Getty Images

Ole Miss survives pair of comebacks, upsets Tide in Tuscaloosa


Alabama came into Saturday night looking to make a statement and exact a little revenge.  In the end, it was the team on the other sidelines doing the former while impressively avoiding the latter — but not before surviving a significant scare.  Or two.

Up 20 late in the third quarter, 15th-ranked Ole Miss withstood a flurry of Tide haymakers to head back to Oxford with a nail-biting 43-37 win over the second-ranked team in the country.  The loss ends ‘Bama’s 17-game home winning streak, which had been tied with Baylor for the longest streak in the country.

Up 17-10 at the half, the Rebels extended that lead to 30-10 with just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter on a pair of field goals and a touchdown.  The latter score was one of the wackiest you’ll see all season long as Chad Kelly channeled his inner Garo Yepremian, tossed up what amounted to a Hail Mary, had it bounce off a Tide defenders helmet… and right into the arms of Quincy Adeboyejo, who raced the remaining distance for what looked to be a dagger.

The score instead seemed to wake the Tide up as they drove 69 yards on the ensuing drive and capped it with a Jake Coker touchdown run. The Rebels’ next possession was a three-and-and-out that featured three plays that lost yardage. Another touchdown on the next drive, a Coker eight-yard pass to ArDarius Stewart, sliced the lead to 30-24 and seemed to leave the Rebels back on their toes and reeling.

Instead, the visiting team proceeded to connect on what appeared to be a one-two kill shot.

On a second-and-one from his own 27, Kelly took off on what looked like a run to the right side of the Tide defense and, at the last second, hit Cody Core on a pop pass, with the receiver racing 73 yards for the touchdown. An official’s review confirmed that nearly half of Kelly’s body was behind the original line of scrimmage and no penalty was warranted, although it also showed that at least one Rebel lineman was illegally downfield; that part of the play wasn’t reviewable.

On the next possession, Coker made a horrible throw and/or decision and was picked off. The very next play, Kelly sent a good chunk of the fans to the exits as he hit Laquon Treadwell from 24 yards out to push the lead to 43-24 with just over 10 minutes remaining.  But wait, ‘Bama wasn’t done.  Note even remotely close, as it turned out.

Derrick Henry touchdown run with 6:36 remaining cut the lead to 43-30 (two-point attempt failed), then, following a successful onside kick — and perhaps an illegal batting forward of the ball by a Tide player — Coker hit Richard Mullaney on a two-yard touchdown pass that sliced the deficit to six points with 4:33 remaining.  After forcing an Ole Miss punt and taking over the ball at their own seven-yard line with just over three minutes remaining, Coker’s 26-yard run on first down gave the Tide room and additional hope for those remaining in the stands.

The very next play, however, Coker made an ill-advised throw as he was being leveled that was picked off, the Tide’s fifth turnover of the game (three interceptions and no fumbles to zero turnovers for the Rebels) and what was certainly the absolute, final dagger.  Except it wasn’t as the Tide got the ball back with :31 seconds remaining at their own 31-yard line.

Four straight Coker incompletions, though, finally, officially ended any hopes of a monumental comeback.

Record-wise and based on the “look” test, both Ole Miss and LSU appear to be the class of the SEC West, with Texas A&M potentially lurking in the weeds ready to ambush someone.  The two teams will square off Nov. 21 in Oxford, although both will have to navigate a couple of obstacles before getting there — Ole Miss with road trips to A&M and a reeling Auburn, LSU on the road against ‘Bama.

Before you count out the Tide, just remember that ‘Bama lost to Ole Miss in Week 5 last season and still managed to find a seat at the College Football Playoff at season’s end.  Like last year, though, the Tide will have to take care of their own business the rest of the way and rely on other SEC West teams for help.

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

Midle Tennessee State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

Ex-Georgia State RB Gerald Howse, 28, found dead in his home

Georgia Southern football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Georgia State is mourning the loss of a member of its football family.

Sunday, Georgia State announced the passing of former Panther football player Gerald Howse.  Howse was just 28.

According to one report, Howse was found dead at his home in Cookeville, Tenn.  A cause of death has not yet been released.

From GSU’s release:

Howse, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Siegel High School, lettered at running back for the Panthers in 2013-14 after transferring from NE Oklahoma A&M.

After graduating with his degree in sociology, he entered the coaching profession, beginning with stints at Oklahoma Baptist (2015) and NE Oklahoma A&M (2016-19). He was honored as the NJCAA Top Assistant Coach in 2017.

In January of 2020, Howse was named as the running backs coach at Tennessee Tech of the FCS.  The football program’s head coach, Dewayne Alexander, released a statement addressing his assistant’s passing as well.

Gerald was a first-class young man. He was highly thought of by so many people. His coaches at Siegel High School – Greg Wyatt and David Watson – always brought him up whenever we had positions come open. He displayed a very positive attitude. He was a man of character who lived out faith, family and football. He was so close to his family – his mom, dad and sister – that it was one of the biggest reasons he came here to Tennessee Tech: coach in the area, be back in Middle Tennessee and be close to his family. He was an outstanding coach and a man every coach would want on his staff. Gerald made a huge impact on our players in the short time he was here. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as the Tennessee Tech football family. Anytime you lose a staff member, it affects a lot of people.

Pac-12 targets June 15 for return of players for voluntary in-person workouts

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Pac-12 is the latest to contribute to the measured return of college football.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. Friday, the SEC announced that it will allow players to return starting June 8.  That same day, the Big 12 announced its target date is June 15.

Monday, the Pac-12 followed the Big 12’s lead, with that Power Five confirming a return date of June 15 for voluntary in-person athletic workouts. The league came to its decision to allow student-athletes to return to campus following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier in the day.

The conference also made sure to note in its release that the universities will “determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”

“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”

“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”

The ACC and Big Ten are the only Power Fives to not announce a uniform plan for a return.  Both Ohio State and Illinois, though, will allow players to return June 8, for example.  Ditto for Clemson and Louisville as well.

Arizona’s leader in receiving yards underwent surgery on a fractured foot earlier this month

Arizona football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A key piece of the passing game for Arizona football is recovering from a health issue.  Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it will impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Prior to Arizona shuttering spring football practice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamarye Joiner suffered a fractured left foot.  It was reported at the time that the wide receiver was “believed to have suffered a Jones fracture, which is a break between the base of the foot and the fifth metatarsal.”

According to The Athletic, Joiner underwent surgery to repair the damage May 12.  The procedure was delayed as elective surgeries were scuttled because of the pandemic.

The same website reported that the receiver will be sidelined for a period of 6-12 weeks.  Such a timeline would extend, at the long end, to early August.  Arizona is scheduled to open the 2020 football season Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

Joiner was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  The Tucson native was rated as the No. 6 prospect regardless of position in the state of Arizona.

Originally signing as a quarterback, Joiner completed three of his four pass attempts for 17 yards in two games a true freshman.  Playing in less than four games allowed Joiner to preserve a year of eligibility.

Prior to the start of summer camp, Joiner made the move from quarterback to wide receiver.  In his first season at the position, the redshirt freshman led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.  His 34 receptions were third on the team, while his 16.2 yards per catch was second among the nine players with at least 10 receptions.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin this month became one of a handful of coaches to take a pay cut.