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Trevor Lawrence against Alabama’s secondary could be legitimate advantage for Clemson

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This Alabama team, it’s been said, is the best of all of Nick Saban‘s Alabama teams. Thanks to Tua Tagovailoa and the development of the offense, this Crimson Tide team has truly no weaknesses. It’s an impenetrable fortress, a castle surrounded by 20-foot walls, a super weapon with no weakness.

But not exactly.

This Crimson Tide Death Star does have one weakness, and in Clemson they may find the one opponent to strong enough to exploit it.

While Alabama ranks 13th nationally in total defense (307.9 yards per game) and yards per play (4.70) and fifth in scoring (16.2 points per game), the Tide defense has shown one true vulnerability — in the deep passing game. To wit, opponents have completed 104 passes of 10-or-more yards, 52nd nationally. Furthermore, Alabama has surrendered 43 completions of at least 20 yards — 73rd nationally. That isn’t just bad by Alabama standards, it’s bad by anyone’s standards.

Those who have watched this team all season will recall moments where the Alabama back end has been exploited. Ole Miss opened its game with the Tide with a 75-yard touchdown pass. Tennessee put together a pair of drives that saw its quarterbacks go 6-of-8 for 149 yards and two touchdowns — an efficiency rating of 313.95. Oklahoma connected on a 49-yard touchdown pass and averaged 16.2 yards on its 19 completions.

Problem was, those moments were just that — moments. Ole Miss got outscored 62-0 after that opening punch. Tennessee was down 28-0 when it put those drives together. OU’s long touchdown pass pulled the Sooners to within 31-20.

While those teams may have had matchup advantages against an Alabama secondary that had to replace its entire starting group from last year, the rest of the game was such a mismatch it didn’t matter.

Clemson will be different. The Tigers won’t be blitzed in every other aspect of the game, perhaps allowing Trevor LawrenceTee Higgins, Amari RodgersJustyn RossHunter Renfrow and company — a group that’s completed 32 passes of 30 yards or more, sixth nationally — the chance to strike down field.

The best parallel to Clemson is Georgia, and Jake Fromm didn’t exactly struggle through the air. The Bulldogs quarterback hit 25-of-39 passes for 301 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.

If Clemson manages to play Alabama to a draw elsewhere — no easy task, obviously — the Tigers may be able to exploit the rarest of things in college football: a matchup advantage against Alabama.

Wisconsin renews contract of Paul Chryst into 2024

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In what has seemingly been an annual tradition in Madison, Wisconsin has renewed the contract of head football coach Paul Chryst by tacking on another year. Chryst is now under contract through Jan. 31, 2024 with his latest renewal following approval from the University of Wisconsin Athletic Board.

Wisconsin renewed Chryst’s contract a year ago, extending his contract through the end of Jan. 2023. Wisconsin and Chryst originally agreed on a contract that was set to expire on Jan. 31, 2020 with a written agreement that the contract may be extended with a positive annual review beginning after the 2015 football season.

The Badgers may be coming off a relatively disappointing season with a record of 8-5, but Chryst has gone 42-12 in his first four seasons as head coach of the Badgers and it is expected Wisconsin will remain a consistent contender in the Big Ten West Division with a shot to play for and win the Big Ten championship in the years to come.

According to the USA Today coaching salary database for the 2018 season, Chryst was paid $3.75 million last season. Specific details of how much Chryst will be paid now were not announced by Wisconsin.

Wisconsin also renewed the contracts of volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield, women’s soccer coach Paula Wilkins, and men’s soccer coach John Trask.

Toledo losing RB Nevone McCrimmon to transfer

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One MAC school will head into the spring with a little less depth in its offensive backfield than they had at the end of the 2018 regular season.

On Twitter this week, Nevone McCrimmon announced that he has decided to transfer from Toledo and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. In his social-media missive, the running back described leaving UT as “being the hardest decision of my life,” albeit one that he “and my family feels like… is the best decision to make.”

After redshirting as a true freshman, McCrimmon carried the ball nine times for 80 yards in 2017. He totaled 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14 carries this past season.

Kent State adds a pair of Power Five transfers

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Thursday was potentially a good day on the personnel front for the Kent State football program.

The school confirmed in a release that it has added a pair of Power Five conference transfers — offensive lineman Bill Kuduk and defensive back Qwuantrezz Knight (pictured). Kuduk, a redshirt freshman, began his collegiate playing career at Kansas State, Knight, a redshirt sophomore, at Maryland.

Neither player is expected to be eligible to play in 2019 as they will be forced to sit out a transfer year as mandated by the NCAA.

“We are excited to add an exceptional person in Bill to our FlashFAST Family,” second-year head coach Sean Lewis said in a statement. “He comes from a great high school on the south side of Chicago and knows what it takes to win. His athletic ability and size will be a great addition to our O-line room. …

“Q is another high character individual who is going to be a great member of our family. He brings collegiate game experience with him and will add a lot of position versatility to our back-end.”

Knight played in 10 games as a true freshman in 2016 and a dozen the following season. He saw action in just four games this past season before deciding to transfer in November of last year.

Kuduk didn’t see the field during his brief time with the Wildcats.

Nick Saban poaches Florida, NFL to fill holes on Alabama staff

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After spending the last month as the poachee, Nick Saban has turned into the poacher as he looks to retool an Alabama coaching staff ravaged by attrition.

While it’s not yet been confirmed by the football program, multiple media outlets, including al.com, are reporting that Saban will hire Kyle Flood and Sal Sunseri as Crimson Tide assistants.  Flood would take over as offensive line coach for Brent Key, who left for the same job at Georgia Tech, while Sunseri will be taking an unspecified position on the defensive side of the ball.

Flood, the former head coach at Rutgers whose show-cause from the NCAA expired last September, would come to Tuscaloosa from the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, where he spent the past two seasons.  The offensive coordinator of the Falcons during that time, Steve Sarkisian, is expected to return in the same role with the Tide.

Speaking of returns, Sunseri spent the 2009-11 seasons as Saban’s linebacker’s coach and assistant head coach before leaving to take over as the defensive coordinator at Tennessee.  Sunseri just completed his first season as the defensive line coach at Florida.