Associated Press

USF survives in OT, holds off South Carolina in wild Birmingham Bowl

1 Comment

South Florida had already set a school record for wins in a season.  Thursday, the Bulls added to it.  Barely.

Trailing 29-14 in the first half of the 11th annual Birmingham Bowl, South Carolina (6-7) roared its way back to tie the game late but its USF that will head back to the Sunshine State with a wild 46-39 win, its fifth in a row to close out the season.  The win was the 11th for the Bulls in 2016, setting a school record.  This year, the 20th anniversary of the first season in the football program’s history, was also the first time they’d reached double-digits in wins, with the previous high being nine wins accomplished on three occasions, the last coming in 2007.

The win was also the Bulls’ first in a bowl game since 2010.  It didn’t come easy, though.  At all.

With the Bulls up 39-21 late in the third, an Elliott Fry field goal cut the Gamecocks’ deficit to 15.  A little over five minutes into the fourth, a Jake Bentley touchdown pass sliced USF’s lead to 39-31.  With an offense that was dominant in the first half suddenly stagnant, the Gamecocks got the ball back again with 6:33 left in the game.  Five plays later they were at the USF 8-yard line; on the sixth play, A.J. Turner appeared headed for what, with a two-point conversion, could’ve been the game-tying touchdown run but fumbled the ball back to the Bulls a yard short of the goal line.

Forcing a Bulls punt from their own end zone after three plays netted next to nothing, Chris Lammons returned a punt that was initially ruled a touchdown but, upon further review, was placed at the two-yard line.  Three plays later, a Turner one-yard run left the ‘Cocks a two-point conversion away from tying the score; a Bentley pass to Hayden Hurst was complete to knot the score at 39-all and send it to overtime.

Quinton Flowers, dominant in the first half but bothered by injury in the second, hit Elkanah Dillon from 25 yards out on the first play of extra time to give the Bulls back the lead.  Facing a fourth down on their first possession of overtime, a strip-sack of Bentley recovered by the Bulls ended the Gamecocks’ comeback hopes.  It was USC’s third red-zone turnover of the game.

Flowers finished the game with five touchdowns — three rushing, two passing — and 366 yards of offense.  He led the team in rushing with 105 yards.

Despite the loss, the future, especially at the quarterback position, certainly looks bright for Will Muschamp & Company.

Bentley finished the game 32-of-43 passing for 390 yards and three touchdowns.  He did, though, throw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.  Sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel was on the receiving end of 14 of those completions and 190 of the yards.

The loss drops the SEC to 1-3 this bowl season, one year after going 9-2.

 

Washington State officially taps Wyoming’s Jake Dickert as DC

Washington State football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The raiding of the Wyoming staff by the new head coach for Washington State football has formally commenced.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Wazzu would be adding three Wyoming assistants to Nick Rolovich‘s first staff at the Pac-12 school.  Tuesday, the first of those came to fruition as Jake Dickert was officially confirmed as the Cougars’ defensive coordinator.

Dickert will also coach linebackers for Rolovich.

“I am so pumped about this hire, I’ve been following Jake and his coaching career for a long time. We have competed against him the past couple years and his defenses play tough, they play physical and they play as one,” the first-year Washington State football coach said in a statement. “Jake came highly recommended from a number of coaches around the country and he has been very successful in recruiting and developing players from this area of the country. I’ve seen Jake continue to develop as he worked his way up the coaching ladder and he proved himself as a defensive coordinator this past season. He takes pride in how his defense plays, stopping the run, forcing takeaways and pressuring the quarterback, and I think he will be a great fit for this program and the Pullman community.”

Dickert spent the past three seasons at Wyoming.  For the first two, he was safeties coach.  Prior to the 2019 season, he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

The Cowboys job was Dickert’s first at the FBS level.  During a 13-year coaching career, he also served time on football staffs at North Dakota State, South Dakota, Southeast Missouri State, Augustana, Minnesota State and South Dakota State.

Alabama QB signee Bryce Young leaps to top of 247’s Class of 2020 player rankings

Alabama Crimson Tide football
Getty Images
1 Comment

Not only does the Alabama Crimson Tide football team currently hold the nation’s top recruiting class, they now boast the nation’s top player. Well, at least according to one recruiting service they do.

During the Early Signing Period last month, Mater Dei quarterback Bryce Young signed with Alabama. At the time, Young was the No. 3 player in the country according to 247Sports.com.

Tuesday, ahead of National Signing Day next week, the recruiting website released its final player rankings for the Class of 2020. And, according to that service, Young is now the No. 1 recruit in this year’s class.

