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Jerry Kill joins Virginia Tech support staff

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Jerry Kill stepped down as Minnesota’s head coach in the middle of the 2015 season, but he’s remained active as ever in “retirement.”

He spent 2016 as an assistant AD at Kansas State, returned to coaching as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Rutgers in 2017, but, after the same epileptic seizures that chased him out of coaching followed him to Piscataway, Kill stepped down after just one season. He was quickly scooped up as the athletics director at Southern Illinois, but now Kill is returning again to coaching — sort of.

Virginia Tech on Monday announced Kill as the new assistant to the head coach for Justin Fuente. In this newly-created role, Kill will use his experience to assist Fuente with “a myriad of duties.”

“Jerry Kill will serve as a tremendous resource for our football program,” Fuente said. “Coach Kill possesses over three decades of expertise and will be great addition to our staff. In addition to over 20 years of experience as collegiate and high school head coach, he’s served as a coordinator on both sides of the ball. He can dissect the game from virtually every angle and will be able to provide his unique perspective on everything from recruiting, to personnel and facilities. ”

“While it was a difficult decision to leave so many wonderful friends and colleagues at Southern Illinois, I am thrilled for the opportunity to join Coach Fuente and his staff at Virginia Tech,” Kill said. “I’ve long appreciated and admired Justin as a coach and teacher of the game. I respect his penchant for identifying talent and helping young men reach their potential. He has assembled a fabulous coaching staff and roster of talented players at Virginia Tech. I can’t wait to help the Hokies in any way I can.”

Kill will join the Virginia Tech staff effective immediately. He went 152-99 as a head coach at five different schools from 1994-2015.

 

CFT Cheat Sheet: What to know for Week 2

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A quick primer on who, what and where to look for/at as we head into Week 2 of the 2019 college football season.

WEEK 1 STORYLINES

  • Let’s face it: Week 1 was, by and large, a scheduling dud, with just one ranked-on-ranked game — and zero Top 10 matchups — on the opening weekend docket.  This week, though, college football fans will feast on the likes of No. 12 Texas A&M-No. 1 Clemson and the first Top 10 tilt of the season in No. 6 LSU-No. 9 Texas.  Toss in Army and its 10-game winning streak traveling to the Big House to face No. 7 Michigan; a Cincinnati squad that took care of UCLA in the opener heading up I-71 to No. 5 Ohio State; and No. 25 Stanford vs. USC in what is now the Backup Bowl, and Week 2 is setting up to be a much more palatable Saturday of football.  Oh, and there is also…
  • No. 25 Nebraska making its way to Colorado to take on the Buffaloes.  The Men of Corn vs. Ralphie.  The former Big 8/12 rivals have played 69 times previously, but just once (2018) since NU bolted to the Big Ten ahead of the 2011 season.  The Cornhuskers will be making their first trek to Boulder since the 2009 season, with what some would call memories of dirty pool still fresh in the Blackshirts’ minds.
  • What can Jalen Hurts do for an encore?  In making his Oklahoma debut, all the former Alabama quarterback did was set career-highs with 332 passing yards (previous best was 248), 176 rushing yards (154), and three rushing touchdowns (two). The three passing touchdowns tied his previous career-best set against FCS Mercer in November of 2017.  With FCS South Dakota on tap, don’t expect to see Hurts on the field for more than a half of action — but do expect some additional video game-like numbers.
  • Can the Mountain West Conference even remotely come close to matching its Week 1 success?  Four teams from the MWC scored wins over Power Five schools last weekend — Nevada over Purdue, Boise State over Florida State, Wyoming over Missouri, Hawaii over Arizona.  In Week 2, four more MWC schools will square off with Power Five teams — Hawaii-Oregon State, Nevada-Oregon, San Diego State-UCLA, Fresno State-Minnesota.  According to the Westgate sportsbook, three more upsets are certainly within the realm of possibility as the Bulldogs, Rainbow Warriors and Aztecs are 3-, 6½- and 7½-point underdogs, respectively.  The Wolf Pack upending the Ducks, on the other hand, would be a significant upset as the latter is set as a 24-point favorite.
  • In two-plus seasons, Jonathan Taylor has averaged 156 yards rushing per game.  A year ago, Central Michigan was 104th nationally in giving up 204.7 yards per game on the ground. No. 17 Wisconsin will play host to CMU Saturday as Taylor continues his climb toward becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher (Taylor has 4,306, record-holder Donnell Pumphrey had 6,405) in just three seasons.
  • Owners of the second-longest Power Five losing streak in conference play — Rutgers is first at 12 straight — Arkansas hasn’t won an SEC game since beating Ole Miss in late October of 2017, a string of 11 losses in a row.  Saturday, the Razorbacks go on the road to face… the Rebels in Oxford.  Just throwing that out there.

