Nobody outside of UCF is better positioned to secure this year’s Group of Five bid than No. 23 Fresno State but Jeff Tedford’s team is locked into a battle on the blue turf against rival Boise State and hold a slim 10-3 lead at halftime of this critical Mountain West game on Friday night.
Marcus McMaryion led the way on the lone touchdown drive of the first half for the Bulldogs, capping things off with a toss to the back of the end zone to favorite target KeeSean Johnson (41 total yards to go with that score). The veteran quarterback wasn’t too sharp early on but eventually rebounded as the game went on to finish 12-of-15 for 125 yards while chipping in with another 13 on the ground. Tailback Jordan Mims did have 33 yards rushing but most of the team’s offensive damage was done through the air against that stout Boise defensive line.
The Broncos did what they could to stay in this game and take a lead, that much is for sure. Bryan Harsin’s group looked like they had no issues pulling out all the stops in this one, running both a flea flicker and a double reverse pass back to quarterback Brett Rypien. Just for good measure, there was also a fake field goal but that attempt went absolutely nowhere.
Despite the lack of scoring drives, it was still a solid half for Rypien in throwing for 149 yards with just three incompletions. He did throw an ill-advised interception in the final few minutes of the half but he was able to move the ball. Running back Alex Mattison also was ripping off chunks of yards with each carry and finished with 53 between the tackles.
In addition to all of the conference and national implications that this game carries, keep in mind that Fresno State has never won on the blue turf and are seeking revenge for last year’s loss at the same place in the Mountain West title game. Both programs are certainly very much in this one and the potential is brewing for a fun second half between these two rivals on a chilly night in Idaho.
Entering summer camp, Deon Stewart was the most senior member of a very young receiving corps. Unfortunately for all involved, Stewart will exit camp on the sidelines and will remain there for the foreseeable future.
Multiple media outlets in the area initially reported that Stewart suffered a torn ACL during Arkansas’ scrimmage this past Saturday; Monday, head coach Chad Morris confirmed the initial reports, saying that an MRI showed a tear in the ligament.
Suffice to say, the fifth-year senior, who posted an ominous one-word tweet over the weekend portending the development, will miss the entire 2019 season.
Morris also confirmed that Stewart will pursue a sixth season of eligibility.
Stewart played in 36 games the past three seasons, starting 14 of those contests in 2017 (six) and 2018 (eight). This past season, Stewart was fourth on the Razorbacks in receptions (22) and sixth in yards (178).
Of the 17 receivers listed on the Razorbacks’ preseason roster, 13 of them are either freshmen or sophomores. Stewart is one of two seniors at the position, the other being Jimmie Stoudemire, who didn’t catch a pass during his first season in Fayetteville after transferring in from a California junior college.
Pardon me while I clean up a bit of personnel news from late last week during these early-morning hours.
Early last week, speculation was making the rounds that Jayden McDonald was considering a transfer away from Iowa. Friday evening, the speculation became a reality as the football program confirmed in a press release that the redshirt freshman linebacker has entered his name into the NCAA transfer database.
It’s at this point in the program where we remind our readers that entering a name into the portal doesn’t guarantee a departure, even as it allows other programs to contact the player without receiving permission from his current school. McDonald could also reverse course, pull his name from the database and return to the Hawkeyes.
Conversely, the university can take away McDonald’s scholarship at the end of the semester in which he entered the portal.
After originally committing to Rutgers, McDonald signed with Iowa as a three-star recruit in 2018. The Georgia high schooler opted for Iowa over Kansas State, Ole Miss and Purdue.
McDonald didn’t see the field as a true freshman and, with the Hawkeyes moving to a 4-2-5 base defense this season, he saw his opportunities for playing time in Iowa City narrowed even further.
With his wife fighting cancer, Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson is stepping away from the football part of his life temporarily to be with his family. Arkansas State announced the news Monday evening. Defensive coordinator David Duggan will take over as the interim head coach until Anderson is ready to return to the team.
“Coach Anderson has decided to take a leave of absence during this difficult time to be with his wife, Wendy, and his family,” a statement from Arkansas State Vice Chancellor for Intercollegiate Athletics Terry Mohajir said in a released statement. “We will continue to pray for peace for his family and provide assistance any way we can.”
Anderson has been dividing his time between football and being with his wife, but there comes a time when you have to realize there is much more to focus on than football. This is certainly one of those times, and good for Arkansas State to allow their head coach to do what he needs to do during this troubling time for his family.
Cancer sucks, plain and simple.
And now for a quarterback award watch list that won’t include a certain starting quarterback form Clemson or Alabama. The Johnny Unitas Foundation has released the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, presented annually to college football’s top senior or fourth-year quarterback. This year’s watch list includes some recognizable names such as Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.
Former Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew was named the winner of the award in 2018. Just one finalist for the 2018 award is on the watch list this season. Michigan’s Shea Patterson is that player (UCF’s McKenzie Milton was a finalist last year but is not expected to play this season despite still being at UCF as he recovers from his season-ending injury from late in 2018).
Other past winners include Deshaun Watson (2016), Marcus Mariota (2014), Andrew Luck (2011), Matt Ryan (2007), Eli Manning (2003), Carson Palmer (2002) and Peyton Manning (1997).
2019 Golden Arm Award Watch List Presented by A. O. Smith
- Jack Abraham, Southern Mississippi
- Blake Barnett, University of South Florida
- Woody Barrett, Kent State
- Jake Bentley, University of South Carolina
- Anthony Brown, Boston College
- Kelly Bryant, Missouri
- Joe Burrow, LSU
- Stephen Buckshot Calvert, Liberty
- Marcus Childers, Northern Illinois
- K.J. Costello, Stanford Unversity
- Jacob Eason, Washington University
- Caleb Evans, University of Louisiana Monroe
- Mason Fine, North Texas
- Feleipe Franks, University of Florida
- Mitchell Guadagni, Toledo
- Jarrett Guarantano, University of Tennessee
- Gage Gubrud, Washington State University
- Quentin Harris, Duke University
- Justin Herbert, University of Oregon
- Kelvin Hopkins, Jr., Army
- Tyler Huntley, University of Utah
- Jalen Hurts, University of Oklahoma
- Josh Jackson, University of Maryland
- D’Eriq King, Houston
- Brian Lewerke, Michigan State University
- Jordan Love, Utah State University
- Jake Luton, Oregon State University
- Cole McDonald, University of Hawaii
- Justin McMillan, Tulane
- Steven Montez, University of Colorado
- James Morgan, FIU
- Riley Neal, Vanderbilt University
- Kato Nelson, Akron
- Shea Patterson, University of Michigan
- Bryce Perkins, University of Virginia
- Malcolm Perry, Navy
- Peyton Ramsey, Indiana University
- Armani Rogers, UNLV
- Nathan Rourke, Ohio
- Anthony Russo, Temple University
- J’Mar Smith, Louisiana Tech
- Nate Stanley, University of Iowa
- Dillon Sterling-Cole, Arizona State University
- Khalil Tate, University of Arizona
- Zac Thomas, Appalachian State University
- Skylar Thompson, Kansas State
- Brady White, University of Memphis
- Ryan Willis, Virginia Tech
- Brandon Wimbush, University of Central Florida