Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

Lane Kiffin shares thoughts on Larry Fedora’s comments and Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray

1 Comment

At Conference USA media day, the FAU Owls were voted as the preseason favorite to repeat as the conference champion. You would think Lane Kiffin would have his plate full talking about his team’s quest for a second straight conference title, but the most popular coach in the conference found himself sounding off on a handful of topics outside Conference USA.

A day after UNC head coach Larry Fedora made headlines with his comments about the possibility that the state of football could be in danger of bringing down the country and showed himself to be skeptical of the link between football and CTE. Kiffin took a different stance on Fedora’s idea of a war on football threatening the stability of the United States.

“What’s the most important thing,” Kiffin questioned. “Long-term health, or how the game looks?”

Fedora took exception to the abundant changes to the game with rules being designed to protect the health of players. He has not been alone in his complaints about how the game is changing, but Kiffin expressed a different take on the importance of changing the game than his ACC counterpart.

Looking ahead to the season, though, Kiffin fielded some questions about FAU’s first opponent, defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma. Already keeping an eye on the opposition, Kiffin joked he thinks likely starting quarterback for the Sooners, Kyler Murray, should go ahead and skip football to begin his professional baseball career after being drafted ninth overall in the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics. But, sticking to the previous comments in regard to Fedora’s comments, Kiffin used Murray to expand on the long-term health concerns Murray could potentially face by not going right into baseball.

“He should change his mind and go to baseball,” Kiffin said. “It’s crazy that he doesn’t go play (baseball) this year. Think of all the concussion issues that are out there with college football and the NFL. He should go play baseball.”

FAU received 22 first-place votes in a Conference USA preseason media poll to easily be named the favorite in the East Division. The Owls open the 2018 season at Oklahoma on September 1.

Texas A&M hits reset button on QB job; 2015 Edition

8 Comments

For the second straight season, Texas A&M is going to wipe the slate clean with its starting quarterback job late in October. Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin will give Kyle Allen, Kyler Murray and Jake Hubenak a chance to win the starting job in practices this week. A starter will be announced on Friday.

Allen has been Texas A&M’s main quarterback this season, but inconsistency has become a major concern for the Aggies. Earlier this week against Alabama Allen was picked off three times by the Crimson Tide in a 41-23 loss. Things did not turn around last week in a road loss at Ole Miss, with Allen being picked off once and completing just 12 of his 34 pass attempts for 88 yards. Murray did not see the field last week in the loss to the Rebels, a week after reportedly having some sort of outburst on the sideline in the loss to Alabama. Murray attempted just four passes, completing two and having one picked off by Alabama.

Eerily enough, Sumlin reopened the quarterback competition almost exactly one year to the day. That decision came after losing three straight SEC games, the latest being a 59-0 loss at home to Alabama. Kenny Hill, who would later transfer to TCU, lost the job as a result, and Allen eventually won the job.

So mark your calendars for October 26, 2016. If this trend continues, Murray will win the starting job at the start of the 2016 season only to lose it in a midseason open competition at that time.

Newcomers lead Texas A&M past No. 15 Arizona State

9 Comments

A year ago, Texas A&M could not have beaten No. 15 Arizona State the way it did on Saturday. Well, the Aggies probably couldn’t have beaten Arizona State at all in 2014, but definitely not this way. Because, a year ago, Texas A&M did not have John Chavis and it did not have Christian Kirk.

The Aggies used a fast, aggressive defense and the multidimensional Kirk to upend the Sun Devils, 38-17, in the Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Chavis, the high-priced defensive coordinator robbed away from LSU last December, guided a defense that ranked 97th nationally in yards per play and 111th in rushing into a strength – at least for one night. Behind All-America candidate Myles Garrett, Texas A&M forced eight sacks and two turnovers, limiting the Sun Devils to just 2.2 yards per carry and fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Bercovici to 25-of-40 passing for just 199 yards. Arizona State mounted only one sustained touchdown drive on the night – its first score came after a Kyle Allen fumble deep in Aggie territory – an eight play, 75-yard march that pulled the Devils to within 17-14 with 2:37 to go in the third quarter.

