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Postma Delivers: Backup QB rallies No. 24 Houston from 20 down to stun No. 21 Memphis

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It’s almost like this exact scenario has played out before. Tom Herman inserted a backup quarterback and found instant success, as Kyle Postma led No. 24 Houston from 20 down to beat No. 21 Memphis 35-34 Saturday night in Houston.

Memphis grabbed a 3-0 lead after one – it was just the third time Houston had been blanked in a quarter this season, and first time outside of a fourth quarter blowout – and pushed the lead to 20-0 with a pair of Paxton Lynch touchdown passes when Herman replaced a gimpy, ineffective Greg Ward, Jr., with the little-used Postma on the Cougars’ final drive before the half. Postma immediately delivered, hitting four of his first five throws, including a 30-yard scoring strike to Linell Bonner to put Houston on the board.

Houston continued its momentum by opening the second half with a 10-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a seven-yard Kenneth Farrow scoring jaunt.

But Memphis responded, pushing the lead back to 20 by moving 68 and then 66 yards on its next two touches for a pair of rushing touchdowns.

Trailing 34-14 entering the fourth quarter, Houston raced 75 yards in six plays, punctuated by another Farrow touchdown run, then seemingly was in business after recovering a Doroland Dorceus fumble at the Memphis 20. The Cougars, though, had a touchdown taken off the board at the 10:06 mark of the fourth when tight end Tyler McCloskey was ruled an ineligible receiver downfield after hauling in an apparent Postma touchdown pass. They would later turn the ball over on downs.

Houston’s defense again responded as Elandon Roberts intercepted Lynch and returned the ball to the Memphis 39. Houston scored seven snaps later – consuming a precious 2:19 – when Javin Webb pushed in from one yard out.

With the score 34-28, Houston’s defense forced an immediate three-and-out, and the Cougars prowled 77 yards in nine plays – all but two coming on Postma’s arm or leg, including a seven-yard dash that gave the Cougars their first lead of the game at the 1:27 mark of the fourth quarter.

Memphis mounted one final drive for the win, but Jake Elliott‘s 48-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Postma, a sophomore that entered the night with six attempts on the entire season, completed 21-of-33 passes for 236 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions while rushing six times for a team-leading 49 yards and a touchdown. He essentially replaced the production Houston expected out of Ward, who notched only 60 passing yards on 5-of-11 passing and was sacked five times before exiting with a banged up ankle. Farrow and Webb combined to rush 14 times for 69 yards and three scores.

Lynch hit 20-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, plus 43 rushing yards. Dorceus carried 26 times for 116 yards with a score and a fumble.

The win pushes Houston (10-0, 6-0 AAC) one game closer to a winner-take-all date with No. 20 Navy for the American West. All that separates the Cougars from that Black Friday affair in Houston is a trip to Connecticut next week.

Memphis (8-2, 4-2 AAC) saw its CFP party-crasher hopes evaporate with its loss to Navy last week, and now sees any realistic hope of a conference title and Group of Five bowl berth go out the window as well.

Utah State hires ex-Washington State assistant Roc Bellantoni

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Utah State is the latest football program to make a late-offseason addition to its coaching staff.  Or an early-fall addition.  Whichever verbiage you prefer.

That being said, Utah State announced this week that Roc Bellantoni has been added to Gary Andersen‘s Utah State football staff. Bellantoni will serve not only as the special teams coordinator for the Aggies but as tight ends coach as well.

Bellantoni spent the 2019 season at Washington State.  After Tracy Claeys stepped down as defensive coordinator in October of last year, Bellantoni, the linebackers coach at the time, and cornerbacks coach Darcel McBath served as interim co-defensive coordinators for the rest of the season.

Bellantoni spent the two seasons prior to his time at Wazzu at Buffalo as defensive ends coach and special teams coordinator.  In 2018, he also served as the Bulls’ special teams coordinator.

Prior to that, Bellantoni was the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Florida Atlantic for three years. That marked Bellantoni’s first job at the FBS level.

All told, Bellantoni has spent 25 seasons as an assistant at the collegiate level.  The Iona graduate also spent time on coaching staffs at Villanova, Eastern Illinois and Drake.  At Villanova, Bellantoni was special teams coordinator as well as defensive line coach.

Oklahoma beats out LSU, Maryland for Caleb Williams, the highest-rated quarterback in the Class of 2021

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LSU handed it to Oklahoma in the 2019 College Football Playoff.  On the Fourth of July a few months later, the Sooners returned the favor on the recruiting trail.

