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No. 3 LSU hanging tough, but No. 1 Alabama still in control

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The good news for No. 3 LSU: it’s defense is holding its own against No. 1 Alabama’s top-ranked offense, and star linebacker Devin White is now back in the game. The Tigers held the Tide scoreless on their opening drive for the first time this season, and they even snatched the first interception of Tua Tagovailoa of the season.

The bad news, it hasn’t mattered. Alabama’s defense has swallowed LSU’s offense, and as a result the visitors hold a commanding 16-0 halftime lead in Baton Rouge.

Alabama has moved the ball on each of its possessions, including a 1st-and-10 at the LSU 14 on its first touch, but a broken play and two penalties forced a 4th-and-30 and a rare Mike Bernier punt.

But on the Tide’s next possession, the offense knifed 78 yards in five plays. Najee Harris busted free for a 22-yard gain and Tagovailoa connected on all four passes, including a 15-yard scoring strike to Henry Ruggs III at the 4:58 mark of the opening frame. Even though Alabama scored, LSU caught a break as a targeting call on the field against safety Grant Delpit was overturned upon review, keeping a second starter from being lost due to targeting. After the score, Joseph Bulovas‘s PAT was blocked.

After a punt, Alabama reached the LSU red zone for a second time and again was turned away without a touchdown, as Tagovailoa’s 3rd-and-3 pass from the 5 to Ruggs fell incomplete, forcing a 23-yard Bulovas field goal at the 6:59 mark of the second quarter.

Good as LSU’s defense has played, it won’t matter if the offense doesn’t get something going. The Tigers have crossed into Alabama territory twice, but just barely. Facing a 3rd-and-2 at the Tide 42 heading into the second quarter, LSU used the quarter break to dial up a Nick Brossette run, which was stuffed for no gain, forcing a punt. On the Tigers’ next drive, LSU surged to a 1st-and-10 at the Alabama 43, but the Tigers only went backward from there and punted on 4th-and-14 from the 47.

The second such punt put LSU in the danger zone, as an Alabama score probably put the game out of reach. Alabama moved from its own 16 to the 40, but Tagovailoa ended the drive with his first pick of the year. Though he gave the ball away, he still put his team in a favorable position, as the pick came at the LSU 4-yard line.

LSU promptly made its bad situation worse when Joe Burrow was sacked by Anfernee Jennings, turning a 2nd-and-6 into a 3rd-and-13 and an automatic punt.

Taking over at their own 45, the Tide needed only two plays for the dagger. First, Tagovailoa hit Jerry Jeudy for a 29-yard catch-and-run gain, then nailed Irv Smith, Jr., for a 25-yard score with 1:15 left in the first half. The Heisman favorite looked human for the first time this season and still played well, hitting 20-of-31 passes for 205 yards with two touchdowns and one pick.

For the half, Burrow completed 8-of-18 passes for 68 yards, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire leads the club in rushing with three carries for seven yards. As a team, LSU has rushed 11 times for minus-1 yard with a long gain of four.

And no matter how well White and the LSU defense play, the Tigers won’t win if those numbers don’t change.

One Nebraska DB cited for weed, another for driving under suspension following traffic stop

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One of these days, every single state in the Union — along with the federal government — will fall in line and come to their senses when it comes to weed.  Until then, we’ll continue bringing you stories like this one.

According to the Omaha World-Herald, two Nebraska football players, safety Marquel Dismuke (pictured) and walk-on defensive back Jeramiah Stovall, were cited by Lincoln Police Department officers Friday night. Stovall was cited for possessing less than an ounce of marijuana while Dismuke received a citation for driving on a suspended license.

The twin citations came after Dismuke’s vehicle was pulled over for failing to display  a front license plate.

“We are aware of the incident and are addressing it,” a Nebraska official said in a very brief statement.

After playing in 19 games (one start) the past two years, Dismuke is a front-runner for a starting job entering summer camp. This past season, Stovall was named as NU’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Kentucky confirms addition of Troy transfer QB Sawyer Smith

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It’s now officially official.

