NCAA Football News

South Carolina's Dylan Thompson Finds Nick Jones for 69-Yard TD vs. Texas A&M

The South Carolina Gamecocks faced an early 10-0 deficit in the college football season opener against the Texas A&M Aggies on Thursday, but senior quarterback Dylan Thompson helped his team get back into the game.

With less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Thompson found senior wide receiver Nick Jones for this 69-yard bomb, pulling the Gamecocks within three points of the Aggies.

[YouTube, h/t Saturday Down South]

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Boise State vs. Ole Miss: Live Score and Highlights

 

Early Third Quarter

Ole Miss 7, Boise State 3

Turnovers have held both teams back thus far.  This game may come down to which team plays the cleaner second half.

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Jameis Winston Will Struggle to Repeat as Heisman Trophy Winner

Only one person in history has ever won the Heisman Trophy twice, and Jameis Winston will have a hard time becoming the second.

Since the award was first given out to the most outstanding college football player in the nation in 1935, only Archie Griffin has been fortunate enough to bring home the award in two different seasons. Winston can join this club after winning in 2013, but a number of factors will prevent this from happening.

Based on talent alone, it is clear the Florida State quarterback is one of the best players in the nation. He finished his redshirt freshman season with 4,057 passing yards, 40 touchdowns and the No. 1 passer efficiency in the country at 184.8.

ESPN's NFL draft guru Mel Kiper believes he is the best prospect available for 2015:

However, talent alone does not necessarily guarantee winning the most prestigious individual award in sports. 

One of the biggest problems Winston will face this season is increased expectations. While many had high hopes for the talented player coming into last year, no one thought he would become one of the best in the country right away. This changed in his first start when he went 25 of 27 for 356 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.

As he continued to put up incredible numbers throughout the year, fans watching along could not help but be impressed.

The problem is this year the perception has changed. We have seen what Winston is capable of, and anything less would seem like a disappointment. Johnny Manziel actually posted better passing numbers last season but only finished fifth in the Heisman voting because voters were no longer impressed by his highlight-reel plays.

In reality, fans should expect a bit of a drop in production this season. Coaches have now had an entire offseason to study the sophomore and should be able to come up with ways to defend him. 

Additionally, Winston might have to be more conservative in his approach after losing a few major weapons like Kelvin Benjamin, Kenny Shaw and Devonta Freeman this offseason.

The quarterback also is putting the team first, saying, "I haven't set any individual goals. Just team goals. And the first goal is winning the national championship," via Danny Aller of Yahoo Sports.

This could mean a lot more running plays for Florida State to control possession, especially with the team likely having a lot of big leads in the second half.

However, this brings another problem heading into the season. Even though it was an individual award, voters care about how the team performs. This is another reason Manziel or Mark Ingram were unable to get legitimate consideration.

While Florida State comes into the year as the No. 1 team in the nation, even one loss could prevent the team from getting a bid to the first-ever playoffs. Losing seven NFL draft picks will certainly make things difficult.

If the Seminoles fail to be legitimate contenders for a national championship, voters will be happy picking someone else. With Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley and others expecting big years, we will not be short on alternatives.

Fans are always looking for something new, which was good for Winston last year but will not help him this time around. He is expecting a great season, but winning the Heisman for a second time will be too difficult to accomplish.

 

Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for the latest breaking news and analysis.

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Texas Football: What to Expect from QB David Ash in 2014

The 2014 season is a chance for Texas quarterback David Ash to make up for 2013.

Ash entered last season with high expectations. He was named to multiple preseason watch lists and was poised to have a breakout junior year following the bumpy start of his college career.

But things took a turn when the Longhorns faced BYU on Sept. 7. Ash left the game in the fourth quarter after taking multiple, harrowing hits, which resulted in a concussion.

After sitting out the following week, Ash returned to the field in time to kick off Big 12 play, but his stay did not last long.