SIX-PACK OF MUST-SEE GAMES

  • No. 6 LSU (-6) at No. 9 Texas — Who would’ve thought that an LSU game would feature a two-sided battle of the quarterbacks?  That will be the case this week as the Tigers’ Joe Burrow tossed five touchdowns in a half’s work of work, while the Longhorns’ Sam Ehlinger was very efficient in throwing four touchdowns of his own in their opener.
  • No. 12 Texas A&M at No. 1 Clemson (-17) — As evidenced by one pregame guarantee, this will be a revenge game for A&M as an Aggies failed two-point conversion late in the fourth — which was preceded by a critical fourth-quarter fumble and two missed first-half field goal attempts — allowed the Tigers to escape College Station with a 28-26 win en route to the 2018 national championship.
  • Army at No. 7 Michigan (-22) — ‘Merica’s Team is riding a 10-game winning streak, the second-longest in the country.  Conversely, the Black Knights are on a staggering 45-game losing streak against ranked teams, with Army’s last win coming against then-No. 19 Air Force in November of 1972.  Michigan’s last loss to a service academy? October of 1967 to Navy.
  • No. 25 Stanford at USC (-1) — The Trojans knew early on that they would be without their starting quarterback as J.T. Daniels suffered a torn ACL in the season opener.  The Cardinal, after a week’s worth of theirs dealing with a head injury that had him officially listed as questionable, will officially be without their starter, K.J. Costello, as well.  As a result, both schools will have first-time starters under center (redshirt sophomore Davis Mills for the Cardinal, true freshman Kedon Slovis for the Trojans).
  • Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State (-16) — Bearcats head coach Luke Fickell returns to The Horseshoe to face the Buckeyes, where the Columbus native once served as a player (1993-96), assistant coach (1999; 2002-10; 2012-16) and interim head coach (2011).  OSU has played 41 games versus in-state schools; they have won each one, including all five against UC.
  • Miami (-4) at North Carolina — There’s a bit of a past between the two head coaches in this matchup as Miami’s Manny Diaz served as North Carolina’s Mack Brown‘s defensive coordinator at Texas before Brown fired him in September of 2013 after giving up 550 yards rushing in a Week 2 loss to BYU. More importantly, The U will be looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since 1978.

BEST/WORST WAGERS OF WEEK 2

  • BEST: Cal (+14) at Washington.  I’m taking Cal’s defense and running with the points as Washington’s offense is still a work in progress after losing the school’s all-time leading passer, rusher.
  • WORST: Nebraska (-3½) at Colorado.  Nebraska barely escaped against South Alabama in the opener, and actually opened as an eight-point favorite over Colorado before the (smart) money started flowing in on the home team.
  • COVER SPECIAL:  Nevada (+24) at Oregon.  The MWC school won’t beat Oregon outright, but the team that knocked off Purdue in Week 1 will cover.

HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH

  1. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma (Last week: No. 3) — Six touchdowns and 500-plus yards of offense in the opener earns you the top spot.
  2. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama (No. 2) — The junior had almost as many touchdowns (four) as incompletions (five) vs. Duke.
  3. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson (unranked) — Etienne had 205 yards and three touchdowns on just a dozen carries.
  4. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin (No. 5) — After zero receiving touchdowns his first two seasons, Taylor had two in the opener (plus two on the ground).
  5. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State (No. 4) — Five total touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in first career start.
  6. Sam Ehlinger, QB, Texas (No. 6) — Four passing touchdowns, 169.4 pass efficiency rating.
  7. Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson (No. 1) — Lawrence had four interceptions as a true freshman; he had two in the opener.
  8. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU (unranked) — Burrow’s five first-half touchdown tosses set the school’s single-game record.
  9. Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon (No. 8) — Performed reasonably well (242 yards,1 TD, 0 picks) against one of the best defenses he’ll face in 2019.
  10. Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama (unranked) — I’ve decided to put a non-QB/RB in the 10th spot moving forward, and the Tide junior (10-137-1) is a good start.

