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.
There was good news off the field this past week for a Nebraska football team expecting bigger things on it.
According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, freshman wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who was cited for marijuana possession in June, will not face any charges related to the citation because the chief deputy attorney of Lancaster County “felt there was insufficient evidence.” Robinson was one of four people in a dorm room university police were called to investigate two months ago, and the receiver was the only one to receive a citation from the responding officers after marijuana was discovered in his car during a search.
The chief deputy attorney, Bruce Prenda, also confirmed that the other three Cornhusker football players cited for marijuana-related offenses this offseason — freshman defensive back Myles Farmer (HERE), senior defensive back Jeremiah Stovall (HERE) and sophomore running back Maurice Washington (HERE) — will not face charges “at this time” as well.
From the Journal-Star:
But, this week, Prenda said he wasn’t charging any of them “at this time as a result of our office’s continued evaluation of the effect of enactment of LB657 on our ability to prosecute marijuana and paraphernalia cases.”
The law legalized industrial hemp but created problems for prosecutors who say they would have to have the drug tested to show its THC level was above 0.3%.
Washington, provided he can navigate a much more serious legal hurdle out on the West Coast, is penciled in as the bellcow of the Cornhusker’s rushing attack this coming season, while Robinson, a highly-touted four-star 2019 signee, is expected to contribute immediately as a true freshman. The two defensive backs likely won’t appear on NU’s two-deep depth chart when the season kicks off.
The heartbreak that is cancer has, once again, impacted the world of college football.
Arkansas State announced Monday that Blake Anderson would be taking a leave of absence from his job as head football coach to be with his wife Wendy, who was battling an aggressive form of breast cancer for the second time in three years. Tuesday morning, Anderson posted that his wife had lost her brave battle with the insidious disease shortly before midnight last night “with me laying right beside her.”
Wendy Anderson was 49.
Wendy Anderson was initially diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 2017. In August of that year, Anderson had tweeted that his wife was cancer-free. Sadly, cancer returned a few months later.
Our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to Coach Anderson for his loss.
Defensive coordinator David Duggan will serve as interim head coach during Anderson’s indefinite leave of absence. Arkansas State will open the 2019 season against SMU Aug. 31.
Entering summer camp, Deon Stewart was the most senior member of a very young receiving corps. Unfortunately for all involved, Stewart will exit camp on the sidelines and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Multiple media outlets in the area initially reported that Stewart suffered a torn ACL during Arkansas’ scrimmage this past Saturday; Monday, head coach Chad Morris confirmed the initial reports, saying that an MRI showed a tear in the ligament.
Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior, who posted an ominous one-word tweet over the weekend portending the development, will miss the entire 2019 season.
Morris also confirmed that Stewart will pursue a sixth season of eligibility.
Stewart played in 36 games the past three seasons, starting 14 of those contests in 2017 (six) and 2018 (eight). This past season, Stewart was fourth on the Razorbacks in receptions (22) and sixth in yards (178).
Of the 17 receivers listed on the Razorbacks’ preseason roster, 13 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Stewart is one of two seniors at the position, the other being Jimmie Stoudemire, who didn’t catch a pass during his first season in Fayetteville after transferring in from a California junior college.
Pardon me while I clean up a bit of personnel news from late last week during these early-morning hours.
Early last week, speculation was making the rounds that Jayden McDonald was considering a transfer away from Iowa. Friday evening, the speculation became a reality as the football program confirmed in a press release that the redshirt freshman linebacker has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we remind our readers that entering a name into the portal doesn’t guarantee a departure, even as it allows other programs to contact the player without receiving permission from his current school. McDonald could also reverse course, pull his name from the database and return to the Hawkeyes.
Conversely, the university can take away McDonald’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
After originally committing to Rutgers, McDonald signed with Iowa as a three-star recruit in 2018. The Georgia high schooler opted for Iowa over Kansas State, Ole Miss and Purdue.
McDonald didn’t see the field as a true freshman and, with the Hawkeyes moving to a 4-2-5 base defense this season, he saw his opportunities for playing time in Iowa City narrowed even further.