Ash suffered recurring concussion symptoms against Kansas State, and Texas fans did not see him under center for the rest of the season.

"It was hard," Ash said. "A concussion is something where nobody sees a cast, nobody really knows what is going on. It's a tough deal. But, that's past, and we are moving on to the future now."

 

Playing it Safe

The expectations for 2014 are nowhere near those of last season. But head coach Charlie Strong does expect Ash to protect his body and avoid contact as much as he can.

Strong put together a lowlight reel for all of his players. When he went through the film with his quarterback, he asked him what he was trying to prove in taking such hard hits.

"I don't need to see how tough you are. If you can outrun him, outrun him, but run out of bounds or slide or something. Just don't take a hit," Strong said of his conversation with Ash. "He took like three or four hits and I just stopped it and asked what he was trying to prove."

The redshirt junior has taken his coach's words to heart and plans on playing a smarter brand of football this season.

"He told me I have to get down. He's right. I have taken hits that were not necessary," Ash said of his talk with Strong. "Sometimes you are just trying to get that mojo going. But there are other ways rather than taking hits like that. He just made it clear that is not what I have to do or how I have to play. I'm going to start being smarter, doing a little baseball practice with sliding and getting out of bounds. I can't be taking those hits anymore."

 

Managing the New Offense

The Longhorns have installed a new offense under quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and offensive coordinator Joe Wickline. There was an obvious learning curve when the team was first taught the offense, but Ash has done consistently well throughout fall camp and has the confidence of his position coach.

"In what we do and what we ask him to do, to be honest with you, he's been outstanding. He's been awesome," Watson said. "Everything is done through the eyes of the quarterback. David has allowed our whole team to move fast because he's moved so fast."

Watson said the ideal situation is to be balanced on offense, but nobody is expecting Ash to win games by himself. The Longhorns have potential for a solid ground attack between running backs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, which will take a lot of pressure off of Ash from trying to make too many plays on his own. 

Strong has constantly said he doesn't need Ash to be a great player. What the coaches want to see is his ability to manage the game and get the offense in the right place to make plays.

"When you get a quarterback in a new offense, it's just how much he can press that offense and how much he's willing to learn and study," Strong said. "That's what he's been able to do, just learn the offense and study. I always tell him this, 'I don't need a great player, I just need you to manage and do what we ask you to do. I don't like to see the ball turned over.' He's been able to make the throws at practice, been able to get us in the right checks and get us in the right place."

Ash will likely experience some hiccups this season. When Texas takes the field against North Texas on Aug. 30, 342 days will have passed since Ash has seen contact. The concerns surrounding his frightening injury history will likely continue throughout the 2014 season, and a lot of Texas fans will cringe anytime he hits the ground.

But what's most important for the Longhorns, aside from his health, is for Ash to be the game manager his coaches expect him to be. 

As Ash told Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods.com (subscription required):

You have to manage the game. You have to be a general on the field. You have to be a coach on the field. You have to distribute the ball. You have to give your team the right play. You have to know when to take risks and when not to. Does that sell my talent short? No. I feel like I'm very talented at managing football games. That's why I play quarterback.

One area his teammates have commended Ash for is his increased leadership role. The quarterback has previously been labeled as a shy person who would not speak up in the huddle. He is also a man of few words in media settings.

But Ash has taken notice of the way great quarterbacks lead their teams and plans to do the same for the Longhorns. As he told Richardson:

Leadership, a large part of it is your teammates believing in you, but that belief they have in you comes in you showing up and making plays consistently in practice, and not rolling over in game situations. That's the reason you believe in most of the great quarterbacks you see because you see them execute. You see them execute in tough situations. You see Tom Brady execute consistently. His teammates believe in him. You see Aaron Rodgers execute consistently so his teammates believe in him.

