Tua Tagovailoa named Walter Camp Player of the Year, wins Maxwell Award

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The college football world’s elite gathered in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame for the 28th annual Home Depot College Football Awards Show. The night turned out to be a pretty eventful night for College Football Playoff representatives from Alabama, Oklahoma and Notre Dame all took home some major awards on Thursday evening.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took home the first player of the year award prior to the start of the show when he was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year winner for the 2018 season. The last five Walter Camp award winners have gone on to win the Heisman Trophy, but we will have to wait until Saturday night to see if Tagovailoa keeps that streak going. The last four Walter Camp award winners also took home the Maxwell Award. Tagovailoa later made it five straight by closing out the evening’s presentation by being named the winner of the Maxwell Award. For a college football player, Tagovailoa has completed the first two legs of the player of the year triple crown with the Heisman Trophy on deck this weekend.

Tagovailoa wasn’t the only Alabama player taking home some hardware. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, and Quinnen Williams won the Outland Trophy.

Some quick notes:

  • Kyler Murray became the fifth Oklahoma quarterback to win the Davey O’Brien Award, following Baker Mayfield from last year. No school has more Davey O’Brien Award winners than Oklahoma.
  • Georgia defensive back DeAndre Jordan became the first Georgia player to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.
  • Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly won his second Home Depot Coach of the Year Award (he previously won it in 2009 at Cincinnati). He is the first two-time winner of the coaching award.
  • Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was named the Biletnikoff Award winner, breaking a three-year run by the Big 12 since Alabama’s first Biletnikoff Award winner, Amari Cooper, won the award in 2014.

Here is a full list of the finalists and winners of awards handed out Thursday night. Winners of the awards are listed first and are in bold, with the remaining finalists following them in alphabetical order according to last name. Some of the awards were announced prior to the awards show but are included here because they were recognized or formally presented Thursday night.

WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Gardner Minshew, Washington State
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

MAXWELL AWARD
(Player of the Year)

  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
  • Will Grier, West Virginia
  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma

CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD
(Defensive Player of the Year)

  • Josh Allen, Kentucky
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama

DAVEY O’BRIEN AWARD
(Best Quarterback)

  • Kyler Murray, Oklahoma
  • Gardner Minshew II, Washington State
  • Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama

FRED BILETNIKOFF AWARD
(Outstanding Receiver)

  • Jerry Jeudy, Alabama
  • Andy Isabella, UMass
  • Tyan Wallace, Oklahoma State

DOAK WALKER AWARD
(Best Running Back)

  • Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
  • Travis Etienne, Clemson
  • Darrell Henderson, Memphis

JOHN MACKEY AWARD
(Best Tight End)

JIM THORPE AWARD
(Best Defensive Back)

  • DeAndre Baker, Georgia
  • Julian Love, Notre Dame
  • Greedy Williams, LSU

OUTLAND TROPHY
(Most Outstanding Interior Lineman)

  • Quinnen Williams, Alabama
  • Christian Wilkins, Clemson
  • Jonah Williams, Alabama

RIMINGTON TROPHY
(Best Center)

  • Garrett Bradbury, NC State
  • Sam Mustipher, Notre Dame
  • Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama

LOU GROZA AWARD
(Outstanding Placekicker)

  • Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
  • Cooper Rothe, Wyoming
  • Cole Tracy, LSU

RAY GUY AWARD
(Punter of the Year)

  • Braden Mann, Texas A&M
  • James Smith, Cincinnati
  • Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah

HOME DEPOT COACH OF THE YEAR

  • Brian Kelly, Notre Dame

WUERFFEL TROPHY
(Community Service)

  • Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
  • David Blough, Purdue
  • Dalton Risner, Kansas State

Brian Kelly says Ian Book will start for Notre Dame vs. Syracuse

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Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book will be back in the starting lineup this week when the Fighting Irish take on Syracuse, Notre Dane head coach Brian Kelly announced on Sunday.

Book sat out of Saturday night’s home game against Florida State, which meant the Irish turned to Week 1 starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush to get through Week 11 without putting Notre Dame’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. Book had suffered what had previously been reported as “multiple injuries to his midsection” during a game against Northwestern two weeks ago. Wimbush was intercepted twice by Florida State, but he also threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 68 yards to contribute on offense in a 42-13 win to improve the Irish to 10-0 with just two games to play.

Although Notre Dame managed to not be hurt by two interceptions thrown by Wimbush against Florida State, having Book back for a tougher matchup against Syracuse should be comforting for Kelly and the Irish. Syracuse has won four straight games with double-digit margins of victory in each of the last three.

Notre Dame and Syracuse will play their Week 12 contest in Yankee Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Notre Dame stays in-house for defensive coordinator by promoting Clark Lea

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Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly did not have to look very far to find his next defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Clark Lea has been promoted to the role of defensive coordinator in South Bend. Lea replaces Mike Elko, who was hired away for the same role by Texas A&M.

