AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Les Miles prevented Leonard Fournette from chasing a cow in a rodeo

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With LSU and Texas Tech preparing for the upcoming AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl in Houston, the Tigers and Red Raiders had some competitive fun in an annual rodeo series of events. One popular rodeo event? Chasing cows. LSU’s star running back, Leonard Fournette, wanted to give it a shot, but his head coach, Les Miles, apparently was no on board.

Texas Tech running back Jakeem Grant did reportedly give the cow chasing a try, and Fournette wanted to see what he could do. Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes was not witnessed participating in any of the rodeo events either.

Fournette figures to be in for a huge performance against Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl. Only two teams in the nation had a run defense allow more yards per game than Texas Tech, which likely means Fournette should pile up some big numbers. With that being the case, you can imagine why Miles wanted to make sure his top offensive player avoided any event that might cause even the slightest injury concern that would prevent Fournette from running.

Trick play by Texas Tech cemented Texas’ bowl-less season

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For just the second time since 1998, the Texas Longhorns will not be going to a bowl game this season. A home loss to Texas Tech sealed a winless season for the Longhorns, leaving them at the mercy of a waiting list to get in if they happen to pull a stunner against Baylor in the season finale to go 5-7 and hope there are bowl vacancies to be filled. In other words, don’t count on it. The fate of the Longhorns this season may have been expected for weeks or months, but the final nail in the coffin may be have delivered by a Texas Tech trick play that saw Jakeem Grant  sneak down the left sideline and dodge a couple of defenders on his way to a 40-yard touchdown, which would prove to be the game-winning score.

Up 41-38, Texas Tech forced a Texas turnover on downs at the 40-yard line of the Longhorns with 2:51 to play. Despite Texas having a couple of timeouts to spare, Texas Tech appeared  to line up in a victory formation. Perhaps inspired by the fumblerooski, Kliff Kingsbury had his offense set in a formation that would make it difficult to tell which player had the football until it was too late. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped back deep and appeared to fake a hand-off on his way. Meanwhile, Grant was running with the ball to the left side of the field and found daylight. In the blink of an eye, Texas Tech expanded its lead to 48-38.

Texas still found a way to make Texas Tech sweat it out though. Daje Johnson returned the ensuing kickoff 42-yards and received an extra 15-yards due to a facemask penalty to the Red Raiders special teams unit. Two plays later, Chris Warren III ran eight yards for a touchdown. On Texas Tech’s final possession of the game, there would be no tricks. After Texas was forced to burn each of its two remaining timeouts, Texas Tech set up in a true victory formation for the final two plays of the game as the clock expired and Texas saw its postseason eligibility expire in sync.

This will mark the second straight losing season in Austin for the Longhorns after Texas lost a bowl game last season to end the season at 6-7. The last time Texas had back-to-back losing seasons was in the old Southwest Conference with David McWilliams as the head coach. Texas had consecutive losing and bowl-less seasons in 1988 and 1989. But at least Texas made an appearance in the AP Top 25 in those disappointing seasons. The Longhorns have now gone two straight seasons without appearing in the top 25 for the first time since 1986 and 1987.

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

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It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo

LSU’s Leonard Fournette headlines 44 named to Paul Hornung Award watch list

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It’s early July, so you know what that means: Slow news days and everyone’s favorite, watch lists! Today’s list of players who could win an award in December is for the Paul Hornung Award, given annually to the nation’s most versatile player

The list:

