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Déjà vu: No.1 Alabama rallies again behind backup QB to deny No. 4 Georgia another (SEC) title

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11 months ago, Nick Saban turned to his backup quarterback to lead a remarkable comeback with everything on the line and captured a national title in the process. Against the same team, in the same venue, with an SEC championship on the line, the Alabama head coach had to do so once again on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

Jalen Hurts entered off the bench and sparked an incredible storybook comeback against the Bulldogs in the process to capture a 35-28 victory and return the Crimson Tide to the top of the SEC once again. 

Even the legions of script writers in Hollywood who have moved to the Peach State wouldn’t have been able to spin this tale and get it into production.

Hurts, who was 26-2 as a starter for the team but was benched at halftime of last year’s national title game, entered in the fourth quarter to replace an injured Tua Tagovailoa. This year’s starter was fairly ineffective most of the game (10/25, 164 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT) after being hobbled on an early sack and the Heisman Trophy favorite was carried off the field late after his ankle was rolled up on by one of his offensive linemen.

That was just the opening that the junior from Texas needed, entering to huge applause from the Alabama faithful at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Hurts finished the game with 82 yards through the air and had the game-tying touchdown on a scramble to Jerry Jeudy. Then, to cap things off as only he could, Hurts ran it in across the goal line for the exclamation point of the comeback with the game-winner from 15 yards out.

There will be plenty of questioning from Athens to Atlanta (and beyond) over the play calling for the Dawgs down the stretch after they built a 28-14 lead in the third quarter. That included an inexplicable fake punt at midfield in the final few minutes — that went nowhere — and the abandoning of the run in favor of downfield passes that just weren’t there like they were in the first half.

Quarterback Jake Fromm was not to blame all things considered as he was pinpoint with his passing most of the game and finished with 301 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t enough though as he suffered yet another heart-break at the hands of UGA’s SEC West rivals.

Tailback D’Andre Swift also played well with 75 yards and a touchdown while Elijah Holyfield added another 60 hard-fought yards between the tackles.

The loss will likely knock the Bulldogs out of the College Football Playoff race with No. 5 Oklahoma winning the Big 12 title earlier on Saturday. Even so, a Sugar Bowl berth isn’t a terrible consolation prize but the psyche of fans in red and black might need a few years to recover from what Alabama did to them in two games spanning 2018.

The Tide, meanwhile, will not only hoist their eighth SEC championship under Saban, but will all but assuredly move on as the No. 1 seed in the Playoff come Sunday afternoon. That means a berth in the Orange Bowl if the No. 4 seed is Oklahoma or the Cotton Bowl if it’s Ohio State or even Notre Dame. Also something to keep track of is what kind of effect the performance will have on Tagovailoa’s Heisman chances and whether he will be healthy come semifinal time too.

That will be a conversation for the coming weeks though as Alabama will celebrate yet another title in Atlanta thanks to their second incredible rally of the year over the Dawgs.

Mark Richt praises Manny Diaz as Miami DC officially leaves to take over at Temple

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Mark Richt has officially lost control of the defensive coordinator position on his Miami coaching staff, and now has a rather sizable hole to fill as a result.

It emerged earlier this week that, after interviewing for the Temple opening Monday, Manny Diaz had emerged as the front-runner for the Owls job.  Thursday, Temple confirmed that the Miami defensive coordinator has indeed been named as the program’s new head football coach.

Diaz replaces Geoff Collins, who left earlier this month for the same job at Georgia Tech.

Below is Richt’s statement on the departure:

This morning defensive coordinator Manny Diaz informed me that he has accepted the head coach position at Temple University. Throughout the process, Manny had been very transparent about the opportunity with both myself and Blake James.

“In his three years in Coral Gables, Manny proved to be one of the top assistant coaches in the country and did an unbelievable job leading our defense. I have no doubt that he will experience great success as a head coach and we wish him, Steph, Colin, Gavin and Manny all of the best.

