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Two-game suspensions for Louisiana Tech’s starting QB, star WR

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Suffice to say, Louisiana Tech’s offense will be at less than full strength when it takes the field in Week 12 later on today.

Thursday night, the Tech football program announced that three players, junior wide receiver Adrian Hardy, senior outside linebacker James Jackson and quarterback J’Mar Smith, have been suspended for Friday night’s game against Marshall.  Hardy and Smith will also be suspended for next Saturday’s road game against UAB.

Per the school, all three players were slapped with their respective suspensions because of violations of unspecified athletic department policies.

“This matter is being handled internally,” the program said in a statement. “Neither [head football coach Skip] Holtz nor athletic department officials will address this further.”

Smith is in his third season as Tech’s starting quarterback and has thrown for 2,483 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2019.  Smith will be replaced in the starting lineup by Aaron Allen, who has thrown nine passes this year and will be making the first start of his collegiate career.

Hardy leads the Bulldogs in receiving yards with 482 and is second in receptions with 39.

Tech is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak that has them sitting atop the West Division of Conference USA at a perfect 5-0.  Their only loss came in the season opener against No. 19 Texas.

LSU’s Joe Brady, Ohio State’s Jeff Hafley among nominees for Boyles Award as CFB’s top assistant coach

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The college football awards process is a pretty simple four phase process as you go from watch list season to the actual season to the semifinalist lists to the actual awards being announced in early December. As we approach Week 12 of the 2019 campaign, we’re firmly into the third phase of announcing a narrowing of the field and limiting who can actually take some hardware home after the regular season is finished.

To that end, The Frank & Barbara Broyles Foundation announced on Wednesday the 41-person strong list of nominees for the Broyles Award, which goes to college football’s top assistant coach. As you would expect, there are quite a few big names under consideration as the assistants in question have either helped lead remarkable turnarounds with their specific side of the ball or have helped elevate their team into conference and/or the national title conversation.

Here’s the full list of 41 names and their titles:

ALABAMA – Steve Sarkisian, Offensive Coordinator/QB

APPALACHIAN STATE – Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator

ARKANSAS STATE – Keith Heckendorf, Offensive coordinator/QB

AUBURN – Kevin Steele, Defensive Coordinator

BALL STATE – Joey Lynch, Offensive Coordinator/QB

BAYLOR – Phil Snow, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

BYU – Aaron Roderick, Passing Game Coordinator/QB

CALIFORNIA – Tim DeRuyter, Defensive Coordinator

CENTRAL MICHIGAN – Charlie Frye, Offensive Coordinator/QB

CINCINNATI – Marcus Freeman, Defensive Coordinator

CLEMSON – Jeff Scott, Co-Offensive Coordinator/WR

FLORIDA – Billy Gonzalez, Wide Receivers

GEORGIA – Dan Lanning, Defensive Coordinator/Outside LBs

GEORGIA STATE – Brad Glenn, Offensive Coordinator

INDIANA – Kalen DeBoer, Offensive Coordinator/QB

IOWA – Phil Parker, Defensive Coordinator/DB

IOWA STATE – Tom Manning, Offensive Coordinator/Run Game Coordinator

LOUISVILLE – Dwayne Ledfors, Offensive Line

LOUISIANA – Ron Roberts, Defensive Coordinator

LSU – Joe Brady, Passing Game Coordinator/WR

MEMPHIS – Pete Lembo, Special Teams Coordinator

MICHIGAN – Don Brown, Defensive Coordinator

MINNESOTA – Kirk Ciarrocca, Offensive Coordinator/QB

MISSOURI – Ryan Walters, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

NAVY – Brian Newberry, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OHIO STATE – Jeff Hafley, Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary

OKLAHOMA – Alex Grinch, Defensive Coordinator/ Safeties

OLE MISS – Mike MacIntyre, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

OREGON – Andy Avalos, Defensive Coordinator

OREGON STATE – Brian Lindgren, Offensive Coordinator/QB

PENN STATE – Brent Pry, Defensive Coordinator/LB

PITTSBURGH – Randy Bates, Defensive Coordinator

SAN JOSÉ STATE – Ryan Gunderson, Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator

