NCAA Football News

Ohio State Football: Examining the Buckeyes' Most Important Position Battle

As Ohio State's 2013 season came to an end, Joel Hale came to a sobering conclusion. After beginning the year as a starter on Ohio State's defensive line, the junior defensive tackle was no longer as valued of a member of the Buckeyes roster as he was at the start of the year.

The emergence of freshman defensive end Joey Bosa shifted sophomore Adolphus Washington back inside to his original position of defensive tackle, effectively pushing Hale out of the OSU lineup. But rather than be content with spending his impending senior season as a reserve, the 6'4", 310-pounder approached Urban Meyer with a career-altering proposition.

"I wasn't doing what I wanted to do for the team toward the end of the season last year," Hale admitted. "That was bugging me. That was really bothering me and sticking with me. So I just wanted to do what I could and know that I can. I know I can do a lot more for the Buckeyes because I have a lot in my heart and a lot in my mind to make this team the best it can be. I went in with a change to the O-line in mind."

Meyer obliged, and with that, the three-year defensive lineman transformed into a first-year offensive lineman fighting in the most important position battle on Ohio State's most important unit. With the Buckeyes replacing four experienced starters from last season's offensive line, Meyer's already admitted that he's found his eyes drifting to one particular vacant spot.

"Left guard, left guard, left guard," Meyer unsolicitedly repeated during his opening fall camp press conference on Monday. "That's the one. If I had to say, 'Where's all the focus?,' to me, it's that left guard. What are we going to do with the left guard?"

That just so happens to be the position that Hale now finds himself at, although he's hardly a lock to be a starter when the Buckeyes take the field for their season opener against Navy on Aug. 30. In fact, the former defensive lineman is currently practicing as Ohio State's second-string left guard, as Antonio Underwood takes reps with the first team.

A fourth-year junior, Underwood is no stranger to adversity himself, as a promising spring session a year ago was cut short when the Shaker Heights, Ohio, native tore his ACL. But despite having spent the better part of the past year recovering, the 6'3", 303-pound Underwood feels as though he's picked up right where he left off.

"Last spring, I started to gain the reputation of being consistent," Underwood said in the spring. "I've picked that up. Obviously, there's still stuff I need to work on, but I feel as though I'm getting better."

Hale isn't the only former defensive lineman making a push for the starting spot formerly occupied by Andrew Norwell, however, as Billy Price has also thrown his name into the mix. After arriving at Ohio State as a defensive tackle a season ago, the Buckeyes staff opted to move him to center midway through the year, ultimately redshirting Price to preserve an extra year of eligibility.

Now, Price finds himself vying to be a starter at not just one, but two positions on the OSU offensive line. And while he may not have the upper hand in either battle—Jacoby Boren or Chad Lindsay figure to start at center—the Youngstown, Ohio, native's status as one of the strongest players on the entire team makes him an intriguing candidate nonetheless.

"The first three days, he's practiced at guard and at center," Buckeyes offensive line coach Ed Warinner said of Price. "We rotate him in at guard as well because he's a physically talented guy. So there's a chance that if he wasn't the starter at center, he could be a starter at guard or a role player at either position."

Also mixing it up at left guard so far this fall have been fourth-year junior Chase Farris and true freshman Marcelys Jones. Both, however, are long shots to see significant playing time this season, as Farris has bounced between offense and defense throughout his career, and Jones is a likely redshirt candidate.

For now, Underwood remains the favorite to be facing off with the Midshipmen in 23 days, but Hale's veteran presence should push him to the very end. As a senior in his last go-round at a new position, the new offensive lineman has made it clear that he won't go down without a fight, as it's more than just a starting spot he's currently vying for.

"It's a huge risk," Hale admitted of his position switch. "I'm fighting for my life right now. I'm fighting everyday."

 

*All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.

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Virginia Tech Football 2014: Complete Preview and Predictions

Frank Beamer's Hokies found success in 2013, as they finished with an overall record of 8-5 and a 5-3 record within the ACC.

However, the team failed to finish the campaign on a positive note, losing to UCLA in the Sun Bowl. Beamer and the Hokies will look to start and finish this upcoming season on a stronger note.

Watch as B/R's experts examine Virginia Tech before the 2014 season begins.

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Texas A&M Football: Week 1 Fall Camp Stock Report

The Texas A&M football team has completed its first week of fall camp, and there were a few surprises. It is hard to get a read on where the team is at before the full pads go on, but some of the younger players on the roster have already made an impression on their coaches and teammates. 

Head coach Kevin Sumlin and his staff continue to experiment with different players in different situations, so it is tough to gauge where each player ranks on the depth chart during the first week of camp. 

There are multiple positions still up for grabs. The competitions for most of these starting spots will continue until fall camp. The starting quarterback position will be decided with two weeks remaining before the August 28 opener against South Carolina. 

 

Quarterback Competition Continues

Both sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill and true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen split snaps with the first-team offense during the first week of camp. This will continue until the coaches pick a starter, and then he will get all of the snaps with the first-team offense leading up to the season opener. 

Hill had a nice moment during 11-on-11. When pressure forced him out of the pocket, he scrambled left to buy time and found running back Trey Williams in the end zone for a touchdown. That is what Hill gives you that Allen does not: the ability to extend plays with his feet. 

