It took one sack allowed to break Penn State’s confidence

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Penn State head coach James Franklin is facing many questions about his team after the Nittany LKions opened the new season the program’s first loss to Temple since 1941. Penn State’s offensive line was tissue-paper thin against the Owls, allowing 10 sacks when all was said and done and the clock finally showed triple zeroes Saturday. Apparently it took just one sack to break the confidence of Penn State’s offense.

This all went down in the city of brotherly love, and Penn State was not mentally prepared to fight back like Rocky Balboa. Penn State was more Glass Joe than The Italian Stallion.

In his Tuesday press conference with the beat reporters, Franklin said Penn State lost its confidence on the sideline after Temple recorded its first sack of Christian Hackenberg. Franklin suggested the team and fans need to remain calm and keep a positive vibe going, as difficult as that may be at this early juncture following that performance on Saturday. Offensive coordinator John Donovan is already under a microscope in Happy Valley, with Franklin saying his coordinator is being evaluated along with everything else within the program. Penn State’s playcalling was suspect last fall and it got off to another rough start in 2015. Things started well but as Temple gained control of the game and established a confidence level Penn State was unable to match, Penn State’s playcalling seemed to play to Temple’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. Running east-west and needing too much time for a play to develop never allowed Penn State’s offense to get back in the swing of things. The offensive line can take plenty of blame for this, although there was plenty of blame to spread around.

Penn State allowed 41 sacks on Hackenberg last season. The Nittany Lions seemed to add some depth to the line this offseason with the additions of Stanford graduate transfer Kevin Reihner and JUCO transfer Paris Palmer, and things actually started well for the Nittany Lions in the first quarter. Penn State’s running game had an early impact as Penn State jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but it was all Temple from that point on. Temple’s solid defense lived up to some of the preseason hype and showed why the Owls could be a contender in the American Athletic Conference. Temple will have to keep that intensity up when the Owls travel to Cincinnati this weekend. The Bearcats are the preseason favorite in the American. If Temple can get out of there with a win, the Owls should feel extra confident the rest fo the way.

Penn State will be getting ready to host Buffalo, but not before putting the Temple loss to bed. Penn State’s team captains used a shovel to bury the Temple game tape on the practice field.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.