No. 23 Boise State hangs on to beat Chris Petersen, Washington

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Boise State never loses at Bronco Stadium, no matter what sideline Chris Petersen paces. The 23rd-ranked Broncos survived a visit from their former coach and his Washington Huskies, 16-13, on Friday night.

Boise State held a commanding yet far-too-close 16-0 lead at halftime, holding the Huskies to 58 yards of total offense yet keeping the visitors in the game thanks to a turnover on downs and an interception in Washington territory.

Inevitably, the Huskies crawled back in the game in the second half… somehow. Cameron Van Winkle put Washington on the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, and then Dane Pettis pulled the club within six on a 76-yard punt return less than 90 seconds later.

Van Winkle knocked in a 28-yarder midway through the fourth and had a chance to send the game to overtime, but his 46-yard try at the 21-second mark sailed wide right.

Washington remained in the game despite an offense that failed to get anything going nearly the entire night. The Huskies gained only 179 yards on the entire night – they did not have a play travel farther than 13 yards from scrimmage until their final possession – including a 185-29 deficit on the ground. True freshman Jake Browning earned the start (the first true freshman to ever start an opening game for a Petersen-coached team) and played all but a few snaps; he displayed poise beyond what showed up on the box sheet, completing 20-of-34 passes for 150 yards with an interception.

Browning did, however, take a sack when Washington had marched to the Boise State 29 on the game’s final drive that cost the Huskies their final timeout and 10 yards Van Winkle could have used on his fateful miss.

Boise State also played a first-time starter at quarterback – and he wasn’t much better than Browning. Sophomore Ryan Finley hit on 16-of-26 passes for a pedestrian 129 yards and an interception. Jeremy McNichols led all rushers with 24 carries for 89 yards and both of the Broncos’ touchdowns, but gained only 19 yards on his 10 second half carries. The Broncos gained only 100 yards of offense in the second half (excluding the final time-killing possession), saw two of its seven possessions lose yardage, and watched its most promising drive, a 43-yard jaunt, end in a Kelsey Young fumble at the Washington 32.

In all, Boise State committed two turnovers and got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 inside Washington territory. Those are the types of mistakes required to keep a team that averages just 3.14 yards per play and does not score an offensive touchdown in the game down to its final snap. And, ironically enough, they’re the types of mistakes Boise State did not make when Coach Pete was on the home sideline, not the visitor’s.

Two hires complete Tom Allen’s Indiana coaching staff

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Once again, the Indiana Hoosiers football coaching staff is whole.

Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers announced the additions of two assistant coaches for Tom Allen. Jason Jones will serve as safeties coach, while Kevin Wright will coach tight ends.

Allen and Jones have a prior working relationship, having served on the same coaching staff at Ole Miss.

“I have so much respect for Jason,” the Indiana Hoosiers football head coach said in a statement. “I was fortunate to work with him for two seasons at Ole Miss. He has worked in the SEC and the Big 12, and he was a part of one of the top defenses in the country last year. Jason’s a great football coach and is the kind of husband, father and man I want in this program.”

Last year, Jones was the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic.

“I am so thankful to Coach Allen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great staff,” Jones said. “IU impressed me so much last season, and I can’t wait to contribute to even more success. I am excited and ready to get to work.”

Wright is a 20-year coaching veteran, with 13 of those years in the state of Indiana and the last five at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

“I’ve known Kevin for many, many years” Allen said. “He’s been one of the most successful high school coaches in the country and has done a tremendous job working with some of the top talent in the country at IMG. Kevin allows us to expand our recruiting base and continue our success in the state of Florida. He’s a great fit for our program in so many ways, and we are excited to welcome Kevin and his family to IU.”

These hirings came a month after a new seven-year deal for Allen was announced.

North Carolina new home for All-American FCS kicker

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The North Carolina football program is the latest to dip into the FCS ranks for some talent. Placekicker talent, but still.

Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina football program announced that Grayson Atkins is transferring to the Tar Heels. Atkins spent the past three seasons at Furman.

According to UNC, Atkins will graduate from the FCS school in the spring.  He’ll then join the North Carolina football program in the summer.

As a graduate transfer, Atkins will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Below are Atkins’ particulars, as relayed by UNC’s release:

An Inman, S.C. native, Atkins converted on 33-of-41 field goal attempts and 132-of-138 PAT attempts during his three seasons at Furman. He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Atkins was also named All-Southern Conference twice. His 231 career points rank 10th on Furman’s career scoring list and fifth on the kick scoring list. Combining the end of his junior season and the beginning of his senior season, Atkins made 18 consecutive field goals, which is a Furman and Southern Conference record.

As a junior in 2019, Atkins earned first-team AFCA FCS Coaches’ All-America honors to go along with All-America honors form the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He converted on 13-of-15 field goal attempts and 48-of-50 PATs. Atkins made all six field-goal attempts under 40 yards and went 7-of-9 on attempts from 40 or more yards including a 55-yarder. In addition to his first-team All-SoCon honors as a placekicker, Atkins earned second-team accolades as a punter after averaging 43.5 yards per punt.

This past season, sophomore Noah Ruggles made all 45 of his extra-point attempts for the Tar Heels.  He also hit on just 19 of his 27 field-goal attempts.

Florida transfer Chris Bleich moves on to Syracuse

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This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.

Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.

With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November.  Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure.  Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.

In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”

It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.

Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.

If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years.  If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

Oregon State adds second Power Five transfer WR, this one from Florida State

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A personnel loss for Florida State will apparently be a gain for the Oregon State football program.

Last month, Tre'Shaun Harrison placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. This past week, it was reported that Harrison has been added to the OSU student directory.

According to Oregon Live, “Harrison and his mom took a visit to Corvallis from January 3-5 and the trip left him encouraged about a future with the Beavers.”

As of yet, the Oregon State football program has not addressed any roster development involving Harrison. Barring the unexpected, the receiver will have to sit out the 2020 season. That would then leave him with two years of eligibility starting in 2021.

A four-star 2018 signee, Harrison was rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Washington. Harrison was originally committed to Oregon before flipping and following Willie Taggart to FSU.

In 2019, Harrison caught 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.  He was third on the Seminoles in both catches and yards.

Harrison is the second Power Five wide receiver transfer added by the Oregon State football program this month. After opting to leave Washington, Trey Lowe ultimately moved on and transferred to OSU. Like Harrison, Lowe will have to sit out the upcoming season.