Sonny Dykes began Wednesday full of optimism thanks to the early National Signing Day and the initial crop of recruits in his first SMU recruiting class. The new head coach on the Hilltop ended Wednesday night full of despair however, as his old team of Louisiana Tech laid an absolute beatdown on his new one in the Frisco Bowl by a 51-10 margin that really didn’t indicate how lopsided the game was.
All told, the Mustangs turned the ball over six times in the game — five in the first half, including two pick-sixes and a fumble on the very first play. It was a theme that was repeated early and often and probably a reminder that there’s a reason that new head coaches don’t coach their new team in a bowl game after a week on campus for good reason.
About the only thing that didn’t go the way of the Bulldogs came on their first drive as they squandered the opening fumble by shanking a field goal attempt in the red zone. That didn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things as quarterback J’Mar Smith played nearly perfectly on all those short drives, throwing for 216 yards and a trio of touchdowns while also running one in on a fourth down sneak. Not a bad little performance with a school legend like Terry Bradshaw looking on from the sidelines.
Wideout Teddy Veal was the top target in the passing game and recorded five catches for 118 yards and a pair of scores as he got behind the defense numerous times. He formed a pretty hefty one-two punch with running back Boston Scott, who added another 110 yards on the ground to round out the offensive attack that simply took what SMU gave them up-and-down the field.
Skip Holtz’ defense was the real star of the show though, looking a good two steps faster than their opponents despite limping in with a .500 record as a team. Amik Robertson hauled in a 45 yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter while teammate Darryl Lewis followed things up with a 23 yard pick-six of his own in the second quarter as the Tech defense would have nearly won the game on their own even without their offense putting up points a plenty.
On the flip side, it appeared that SMU starter Ben Hicks spent too much of the bowl prep explaining the offense to his new head coach and not enough time getting ready for the game itself. The quarterback would up with three interceptions on the night (after tossing just nine all year) and needed several late drives to finish with 127 yards and a score. His inability to throw the ball to the right team hampered the send off of star wideout Courtland Sutton before he left for the NFL, though the latter did manage 68 yards on the night against some pretty tight coverage.
Louisiana native Trey Quinn also caught eight passes for 45 yards and a touchdown while Xavier Jones ran for 56 yards to lead the team on the ground in a very forgettable postseason return.
It wasn’t how any of them imagined things unfolding just up the road in the Dallas suburb of Frisco on Wednesday night though. Instead, just about everything went the way of Louisiana Tech as they gave their old coach from just a few years ago a rude introduction to his SMU tenure after a wild day of emotions for many in college football.
Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.
The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database. If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.
As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.
Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead. The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).
A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.
As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.
In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program. No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.
That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.
“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.
So much for that.
In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.
While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career. The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.
Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.
Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career. He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.
In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.
Virginia Tech’s roster took a one-two personnel punch on Tuesday.
Last evening, wide receiver Eric Kumah announced on Twitter that he has “decided that [it’s] best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal.” A half-hour later, teammate and Hokies tight end Chris Cunningham announced via the same social media site that “I feel as though it is in my best interest to transfer from Virginia Tech.”
The fact that the players’ names are in the NCAA transfer database doesn’t guarantee a departure, although it is normally a sign that the player will ultimately move on to another program. With the names in the database, other schools can contact them without receiving permission from Tech. Conversely, Tech has the right to strip both players of their scholarships at the end of the current semester.
Both Kumah and Cunningham have already graduated from Tech and could use their final season of eligibility at another FBS program immediately in 2019. The former also has a redshirt year available to him.
This past season, Kumah’s 42 receptions, 559 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns were all second on the Hokies. He started 12 games in 2018 and 20 total during his time in Blacksburg.
Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.