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Butch Jones explains why Tennessee went for one instead of two

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With his Vols up by six points, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones opted to go for one point instead of attempt a two-point conversion attempt after a third quarter touchdown extended the lead to 12. Tennessee got the extra point, but ended up losing to the Florida Gators by one. After the loss, Tennessee’s 11th straight against Florida, Jones was left with some questions to answer regarding his coaching decisions.

For starters, why the heck didn’t you go for two?

“Well a number of reasons and we were discussing that prior to the drive. If we did score whether we go for one or two, we have a chart that is pretty standard in football first of all and maps it all,” Jones explained, seemingly admitting he chose to ignore the chart he made sure to mention. “We just felt like at that stage in the game that we had great confidence in our defense of getting off the football field and allowing them to push the ball down the field so we felt very comfortable with the decision.”

Rule number one: When you lose to one school for 10 straight years, you never trust your defense with a quarter and a half to play to hold a 13-point lead.

Rule number two: Two weeks after experiencing the agony of defeat when victory was seemingly knotted up, you never trust your defense to hold a 13-point lead.

Rule number three: If you have a chart that tells you when to go for two points in your hands on the sideline, you follow the darn chart!

Tennessee quarterback Joshua Dobbs shared his thoughts on whether it was good enough to go for one point after that touchdown.

“No, when you come on the road in the SEC the game’s never over,” Dobbs said.

Jones was also forced to address another questionable coaching decision that came back to haunt him earlier in the third quarter. Florida was in a fourth down situation (4th and 6 from the Tennessee 25-yard line) and took the field looking to line up in a field goal formation. Jones chose to burn one of his timeouts, fearing the Gators had a trick play in the works. Florida came out of the timeout with its offense and Will Grier completed a pass to Brandon Powell for a 21-yard gain and the Gators scored a touchdown on the next play.

Did Jones give his counterpart on the other sideline, Jim McElwain, time to rethink the decision to kick a field goal? McElwian did not admit to having a trick play ready, so it is difficult to say whether or not the Vols made the right call taking the timeout.

“We thought they were going to do a fake field goal so that is the one time that we did it,” Jones said after the game. “Another time is making sure we had the right personnel on the field in some different things we had seen from scouting.”

Jones may be a fine coach, but yesterday proved he is certainly not exempt from the trend of coaches out-thinking themselves in critical situations. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest solution.

Manny Diaz confirms QB Tate Martell is open to a position change

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So there you have it.  Sort of.

Instead of bringing it on and competing with Georgia transfer Justin Fields for the starting quarterback jobTate Martell hightailed it out of Ohio State earlier this offseason and ultimately landed at Miami shortly thereafter.  Granted immediate eligibility with the Hurricanes, and seen as a slight favorite to win the starting job, Martell instead saw Jarren Williams stake his claim as QB1 as Manny Diaz named the redshirt freshman the Hurricanes’ starter earlier this month.

Losing out on the starting led to Martell bailing on practice, even as he ultimately returned.  Not long after, it was reported that Martell had begun working with Miami’s wide receivers.

Wednesday, the Hurricanes’ head coach confirmed that, as the Miami Herald put, Martell is receptive to a potential position change.  The Herald also noted that Martell wasn’t wearing the traditional orange jersey normally worn by quarterbacks and also met with the running backs and wide receiver positional groups following practice earlier today.

“It’s like anybody else we have,” Diaz said of a potential position change for Martell. “Anybody will help by doing anything that’s available, so yeah.”

The intimation coming out of South Florida seems to be that, if Martell loses out on the backup job to N’Kosi Perry, he would then shift his focus to another position, although that has yet to be officially acknowledged.

Martell was a four-star member of OSU’s 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Martell threw for 269 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-28 passing this past season while also running for another 128 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

Report: West Virginia LB VanDarius Cowan suspended four games

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Even as he left Alabama, it doesn’t appear VanDarius Cowan has been able to leave off-field issues behind.

According to a report from 247Sports.com, Cowan has been suspended for West Virginia’s first four games of the 2019 season.  The only reason given was unspecified “NCAA eligibility issues.”

The suspension will sideline Cowan for games against James Madison, Missouri, NC State and the Big 12 opener against Kansas.  The linebacker would then be eligible to return for the Oct. 5 game against Texas.

Cowan was a four-star member of Alabama’s 2017 recruiting class.  In July of last year, he was dismissed by the Crimson Tide after being charged with misdemeanor assault.  A month later, he landed at West Virginia.

The Florida native sat out the 2018 season to satisfy NCAA transfer bylaws.  He’s been expected to be a significant contributor this coming season.

Third Maryland player tears ACL this offseason, with LB Durell Nchami being the latest

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Maryland has seen a player sidelined for a significant period of time by a serious knee injury.

The latest Terrapin to suffer such a setback is Durell Nchami, with first-year head coach Mike Locksley confirming Tuesday that the linebacker has been diagnosed with a torn ACL.  The true sophomore suffered the injury during a scrimmage this past Saturday.

Nchami, who will undergo surgery once the swelling subsides, will be sidelined for the entire 2019 season.

As a true freshman this past season, Nchami played in 10 games and was credited with 15 tackles, 4½ of which were for a loss.  While not expected to start this season even before the injury, Nchami was expected to play an even bigger role in sub packages this year.

“[It’s a] blow to us because of depth, that’s a big concern for us,” Locksley said. “We’ve got a really strong core group of players, but our depth is an issue. So again, we’ve got to continue to find ways to keep our guys healthy and it’s a shame because he was actually playing really well, really taken the next step.”

Nchami is the third Terrapin to suffer a torn ACL this offseason, joining wide receiver Jeshuan Jones (HERE) and Antwaine Richardson (HERE).

Lawsuit filed against Houston claims racial discrimination in process that led up to hiring of Dana Holgorsen

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On Dec. 30 of last year, Houston officially fired Major Applewhite as its head coach even as speculation about his future at the AAC school had flared for days.  Just three days later, Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia to take over for Applewhite in Houston.

And therein lies at least a bit of an issue with which the university now has to deal.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Dr. Kevin Simms, president of the African-American Coaches Association, has filed “[a] lawsuit… against the University of Houston that accuses the school of discrimination and failure to properly post its head football coaching position.” The suit claims that the university violated state law by failing to post the position for a minimum of two weeks, filing complaints with both the Texas Workforce Commission and U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Simms is seeking $20 million in compensation in the suit, which also, coincidentally enough, is the total value of the contract signed by Holgorsen.

From the Chronicle‘s report:

The lawsuit seeks damage for “loss (sic) wages, loss (sic) earning capacity, future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenient (sic), mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life …” Simms requests a jury trial.

In the lawsuit, Simms claims to have “over 30 years of coaching experience and is clearly more qualified than Dana Holgersen (sic).” A search found no listings of any previous coaching jobs for Simms.

The lawsuit adds, “the University of Houston continues to bypass African-Americans in applying and being considered for the head football coach position as it does not adhere to the job posting and advertising requirements.

(Writer’s note: Yes, Holgorsen’s name was misspelled in the lawsuit.)

The suit further cites an April 30 Sports Illustrated article in which a deal between Holgorsen and UH superbooster Tilman Fertitta was reportedly reached on Dec. 22 for the head coach to replace Applewhite.  The verbal agreement was put together, per the article, shortly before UH was steamrolled by Army 70-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl.

“The University of Houston believes this case is without merit and looks forward to its resolution,” the school said in a statement.

(Tip O’ the Cap: our very own Zach Barnett)