On the road a week after a big win against LSU, No. 2 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) recorded more sacks in a single game than any other game coached by Nick Saban in a 24-6 victory at No. 17 Mississippi State (7-3, 3-3 SEC). Alabama’s defense recorded eight sacks of Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott. Prescott had been sacked just three times all season before today.
Alabama’s victory was keyed by three big plays in the first half. Cyrus Jones returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. Jake Coker completed a 60-yard pass to Calvin Ridley for another, and running back Derrick Henry found daylight for a 74-yard touchdown run as Alabama opened up a 21-3 lead in the first half. Henry continued his Heisman Trophy push with 204 rushing yards and a second touchdown by the time the game was done.
Red zone miscues were a problem for Mississippi State. In the first half, the Bulldogs were stuffed on a fourth and goal from the one-yard line, leaving the potential scoring drive with nothing to show for it on Mississippi State’s second possession of the game. The home team also had a missed field goal and a lost fumble in the first half at a time when Alabama was struggling to get anything going on offense. It was only a matter of time, it seemed, before Alabama would make Mississippi State pay for not taking advantage of a strong defensive effort.
Alabama will wrap up its home schedule next week against Charleston Southern. The next time they take the field for an SEC contest they could, hypothetically, have the SEC West crown clinched. Alabama would need LSU and Ole Miss to lose one more game to clinch the division. LSU and Ole Miss play each other next week, so one is guaranteed to lose and fall out of the hunt. If things beyond their control do not work out for Alabama this week and next, then Alabama will head into the Iron Bowl looking to take care of business themselves.
Mississippi State also has two games remaining, both in SEC play. Next week Mississippi State will visit Arkansas. The Bulldogs return home the following week for the annual Egg Bowl against Ole Miss.
Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.
The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database. If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.
As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.
Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead. The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).
A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.
As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.
In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program. No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.
That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.
“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.
So much for that.
In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.
While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career. The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.
Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career. He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.
In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.
Virginia Tech’s roster took a one-two personnel punch on Tuesday.
Last evening, wide receiver Eric Kumah announced on Twitter that he has “decided that [it’s] best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal.” A half-hour later, teammate and Hokies tight end Chris Cunningham announced via the same social media site that “I feel as though it is in my best interest to transfer from Virginia Tech.”
The fact that the players’ names are in the NCAA transfer database doesn’t guarantee a departure, although it is normally a sign that the player will ultimately move on to another program. With the names in the database, other schools can contact them without receiving permission from Tech. Conversely, Tech has the right to strip both players of their scholarships at the end of the current semester.
Both Kumah and Cunningham have already graduated from Tech and could use their final season of eligibility at another FBS program immediately in 2019. The former also has a redshirt year available to him.
This past season, Kumah’s 42 receptions, 559 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns were all second on the Hokies. He started 12 games in 2018 and 20 total during his time in Blacksburg.
Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.