USC’s Sarkisian calls Carroll a mentor but would have called different play at end of Super Bowl

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Optimism is running rampant around the USC Trojans this summer. The Pac-12 media preseason favorite coached by Steve Sarkisian may be a tad overboard on the optimism scale, but Sarkisian seems to be situated well in leading USC back to the top of the Pac-12 despite what his track record at Washington might suggest. On Friday, Sarkisian was a guest on The Dan Patrick Show (simulcast on NBC Sports Network) and had the chance to talk about his working relationship with his former boss at USC and current Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

“He’s an unbelievable mentor to me,” Sarkisian said when asked about Carroll by Patrick. “He’s the reason I’m sitting here talking to you.”

Sarkisian was an assistant for the Trojans three separate times under Carroll, serving as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator from 2001 through 2008 (he spent the 2004 season with the Oakland Raiders). Sarkisian left USC to become the head coach at Washington in 2009, where he was head coach through 2013 before coming back to the Trojans to be the new head coach in the post-Lane Kiffin era. While Sarkisian may have a deep respect for Carroll, he said he would have called a different play at the end of the Super Bowl than Carroll did.

“I agree with the decision to throw it. I don’t know, necessarily, about the play call itself because I wasn’t in the game planning. From a tactical standpoint, with three downs to go and only one timeout remaining the correct decision in my mind would be to throw the ball on second down knowing you can run it on third and then you have a run-pass option on fourth.”

In case you forgot how the Super Bowl ended last season, Seattle had a 2nd and goal from the one-yard line with just over 20 seconds to play. Rather than hand off to Marshawn Lynch for what would be a Super Bowl-winning score, Carroll had Russell Wilson throw over the middle, and the pass was picked off by New England’s Malcolm Butler stepping in front of Ricardo Lockette.

Later in the show, after the in-studio interview with Sarkisian, UCLA head coach Jim Mora called in to take issue with Patrick’s assistants saying they would want to play for his crosstown rival. Mora was a guest earlier in the week. It was all in good fun, of course, but you have to love rivalry nuggets like this.

Tua Tagovailoa’s injury means little brother won’t be able to redshirt at Alabama this season

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Tua Tagovailoa‘s Injury Heard ‘Round the College Football World last Saturday, as it turns out, won’t just impact Alabama’s push for a sixth consecutive playoff berth.

Prior to Tagovailoa’s season-ending hip injury, Alabama had planned on redshirting Tagovailoa’s younger brother, Taulia Tagovailoa, who had been serving as the Crimson Tide’s No. 3 quarterback as a true freshman this season.  As the third-string quarterback, the younger Tagovailoa had played in four games in 2019, the threshold of appearances for a player to still maintain the ability to redshirt.

Because of the injury to his brother, however, Nick Saban confirmed Thursday that Tagovailoa will play Saturday against FCS Western Carolina, meaning a redshirt will officially be off the table.

We’re gonna play him this week in this game some kind of way regardless of how the game goes to try to get him some experience, some playing time and hopefully some confidence,” the head coach said on his weekly radio show. “When we had the unfortunate injury last week to Tua, that kind of negated the opportunity to be able to redshirt to Taulia. …

“With him being now the backup quarterback, we thought we needed to play him, because if something happens to this quarterback, Mac Jones, he’s going to be the guy that’s got to go in the game and try to win the game for us.”

A four-star member of the Crimson Tide’s 2019 recruiting class, Tagovailoa was rated as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the country and the No. 8 player at any position in the state of Alabama (he and his family moved to Tuscaloosa when his brother joined the Tide in 2017).  In limited action this season, Tagovailoa has completed seven-of-nine passes for 72 yards.

Tagovailoa will now serve as the redshirt sophomore Jones’ primary backup moving forward, and those two will compete for the starting job next year if the older Tagovailoa brother does the expected and enters the 2020 NFL Draft.

DB Deon White leaving Cal as a grad transfer

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After a stellar spring game, the stage seemed to be set for Deon White to shine in what would’ve been his last season at Cal.  Instead, the defensive back will finish his collegiate career at an undetermined elsewhere.

Via Twitter earlier this week, White announced that he has decided to leave the Golden Bears and transfer to another school.  As White would be departing with a bachelor’s degree in hand, he would be eligible to play at another FBS school in 2020.

Next season would serve as White’s final year of eligibility as he will take a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

After beginning his career at a California junior college, White played in a dozen games during his first season with the Bears in 2018.  During this year’s spring game, he totaled a team-high seven tackles and two tackles for loss.

Despite all of that, White had played in just one game this season prior to his decision to enter the portal.

Broken jaw leaves Pitt’s top WR a game-time decision

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If Pitt is to keep its ACC Coastal hopes alive this weekend, they may have to do so (again) without a very productive piece of its offensive puzzle.

Maurice Ffrench suffered a broken jaw in Pitt’s Nov. 2 win over Georgia Tech, then was sidelined for this past week’s win over North Carolina.  With a trip to Blacksburg on tap for this Saturday, Ffrench is official a game-time decision for the matchup with Virginia Tech.

“He’s practiced this week,” head coach Pat Narduzzi said, noting that the senior was in non-contact mode. “His jaw is better than it was before.”

Ffrench had a steel plate inserted into his broken jaw, which will give him a better chance of seeing the field this weekend.

Ffrench currently leads all ACC players in receptions (75) and receptions per game (8.3).  The receptions per game are also third nationally.

Pitt is 4-2 in ACC play entering Week 13, tied with Virginia Tech for second place in the Coastal and a half-game behind first-place Virginia (5-2).  The Panthers have already lost the Cavaliers this year, meaning they would need UVa to lose its last conference game of the regular season (Nov. 29 against rival Tech) in addition to winning each of their last two games (at Tech, home vs. Boston College) in order to earn a spot opposite Clemson in the ACC championship game.

Dismissed by South Carolina, ex-USC DB Jamel Cook enters the portal

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Jamel Cook‘s roller coaster ride of a collegiate career officially includes a stop at the portal; whether it’ll include a third stop at an FBS school remains to be seen.

Late last month, following an arrest on one count of second-degree domestic violence, Cook was dismissed from the South Carolina football program.  Following up on speculation from earlier in the week, an East Coast USC official has confirmed that the defensive back’s name is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.

Cook was originally a four-star member of the Left Coast USC’s 2016 signing class, rated as the No. 17 player at any position in the state of Florida.  He played in three games in two years for the Trojans before transferring to the Gamecocks following the 2017 season.  Because of NCAA transfer rules, the defensive back was forced to sit out the 2018 season.

This year, Cook had appeared in one game prior to his off-field issue.