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Wake Forest holds off Texas A&M in wild defense-optional Belk Bowl

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If there were ever a game that was decidedly DBYOD (Don’t Bring Your Own Defense), this was it.

Twice in the first half of the Belk Bowl, Wake Forest (8-5) took 17-point leads on Texas A&M (7-6).  Instead of packing it in, though, the Aggies ratcheted up the effort under interim head coach Jeff Banks to turn a potential rout into a wildly tight affair, although in the end it was the Demon Deacons that prevailed and head home with a hard-fought 55-52 win stuffed into its back pocket.

The two teams combined for 1,260 yards of offense — 646 for Wake, 614 for A&M.  The combined yardage set a Belk Bowl record, as did the combined points and total plays (190).

Despite the offensive numbers, it was a pair of defensive plays on the part of the Aggies that shifted the momentum and nearly led to a disastrous Demon Deacons loss.  One forced fumble late in the third quarter led to a Keith Ford touchdown that, at 42-41, gave A&M its first lead of the game since the middle of the first quarter.  On the Demon Deacons’ ensuing possession, another forced fumble was recovered and ultimately led to a 19-yard field goal early in the fourth.

A one-yard touchdown run by Cade Carney four minutes later gave the lead back to Wake at 48-45 with 9:06 left in the game; Nick Starkel‘s touchdown pass a little over three minutes later pushed the lead back in favor of A&M at 52-48.

Once again it was Wake’s turn for a comeback, with a 13-play, 69-yard drive capped by Matt Colburn‘s one-yard touchdown run with just north of two minutes left proving to be the winning score.  A&M had one final chance to either tie it and send it into overtime or win it outright, but its last drive — and a questionable no-call on what appeared to be defensive pass interference — ended just shy of midfield as they turned the ball over on downs.

John Wolford passed for 400 yards and four touchdowns, all in the first half, as part of the win.  On the ground, Colburn led all rushers with 150 yards on 21 carries.

Wolford, incidentally, continued his stunning turnaround regular season into the postseason.  Prior to 2017, Wolford had thrown more interceptions (35) than touchdowns (30) in three years; this season, including today’s game, he’s thrown 29 touchdowns against just six picks.

Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk, playing in what’s expected to be his last game at the collegiate level, caught a career-high 13 passes for 182 yards and a Belk Bowl-record three touchdown catches.  The triggerman of A&M’s offense, the freshman Starkel, passed for a career-high 499 yards in a losing effort.

With the win, Wake won back-to-back bowl games for the first time since 2007-08.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.

Temple confirms changes to Rod Carey’s coaching staff

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Less than two weeks before training camp kicks off, Rod Carey has (again) finalized his first Temple coaching staff.

Earlier this month, it was reported that longtime Temple assistant and the program’s current special teams coordinator Ed Foley would be leaving the school and reuniting with Matt Rhule at Baylor.  Monday, the Owls confirmed that Carey has promoted Tyler Yelk to outside linebackers coach.  Yelk was a part of Carey’s Northern Illinois football staff this past season.

Additionally, it was announced by the football program that Brett Diersen has been hired as associate special teams coordinator.  Diersen spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at SMU.

This will mark the third time Diersen and Carey have worked together, first at Wisconsin-Stout in 2000 and then again at Northern Illinois from 2013-17.

“Tyler is an excellent young coach and we promoted him to add balance to the coaching staff,” said Carey in a statement, making reference to the fact that there are now six full-time coaches with an offensive background and five on defense. “We are very fortunate to get a coach of Brett’s caliber in the role of special teams coordinator. I’ve known him for 20 years and am excited that he and his family can join us at Temple.”

Nearly 100 defensive players land on Nagurski Trophy watch list

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Of all the watch lists released thus far this month, this one’s the biggest — literally.

Via the Football Writers Association of America, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Tuesday released its preseason list of players to watch, with a whopping 97 individuals making the award’s initial cut.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, as are 65 individual schools.

One first-team FWAA All-American (LSU safety Grant Delpit) made the initial watch list for the award given annually to the best defensive player in college football, while a trio of second-teamers from a year ago (Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall, Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes, Stanford cornerback Paulson Adebo) made the cut as well.

Conference-wise, the SEC has the most with 18, followed the other four Power Five leagues in the Big Ten (15), ACC (12), Pac-12 (12) and Big 12 (11). The AAC led all Group of Five conferences with six, followed by Conference USA (four), Mountain West (four), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (two).  Football independents accounted for five of the watch listers.

With four, Alabama led all individual schools. Iowa State, LSU, Notre Dame and Penn State placed three each, with another 16 schools placing two apiece on the list.

As for the positional breakdown, there are 36 linebackers, 28 backs, 21 ends and seven tackles.