Associated Press

Kicking woes doom Pitt to halftime deficit against Penn State

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Pittsburgh has rushed the ball for 214 yards on nearly seven yards a carry, but a disastrous effort in the kicking game has allowed Penn State to carry a 14-6 lead into the locker room.

Penn State opened the game as well as a coach (or fan) could hope: by forcing a Pitt three-and-out, then moving 63 yards in three plays for a touchdown, as K.J. Hamler put the Nittany Lions on top with a 32-yard run.

The Panthers answered, though, ripping through 75 yards in 10 plays, culminating in a 13-yard Qadree Ollison rush, but a bobbled extra point snap kept the Panthers’ deficit at 7-6.

Kicking woes would be a theme through the first half, as a driving rain on the Heinz Field grass ruined the kicking surface for both sides. Penn State moved to the Pitt 27 on its second possession, but Jake Pinegar‘s 45-yard field goal try was no good.

Pitt returned the favor midway through the second quarter, as the Panthers could not get a clean hold for Alex Kessman, whose 35-yard try was pulled to the right. Pitt’s defense immediately got the ball back when Rashad Weaver hopped on a Ricky Slade fumble at the Penn State 31.

The Panthers moved to the Penn State 4 on a 4th-and-3, and Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi elected to go for it, but Ollison was stuffed for a loss of three.

Then, with 59 seconds left in the half, Pitt lined up to punt the ball and accept its 1-point halftime deficit, but Kirk Christodoulou, who struggled to corral the earlier snaps as the holder, dropped the punt snap, and Penn State hopped on the loose pigskin at the Pitt 35. Trace McSorley hit Himler for a 14-yard touchdown pass two plays later.

McSorley completed 7-of-11 passes for 82 yards and the late score, while Miles Sanders rushed eight times for 74 yards.

Ollison carried Pitt’s offense, rushing 17 times for 125 yards and a score. Pitt’s passing offense has been non-existent, as Kenny Pickett completed 4-of-8 passes for a paltry 17 yards with an interception.

Penn State will receive to open the second half.

Medically retired in August, Torrence Brown to transfer from Penn State to Southern Miss

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So much for that.

In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.

While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career.  The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.

Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career.  He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.

In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.

Second-leading receiver one of two transferring from Virginia Tech

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Virginia Tech’s roster took a one-two personnel punch on Tuesday.

Last evening, wide receiver Eric Kumah announced on Twitter that he has “decided that [it’s] best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal.” A half-hour later, teammate and Hokies tight end Chris Cunningham announced via the same social media site that “I feel as though it is in my best interest to transfer from Virginia Tech.”

The fact that the players’ names are in the NCAA transfer database doesn’t guarantee a departure, although it is normally a sign that the player will ultimately move on to another program.  With the names in the database, other schools can contact them without receiving permission from Tech.  Conversely, Tech has the right to strip both players of their scholarships at the end of the current semester.

Both Kumah and Cunningham have already graduated from Tech and could use their final season of eligibility at another FBS program immediately in 2019.  The former also has a redshirt year available to him.

This past season, Kumah’s 42 receptions, 559 receiving yards and seven receiving touchdowns were all second on the Hokies.  He started 12 games in 2018 and 20 total during his time in Blacksburg.

Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches.

Miami adding UCLA transfer DT Chigozie Nnoruka

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With Manny Diaz now in charge, Miami continues to collect players with Power Five and FBS experience.

The latest for the former additions is Chigozie Nnoruka, with the former UCLA defensive tackle announcing on Twitter late Tuesday night that he has transferred to Miami.  The native of Nigeria will be coming to the Hurricanes as a graduate transfer — he’s expected to receive his degree in March — which means he can play immediately for Diaz’s squad in 2019.

The upcoming season will be the lineman’s final year of eligibility.

According to, Nnoruka chose The U over an offer from Florida.

After beginning his collegiate career at a junior college and then playing in one game his first season with the Bruins, Nnoruka started 10 of the 12 games in which he played during the 2017 season.  That year, his 8½ tackles for loss were tied for second on the team.

With Chip Kelly and a new defensive coaching staff on board, Nnoruka played in 11 games with no starts this past season.  After 49 tackles the previous season, Nnoruka was credited with seven in 2018, none of which were for a loss.

In addition to Nnoruka, Miami has added safety Bubba Bolden from USC (HERE), running back Asa Martin from Auburn (HERE) and quarterback Tate Martell of Ohio State (HERE) from Power Five programs since mid-December.  Additionally, Buffalo’s second-leading receiver, K.J. Osborn, tweeted his decision to transfer to UM earlier this month.

Les Koenning is Les Miles’ second OC hire at Kansas

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For the second time this offseason, a Koenning has been added to a new Power Five coaching staff.  And, for the second time since taking over in Lawrence two months ago, Les Miles has hired an offensive coordinator.

Jan. 10, Troy announced that Chip Lindsey, hired by Miles as Kansas’ offensive coordinator the month before, would take over as the Sun Belt program’s head football coach and replace Neal Brown, who left to take the head job at West Virginia.  Two weeks after Lindsay’s departure, KU confirmed Tuesday that Les Koenning will take over for Lindsey as the Jayhawks’ coordinator.

Koenning, whose cousin, Vic Koenning, was named as WVU’s defensive coordinator by Brown earlier this month, spent the 2018 season as the running backs coach at Southern Miss.

“We are so excited to add an offensive coordinator with the experience of Les Koenning,” said Miles in a statement. “He has proven to be an innovative offensive mind who has great success recruiting and developing offensive skill players, particularly at the quarterback position.”

Koenning has served as the coordinator at six stops at the FBS level — UAB (2016-17), Mississippi State (2009-13), Texas A&M (2003-07), Alabama (2001-02), Houston (1999) and Duke (1998).