Getty Images

Second half rally helps Boise State knock off No. 23 Fresno State on the blue turf

Leave a comment

No. 23 Fresno State entered Friday night’s game against Boise State with one mission: secure the Milk Can and win on the blue turf for the first time ever.

The Bulldogs, poised to be one of the few teams that could secure the Group of Five bid if they win out, could do no such thing in the end after allowing the Broncos to rally in the second half and cap off a thrilling 24-17 victory in the pair’s rematch of last season’s Mountain West Championship Game.

Quarterback Brett Rypien was not surprisingly at the center of all the action for the home team, converting several key third downs with both his arm and his legs on his way to throwing for an efficient 269 yards, one touchdown and an interception. While he was pretty much unstoppable for most of the night outside of that ill-advised pick, it took until the second half before his team could start converting many of their long drives into points. After the switch was flipped down by two scores early in the third quarter though, it was all Broncos the rest of the way as they ran off three consecutive scoring drives to take the lead and blocked a late field goal for good measure too.

Rypien wasn’t the only BSU playmaker that was tough to stop in the game however, as tailback Alexander Mattison picked up 144 yards and two scores on the ground as the workhorse between the tackles. He had just one long run of 14 yards but it seemed like just about every other carry went for four or five yards as he kept churning along and helped the Broncos offense record 24 first downs.

Fresno State was no slouch on the offensive end either even if they did just come up a bit short and missed two field goal attempts on the night. Signal-caller Marcus McMaryion wound up throwing for 283 yards and a touchdown, finding favorite target KeeSean Johnson for eight catches, 95 yards and that short toss into the end zone. It was a good thing that the combo was productive because running the ball was far from a sure thing in the game with Jordan Mims recording only 47 yards rushing and Ronnie Rivers adding another 33 and a touchdown.

The victory was a triple-whammy for the visiting Bulldogs, which last won in Boise back in 1984 — when the turf was far from blue. Not only were they unable to secure a bit of revenge for last year’s MWC title game loss to their Milk Can rivals, but the loss will potentially knock them out of the running for a potential Group of Five bid as well after sitting in the College Football Playoff Selection Committee’s rankings the past two weeks. Worse, if they wind up winning their division once again (which they can do at home against San Diego State next weekend) and have to play potential Mountain division champs Boise State, the tie-breaker would then put the game back on the blue turf in Idaho instead of in Fresno.

The flip side is that second half rally will help keep the Broncos afloat in their own tight division race with a ranked Utah State squad. They will host the Aggies at the end of the season in two weeks and may have done just enough to get the attention of the committee themselves for that elusive Group of Five bid if they run the table the rest of the way. It’s been a bit of an up-and-down campaign for Bryan Harsin’s team but they showed plenty of toughness on both sides of the ball on Friday night to cap off a great comeback and put their destiny back in their hands once again.

Second App State assistant added to Eli Drinkwitz’s Mizzou staff

Getty Images
Leave a comment

For the second time Thursday, Eli Drinkwitz has added an assistant to his new Missouri coaching staff. And, for the second time, it’s a member of his old Appalachian State.

First, Charlie Harbison was announced as a defensive assistant whose specific duties will be spelled out later. Next, it’s Erik Link being the second confirmed addition as part of Drinkwitz’s 10-man on-field staff.

Unlike Harbison, though, Link’s role has already been defined — special teams coordinator. That’s the same job Link held with the Mountaineers in 2019, his first and only season with the Sun Belt Conference school.

“Erik is a man of high character with a background in teaching and coaching,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His special teams units are detailed and very sound, and his guys play hard. They focus on effort, execution and high energy.”

Link was the special teams coordinator at Louisiana Tech in 2018, his first season as an on-field assistant at the FBS level. In 2011-12, he was the special teams coordinator at FCS Montana State.

In two separate stints at Auburn, he served as a quality control assistant (2010) and special teams/offensive analyst (2013-15).

Lane Kiffin adds two to first Ole Miss staff, including OC Jeff Lebby

Associated Press
2 Comments

The Lane Train is wasting little time rolling out members of his first coaching staff in Oxford.

Officially confirmed as Ole Miss’ head coach Saturday, Lane Kiffin on Thursday unveiled the first two members of his on-field staff — offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and offensive assistant Kevin Smith.

