USC’s Cody Kessler quietly putting up impressive numbers

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It’s hard to believe that a player from tradition-rich USC is flying under the Heisman radar — we can think of one who wishes he was, though — but that’s the case with Cody Kessler.

In a game that kicked off after nine ET on a weekday so most of you likely missed it and partially explains the under-the-radar thing, Kessler played a significant role in leading USC to a 38-30 win over Cal Thursday night.  Kessler completed over 70 percent of his passes (31-42) for 371 yards and four touchdowns.

Yes, Kessler threw an interception, but its was just his third of the season in 339 attempts.  Just three other quarterbacks — Northern Illinois’ Drew Hare (1 INT, 207 attempts), Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (2 INTs, 277 attempts), Cal’s Jared Goff (4 INTs, 419 attempts) –have a comparable interception percentage among quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts.

On the season, Kessler has now tossed 29 touchdown passes; he entered Week 12 tied for eighth in the country with 25.  His passing efficiency of 168.2 was fourth behind only Mariota (184.6), Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett (172.9) and Colorado State’s Garrett Grayson (171.7).

Kessler is now completing just over 70 percent of his passes on the season for 2,919 yards, 29 touchdowns and three interceptions with two games plus the postseason to go.  How does that compare to USC’s last two Heisman-winning quarterbacks?  Very favorably, actually.

  • Carson Palmer: 63.2 completion percentage for 3,942 yards, 33 touchdowns, 10 interceptions on 489 attempts in 2002
  • Matt Leinart: 65.3 completion percentage for 3,322 yards, 33 touchdowns, six interceptions on 412 attempts in 2004

Again, Kessler compares very favorably statistically to Leinart and Palmer, and yet Bovada doesn’t even give him Heisman odds in its latest release.  Why?  Kessler’s Trojans are 7-3 and haven’t been ranked in the Top 25 since mid-October.  Palmer’s Trojans spent the last half of the 2002 season — when the Heisman hype train really starts chugging along — inside of the Top 10 in a two-loss season that would ultimately result in an Orange Bowl appearance and No. 4 final ranking.

Leinart and his teammates were on another level in 2004, going wire-to-wire as the top-ranked team in the country.

The team success, to go along with the brash and bravado that personified Pete Carroll‘s USC teams, is something Kessler simply doesn’t have and can’t replicate.  He does, though, to deserve at least some spot in the Heisman conversation.

Former FIU DB Emmanuel Lubin dies in car accident, program confirms

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FIU announced on Sunday that former Panthers defensive back Emmanuel Lubin died in a car accident on Saturday night.

Lubinn (jumping, left) played in 45 games over four seasons for FIU, the most recent coming in 2018. He started all 13 games last season, collecting 31 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, one sack and four pass breakups. For his career, Lubin compiled 86 tackles, 11 pass breakups and one interception.

“Tragically, we lost a great young man in Emmanuel Lubin last night,” FIU head coach Butch Davis said. “He was a hard worker, great teammate and was respected and loved by his teammates, coaches and staff at FIU. His character, work ethic and leadership were instrumental in leading our program to success these past two seasons. Our football program is mourning his loss and we will honor Emmanuel every day moving forward. Our hearts and prayers go out to his friends and family.”

Added former teammate Tyree Johnson: “Anybody who knows you would never say anything bad on your name because you literally lit up any room you were in…I never told you this because I assumed you knew, but you made me the man I am today. If it wasn’t for you, I’ll still be the same Teejayy from four yeas (sic) ago.”

The North Miami Beach native was 22 years old.

Ex-Clemson DB Kyler McMichael headed to North Carolina

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The Portal is as mysterious as it is powerful. Some souls enter never to be heard of again, others are out as quickly as they entered. The Portal blesses whom it decides to bless, and it’s not for us humans to understand. All we know is The Portal must be questioned.

For instance, there’s the case of Kyler McMichael.

On Friday, the former 4-star recruit was a Clemson Tiger. By Saturday, he was a North Carolina Tar Heel.

Roughly 24 hours after announcing his intent to transfer, McMichael had announced his new destination. “Beyond blessed and grateful to be apart (sic) of such an amazing team last year at Clemson, however today I begin my next Chapter in life as I redirect my journey and travel to Chapel Hill, to the University of North Carolina and become a Tar Heel.”

McMichael didn’t make a major impact on Clemson’s national championship team, but that’s largely because he was a true freshman playing for the eventual national champions.

The Atlanta native played in 101 snaps according to his Clemson bio, which was still live as of this writing, spread across 12 games, where he made two tackles.

Barring a waiver, McMichael will sit out the 2019 season and compete for the Tar Heels as a redshirt sophomore in 2020.

Colorado lands Nebraska transfer LB Guy Thomas

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There’s a new Guy on the team at Colorado.

On Saturday, former Nebraska linebacker Guy Thomas announced his commitment to Colorado. “I give thanks to everybody that has been influential, and supportive in my life,” Nyon said in a graphic posted to his Twitter account. “I am taking this time to announce that I will be committing to the University of Colorado.”

Thomas first announced his transfer back in November; he appeared in just four games over two years on the club. He posted four tackles in as many games as a redshirt freshman in 2018, with three coming against FCS Bethune-Cookman.

“It’s not working out,” Thomas told the Omaha World-Herald upon his transfer.

Barring a waiver, Thomas will have to sit out the 2019 season and compete as a redshirt junior in 2020. He figures to contribute as a pass-rushing outside linebacker whenever he is cleared to play.

As of now, Jim Harbaugh plans to play Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game

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Michigan does not open training camp until Aug. 2 and does not play its first game until Aug. 31, so any “as of right now” statements are devoid of 20-odd practices worth of context.

Still, as of Big Ten media days, Jim Harbaugh plans to play both Shea Patterson and Dylan McCaffrey in every game.

“Yeah, I do (see games where they’ll both play). Where it stands right now, and that could change later or not, is I see them both playing,” Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press. “Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is…. I’m really not talking about playing them both at the same time (on a play), when I say both in games it’d be they’re both playing quarterback during the same game. And in the way it stands now, in every game.”

Harbaugh has been a one-quarterback man for the entirety of his career, but Patterson’s inconsistency and McCaffrey’s talent may demand a change. Michigan did juggle quarterbacks in 2017 — John O’KornBrandon Peters and Wilton Speight each threw at least 81 passes — but that was due to necessity, not strategy.

Patterson completed 64.6 percent of his passes last season for 2,600 yards (on 8.0 per attempt) with 22 touchdowns against seven interceptions while rushing 76 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns. In his second year in the program, McCaffrey completed 8-of-15 passes for 126 yards with two touchdowns whilst rushing 10 times for 99 yards and a touchdown.

The son of Ed McCaffrey and brother of Christian McCaffrey is certainly the heir apparent in Ann Arbor, and it appears Harbaugh isn’t willing to wait for the future to arrive in order to unleash arguably his most talented quarterback recruit since Andrew Luck.