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Nick Fitzgerald, Mississippi State bounce back with win over No. 16 Texas A&M

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Mississippi State’s offense is Nick Fitzgerald, the 6-foot-5 jeep of a quarterback that’s the best short yardage back in the SEC. But it doesn’t work if Fitzgerald can’t throw the ball, and we saw how bad things can get when Mississippi State can’t throw the ball in last week’s loss to No. 4 LSU. Despite an excellent defensive performance, the Bulldogs lost 19-3 in large part because Fitzgerald was 8-of-24 for 59 yards with four interceptions.

But Fitzgerald bounced back in a big way on Saturday night, and as a result the Bulldogs bounced back, upending No. 16 Texas A&M 28-13 in Starkville.

The good vibes started for Fitzgerald and Mississippi State early. The Bulldogs moved 79 yards in 12 plays over six and a half minutes on their first possession, ending with Fitzgerald hooking up with Stephen Guidry for a 25-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-12 to put the home team on the board.

Texas A&M put together two 40-plus yard drives over its next few chances but saw them both come up empty, one on a missed Seth Small field goal from 49 yards and another on a punt off a drive that began on their own goal line.

The Aggies’ third such drive finally resulted in points, a 34-yard Small field goal.

Mississippi State (5-3, 2-3 SEC) figured to take a 7-3 lead to the locker room but, after a curious decision by Joe Moorhead to throw deep on a 4th-and-3 inside the final minute of the first half, Texas A&M took over on its own 36 with 44 seconds and two timeouts. Kellen Mond‘s first three passes of the drive were incomplete, but the Aggies still moved 30 yards thanks to a facemask and a pass interference call on the Bulldogs. Finally, Mond found Quartney Davis on a screen pass, who raced 34 yards to the end zone to put the Aggies on top at the break.

Mississippi State opened the second half the same way it opened the first — a long drive punctuated by a beautiful Fitzgerald throw. The drive went 75 yards, the final 38 on a lob to Osirus Mitchell.

A 33-yard Roshauud Paul punt return gave Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC) the ball at the Mississippi State 28 late in the third quarter, but the Aggies could not find pay dirt, forcing a 41-yard Small field goal.

The Bulldogs immediately responded, again moving 75 yards. This drive ended in a more conventional way, a 1-yard Fitzgerald rush.

Trailing 21-13 with 7:44 left in the game, Texas A&M took over at its own 38. The Aggies eventually moved into a 1st-and-goal at the 10, but an 8-yard sack by Cory Thomas took the series off schedule. A&M eventually moved back to the 11 on fourth-and-goal, and with 2:36 left Jimbo Fisher had no choice but to go for it. Mond’s end zone heave was intercepted by Erroll Thompson.

Fitzgerald then put the capper on the evening, breaking free for a 76-yard touchdown run, which tied a school record with his 42nd career score.

The senior finished the game hitting 14-of-22 for 241 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 16 times for 88 yards and two scores.

One of world’s largest cranes being used to build Carrier Dome’s new roof

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A new recruit is coming to Syracuse’s campus soon, and he’s absolutely huge.

To build the Carrier Dome’s new roof, the school has rented a LR-11000 crane, which will stand nearly 500 feet in the air.“It’s going to dominate the skyline,” Buckner Heavylift Cranes heavy lift and rigging planner Jim Jatho told the Syracuse Post-Standard. “If you can see the Carrier Dome, it’ll be a couple hundred feet above it.”

So big is the the LR-11000 that it will require between 85 and 87 truckloads to deliver all the necessary parts, and will also require the efforts of three or four other cranes in order to build this one. Construction of the crane is expected to take three to four weeks. The crane is manufactured by a German firm, and SU will rent it from Buckner Heavylift Cranes, based out of North Carolina. There are just 13 LR-11000s scattered across the United States.

The LR-11000 can lift 1,100 tons — that’s 2.2 million pounds — and weighs 3 million pounds on its own.