Quarterback and Clemson signee DJ Uiagalelei is the No. 2 prospect. Another Clemson signee, defensive tackle Bryan Bresee, is No. 3. The rest of the Top Five is rounded out by an Ohio State signee, wide receiver Julian Fleming, and another Alabama Crimson Tide football signee, weakside defensive end Will Anderson.

The recruiting website explained the process that went into making the decision on the top player in this class:

There were three worthy candidates but there’s a new No. 1. In almost any year, any one of DJ Uiagalelei, Bryce Young and Bryan Bresee would be a clear No. 1. This year, two had to settle for something less. We landed on Young as our top guy after extensive deliberation. Despite Bresee being one of the best defensive linemen we’ve scouted in years, he was up against two quarterbacks that finish with the same rating as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields, our highest grade ever given to a quarterback. When it’s close, and a true No. 1 candidate is there at quarterback, we felt that position had to get the nod. Here’s our roundtable discussion on how we sorted through these three elite talents.

Despite coming up short on some of the physical tools that Uiagalelei boasts, Young’s consistency, instincts, accuracy and body of work both during his career, senior season and all-star performances was just too much to pass up for us. As the game turns to the best player going No. 1, regardless of traits (Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, Joe Burrow), we felt like Young gives us our best shot at hitting on the No. 1 player.

As for the 247 composite, which takes into consideration other recruiting services such as Rivals and ESPN? Bresee is the No. 1 recruit in the country, followed by Young and Fleming. According to that same composite, Uiagalelei is the No. 10 prospect in the Class of 2020.

Ex-Duke WR Aaron Young lands at Florida Atlantic

Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Duke wide receiver Aaron Young first entered the transfer portal, nearly a year ago to the day, he wanted to head back west.“I’m looking for a graduate program that I can get into since I can’t get into one here, and also a chance to play closer to home,” the California native told 247Sports at the time.

Young later pulled his name from the portal and played the 2019 season for the Blue Devils. His 29 receptions for 367 yards and three touchdowns ranked him second among all Duke wide receivers.

Still unable to get into graduate school at Duke, Young re-entered the portal two days after Christmas, and now he’s found his next destination — which is very much not closer to his Murrieta, Calif., home.

Young later replied to the tweet, comically correcting FAU Owl’s Nest to let them know he’s actually 6’4″ and 210 pounds.

Immediately eligible to play his sixth season, Young will join a defending Conference USA champion team that nonetheless loses four of its top five pass catchers. In 37 career games, Young owns 63 grabs for 849 yards and seven touchdowns.

LSU now losing multiple support staffers to bigger jobs

Getty Images
2 Comments

To the victor comes the spoils, they say. And the spoils are all leaving town.

LSU was already set to lose a lot on the field, with eight early entrants plus seniors like Joe BurrowKristian Fulton and both guards on their Joe Moore Award-winning offensive line. And though losing passing game coordinator Joe Brady to the Panthers and defensive coordinator Dave Aranda to Baylor — damn you, Matt Rhule — wasn’t unexpected, it was still a blow.

But LSU is now losing third-level assistants, the type of guys only the most purple and gold of LSU fans knew but the guys who made the machine hum the way it did.

Jorge Munoz, an analyst and former Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator widely speculated to slide into Brady’s role, left to join Aranda at Baylor. Offensive graduate assistant John Decoster took a job as the tight ends coach at Old Dominion. Defensive analyst Dennis Johnson, who would’ve coached LSU’s defensive line had he not injured both knees playing basketball in the offseason, also followed Aranda to Baylor.

And now longtime defensive analyst Ronnie Wheat is leaving to become the safeties coach at Nevada, according to multiple reports Tuesday.

Wheat had more than earned his promotion, spending the past seven seasons on LSU’s support staff while working under coordinators John ChavisKevin Steele and Aranda. According to Geaux247, who broke the story, Wheat was instrumental in developing linebackers such as Devin White and Kendell Beckwith, and helped reel in a pair of 4-star linebackers in LSU’s 2020 recruiting class.

To be clear, change is the nature of college football. The roster turns over completely every five years, and losing assistants to bigger and better jobs is the price of victory. On a personal level, you want to lose your guys to bigger jobs, because it makes the jobs you have all the more attractive. Alabama’s staff has almost completely turned over from its 2017 national championship, to say nothing of the now-ancient 2009 title, and yet Nick Saban keeps the Crimson Tide humming.

Now it’s Ed Orgeron‘s turn.