Last month, Caleb Williams, one of the top prospects in the Class of 2021, announced that he had whittled his recruiting to-do list down to three schools: LSU, Maryland and Oklahoma.  As expected, Williams announced his verbal commitment on the holiday weekend.  And, as expected, the quarterback gave that verbal to Oklahoma football.  Or, the new QBU if you will.

Lincoln Riley acknowledged the commitment on Twitter.

Williams is a five-star 2021 prospect.  The Washington D.C. high schooler is rated as the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the country — and the No. 1 quarterback overall.  On the 247Sports.com composite, Williams is rated as the No. 4 recruit in the country.

Suffice to say, recruiting observers are high on Williams’ future.  Very high.

“There’s nothing this kid can’t do,” former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer said last month. “I’ve been doing this a long time, he has very few limitations if any. He’s uber-competitive. Very focused when he walked in. He’s really clean, he’s consistent, clean usually means consistent.

“Every throw was good to great. I think he takes it that serious. I’m interpreting what his mind is telling him and it’s as if every throw is the most important throw of the day.

Texas Tech WR Caden Leggett arrested for racing on a highway

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Yes, Texas Tech football fan.  You read that headline correctly.

According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Caden Leggett was arrested over the weekend in Lubbock County.  The charge?  Racing on a highway.  It’s believed that another Texas Tech football player was involved in the race, although that player has not yet been identified by the police.

Leggett was driving a Ford Mustang and admitted to police that a teammate was one of the individuals with which he was racing.  From the Avalanche-Journal‘s report:

A Lubbock police patrol officer saw three vehicles speeding northbound about 2:40 a.m. in the 10000 block of Indiana Avenue and began chasing the vehicles.

“I had to travel at a high rate of speed in order to attempt to catch up to the vehicles,” the officer wrote in his report.

The officer caught up to the three vehicles — a dark colored Dodge Challenger, a white Ford Mustang and another white vehicle — at a red light in the intersection of 82nd Street and Indiana Avenue. However, the vehicles sped away again when the light turned green, the report states.

The officer activated his lights and sirens to get the three vehicles to stop.

The officer pulled along side the Challenger and motioned and yelled at the driver to pull over. The officer believed the driver of the Challenger saw him and pulled behind the Mustang to stop the driver.

The driver of the Mustang pulled over in the 3300 block of 76th Street. However, the driver of the Challenger and third vehicle continued driving, the report states.

The Texas Tech football program is aware of the off-field situation involving members of the Red Raiders team.

Leggett joined the Tech football team in 2018 as a walk-on.  In 2019, the wide receiver was placed on scholarship.

In two seasons, Leggett appeared in 15 games.  Of those appearances, 11 came in 2019.  The Georgetown, Texas, product has caught two passes for 16 yards.

Family of the first Black football player in University of Texas history suing the NCAA

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A racial pioneer in the Texas football program is back in the news.

As we have noted previously, dozens of Texas student-athletes, including football players, are demanding change at the university.  One of those demands is naming a part of Royal-Memorial Stadium in honor of Julius Whittier, the first-ever Black player in University of Texas football history.

Coincidentally or not, the family of Whittier this week filed a lawsuit against NCAA.  In the suit, which is seeking damages in excess of a million dollars, the Whittier family is accusing the NCAA of negligence and wrongful death in connection to the pioneer’s passing in September of 2018.  Whittier had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years prior to his death.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “[p]ostmortem examination of his brain at Boston University… revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with head trauma.” The suit, filed by Whittier’s sister on behalf of her brother’s estate and three surviving children, alleges the Whittier’s death at the age of 68 was the direct result of football-related head trauma.

“Julius Whittier was a pioneer who became a lawyer and a member of the district attorney’s staff in Dallas County, and his life was about justice,” the family’s attorney told the Chronicle. “His family wants to carry on in his name and hope that we can make changes.

“We don’t want to end football. We just want to make it as safe as possible and make sure that everybody is informed about what can happen. That has not been the case historically, and we want to change that.”

The sister, Mildred Whittier, had previously filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of college players who suffered brain injuries from 1960 to 2014.

In 1970, Whittier became the first black player to letter in football at Texas.  He first joined the Longhorns in 1969.  At the time, though, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play.  Whittier lettered every year from 1970-72, first as an offensive guard and then as a tight end his senior season.