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Lou Groza, Ray Guy Awards release their respective watch lists

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Kickers and punters are football players, too, and thus get their own preseason recognition along with everybody else.

Both the Lou Groza and Ray Guy Awards released their watch lists Wednesday morning, with the former including kickers and the latter 27 punters. Headlining both groups is Utah’s Matt Gay, who won the 2017 Lou Groza Award and is looking to join Florida State’s Sebastian Janikowski (1998-99) as the only two-time winner of the kicking trophy.

One other finalist for the 2017 Groza Award is included in this year’s watch list — Utah State’s Dominik Eberle.

On the Ray Guy side of the watch list ledger, Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky is the lone returning finalist for the 2017 award claimed by Michael Dickson of Texas.  Three other 2017 semifinalists are listed — Ohio State’s Drue Chrisman, Missouri’s Corey Fatony and Arkansas State’s Cody Grace.

LOU GROZA AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Florida State junior Ricky Aguayo
Oklahoma State junior Matt Ammendola
San Diego State senior John Baron II
Georgia Southern junior Tyler Bass
Georgia junior Rodrigo Blankenship
FIU sophomore Jose Borregales
Colorado State senior Wyatt Bryan
Minnesota senior Emmit Carpenter
Mississippi State sophomore Jace Christmann
San Jose State senior Bryce Crawford
Louisville junior Blanton Creque
Utah State junior Dominik Eberle
Wisconsin senior Rafael Gaglianone
Utah senior Matt Gay
Clemson senior Greg Huegel
Texas A&M senior Daniel LaCamera
Baylor junior Connor Martin
Missouri junior Tucker McCann
UCLA junior JJ Molson
Michigan junior Quinn Nordin
UNLV senior Evan Pantels
Arizona State sophomore Brandon Ruiz
UTSA sophomore Jared Sackett
Oklahoma senior Austin Seibert
Southern Miss senior Parker Shaunfield
Colorado sophomore James Stefanou
Stanford junior Jet Toner
Toledo senior Jameson Vest
Notre Dame senior Justin Yoon
Ohio junior Louie Zervos

RAY GUY AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST
Adam Nunez, TCU
A.J. Cole III, NC State
Alex Kinney, Colorado
Anthony Lotti, Wisconsin
Austin Seibert, Oklahoma
Bailey Cate, Old Dominion
Blake Gillikin, Penn State
Caleb Lightbourn, Nebraska
Cody Grace, Arkansas State
Corey Fatony, Missouri
Corliss Waitman, South Alabama
Dane Roy, Houston
Derek Adams, Kent State
Drue Chrisman, Ohio State
Jake Bailey, Stanford
Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State
Jamie Sackville, SMU
Joe Schopper, Purdue
Logan Tyler, Florida State
Matt Bonadies, Middle Tennessee
Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
Oscar Bradburn, Virginia Tech
Pressley Harvin III, Georgia Tech
Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State
Stefan Flintoft, UCLA
Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse
Wade Lees, Maryland

WVU wideout Dillon Spalding transfers to James Madison, will play against old team in Week 1

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In the NFL, you’ll often see teams sign a player who was just cut off another team the week or two before they wind up playing that opponent. We could sort of have a college football version of that scenario in the case of wide receiver Dillon Spalding.

The former West Virginia redshirt freshman announced on Twitter that he had committed to James Madison and would be transferring to join the team in 2019. The team’s opponent in Week 1? None other than the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

Of course any knowledge Spalding might bring with him is limited given that both JMU and WVU have new coaching staffs in place this year. The former three-star recruit is moving a little closer to his Lorton, Va. hometown and will have all four years of eligibility remaining between redshirting last season due to an injury and the drop down to the FCS level.

The Dukes have added a solid amount of FBS talent recently for new coach Curt Cignetti. In addition to Spalding, former Penn State wide receiver Brandon Polk joined the program this offseason and both will catch passes from ex-Pitt QB Ben DiNucci.

Wildcats see attendance spike after allowing beer and wine sales at Arizona Stadium in 2018

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Arizona posted a disappointing 5-7 campaign in Kevin Sumlin’s first season in Tucson but Arizona fans still came out and enjoyed themselves thanks, in part, to the school allowing beer and alcohol sales for the first time.

As the Arizona Daily Star reports, attendance for the Wildcats home football games actually ticked up last year an average of 2,804 people while incidents of ejections at the stadium did the same — though were below historic averages.

“We’ve been very pleased with the rollout across the board in Arizona Stadium and McKale,” athletic director Dave Heeke said. “This was really focused around a number of things that we’ve done in the area of fan amenities and food service, and beverage selection was a key component.”

Some 43 people were kicked out of seven home games at UA, which is double the 21 from 2017 but well below the numbers the school reported for seasons when they played in-state rival Arizona State. It seems that Territorial Cup contest was the biggest indicator of above-average ejections in a year though game-by-game data was not given.

“I really haven’t noticed an increase in any type of criminal behavior due to beer and wine sales,” UAPD spokesman Sgt. Sean Shields told the paper. “Obviously from year to year the ejections and different numbers change and they fluctuate, but it’s very hard to pinpoint the reason why those happen.”

The amount of revenue generated by beer and alcohol sales wasn’t detailed by the school but Heeke noted it covered the additional costs on game days and the profit overall wasn’t hugely significant. Still, it seems the atmosphere at Arizona Stadium was still enough to lure fans into their seats despite plenty of late starts and a football team that was largely up-and-down in 2018.

Ex-FAU defensive coordinator Tony Pecoraro joins Kansas staff in off-the-field role

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Not many people can say they worked for the very different styles of head coaches Lane Kiffin and Les Miles back-to-back but Tony Pecoraro certainly can.

The recently let go Florida Atlantic defensive coordinator has apparently landed a new gig in Lawrence as a senior defensive analyst, primarily serving under Jayhawks DC D.J. Eliott.

Pecoraro took over the Owls defense in 2018 after spending the previous two seasons running things on that side of the ball for Southern Miss. Things didn’t quite work out in Boca however as FAU couldn’t get off the field like they did in Kiffin’s first year and allowed 31.8 points per game.

The veteran coordinator, who has Power Five assistant experience from a stint at Florida State, was replaced at FAU by longtime Oklahoma State DC Glenn Spencer back in December.

Wisconsin unlikely to join trend of selling beer and alcohol at football games anytime soon

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Wisconsin fans are known to hold more than their own when it comes to enjoying an adult beverage or two before, during and after Badgers football games but they apparently will have to keep waiting for the opportunity to buy a cold one at Camp Randall on game days.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, a decision on whether or not to allow beer/alcohol sales in the general seating sections of the stadium rests with school chancellor Rebecca Blank and that she is not inclined to change the status quo on such prohibition anytime soon.

“The university believes that there is already an atmosphere of energy and excitement around Badger game days,” a school statement to the paper read. “The addition of alcohol to general seating areas isn’t needed to improve that experience and could detract from it for our students and fans.”

Just in the last two months, Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois have turned on the taps for football games in 2019. That will result in fully half of Big Ten schools allowing such sales in general seating areas as a result this season and it’s turned into yet another lucrative revenue stream for those that have too.

Wisconsin appears resistant to the idea however, doing so in the face of declining attendance for games too. While it is certainly too early to remark ‘never say never’ when it comes to the Badgers, it’s pretty clear this trend isn’t making its way to Madison anytime soon.