Getty Images

Auburn throttles Paxton Lynch, exits disappointing season with win

4 Comments

Auburn’s defense disappointed and underwhelmed for most of the 2015 season, but it was that unit that played a pivotal role in sending the Tigers into the offseason on a high note.

Facing one of the most prolific quarterbacks in the country, Auburn (7-6) almost completely shut down Paxton Lynch in claiming a 31-10 win over Memphis (9-4) in the Birmingham Bowl Wednesday afternoon.  The win snapped a mini two-game bowl losing streak for the SEC Tigers and gave them their first postseason win since the Chick-fil-A Bowl following the 2011 season.

Lynch, projected by many observers to be the first quarterback selected in the next NFL draft if he leaves the Tigers early as expected, came into the game in the top 15 nationally in both passing yards and passing touchdowns; against AU, Lynch completed just 17-of-38 passes for 104 yards, zero touchdowns and a critical end-zone interception early in the third quarter on a drive that could’ve given the Tigers their first lead of the game.  Shut out of a touchdown or even a field goal on that drive, the U of M watched as AU scored on three straight possessions to break open what had been a tie ballgame.

The passing yards by Lynch were his worst against an FBS team this season, with the previous low of 156 coming in a loss to Temple Nov. 21.  The junior had thrown for more than 300 yards in eight games this season — AU came into the game 73rd in pass defense, giving up an average of 232.2 yards per game — and topped 400 yards twice.  What might most alarm NFL scouts is the fact that Lynch completed just 44.7 percent of his passes on the day.  His previous low was 61.9, and he had a completion percentage of exactly 69 in the regular season.  The SEC Tigers had allowed quarterbacks to complete 62 percent of their passes the first 12 games of the season.

AU managed a double-digit win despite losing the turnover battle 3-1.  The U of M converted the three turnovers — a trio of interceptions — into 10 points, seven coming on a pick-six by Reggis Ball.  Ball, incidentally, had two of the interceptions for the Tigers, his team-leading fourth and fifth on the season.  All of those turnovers came in the first half, but AU managed to head into the locker room knotted up at 10-all.

Auburn, despite the score, didn’t put up a pile of yards, although they did outgain their football feline counterparts 403-206.  A big reason for that, though, was Marcus Davis giving them a shortish field on a handful of occasions, averaging 15.5 yards on six punt returns.

Jovon Robinson did top the 100-yard mark for the SEC Tigers, leading all rushers with 121 yards.  Peyton Barber, meanwhile, rushed for 44, pushing him over 1,000 yards on the year (1,020) and giving AU back-to-back 1,000-yard rushers.

While the win gives Auburn some much-needed momentum heading into what will be a pivotal — and perhaps final — offseason for Gus Malzahn on The Plains, the loss for Memphis was one final punch in the gut in a season that began with much promise.

The Tigers started 2015 by ripping off eight straight wins, with a 13-point triumph over Ole Miss — one month after the Rebels beat Alabama — bringing the word “playoff” into the conversation for the U of M.  However, the Tigers lost their first three games in the month of November to not only extinguish any playoff talk, but also put the kibosh on an expected New Year’s Six bid.

Add in the fact that they lost their head coach, Justin Fuente, to Virginia Tech, and 2015 will end on a decidedly down note for the AAC program.

South Alabama announces future home-and-home with Louisiana Tech

South Alabama Louisiana Tech
Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you’ve been thinking, “boy, I sure could use some scheduling news involving South Alabama and Louisiana Tech,” are you ever in luck.

South Alabama Wednesday announced a future home-and-home series with Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs will head to Hancock Whitney Stadium in Mobile on Sept. 24, 2022.  The Jaguars will then take a trip to Ruston’s Joe Aillet Stadium on Sept. 25, 2027.

South Alabama and Louisiana Tech have squared off twice previously.  Those two matchups were part of a home-and-home in 2017 and 2018.  Both of those were wins for the Bulldogs.

USA had previously announced a home-and-home with Ole Miss.

South Alabama is coming off a 2-10 season in the second year under Steve Campbell.  The Jaguars have never finished above .500 since making the move to the FBS level in 2012.  The closest they came was a 6-6 record in 2013.

Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, is coming off a 10-3 2019 campaign.  The 10 wins set a school record as an FBS program. In beating Miami 14-0 in the 2019 Independence Bowl, Tech became the first Group of Five school to shut out a Power Five member in a postseason game.

