Oklahoma’s defense was flat-out awful in 2018, as we know. The Sooners were 114th in total defense (453.8 yards per game), 102nd in yards per play (6.13) and 101st in scoring (33.3 points per game). Their ineptitude indirectly handed Kyler Murray the Heisman Trophy as the Sooners’ signal caller had to pull his rabbit out of a hat on a weekly basis throughout the fall, but without Murray’s exploits Oklahoma might’ve been a 7- or 8-win team in 2018.
Murray is gone, so the defense has to improve or Oklahoma will take a significant fall in 2019.
Lincoln Riley has spent the past three weeks reshaping his defensive staff, and on Sunday he finalized his staff and their assignments.
New hire Alex Grinch will coach safeties while coordinating the defense. He spent 2018 as co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach at Ohio State. (The Buckeyes’ pass efficiency defense slipped from 13th to 42nd in Grinch’s one season on staff, but Riley hired him for his success coordinating Mike Leach‘s defenses at Washington State.)
Assisting Grinch in the secondary will be cornerbacks coach Roy Manning. He spent 2018 as the outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at UCLA but worked with Grinch at Wazzu from 2015-17.
Brian Odom was hired away from Missouri to coach the Sooners’ inside linebackers, where he’ll team with new outside linebackers coach Ruffin McNeill. Riley’s mentor, McNeill is one of two holdovers from the 2018 staff. He was hired upon Riley’s promotion to head coach as assistant head coach and defensive tackles coach but took over the entire defense following Mike Stoops‘ midseason firing.
The only Oklahoma defensive coach to coach the same position from 2018 to ’19 will be defensive line coach Calvin Thibodeaux. The OU graduate has been on staff since 2016, when he returned to Norman as defensive ends coach.
In his first season in Morgantown, Neal Brown will have a new offensive toy with which to play as West Virginia heads into the 2019 season.
Early on in the offseason, Sean Ryan opted to transfer from Temple and continue his collegiate playing career elsewhere. In April, the wide receiver settled on WVU as his next elsewhere, announcing on Twitter that he would be transferring to the Mountaineers.
With the start of a new campaign eight days away, it’s being reported that Ryan has been granted an immediate-eligibility waiver that will allow him to see the field in 2019 for the Big 12 school.
The granting of the waiver is very likely due to the fact that Temple went through some significant coaching upheaval following the end of the 2018 season.
As a true freshman this past season, Ryan played in 10 games. In that extended action, the 6-4, 195-pound receiver from Brooklyn, NY, caught 12 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown for the Owls.
Some will say that this could be one of the Fighting Illini’s only Power Five wins in 2019, but you won’t hear that from us.
Aug.13, Derrick Smith tweeted that, “effective today, I would like to inform [Miami Nation], I am no longer on the University of Miami football team.” Over the weekend, Smith took to Twitter again to reveal that four schools are under consideration as a potential landing spot — Florida, Illinois, Nebraska and Texas. In the same tweet, the third-year junior defensive back indicated that a new school will be picked at some point this week.
Friday evening, Smith revealed that he will continue his collegiate playing career for Lovie Smith and the Illini.
It’s believed Smith will be ineligible to play immediately for his new team. He would, though, have two years of eligibility he can use beginning with the 2020 season.
The Orange Park, Fla., native came to The U as a three-star member of the football program’s 2017 recruiting class. The past two seasons, Smith saw action in 25 of the Hurricanes’ 26 games and was credited with 24 tackles, 1½ of which were for a loss.
Prior to his decision to leave, Smith was expected to play an expanded role in the Hurricanes’ secondary this coming season.
Boise State’s once impressive Class of 2019 is dwindling much quicker than head coach Bryan Harsin would like just as the season arrives on the blue turf.
As per the Idaho Statesman, freshman quarterback Kaiden Bennett and tailback Keegan Duncan have both left the team. In addition to those names, as many as three other members from the most recent recruiting class could fail to suit up for the program this fall.
Bennett was one of several quarterbacks battling for the starting job to succeed Brett Rypien at Boise State so his likely transfer out seems like a clear indication that one of Chase Cord, Jaylon Henderson or even freshman Hank Bachmeier will be the starter when the team opens against Florida State in Jacksonville. While the three-star recruit from Folsom, California was considered a long shot in the race, his departure may just be the first of several after Harsin names a starter.
The loss of Duncan can’t be overlook either as he was considered to be one of the best recruits in the state of Idaho during his senior season and could have provided depth in a fairly young tailback room this season.
Fellow freshman D.K. Blaylock also left the team this month and two junior college transfers have not made it to campus yet according to the Statesman.
Boise State had signed the top class in the Mountain West in February according to 247Sports and a top 50 group nationally but it appears that highly touted group won’t be making quite the impact many expected after these most recent defections.
James Franklin has his replacement for Trace McSorley at quarterback and it’s the guy everybody could have predicted for the past several months.
In the latest in a long line of QB decisions around college football this week, redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford will indeed be the Nittany Lions starter when the team opens their season against Idaho on Aug. 31.
Clifford was tabbed by many as McSorley’s replacement almost as soon as last year’s fellow backup, Tommy Stevens, announced his plans to transfer to Mississippi State. While the two were both expected to battle it out throughout August to become PSU’s starter, both will wind up taking the first snaps for their respective programs after Stevens was named QB1 for the Bulldogs on Thursday by ex-Nittany Lions OC Joe Moorhead.
As for Clifford, he beat out redshirt freshman Will Levis for the gig and will have a high bar to clear leading a team many consider as a dark horse to win the Big Ten. As McSorley’s backup in 2018, he threw just seven passes in mop-up duty but completed five for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Those career numbers are about to make a significant jump in the coming weeks as Clifford starts a new chapter in State College.