Getty Images

Nebraska and OC Troy Walters “mutually agreed to part ways”

1 Comment

A year after significantly falling short of expectations, an offseason of change has commenced at Nebraska.

In one of the first big moves since Scott Frost took over at his alma mater, the Cornhuskers and offensive coordinator Troy Walters announced on Friday that they had ‘mutually agreed to part ways.’

“Troy has been a valued member of our coaching staff for the past four years,” Frost said in a statement. “Troy is a good mentor for his players, provides great energy on and off the field, and carries himself with a presence off the field that will be missed. I want to thank him for his work on our coaching staff, and wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

The duo first came together when Frost was hired at UCF and led a number of prolific offenses, including the undefeated 2017 team for the Knights. Walters was a finalist for the Broyles Award that same season though has not called plays for either team.

Walters had a distinguished career as a player at Stanford that included All-American honors and a Biletnikoff Award in 1999. He spent several years in the NFL before going into coaching during stops at Texas A&M, N.C. State and Colorado.

The departure of Walters could interestingly lead to a reunion between Frost and a familiar name in Mark Helfrich. The latter was head coach at Oregon when Frost was elevated to offensive coordinator for the Ducks and is in search of a job after being let go by the Chicago Bears from a similar role.

UCF announces new titles for three Knights assistants

UCF Knights football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

For a trio of UCF Knights football assistants, it was a day of adjustments for a trio of coaches.

Monday, the Knights announced that Anthony Tucker and Alex Golesh will serve as co-offensive coordinators.  Tucker has been the Knights’ running back coach and passing-game coordinator the past two seasons.  He’ll continue on as running backs coach.

Golesh is a new addition to Josh Heupel‘s coaching staff.  The past four seasons, he was the tight ends coach at Iowa State.  He also served as the program’s recruiting coordinator.

“Anthony has done a great job of shaping what we do offensively,” says the UCF Knights football head coach in a statement. “He has been excellent in terms of leading his guys and developing them on and off the field. He has invested a lot in our program, and I’m extremely excited to have him take a greater leadership role with what we are doing.

“Alex is a tremendous teacher and motivator. He has done a great job of developing his guys wherever he has been. He has a fantastic track record as an elite recruiter. You look at what he has been able to do on the offensive side of the ball, developing the tight ends and the numbers they’ve put up–and so we’re excited about all the things he brings to what we do offensively and schematically.”

Additionally, Joey Halzle has been promoted to quarterbacks coach.  Halzle just completed his first season an offensive quality control assistant with the UCF Knights football program.

The former Oklahoma quarterback previously spent the 2016 season as an offensive analyst and assistant quarterback coach at Missouri after a year in that same role at Utah State in 2015. He was an offensive graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma from 2012-14 after helping the Sooners from 2009-11 as an offensive quality control assistant coach. In all those roles he worked under Heupel.

“I’ve either coached Joey or coached with him 10 of the last 12 years. He has a great understanding of what it means to play the quarterback position. He’s a fantastic teacher and understands the preparation you have to put in. He knows what it feels like to be inside the pocket when you play the position, and I think that will be critically valuable for him inside our meeting room in dealing with Dillon Gabriel and Darriel Mack. I’m looking forward to him developing those two guys, helping them understand what defenses are doing and getting them to go play their best football.”

The school noted in its release that “[t]he hiring of Golesh and the promotion of Halzle to a full-time assistant role fill the slots of former UCF offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, now in that same role at Ole Miss, and former Knight tight end coach Jon Cooper, now an assistant coach at Arkansas.”

UCF tops Marshall in highest-scoring Gasparilla Bowl

Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images
3 Comments

It may not be where UCF has become accustomed to playing this time of the year, but the Knights are ending their 2019 season with 10 wins and a bowl victory. UCF (10-3, 6-2 AAC) finished off their season on a winning note by topping Marshall (8-5, 6-2 Conference USA)in the highest-scoring Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl Monday afternoon, 48-25.

Marshall imploded early in the game with five turnovers on each of their first five offensive possessions. Isaiah Green had a third-down pass intercepted on the third play of the game and Richie Grant returned the football 39 yards for a defensive touchdown to give UCF an early lead. Green connected on a 45-yard pass to Armani Levias on the first play of the ensuing possession but Levias fumbled the football at the end of the play. After falling behind 14-0 in the first quarter, Marshall turned the football over again and the Knights defense struck again with Tre’Mon Morris-Brash returning a fumble 45 yards for a score.

UCF built a 31-7 lead in the third quarter before Marshall began to get the ball moving and a better grip on the football. But by then, the damage had essentially been done.

Dillon Gabriel passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns for UCF before getting some rest at the end of the game. Marlon Williams had a big day with seven receptions for 132 yards and a touchdown in the winning effort. As a team, UCF rushed for 310 yards and out-gained Marshall 587-351. The game was also a bit testy in the second half as Big Ten officials did their best to keep control before things devolved into something ugly. Marshall’s Darrius Hodge was ejected from the game late in the third quarter after coming off the bench to get involved in some verbal jabbing at the end of a play. It was his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game, which results in an automatic ejection. Making his ejection unique was the fact Marshall was on offense at the time. The two teams combined for 18 penalties and 167 penalty yards with a handful of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties distributed to players on both teams.

