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Unneccessary roughness penalty on Purdue helps Northwestern seal win

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After a back-and-forth first half, things settled down in the second half of the first official Big Ten contest of the 2018 season. Northwestern (1-0, 1-0 Big Ten) held on for a hard-fought road victory against Purdue (0-1, 0-1 Big Ten) on Thursday night, 31-27. Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

With Northwestern backed up in a third and long, Purdue appeared to make a key stop to force Northwestern to try a field goal in the final minutes. Instead, an unnecessary roughness penalty on Lorenzo Neal. Throwing Larkin, the ball carrier to the ground, led to a 15-yard penalty and allowed Northwestern an opportunity to run out the clock instead of getting the ball back to the Purdue offense for a chance to win the game.

Northwestern’s defense made the biggest plays to help lead the Wildcats to a road win, and the offense capitalized on those miscues in the first half. Three Purdue interceptions by quarterback Elijah Sindelar led to three Northwestern touchdowns as the Wildcats built a comfortable lead going to halftime. But the Boilermakers came out plugging away in the second half and slowly chipped away on offense while the defense made adjustments. Until a key fourth-quarter possession, Northwestern’s offense was unable to solve Purdue in the second half, allowing the home team to cut into the lead.

A quarterback rotation of Clayton Thorson and TJ Green had some ups and downs for Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Thorson started the game and played well before a planned switch to Green. The rotation continued through the night, with Green leading the fourth quarter drive that helped to seal the win for the Wildcats. Thorson completed 16 of 27 passes for 172 yards. Green completed 7 of 10 pass attempts for 63 yards but showed a little bit more mobility than Thorson at times to help spice things up.

Purdue’s defense got off to a rough start but hung around to get into a comfort zone. It just couldn’t come up with the stop it needed late in the fourth quarter. Northwestern was 6-for-16 on third downs.

Purdue had a bit of a breakout star in the making in running back Rondale Moore. The freshman led Purdue with 79 rushing yards and 109 receiving yards with one touchdown on the ground and one catch to go along with 125 kick return yards. If one game was a preview of what to expect this season, then Jeff Brohm has himself a versatile weapon on offense.

Both teams will get into their non-conference schedule next week. Northwestern will host Duke. Purdue hosts Eastern Michigan.

Virginia Tech QB Hendon Hooker removes name from transfer portal

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The transfer portal taketh, the transfer portal giveth back.

After announcing late last month that he will place his name in the portal, Virginia Tech quarterback Hendon Hooker on Thursday revealed he had removed his name and will return to Blacksburg.

“I am taking my name out of the transfer portal and I truly believe it’s best to continue my career as a Hokie,” Hooker said in a statement posted to his Twitter account. “I regret the time that I’ve missed with my teammates in preparation for spring ball. I apologize to them and my coaches if I appeared to have a lack of commitment in what we are trying to achieve here at Hokie Nation.”

A native of Greensboro, N.C., Hooker redshirted in 2017 and then saw action in six games last fall. He did not total many snaps while serving as a reserve quarterback, but he did open his collegiate career with a 69-yard touchdown scamper in a 62-17 win over William & Mary in September. Hooker finished the year with 57 rushing yards and did not throw a pass.

However, his path to the field has cleared greatly in recent days.

In a bit of news that is no doubt related to Hooker’s reversal of field, Josh Jackson announced his plans to transfer to Maryland earlier this week. With Jackson out of the picture, Hooker will compete with junior Ryan Willis (who threw 364 passes last season) and fellow sophomore Quincy Patterson II for playing time in 2019.

Oklahoma State transfer one of three Georgia Southern players arrested

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I’m thinking this isn’t the most optimal of first impressions.

In a tweet posted to his Twitter account in early December, running back J.D. King, who announced his decision to transfer from Oklahoma State two weeks prior, confirmed that he would be continuing his collegiate playing career at Georgia Southern.  Very early Sunday morning, the Savannah Morning News has reported, King (pictured) and two of his new GSU teammates, quarterback Ivan Corbin and running back Logan Wright, were all arrested for disorderly conduct.

The details of what led to the misdemeanor charges have not been divulged.

“We are aware of the situation and it will be dealt with internally,” Eagles head coach Chad Lunsford said in a statement. “We are disappointed with the decisions that were made and hopefully we can use it as a learning experience for our entire team as we move forward.”

King, who will have to sit out the 2019 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, ran for 469 yards and four touchdowns on 99 carries as a true freshman for the Cowboys in 2017.  This past season, King’s production dropped to 153 yards and no touchdowns on 43 carries in 10 games.

After sitting out the upcoming season, King will have two years of eligibility remaining.

As a redshirt freshman in 2018, Wright was fifth on the team 308 yards rushing and tied for fourth with three rushing touchdowns.  Corbin, who has yet to attempt a pass at the collegiate level, will be fighting for a backup job as he enters his redshirt junior season.

NCAA grants Arizona State’s Tyler Whiley a sixth season

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The never-ending benevolence of the NCAA is on display yet again, with a playing member of the Arizona State football program the most recent beneficiary.

Citing multiple people directly familiar with the development, 247Sports.com has reported that Tyler Whiley has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by The Association.  Recent rule changes proved to be the impetus for the decision that will allow the defensive back to play in 2019.

From the website’s report:

Whiley… is benefitting from a change made to bylaw 12.8.1.7 called “redshirt year provision.” It allows relief from the five-year eligibility rule if an institutional decision is made to redshirt a student-athlete in his freshman season and a subsequent season is missed due to injury or other qualifying hardship.

Previously, players needed to have two seasons of incapacitation due to injury, illness or other issue in order to apply for a sixth year with the NCAA. That’s no longer the case and the rule change is retroactive to anyone still within their five-year eligibility window. Whiley is part of the first class of players able to benefit from the change.

While took a non-injury redshirt as a true freshman in 2014, then missed the entire 2018 season due to a serious injury to his right leg.  Those two factors triggered the affirmative decision for a sixth season of eligibility, which Whiley will be able to use in 2019.

Whiley played in 13 games in the season prior to his injury.  He will likely enter summer camp as a favorite to claim a starting job at safety.

Purdue confirms hiring of Auburn assistant Greg Brown

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Wednesday, Auburn announced the hiring of Wesley McGriff as secondary coach.  A day later, the man McGriff replaced was officially introduced by his new employer.

As expected, Purdue Thursday confirmed that Greg Brown has been added to Jeff Brohm‘s coaching staff as cornerbacks coach.  Brown had spent the past two seasons as the secondary coach for the SEC Tigers.

“We’re excited to have Greg join us,” Brohm said in a statement. “He is a veteran coach with nearly 40 years of experience at both the collegiate and professional levels of football. Greg will be a great addition to our staff.”

The move to West Lafayette serves as a homecoming of sorts as Brown spent the 1989 and 1990 seasons with the Boilermakers as defensive backs coach.

Brown has spent the past decade and a half at Power Five programs, including stops at Missouri (2016), Louisville (2014-15), Alabama (2013), Colorado (2011-12; 2005-09) and Arizona (2010).  Prior to that, he spent time with five different NFL teams over the course of a dozen seasons.