There’s just one team among the six who occupy the division who has not yet represented the Pac-12 South in the conference title game. That might be about to change.
Utah beat up and bullied defending champion USC 41-28 on Saturday night in Salt Lake City — in a game that wasn’t even that close — as the Utes managed to wrestle control of the division standings and finally start looking like the team that was expected to play at this level.
The outing continued a string of encouraging performances for the Utes on offense as they may finally be able to say they’ve turned a corner on that side of the ball. QB Tyler Huntley had only a few misfires in throwing for 341 yards and four touchdowns in guiding the team to a win in what might be his best overall game so far as a starter. For good measure the dual-threat added a touchdown on the ground as well to go with his 33 yards rushing, forming a nice backfield tandem with running mate Zack Moss toting the rock 25 times for 136 yards.
Defensively the group was just as stout as we’ve come to expect from Kyle Whittingham. In addition to holding the Trojans to only 3.8 yards per play and 3-of-14 on third down, the Utes really only gave up one sustained scoring drive in the contest and should have had an interception that passed through the hands of two defenders on another score they allowed. If not for two turnovers that put them in bad spots, the runaway score could have been even more lopsided.
Equally to blame was the USC offense though. J.T. Daniels looked every bit like a true freshman QB on the road in going 6-of-16 for 89 yards, a score, and two picks. He missed most of the fourth quarter after leaving with a concussion and backup Matt Fink showed why he might be the go-to under center for the team next week with a 6-of-7 outing that included a late touchdown pass.
Of course, neither signal-caller had any sort of time to throw from the pocket and the team managed to rush for only 2.4 yards per carry to compound their issues.
The loss, especially in such demoralizing fashion, is sure to increase fan frustration in cardinal and gold with head coach Clay Helton. While the program was expected to undergo a bit of a rebuilding campaign, the team has struggled in all three phases and looked fairly overmatched against the better teams they’ve faced. If not for a controversial win over Washington State, the Trojans would all but be out of the league race and will need massive help to rally and make it back to Levi’s Stadium for the Pac-12 title game.
That will not be the case for the Utes, who control their destiny at the moment and face winnable games in the next two weeks against UCLA and Arizona State before a season-defining stretch against Oregon (at home) and at Colorado. While the early returns were not good for Utah as they got off to a slow start to 2018, it appears they’ve shook the rust off and are now firmly looking like the team to beat in the Pac-12 South.
This is certainly an odd development that, given the plethora of transfers that only continues to rise, could actually become the norm.
Tuesday night, a pair of Virginia Tech football players, including second-leading receiver Eric Kumah, took to Twitter to announce that they had decided to transfer/enter their name into the NCAA transfer database. A day later, it’s being reported that Josh Jackson, who, after going through a tumultuous offseason, began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury, has placed his name in the transfer database as well.
Given all of the abrupt roster upheaval, Tech head coach Justin Fuente issued a statement Wednesday afternoon somewhat addressing the developments over the last 24 hours or so.
Nearly three weeks after clearing out a pair of spots on his offensive coaching staff, Pat Narduzzi has filled in those self-created holes.
Jan. 4, Shawn Watson was fired as Pitt’s offensive coordinator, replaced a little over a week later by former UMass head coach Mark Whipple. The same day Watson was fired, Kevin Sherman was dismissed as wide receivers coach; Wednesday, Pitt confirmed that Chris Beatty has been hired as Sherman’s replacement.
Sherman spent the past three seasons at Maryland as receivers coach. He also served as co-offensive coordinator and held the title of associate head coach while with the Terrapins.
“Chris is an absolutely outstanding addition to our staff,” Narduzzi said in a statement. “His expertise goes well beyond one position on the offensive side of the ball. That diverse experience is going to be an incredible asset for our players and entire coaching staff. He is also a highly driven recruiter with valuable contacts in so many key areas. We are looking forward to welcoming Chris, his wife Kris and his son Aaron to both Pitt and Pittsburgh.”
Prior to Maryland, Beatty spent time on Power Five coaching staffs at Virginia (2015), Wisconsin (2013-14), Illinois (2012), Vanderbilt (2011) and West Virginia (2008-10). In addition to receivers, he’s also coaching quarterbacks and running backs.
A legend is coming home to The Plains. Reportedly.
According to Scout.com and FootballScoop.com among others, Cadillac Williams is set to be named as the next running backs coach at Auburn. Williams would replace Tim Horton, who moved into an off-field role earlier this month.
An official announcement on Williams’ hiring could come as early as today.
Williams played running back for the Tigers from 2001-04, finishing with 3,831 yards and 45 touchdowns on 741 attempts. The carries were the most in AU history at the time of his departure, while the yards and touchdowns were second to Bo Jackson.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Williams the fifth pick of the 2005 NFL Draft, and he went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. H ended up playing seven years in the NFL before retiring following the end of the 2011 season.
The 36-year-old Williams’ coaching career began in 2016 as an offensive graduate assistant at Div. II West Georgia. He went to IMG Academy in Florida as running backs coach before moving on to the same position the Birmingham franchise in the newly-created Alliance of American Football.
UPDATED 2:36 p.m. ET: Based on a tweet from Auburn football’s official Twitter account, Williams’ return to the Tigers is official.
Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.
According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday. The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”
Harris was just 22 years old.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”
A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz. Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.
And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on. Or call somebody, anybody.