It was supposed to be a farewell sendoff for one PJ — Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson — but the Quick Lane Bowl quickly became all about the other — P.J. Fleck, that is.
The boat was rowed quite a bit in a one-sided affair up in Detroit as Minnesota dominated from start to finish in an eventual 34-10 victory that may have been the latest sign that the Gophers were turning a corner under their energetic head coach who is all to familiar with winning in the state of Michigan.
While Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan was just 7-of-13 passing for 132 yards, the young freshman did toss two beautiful scoring strikes to top wideout Tyler Johnson (57 yards too) and kept the chains moving when needed as the program won their third straight bowl game. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim was really the straw that stirred the drink in this one though, posting a breakout game with 224 yards and a pair of scores for an offense that seemed to do whatever they wanted and had zero problem taking advantage of several short fields.
It’s not often that you see a team win the time of possession battle over an opponent running the triple option but the Gophers didn’t really have any issues doing just that as all but one offensive drive before the final kneel-down wound up putting points on the board and that lone exception resulted in a missed field goal just before halftime.
While everything was going right for the Big Ten program at Ford Field, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t buy a stop on defense and managed just one sustained drive on offense prior to the final quarter. QB TaQuon Marshall barely looked like the explosive playmaker we’ve seen this season and completed just four passes for 76 yards while rushing for 75 more on the ground. He did make a nice read and pitch to Nathan Cottrell for a 20 yard touchdown in the third quarter but there just weren’t many big plays and Tech was behind the sticks far too often on third down to get anything going.
The result (and perhaps the effort overall) is surely a bummer to so many of the players on the roster who no doubt wanted to send their head coach out with a win after he announced he was stepping down earlier in the month to wrap up an 11-season tenure. Johnson concludes his tenure on the Flats with a 82-60 overall record and, while the ending wasn’t what he or the team wanted after falling to 7-6 on the year, there are still plenty of good memories with him in charge of the program to reminisce over like that thrilling Orange Bowl run back in 2014.
He wasn’t the PJ who wound up with a Gatorade bath on Wednesday night though as the Gophers rose to the occasion and turned in a dominating performance to give Fleck his first postseason victory at Minnesota.
And then there were two.
Seeing the Justin Fields writing on the wall, Tate Martell transferred from Ohio State in mid-January and ultimately landed at Miami. Three months later, another OSU signal-caller, Matthew Baldwin, confirmed on Twitter Thursday night that he too has decided to take his leave of the Buckeyes and place his name into the NCAA transfer database.
“[S]pring was a tough time for me personally. My family and I have prayed and talked a lot about where I belong and what is best for me,” Baldwin wrote as part of a very classy Twitter post revealing his decision. “In the end, we feel like it’d be better for me to step away from Ohio State.”
A four-star member of OSU’s 2018 recruiting class, Baldwin was rated as the No. 12 pro-style quarterback in the country coming out of high school in Austin, Texas. Baldwin didn’t play a down for the Buckeyes as he continued his rehab from an ACL injury he suffered late in his high school career at Lake Travis.
With the twin departures of Baldwin and Martell, OSU is now down to two scholarship quarterbacks — the Georgia transfer Fields (HERE) and West Virginia transfer Chris Chugunov (HERE). Fields was widely expected to be the Buckeyes’ starter under center in the 2019 opener; Baldwin’s decision ensures that, barring injury, that will indeed be the case.
A week and a half after word broke Luke Jones was intending to leave Notre Dame comes the announcement Jones is going to be playing closer to home. The Arkansas native announced with a message on Twitter he is coming home to play for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
“I would like to thank the University of Note Dame for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream of playing college football,” Jones said in a brief message on his Twitter account. “However, I have decided to transfer and play football for the University of Arkansas. I will be enrolling in the summer and am excited for this new chapter in my life!”
Jones spent a brief moment with the Notre Dame program as he was a member of the Class of 2018 in South Bend. Prior to committing to the Fighting Irish, Jones had been committed to the Arkansas football program in his recruiting process, but Notre Dame emerged victorious in the recruiting game during a coaching change with the Razorbacks.
Jones will be required to sit out the 2019 season under standard NCAA transfer rules, although those seem to be more like guidelines these days, so we’ll wait to see if there is a chance Jones gets to jump into the mix in the offensive line for the Razorbacks this fall.
Tight end Tyler Sear is hopping on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and heading from one metropolitan corner of the state to the next. Sear announced on his Twitter account on Thursday he is transferring from Pitt to Temple.
The Class of 2017 recruit of the Panthers left the program last October for what was simply described as personal reasons. It was unknown if the leave of absence was a short-term or long-term plan as the decisions about the status were being kept close to the vest within the Pitt program.
Sear did battle some injury concerns during his time at Pitt that prevented him from potentially reaching his full potential for the Panthers. He caught two passes for nine yards last season prior to his stepping away from the team.
Perhaps a clean slate with a new program will do Sear good as he steps in to try contributing with the Owls in the AAC. Sear will have to sit out the 2019 season due to standard NCAA transfer rules, unless an exception is granted by the NCAA. It is unknown if a waiver will be filed by Sear and Temple for immediate eligibility.
Sear has not used a redshirt year yet so he could burn that in 2019 while waiting to get back on the field if he is forced to sit out the 2019 season. That ould leave Sear with two years of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2020 season.
Add another name to the growing list of players entering the transfer portal. This time it is Michigan cornerback Myles Sims. According to a report from 247 Sports, the former four-star prospect in Michigan’s Class of 2018 is evaluating his options.
Any player who adds his name to the transfer portal is allowed to make contact with potential programs of interest, but it does not automatically mean that player is gone for god. Sims will have the option of pulling his name out of the portal in the event he decides to stay in Ann Arbor. How quickly Sims will make any decision one way or the other remains to be seen.
Sims did not see the field last season for Michigan so he can use the 2018 season as his redshirt year. That gives the former four-star recruit four years of eligibility remaining, although he will likely have to burn one year of eligibility by sitting out the upcoming 2019 season.
Standard NCAA transfer rules require a player to sit out a full season before being ruled eligible to play again, although exceptions have been made a bit more frequently over the past year. Whether or not Sims will have the chance to play right away this fall will have to wait to be determined when he decides what his plans will be moving forward.