Pitt’s Narduzzi takes veiled shot at Penn State playcalling

12 Comments

New Pittsburgh head coach Pat Narduzzi certainly has plenty of reasons to be feeling boastful right about now. His Panthers are fresh off a road win at Georgia Tech, sitting in first place in the ACC Coastal Diviosjn with a 5-1 overall record. Pitt is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2010, and now Narduzzi is dropping some mild shots at Penn State. Narduzzi was asked about the play of his quarterback, Nathan Peterman, during Pitt’s recent run and Narduzzi dropped a not-so-subtle reference to the ongoing struggles at quarterback and playcalling at another school in the state of Pennsylvania; Penn State.

“You could have a talented quarterback with a bad play caller and make him look bad,” Narduzzi said. “You can see that around the country, some closer than others.”

One can only assume Narduzzi was referencing Penn State with quarterback Christian Hackenberg and offensive coordinator John Donovan. Donavan has come under fire his playcalling this season and a year and a half of disappointing results with Hackenberg at quarterback. Hackenberg shined as a freshman under former Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien, but has been average at best for much of the early goings in the James Franklin era in State College. While there is room for some excuses for Hackenberg’s lack of development (Penn State’s continued rebuilding on offensive line being the biggest culprit), there is still blame to direct toward Hackenberg for some decision-making errors along the way. That said, the bulk of the blame continues to fall on Donovan. It is Donovan’s job to put the offense in its best position to advance the football and that simply has not seemingly been the case since the start of the 2014 season for Penn State.

It is also worth noting Narduzzi is not simply spouting off as a head coach of another program in the state of Pennsylvania in an attempt to take a shot at a recruiting rival. He also speaks from firsthand experience. As defensive coordinator at Michigan State last season, Narduzzi coached the Spartans’ defense against Hackenberg, hodling him to just 21-of-45 for 195 yards and an interception. Michigan State beat Penn State 34-10 in the regular season finale.

Hackenberg was a five-star pro-style quarterback out of high school in Penn State’s Class of 2013.

With both Pittsburgh and Temple being ranked in the AP Top 25 this week, it marks the first time since November 12, 1979 that two schools from Pennsylvania were ranked in the AP poll and neither was Penn State. Penn State and Pitt have not played each other since 2000, but the two long-time instate rivals will revive their rivalry starting next season with the first in a four-game series. Whether Hackenberg will still be around remains unknown. His draft stock has dropped some, but a strong second half could ease some concerns about his NFL future.

Documents show UCLA AD Dan Guerrero will retire in June of 2020

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Given the development earlier this month, this is certainly an interesting twist in the UCLA-USC rivalry.

Sept. 9, it was confirmed that Lynn Swann had “resigned” as the athletic director at USC.  Exactly 10 days later, it’s being reported that Dan Guerrero will step down from his post as UCLA’s athletic director next summer.

Specifically, Guerrero will retire on June 30, 2020.  Guerrero’s contract currently runs through Dec. 31 of this year, with the university system’s regents approving Thursday to extend it out to his retirement date.

The 67-year-old Guerrero — he’ll be 68 on his retirement date — has served in his current post since April of 2002.  His most recent high-profile hire, head football coach Chip Kelly, hasn’t remotely matched the post-addition fanfare as the Bruins have posted a 3-12 record in one-plus season under Kelly.  That includes an 0-3 start to the 2019 season that already has fans of the program talking about how much it would cost to buy Kelly out.

Because of neck injury, Texas A&M RB Vernon Jackson ‘will probably never play again’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The tumult Texas A&M has experienced in its backfield the past several months has taken yet another negative twist.

In April, Texas A&M’s Vernon Jackson posted on social media that he had “suffered a neck injury in practice… [that] could keep me from ever playing again.” Three months later, A&M would only confirm that the running back would be sidelined for the entire 2019 season because of the injury.

Wednesday night on his weekly radio show, Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that, because of the injury, “Vernon will probably never play again.” The specific nature of the neck issue has never been divulged.

According to the head coach, Jackson will remain on a medical scholarship and serve as a student coach with the football program.

“He wanted to be in coaching,” Fisher said according to the Dallas Morning News. “He’s a tremendous human being. We wanted him to be a part of our team. He’s become a student coach and learning all the things you got to be to do that.”

