Cincy QB Gunner Kiel conscious, moving all extremities following vicious hit

20 Comments

A serious-looking injury has cast a pall over a game that began with a high amount of anticipation and excitement.

Late in the first quarter of the Cincinnati-Memphis matchup, Bearcat quarterback Gunner Kiel was met by Tiger defender Chauncy Lanier.  As Kiel gave himself up in a slide, Lanier laid him out with a vicious hit to the signal-caller’s head.  It looked as if both Lanier’s head and shoulder pads made contact with Kiel’s helmet, leading to the officials throwing a flag for targeting.

Kiel, who sustained a concussion last weekend but was cleared for tonight’s game, lay motionless on the turf almost from the moment he was hit.  Medical personnel from both sidelines assisted in getting Kiel strapped to a board and carted off toward an awaiting ambulance.

While none of the television shots showed any movement below the neck, an ESPN sideline reporter claimed to have seen Kiel’s toes move.  He was also communicating with emergency personnel before, instead of being taken to a local hospital for further observation, he was taken into the locker room.  In an update, UC stated that Kiel is awake and moving all four limbs.

As for the hit itself, it looked like the dictionary-definition of targeting, which the American Football Coaches Association defines as “[n]o player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, fist, elbow or shoulder.” Based on the video evidence…

… that’s clearly a targeting foul. However, upon further review, the AAC officiating crew decided to overturn the initial call, wiping out the penalty and allowing Lanier to remain in the game. With social media grabbing its pitchforks and torches ready to mount a protest, the conference attempted to explain the decision to rescind the targeting call.

Kiel’s legs and backside were clearly on the ground prior to the hit, so the league’s explanation doesn’t hold much if any water.  By definition, per the SEC’s coordinator of officials Steve Shaw, a sliding player is defenseless.

As for the game, Kiel’s replacement, Hayden Moore, hit on a 68-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to give the visiting Bearcats a 17-14 lead in what’s a key AAC matchup.  Memphis scored three minutes later to take a 21-17 lead with 11:03 remaining in the half.

As of this posting, UC is driving inside Memphis territory with just over nine minutes remaining as they look to retake the lead.

UPDATED 9:08 p.m. ET: Kiel has been transported via ambulance to a local Memphis hospital for further evaluation.  Per UC officials, Kiel remains conscious and has movement in all of his extremities.

UPDATED 9:26 p.m. ET:  As for the game itself, the wildly entertaining matchup has gone to halftime, with Cincinnati holding a 30-28 lead on Memphis.  The teams traded the lead six different times, with the Bearcats striking last in the half with under two minutes remaining.

UC holds a decided 419-264 edge in total offense.  Moore, who replaced the injured Kiel, has thrown for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  The freshman came into tonight’s game with a career total of 225 yards passing and one touchdown.

UofM’s Paxton Lynch has thrown for 189 yards and a touchdown.

Lincoln Riley finalizes defensive staff for 2019

Getty Images
2 Comments

Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.

Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.

Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.

New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)

Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.

Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.

The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.

Former South Carolina DE announces transfer to TCU

Getty Images
Leave a comment

TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.

Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.

The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.

He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.

Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.

Penn State LB Jarvis Miller announces graduate transfer to UMass

Getty Images
Leave a comment

UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.

Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.

“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”

A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.

Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.

Florida State QB James Blackman reportedly not considering transfer after all

Getty Images
1 Comment

It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.

After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portalWarchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.

Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.

Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.

While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.

As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.