Those who have sacrificed their sleep on the weekends to watch a talented running back duo of Stanford’s Bryce Love and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny this season are already conditioned for this, but Arizona quarterback Khalil Tate has become one more reason to stay up late on Saturdays. Tate is close to carrying Arizona by himself as the main attraction in a much-needed turnaround season for Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats.
After diminishing win totals each of the past two seasons, it was fair to suggest this was a critical season for Rodriguez in Tucson. And after a 2-2 start to the season that included some offensive struggles against Houston and Utah at home, Tate’s sudden rise could not have come at a better time. Since taking over at quarterback in early October against Colorado, Tate has been off and running, literally. Tate is essentially Rodriguez’s 2017 edition of Pat White.
Tate is Arizona’s leading rusher with 926 yards and eight touchdowns following his 146 rushing yards and a touchdown Saturday night against No. 15 Washington State in a 58-37 victory. Tate also had 275 passing yards and two scores through the air to lead Arizona to a blowout win with a strong second half.
Tate is playing his way into the Heisman Trophy mix against incredible odds, and it is easy to see why. He legitimately has a chance to break a big play every time he touches the football. And as the quarterback, he has his hands on the football every play Arizona runs. Tate is second in the Pac-12 in plays of 30+ yards with 12, trailing only Stanford’s Love. He is one of five players in the conference with a play of 80+ yards and he is the only Pac-12 player with 4 plays of 70 yards or longer (Washington’s Dante Pettis is second in the Pac-12 with two).
As we have noted before, Tate was not the starting quarterback for Arizona at the start of the season, making Tate’s sudden rise in the Pac-12 even more entertaining to those tuning in. This week Tate will be one of the reasons to stay up late once again as Arizona prepares for a road game at USC. With the Trojans also winning last night on the road against Arizona State, first-place is on the line for the Wildcats and Trojans, the last two teams in the Pac-12 South with just one loss in conference play.
If Tate can make similar plays happen against USC and Arizona can leave Los Angeles with a win and a head-to-head tiebreaker, Arizona will have an incredibly manageable path to the Pac-12 Championship Game. Taking down the Trojans will be no easy task, but neither will USC’s mission of stopping Tate.
USC hosts Arizona at 10:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4. Put a pot of coffee on. It will be worth it.
The newest member of the Tennessee Vols football team is officially onboard.
Earlier this month, Velus Jones announced on social media that he would be transferring from USC to Tennessee. Two weeks later, the Tennessee Vols football program confirmed the wide receiver’s addition to the roster.
The move continues what’s been a winding, twisting collegiate journey for Jones.
Originally committed to Alabama, Jones flipped to USC… then to Oklahoma… then back to USC before ultimately signing with the Trojans in 2016. In March of 2019, Jones placed his name into the NCAA transfer database. Three months later, however, Jones reversed course and remained with the Trojans.
Jones, a three-star 2016 signee coming out of high school in Alabama, was fourth on the Trojans in receptions (24) and receiving yards (266) as a redshirt sophomore in 2018. He also led the team with a 22.7 yards per kick return average. A year later, though, that production dropped to just 35 yards on six receptions.
For his career thus far, Jones has totaled 347 yards and a touchdown on his 36 catches. He also scored a rushing touchdown in 2018. On 82 kick returns spread out over three seasons, he averaged 23.7 per.
As a graduate transfer, Jones will be eligible to play for the Vols in 2020. The upcoming season will serve as his final year of eligibility.
When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, the Auburn Tigers football program has ensured some continued coaching continuity. At least for now.
Earlier Wednesday, Auburn announced that defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has agreed to a new three-year contract. The new deal would keep Steele on The Plains through the 2022 season.
The financial particulars of the new pact have not yet been released. In 2019, the 61-year-old Steele took in $1.9 million in total pay according to USA Today‘s coaching salary database. That figure placed him third in the SEC and fourth nationally.
“Kevin has done a fantastic job with our defense the last four years making it one of the best in the country,” Auburn Tigers football head coach Gus Malzahn said in a statement. “This will provide great stability and leadership for our defense in the future. I’m appreciative of Kevin’s hard work.”
In December of 2015, Steele was hired as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. Prior to that, he held the same job at LSU.
From the school’s release:
During Steele’s tenure as defensive coordinator the last four years, Auburn’s defense has ranked in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense. Auburn is one of only five FBS programs to hold opponents under 20 points per game in each of the last four seasons.
This past season, Auburn was sixth in the SEC and 17th nationally in giving up 19.5 points per game. In total defense, the Tigers were seventh in the conference and 28th in the country as they allowed 337 yards per game.
When it comes to the portal world, the Virginia Tech football program won the day. Congrats?
As of this posting, three Virginia Tech football players announced on Twitter Wednesday that they have entered the NCAA transfer database. Two of those entries are wide receivers — redshirt junior Hezekiah Grimsley (HERE) and true freshman Jacoby Pinckney (HERE) — to go along with running back Caleb Steward (HERE).
On top of that social-media attrition, it has been confirmed that yet another receiver, redshirt junior Phil Patterson, is in the portal. As is defensive back Khalil Ladler, bringing the one-day total of Virginia Tech football players considering a transfer to five.
Five. In one day. The same day the program began winter workouts, it should be noted.
The trio of receivers in the portal actually pushes that group to four overall. Earlier this month, Damon Hazelton signaled his intention to leave Blacksburg as well.
As for the recently-departed receiving corps particulars:
- Grimsley — 53 career catches for 691 yards, three touchdowns. Stat line of 10-170-2 in 2019.
- Patterson — 27 career catches for 269 yards, two touchdowns. Sta line of 6-72-1 in 2019.
- Pinckney — Four-star 2019 signee who took a redshirt as a true freshman. He was the No. 3 player regardless of position in the state of South Carolina.
As a redshirt freshman this past season, Steward ran for 85 yards on 19 carries. Coming out of high school, Steward was a three-star 2018 signee. He was rated as the No. 74 running back in the country and the No. 196 player at any position in the state of Florida.
A redshirt junior, Ladler played in 13 games each of the past three seasons. During his time with the Hokies, the Georgia native was credited with 96 tackles, 6½ tackles for loss, five pass breakups, five passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumbles recovered.
The developing situation between Boise State and the Mountain West Conference has taken yet another twist.
Earlier this month, the MWC announced a new six-year television deal that would significantly increase the annual revenue for league members. The only problem? MWC commissioner Craig Thompson stated earlier this month that Boise State’s sweetheart arrangement that allowed it to receive broadcast revenue above and beyond what other league members receive — originally part of a deal to remain in the conference after briefly going to the Big East during realignment’s heyday — would be coming to an end when this new deal expired.
That was apparently news to Boise State, which stated Tuesday that the university was “weighing our options to move forward.” One of those options, apparently, was the legal one as it was reported earlier Wednesday that Boise State filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the MWC.
Two hours or so after those reports emerged, a “joint statement” from Boise State and the Mountain West addressed the latest development.
Last week, Boise State filed a complaint regarding media rights against the Mountain West Conference; however, that action alone does not formally begin a lawsuit. The University and the Mountain West are currently in discussions in hopes of bringing this matter to a resolution without litigation.
In the agreement that allowed Boise State to return to the MWC after the Big East flirtation, the university was to receive an additional $2 million in conference revenue annually.