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Virginia Tech QB Josh Jackson set for surgery, out indefinitely

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Virginia Tech’s embarrassing weekend came with a rather substantial personnel loss.

This past Saturday, starting quarterback Josh Jackson went down with a lower-leg injury in then-No. 13 Tech’s historic loss to Old Dominion; it was the Conference USA program’s first-ever win over a Power Five school after nine straight such losses over the last decade.

Monday, the Hokies’ worst fears were realized as Justin Fuente confirmed that Jackson suffered a fractured left fibula during the game and will be sidelined indefinitely.  The signal-caller is set to undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair the damage.

This season prior to the injury, Jackson completed a little over 62 percent of his 58 passes for 575 yards, five touchdowns and an interception.  His 170.3 pass efficiency rating is currently 18th nationally and second among ACC quarterbacks (Boston College’s Anthony Brown, 175.5).

With Jackson sidelined for the foreseeable future, the keys to Tech’s offense will be handed off to Ryan Willis.  The Kansas transfer had to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, and has attempted 25 passes for the Hokies this season.  In that limited action thus far, he has thrown for 195 yards and a touchdown.

The good news is that Willis isn’t exactly new to the starting game at the collegiate level.

Willis started two games during the 2016 season; after throwing three interceptions in each of those mid-October starts, Willis was benched and never played another down for the Jayhawks. In his first season in Lawrence in 2015, Willis set a KU freshman record by throwing for 1,719 yards and nine touchdowns as part of his eight starts.

“I feel badly for Josh,” Fuente said in comments distributed by the school earlier today. “He’s a competitive, tough young man. He just kind of got landed on wrong on the play, but know he’ll come back better than ever.

“We turn to Ryan Willis and he performed pretty well last week when he went in there. He’s competitive and he’s been training and working for this opportunity and it’s up to everyone else to step up their game as well and help him out and support him.”

Oklahoma State WR Jalen McCleskey announces transfer

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In a purely shocking move, Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy announced Monday that wide receiver Jalen McCleskey will utilize the new redshirt rule and transfer immediately.

McCleskey told Gundy he is leaving due to a lack of playing time.

A 3-star recruit out of Louisiana, McCleskey caught 29 balls as a true freshman in 2015, led the team with 73 grabs as a sophomore and snared 50 passes last season. Through four games in 2018, McCleskey ranked second on the team with 15 receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. He caught four passes for 52 yards in a 41-17 loss to No. 25 Texas Tech on Saturday.

After years of playing third fiddle to James Washington and Marcell Ateman, McCleskey, presumably figured to be the offense’s top option in his senior year, but fellow senior Taylor Cornelius has favored sophomore Tylan Wallace, turning to him for a team-high 26 completions.

McCleskey’s departure is part of a new phenomenon of players utilizing the new redshirt rule to their advantage. By leaving when he is, McCleskey will not have this season count against his eligibility, thus allowing him to play elsewhere in 2019.

He leaves school as one of the 10 most productive receivers in Oklahoma State history, hauling in 167 passes for 1,865 yards and 17 touchdowns.

 

Arkansas WR Jonathan Nance announces transfer after slow start with Hogs

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The 2018 season has not gotten off to the start Arkansas fans were hoping to see. After three straight losses have dropped the Razorbacks to a woeful 1-3 record, wide receiver Jonathan Nance has decided he is ready to move on from the program and look for a fresh slate.

Nance took to Twitter to announce his intention to transfer from the Razorbacks. He also noted he will use the 2018 season as a redshirt season, as he qualifies for that redshirt eligibility after appearing in the maximum games allowed before being forced to burn a year of eligibility under the NCAA’s new redshirt rule.

“I want to thank Arkansas and my coaches for giving me [an] opportunity to compete on this level,” Nance said in his Twitter statement.”It has been a great ride and have made life long friends that I will never take for granted.”