Ishmael Adams, UCLA
Budda Baker, Washington
V’Angelo Bentley, Illinois
Rashon Ceaser, Louisiana Monroe
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
Trevor Davis, California
Matt Dayes, N.C. State
Cameron Echols-Luper, TCU
DeVon Edwards, Duke
Tyler Ervin, San Jose State
Leonard Fournette, LSU
Autrey Golden, UTEP
Jamal Golden, Georgia Tech
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
Janarion Grant, Rutgers
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Carlos Henderson, Louisiana Tech
Myles Jack, UCLA
Adoree’ Jackson, USC
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
William Likely, Maryland
T.J. Logan, North Carolina
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Jalin Marshall, Ohio State
Christian McCaffrey, Stanford
Elijah McGuire, Louisiana Lafayette
Isaiah McKenzie, Georgia
Ronnie Moore, Bowling Green
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Charles Nelson, Oregon
Speedy Noil, Texas A&M
Daz’Mond Patterson, Ohio
De’Mornay Pierson-El, Nebraska
James Quick, Louisville
Alex Ross, Oklahoma
R.J. Shelton, Michigan State
Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Jahad Thomas, Temple
Jaylen Walton, Ole Miss
Shane Williams- Rhodes, Boise State
Stanley Williams, Kentucky
Myles Willis, Boston College
Dontre Wilson, Ohio State

Fournette should be the early favorite here — in the Music City Bowl against Notre Dame, he rushed for 143 yards on 11 carries (including an 89-yard TD run) and returned a kick 100 yards for a score.

Then again, Fournette could be considered a favorite to win just about any award he’s eligible for in 2015.

No. 10 TCU sets all sorts of records in 82-27 rout of Texas Tech

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Trevone Boykin announced his Heisman Trophy candidacy in a major way by leading No. 10 TCU to a rec0rd-setting 82-27 stomping of Texas Tech Saturday in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs’ 82 points were a school and Big 12 inter-conference record and the most ever allowed by Texas Tech. TCU racked up 785 yards of total offense on the day, also a school record.

In three quarters of work, the junior completed 22-of-39 passes for 433 yards and a school-record seven touchdown passes while adding another 28 yards on the ground on seven attempts. Boykin threw for two scores in the first quarter, one in the second and four in the third, meaning one of every three completions (roughly) found pay dirt. His touchdown throws traveled 249 yards on their own, with scoring strikes of 51 yards (to Josh Doctson), 92 yards (to Deante’ Gray) and 57 yards (to Ty Slanina).

As if that wasn’t enough, seven Frogs runners combined to rush 41 times for 305 yards – 7.4 yards a pop – and three touchdowns. Aaron Green rushed six times for 105 yards, opening the scoring for TCU with a 62-yard dash a minute and 14 seconds into the game, and Trevorris Johnson added 10 carries for 105 yards and two touchdowns strictly in mop up duty (he didn’t enter the game until TCU had a 61-27 lead deep into the third quarter).

Overall, TCU ran 86 plays, averaged 9.12 yards per snap, threw for 480 yards, rushed for 305, achieved 32 first downs, and punted twice in 16 possessions. Four separate receivers averaged 19 yards or more per reception, while 13 players caught at least one pass. There was some bad news, though, as Josh Doctson was lost for the game and taken for an evaluation with an ankle injury.

The Frogs’ 82 points surpassed the Big 12’s record for points in a conference game, set by Oklahoma in a 77-0 stomping of Texas A&M in 2003, and came two points shy of Oklahoma State’s conference record for points in any game in an 84-0 rout of Savannah State in 2012.

Bad as it appears, this game wasn’t always a blowout.

Texas Tech opened the scoring 51 seconds into the contest on a 57-yard catch-and-run by Kenny Williams, and played to a 24-17 score through one quarter. The Red Raiders scored only 10 more points for the rest of the game, and only three while the outcome was still in doubt. Davis Webb threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but committed three first-half turnovers that led directly to 13 TCU points, giving the Horned Frogs the space they needed to turn this game into a blowout. Webb left the game with an ankle injury, and Jakeem Grant was also lost with a leg injury.

Patrick Mahomes finished off the game by completing 5-of-11 passes for 45 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and rushed seven times for 18 yards.

As tends to happen in games with a 55-point margin of victory, TCU won the turnover battle 4-0.

TCU moves to 6-1 (3-1 Big 12) with the win and prepares to head for a massive game at No. 22 West Virginia (themselves 34-10 winners over Oklahoma State on Saturday) on Saturday. Texas Tech, meanwhile, heads back to Lubbock for a somebody-has-to-win date with Texas.