The race to replace Nick Marshall as Auburn’s starting quarterback is officially open. With Auburn getting started with spring practices on Tuesday, head coach Gus Malzahn lit the green light on the competition for four candidates for the starting job in the fall; Jeremy Johnson, Jason Smith, Tyler Queen and Sean White.
Johnson is believed to be the leading candidate for the starting job when it comes time for Malzahn to make a decision, but the head coach told reporters on Tuesday all four quarterbacks will get close to equal reps this spring. Last season saw Johnson receive playing time in seven games, and he performed well in his back-up role. Johnson completed 27 of 38 pass attempts for 436 yards and three touchdowns without an interception thrown, and he rushed for another touchdown. It was Johnson that started the season for the Tigers as Marshall sat out for disciplinary reasons, but he never was given a chance to truly challenge Marshall for the starting job. This year is a different story as the veteran and trusted Marshall has moved on and the audition for the next starting quarterback is starting up.
“The first few days of spring you want to make sure when you’re installing the base offense you give these guys enough reps,” Malzahn told reports Tuesday, as reported by Al.com. “All four quarterbacks, including [junior college transfer] Jason Smith, will get “fairly equal” snaps.”
Malzahn has seemed very high on what Smith can bring to the table, but this still feels like Johnson’s job to lose. Malzahn also suggested there is no timetable for a decision to be made, and it might be possible Smith could be moved to a different position of need if he does not win a job under center.
In addition to addressing Auburn’s quarterback competition, Malzhan also confirmed some previously reported roster changes. Linebacker Anthony Swain and punter Jimmy Hutchinson were each reported to be off the roster last week, and Malzahn confirmed that today.
Former Missouri and Toledo head coach Gary Pinkel revealed in a TV interview on Sunday night that he is once again undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
“I’m doing good. I had to get treatment again for the first time in four years. My cancer came out of remission, and so I had treatment last month. I’m doing fine,” Pinkel told KMIZ. “With my type of lymphoma, you’ll never be healed. But that’s kind of why I retired when I did – I just wanted to not go back and regret working 85 hours a week, 35 weeks out of the year when I could be doing other things with my family and my eight grandkids.”
Pinkel was originally diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2015 and stepped down after that season. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer that begins in the lymph nodes and then spreads throughout the body.
“You keep battling it. I’m going to battle it, Pinkel said. “I’ve got a very positive approach to it, and I’m around a lot of good people that are helping me. There’s a lot of people out there with a lot worse cancers than Gary Pinkel has, and so prayers to all of them.”
Since retiring, Pinkel has used his time as a fundraiser for Missouri and also running the GP M.A.D.E. Foundation, which supports children with cancer and also provides mentoring for at-need kids.
Pinkel, 63, was 191-110-3 as a head coach at two schools over 25 seasons.
Former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is joining Florida’s staff as an analyst, according to Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Benoit.
Zampese spent the 2016-17 seasons as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator after serving 13 seasons as Marvin Lewis‘s quarterbacks coach. Cincinnati went 13-18-1 in Zampese’s two seasons running the offense, which is why he spent 2018 as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach and the first part of 2019 as the offensive coordinator for the AAF’s Atlanta Legends.
He is the son of former Chargers, Rams, Cowboys and Patriots offensive coordinator Ernie Zampese.
It is not immediately known what the younger Zampese’s role will be with the Gators, but his experience indicates he’ll work with Dan Mullen and coordinators John Hevesy and Billy Gonzales to develop Florida’s offensive plan and help Brian Johnson tutor the quarterbacks, or perhaps use his coordinator experience to self-scout Florida’s offense and scout Florida’s future opponents.
All the reporting that came out since the bombshell reports saying Connecticut is looking to leave the American Athletic Conference to rejoin the non-football Big East have confirmed that, yes, this is really happening, likely in time for the 2020-21 athletic year. The reporting has also said that UConn’s soon-to-be-homeless football program will not drop down to FCS, but instead join a different conference or try to make it as an FBS independent.
On Saturday, Stadium’s Brett McMurphy tweeted that UConn has determined it will not return to FCS, where the program competed for most of its history before joining the then-power conference Big East in 2004.
On Sunday morning, NCAA.com’s Andy Katz followed with a note saying it looked like the Huskies will try to make a go of it as an independent, writing that UConn will attempt to schedule neighbors like UMass (a fellow independent), Boston College, Syracuse and Rutgers while honoring existing contracts for home-and-homes with Duke, Illinois, NC State and others.
For a check in with someone who might actually know something, let’s see what Huskies head coach Randy Edsall has to say.
Either way, it sounds like the train is moving and we could hear something official sooner rather than later.