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Chip Kelly still winless at UCLA as Laviska Shenault powers Colorado to another big win

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There were times at Oregon where it felt like head coach Chip Kelly would never lose. Now at UCLA, it seems like that’s all he’s doing.

The Bruins big offseason addition remains winless in Westwood as his team dropped their Pac-12 opener at Colorado 38-16 on Friday night as the powder blues’ offense once again sputtered out on the road.

True freshman Dorian Thompson-Robinson got the start at quarterback just over a week after his father made critical comments of the UCLA coaching staff but had a rough outing, throwing for only 138 yards and a touchdown on 35 attempts. Protection up front was once again an issue for the team as the signal-caller was sacked three times and had to scramble around in the pocket several other times to avoid getting tackled.

The Bruins actually held the third quarter lead at one point thanks in part to a trio of long field goals from kicker J.J. Molson but three straight three-and-outs by the offense allowed the Buffs to open things up and win this one going away. If there was a silver lining to the effort it was that Joshua Kelley did manage to crack the century mark with 124 yards rushing and Michael Ezeike snagged a pretty impressive touchdown catch in the first quarter right over the helmet of a defensive back.

Though Colorado did get off to a slow start in the game following a week off, they eventually found their groove in the second half and sent the crowd home quite happy. Leading the way once again for the Buffs was budding all-purpose star Laviska Shenaultwho rushed for a touchdown and recorded 126 yards and another score as a receiver. He’s now scored in every game this year for the team and should be a legitimate contender to make several midseason All-America lists given how much of a boost he’s provided to the offense.

Of course, Shenault isn’t doing things alone as quarterback Steven Montez was nearly perfect against a lackluster defense that allowed several big plays after missed assignments. All told he went 22-of-26 passing with 237 yards and a touchdown while also showcasing his legs with 81 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground.

Defensively, linebackers Drew Lewis (two sacks), Nate Landman (nine tackles) and Rick Gamboa were all over the place for CU.

While the story nationally will likely remain focused on the bad start for Kelly and company, the way UCLA is struggling it might be awhile before the Bruins are able to secure a win the way they are playing. Of course, the schedule does them no favors either as they will return to the Rose Bowl to face Pac-12 favorite Washington and then follow that up with a game against a Cal team that’s currently in the top 25. Add in the rest of their division slate and a crossover game against rival Stanford to close the season and it could be a while — if at all — before finding the win column.

Meanwhile, the Buffs increasingly look like they’re more and more of a threat to win the South division. They remain a perfect 4-0 for the first time in three decades heading into the meat of their schedule and host Arizona State next week in a game that very well could determine who makes it to Santa Clara for the conference title game.  Trips to USC and Washington after that could determine national relevance too but it certainly appears as though Mike MacIntyre is in the middle of another turnaround season up in Boulder while his latest

Middle Tennessee State brings back ex-Blue Raiders RB Shane Tucker as grad assistant

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There will be a very familiar face in the Middle Tennessee State football building when the Conference USA school reconvenes.

Memorial Day, Middle Tennessee State announced that Shane Tucker has been added to the extended football staff.  Specifically, Tucker will serve as a graduate assistant for Rick Stockstill.  Tucker will work on the offensive side of the ball for the Blue Raiders.

From 2013-2017, Tucker was a running back at MTSU.  And a wide receiver as well.

In 39 appearances, Tucker started 17 of those games.  He started contests in 2013 (three), 2014 (two), 2015 (four) and 2017 (eight).  The Memphis native’s 2016 season ended before it started because of an offseason injury.

During his time in Murfreesboro, Tucker ran for 1,162 yards and 15 touchdowns on 271 carries.  He also caught 67 passed for 869 yards and another seven touchdowns.

In 2014, Tucker earned honorable mention All-Conference USA honors.  As a fifth-year senior in 2017, he was named a permanent captain.

Middle Tennessee State is coming off a 4-8 2019 football campaign.  That was the program’s worst record since going 2-10 in 2011.  MTSU also saw its school-record streak of bowl appearances end at four in a row.

One of the players Tucker Will Likely work with?  Martell Pettaway.  The West Virginia running back transferred to the Conference USA school in January.

Ex-Georgia State RB Gerald Howse, 28, found dead in his home

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Georgia State is mourning the loss of a member of its football family.

Sunday, Georgia State announced the passing of former Panther football player Gerald Howse.  Howse was just 28.

According to one report, Howse was found dead at his home in Cookeville, Tenn.  A cause of death has not yet been released.