SMU – Rhett Lashlee, Offensive Coordinator/QB

TROY – Ryan Pugh, Offensive Coordinator/OL

TULANE – Will Hall, Offensive Coordinator/

UAB – David Reeves, Defensive Coordinator

UCF – Randy Shannon, Defensive Coordinator

UTAH – Morgan Scalley, Defensive Coordinator/Safeties

WESTERN KENTUCKY – Clayton White, Defensive Coordinator/CB

WISCONSIN – Jim Leonhard, Defensive Coordinator

Obviously there’s a ton of well deserving candidates but it might be hard to top LSU’s Brady for the award given how big of a jump the Tigers’ offense has made with his arrival in Baton Rouge. Ohio State’s Hafley and Oklahoma’s Grinch also have made huge strides with their respective teams but even at the Group of Five level there’s a ton of guys who have been terrific this season.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, December 10th and the award is usually a good sign for whoever takes home the trophy becoming a head coach in the near future. Former Alabama OC Mike Locksley won the Broyles Award last year while past winners have included Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley and current Texas coach Tom Herman when he was at Ohio State.

Both injured Tennessee QBs medically cleared

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After seemingly experiencing a season’s worth of injuries under center this month alone, Jeremy Pruitt now has a welcome signal-calling decision to make.

Jarrett Guarantano (pictured, left) started the first four games of the 2019 season before losing the job to true freshman Brian Maurer (pictured, right), who suffered a concussion in each of the last two of his first three collegiate starts and missed last Saturday’s win over South Carolina. In that same game, Guarantano suffered a broken bone in his left (non-throwing) hand and underwent surgery to repair the damage.

Ahead of this coming Saturday’s nonconference matchup with UAB, Pruitt announced that both Maurer and Guarantano have been medically cleared to play in Week 10. What the head coach didn’t announce was which quarterback, including J.T. Shrout (pictured, center), will start the game for the Volunteers against the Blazers.

“They’re all ready to go,” Pruitt said according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “How we play them, we’ve not decided yet.”

A decision likely won’t be made until closer to kickoff Saturday.

Guarantano, who entered the season having started 18 games for the Vols, has completed nearly 61 percent of his passes for 1,140 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Statistically, Maurer pales in comparison as he’s thrown five picks versus two touchdowns in completing less than 50 percent of his 55 passes.

In the most extended action of his career, Shrout went 7-11 for 122 yards and a touchdown last weekend.

Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award watch list actually includes Ohio State’s Ryan Day

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A bit of a kerfuffle was kicked up amidst Buckeye Nation earlier this month when Ryan Day was left off the Dodd Trophy’s midseason watch list (that award doesn’t include first-year head coaches, for those still unaware). Another coaching award released its midseason(ish) watch list this week and, fear not Buckeye faithful, Day is included.

Wednesday, the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award, handed out annually since 1986, released its version of a midyear watch list, with 22 head coaches being recognized. Headlining that group is Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, who claimed last year’s version of the award named for the Alabama coaching legend. Swinney, who played his college football for the Crimson Tide, is actually the only three-time winner of the award, having won it in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016.

Of the 22 watch listers, just two of them do not coach teams currently ranked in the Top 25 — UAB’s Bill Clark, Memphis’ Mike Norvell. Four other Group of Five coaches are represented, with Appalachian State’s Eliah Drinkwitz, SMU’s Sonny Dykes, Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell and Boise State’s Bryan Harsin finishing up that grouping.

Ohio State’s Day is one of four Big Ten teams represented, tying the SEC for the most of any single conference. The Big 12 has three, while the ACC and Pac-12 have two apiece.

Brian Kelly of Notre Dame is the only football independent on the list.

Receivers from Purdue, UAB added to Biletnikoff Award watch list

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For the second time in less than three weeks, a major college football award is adding to its watch list.

This week, the Biletnikoff Award announced that it has added two wide receivers to watch, one each from a Power Five and Group of Five school.  Those added this go-around are Purdue’s David Bell and UAB’s Austin Watkins Jr.

In seven games this season, Bell has 635 yards and four touchdowns on 39 receptions.  The freshman’s 5.6 catches per game are third in the Big Ten and tied for 39th nationally.

Watkins’ 93.6 yards per game is 13th in the country and the highest average for any Conference USA receiver.

The Biletnikoff Award is handed out annually to the nation’s most outstanding FBS receiver. The Tallahassee Quarterback Club Foundation, which oversees the honor, stresses that “[a]ny player, regardless of position (wide receiver, tight end, slot back and running back) who catches a pass is eligible for the award.”

Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the award.