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USC storms back to beat No. 23 Stanford behind new QB Kedon Slovis

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New quarterback? No problem for the old cardinal and gold.

Kedon Slovis just might save Clay Helton’s job after all given the way his debut played out, with the true freshman signal-caller leading an impressive comeback from a two touchdown deficit to beat No. 23 Stanford 45-20 and strike an early blow in what should be a highly competitive Pac-12 race.

The story of the night — and perhaps the young season out West — was the play of the youngster out of Arizona for the Trojans. Slovis threw for 377 yards and three touchdowns in his first start in place of the injured J.T. Daniels and looked like an old Air Raid veteran with just five incompletions to spark a 42-3 run over the course of the final three quarters.

Slovis’ first career touchdown toss went to Amon-Ra St. Brown (97 yards, 2TDs on eight catches) but just about all of USC’s talented receivers made some plays. Michael Pittman finished with 82 yards while Tyler Vaughns was a highlight machine with several nice sideline catches to go with a 106 yard, one score night. Vavae Malepeai chipped in with 42 yards rushing and two trips to the end zone while Stephen Carr added another touchdown on the ground as well.

Stanford QB Davis Mills was making his first start as well after K.J. Costello was injured against Northwestern last week. While the former five-star started out the game well, the entire Cardinal offense bogged down as the game went on and they only managed 237 yards passing with a touchdown and a late interception. Cameron Scarlett did rush for 82 yards and a score but the visitors from the Bay Area were blanked in the second half at the Coliseum.

The loss certainly puts David Shaw’s group behind the eight ball in conference play and will leave them with a week of questions on both sides of the ball ahead of a very long trip East to play a ranked UCF squad. Costello is expected to be back for that game but even his return isn’t likely to overcome the number of issues that need to be fixed before playing the AAC banner-carriers in Orlando.

The flip side is that the Trojans moved to 2-0 on the season and might even find themselves ranked come Sunday afternoon given their play. They still have a brutal first half of the season still to play (at BYU, vs. Utah, at Washington and at Notre Dame on the docket) but everybody around the program has to be elated at the debut of their new quarterback and a big win over their in-state rivals already in their back pocket.

Third NC State football player this month hits the portal

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Who does this NC State football team think it is, Clemson?

Citing an unnamed source, 247Sports.com has reported that defensive lineman Joseph Boletepeli (pictured, No. 99) has entered the NCAA transfer database.  The website did note that “Boletepeli is still on the active roster for the Wolfpack and can still return to the program despite entering the portal.”

No specific reason for the decision was given, although playing time certainly played a role.

A three-star member of the Class of 2018 for NC State football, Boletepeli was rated as the No. 27 player regardless of position in the state of North Carolina.  During his two seasons with the Wolfpack, Boletepeli played in seven games.  Four of those appearances came this past season.

Boletepeli started the first two games of his true freshman campaign.  This season, Boletepeli was a No. 2 defensive end who ultimately dropped further down on the depth chart.

Barring something unexpected, Boletepeli will have to sit out the 2020 season if he moves on to another FBS school.  That would then leave him with two years of eligibility he could begin using in 2021.

Boletepeli is the third NC State football player to enter the portal this month.  Jan. 7, linebacker Brock Miller announced on Twitter that he was leaving as a graduate transfer.  A week later, defensive end Jeffrey Gunter was reported to be making the same move.

Over the weekend, Miller announced that he would be transferring to Boise State.

Southern Miss co-DC Derek Nicholson moves on to Louisville

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A familiar face has returned to the Louisville football coaching family.

In a release, Louisville announced that ACC Coach of the Year Scott Satterfield has hired Derek Nicholson to his staff as inside linebackers coach.  Nicholson will take over the void left by Dale Jones‘ departure for the defensive coordinator job at Appalachian State.

“Derek has an infectious personality that will blend well within our staff,” the Louisville football head coach said in a statement. “He will bring great energy to our program and is an excellent recruiter. He has shown that he’s a great teacher of defensive football and will be a great addition to our defensive staff.”

This will be Nicholson’s second stint with the Louisville football team.  In 2014, Nicholson coached the Cardinals’ outside linebackers and defensive ends.

In between his time at the UofL, Nicholson spent four years at Southern Miss.  The first two he coached the defensive line.  He was the co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach the past two seasons.

Nicholson played his college football at Florida State.

“I’d like to thank Scott Satterfield, Bryan Brown, Cort Dennison and the rest of the Louisville football program for this amazing opportunity,” Nicholson said. “My family and I are extremely excited to be back at Louisville and in the Atlantic Coast Conference. I look forward to working with the coaching staff and coaching the inside linebackers. There is something special is brewing in Louisville and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Marshall WR Obi Obialo makes way into the portal

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One of the best names in the sport, and a Marshall Thundering Herd football player to boot, is the latest to hit the portal.

Over the weekend, Obi Obialo announced on his personal Twitter account that he has decided to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.  The move is normally the first step in a departure, although the wide receiver could always return to the Marshall Thundering Herd football team.

“I want to thank all of the coaches and staff at Marshall for the opportunity to grow into the person and player I am today,” Obialo wrote.

Obialo also confirmed in the same post that he will be leaving the Herd as a graduate transfer.  The 2020 season will serve as his final season of collegiate eligibility.

Obialo actually began his playing career at Oklahoma State as a three-star 2016 signee who was originally a walk-on.  In May of 2017, Obialo opted to transfer from OSU.  A month later, he moved on to Marshall.

In 2017 and 2018, Obialo started 16 games for the Thundering Herd, including all 13 in the latter season.  In that 2018 season, Obialo was second on the team in receptions (42), receiving yards (505) and receiving touchdowns (four).

A foot injury sidelined Obialo for all but one game this past season.  In that limited action, he caught 18 passes for 244 yards.

Because he played in just the four games, that will allow Obialo to take a redshirt for the 2019 season.  The move also preserved a year of eligibility that he will presumably use elsewhere.

Maryland hires George Helow to Mike Locksley’s staff

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The lone hole on Mike Locksley‘s Maryland Terrapins football staff has been filled.

In late December, John Papuchis left the Maryland Terrapins football program to take a job with Mike Norvell at Florida State.  Exactly four weeks later, Locksley has landed Papuchis’ replacement, with the addition of George Helow officially announced by the school.

Helow will serve as Maryland’s special teams coordinator.  He’ll also coach the Terps’ inside linebackers.

Helow spent the past four seasons at Colorado State.  The first two were as a defensive quality control coach and graduate assistant.  The last two were spent as safeties coach.

The 2018-19 seasons were Helow’s first as an on-field assistant at the collegiate level.

In addition to the Mountain West Conference school, he has also been a football staffer at:

  • Georgia, defensive quality control assistant (2014-15)
  • Florida State, defensive graduate assistant (2013)
  • Alabama, defensive intern (2012)

Helow played his college football at Ole Miss from 2006-10.  Most of his action during his 38 games played came on special teams.