TCU sure doesn’t like the first half of the Alamo Bowl… but they most certainly enjoy what happens when the second half kicks off.
Two years after completing an improbable 31 point comeback in the same setting, the Horned Frogs capped off another in San Antonio by rallying from down a dozen to beat No. 13 Stanford 39-37 on Thursday night.
Gary Patterson’s 15th-ranked squad didn’t hold back in the postseason appearance either. TCU faked a punt on their first drive of the game, broke out the old man-lying-down-in-the-end-zone trick kick return (both failed) and had gadget plays galore in search of a spark offensively. After an uneven start to the game, quarterback Kenny Hill settled down as the game unfolded and managed to score a touchdown via rush, pass and reception for the second time this season. He did throw two interceptions (one on a Hail Mary) but finished with 314 yards through the air and another 6o on the ground as he closed out his college career in as crazy a fashion as it began.
That included a 93 yard pass to Jalen Reagor down the stretch, with most of the work being done by the young wideout as he ran a time down the sidelines that might have placed him on the medal stand of the Texas Relays. It would have been the easy pick for the biggest play of the fourth quarter had it not been for Desmon White’s 76 yard punt return for a touchdown that game the Horned Frogs the lead for the first time in the game.
The Cardinal would not go quietly into the Texas night though and briefly re-took the lead after JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught a go-ahead touchdown — his third of the game — on a jump ball in the corner of the end zone that is becoming rather routine for the lengthy wideout who is as good as they come boxing out a defensive back. He was unquestionably the favorite quarterback K.J. Costello, who had an otherwise nice night against Patterson’s defense with 212 yards and the trio of touchdowns but his interception in the final minutes sealed the loss.
That spoiled yet another incredible outing by Heisman runner-up Bryce Love — who looked healthy for the first time in months after the long postseason layoff. He totaled 145 yards and two scores on the ground, including a 69-yarder that set a new FBS record with his 13th run of 50+yards this season and was the longest allowed by TCU’s defense all season. However he injured his thumb late in the game and was bleeding to the point that he had to go to the team’s medical tent on the sidelines and missed the final two drives as Stanford ends 2017 with back-to-back losses.
While he would have certainly made a difference down the stretch, not even the incredible running ability of the nation’s best running back could have spoiled the comeback mojo that TCU seems to have in this bowl game. Though the 11 point halftime deficit they overcame was barely a third of the 31 points they came back from against Oregon in this game two years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find a team who remembers the Alamo quite like the Horned Frogs do.
Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.
Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.
Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.
New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)
Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.
Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.
The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.
TCU loses its top two sack artists from 2018 to 2019, but some help just arrived.
Shameik Blackshear (above, top) announced on Saturday he will spend his final year of college football in Fort Worth.
The Bluffton, S.C., native played his first three seasons at South Carolina, where collected 34 tackles and one sack. He appeared in all 13 of the Gamecocks’ games in 2018, including two starts.
He’ll have a chance to compete for an immediate starting role following the graduations of Ben Banogu and LJ Collier plus the departure of Michael Collier. Banogu and Collier combined for 14.5 sacks in 2018, more than 40 percent of the Frogs’ 35 total sacks.
Blackshear is the second Power 5 graduate transfer to pick TCU this week. The Frogs also secured the services of former Kansas State quarterback Alex Delton.
UMass signed one of its biggest recruits since joining FBS, four years after he left high school.
Penn State linebacker Jarvis Miller has announced he will leave State College to spend his final season in Amherst.
“After much prayer and consideration with my family I have decided to play my 5th year of eligibility at the University of Massachusetts (UMASS), Amherst will pursuing my Masters (sic) Degree,” Miller wrote in a note posted to his Twitter account. “To the Penn State fan base you are the best fans anyone could ask for ! It has been the most memorable 4 years of my life.”
A consensus 3-star recruit, Miller was viewed as a top-10 player in the state of Connecticut when he signed with the Nittany Lions out of Suffield.
Miller redshirted in 2015, then played in 33 career games as a special teams player and reserve linebacker. He collected 23 tackles, two tackles for loss and one sack while in blue and white.
It appears a bad debut season for Willie Taggart at Florida State is not going to get worse.
After it was reported Wednesday that Seminoles quarterback James Blackman had entered his name into the transfer portal, Warchant reported that no such entry had been made as of the end of the business week.
Of course, entering one’s name into the transfer portal wouldn’t guarantee a transfer, but it’s simply not possible to transfer without putting your name in, so it appears that — as of this writing, at least — Blackman is intent on returning to Tallahassee for his junior season.
Starting quarterback Deondre Francois also dealt with a similar rumor last month. As of now, he remains a Seminole as well.
While playing for the injured Francois, Blackman completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 2,230 yards with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a true freshman in 2017. Francois returned to health and the starting lineup this past season, connecting on 57.3 percent of his passes for 2,731 yards with 15 scores against 12 picks. Blackman went 33-of-51 for 510 yards with five touchdowns and one interception as his backup.
As Francois’ numbers indicated, the Seminoles sputtered offensively in Taggart’s debut campaign. Florida State finished 110th nationally in yards per play, 93rd in passing efficiency and 113th in scoring. However, both signal callers would be wise to stick around. Taggart hired Kendal Briles to run his offense. In 1-season stints at Florida Atlantic and Houston, Briles pushed the Owls from 80th to eighth in scoring and the Cougars from 65th to fifth.