It was just a few days ago I said there are two things that never get old to me. One was players finding out they have been put on scholarship, as Minnesota defensive lineman Sam Renner learned in the middle of the Gophers’ spring game. The other was when those serving in our nation’s military surprise their family with a reunion. On Saturday, prior to Florida State’s spring game in Tallahassee, lineman Derrick Kelly was given that special moment.
Kelly was treated to a video message on the scoreboard in Doak Campbell Stadium from his brother, Navy officer Derrickus Kelly. Kelly’s message to his brother started off as an apology for not being able to be in attendance. Of course, this was just a setup to the ultimate surprise; Derrickus Kelly taking to the field from the north end zone to greet his brother as fans stood and applauded.
“We cried a little bit out there,” Derrickus said, per The Orlando Sentinel. “I haven’t seen him in two years. There were times when all I felt like I had was my brothers. So it felt good.”
The emotions of the moment were not lost on anyone, including new Florida State head coach Willie Taggart.
“It was special,” Taggart said. “I teared up myself. I can only imagine what [Derrick] goes through every day probably praying for his brother to come back home safe.”
Following a conference win Saturday night against Cal, Oregon head coach Willie Taggart did not share much information about the status of starting quarterback Justin Herbert, but multiple reports out of Eugene are suggesting Herbert broke his collarbone.
Jen Beyrle of The Oregonian reports via Twitter Herbert broke his collarbone, according to sources.
Oregon has not confirmed that diagnosis at this time. If it is a broken collarbone, the typical recovery time tends to fall between four and eight weeks. At best, Herbert could, in theory, return to the team at the end of Utah for a home game against Utah on Oct. 28. If Herbert cannot return for another eight weeks, Herbert could potentially be back for either the last game of the regular season against Oregon State or the bowl season, supposing Oregon clinches bowl eligibility this season.
Oregon suffered a good amount of injuries in the game, but the quarterback situation is the most notable considering how well Herbert had been playing for the Ducks. Before the injury, Herbert had completed seven of eight passes for 86 yards and a touchdown and run for a seven-yard touchdown. The sophomore quarterback had been impressive in the first quarter of the season with a completion percentage of 68.3, 1,264 passing yards nine touchdown passes to two interceptions and three rushing touchdowns.
Senior Taylor Alie initially saw action backing up the injured Herbert but later in the game Oregon freshman Braxton Burmeister made his season debut, thus burning his redshirt option for the 2017 season. The four-star recruit from California has many Oregon fans excited about his future, and he may be jumping into the mix sooner than expected as a result of Herbert’s injury.
Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.
Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.
“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”
It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.
Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.
Oregon co-offensive coordinator David Reaves was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with DUII, reckless driving and reckless endangerment. In response to the arrest, Oregon has placed Reaves on administrative leave and is already moving to terminate his contract.
According to a report from The Oregonian, Reaves was pulled over at 2:12 a.m. in Eugene. Suspected of being impaired while operating the vehicle, and following an on-scene investigation, Reaves was charged and booked into a county jail at 5:18 a.m. He was released from jail later Sunday morning. There was an adult passenger in the car.
“University of Oregon assistant football coach David Reaves was arrested last night and charged with Driving Under the Influence by members of the Eugene Police Department,” a statement from Oregon director of athletics Rob Mullens said. “Reaves has been placed on administrative leave and the process to terminate his employment with cause has commenced. The University has high standards for the conduct of employees and is addressing this matter with the utmost of seriousness.”
Reaves was hired specifically to coach tight ends and take on the role of passing game coordinator while he and Mario Cristobal shared the role of offensive coordinator.
Reaves was hired by Oregon just five days ago to join the coaching staff assembled by new head coach Willie Taggart. For Taggart, this is just the latest in a bizarre sequence of events since being hired away by USF to take on the head coaching responsibility at Oregon. Taggart’s strength coach Irele Oderinde has already been suspended by the university after multiple Oregon football players were hospitalized following offseason workouts. All players that were receiving treatment have since been released from the hospital.
As the coaching carousel continued to spin, it was left in question just what might the coaching future have for Charlie Strong. It would appear a return to the Sunshine State is what is next for Strong, as reports are in Strong will be the new head coach of USF. Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com reported the coaching news on Sunday, via Twitter. The school has since formally announced the coaching hire themselves as well.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Charlie, his wife, Vicki, and their children Tory, Hailee and Hope, back to the state of Florida and to our Bulls family,” USF Director of Athletics Mark Harlan said in a released statement. “Charlie is a tremendous leader and mentor for our student-athletes and a widely-respected coach with a resume full of achievements at the highest levels of college football. He combines a drive to win with great integrity and deep, long-standing connections in the state of Florida. The future of USF football is very bright under his direction.”
Strong was signed to a five-year contract. This is especially notable because that means Strong will potentially be the head coach of USF when the Bulls visit the Texas Longhorns to open the 2020 season.
Strong was let go by the Texas Longhorns this season, which made room for Houston head coach Tom Herman top step in to run the program. Strong was immediately thought to be a worthy coaching candidate for a handful of jobs, ranging from head coach to possibly taking a step back to be a defensive coordinator. Strong will replace Willie Taggart as the head coach of the Bulls, after Taggart left the program to take on the Oregon head coaching job. It was thought Strong could be asked to join Taggart in Eugene to run the Oregon defense. The two apparently had communications with each other about both the position in Oregon and the vacancy at USF.
Taggert leaves Strong with a good program to take over in Tampa. Strong will have a talented quarterback to run with in Quinton Flowers and the team is coming off a 10-win season. The Bulls should be contenders in the AAC once again next season after falling a tiebreaker shy of playing for the conference crown against a Navy team it blew away in the regular season.