The 73 combined points scored in the game are the most in a Gasparilla Bowl. The previous record point total was 69 scored by Rutgers and UCF in 2009 (Rutgers won 45-24) when the game was called the St. Petersburg Bowl. It was the second year of the bowl game’s existence.

With the win, UCF head coach Josh Heupel has won his first bowl game as a head coach. UCF also has won 10 or more games for a third consecutive season for the first time in program history. UCF could be lining up a possible spot in the final top 25 rankings, which would also be the third consecutive season for the first time in program history.

UCF’s 2020 season will begin at home next year with a home game against Mack Brown and UNC. The 2020 season opener is currently scheduled for a Thursday night kickoff on Sept. 3, 2020. UCF will also face Georgia Tech in Atlanta for a second game against a power conference opponent. The Knights also host FIU and Florida A&M in non-conference play. UCF will get some key division and conference games at home with home dates against Cincinnati and Temple, but a road trip to Memphis also looms.

Marshall’s 2020 season is currently scheduled to begin on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020 at East Carolina. The Thundering Herd will host Pittsburgh and Boise State and travel to Ohio in other non-conference matchups before jumping into the Conference USA schedule.

College Football Bowl Preview: Your Dec. 23 Viewer’s Guide

College Football Bowl Preview
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Your trusty and semi-daily college football bowl preview that today takes a quick-hit look at a very light Dec. 23 bowl menu, one that features just a single matchup. Although, for the freaks in the audience, this lone postseason game has been a bad, bad, bad boy.

WHO: UCF (9-3) vs. Marshall (8-4)
WHAT: The 12th Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
WHEN: 2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
TICKETS: Click here
THE SKINNY: This postseason will likely be a culture shock for the Central Florida football program.  The past two seasons, UCF has played in such marquee New Year’s Six games as the Fiesta Bowl (2018) and Peach Bowl (2017).  Of course, the Knights were undefeated in the regular season those two years, with their three losses in 2019 the most since 2016. … Marshall, meanwhile, has absolutely owned the postseason over the past two decades. The Thundering Herd will ride a seven-game bowl winning streak into Tampa — current head coach Doc Holliday is a perfect 6-0 —  and has won 12 of the last 13 they have played in the postseason. Overall, the program is 12-2 all-time in bowl games. … Marshall and UCF have met 11 times previously, with eight of those matchups coming when both were members of Conference USA.  The Knights lead the series 8-3 — in fact, they have won eight in a row against the Thundering Herd — with the last meeting coming in 2012. … If they can get past Marshall, UCF will win 10-plus games in three-straight seasons for the first time in program history. … Both teams come into Monday on a relative roll, with the Herd winning six of seven and the Knights five of six. … True freshman Dillon Gabriel took the reins of UCF’s offense early on in the campaign, with the quarterback finishing the regular season with 3,393 yards and 27 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions.  Marshall is in the middle of the pack (tied for 67th nationally) in pass defense, giving up 227.8 yards per game. … As is the case in most games, turnovers will likely play a big role.  When Marshall turns the ball over two or fewer times, they are 8-0.  UCF is plus-nine in turnover margin in its wins, minus-seven in its losses. … Marshall won last year’s Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, their third appearance in the game (3-0). UCF has appeared twice, losing both of those games. … The Herd will cover the substantial point spread, but will also see their postseason roll slowed a bit by the Knights.
THE LINE: Marshall, +17
THE PREDICTION: UCF 45, Marshall 31

Ex-Ohio State DL Malik Barrow transfers from UCF to Rutgers

Getty Images
3 Comments

After a brief sabbatical, Malik Barrow is back in the Big Ten.

In October of last year, Ohio State’s Malik Barrow took to Twitter to announce that, “due to unfortunate circumstances throughout my football career, I found it was in my best interests to medically retire.” Fast-forward five months, though, and the defensive tackle utilized the same social media service to indicate that he’d done an about-face and would resume his playing career, with that resumption ultimately taking place at UCF in August.

Sunday, however, Barrow tweeted that, after entering the portal in October, he has decided to leave UCF and continue his collegiate career at Rutgers.  As a graduate transfer, the lineman will be eligible to play immediately for the Scarlet Knights in 2020.

The upcoming season will serve as Barrow’s final year of eligibility, unless he appeals for a sixth season from the NCAA.

The move to Piscataway will result in a reunion as RU’s new/old head coach, Greg Schiano, was OSU’s defensive coordinator during Barrow’s time in Columbus.  Whether the player can remain healthy, though, remains to be seen.

Barrow tore the ACL in one knee as a senior in high school, then, in the fourth game of the 2017 campaign, tore the ACL in the other knee during his redshirt freshman season with the Buckeyes. His rehab of the second serious knee injury extended on into spring practice last year, and the lineman hadn’t played at all during the 2018 season prior to his decision to “retire.”

A four-star member of the Buckeyes’ 2016 recruiting class, Barrow was rated as the No. 32 defensive tackle in the country and the No. 42 player at any position in the state of Florida. He played in two games in 2017 before going down with the second ACL injury.  Those were his only two appearances at OSU.

At UCF, Barrow played in four games before deciding to place his name into the NCAA transfer database.