 yards and those two scores with no interceptions. Arkansas bottled up the Crimson Tide ground attack, playing without center Ryan Kelly, to the tune of 66 yards on 32 carries.

Allen hit 21-of-40 passes for 245 yards with a touchdown and a back-breaking, across-the-field interception to Landon Collins late in the fourth quarter that sealed Alabama’s win. Williams led all rushers with 83 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, while Collins added 13 yards on a half-dozen attempts.

In the end, Arkansas managed to lose a game where it won the turnover battle (3-2), achieved eight more first downs (18-10), and out-gained Alabama by 107 yards (334-227). That’s a tough way to suffer your 15th straight conference loss.

The Hogs will move on to face likely SEC East champion Georgia in Little Rock, while Alabama returns home to face Texas A&M.

Five-star Penn State WR Justin Shorter tweets transfer to Florida

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The Florida Gators football program is the latest to benefit from Ye Olde Transfer Portal.

In late November, Justin Shorter took the initial step in transferring from Penn State by entering the NCAA database.  Two months to the day later, the wide receiver took to Twitter to announce that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career as part of the Florida Gators football team.

As of yet, UF has not announced Shorter’s addition to the roster.

A five-star member of the Nittany Lions’ 2018 recruiting class, Shorter was rated as the No. 1 receiver in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 8 recruit overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Only defensive end Micah Parsons was rated higher than Shorter in Franklin’s class that year.

Limited to four games as a true freshman in large part because of injuries, Shorter caught three passes for 20 yards in 2018.  In 11 games this season, Shorter caught 12 passes for 137 yards.

Barring the unexpected, Shorter will have to sit out the 2020 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He would then have two seasons of eligibility beginning in 2021.

World of college football reacts to tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, 13-year-old daughter in helicopter crash

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As is the case across the entire world of sports, college football is reacting to the devastating news involving Kobe Bryant.

Sunday morning, Bryant was one of nine people killed — initial reports had the number at five — in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on his way to a travel basketball event.  The former NBA superstar, who retired from the sport following the 2015-16 season, was 41.

Adding to the devastation, one of Bryant’s daughters, who was also a player on her father’s travel basketball team, 13-year-old Gianna Maria Bryant, was killed in the crash as well.

Kobe and Gianna are survived by wife/mother Vanessa and three daughters/sisters.  The oldest is 17, the youngest will turn one in June.

In the hours after the heartbreaking news was confirmed, the world of college football mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant. Below is just a sampling.

 

Georgia state rep. proposes pay-for-play legislation with a twist that will make no one happy

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Ever since California’s SB 206 passed last September, more than a dozen states followed with their own versions of the Golden State’s Fair Pay to Play Act, to go along with a number of concurrent pushes in Washington. No matter your stance on the pay-for-play issue or what side of the political aisle you sit on, it seems we can all agree that politicians are not the people to solve this issue, and yet the NCAA kept dragging its feet, and dragging its feet, and draaaaggging its feeetttt and, well, here we are. And Sandra Scott‘s bill a large reason why.

Scott, a state representative in Georgia (D-Rex) has introduced HB 766, a type of compromise bill that will make no one happy.

The appeal, at least from the outside, of California’s SB 206, is that it would allow college athletes to capitalize on their popularity during the lifetime of that popularity while costing the school very little money, since the money would come from third-parties.

Scott’s bill does neither. In fact, it goes out of its way to do the opposite.

According to HB 766, Georgia would require its schools to set aside a third of all monies earned in postseason play into an escrow account, which would then be given to players upon graduation.

Read for yourself below.

To recap, Scott’s bill would cost the schools millions of dollars and also shut out a lot of the players who generate those millions. Why should, say, Jake Fromm be barred from having a hand in the money he produced for Georgia just because he went pro?

In short, Scott’s (well-meaning) bill would anger both schools and athletes while continuing the overly paternalistic attitudes adults have adopted toward college athletes that applies to no other demographic in college sports.

Trey Holtz set to join father Skip’s staff at Louisiana Tech

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Coaching is the family business for the Holtz family, and now two of them will work under the same roof.

As first reported by Bleed Tech Blue, Louis Leo Holtz, Jr., better known as Skip Holtz, has hired Louis Leo Holtz III, better known as Trey Holtz. The younger Holtz will serve as Louisiana Tech’s wide receivers coach.

Trey Holtz played his college ball at Texas under Mack Brown and Charlie Strong. A reserve quarterback, Holtz appeared in 23 games as a holder in 2015-16.

He then moved into the family business at Ohio State, where he worked as a graduate assistant for the past three years. Holtz worked with the Buckeyes’ running backs and tight ends, but will now coach receivers for his father’s staff. He replaces Todd Fitch, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Vanderbilt.

For the Holtz family, Skip hiring Trey is an act of history repeating itself. After serving as a GA at Florida State and Colorado State, Skip’s first full-time job came on his father Lou Holtz‘s staff as Notre Dame’s wide receivers coach in 1990. Skip was promoted to offensive coordinator in 1992 and became Connecticut’s head coach in 1994.