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Why is Brian Kelly continuing to drag out Notre Dame QB battle?

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Anyone who watched Notre Dame’s season-opening loss on the road against Texas on Sunday night (and a lot of you did) likely came away knowing one thing for sure. Notre Dame’s offense runs better when DeShone Kizer is playing quarterback instead of Malik Zaire. Just about everybody seemed to agree on that, which made it a little puzzling when Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said this week he will plan on using two quarterbacks once again this week in the Irish home opener against Nevada.

”I haven’t sat down and talked with to either one of them, so before we do that we don’t have any plans to make any decisions,” Kelly said this week.

Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish said it best in one of his postgame recaps of the Sunday night game in Austin. DeShone Kizer needs to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. I agree. So do you, in all likelihood. Kizer completed 15 of 24 pass attempts for 215 yards and five touchdowns without an interception. He was also Notre Dame’s second-leading rusher, adding one more touchdown on the ground. Zaire attempted just five passes and completed two for 23 yards and rushed three times for zero yards. It can be unwise to make rash decisions based off one season opener, but the difference between Kizer and Zaire was substantial.

So why might Kelly be reluctant to hand the offense over to Kizer on a full-time basis? Let’s try stepping inside the mind of the head coach. First, let’s admit and concede the indisputable fact that Kelly has seen much more of both Kizer and Zaire than anyone else has. He sees these players in practices on a regular basis, watches and breaks down the film, and sees them in action on game day. He talks to these two far more than any of us do as well, so we should probably agree he has a better understanding of what these two options are all about than you or I do. Agreed? Great. Understanding all of that, we can understand in part why Kelly may have the desire to see more out of Zaire and Kizer in a real-game situation.

Maybe Kizer played out of his mind against Texas and Zaire had a down night. What happens if Zaire comes out blazing against Nevada and Kizer all of a sudden begins to struggle? Then Kelly would be justified for holding off on making a decision on one guy. Or maybe Kelly will take a note from what he watched his most recent opponent do and find a way to utilize both of his quarterbacks more effectively in the offense while splitting the plays between them.

That does not appear to be the case. Kelly still seems as though he would like to have one guy to turn to at quarterback, and if Kizer has not yet made it clear he should be the guy, one has to wonder what else Kelly needs to see. Letting this drag on longer than it needs can be a concern as well. All Kelly needs to do is look back to last season when Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer let the quarterback situation play out longer than he needed, or should. (Side note: Remember when Kelly said he liked his quarterback situation better than Ohio State’s last season?) Meyer was faced with deciding between J.T. Barrett coming off injury or Cardale Jones, who played a remarkable three games to help push the Buckeyes to a national championship. The quarterback shuffle led to Ohio State’s offense struggling to get in rhythm the way they were expected to in 2015. Eventually, things sorted itself out, even if Meyer made the wrong call at first by going more with Jones over Barrett. Meyer did Ohio State no favors by creating a distraction that never needed to be there. Kelly is walking down the same path in South Bend the longer he waits to make the call, and it’s not like he’s deciding between quarterbacks who led him to an undefeated season and/or national championship. The call should be for Kizer.

Look. Kelly is getting a ton of money to make some football decisions that appear to be incredibly and painfully obvious to the fans and media alike watching the game from off the sidelines. Maybe Kelly is making a mistake in letting this quarterback indecision drag on. Maybe this is all still going according to plan for Kelly.

Safety graduate transfers from Penn State to Pitt

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Penn State safety Johnny Petrishen has left State College for Pittsburgh, where he is now a Panther.

Petrishen announced the transfer on Tuesday evening, and Pitt confirmed his addition on Wednesday morning.

Petrishen has two years of eligibility remaining thanks — if you want to use that term — to two medical redshirts.

A Lower Burrell, Pa., native, Petrishen appeared in 17 career games as a Nittany Lion, including all 13 last season. Primarily a special teams player, he posted eight career tackles and one TFL in State College.

NC State transfer Tim Kidd-Glass tweets move to Liberty

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Hugh Freeze may be dealing with what was a significant health issue, but he’s still working his first-year roster at Liberty.

On his personal Twitter account Tuesday evening, Tim Kidd-Glass announced that he “would like to thank God for allowing me to have another opportunity to further my football career… at Liberty University.” The announcement comes a couple of weeks after the safety triggered a move from North Carolina State by entering his name into the NCAA transfer database.