“We have launched a national search for a new defensive coordinator and we have already received great interest from around the country. Our football program, our university and our facilities are among the best in the country, and coaches want to be a part of something special. Our coaches are on the road recruiting the next generation of Canes and I am excited about the young men scheduled to sign with us next week. Together, we are building champions!

Diaz spent the past three seasons as the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator.  He also served as The U’s linebackers coach during that stretch.

The 44-year-old Diaz has also spent time as a coordinator at Mississippi State (2015 and 2010), Louisiana Tech (2014), Texas (2011-13) and Middle Tennessee State (2006-09).  This will mark the Florida State graduate’s first job as a head coach at any level.

Les Miles bringing nation’s No. 1 JUCO QB to Kansas

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Unlike the majority of his time at LSU, maybe Les Miles — and his offensive coaching staff — will be able to get something out of this quarterback?

In a missive posted to Twitter earlier this week, Thomas MacVittie announced that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career for Miles at Kansas. “Coach Les Miles, [offensive coordinator] Chip Lindsey and the staff at Kansas, I am ready to join the Kansas family and win a Big XII title,” MacVittie wrote in the tweet.

As a transfer from the junior college ranks, MacVittie will be eligible to play immediately for the Jayhawks in 2019.  Counting this coming season, the quarterback has two years of eligibility remaining.

247Sports.com rates MacVittie as the No. 1 JUCO quarterback — pro-style, dual-threat or otherwise — in this year’s class.  On the recruiting website’s composite board, he’s the No. 3 pro-style quarterback at that level of football.

MacVittie was originally a three-star Pitt 2016 signee who was the highest-rated recruit on the offensive side of the ball for the Panthers that year.  After taking a redshirt as a true freshman, he played in three games in 2017 — on special teams — and didn’t attempt a pass before deciding to transfer from Pitt in December of 2017.

MacVittie’s 2018 season was spent at Mesa Community College in Arizona.

Arkansas’ Demetrius Walker arrested on weapon, drug charges

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The latest incident to cause the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker back to double-zeroes is quite the prolific one.

According to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Demetrius Walker was arrested by Fayetteville police officers Wednesday on multiple weapons and drug charges.  Specifically, the Arkansas linebacker is facing one count each of delivery of marijuana, possession of marijuana with purpose to deliver, possession of a schedule IV drug with purpose to deliver, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Online records show that a search of Walker’s residence revealed, among other items, 95.8 grams of marijuana, 40 Xanax pills, a digital scale and an AR-15 rifle with one loaded magazine. KFSM-TV writes that “detectives from the 4th Judicial District Drug Task Force purchased marijuana during undercover operations from Walker with assistance from a confidential informant.”

As a result of the arrest, Walker has been indefinitely suspended from the Razorbacks football program.

The student-athlete has been suspended from our football program indefinitely, and we will continue to monitor the situation and cooperate fully with any related legal and campus processes. Our continued expectation is that our student-athletes conduct themselves and represent the University of Arkansas in an appropriate manner at all times.

Walker, a redshirt sophomore, was listed as the third-string weakside linebacker on Arkansas’ most recent depth chart, put out ahead of the regular-season finale late last month. He has played in six games, with all of those appearances coming last season.

Minnesota’s Quinn Oseland transferring to San Jose State

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It’s been quite a past few days personnel-wise for the Minnesota football program.

Since last Friday, two Minnesota starters have announced that they would be skipping the Gophers’ bowl game in order to begin preparing for the 2019 NFL Draft.  Additionally, multiple reports surfaced Tuesday that at least six and as many as eight Gophers football players will be suspended for the school’s bowl game.

A day later, Quinn Oseland used his social media accounts to announce that he has decided to transfer from Minnesota.  Not only that, but the offensive lineman confirmed his transfer destination — San Jose State.

 

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I’m goin West

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Oseland played in 13 games during his time with the Gophers, starting two of those contests.  Both of those starts came during the 2017 season.

In 2018, Oseland, a three-star 2015 recruit, appeared in just two games, with playing time the likely trigger for his decision to transfer from the school.  At San Jose State, Oseland will be eligible to play immediately in 2019 as a graduate transfer.