Texas A&M pulls away from WVU as SEC goes 2-0 in bowls

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The SEC continued to own the upper hand this postseason, while the Big 12 suffered a loss in its bowl debut this season. Texas A&M (8-5) quarterback Kyle Allen threw four touchdowns and rushed for one to help the Aggies pulled away and held off West Virginia (7-6) in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee on Monday afternoon. Texas A&M celebrated a 45-37 victory.

The Liberty Bowl had just about everything but defense. It even included one Texas A&M student assistant being left in the locker room for the second half after throwing an elbow and a punch at two different West Virginia players in the first half. The game was a back-and-forth affair in the first half, but it was Texas A&M that came out and took control in the second half. The Aggies outscored West Virginia 17-3 in the third quarter to turn what was a one-point lead into a 15-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. Trey Williams had an 18-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to pad the lead for the Aggies and Allen tossed his fourth touchdown of the game into the hands of Malcome Kennedy 22 seconds before the end of the third quarter for a 45-30 lead.

By this point in the game the West Virginia offense had become frustrated and unable to keep the pressure on. The difference in the game may have been the production inside the red zone. West Virginia was forced to settle for a pair of field goals on its two red zone trips in the game. Meanwhile, Texas A&M scored four touchdowns inside the West Virginia 20-yard line.

West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard showed some good promise in the first half, but he was off the mark in the second half on his way to completing 19 of 42 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns. Kevin White was the big target for the Mountaineers, leading the way with 129 receiving yards and a touchdown in the losing effort.

The SEC is now 2-0 this bowl season, which got started with South Carolina’s victory over Miami in the Independence Bowl on Saturday. The SEC owns wins against the ACC and Big 12 right out of the gate. Arkansas will take on Texas Monday night in the Texas Bowl.

Texas will hope to pick up the first win for the Big 12 this bowl season, which would even the record after West Virginia took the loss in the first bowl game involving the Big 12.

Clemson linebacker tears ACL for a third time

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Clemson coaches will hope that the third time really is the charm for unlucky linebacker Bryton Constantin. 

The redshirt freshman was just recently set to return to the football field this spring. Instead, he will apparently head back under the knife after injuring his knee for a third time. He confirmed the diagnosis on Twitter late last week.

Constantin was one of the nation’s top recruits at his position coming out of Baton Rouge, La. and picked the Tigers as part of the class of 2019. However, he never made it onto the field. He originally tore his ACL playing basketball in high school last February. Then he re-injured it in September after getting on campus.

The former four-star was expected to be eased into spring practice next month at Clemson but obviously those plans are out the door. Given the timetable for such injuries plus his history, the 2020 season could be too. 

This is a Dabo Swinney and Brent Venables defense however so there’s at least enough depth at the position to lean on for a team likely ranked No. 1 in the preseason polls. James Skalski is a returning starter in the middle while Mike Jones Jr., Jake Venables and Baylon Spector all have experience on the outside. The team does need to replace likely top five pick Isaiah Simmons but do add several talented freshmen to the group that is coming back from a disappointing loss in the national title game. 

Still, just about everybody on the roster would have loved if Constantin could have worked his way in the mix given his earlier knee injuries. That won’t be the case though as the youngster hopefully undergoes ACL surgery for a third and final time in the coming weeks.

Texas reportedly suspends WR Kennedy Lewis for spring practice

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Texas head coach Tom Herman has been busy this offseason remaking his coaching staff. That doesn’t mean he’s kept an eye on what his players have been doing however.

According to Orangebloods.com’s Anwar Richardson, the program has suspended wideout Kennedy Lewis. The redshirt freshman will miss spring practice with the team but appears to be in line to return in time for summer workouts. 

Provided, of course, he does what he needs to in order to get back in the graces of Herman and company. There was no word on what Lewis did to get the (temporary) boot. 

Either way, it’s a missed chance for Lewis to make an impression for Texas’ rich new offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich. The Longhorns are also looking for several new targets for QB Sam Ehlingher this spring given that seniors Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay both are off to the NFL. The youngster was expected to be one of those in the mix behind the likes of Jake Smith and Brennan Eagle to see some serious playing time.

Now that’s not longer the case.

Lewis arrived on the 40 Acres as a three-star recruit prior to last season. He made it into two games and took a redshirt, recording just a single catch against Rice for 37 yards.

Now, others like Josh Moore and Marcus Washington figure to get extra reps when the ‘Horns opens their 15 practice slate next month.

New three year deal at Auburn for Chad Morris winds up saving Arkansas money

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Arkansas has had to tap the well for buyout money quite a bit in recent years. The good news for the school however is that those checks will be a little smaller than first thought going forward.

That’s the result of ex-head coach Chad Morris’ new deal at Auburn. Terms were released to the media last week of the Tigers’ new offensive coordinator and per AL.com, that will result in a three-year contract worth roughly $735,000 annually. 

If that doesn’t sound like a lot for an SEC coordinator, you’d be right. It’s especially true given how much rival Alabama is prepared to pay their OC, Steve Sarkisian, given recent reports.

However, Morris isn’t just being paid by Auburn. Arkansas still owes him millions in buyout money. 

The figure was originally on the order of $10 million after he was fired midseason by the Hogs last year. That total was spread out over the next four years. However, Morris had an offset in his deal so the amount the Tigers are paying him will mitigate down that total from Fayetteville some. 

Morris will still wind up taking home nearly $2.5 million each of the next four years. Thanks to the AU deal however, the amount coming from UA will drop to nearly $1.7 million from now until 2022.

The new coordinator deal is also fully guaranteed between Morris and the Tigers. If he’s fired, the school owes him every penny. If he leaves for another job that isn’t a head coaching gig, he would owe everything left as a buyout.

Either way, Morris is both reunited with his old friend Gus Malzahn on the Plains and a very rich man. At least for folks at Arkansas, that arrangement will at least save them some money even if their ex-coach is at a division rival.

The Hogs also recently stopped paying former head coach’s Bret Bielema’s buyout last year as part of some legal wrangling. As a result, the nearly $22 million the program was set to be on the hook for in just the past three seasons is actually quite a bit less than first thought. 

That all might not help take the sting out of the lack of victories in Fayetteville but it certainly will help the ol’ check book if nothing else. 

Alabama losing special teams staffer to the New England Patriots

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The Alabama kicking game needs all the help it can get but will have to soldier on without a key member of the coaching staff.

According to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, assistant special teams coordinator Joe Houston is leaving Tuscaloosa for a position with the New England Patriots.

Houston certainly has become a fast-riser as a coach. He was kicking field goals for USC from 2007-10 and got into coaching just recently. He served as an assistant special teams coach at Iowa State prior to joining the Crimson Tide staff.

While Houston is highly regarded off the field, his slim small body of work at Alabama was a mixed bag. Kickers Joseph Bulovas and Will Reichard combined to made just 12 of 18 field goal attempts in 2019. That includes a critical miss in the Iron Bowl that knocked the team out of the Playoff chase.

The Tide should still be okay on special teams come 2020 though. Reichard was injured early and hopes to be healthy after signing as the top prep kicker in the country a year ago. Highly regarded special teams coordinator Jeff Banks also returns.

Houston’s move to Foxborough no doubt came with a recommendation from Saban to his old pal Bill Belichick. The latter also struggled with the kicking game last season. Hopefully for both, this latest move will boost both teams in the critical third phase of the game.