“I cannot express how grateful I am to Father Jenkins, Jack Swarbrick and Brian Kelly for their confidence in my ability to take on this new role,” Lea said in a released statement from the university. “I am indebted to them, and to the student-athletes that I have been blessed to work with over the past year — without their commitment and belief in me, I realize that none of this would be possible. Notre Dame represents everything I want to be a part of in my career as an educator, and I am deeply humbled to be able to continue my work here.”

“Clark has quickly established himself as a rising star in the coaching profession,” Kelly said. “He immediately commands the respect of those around him, whether that be in a meeting room, on a practice field or in a prospective student-athlete’s living room. Clark has demonstrated an ability to motivate, lead, teach and mentor through a positive teaching environment, while also developing the necessary traits of excellence in our players.”

Leas joined the Notre Dame coaching staff in 2017 after one season as a linebackers coach at Wake Forest. Lea has also coached at Syracuse and Bowling Green The Vanderbilt alum started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at UCLA.

Brian Kelly got chippy with reporter, suggesting this year won’t actually be any different

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Forget about all of the suggestions from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly about this year potentially being different for the Fighting Irish. A year after a number of close calls going against Notre Dame, Kelly promised this season will be different, but after a one-point loss at home to Georgia Saturday night, Kelly got flustered by a question from the media and walked out in a very familiar fashion.

The reporter not backing down from the bullish Kelly was Laken Litman of The Indianapolis Star. As Litman profiled in her story from the game, there was a familiar feeling for Irish fans watching Notre Dame come up short in a close battle. Here is the transcript of the exchange between Kelly and Litman before Kelly took an exit stage left.

Reporter: Obviously you made a ton of changes, changed the culture, everything. But obviously, you lost and at the very end, kind of like last year, seven of eight losses, how do you…

Kelly: What’s the question?

Reporter: I’m getting to it.

Kelly: Well, get to the question.

Reporter: How do you keep this from snowballing?

Kelly: It’s not going to snowball. Next question.

Reporter: Well, what exactly will be different, I guess?

Kelly: There’s nothing different. I go to work every day, and I coach my football team.

Reporter: OK.

Kelly: Is that — is that good enough for you?

Reporter: Yeah, I was just asking about how it was different from last year’s losing by one possession.

Kelly: OK.

Reporter: Tonight was also like that, so I was just wondering.

Kelly: Losing by one possession?

Reporter: Yeah.

Kelly: No, it was one point.

Kelly was obviously flustered in the aftermath of a tough home loss dropping his team to 1-1. How else can you explain Kelly suggesting a one-point loss is not a one-possession game?

Jury still out, but “new” Notre Dame has positive start to 2017

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A summer of attempting to change the narrative and a week’s worth of Brian Kelly trying to tell media outlets this year is going to be different has paid off for at least one week. Notre Dame (1-0) opened the season at home with a 49-16 win against Temple (0-1), and has a few reasons to feel optimistic about this season after one game.

For starters, there is quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush got the Irish off on the right foot Saturday afternoon with a pair of touchdown passes and 106 rushing yards and a score. Brian Kelly has liked having dual threats run the offense, and Wimbush did just that against a Temple defense that was ripe for the picking.

Then there is running back Josh Adams, who tore up the Temple defense for 161 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Adams was a workhorse for the Irish running the football with an average of 8.5 yards per carry. As a team, Notre Dame piled up 353 rushing yards, which was more than the total yardage picked up by Temple on the afternoon.

Notre Dame may have room to improve on the defense, but the Irish did a sound job slowing down the running game for the Owls. It was expected there would be a transition period for Temple with a new head coach in Geoff Collins and a decent amount of roster turnover, an unproven quarterback situyation made running the football a key for Temple. The Irish held the Owls to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, with a trio of sacks helping out in the box score in that department. That is encouraging, but the next game poses a much more serious threat on the ground with Georgia coming in with Nick Chubb. Time will tell if this will hold up.

It wasn’t all bad for Temple, as Logan Marchi battled and passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in a tough spot. Ryquell Armstead ran 19 times for 67 yards and the Owls spread the ball around in the passing game. It just was not nearly enough to battle Notre Dame in this setting at this time.

Notre Dame will stay home next week to host No. 15 Georgia. The game will be a primetime affair from Notre Dame Stadium with the Irish and Bulldogs squaring off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC (check your local listings). Georgia opened the season against Appalachian State in a game that was ongoing at the time Notre Dame wrapped up the win. Temple will look to rebound next week with a home game against a local FCS threat from the Main Line, Villanova. Villanova is ranked in the FCS top 25 polls and is coming off a top 25 victory over Lehigh.