One of the biggest storylines for the Pac-12 during the offseason centered around all of the hype the Washington Huskies were receiving. Judging by the early returns in the team’s season opener, perhaps that hype was warranted.
Chris Petersen’s squad steamrolled the visiting Rutgers Scarlet Knights 48-13 in an outing that wasn’t particularly close in any phase of the game. The Huskies’ offense scored on their first four drives of the game to all but secure the win, the defense forced three turnovers and special teams contributed two touchdowns on returns.
In short, the game wasn’t even as close as the scored indicated.
Washington quarterback Jake Browning finished the game 18-of-27 for 287 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters of work. Star tailback Myles Gaskin didn’t quite pick up where he left off last year but added 57 yards on the ground.
Perhaps the most notable takeaway for the Huskies was the stellar return of John Ross III. The speedster missed all of last season with an injury but quickly made his presence felt with two long touchdown catches in the first quarter and added a 92 yard kick return before halftime for good measure. He finished with 182 all-purpose yards and three total scores.
The contest was not the outcome Chris Ash was hoping for in his debut as head coach for the Scarlet Knights. The bulk of Rutgers’ 304 yards of offense came against backups and the defense gave up 6.4 yards per play in a lackluster effort. Special teams added to the misery of the cross-country jaunt by allowing both a punt and kick return for a touchdown.
Remarkably each team converted just 25 percent of their third down conversions, but that is in part due to the fact that Washington scored so quickly with big plays that Rutgers simply had no answer for.
There was a lot of talk about how undeserving the Huskies were f their top 15 rankings but if Saturday was any indication, the team might just be one to watch this season in a loaded Pac-12 conference.
Rutgers, on the other hand, certainly isn’t must-watch television — even if you’re an alum.
Once again, the Indiana Hoosiers football coaching staff is whole.
Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers announced the additions of two assistant coaches for Tom Allen. Jason Jones will serve as safeties coach, while Kevin Wright will coach tight ends.
Allen and Jones have a prior working relationship, having served on the same coaching staff at Ole Miss.
“I have so much respect for Jason,” the Indiana Hoosiers football head coach said in a statement. “I was fortunate to work with him for two seasons at Ole Miss. He has worked in the SEC and the Big 12, and he was a part of one of the top defenses in the country last year. Jason’s a great football coach and is the kind of husband, father and man I want in this program.”
Last year, Jones was the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic.
“I am so thankful to Coach Allen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great staff,” Jones said. “IU impressed me so much last season, and I can’t wait to contribute to even more success. I am excited and ready to get to work.”
Wright is a 20-year coaching veteran, with 13 of those years in the state of Indiana and the last five at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
“I’ve known Kevin for many, many years” Allen said. “He’s been one of the most successful high school coaches in the country and has done a tremendous job working with some of the top talent in the country at IMG. Kevin allows us to expand our recruiting base and continue our success in the state of Florida. He’s a great fit for our program in so many ways, and we are excited to welcome Kevin and his family to IU.”
These hirings came a month after a new seven-year deal for Allen was announced.
The North Carolina football program is the latest to dip into the FCS ranks for some talent. Placekicker talent, but still.
Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina football program announced that Grayson Atkins is transferring to the Tar Heels. Atkins spent the past three seasons at Furman.
According to UNC, Atkins will graduate from the FCS school in the spring. He’ll then join the North Carolina football program in the summer.
As a graduate transfer, Atkins will have one season of eligibility remaining.
Below are Atkins’ particulars, as relayed by UNC’s release:
An Inman, S.C. native, Atkins converted on 33-of-41 field goal attempts and 132-of-138 PAT attempts during his three seasons at Furman. He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Atkins was also named All-Southern Conference twice. His 231 career points rank 10th on Furman’s career scoring list and fifth on the kick scoring list. Combining the end of his junior season and the beginning of his senior season, Atkins made 18 consecutive field goals, which is a Furman and Southern Conference record.
As a junior in 2019, Atkins earned first-team AFCA FCS Coaches’ All-America honors to go along with All-America honors form the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He converted on 13-of-15 field goal attempts and 48-of-50 PATs. Atkins made all six field-goal attempts under 40 yards and went 7-of-9 on attempts from 40 or more yards including a 55-yarder. In addition to his first-team All-SoCon honors as a placekicker, Atkins earned second-team accolades as a punter after averaging 43.5 yards per punt.
This past season, sophomore Noah Ruggles made all 45 of his extra-point attempts for the Tar Heels. He also hit on just 19 of his 27 field-goal attempts.
This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.
Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.
With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November. Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure. Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.
In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”
It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.
Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.
If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years. If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.
A personnel loss for Florida State will apparently be a gain for the Oregon State football program.
Last month, Tre'Shaun Harrison placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. This past week, it was reported that Harrison has been added to the OSU student directory.
According to Oregon Live, “Harrison and his mom took a visit to Corvallis from January 3-5 and the trip left him encouraged about a future with the Beavers.”
As of yet, the Oregon State football program has not addressed any roster development involving Harrison. Barring the unexpected, the receiver will have to sit out the 2020 season. That would then leave him with two years of eligibility starting in 2021.
A four-star 2018 signee, Harrison was rated as the No. 2 player at any position in the state of Washington. Harrison was originally committed to Oregon before flipping and following Willie Taggart to FSU.
In 2019, Harrison caught 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns. He was third on the Seminoles in both catches and yards.
Harrison is the second Power Five wide receiver transfer added by the Oregon State football program this month. After opting to leave Washington, Trey Lowe ultimately moved on and transferred to OSU. Like Harrison, Lowe will have to sit out the upcoming season.