Houston failed to get the memo that the government shutdown didn’t apply to the Department of Defense. More specifically, the Army football team.
The Black Knights looked every bit of a top 25 caliber squad on Saturday as they closed out their 2018 season with an 11th win by way of a 70-14 rout of the Cougars in a game that somehow was even more lopsided than the score would have indicated.
Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. was naturally the triggerman making everything happen between the lines and capped off the year with one of his best performances yet. His three passes all wound up as completions (70 yards) and he ran for 170 yards and five touchdowns in the game on just 11 carries. His best run came as he embarrassed a trail of Cougars defenders on a zagging 77-yarder all the way to pay dirt and those final numbers allowed him to become the first player in school history to top the 1,000 yard mark both passing and rushing in a season.
While Hopkins was out of the game by the third quarter, a host of others were able to pick up the slack when he was out of the lineup to keep Army’s offense rolling. A total of eight players had at least one carry and fullback Darnell Woolfolk closed his career in black and gold with 71 yards on the ground. Artice Hobbs and Connor Slomka also found the end zone for the cadets and backup QB Cam Thomas threw a scoring strike and ran for another as the team tied an FBS record for most points in a bowl.
Playing without their starting quarterback and All-American Ed Oliver as well, Houston appeared to give up on the game just as it got going. They allowed quarterback Clayton Tune (230 yards, 1 TD) to take 10 sacks and the Cougars also fumbled twice, one of which was returned the other way for a touchdown. Tailback Patrick Carr ran for 52 yards and Tune added a score off a scramble but the first-team offense mustered just three third down conversions in a fairly lifeless performance that was made worse by their defense giving up a school record 507 yards rushing.
The effort was far from what head coach Major Applewhite likely envisioned and will certainly lead to a ton of questions this offseason over his longterm future with the program given how the team played in 2018.
That won’t be the case for the Black Knights, who secured a school-record for wins in their 11-2 campaign and should likely finish the year ranked for the first time since 1996. Army has put together back-to-back double-digit win seasons but this year’s squad can puff out their chest a bit bigger based on the way they closed things out against the AAC in the Armed Forces Bowl.
The offensive side of Nick Saban‘s Alabama coaching staff has been ravaged by poaching over the past few weeks. As of Wednesday night, it appears the defensive side won’t go unscathed this offseason either.
According to Matt Zenitz of al.com, Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Tosh Lupoi interviewed for a job with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns this week. Zenitz didn’t specify for what position Lupoi interviewed with the Browns, which officially filled its defensive coordinator position earlier this week.
However, a subsequent report not only identified the position for which Lupoi interviewed, but that the erstwhile Tide coordinator has accepted the job.
Lupoi, one of the best recruiters in the sport, has spent the past five seasons on Saban’s staff. After serving as a defensive analyst his first two years, he was the Tide’s outside linebackers coach in 2016 before taking over as coordinator for Jeremy Pruitt, who left to take the head job at rival Tennessee.
Prior to Alabama, Lupoi was the defensive line coach at Washington (2012-13) and Cal (2008-11).
The Browns recently named Freddie Kitchens as its latest head football coach. Kitchens, for those of you who don’t remember, was a three-year starter at quarterback for Alabama in the mid-nineties.
Saban, for those of you who don’t remember, was the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94 under Bill Belichick before taking the head job at Michigan State.
Mike Locksley is turning to a former head coach to become his first offensive coordinator at Maryland.
As first reported by InsideMDSports, the new Terps OC will be none other than former East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery. The move by Locksley comes a few days after fellow former Alabama assistant Josh Gattis reportedly spurned Maryland to take the same job at Michigan.
Montgomery’s track record as an assistant is certainly a bit better than what he did with the Pirates after going 9-26 overall in three seasons in charge of the program. While ECU’s offense did put up some impressive numbers at times (as well as produce players like Gardner Minshew II before he transferred to Washington State), Montgomery is probably best known for his work on the Duke staff under David Cutcliffe.
The 40-year-old started out as a wide receivers coach at his alma mater before eventually becoming OC of the Blue Devils, with a short stint in the NFL mixed in.
The good news for Locklsey and Montgomery is that they do have talent to work with in College Park even after missing out on grad transfer QB Jalen Hurts. The Terps are set to return both Tyrrell Pigrome and potentially Kasim Hill at quarterback as well as a slew of speedy backs and receivers.
It only took a few hours of getting thrown under the bus by fans and the national media, but cooler heads have prevailed in Norman.
Not long after it surfaced that graduate transfer Austin Kendall was being blocked by Oklahoma from being immediately eligible at West Virginia in 2019, USA Today reports that the Sooners have relented and the quarterback will indeed be able to play right away with the Mountaineers.
Kendall arrived at OU as part of the class of 2016 and saw limited playing time behind back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners at his position in Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield. While it’s possible he could have stuck around to be the starter for the team in 2019, former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts announcing he was transferring in as a graduate transfer earlier on Wednesday all but put an end to that line of thought.
The reversal from Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma’s athletic department shows once again that schools have little to gain by even threatening to block a player from transferring. At some point a college football program will learn that it invites nothing but bad press in the short term over somebody who is leaving town anyway. At least everybody came to that same conclusion this time around before Kendall and his family had to call up a lawyer or two to reach the same end point.
Oh and by the way, Kendall will be back in Norman with the Mountaineers on October 19 during the upcoming season for what figures to be a Big 12 game with more than the usual on-field storylines coming in.
The calendar says January and the national title game was just last week but it’s never too early to start thinking about spring football around the college landscape.
The folks at Iowa State certainly are.
In a release from the school issued on Wednesday, the Cyclones confirmed that they would not be playing a spring game in 2019 and will now go two years between any potential showcases to cap off their prescribed 15 practices.
“As a result of the uncertain weather conditions we face each spring in Iowa, plus the site preparation work that will begin this Spring for the new Sports Performance Center project, Coach Campbell and I have decided to not schedule a spring football game,” Iowa State Athletics Director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “Similar to last year, Coach Campbell and his staff can use that day to conduct a 15th spring practice which they feel is more beneficial for the overall development of the student-athletes and the football program.”
Though there are indeed plenty of reasons why a program might join the growing trend of skipping out on playing a spring game, it’s certainly disappointing for many ISU fans to go two years without being able to see their team in action and what new faces might end up contributing in the fall. Weather concerns are nothing new in Ames though, as an actual non-conference game in 2018 was cancelled and replaced with an FCS foe in December, to say nothing of last year’s spring game getting called off due to the elements.