The reason for such specialized equipment is the tight quarters around the Carrier Dome and the unique job that requires the expertise of the LR-11000, which will construct the crown-truss that will encircle the dome’s bubbly, cloud-like roof. The LR-11000 is typically used to build wind turbines.

“Putting a crane of this size in a space so small is almost unheard of,” Jatho said.

Syracuse initially announced plans to give the Carrier Dome a new roof back in 2016, committing $118 million to improve the 38-year-old stadium’s roof. The new roof will have natural lighting, a 40-year lifespan (the current roof had 20) and will be less costly to maintain, the school says.

Syracuse also plans to install a vertically hung scoreboard, ADA improvements, enhanced WiFi and, by 2022, air conditioning, new restrooms and new concession space.

The new roof is expected to be complete by fall 2020, but the construction is not expected to interrupt Dino Babers and company’s efforts to dethrone Clemson for ACC supremacy.

California JUCO defensive back shot, killed

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Sadly, there’s yet another deadly shooting involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets in the Sacramento area, Sierra College defensive back Chancelor “Chance” Fields-Colbert was shot and killed very early Sunday morning following an incident during what was described as a college sendoff party in Fair Oaks.  Fields-Colbert was shot once inside the residence in which the party was being held and managed to get out of the house before collapsing in an intersection a short distance away.

The sophomore from Fairbanks, Alaska, was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It’s disbelief and shock,” the junior college’s head coach, Benjamin Noonan, told ABC’s Sacramento affiliate. “It’s been a nightmare these last 48 hours and the kids are, you know, pulling it together and just want to be around each other.”

As a freshman this past season, Fields-Colbert played in five games for the Wolverines.

Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton headlines Outland Trophy watch list

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With eight semifinalists from a year ago gone, the Outland Trophy’s 2019 preseason watch list takes on a decidedly fresh look this go ’round.

Headlining the 83-player group of the nation’s top interior linemen is Oregon’s Calvin Throckmorton, who is the only Football Writers Association of American All-American from a season ago on this year’s watch list.  Throckmorton is one of 12 players from the Pac-12 listed, which is tied for third among all conferences with the Big 12; with 13 apiece, the Big Ten and SEC lead all leagues.

The ACC’s 10 is the fewest among Power Five conferences, while Group of Five leagues are paced by the AAC’s six.  All 10 FBS conferences are represented, including the Mountain West (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (three) and Sun Belt (three).  Independents account for four as well.

Throckmorton is one of four linemen from Oregon, tied with Michigan for the most of any single school.  Georgia has three, while another 15 schools have two each.

A total of 32 offensive tackles are on the watch list, the most for any single position.  That group is followed by 19 defensive tackles, 18 offensive guards and 14 centers.

Temple confirms changes to Rod Carey’s coaching staff

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Less than two weeks before training camp kicks off, Rod Carey has (again) finalized his first Temple coaching staff.

Earlier this month, it was reported that longtime Temple assistant and the program’s current special teams coordinator Ed Foley would be leaving the school and reuniting with Matt Rhule at Baylor.  Monday, the Owls confirmed that Carey has promoted Tyler Yelk to outside linebackers coach.  Yelk was a part of Carey’s Northern Illinois football staff this past season.

Additionally, it was announced by the football program that Brett Diersen has been hired as associate special teams coordinator.  Diersen spent the 2018 season as the defensive line coach at SMU.

This will mark the third time Diersen and Carey have worked together, first at Wisconsin-Stout in 2000 and then again at Northern Illinois from 2013-17.

“Tyler is an excellent young coach and we promoted him to add balance to the coaching staff,” said Carey in a statement, making reference to the fact that there are now six full-time coaches with an offensive background and five on defense. “We are very fortunate to get a coach of Brett’s caliber in the role of special teams coordinator. I’ve known him for 20 years and am excited that he and his family can join us at Temple.”