While the A&M defense did its job, freshman Christian Kirk carried the Aggies’ offense and special teams. A former five-star out of the Phoenix area, Kirk returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown to put Texas A&M up 14-0 with 12:51 in the second quarter, then put the game away for good with a 66-yard grab-and-weave with 3:45 to go in the game, giving the Aggies a 31-17 lead. After Texas A&M forced a turnover on downs deep in Arizona State territory on the ensuing possession, Tra Carson added a 10-yard insurance score with 1:38 remaining.

The sophomore Allen garnered the start for the Aggies and posted decent numbers – 15-of-26 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns (he hit Carson for a 9-yard touchdown to open the scoring in the first quarter) and added a 12-yard touchdown run to put A&M up 24-14 – but committed two turnovers and was victimized by a swarming Arizona State defense. Head coach Kevin Sumlin turned to true freshman Kyler Murray for much of the night and he answered by dancing for 69 yards on six carries to go with 4-of-9 passing for 49 yards and an interception.

Arizona State successfully bottled up the Texas A&M running game for much of the evening – Carson gained 96 yards on 29 carries, and will have 29 lumps to show for it tomorrow morning – and Murray’s speed and elusiveness proved a successful antidote.

As dominant as the Arizona State front was, though, Texas A&M was even more so, limiting the Sun Devils to 92 yards on 41 carries. Overall, Texas A&M outgained Arizona State 425-291 and held the Sun Devils to 5-of-19 on third downs.

Texas A&M entered the season a dark horse to contend in the SEC West and beyond, and rewarded that faith Saturday night. And considering so many of tonight’s key pieces – Chavis, Murray, Kirk – are still feeling themselves out, here’s the scariest thought of the night: Texas A&M will probably get better from here.

Texas A&M leading No. 15 Arizona State at the half

1 Comment

Put two teams that averaged north of 35 points a game a year ago together and you get… a game dominated by defense and special teams? That’s what we’ve seen so far in Houston as Texas A&M leads No. 15 Arizona State 14-7 at the break.

After Texas A&M opened the scoring with 28 seconds left in the first quarter on a nine-yard catch-and-run from sophomore Arizona native Kyle Allen to Tra Carson, the Aggies grabbed control with a 79-yard punt return by true freshman Arizona native Christian Kirk, pushing the score to 14-0.

With the Aggies threatening to break the game open, Arizona State climbed back when Christian Sam stripped Allen and J.D. Alexander recovered the ball and raced to the Aggies’ four-yard line. Mike Bercovici hit Kody Kohl one play later to put the Sun Devils on the board with 9:56 to go before the break.

Allen played the majority of the snap for the Aggies, hitting 8-of-15 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown. True freshman Kyler Murray played the final series of the half, completing two of three passes for 27 yards and totaling two rushes for one yard. Carson has rushed 12 times for 41 yards.

Bercovici has completed 12 of his 16 passes, but for just 62 yards. The destructive force that is Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett has had a lot to do with that. Demario Richard leads the Devils on the ground with 30 yards on five carries.

Arizona State will receive to open the second half.

A&M officially names Kyle Allen as its starting QB

14 Comments

Name Your Starting Quarterback Day continues, with Texas A&M becoming the first to officially anoint its top signal-caller.

The Aggies confirmed the expected Monday afternoon, announcing that Kyle Allen will start at quarterback for A&M in the opener against 15th-ranked Arizona State.  The school made the announcement via Twitter, prior to head coach Kevin Sumlin publicly discussing the decision.

Allen, a five-star member of A&M’s 2014 recruiting class, had been in a competition with true freshman Kyler Murray, a four-star member of A&M’s 2015 recruiting class, throughout the first couple of weeks of summer camp.

Allen started the last half of his true freshman year and finished his initial FBS season on a high, throwing for nearly 300 yards and accounting for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in earning Offensive MVP honors in the Liberty Bowl win over West Virginia.  He tossed one interception in each of his five starts to close out the year, but mitigated those turnovers with 14 total touchdowns in that span — 13 passing, one rushing.

Despite Allen’s official coronation, Murray is still expected to see the playing field during his first season in College Station.