In late April, Sawyer Smith took his first step in moving on from Troy by announcing on social media that he had placed his name into the NCAA transfer database.  Two weeks later, the quarterback used social media to reveal that his next stop at the collegiate level would be at Kentucky.

Monday, Smith’s expected new home confirmed the player’s addition to the roster.

”We’re excited to have Sawyer join our program,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said in a statement. “It’s great to add a quarterback with his experience and success. He helped lead Troy to an outstanding season last year and we’re glad to have him here.”

As Smith comes to the Wildcats as a graduate transfer, he’ll be eligible to compete for a starting job immediately.  Additionally, he’ll have another season of eligibility he could use in 2020.

Smith played in 13 games this past season, including starts in the last seven.  In those appearances, the Florida native completed 62.9 percent of his passes for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with six interceptions. He also rushed for 191 yards and another touchdown.

Terry Wilson started all 13 games for the Wildcats in a 2018 season that saw UK reach double digits in wins for the first time since Jimmy Carter was sitting in the Oval Office. Wilson, though, was 10th in the SEC and 63rd nationally with a 133.9 pass efficiency rating.

For what it’s worth, Smith’s 139 rating was fifth in the Sun Belt Conference and 47th in the country.

Lincoln Riley: Jalen Hurts must win starting job at Oklahoma

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Coaches say things to motivate their players even if nobody really believes it. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, entering his third season in charge of the Sooners this fall, is already proving to be a veteran when it comes to setting the bar high and motivating his quarterbacks in the offseason.

Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts will undoubtedly be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma when the 2019 season kicks off for the defending Big 12 champion on Sept. 1 against Houston. However, Riley is not prepared to publicly anoint his newest quarterback as the heir to the throne of the offense that has produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners at the quarterback position. Instead, Riley is telling media members at Big 12 media days Hurts will have to go out and earn the opportunity.

Don’t be shocked by seeing that quote, because that is what the best coaches will do no matter who is on their team. Except in certain situations where a proven starting quarterback is coming back to the program for a second or third (or fourth?) season, coaches will always hope to inspire healthy competition at every position, including quarterback. By not gifting Hurts the starting job in the middle of July, Riley is setting the tone that will keep Hurts pushing to improve his game and keep other quarterbacks like Class of 2019 five-star recruit Spencer Rattler and four-star Class of 2018 quarterback Tanner Mordecai working to get their shot.

But Hurts is far from any ordinary transfer quarterback. Hurts was the starter for Alabama for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, in which Alabama went to the national championship game both seasons, losing one and winning the other. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at quarterback for that national title win against Georgia, but Hurts was a major reason why Alabama was in the national title game two years in a row with him as the starter. Hurts brings multiple seasons of starting experience form one of the top programs in the sport with him. And after Oklahoma lost Kyler Murray to the NFL Draft a year after losing Baker Mayfield, Hurts is stepping right into a position that carried high expectations and demands results.

Hurts may have had a couple of bumps in the road in Tuscaloosa, but he didn’t come to Oklahoma to be a back-up. Riley knows that, but he has the responsibility to make sure everyone on his team is working hard to improve. That message should be heard loud and clear, even if media pundits don’t have to believe it.

LSU CB Kelvin Joseph back in transfer portal

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The NCAA transfer portal has seen a number of names come and go this offseason. Now, it appears, LSU cornerback Kelvin Joseph is stepping a foot in the transfer portal for a second time.

Joseph reportedly entered the transfer portal back in May, only to have that story disputed by his father. A day later, Joseph announced on Twitter that his father was, in fact, wrong with his claim. After some time passed, it seemed as though Joseph may end up staying in Baton Rouge to play for the Tigers this fall. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said “everything is good” regarding the status of Joseph as the story unfolded.

However, as multiple reports have surfaced at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama today, Joseph is now back in the transfer portal.

By entering the transfer portal, Joseph is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him. He would have to sit out the upcoming 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to standard NCAA transfer rules, barring any appeal being granted for immediate eligibility.

Joseph was a four-star member of LSU’s Class of 2018. He played in 11 games for the Tigers last season and was suspended from the Fiesta Bowl for unspecified violations of team rules.