Hokies pull away for Military Bowl victory and Beamer’s 10th bowl win

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Virginia Tech may have given up more offensive yards, but a familiar formula built on the strength of big defensive plays helped the Hokies pull away from Cincinnati for a 33-17 victory in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman in Annapolis, Maryland on Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the 10th postseason bowl victory for Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer, who coached the game from the coaches box.

Beamer is the 10th coach in college football history to win 10 bowl games. The only other active coach with 10+ bowl wins is Steve Spurrier of South Carolina. Beamer is now two wins out of fifth place for most all-time bowl victories, an honor shared by Lou Holtz and Tom Osborne (12 wins each).

Virginia Tech forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions and one fumble that was returned for a pivotal touchdown. The defense was chewed up at times, but the Hokies buckled down when needed with big plays to keep control of the game. On offense, J.C. Coleman carried the bulk of the offense with 157 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Cincinnati may have lost a chance to win against Virginia Tech when quarterback Gunner Kiel was knocked out of the game. As Kiel was taken down by Virginia Tech’s Deon Clarke. Kiel hit his head on the play, which left him on the sideline for the remainder of the game. Without Munchie Legaux in uniform, Cincinnati turned to Michael Colosimo, who took a little time to settle in as the quarterback. Cincinnati scored just one touchdown since Colosimo’s entrance to the game in the third quarter. With Virginia Tech continuing to add points, that ruled out much shot of a comeback for a bowl victory.

The 2014 season was not a terrific one for the Hokies. Virginia Tech was a .500 team with a number of offensive issues from start to finish, although the Hokies scored a huge win on the road against Ohio State early in the year. The season looked promising after that win in Columbus, but things turned south quickly with a home loss to East Carolina and an up-and-down run through ACC play. The future of Virginia Tech should be interesting, with Beamer coming off throat surgery and Bud Foster locked into a coaching extension. The Hokies are still in need of offense in 2015, because the defense will continue to be as reliable as any.

For Cincinnati, the Bearcats are still likely to be in a favorable position to remain among the top programs in the Group of Five conversation. Co-champions of the American Athletic Conference this season, Tommy Tuberville has some good things happening with the program. This is certainly not the way Tuberville wanted this season to end, but it helps to demonstrate just how far the program has to go. Cincinnati lost three straight games to Ohio State, Memphis and the Miami Hurricanes early in the season, but went on to win seven straight games heading into the Military Bowl match-up with Virginia Tech. Cincinnati did some good things against Virginia Tech but was unable to finish the job too often with empty possessions.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.

Report: USC OC Graham Harrell interviewing for NFL job

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Clay Helton has been searching for a defensive coordinator the past several weeks and may need to expand his search to include an offensive coordinator as well.

According to a report out of Philadelphia, USC OC Graham Harrell has interviewed with the Eagles for a spot on Doug Pederson’s coaching staff in a similar role:

Harrell was retained this offseason amid plenty of fan fare (and money) in Los Angeles. He reportedly had interest from Texas in the same position on Tom Herman’s staff but a return to the Lone Star State was put off for a multi-year deal with the Trojans.

The former North Texas OC and Texas Tech quarterback oversaw one of the more impressive turnarounds in the country in 2019. Despite being forced to play true freshman Kedon Slovis at quarterback following J.T. Daniels injury, USC still added nearly a touchdown per game with the move to the Air Raid and rose from 91st in scoring offense to 35th.

This wouldn’t be the first time Helton and the Trojans will feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them by the NFL after a splashy move on offense. As many know, Kliff Kingsbury was on the job for a few weeks before moving on as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals last January. We’ll see if anything becomes of Harrell’s flirtation with the pros but there’s little doubt that this will not be the last time his name comes up for a bigger job going forward.

Nine from ’19: TE Thaddeus Moss joins LSU exodus for NFL Draft

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Thaddeus Moss is officially a one-and-done at LSU after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.

The star LSU tight end became the ninth underclassman for the national champions to leave campus for the pros this week. He made the announcement on social media in a letter thanking the fan base:

Moss played a pivotal role in the team’s record-setting offense in 2019. He caught 47 passes for 570 yards and had three of his four touchdowns come in the College Football Playoffs. That included a pair of scores in the title game, one of which doubled as the one that allowed QB Joe Burrow to set the FBS record for TD passes in a season.

The one-time North Carolina State transfer is no stranger to the pros either way. He’s the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and will be part of an intriguing class of players at tight end this spring.

While it’s possible there will be an additional name or two that surfaces, Friday’s deadline for underclassmen to declare means Moss’ departure could be the last for LSU for the time being. Still, that’s a lot of talent to lose as Ed Orgeron embarks on an offseason full of changes right after reaching the top of the sport.

Travis Etienne skipping draft, will stay at Clemson for 2020

Clemson Travis Etienne
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It’s not often you get a shocking announcement for a player returning for his senior year but this might qualify.

In an announcement posted on Twitter Friday afternoon, Clemson’s star tailback Travis Etienne surprised pretty much everybody by saying he would skip the 2020 NFL Draft and remain on campus for his senior season.

Etienne was a Heisman Trophy candidate for much of 2019 and has been a key cog in the Tigers’ incredible record the past few years. He’s rushed for over 1,600 yards each of the past two seasons and continued to become a threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.

While many expected the junior to turn pro and join a deep class of running backs, apparently the taste left in his mouth by Monday’s national title game was just the extra push he needed to stay on campus to aim for another championship.

Though Dabo Swinney has to deal with a handful of departures from the two-deep this offseason, the return of Etienne should only further cement Clemson as the preseason No. 1 team for 2020. The tailback and quarterback Trevor Lawrence both figure to be high draft picks the following spring but for now they will be aiming for another ring with a team that just won 29 games in a row.