Irish hold 13-7 lead on Yellow Jackets at half

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Notre Dame’s new starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller to give the Irish a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and C.J. Prosise ran one in to the end zone from 17 yards to give the Irish a 13-7 lead on Georgia Tech at the half in South Bend.

Georgia Tech’s option offense has taken some time to get going. Notre Dame has held Georgia Tech without a third down conversion in the first half, although the Yellow Jackets do have a fourth down conversion. Notre Dame has fared better on third downs, moving the chains on three out of the seven opportunities that have popped up so far. All of Georgia Tech’s halftime yardage has come on the ground. Patrick Skov had a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter to cap a quick four-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a Broderick Snoddy 48-yard run topped by a Notre Dame personal foul. That tied the game at 7-7, but Notre Dame strung together quite the answer to regain the lead.

Notre Dame closed out a well-executed 10-play drive over 80 yards to take a 14-7 lead with about 90 seconds to go until halftime. Kizer, replacing the injured Malik Zaire at quarterback, has completed 11 of 17 pass attempts for 150 yards and a touchdown. He has been picked off once.

Ryan Day isn’t going to name Justin Fields as Ohio State’s starting QB just yet

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Almost as soon as Justin Fields’ waiver to play right away in 2019 was approved, the Georgia transfer was pegged as Ohio State’s starting quarterback.

Ryan Day, however, is picking up this whole being a head coach at media day thing pretty good because the new leader of the Buckeyes offense declined to anoint Fields as the starter despite ample evidence that he’s the guy for the job.

“It’s an interesting situation. Whoever is playing in that first game will be the first time. Justin and Gunnar (Hoak) are going to compete like heck to go win the job,” Day said from the podium at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday. “At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to who can play the game.”

Hoak, who grad transferred over from Kentucky, was a key pickup for the program in the offseason not just to provide some competition for Fields but to provide much-needed depth after a host of quarterbacks left for other schools. While he has experience playing in five games last year with the Wildcats, there’s a gap in terms of natural talent between him and Fields.

Day seems likely to stick to his timetable of naming the starter a few weeks into camp but it still seems pretty clear as to who eventually will take over for Dwayne Haskins under center for the scarlet and gray.

Still though, you have to hand it to the rookie for going full on coach-speak when it came to his signal-caller at his very first media day in charge.

Big Ten’s Jim Delany upset with College Football Playoff Selection Committee

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Thursday marked the final Big Ten Media Days press conference for outgoing commissioner Jim Delany.

While his appearance was fairly low-key all things considered, the longtime college athletics stalwart didn’t hold back when it came to discussing his league and the College Football Playoff, lobbing some critical comments towards the Selection Committee in particular.

“I wish we had a little more continuity. I wish they would demonstrate as well as state the stronger commitment to strength of schedule,” Delany said. “We should be playing comparable schedules and if we’re not, there should be somewhat to differentiate that.”

The Big Ten has missed out on the playoff the past two seasons and saw its champion be skipped over in another year for a divisional runner-up.

Delany also voiced support for something suggested by Big 12 counterpart Bob Bowlsby to require all teams to play at least 10 Power Five opponents in a season, helping even out the difference between eight and nine conference slates.

“I’ve been disappointed, quite honestly, about the strength of schedule,” he added. “We’re not going to change. There may be pressure to change, but I think that’s short-selling our fans, our players, our TV partners. I’m hoping that the committee catches up with the intent of the founders.”

UNLV OC Barney Cotton awaiting heart transplant, will not coach Rebels in 2019

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Tough news for Tony Sanchez ahead of a critical season in Sin City as UNLV has announced that offensive coordinator Barney Cotton will not be with the team this year as an on-field coach as he awaits a heart transplant in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Barney has unfortunately been forced to be away from football and his Rebel family and we are all keeping him in our thoughts and prayers,” Sanchez said in a statement. “He is a tremendous coach, teacher, person and a great friend.”

Cotton has been offensive coordinator at UNLV dating back to 2015 and spent several seasons before that as an assistant at Nebraska. The school release noted that he would be replaced on staff by a new on-field hire to fill his role coaching tight ends for the upcoming campaign.

As far as Cotton’s duties as OC, those will be taken over by offensive line coach Garin Justice, who will now call the plays despite just joining the program this offseason after two years under Lane Kiffin at FAU.

We certainly wish Cotton all the best as he awaits a transplant and UNLV deals with such tough news just a few weeks away from training camp kicking off in the desert.

Appalachian State pegged as pre-season favorite in the Sun Belt

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There may be a new coach at Appalachian State but the expectations remain the same in Boone.

The Mountaineers were tabbed on Thursday as the pre-season coaches favorite to win the Sun Belt and repeat as league champs after taking home the trophy in last year’s inaugural conference title game.

AppState edged both Troy and Georgia Southern as the pick to win the East Division in Eliah Drinkwitz’s first season at the helm as well.

On the other side of the league, Louisiana was picked to win the West Division and make it back to the title game for the second time under head coach Billy Napier.

Here’s the full order of finish as predicted from the Sun Belt’s coaches (First-place votes in parentheses):

East Division

1. Appalachian State (7) – 46 pts
2. Troy (1) – 39 pts
3. Georgia Southern (2) – 35 pts
4. Coastal Carolina – 17 pts
5. Georgia State – 13 pts

West Division

1. Louisiana (6) – 46 pts
2. Arkansas State (3) – 42 pts
3. ULM – 27 pts
4. South Alabama (1) – 19 pts
5. Texas State – 16 pts

The league also announced their annual pre-season football teams. AppState and Arkansas State had the most selection across two teams, with the Mountaineers placing a league-high eight on the first team.

Sun Belt First Team Offense

QB – Zac Thomas (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB – Darrynton Evans (Appalachian State, Junior)
RB – B.J. Smith (Troy, Senior)
WR – Corey Sutton (Appalachian State, Junior)
WR – Kirk Merritt (Arkansas State, Senior)
WR – Ja’Marcus Bradley (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
TE – Javonis Isaac (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
OL – Noah Hannon (Appalachian State, Junior)
OL – Victor Johnson (Appalachian State, Senior)
OL – Kevin Dotson (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL – Robert Hunt (Louisiana, RS-Senior)
OL – Kirk Kelley (Troy, Senior)

Sun Belt First Team Defense

DL – William Bradley-King (Arkansas State, RS-Junior)
DL – Forrest Merrill (Arkansas State, Junior)
DL – Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern, Junior)
DL – Tyree Turner (South Alabama, Senior)
LB – Akeem Davis-Gaither (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB – Jordan Fehr (Appalachian State, Senior)
LB – Bryan London II (Texas State, Senior)
DB – Desmond Franklin (Appalachian State, Senior)
DB – Jerry Jacobs (Arkansas State, Junior)
DB – Monquavion Brinson (Georgia Southern, Senior)
DB – Kindle Vildor (Georgia Southern, Senior)

Sun Belt First Team Special Teams

K – Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern, RS-Senior)
P – Brandon Wright (Georgia State, RS-Senior)
RS – Tra Minter (South Alabama, Senior)