As a graduate transfer, Kidd-Glass will be eligible to play for the Flames in 2019.

The past three seasons, the Virginia native played in 33 games for the Wolfpack.  He started nine of those contests, all of which came during the 2017 season.

Tale of the Heisman Tape: Trevor vs. Tua

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The 2018 season ended with Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence emerging as the next big college football star destined for greatness. Despite being a true freshman, Lawrence had his way with Alabama in the national championship game after leading the Tigers past Notre Dame in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff. Lawrence’s glory led to a disappointing ending to the season for Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who was among the preseason favorites to win the Heisman Trophy before the 2018 season started. Now, a year later, Tagovailoa is once again being tabbed as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites, with Lawrence riding in the same boat as the top picks to take home the trophy this fall.

Preseason Heisman Trophy favorites can sometimes be a total guessing game, but both Lawrence and Tagovailoa are young and experienced enough at a high level of competition to prove worthy of the preseason hype as college football’s best players. Although Tagovailoa had a rough end to the 2019 season, there is enough reason to believe he will have a solid season in 2019 while leading Alabama right back to the College Football Playoff. Lawrence should do the same with Clemson as they look to defend their national title from a year ago. If all goes according to plan, they will meet in New York City when the most iconic individual award in sports is awarded. And if the oddsmakers are on the ball, one of these two young quarterbacks will be going home with the award.

So how do these two quarterback phenoms stack up against each other in 2019? Let’s see if we can dig in a little bit and determine if there is a clear edge one way or the other.

Who passes for more yards?

As a freshman, Lawrence passed for 3,280 yards in 15 games. Of course, Lawrence didn’t become the full-time starter until after the fourth game of the season, replacing Kelly Bryant at the end of September. Had Lawrence been the full-time starter instead of splitting time, perhaps the freshman would have climbed higher than 22nd in the nation in passing yards. Alabama’s Tagovailoa finished the season with the 5th most passing yards, just shy of joining the 4,000-yard club last season (Tagovailoa finished the season with 3,966 passing yards).

Each of the last two Heisman Trophy winners, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield, managed to cross the 4,000-yard mark for the entire season, although it is not necessarily the difference-maker in the Heisman Trophy race. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson had 3,543 passing yards in 2016, although Jackson piled up stats in other offensive categories as well to help his case. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota threw for 4,454 yards in 2014. It should be noted, however, that these passing yard totals also include postseason games played after the Heisman Trophy has been awarded. Last year’s season passing leader, Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, was merely a Heisman Trophy finalist and he ended the season with 4,831 passing yards.

Who has more touchdowns?

Aided by being the full-time starter for his team from the start of the season, Tagovailoa easily had more touchdown passes than Lawrence last season. The Crimson Tide QB tossed 43 touchdowns on the year, with 37 coming before the Heisman Trophy ballots were due. Tagovailoa was picked off just four times all season prior to the College Football Playoff, but two of those came in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia. As far as timing is concerned, throwing half of your picks in the season in the conference championship game is far from ideal for most Heisman Trophy candidates.

Lawrence connected for 30 touchdowns to just four interceptions all season long. When the Heisman Trophy votes were counted, the freshman had 26 touchdown passes in the books and he had not thrown an interception since Nov. 11 at Boston College. Those stats were not nearly good enough to jump into the Heisman Trophy race for those concerned about the stats over the wins as a newcomer on the scene. Similar numbers in 2019 may not be as much concern unless other quarterbacks are outpacing those stats for playoff contenders.

Murray threw 40 touchdowns before the College Football Playoff. So a race to 40 touchdowns may be worth paying attention to.

Who rushes for more yards?

Does a running quarterback have a leg up in the Heisman Trophy competition? Not necessarily. Kyler Murray was a 1,000-yard rusher last season with 12 rushing touchdowns, but Baker Mayfield had just 311 rushing yards and five touchdowns the year before. But production on the ground can certainly help, as it did for Lamar Jackson in 2016. Jackson rushed for 1,571 yards and 21 touchdowns to compliment his 3,543 passing yards and 30 touchdown passes for the entire season. Neither Lawrence nor Tagovailoa should be expected to put up that kind of production on the loaded teams they are a part of.

