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No. 10 Washington too much for Utah as Huskies snag Pac-12 road win

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Washington required a last-ditch punt return for a touchdown to survive their last trip to Salt Lake City but had no need for such heroics this time around as the No. 10 Huskies never trailed in an eventual 21-7 win over Utah on Saturday night that was anything but pretty for either side.

Neither quarterback will want to review tape of the effort as both faced pressure on nearly every snap and compounded problems with bad decisions such as the one Jake Browning made below:

That wild play in the fourth quarter could have been a momentum changer for the Utes but they failed to convert on fourth down near the end zone and wound up empty-handed in the entire sequence. Browning wound up finishing the night with 155 yards and a touchdown throw but it was anything but a sharp performance from the senior who was supposed to play a big role in the team returning to the top of the Pac-12 standings.

Luckily for head coach Chris Petersen he still had a strong running game and a feisty defense to complement it. Tailback Myles Gaskin continued his assault on school and conference record books by racking up 143 yards and scored the first points of the game by diving over the pylon on the opening drive. Safety Taylor Rapp was all over the field defensively and recovered a pair of fumbles, one in each half.

Utah’s defense was also the team’s strength for the most part and did so with at least one starter leaving due to injury and two others getting tossed for targeting. The group continually kept the Utes in the game as it wore on and the entire unit was particularly impressive up front as they seemed to cause some havoc on just about every play.

In the end though, it was once again the offense that proved to be Utah’s biggest issue. QB Tyler Huntley threw for only 138 yards and also had an interception while looking a lot more dangerous on the ground (49 yards rushing). Running back Zack Moss had an early touchdown run and finished with 67 yards on the night but was kept in check for the most part in the second half.

If there was any silver lining for the home team in Salt Lake, it was that the loss by no means wrecks the Utes’ Pac-12 campaign given the state of the South division at the moment. Both USC and Arizona are 1-2 and the rebuilding project Chip Kelly is going through at UCLA looks like it is off to a rough start. Herm Edwards does have a big win at Arizona State under his belt but who knows how things will have played out by the time the two meet in Tempe in November.

Washington will count the game as a win but the effort won’t be encouraging at all to the die-hard Huskies fans out there. While many thought an undefeated run through the Pac-12 slate would still keep those slim Playoff hopes alive, that will not come to fruition at all if the team doesn’t pick things up offensively after such a lackluster effort on the road.

Arizona State confirms Boise State’s Zak Hill as new OC

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At the end of the regular season, Herm Edwards fired the bulk of Arizona State’s offensive staff. Nearly two weeks later, the reshaping of the assistants on that side of the ball has commenced in earnest.

Following up on speculation that had been growing in recent days, ASU on Saturday announced that Zak Hill has been hired as Edwards’ new offensive coordinator. Hill will replace Rob Likens, who was a part of the post-regular-season purge.

“Zak is very well versed in offensive football,” the head coach said in a statement. “He comes from winning programs and he played the quarterback position. I like that. He’s good at building an offense around the personnel that he has available to him. He will force the defense to adjust with multiple formations and personnel groups. His style fits the DNA of what we want on our coaching staff. He’s an excellent teacher.”

The past four seasons, Hill served as the coordinator at Boise State. Prior to that, and aside from a one-month stop at Hawaii, Hill spent seven seasons as the passing-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at FCS power Eastern Washington.

“I am really excited about this opportunity and I truly believe it is a great situation for me at ASU,” Hill said. “I appreciate Coach Edwards believing in me and having the trust to bring me on and I am thankful to Ray Anderson and the Sun Devil administration for their support in making this happen. I am really excited to get down there and I know we have some exciting weapons on offense. I look forward to putting together an explosive, fun offense that our fans will love to watch.”

“I am humbled at this opportunity. I also want to thank everyone at Boise State for a great four years and I am grateful for all the support I have received from Bronco Nation,” he added. “I would especially like to thank Coach Harsin for his leadership and my years at Boise State and the opportunity he afforded me to grow as a coach.”

In addition to Hill’s, uhhh, addition, ASU also confirmed Derek Hagan and Prentice Gill as offensive assistants. Their specific titles and responsibilities were not detailed.

Hagan, who played wide receiver for the Sun Devils and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015, was an offensive analyst at ASU this past season. Gill served in the same role at Oregon.

Dabo Swinney lays out new responsibilities for offensive staff

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Jeff Scott spent a dozen years at Clemson, including the last five seasons as co-offensive coordinator, before taking the head job at USF earlier this month. Despite his importance to Dabo Swinney‘s success, there won’t be too much change for the defending national champions moving forward.

Friday, Swinney confirmed that he will not be filling Scott’s co-coordinator position and will instead allow Tony Elliott to serve as the sole coordinator. Elliott and Scott have shared coordinating responsibilities each of the past five seasons.

Quarterbacks coach Brandon Streeter will maintain his current responsibilities as well as add the title of passing-game coordinator.

Additionally, Tyler Grisham, who played for the Tigers from 2005-08, has been promoted to wide receivers coach, a responsibility previously held by Scott. Grisham had been serving as an offensive analyst for the program.

“We have a good plan for all that stuff and have a great group of people here,” the head coach said. “We’re excited about getting it all settled out.”

Swinney also reiterated that, as had previously been laid out, Scott will return to the team next Thursday and will remain through however long the Tigers’ postseason run lasts. Clemson will face Ohio State Dec. 28 in one of the two College Football Playoff semifinals.

Ohio State’s Justin Fields the way-too-early 2020 Heisman favorite

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You say the tears aren’t even dry yet from Joe Burrow‘s acceptance speech and we’re already looking ahead to 2020?  You’re damn right we are.

Saturday night, Burrow claimed the 2019 Heisman Trophy in record-smashing fashion, with the quarterback becoming just the second LSU Tiger to claim the most prestigious trophy in the sport.  Quarterback Justin Fields finished third in the voting, one of three Ohio State Buckeyes to land in the top six in the voting.

Speaking of Fields, one online sportsbook has the sophomore listed as a 5/2 favorite to win the 2020 Heisman Trophy.  Fellow sophomore Trevor Lawrence of Clemson is right behind him at 3/1.

The next closest is Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at 7/1.

A handful of the players who finished in the Top 10 in the voting — Ohio State defensive end Chase Young, Ohio State running back JK Dobbins, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa — have eligibility remaining, but are expected to leave early for the NFL draft.  If any of them opt to remain in school, that would obviously change the odds moving forward.

USC transfer QB Jack Sears appears headed to San Diego State

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Jack Sears may have left USC, but it doesn’t appear he’ll end up leaving the state of California.

After finding himself fourth on the quarterbacking depth chart, Sears announced on his personal Twitter account in late August that he had decided to enter the NCAA transfer database.  A little over three months later, and after a flirtation with Oregon State, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that “Sears has committed to San Diego State as a graduate transfer who would enroll during the spring semester.”

As a graduate transfer, Sears would be eligible to play for the Aztecs in 2020.  He would also have another season of eligibility he could use in 2021 as well.

As of yet, the Mountain West Conference school hasn’t confirmed Sears’ intentions.

Sears was a four-star member of the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class, rated as the No. 4 pro-style quarterback in the country.  After redshirting as a true freshman, Sears completed 20-of-28 passes for 235 yards and a touchdown the following season.