(DROPPED OUT: Nebraska QB Adrian Martinez (No. 7), Georgia QB Jake Fromm (No. 9), Ohio State RB JK Dobbins (No. 10))

WEEK 2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
BRYAN FISCHER (@BryanDFischer): Arkansas (+6½) upsets Ole Miss for their first SEC win in 679 days. The Razorbacks were uninspiring — to say the least — in their opener against Portland State, but they move to 2-0 with a last-minute win at the Rebels as Chad Morris breaks through and Matt Luke‘s hot seat turns to lava.
ZACH BARNETT (@zach_barnett): Tennessee drops to 0-2. The Vols didn’t lose to Georgia State because they were dehydrated, a la Florida State. They lost because Georgia State was a better football team. BYU is, too.
KEVIN MCGUIRE (@KevinOnCFB): There is a lot of speculation that Army and Cincinnati will give Michigan and Ohio State, respectively, some good battles. I don’t see it happening. After some slow starts in the first quarter, both the Buckeyes and Wolverines romp at home this week.
JOHN TAYLOR (@CFTalk)
: Joe Burrow set a school record with five touchdown passes in the season opener a week ago; that benchmark will last exactly seven days as Burrow will break his own record by tossing six in LSU’s win over Texas in what will be an unexpectedly high-scoring affair.

NFL DRAFT PROSPECT WATCH
Wide receiver vs. cornerback battles in games such as Texas-LSU, Stanford-USC, Nebraska-Colorado and Texas A&M-Clemson are the flavors of the week as our buddies over at Rotoworld place their weekly spotlight on next-level players.  For the entire extensively-detailed piece, click HERE.

Ex-Minnesota QB now in FCS facing multiple felony rape, sexual assault charges

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A rather disturbing story involving a former Power Five quarterback is currently playing out in the state of Tennessee.

According to The Tennessean, Tennessee State quarterback Demry Croft was arrested Monday and charged with six felony counts of rape and two counts of sexual battery.  The charges stem from an alleged incident that occurred Dec. 1 of last year and came about after the allegations were presented to a grand jury by the university police department.

Other than the alleged rape wasn’t reported until April 4 of this year, no details surrounding the case have been revealed.

Croft remains a part of the FCS school, with the newspaper writing that “TSU officials would not confirm if Croft has been suspended from the football team.”

Croft began his collegiate playing career at Minnesota, but opted to transfer from the Gophers and ultimately landed at Tennessee State in December of 2017.

During his last season with the Gophers, Croft, who started the last six games of 2017,  completed 42 percent of his 122 passes for 674 yards, four touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 87.6 pass efficiency rating is not amongst the top 126 quarterbacks in the country.  Perhaps the most noteworthy moment of his Gophers career was posting a negative quarterback rating in a mid-November loss to Northwestern two weeks before he decided to transfer.

Conversely, though, he was good with his feet as his 309 yards rushing and four rushing touchdowns were fourth and third on the team, respectively.

At TSU, Croft started four games before missing the last half of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury.  Prior to the off-field issue, Croft had been penciled in as the Tigers’ starting quarterback.

Top five college football teams ready to bust out in 2019

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It may seem like Clemson’s thrashing of Alabama in the national title game was only a few months ago but as fresh in our minds as that contest was, it was last season. Hard as it is to believe but the 2019 campaign is almost here and it’s time to turn our attention from what happened last year to what could happen between the lines this fall.

As part of CFTalk’s 2019 College Football Preview, we’re exploring every nook and cranny of the sport before kickoff in Week 0. Up first, which teams might be ready to bust out and have a banner season? Several of these were either under or treading water in 2018 but could be in store for a big jump over the coming months.

Without further ado, here are five candidates to bust out in the Power Five and a handful of others in the Group of Five who could do the same in 2019:

Miami

Manny Diaz has taken over in Coral Gables and optimism is running high given what he was able to do with the Hurricanes defense as a coordinator the past few years, including bringing some of the swagger back to ‘The U’ with the now infamous turnover chain. The team slumped to a 7-6 finish last season, getting run out of the building by Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl. That ending certainly framed how this team is viewed going into 2019 but the ‘Canes still have one of the more talented rosters in the ACC and sport perhaps the best defense this side of Clemson in the conference too. The key to the program all comes down to the offense being not quite as awful as it was a year ago. There’s some talent surrounding new quarterback Jarren Williams and the hope is that new OC Dan Enos — fresh off an impressive run as Tua Tagovailoa’s coach at Alabama — can meld everything on that side of the ball into a cohesive unit. The opener against rival Florida in Orlando is fairly tough but the schedule is among the most manageable in the country and Miami might be favored in 11 of their 12 games overall. Somebody has to win the Coastal Division and the Hurricanes have as good a shot as any to have a big jump on the win total and make a run to Charlotte.