In fact, neither quarterback should be expected to do a ton of damage with their legs. Last season, Lawrence ended the year with 177 rushing yards and one touchdown and Tagovailoa had 190 rushing yards with five touchdowns. As far as these two candidates are concerned, the Heisman Trophy race likely won’t be decided by what they do running the ball. Each team will have solid running backs for these players to hand the ball to when the action stays on the ground.

Who has more Heisman Moment opportunities?

SANTA CLARA, CA – JANUARY 07: Tua Tagovailoa #13 of the Alabama Crimson Tide reacts against the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi’s Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

This is where the difference could be made for Lawrence and Tagovailoa. For voters who are looking for a defining moment in which a Heisman Trophy candidate lifts the team up in a pivotal point, the search for Heisman Moments will be important in swaying a ballot or two one way or the other. What will these great quarterbacks do when the pressure is ultimately on?

Lawerence may have a great opportunity to make some early highlights with games against Georgia Tech, Texas A&M and Syracuse to start the season. The schedule after that could potentially turn into a bit of a drag with Clemson being a lopsided favorite the rest of the year. Could Lawrence actually be punished for Clemson’s dominance while other candidates such as Tagovailoa may have some more marquee matchups in the spotlight?

While Lawrence gets a good start to the season with the schedule, Tagovailoa may have a chance to pile up some big numbers early before the nitty-gritty of the Alabama football schedule kicks in. Tagovailoa will lead Alabama on the road to Texas A&M (a chance to compare results with Lawrence due to a common opponent) and a potential top-10 matchup with LSU on early November could carry some significant weight down the stretch. Throw in a possible opportunity to go up against a highly-ranked Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the edge in notable showcase games as the Heisman Trophy race winds down probably leans in favor of Tagovailoa.

The flip side of that is Tagovailoa needs to shine in those game sin order to take advantage of the spotlight, and the magnifying glass that goes with it if the race is close. Tagovailoa struggled in the SEC Championship Game against Georgia last year when he completed just 10 of 25 pass attempts for 164 yards with just one touchdown to two interceptions before being replaced by Jalen Hurts. A better showing may not have changed the final outcome in the Heisman voting enough to dethrone Kyler Murray, but Tagovailoa’s performance in Atlanta didn’t help his case.

So, who’s it going to be?

It is difficult to see how Lawrence loses steam this season. A chance to jump out to an early lead with some big games to start the year gives Clemson’s young phenom the perfect opportunity to back up his hype as the preseason Heisman favorite, and the chance to rack up stats the rest of the year could be enough to stay ahead of the pack. History would suggest Lawrence will not win the Heisman Trophy though because rarely does a player start the year as the favorite and end up winning it. They can’t all be Marcus Mariota, right? Lawrence may be in a good position to pull it off though.

Manny Diaz confirms QB Tate Martell is open to a position change

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So there you have it.  Sort of.

Instead of bringing it on and competing with Georgia transfer Justin Fields for the starting quarterback jobTate Martell hightailed it out of Ohio State earlier this offseason and ultimately landed at Miami shortly thereafter.  Granted immediate eligibility with the Hurricanes, and seen as a slight favorite to win the starting job, Martell instead saw Jarren Williams stake his claim as QB1 as Manny Diaz named the redshirt freshman the Hurricanes’ starter earlier this month.

Losing out on the starting led to Martell bailing on practice, even as he ultimately returned.  Not long after, it was reported that Martell had begun working with Miami’s wide receivers.

Wednesday, the Hurricanes’ head coach confirmed that, as the Miami Herald put, Martell is receptive to a potential position change.  The Herald also noted that Martell wasn’t wearing the traditional orange jersey normally worn by quarterbacks and also met with the running backs and wide receiver positional groups following practice earlier today.

“It’s like anybody else we have,” Diaz said of a potential position change for Martell. “Anybody will help by doing anything that’s available, so yeah.”

The intimation coming out of South Florida seems to be that, if Martell loses out on the backup job to N’Kosi Perry, he would then shift his focus to another position, although that has yet to be officially acknowledged.

Martell was a four-star member of OSU’s 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 2 dual-threat quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Martell threw for 269 yards and a touchdown on 23-of-28 passing this past season while also running for another 128 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.