In seven seasons under skip Holtz, the Bulldogs have gone 56-36.  Those are the most wins for a Bulldogs head coach since Tech moved up to the Div. I-A, now FBS, level.  With 151, Joe Aillet holds the school’s all-time record.

Eastern Michigan adds a tight end to its 2020 recruiting class

Eastern Michigan football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Like Boise State and Nebraska before it, Eastern Michigan continues a late filling of its 2020 football recruiting class.  Even as its eyes are mostly on the 2021 class.

Eastern Michigan football Wednesday that its has officially signed tight end Lucas Luft as part of its Class of 2020.  With Luft’s signing, the Eagles now have a class that’s 24 recruits strong.

Luft spent the past two seasons at Fullerton College.  In 2018, Luft was a first-team All-Southern California Football Association selection after averaging a ridiculous 31.5 yards per catch.

According to 247Sports.com, Luft is the No. 17 JUCO tight end in this year’s class.  He’s also a three-star signee according to that recruiting service.

“In Lucas, we have found exactly what we were looking for,” said head coach Chris Creighton. “He’s a tough 6-foot-6, 250-pound tight end that can really stretch the field and catch. He was an excellent wide receiver in high school and has grown into a man who can do it all. Best of all, he is the kind of person we look for off the field. He is a great fit for Eastern Michigan football.

Eastern Michigan now holds the No. 7 football recruiting class in the MAC.

EMU is coming off a 6-7 campaign that ended with a QuickLane Bowl loss to Pitt.  The Eagles have now played in a bowl game three of the past four years, the only time in school history that’s ever happened.

Creighton’s 28 wins (in six seasons) are already fifth-most in the program’s history.

At least five Alabama football players have reportedly tested positive for coronavirus

Alabama football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For once, Alabama and Marshall have something in common when it comes to football.

Earlier this week, it was reported that a pair of Marshall football players had tested positive for coronavirus.  The positive tests came after the Thundering Herd players had returned to campus for voluntary workouts.  Both of those individuals were placed in quarantine.

After being allowed to by the SEC, Alabama football players began returning for voluntary on-campus workouts Monday.  Four days later, it’s now being reported that at least five Alabama football players have tested positive for COVID-19.

All of the Crimsin Tide players who tested positive are asymptomatic.  Based on protocol, all of those have been isolated from the rest of the team. Al.com wrote that “[a]t least one of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 was in attendance for player-led workout sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.” Obviously, the players involved have not been named publicly.

One report, however, stated “that the list of players included a lineman, a couple of skill players and one quarterback.”

Thursday evening, Alabama released a statement that neither confirmed nor denied the reports.

The health and safety of our student-athletes is a top priority. Resources and protocols are in place to ensure they receive the best medical care when returning to campus. Due to privacy laws we cannot share information specific to the health of our student-athletes.

Chris Beaty Memorial Fund set up to honor ex-Indiana defensive lineman gunned down Monday

Chris Beaty Indiana
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Chris Beaty may be gone, but the former Indiana football player won’t be soon forgotten.

It was reported Monday that Beaty “was one of two men shot and killed in separate incidents over the weekend as violence erupted in Downtown Indianapolis.” The 38-year-old Beaty was shot multiple times shortly before midnight local time Saturday and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chris Beaty was a defensive lineman for the Indiana Hoosiers football team from 2000-04.

This week, Beaty’s nephew, Jared Thomas, set up a GoFundMe page to honor his uncle’s legacy.  The goal of the fundraising page, Thomas wrote, is to collect “donations in his memory to the Chris Beaty Memorial Scholarship Fund that will benefit Indiana University & Cathedral High School, his alma maters which he loved so dearly.”

As of this posting, more than $40,000 has been raised.

Despite being away from the Indiana football program as a player for nearly two decades, Beaty remained close to it.

HoosierHuddle.com wrote that “Beaty was still actively involved with IU football. He tweeted on April 26th a screenshot of head coach Tom AllenMark Deal and several other Indiana football alumni. He thanked Allen for checking in with the former players and said that IU football was in good hands.”

Included was a tweet from Beaty’s personal Twitter account.

“I am at a loss for words,” a statement from Allen began. “The news of the passing of Chris Beaty is just devastating. Since I returned home to coach at Indiana, Chris embraced me, encouraged me and supported me! His passion for life and Indiana Football energized me every time we were together. He was one of our first alumni that displayed his unwavering support for what we are building here at Indiana and how we are building it. I am so heartbroken for his family and he will be deeply missed by all those that were blessed to call him a friend! LEO”