Late Jeff Driskel interception costs Florida as Gators snap defeat from jaws of victory

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Jeff Driskel was perfect in the fourth quarter – until he wasn’t. And his one moment of imperfection cost Florida as the Gators blew a late 24-20 lead to fall to LSU 30-27 at the Swamp on Saturday night.

Trailing 20-17 entering the final frame after Leonard Fournette‘s second rushing touchdown of the game at the 3:42 mark of the third quarter, Driskel hit five of his first six passes of the fourth quarter for 118 yards, including an 11-yarder to Demarcus Robinson to put the Gators up 24-20 with 6:10 to play, and a 73-yarder, again to Robinson, to move the ball to the LSU two after the Bayou Bengals had reclaimed the lead at 27-24 on an Anthony Jennings scoring strike to Travin Dural (which he happened to catch while battling pass interference).

With the clock nearing the tw0-minute mark, Brandon Powell rushed for one yard on first-and-goal, and Driskel carried for no gain on second-and-goal. With the ball on the one-yard line, Driskel found an open Tevin Westbrook in the end zone, but the pass clanged off his hands and fell incomplete. The Gators settled for a Francisco Velez field goal to tie the game at 27-27 with 1:49 to play.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Gators reclaimed the ball at their own 42 with 54 seconds to play. Driskel hit Brandon Powell out of the backfield on consecutive plays for 13 yards (making him 7-of-9 for 131 yards with a touchdown and a drop in the quarter….good, right?), Driskel forced a ball into coverage, and Rickey Jefferson snagged it for LSU and returned the ball 23 yards to the Florida 36.

Because of the Westbrook drop, a tie game meant LSU could play conservative knowing worst-case scenario meant overtime – instead of a touchdown do-or-die situation – and that they did. One Terrance Magee run and an incomplete pass set Colby Delahoussaye up for the 50-yard game-winning field goal with three seconds to play.

The win dropped Florida to a painful 3-2 on the season and 2-2 in SEC play, while LSU improves to 5-2 and avoids its first 0-3 SEC start since 1999.

Driskel completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions while carrying the Gators’ ground attack with 21 rushes for 71 yards. While Driskel dominated the stat sheet, Andre Debose was Florida’s best offensive player with two punt returns that totaled 115 yards, one for 62-yard touchdown that opened the scoring and a 53-yarder that set up Driskel’s touchdown pass.

Florida played most of the games without star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, and lost wide receiver Latroy Pittman to a scary hit that saw him carted off the field.

Jennings played the whole way at quarterback for LSU, hitting on 10-of-21 passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, while Fournette posted his best game as a collegian with 27 rushes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

Florida will host Missouri next week, while LSU returns home to face Kentucky.

Arizona State confirms Boise State’s Zak Hill as new OC

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At the end of the regular season, Herm Edwards fired the bulk of Arizona State’s offensive staff. Nearly two weeks later, the reshaping of the assistants on that side of the ball has commenced in earnest.

Following up on speculation that had been growing in recent days, ASU on Saturday announced that Zak Hill has been hired as Edwards’ new offensive coordinator. Hill will replace Rob Likens, who was a part of the post-regular-season purge.

“Zak is very well versed in offensive football,” the head coach said in a statement. “He comes from winning programs and he played the quarterback position. I like that. He’s good at building an offense around the personnel that he has available to him. He will force the defense to adjust with multiple formations and personnel groups. His style fits the DNA of what we want on our coaching staff. He’s an excellent teacher.”

The past four seasons, Hill served as the coordinator at Boise State. Prior to that, and aside from a one-month stop at Hawaii, Hill spent seven seasons as the passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at FCS power Eastern Washington.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and I truly believe it is a great situation for me at ASU,” Hill said. “I appreciate Coach Edwards believing in me and having the trust to bring me on and I am thankful to Ray Anderson and the Sun Devil administration for their support in making this happen. I am really excited to get down there and I know we have some exciting weapons on offense. I look forward to putting together an explosive, fun offense that our fans will love to watch.”

“I am humbled at this opportunity. I also want to thank everyone at Boise State for a great four years and I am grateful for all the support I have received from Bronco Nation,” he added. “I would especially like to thank Coach Harsin for his leadership and my years at Boise State and the opportunity he afforded me to grow as a coach.”

In addition to Hill’s, uhhh, addition, ASU also confirmed Derek Hagan and Prentice Gill as offensive assistants. Their specific titles and responsibilities were not detailed.

Hagan, who played wide receiver for the Sun Devils and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015, was an offensive analyst at ASU this past season. Gill served in the same role at Oregon.

Dabo Swinney lays out new responsibilities for offensive staff

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Jeff Scott spent a dozen years at Clemson, including the last five seasons as co-offensive coordinator, before taking the head job at USF earlier this month. Despite his importance to Dabo Swinney‘s success, there won’t be too much change for the defending national champions moving forward.

Friday, Swinney confirmed that he will not be filling Scott’s co-coordinator position and will instead allow Tony Elliott to serve as the sole coordinator. Elliott and Scott have shared coordinating responsibilities each of the past five seasons.

Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter will maintain his current responsibilities as well as add the title of passing-game coordinator.

Additionally, Tyler Grisham, who played for the Tigers from 2005-08, has been promoted to wide receivers coach, a responsibility previously held by Scott. Grisham had been serving as an offensive analyst for the program.

“We have a good plan for all that stuff and have a great group of people here,” the head coach said. “We’re excited about getting it all settled out.”

Swinney also reiterated that, as had previously been laid out, Scott will return to the team next Thursday and will remain through however long the Tigers’ postseason run lasts. Clemson will face Ohio State Dec. 28 in one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals.

Ohio State’s Justin Fields the way-too-early 2020 Heisman favorite

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You say the tears aren’t even dry yet from Joe Burrow‘s acceptance speech and we’re already looking ahead to 2020?  You’re damn right we are.

Saturday night, Burrow claimed the 2019 Heisman Trophy in record-smashing fashion, with the quarterback becoming just the second LSU Tiger to claim the most prestigious trophy in the sport.  Quarterback Justin Fields finished third in the voting, one of three Ohio State Buckeyes to land in the top six in the voting.

Speaking of Fields, one online sportsbook has the sophomore listed as a 5/2 favorite to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy.  Fellow sophomore Trevor Lawrence of Clemson is right behind him at 3/1.

The next closest is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at 7/1.

A handful of the players who finished in the Top 10 in the voting — Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State running back JK Dobbins, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — have eligibility remaining, but are expected to leave early for the NFL draft.  If any of them opt to remain in school, that would obviously change the odds moving forward.

USC transfer QB Jack Sears appears headed to San Diego State

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Jack Sears may have left USC, but it doesn’t appear he’ll end up leaving the state of California.

After finding himself fourth on the quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that “Sears has committed to San Diego State as a graduate transfer who would enroll during the spring semester.”

As a graduate transfer, Sears would be eligible to play for the Aztecs in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

As of yet, the Mountain West Conference school hasn’t confirmed Sears’ intentions.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.