Jackson was a four-star member of the Aggies’ 2018 recruiting class.  As a true freshman, he appeared in 12 games, carrying the ball seven times for 49 yards.

The situation around Jackson, as well as a couple of other developments, has left the Aggies with just three healthy running backs heading into Week 4.

Starter Jashaun Corbin, who posted his first career 100-yard game in the 2019 opener, is out for the season after suffering a hamstring injury in the Week 2 loss to Clemson.  This week, Deneric Prince opted to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.

Isaiah Spiller‘s 246 yards (on just 28 carries) currently leads the Aggies.  His 8.8 yards per carry is seventh nationally among all players with at least 25 rushing attempts.

Braylon Edwards: Michigan ‘light years behind Ohio State’ right now

Getty Images
4 Comments

There is some breaking news, y’all.

To say that Ohio State has owned the greatest rivalry in all of sports of late would be an understatement of mammoth proportions, with Michigan losing each of the last seven editions of The Game.  Taking it back further, the Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 15 and 16 of the last 18.

Throughout the offseason, and as OSU is in its first year of the post-Urban Meyer era, there’s has been many a discussion that this is the season that, finally, the Wolverines get over that Buckeye hump.  Michigan, though, has hardly looked the part thus far — they nearly lost to Army in the Big House in double overtime — while Ohio State has outscored its opponents 138-31 in starting 3-0 and still looks like the class of the Big Ten.

Enter Braylon Edwards, the former U-M receiving great who has never in the past been shy about criticizing his alma mater when he feels it’s warranted.  During a radio appearance this week, Edwards laid out his unvarnished opinion on how the Wolverines stand in comparison to their hated rivals.

“Falling [behind OSU]? We fell,” Edwards said by way of USA Today. “It’s past tense. We’re light years behind Ohio State right now.”

Edwards also had stern words for how the Wolverines approach The Game compared to the Buckeyes.

My biggest concern, if I’m being honest. Three-hundred-sixty-five days a year, [OSU is] breathing, living, hating – they can’t even say our name. They hate us so much. When they go into that game, that’s that old-school, 1960s football, Friday Night Lights in Texas – that’s the atmosphere. That’s what they bring to the table when they play us. You can feel it on them. You can almost smell the hate when you play against them.

… You approach certain teams differently. We got to start approaching that game from the standpoint that they do. I feel like when we go into that game, you’re looking at two different preparation systems.

The latest edition of The Game will be played Nov. 30 in Ann Arbor.  If U-M were to lose that game, the heat underneath Jim Harbaugh‘s seat, regardless of the record the first 11 games, will be cranked up exponentially.

Nick Saban says Alabama’s highest-rated 2019 signee has ‘basically quit’ the team

Getty Images
5 Comments

I guess it’s time to close the books on this little mini-soap opera, at least for now.

Antonio Alfano was suspended for unspecified reasons and didn’t dress for Alabama’s Week 2 home opener against New Mexico State.  Last week, Nick Saban added a bit of mystery to Alfano’s status when he stated that the highly-touted defensive lineman has “kind of disappeared a little bit” before launching into an oral dissertation about failing to confront and learn from one’s mistakes.

On Twitter nearly a week ago, Alfano’s parents stated that, in large part because of an ailing grandmother, their son “has not attended classes or practices” for an unspecified period of time.  Against their wishes, the parents also confirmed that Alfano has entered the NCAA transfer database.

Wednesday, Saban offered up an update in which the head coach, very bluntly, stated that the defensive lineman has basically quit the team as he hasn’t shown up for football-related activities, classes or counseling for unspecified issues.  The player isn’t responding to attempts by the team to contact him, either, Saban added.

With his name in the transfer database, other schools can contact Alfano without receiving permission from Alabama.  The true freshman also, as the parents alluded to in their social media posts last week, can pull his name from the portal and remain with the Crimson Tide.

During summer camp, Alfano missed a couple of practices for what were described as personal reasons but ultimately returned to the team.  Even before the suspension, the lineman didn’t play in the season opener against Duke.

A five-star 2019 signee, Alfano was rated as the No. 1 strongside defensive end in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in the state of New Jersey; and the No. 5 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  He was the highest-rated Crimson Tide signee during this most recent cycle.