It's all about your actions, and I think that's what shows up. Great play comes from great preparation. Great play comes from team effort. Great play comes from coaching. There's a lot of things that go into that, but that team togetherness and unity comes when we all believe in each other, we're all going to do our jobs, and it's all going to pay off. That's how good team ball works.

Comparing his style of play to Rodgers and Brady is a bit of a stretch, considering they are two of the most consistent and reliable quarterbacks in the NFL.

Ash's career has seen a lot of ups and downs. When he was up, he played very well. When he was down, it was the complete opposite.

Consistency is something Ash will need to prove early this season, especially since Texas will face three preseason AP Top 10 teams in its first six games.

But one thing nobody can question is the quarterback's determination.

There are a lot of people who would have considered giving up football after going through what he experienced in 2013.

For Ash, quitting was never an option.

He believes he is meant to be on the football field and is determined to prove that to his team and to all of his critics.

"He really wants to be a great player," Watson said. "I think he has unsettled affairs after the kind of year he went through last year. I respect that. He has worked really hard and has played very efficient football."

He obviously has the drive to be a great player, but only time will tell if he can show that greatness on a consistent basis.

His coaches have praised his work over the last eight months. Now is the time for him to prove it.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.

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Tim Tebow Does His Best Steve Spurrier Impression While Telling Recruiting Story

While setting the stage for the Texas A&M-South Carolina game on Thursday, SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow shared an interesting tidbit from his past.

The story itself was interesting, but it was Tebow's impression of Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier that stole the show. Hopefully, he is able to show Spurrier his impression at some point during the season.

[Vine]

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8 Most Important College Football Recruiting Visits of Week 1

The arrival of college football season means anticipation for games rises among every team's fanbase. However, there's plenty more going on beyond the field during game-day festivities.

Recruiting departments spend the entire offseason coordinating plans for every matchup. Teams welcome recruits in an effort to show off program facilities and tradition and provide opportunities for personal interaction with the coaching staff. Each week, we'll take a look at top-tier prospects expected on campuses across the country and dissect how the development factors into their overall recruitment.

As the 2014 campaign kicks off across the country, here's a look at notable game attendees who will be taking in the action on opening weekend.

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Throwback Thursday: Nick Saban Gets Destroyed by a Block in High School

Alabama's Nick Saban is known for being a great defensive coach, but back when he was a high school football player, things didn't always go smoothly for him.

In the clip above, you will see Saban—playing for Monongah High School (West Virginia)—get destroyed by a block while on special teams. 

Below are some more clips of Saban's senior season. (The block above is in the video at around the 2:08 mark.)

[TideSports.com, Yahoo Sports, Rivals]

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UCLA Football: 3 Stars Who Will Break out in 2014

The UCLA football team has three players poised for breakout seasons in 2014.

A veteran wide receiver is now thrust into a starting role. Talent has never been an issue, but a lack of consistency hasn't allowed for a breakthrough season. Now seemingly matured, he will take the mantle of UCLA's top receiver.

The other two players in this piece are true sophomores. Both started last year as freshmen and played big roles.

This year, the duo will take the next steps in potentially becoming all-conference selections. In the process, each will become a known commodity in the Pac-12.

Here are three stars who will break out in 2014 for Jim Mora and the Bruins.

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Biggest Question Facing Each Top 25 Team Heading into the 2014 Season

Ahem: Football's back! 

Technically, it was back last Saturday, when Eastern Washington and Sam Houston State faced off on the red field, but it's not real football unless the SEC is involved. 

(That's only half joking.) 

Digressing, Week 1 is upon us and each Associated Press Top 25 team has a silo of offseason questions just waiting to be answered. It's likely, if not guaranteed, that most of those questions won't be answered after one game.

But we can focus on the overriding storyline for each top-25 team as the season gets underway. What will Texas A&M look like in the post-Johnny Manziel era? Who will win Alabama's quarterback battle? Will Florida State win another national title?

Let's try to predict some answers. And not be horribly, horribly wrong in the process. 

 

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