SEC East remains perfect as Vols top Hawkeyes

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All those who thought the East would be the SEC’s postseason “savior,” raise your hands.  Now put them right back down because all y’all are lying.

Yet that’s where things stand as Tennessee (7-6), after jumping out to a 35-7 lead at halftime, cruised home to a 45-28 win over overmatched Iowa (7-6) in the TaxSlayer Bowl.  It marked the football program’s first bowl win since the 2007 season, a 21-17 win over Wisconsin in the 2008 Outback Bowl.  Since that win, UT has changed coaches on three different occasions.

The win also kept the SEC East’s record in the 2014-15 bowl cycle perfect at 4-0, with Florida, in the Birmingham Bowl vs. East Carolina Saturday, still remaining.  The SEC West, the dominant division in 2014, went an abysmal 2-5.

Another thing the impressive win did?  Set UT’s bar for the 2015 season high, perhaps unreasonably high.  The Vols were one of the youngest teams in the country, and will likely be one of those trendy “dark-horse” selections in preseason Top 25s.  They might be a year away from such heights, however.

Regardless, it was an impressive display against the Hawkeyes, with Josh Dobbs again leading the way.

In leading the Vols to a fourth win in five games since taking over under center, Dobbs accounted for three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) and 205 yards of offense.  For his efforts, Dobbs was named as the Player of the Game.

Freshman Jalen Hurd ran for a career-high 122 yards, and scored two touchdowns in a game for the first time as a Vol.

Jordan Canzeri ran for 120 yards, on 12 carries, in the loss, the second time in his career the junior has topped 100 yards in a game. On his third reception of the game, Kevonte Martin-Manley set an Iowa record for career receptions with 174.

Iowa was losing 45-14 late in the fourth quarter before a pair of touchdowns in the last 3:30 made the game seem a lot closer than it actually was.

With the Hawkeyes’ loss, the Big Ten is now an even 5-5 this postseason, a mark that’s behind the Pac-12 (5-1) and SEC (6-5) among Power Five conferences.  Including all FBS leagues, that mark would be behind Conference USA (4-1) as well.

Ohio State, with a date with Oregon two Mondays from now, is the lone remaining B1G team with a game left to play.

Maryland hires George Helow to Mike Locksley’s staff

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The lone hole on Mike Locksley‘s Maryland Terrapins football staff has been filled.

In late December, John Papuchis left the Maryland Terrapins football program to take a job with Mike Norvell at Florida State.  Exactly four weeks later, Locksley has landed Papuchis’ replacement, with the addition of George Helow officially announced by the school.

Helow will serve as Maryland’s special teams coordinator.  He’ll also coach the Terps’ inside linebackers.

Helow spent the past four seasons at Colorado State.  The first two were as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant.  The last two were spent as safeties coach.

The 2018-19 seasons were Helow’s first as an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

In addition to the Mountain West Conference school, he has also been a football staffer at:

  • Georgia, defensive quality control assistant (2014-15)
  • Florida State, defensive graduate assistant (2013)
  • Alabama, defensive intern (2012)

Helow played his college football at Ole Miss from 2006-10.  Most of his action during his 38 games played came on special teams.

Todd Graham named as Hawaii’s next head coach

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The Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football program has afforded a wayward coach a means to return to the sidelines.

In the days after Nick Rolovich left to replace Mike Leach at Washington StateRobert Anae‘s name had been mentioned prominently as a potential successor.  Tuesday, however, the Virginia offensive coordinator announced in a statement that he has withdrawn his name from consideration for the job as the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors football head coach.

Just prior to that, it was reported by The Athletic‘s Bruce Feldman that Todd Graham is getting consideration for the job.  Very late Tuesday night, Hawaii confirmed that Graham has been hired as the school’s 24th head coach.

Graham will be introduced at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The 55-year-old Graham has been a head coach at four different FBS schools:

  • Arizona State (2012-17)
  • Pitt (2011)
  • Tulsa (2007-10)
  • Rice (2006)

Graham has posted a 95-61 record at those stops.  His teams have played in 10 bowl games in 12 seasons, winning five of those postseason appearances.  He’s also won three divisional titles.

After being fired by Arizona State in November of 2017, Graham has been out of coaching.  He was mentioned as a candidate for the Kansas job that ultimately went to Les Miles.

Duke hires veteran offensive line coach Greg Frey

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Two weeks after losing an assistant, the Duke Blue Devils football program has filled the lone hole on David Cutcliffe‘s coaching staff.

Jan. 8, Jim Bridge abruptly resigned as Duke’s offensive line coach; two days later, it was announced that he had taken the same job at Memphis.  Tuesday, Cutcliffe officially dipped into the veteran coaching ranks, hiring Greg Frey as Bridge’s replacement.

“We’re thrilled to have Coach Frey join our staff,” Cutcliffe said in a statement. “It isn’t often you have the opportunity to add an individual who, within the landscape of college football, played at the highest level, has coached at the highest level and comes with 20-plus years of experience on the sideline. Coach Frey’s coaching and mentoring abilities are inspiring, and he will have an immediate and positive impact on the young men in our program. We look forward to welcoming Greg, his wife Andrea and children into our football family.”

Frey has previously coached offensive lines at:

  • Florida State, line coach (2018)
  • Michigan, tackles/tight ends coach, running-game coordinator (2017)
  • Indiana, line coach (2011-16)
  • Michigan, line coach (2008-10)
  • West Virginia, line coach (2007)
  • USF, line coach (2000-06)

In 2017, Frey was the tackles/tight end coach as well as running-game coordinator at Michigan. Frey comes to Duke after a one-season stint (2019) at Florida as a quality control analyst.

“As you go through life and build your family and your career, who you surround yourself with becomes very important,” Frey said. “What attracted me so much to Duke University was the faith, the family and the football, as well as the way Coach Cutcliffe runs his program. As we move forward, we want to be at the forefront of building the culture and championship level play that Duke expects. I’m excited to get started and can’t wait to go.”

Virginia Tech confirms addition of Rutgers transfer RB Raheem Blackshear

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A talented new addition to the Virginia Tech football roster is officially official.

After playing in the first four games of the 2019 season at Rutgers, Raheem Blackshear, a team captain, opted to sideline himself for the remainder of the campaign in order to preserve a year of eligibility. Three months later, Blackshear indicated on Twitter that he has decided to leave RU and continue his playing career with the Virginia Tech football program.

Two weeks after that social media announcement, the Hokies confirmed via Twitter that the running back is signed, sealed and delivered.

In addition to Virginia Tech, Blackshear had also considered a transfer to Temple.  A return to Rutgers for the back was in play as well.

It’s expected that Blackshear, a redshirt sophomore, will seek a waiver that would allow him to play immediately for the Hokies in 2020. If that appeal is denied, he would be left with one season of eligibility he could use in 2021.

A three-star 2017 signee, Blackshear ran for 238 yards as a true freshman. The next season, he led the Scarlet Knights in rushing with 586 yards.

Blackshear could also be a significant asset in the Hokies’ passing game.

In addition to being the leading rusher in 2018, Blackshear also led the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (367) and receiving touchdowns (two). Despite playing in just four games this past season, he was second on the Scarlet Knights with 29 receptions (the leader, Bo Melton, ended up with 30) and 310 yards (Melton had 427). His two receiving touchdowns were tied with Melton for the team lead as well.