After leading Arkansas in receiving in 2017 with 37 receptions for 539 yards and five touchdowns, Nance caught just one pass for a loss of two yards in 2018. Nance will have one final year of eligibility to use wherever he lands next. There has been no indication of where his next stop may be at this time.

Nance’s announcement to transfer after four games may be a hint of things to come under the new redshirt rule. Because players can appear in up to four games before eligibility for the year is officially used up, it would not be shocking to see more players decide to make their transfer plans around this time of year after getting a sense of how the season may be going for them and having an idea where they fit in, or in Nance’s case, don’t fit in under a new scheme or a new coach.

Minnesota DB Antoine Winfield, Jr. to miss remainder of season with foot injury

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For the second year in a row, Antoine Winfield, Jr.‘s season ends just four games after it started.

After appearing in 12 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield was lost for the year four games into his sophomore campaign of 2017. He obtained a hardship waiver to play this season as a redshirt sophomore, but now will miss the rest of the season to a foot injury suffered in a 42-13 loss to Maryland on Saturday.

He will undergo surgery on Monday.

In a statement announcing the injury, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck announced the Gophers will pursue another hardship waiver for Winfield, meaning he would be a fourth-year sophomore in 2019 if approved.

Winfield is the second Gopher to be lost for the season, following running back Rodney Smith.

“We are heartbroken for Antoine,” Fleck said. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.”

Winfield led all Gophers defensive backs with 17 tackles on the year while tying for the team lead with one interception. He was also the team’s punt returner, notching a 76-yard score in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 and a 31-yard return in a 26-3 defeat of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 15.

Minnesota (3-1) is off Saturday before visiting Iowa on Oct. 6

No. 10 Washington rides defense to win over slumping Arizona State

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Take one of the Pac-12’s best rushing attacks, mix in the league’s best receiver on the other sideline and stir after dark to get some wild, offensive-laden craziness in Seattle, right? Uh, not even close.

No. 10 Washington rode their incredible defense and used a handful of big plays from their offensive veterans to secure a bruising 27-20 win on Saturday night and drop the fighting Herm Edwards’ of Arizona State to a slumping .500 on the season.

Huskies QB Jake Browning crossed the 10,000 yard passing plateau for his college career and continued closing in on several school records with an efficient 202 yard game. That included three excellent throws into the end zone for touchdowns, one to Aaron Fulleranother to Ty Jones and the best of the bunch in the fourth quarter to help salt the game away to a tip-toeing Cade Otton.

The signal-caller’s play balanced out another solid (if not quite the usual spectacular) effort from Washington’s one-two punch in the backfield as Myles Gaskin recorded 86 yards on the ground and Salvon Ahmed chipped in with 71 more on limited carries. The team punted just three times all game and probably could have gotten off to a better start had their signature Chris Petersen trick play on the first play of the game — in this case, a double-pass — not been picked off.

The real star of the show might have been the defense though. Linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven looks like a budding All-American and finished with 20 tackles and two forced fumbles while the entire front seven was a load for the Sun Devils to handle. Eno Benjamin had just one long run on his way to 104 yards plus a TD and otherwise had to fight for running room on every carry.

He was still a bright spot for ASU all things considered… namely how rough of an outing it was for QB Manny Wilkins (104 yards passing) and star receiver N'Keal Harry (five catches, 20 yards). The entire group seemingly continued their struggles from last week’s loss against San Diego State and will now need to find some way to regroup with the heart of their Pac-12 slate coming up next month. After grabbing the nation’s attention with a victory over Michigan State, now will really be the time we’ll find out what Edwards can do as a college coach as he tries to rebound from a losing streak for the first time.

The Huskies, meanwhile, can rest easy knowing they didn’t get swept up in the wild nature of the day in college football with so many ranked teams falling to unranked squads. It was by no means a crisp outing for Petersen’s group but it is a precious win nevertheless and does set up a very intriguing game next Saturday night against a ranked BYU squad. At this point late into the night on Saturday, surviving and advancing is nothing to overlook and, thanks mostly to their defense, Washington did just that against Arizona State.