While Smith wasn’t given an official title, he spent the past three seasons as Kiffin’s running backs coach at FAU. That was the 43-year-old Smith’s first on-field role at any level of football as he had spent the previous three seasons at his alma mater UCF as both a coaching intern and quality control coach.

Smith, a consensus All-American as a running back at UCF, played five years for the NFL’s Detroit Lions and one season in the Canadian Football League.

Lebby, coincidentally enough, spent the past two seasons at UCF, the first as quarterbacks coach before being promoted to coordinator following the 2018 season. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Baylor for five years, primarily as running backs coach.

Lebby’s father-in-law is disgraced former Baylor head coach Art Briles. His brother-in-law is Kendal Briles, who was Kiffin’s offensive coordinator at FAU for one season before leaving for the same job at Houston and then, ultimately, Florida State.

In addition to those on-field hires, Wilson Love was announced as the Rebels’ head strength & conditioning coach. Like Smith, Love was a part of Kiffin’s Owls program the past three years.

LSU, Ohio State headline 130th Walter Camp All-American team

Getty Images
2 Comments

Both No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Ohio State showed out well during the Home Depot College Football Awards Show Thursday night. Not surprisingly, both football programs did the same on one of the most prestigious teams in the sport as well.

Earlier tonight, the Walter Camp Football Foundation released its 2019 All-American teams, the 130th such squad recognized by the organization. LSU and Wisconsin led all schools with three first-team selections, while Ohio State led the way overall with five first- and second-team honorees (two on the first team, three on the second). LSU ended up with four overall, while Clemson had three (two first team, one second).

LSU and OSU were also one-two at the quarterback position, with Joe Burrow, also named the Camp Player of the Year, earning first-team honors and Justin Fields being the second-team selection.

Conference-wise, the Big Ten’s 15 selections on both teams led the way, followed by the SEC’s 13 and Pac-12’s seven. All told, eight of the 10 FBS conferences are represented — the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State (wide receiver Omar Bayless) claimed its first-ever Camp All-American — while 32 different schools claimed spots on one of the two teams. Two of those schools, Florida Atlantic (tight end Harrison Bryant) and Boise State (defensive end Curtis Weaver), had their first-ever first-team Camp All-Americans.

The AAC and MAC were the only FBS conferences without a player selected.

Individually, two players repeated as first-team All-Americans — Wisconsin running back and Doak Walker Award winner Jonathan Taylor, LSU safety and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit. Taylor is actually a three-time Camp All-American as he was named to the second team as a true freshman in 2017.

Delpit’s teammate, defensive back Derek Stingley Jr., is the only freshman among the 51 All-Americans.

Mike Norvell brings Memphis DC Adam Fuller to Florida State

Getty Images
1 Comment

Wednesday, Mike Norvell confirmed the identity of his offensive coordinator at Florida State. A day later, it was the coordinator on the other side of the ball who was identified.

In what amounts to a reunion after a very brief time apart, Norvell announced Thursday that, as had been speculated, Adam Fuller has been hired as Florida State’s defensive coordinator. Fuller spent the 2019 season in the same position for Norvell at Memphis.

“We are so very excited about the addition of Adam Fuller to the Florida State football family,” Norvell said. “Adam is one of the top defensive minds in college football and has been a part of developing some of the most productive defensive units in the nation throughout his career. Coach Fuller will bring an aggressive and detailed approach to our Seminole defense. It will put our great student-athletes in a position to showcase all their skills and talents while being developed at the highest level.

“Adam has recruited the state of Florida, specifically the Tampa area, throughout his career, which will assist in fostering relationships throughout the state. I am excited to see him elevate our Florida State defense back to one of the nation’s elite.”

Memphis was Fuller’s second coordinating job at the FBS level. The first came at Marshall the year before.

“My family and I are very excited to join the Seminole program,” Fuller said. “The history and tradition of Florida State’s defense brings a major responsibility. I look forward to embracing the pride that comes along with that.”

Fuller and offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham are the second and third FSU staff additions for Norvell. The first was Odell Haggins, who served as the Seminoles’ interim head coach after Willie Taggart was fired and was quickly retained by the new head coach.