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Rutgers interim coach fine with QB redshirting, not so happy RB is doing the same


It’s a time of transition at Rutgers right now with now-former head coach Chris Ash our the door and the team moving on to finish the rest of the year under an interim staff. Saturday saw the first of those efforts and it wasn’t pretty in a 48-7 home loss to Maryland, even if such lopsided scores have been common place for the team the past few seasons.

While most Scarlet Knights followers are focused on the ongoing coaching search, there is a more pressing issue that has made headlines in Piscataway recently in the form of key players sitting out after four games in order to take a redshirt under NCAA rules. It surfaced earlier in the week that QB Artur Sitkowski approached the staff about not playing against the Terps — a move which was generally supported around the program.

The signal-caller wasn’t the only one to hit pause however, as reports just before kickoff on Saturday indicated that tailback Raheem Blackshear would be following suit as well. It seems that decision was taken quite differently by the coaching staff as the junior was last year’s leading rusher and has been their leading receiver in 2019 as well.

“Am I disappointed by it? Incredibly. Do I understand it? I guess so. I guess that’s the way the world is now,” interim head coach Nunzio Campanile said after the game. “I think that this is a game about your team, and it’s about sacrificing personal accomplishment for the success of the team. But that’s the world they live in and they have got a lot of people telling them, ‘Worry about you, worry about you.’

“I get it. But I’m raising two boys. I’m trying to raise them about being willing to sacrifice some of the things they want for what’s good for the people around them. I get it. That’s the world that we are living in, and he’s a great kid and we’ll see what happens in the coming weeks.”

Blackshear would have two years of eligibility remaining if he winds up redshirting in 2019 and as a current upperclassmen already its possible he could be in a position to graduate transfer down the road and play right away elsewhere next season.

Sitkowski, on the other hand, has only played in three games this season and has indicated he could still play in a fourth down the road at Rutgers if new starter Johnny Langan gets injured or previous starter McLane Carter doesn’t get healthy. That’s not quite an option with Blackshear.

In the end Rutgers is going to Rutgers but you can bet this whole saga in upstate New Jersey is being closely watched by others around the country on how to deal with or not to deal with a coaching change mid-season.

LSU students will go to class on Saturday to make up for national title game

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LSU students who got to skip class for the national title game (and the ensuing celebrations…) were hit with a dose of reality returning to Baton Rouge on Friday.

According to an announcement from the university, classes that were cancelled on Monday and Tuesday for the championship game have been rescheduled. As a result, students will have to go to class on Saturday, Jan. 25 and Saturday, Feb. 8.

So yes, Saturdays in the fall have resulted in a few Saturdays of work in the spring.

The school had received a bit of criticism when it was announced that classes were cancelled on the dates surrounding the championship game. While the practice has happened elsewhere, the nature of the game being less than an hour from campus in New Orleans certainly made things unique for the Tigers and their large fan base.

While some students no doubt had hoped that the classes at the time were indeed cancelled, it turns out they were in fact just being rescheduled. Going to school on a Saturday probably isn’t what many had in mind when signing up for the spring semester but there’s probably not a soul in purple and gold will take issue with the change given that it comes as a result of hoisting the ultimate football trophy on Monday night in the Big Easy.

Virginia safety Chris Moore enters transfer portal

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The transfer portal has claimed another name.

As first noted by ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg, Virginia safety Chris Moore has entered his name into the database as he explores a move out of Charlottesville.

Moore started five of his nine appearances for the Cavaliers in 2019 and wound up recording 42 tackles. While he was in line to become one of the key members in the secondary going forward, a prior  suspension for violating team rules back in November may have wound up playing a role in his departure and standing with the team.

The safety had previously missed all of the 2018 season with an injury as well.

Moore was originally a three-star recruit out of Ashburn, Va. in 2016 and, assuming the redshirt senior has a degree, likely has a season remaining as a grad transfer.

DL Jay Tufele, WR Tyler Vaughns skipping draft to stay at USC

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Clay Helton has a lot of issues to deal with at the moment. Having a talented USC football team is not one of them.

The Trojans received a rare bit of good news on Thursday evening as two key players announced they were skipping the 2020 NFL Draft. In back-to-back announcements, defensive lineman Jay Tufele and wideout Tyler Vaughns confirmed they would remain in Los Angeles for the 2020 season.

Tufele is one of USC’s best defensive players. He recorded 42 tackles and 4.5 sacks last season as a redshirt sophomore despite dealing with a handful of injuries. With leading sacker Drake Jackson also back, there’s a nice tandem up front for whoever the team hires as defensive coordinator to work with going forward.

Vaughns returning also makes a dangerous receiving corps that much deeper. Michael Pittman Jr. was lost to graduation but the next three top wideouts are set to be back in 2020. Add in a group of solid tailbacks and both J.T. Daniels and Kedon Slovis at QB and USC will once again have one of the top offenses in the Pac-12.

Whether it will all help save Helton’s job again remains to be seen. If nothing else though, there’s at least there’s some positive news for the cardinal and gold this offseason with Tufele and Vaughns back in the fold going forward.

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

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A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.