From GSU’s release:

Howse, from Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Siegel High School, lettered at running back for the Panthers in 2013-14 after transferring from NE Oklahoma A&M.

After graduating with his degree in sociology, he entered the coaching profession, beginning with stints at Oklahoma Baptist (2015) and NE Oklahoma A&M (2016-19). He was honored as the NJCAA Top Assistant Coach in 2017.

In January of 2020, Howse was named as the running backs coach at Tennessee Tech of the FCS.  The football program’s head coach, Dewayne Alexander, released a statement addressing his assistant’s passing as well.

Gerald was a first-class young man. He was highly thought of by so many people. His coaches at Siegel High School – Greg Wyatt and David Watson – always brought him up whenever we had positions come open. He displayed a very positive attitude. He was a man of character who lived out faith, family and football. He was so close to his family – his mom, dad and sister – that it was one of the biggest reasons he came here to Tennessee Tech: coach in the area, be back in Middle Tennessee and be close to his family. He was an outstanding coach and a man every coach would want on his staff. Gerald made a huge impact on our players in the short time he was here. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends, as well as the Tennessee Tech football family. Anytime you lose a staff member, it affects a lot of people.

Pac-12 targets June 15 for return of players for voluntary in-person workouts

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The Pac-12 is the latest to contribute to the measured return of college football.

Last week, the NCAA announced that it would allow schools to bring its student-athletes back to campus for voluntary workouts starting June 1. Friday, the SEC announced that it will allow players to return starting June 8.  That same day, the Big 12 announced its target date is June 15.

Monday, the Pac-12 followed the Big 12’s lead, with that Power Five confirming a return date of June 15 for voluntary in-person athletic workouts. The league came to its decision to allow student-athletes to return to campus following a meeting of the Pac-12 CEO Group earlier in the day.

The conference also made sure to note in its release that the universities will “determine whether and how to open its sporting facilities in accordance with relevant county and state guidelines.”

“As educational institutions, our highest obligation is to the health and welfare of our students, faculty, and staff,” said Pac-12 CEO Group Chair and University of Colorado Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano in a statement. “As we considered the pros and cons of taking steps that can pave a path to returning to play, those considerations were foremost, guided by the advice of our own medical experts along with public health officials.”

“The Pac-12 is committed to the well-being of our student-athletes, and the decision to allow for voluntary workouts, subject to a determination by each school, is guided by the advice of our medical experts and will be supported by the detailed protocols established by our medical advisory committee in concert with our campus’ own safety guidelines,” said Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. “As states have either already opened or begin to open up access to parks, gyms and other training facilities, student-athletes should have the option at this time to be in, what for many, will be a much safer environment on campus, where they can have access to the best available health, well-being and training support.”

The ACC and Big Ten are the only Power Fives to not announce a uniform plan for a return.  Both Ohio State and Illinois, though, will allow players to return June 8, for example.  Ditto for Clemson and Louisville as well.

Arizona’s leader in receiving yards underwent surgery on a fractured foot earlier this month

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A key piece of the passing game for Arizona football is recovering from a health issue.  Fortunately, it doesn’t appear it will impact his availability for the upcoming season.

Prior to Arizona shuttering spring football practice because of the coronavirus pandemic, Jamarye Joiner suffered a fractured left foot.  It was reported at the time that the wide receiver was “believed to have suffered a Jones fracture, which is a break between the base of the foot and the fifth metatarsal.”

According to The Athletic, Joiner underwent surgery to repair the damage May 12.  The procedure was delayed as elective surgeries were scuttled because of the pandemic.

The same website reported that the receiver will be sidelined for a period of 6-12 weeks.  Such a timeline would extend, at the long end, to early August.  Arizona is scheduled to open the 2020 football season Aug. 29 against Hawaii.

Joiner was a three-star member of the Arizona football Class of 2018.  The Tucson native was rated as the No. 6 prospect regardless of position in the state of Arizona.

Originally signing as a quarterback, Joiner completed three of his four pass attempts for 17 yards in two games a true freshman.  Playing in less than four games allowed Joiner to preserve a year of eligibility.

Prior to the start of summer camp, Joiner made the move from quarterback to wide receiver.  In his first season at the position, the redshirt freshman led the Wildcats in receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.  His 34 receptions were third on the team, while his 16.2 yards per catch was second among the nine players with at least 10 receptions.

Arizona head football coach Kevin Sumlin this month became one of a handful of coaches to take a pay cut.