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Georgia’s running duo, Roquan Smith, and kicking game may give Bulldogs the edge on Alabama

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has established quite a reputation when going up against his former assistants, but Georgia head coach Kirby Smart is looking to break the trend in the biggest game imaginable. Saban’s perfect record against his former assistants will be put to a mighty test against the Bulldogs, coming off a red-hot offensive performance in the Rose Bowl to come away with a double-overtime victory to clinch a spot in Monday night’s College Football Playoff national championship game. Unlike other former Saban assistants, Smart may have the best opportunity to put a dent in Saban’s record against his assistants.

Saban improved his career record against former assistants to an amazing 11-0 when Alabama crushed Florida State in the season opener in Atlanta, setting the tone for a lost season in Tallahassee that ended with Jimbo Fisher finding his way to Texas A&M. That particular season opener was supposed to be one of the toughest challenges Saban had against one of his former assistants, with Florida State entering the 2017 season as a popular pick to make a national title run. As we found out, that was far from the case. But this will be the first time Saban has had to go up against one of his more recent assistants, and Smart is arguably the best equipped to give Saban some concerns.

It begins with Georgia’s running game. As the Rose Bowl showed, these Bulldogs are a force to reckon with on the ground with the running duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Oklahoma was incapable of slowing either down, with Chubb rushing for 145 yards and two touchdowns on just 14 carries and Michel going off for 181 yards on 11 carries with three touchdowns, including the game-winner in double overtime off a direct snap. Georgia’s ability to dabble in a power running game with Chubb and more of a speed attack with Michel was a challenge for Oklahoma to keep up. The major difference in the championship game is Oklahoma has the 54th-ranked rushing defense and Alabama comes in ranked first in the nation against the run, allowing just 91.77 yards per game and eight rushing touchdowns all season long through 13 games. Do not expect Georgia to rack up the offensive yardage on the ground the way they did against the Sooners, but Georgia’s advantage will be the ability to adjust their running styles to keep Alabama on their toes.

You also have to wonder if Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm will ever cave under the pressure when the lights are the brightest. So far, the answer has been a resounding “nope.” Fromm comes into the national championship game with a higher passer rating, more passing yards, and more passing yards than his Alabama counterpart, Jalen Hurts. Hurts has been in this game before, of course, but Fromm is quickly amassing a number of big games himself, including in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, where the SEC Championship Game was definitively won by the Bulldogs against Auburn. Fromm will come into the game without an interception in his last three games; a rivalry game against Georgia Tech, the SEC Championship Game against Auburn, and the Rose Bowl against Oklahoma. At this point, Fromm has arrived and will be as confident as you can get for a freshman.

The offense will be up against a juggernaut with Alabama’s defense, and Georgia’s defense may need some plays out of Roquan Smith. It took a while for Smith to have a significant impact in the Rose Bowl, but the game reached a point where Smith put himself in position to make clutch tackles. Look for Smith to play a big role on the defense once again. Georgia will need that out of him, but the Bulldogs also need to tighten up their own defensive concerns after a long day against Oklahoma.

And if there is one distinct advantage Georgia has in this game, it is placekicker Rodrigo Blankenship. Blankenship nailed a 55-yard field goal against the Sooners at the end of the first half that helped Georgia gain an ounce of momentum before the break. Alabama’s kicking woes have long been a concern for the Crimson Tide. Not having that kind of anxiety on the Georgia sideline if a field goal is needed should be comforting for Smart.

Greg Schiano completes Rutgers coaching staff by hiring Adam Scheier as special teams coordinator

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Nearly two months after returning as the Rutgers football head coach, Greg Schiano has put the finishing touches on his second first staff.

Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights announced that Adam Scheier has been hired as Schiano’s special teams coordinator. Scheier has spent the past two decades working with special teams in various capacities.

“Adam is an accomplished, veteran special teams coach who will be a great asset to our coaching staff,” the Rutgers football head coach said in a statement. “In our time working together, I saw how passionate Adam is about teaching and mentoring young men. We look forward to welcoming Adam, his wife Erica and their children to our Rutgers family.”

Scheier has spent time as a special teams coordinator with three different FBS programs:

  • Texas Tech (2018)
  • Wake Forest (2014-16)
  • Bowling Green (2009-13)

Last season, Scheier served as a special teams consultant at Mississippi State.  In 2017, Scheier worked at Ohio State as a special teams quality control coach.

In Scheier’s lone season at OSU, Schiano was in the second of his three seasons as the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator.

“I am fired up to be back home,” the Bronx native stated. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for coach Schiano and I look forward to working with him again. I appreciate the opportunity he has given me to coach at Rutgers in the great state of New Jersey.”

