All the dominoes are falling for No. 6 Utah to sneak into the College Football Playoff but first they had to take care of business at home on Saturday night. Consider it taken care of as the Utes dominated in all three phases to knock over Colorado 45-15 and punch their ticket to the Pac-12 Championship Game in the process.
Leading the way as they have all year long were a pair of seniors in their final game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Quarterback Tyler Huntley was nearly perfect (as in 14-of-17) in throwing for 165 yards and two touchdowns plus 27 more yards on the ground off scrambles. Fellow Florida native Zach Moss overcame a minor injury in the first half to record 88 yards rushing and a trip to the end zone to tie the school’s single-season record for rush touchdowns at 15.
As good as those two were though, tight end Brant Kuithe might have actually been the best player on the team, scampering 59 yards with a score running the ball while notching 63 yards and two more touchdowns through the air. He was all over the field and helped contribute to the run game with several nice blocks that opened up lanes for others as well.
Oh then there was the trademark defense and special teams in action too. The former unit recorded five sacks and held the Buffs under four yards a play, looking stout despite allowing their first second half touchdown at home in all of 2019. Oh, and Demari Simpkins ran a punt back 66 yards to really break things open in the third quarter.
Such an all-around effort made it a tough night for Mel Tucker’s crew as they finished the season at 5-7. Though they struck early and remained competitive for the most part, it just not enough to come close to a team hitting on all cylinders. QB Steven Montez was punished on seemingly every snap and did well to throw for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Alex Fontenot chipped in with 49 yards rushing but didn’t see much action as the score got away from them.
As a result of all that, Utah clinched their second straight Pac-12 South title and will head off to Levi’s Stadium to take on Oregon next Friday night. Obviously much of the discussion on the final regular season Saturday revolved around the Utes’ playoff chances but Kyle Whittingham won’t be looking ahead to anything beyond the Ducks with a bit of revenge on their minds after coming so close to hoisting the conference championship trophy a year ago.
Win that one in the Bay Area six days from now and the team will have done all they possibly could have as one of the most complete teams in the running for the final four continues to look like a buzzsaw nobody wants to face.
Finally, one of the top defensive players in the nation has been recognized with a significant hardware win.
Sunday night, it was announced that Auburn’s Derrick Brown has been named as the winner of the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy. This award, named for one of the game’s all-time greats, highlights a player’s performance on the field as well as off of it.
Not only does this award honor defensive excellence on the field but the player who most represents the qualities of the honor’s namesake, former USC All-American Ronnie Lott, off of it — Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.
Brown is the first-ever player from Auburn to win the award. The defensive tackle is also the second-straight player from the SEC to claim it, with Kentucky’s Josh Allen serving as the 2018 winner.
In addition to Brown, the other finalists for this year’s Lott IMPACT Trophy were Ohio State safety Jordan Fuller, Clemson linebacker Isaiah Simmons and Cal linebacker Evan Weaver.
After a run on bringing in assistants from Boone, Eli Drinkwitz has gotten about the business of retention in Columbia.
In a press release, Missouri confirmed that Drinkwitz has decided to retain Brick Haley as part of his first coaching staff with the football program. Haley wil continue on as the Tigers’ defensive line coach, and will carry the title of assistant head coach as well.
“In my short time of being around Brick I know him to be a man of high character who gets the most out of his players,” said Drinkwitz in a statement. “His wealth of knowledge with the defensive line is exactly what we’re looking for to motivate young men.”
Haley has spent the past three seasons with the Tigers. Prior to that, he was the line coach at Texas (2015-16), LSU (2009-14) and Mississippi State (2004-06) at the collegiate level.
From 2007-08, Haley was the line coach for the NFL’s Chicago Bears.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to continue at Mizzou and I’m excited to work with Coach Drink and his staff,” said Haley. “Our family loves Mizzou and being part of the Columbia community, so we’re thrilled to keep stakes in the ground here and I’m looking forward to getting to work on doing great things.”
It seems Alex Hornibrook‘s college career is complete.
Florida State interim head coach Odell Haggins said on Saturday that Hornibrook is no longer with the Seminoles as the club prepares for the Sun Bowl
He will join (former) teammate Cam Akers in that regard.
A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook appeared in five games this season. His peak as a Seminole came on Sept. 28, when he completed 29-of-40 passes for 316 yards with three touchdowns and no picks. For the year, Hornibrook hit 84-of-122 throws for 986 yards with seven scores versus two picks.
In three years at Wisconsin, Hornibrook threw for 5,438 yards and 47 touchdowns.
SMU wide receiver Reggie Roberson, Jr., will return for his senior season in 2020, he announced earlier this week.
Roberson did so through a statement that at first read as if he would leave the Hilltop. “In the past couple of weeks, it has come to my attention that I am able to forgo my senior year and enter the NFL draft. I want to thank Coach Dykes for giving me the opportunity to come to SMU, and play the game I love in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” it began.
However, like a a classic Roberson open field move, he quickly changed directions and sprinted toward opportunity. “I have decided to come back and play my senior year at SMU. There is a lot of unfinished business that I left on the field that I need to take care of next season.”
A native of DeSoto, Texas, just south of Dallas, Roberson was one of SMU’s top players before he was lost to a foot injury in October. He caught 11 passes for 180 yards in the Ponies’ opening week win over Arkansas State and hauled in eight passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-21 drubbing of Temple on Oct. 19.
For the year, Roberson caught 43 passes for 803 yards and six touchdowns over seven-plus games. Spread over a 13-game season, he was on pace to end the year in the neighborhood of 80 receptions for 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Roberson originally signed with West Virginia out of high school.