TCU

It seems like this is an annual exercise under Gary Patterson. Much is expected of the Horned Frogs one year, only for them to flop. Then nothing is expected amid one big question mark and TCU winds up challenging for the Big 12 and a playoff bid (see 2014 and 2017). We might be a lot closer to the latter with this year’s squad, which may technically return only 12 starters but has a ton of players with experience returning to the lineup after injuries hit the team hard the past 18 months or so. The Horned Frogs offense should sport one of the better offensive lines, a solid running game and an All-American candidate Jalen Reagor at wideout.  The question remains quarterback, which will largely determine the ceiling or floor of this group. Kansas State transfer Alex Delton or four-star freshman Max Duggan are the two front-runners for the gig though both are likely to see time early on. As one can expect from a Patterson-coached team, the defense will be pretty good too. Most of the talk in the Big 12 has been about stalwarts Oklahoma and Texas but don’t discount the Frogs making it back to AT&T Stadium either.

Oklahoma State

Sticking in the Big 12, the Cowboys narrowly avoided their first losing season since 2005 and are hoping to get back to the double-digit wins that have they have been accustomed to having the last few years. Princeton’s Sean Gleeson is the team’s new offensive coordinator and his biggest task will be keeping the offense going with either redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders or Hawaii transfer Dru Brown at quarterback. Whoever emerges under center will get the benefit of throwing to Biletnikoff Award finalist Tylan Wallace at receiver and a pretty solid tailback group headlined by Chuba Hubbard. The secondary should be a strength on defense and the hope is that some surprises emerge in the front seven to help make a solid group on that side of the ball better. OSU was better than their record indicated in 2018 given the number of close losses they suffered and given how their schedule shakes out, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Mike Gundy’s group return to the top 25 this season.

Minnesota

There’s been a ton of discussion about the Big Ten West and how the division shakes up this year, with Iowa, defending champ Northwestern and fast-riser Nebraska garnering much of the discussion with a little Purdue mixed in for good measure. The dark horse few mention is the Gophers though, who took a nice jump in Year 2 under P.J. Fleck to a bowl game and are hoping to row the boat to even more progress in 2019. QB Tanner Morgan was a big reason behind last season’s stretch run, going 4-2 as a starter and developing obvious chemistry with top target Tyler JohnsonAdd in a pretty accomplished group at running back and the Minnesota offense has a chance to surprise folks with how good it can be. Defensively, the team has responded well to DC Joe Rossi after he was elevated to the gig and the Gophers are returning six starters on that side of the ball plus returning safety Antoine Winfield Jr. after a injury-shortened redshirt campaign and Notre Dame graduate transfer Micah Dew-Treadway up front.  They get Rutgers and Maryland as two of their crossover Big Ten East games so a run at double-digit wins can’t be ruled out in the Twin Cities if everything comes together.

Arizona

At this time last year, there was a ton of talk about Khalil Tate’s Heisman chances and if the Wildcats could make the jump in a wide-open Pac-12 South. Injuries put a damper on that first question early in 2018 but if the dynamic quarterback can get back to being his old self, that latter question may be of relevance in 2019 out in the desert. The team uniquely gets three bye weeks thanks to opening at Hawaii in Week 0 and the early schedule is easy enough to facilitate a pretty good start. Tate running and throwing like he did two years ago combined with superb tailback J.J. Taylor make the offense dangerous and it would be somewhat surprising if the defense didn’t improve at least incrementally. While this team isn’t likely to challenge for the conference title, making big strides and at least making a run at a trip to Santa Clara would be a huge sign of progress under Kevin Sumlin.

Group of Five Bust Out Candidates: Ohio, Florida Atlantic, Hawaii, UL-Lafayette, Tulane

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck takes team to Twins game, hands out scholarship to walk-on

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One of the biggest surprises of the Major League Baseball season has been the play of the Minnesota Twins, who lead the AL Central by several games and have one of the best records in the game. 

Perhaps hoping to be inspired by their play ahead of their own 2019 season, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck took his team to Target Field for a game this week as a nice reward for their effort early on during camp. As fun as the trip down to see the local pro team was though, there was some business to attend to as well.

Namely, handing out a scholarship to walk-on Clay Geary in a very unique way. Take a look in the video he posted on Twitter:

“Coach Fleck, thank you so much,” Geary said. “I love this team.” 

Geary is expected to be a part of the rotation at receiver this year and appeared in eight games last season on offense and special teams. 

Kudos to the Gophers and Fleck for whipping up something unique for a local kid who will now never forget how he got a full ride at Minnesota.