With this hiring, Schiano has now filled all 10 positions on his 10-man on-field coaching staff.  The others whose hirings have already been announced are:

  • Sean Gleeson — offensive coordinator (HERE)
  • Nunzio Campanile — offensive assistant (HERE)
  • Augie Hoffman, offensive assistant (HERE)
  • Tiquan Underwood — wide receivers (HERE)
  • Andrew Aurich — offensive line (HERE)
  • Robb Smith, defensive coordinator (HERE)
  • Jim Panagos — defensive line (HERE)
  • Bob Fraser — linebackers coach (HERE)
  • Fran Brown — co-defensive coordinator/secondary (HERE)

Exactly two dozen UConn football players have hit the transfer portal this cycle

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When it comes to the transfer tote board, there’s been another update for the UConn football program.

Last week, it was confirmed that three members of the UConn football team, redshirt junior offensive lineman Cam DeGeorge, redshirt sophomore wide receiver Garrison Burnett and junior defensive back Oneil Robinson, had entered their names in the NCAA transfer database.  That trio pushed the number UConn football players who had entered their names into the portal to 23.

Monday, that number officially reached an even two dozen.  According to 247Sports.com, running back Donevin O’Reilly has now made his way into the portal to kick the number of potential transfers up to 24.

O’Reilly originally walked on to the UConn football team just after the start of the 2017 season — he carried the ball once and returned a pair of kickoffs that year — before breaking out during spring practice the next offseason, not only earning a scholarship from the university but also claiming a majority of the reps with the No. 1 offense during summer camp. Unfortunately for the running back, however, his Cinderella story ended because of a torn ACL in his left knee.

In 2019, O’Reilley ran for 17 yards on five carries.

Among those who have entered the portal before this current quartet is Tyler Coyle. This past season, the starting safety led the Huskies in tackles (86), pass breakups (10) and forced fumbles (two).

In the third season of his second stint as the UConn football head coach, Randy Edsall went 2-10 in 2019. The Huskies have just six wins since Edsall returned in 2017; that’s the worst three-year stretch in the program’s FBS history.

In June of last year, it was confirmed that UConn football would be leaving the AAC following the 2019 season and playing as an independent in the sport.

Alabama the favorite to reel in North Carolina transfer TE Carl Tucker

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In the coming days, it might not just be high school signees who will be bolstering the Alabama Crimson Tide football roster.

Earlier this offseason, Carl Tucker took the first step in transferring from North Carolina by placing his name into the NCAA transfer database.  As a graduate transfer, the tight end would be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school in 2020.

Over the weekend, Tucker took a visit to the Alabama Crimson Tide football facilities.  Following said visit, it was reported that the Tide is “in good shape” to land the transfer.  If nothing else, the player’s dad came away impressed.

“The visit was awesome,” Tucker’s father, Carl Tucker Sr., said according to al.com “Obviously the stature of Alabama football is so huge that we really didn’t know what to expect, but we knew it would be something that we hadn’t seen before. … But it was really good. They really wanted to figure out what questions and concerns we had for Alabama. And they did a really good of explaining why they wanted Carl, what they saw in Carl and where they felt he would be able to help Bama. …

“He could see himself playing at Alabama.”

Alabama was the second school Tucker has visited, with Florida State being the first.  Tucker took a trip to Tallahassee the weekend before last.  Missouri, Tennessee, Wake Forest and Washington have also expressed interest. At this point, it’s unclear if Tucker will take any additional visits.

Tucker was a three-star 2015 signee for the Tar Heels.  He was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA.

In 38 career games, the North Carolina product caught 36 passes for 549 yards and four touchdowns.  His most productive season came in 2018.  That year, Tucker totaled 265 yards and two touchdowns on 16 catches.

Tucker started 20 games during his time with the Tar Heels.  Four of those came in 2019.

FCS coordinator suspended over Adolf Hitler comments

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I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn when I say, to college football coaches in this case, it’s best not to invoke the name of Adolf Hitler.  In any form or fashion.  Ever.

On Jan. 20, Morris Berger was hired as the offensive coordinator at Grand Valley State after a stint at Texas State.  In an interview published by the FCS school’s student newspaper three days after the hiring, Berger, who has a degree in history, was asked, “If you could have dinner with three historical figures, living or dead, who would they be?”

Berger’s response?

This is probably not going to get a good review, but I’m going to say Adolf Hitler. It was obviously very sad and he had bad motives, but the way he was able to lead was second-to-none. How he rallied a group and a following, I want to know how he did that. Bad intentions of course, but you can’t deny he wasn’t a great leader.

Monday, the day that the interview went national, was Holocaust Remembrance Day.

As a result of the uproar over the coach’s response in the interview, Grand Valley State announced that Berger has been indefinitely suspended.  The school has also launched a probe into the situation.

The comments made by Offensive Coordinator Morris Berger, as reported in The Lanthorn student newspaper, do not reflect the values of Grand Valley State University. Berger has been suspended and the university is conducting a thorough investigation.

In October of 2008, former Notre Dame and South Carolina head coach Lou Holtz, in his role as a college football analyst for ESPN, caught heat for lauding Adolf Hitler as “a great leader.” In February of last year, the controversial head coach of a “Last Chance U” school, Jason Brown, resigned after texting “I’m your new Hitler” to a German player on the junior college team.