Tua Tagovailoa suffered a setback in his recovery from the hand injury that has cost him much of spring practice and may force him out of next Saturday’s A-Day game, Nick Saban confirmed Saturday.
“You know, Tua had a little setback yesterday with his hand,” Saban said, via the Tuscaloosa News. “Doctors are trying to evaluate the best course of action and what we do with him the remainder of spring. That said, I can’t really tell you any more. He didn’t take any snaps today. He did take a lot of snaps yesterday. We’re going to try to protect this and make sure that this thing is not going to be an issue for him in the fall.”
Tagovailoa was expected to compete with incumbent Jalen Hurts for the Tide’s starting quarterback job, but thus far that competition has not materialized. Tempting as it may be to hand-wave any issue Alabama faces with “They’re Bama,” missing much of spring practice is a significant loss for Tagovailoa. Alabama is looking to replace Calvin Ridley, whose 63 receptions accounted for more than every returning wideout — combined. Alabama is also working in two more voices to the play-calling process, as Mike Locksley ascended to offensive coordinator and Dan Enos was hired as associate head coach and quarterbacks coach after Brian Daboll left for the Buffalo Bills.
Alabama will practice twice this week ahead of Saturday’s spring game. Tagovailoa’s status for all three events is unknown, trending toward doubtful.
If the sophomore is unable to go, Alabama will be down to two healthy scholarship quarterbacks: Hurts and Mac Jones. Jones is a 4-star recruit from Jacksonville who redshirted in 2017.
“I think Mac had made a lot of improvement,” Saban said. “He’s a guy that has to mature in terms of… He’s very competitive. When you’re the quarterback, how does what I’m doing affect my unit? So when things don’t go well, you can’t always show your emotions, show your disappointment. You have to be positive, like ‘We’re going to get them on the next play.’ That’s a part of his leadership we have to continue to work on. But he’s made more and more good plays. We feel really good about his development. We’re just trying to get him to focus on being the best player that he can be. Because he’s going to be in position this year where he’s not going to be far away from having to play.”
Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.
The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.
Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.
Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.
Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.
A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.
In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’
“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”
The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.
Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.
The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.
Clay Helton has been searching for a defensive coordinator the past several weeks and may need to expand his search to include an offensive coordinator as well.
According to a report out of Philadelphia, USC OC Graham Harrell has interviewed with the Eagles for a spot on Doug Pederson’s coaching staff in a similar role:
Harrell was retained this offseason amid plenty of fan fare (and money) in Los Angeles. He reportedly had interest from Texas in the same position on Tom Herman’s staff but a return to the Lone Star State was put off for a multi-year deal with the Trojans.
The former North Texas OC and Texas Tech quarterback oversaw one of the more impressive turnarounds in the country in 2019. Despite being forced to play true freshman Kedon Slovis at quarterback following J.T. Daniels injury, USC still added nearly a touchdown per game with the move to the Air Raid and rose from 91st in scoring offense to 35th.
This wouldn’t be the first time Helton and the Trojans will feel like the rug has been pulled out from under them by the NFL after a splashy move on offense. As many know, Kliff Kingsbury was on the job for a few weeks before moving on as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals last January. We’ll see if anything becomes of Harrell’s flirtation with the pros but there’s little doubt that this will not be the last time his name comes up for a bigger job going forward.
Thaddeus Moss is officially a one-and-done at LSU after declaring for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The star LSU tight end became the ninth underclassman for the national champions to leave campus for the pros this week. He made the announcement on social media in a letter thanking the fan base:
Moss played a pivotal role in the team’s record-setting offense in 2019. He caught 47 passes for 570 yards and had three of his four touchdowns come in the College Football Playoffs. That included a pair of scores in the title game, one of which doubled as the one that allowed QB Joe Burrow to set the FBS record for TD passes in a season.
The one-time North Carolina State transfer is no stranger to the pros either way. He’s the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and will be part of an intriguing class of players at tight end this spring.
While it’s possible there will be an additional name or two that surfaces, Friday’s deadline for underclassmen to declare means Moss’ departure could be the last for LSU for the time being. Still, that’s a lot of talent to lose as Ed Orgeron embarks on an offseason full of changes right after reaching the top of the sport.