Hill received most of the snaps with the first-team offense Monday while Allen was stuck with the second team. The two quarterbacks will rotate snaps until the coaches are ready to make their decision. 

 

Youth Is Served on Defense

The coaches have not wasted any time throwing the newcomers into the fire on defense. Defensive ends Myles Garrett, Qualen Cunningham and Darrell Jackson all have received a serious look from the coaches. 

Garrett has shared snaps on the first-team defense with Daeshon Hall. It does not matter who the coaches decide to start on the weak side, but expect to see Garrett on the field a lot when the opposing team is expected to pass. Garrett is a true freshman but is thicker physically than Hall. 

Cunningham and Jackson have been getting snaps on the second team. The Aggies did not have a pass rush from their defensive line in 2013. It is imperative that they develop some depth at defensive end in 2014, so they can attack the opposing quarterback for four quarters. 

Both true freshmen linebackers have seen action with the second-team defense. Otaro Alaka and Josh Walker are trying to impress the coaches enough to earn some playing time and avoid a redshirt. 

 

Nothing Is Guaranteed 

The Aggie football coaches continue to experiment with different players in different formations in order to find the best combination of players to offer the team a chance at success. Senior offensive guard Jarvis Harrison has started at left guard for the past two years. 

He is currently running second team at left guard while Garrett Gramling is practicing with the first team. There is no timetable on when Harrison will move back up with the first team. 

The Aggie defenses continue to use multiple formations. Their base formation is the 4-3 defense, but they have been using 4-2-5 schemes and the 33-stack in practice. 

When the Aggies went to a three-man front Monday, they had Alonzo Williams at nose guard. When they went to an even front, they had Zaycoven Henderson at nose guard and Jay Arnold at defensive tackle. Expect the coaches to continue to mix and match players in an attempt to determine the ideal combinations. 

Sophomore linebacker A.J. Hilliard has been getting some snaps with the first-team defense at weak-side linebacker. The 6'2", 230-pound transfer from TCU has the size at linebacker that the Aggies desire. If he can earn a starting spot, then that would be a big boost to the Aggies' run defense. 

Senior outside linebacker Donnie Baggs has been expected to start on the weak side. His lack of size caused him to get swallowed up by offensive linemen in 2013 and become an ineffective defender. 

The starting wide receivers seem set with Josh Reynolds, Malcome Kennedy, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones on the first team. Seals-Jones played in the slot Monday with Noil on the outside. Aggie fans should expect offensive coordinator Jake Spavital to moves Seals-Jones all over the field in order to find favorable matchups. 

It is only the first week of practice, but the coaches have to be happy with the improved depth on the team. The depth on the lines and the skill positions is particularly impressive. The Texas A&M football team is starting to physically resemble an SEC football program.  

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Eastern Michigan Unveils New Gray Turf at 'The Factory'

When teams in the Mid-American Conference visit Eastern Michigan this season, they will need to focus on their opponent, not the playing surface.

No turf is more recognizable than Boise State's. Now, more and more teams—including Eastern Michigan—have started to install some colorful turf. 

The Eagles recently unveiled new gray turf at Rynearson Stadium, aka "The Factory." Coach Chris Creighton and team captains Pudge Cotton, Lincoln Hansen and Pat O'Connor helped show off the new field.

There are plenty of pictures of the gray turf:

Check out the transformation process:

[YouTube, Instagram, Twitter; h/t SB Nation]

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Rutgers Football Team Holds Wild Ice Bath Rave Party After Practice

Two-a-days are the best and worst of times.

By the time you finish that second practice, you feel like you’ve been beaten with a sack full of Pog slammers.

The upshot, however, is you’re too tired to care. Exhaustion to the point of giddiness sets in, and if you’re on the Rutgers football team, you might find yourself waist-deep in ice water and fist-pumping to house music.

This is the strange and spectacular scene that played out after a recent double session held by the Scarlet Knights.

The team uploaded video of an absolute rager they had after a long day on the practice fields. Rutgers dubs the party “#ClubIce,” which is another way of saying Ultra with freezing water.

What you are watching is not an impromptu event. Someone set up a tent and rented out laser lights and smoke machines for this. Air horns and a disco ball were involved.

Best of all, Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood partook in #ClubIce.

Rutgers posted a picture to Instagram with a caption claiming the ice-bath party had been a surprise organized by Flood.

“Surprise at the end of the first double session, @CoachKyleFlood introduced #RFootball to #ClubIce!” read the caption.

Let it be known: Greg Schiano would never allow this.

Schiano men sit quietly in their ice baths, contemplating their shortcomings as the Dear Leader stews beans on an open fire and recounts his great grandfather’s violent run-in with a pair of rutting bison on the Tallgrass Prairie.

Flood is not a Schiano man, and that is a great thing.

So if you're looking to rage, it's going down at #ClubIce. It’s like partying at the Moontower, but you can’t feel your groin.

 

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Oregon Football 2014: Complete Preview of Ducks Offense and Defense

The Oregon Ducks are one of the most talented teams in the nation, with playmakers all over the roster.

Watch as B/R's experts break down Oregon on both sides of the ball, as the Ducks look to challenge once again for the Pac-12 championship.

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