NCAA

College Football Notes: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer to enter NFL draft as junior

College Football Notes: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer to enter NFL draft as junior

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer declared for the NFL draft Monday, giving up his senior season and opening up the Fighting Irish's starting job next year for Brandon Wimbush.

Kizer put together a solid junior season for a disappointing Fighting Irish team that went 4-8 in 2016. He threw for 2,925 yards and 26 touchdowns, and rushed for 472 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranks among the most prolific players in Notre Dame history despite playing extensively in only 24 games over the past two seasons.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Kizer could end up being the first quarterback selected in the draft in April.

Earlier this month, Malik Zaire, who served as backup to Kizer this season after competing for the starting job in the offseason, announced he was transferring from Notre Dame as a graduate student.

That leaves Wimbush as the most experienced quarterback on the roster. He was a highly recruited player out of New Jersey in 2015, and played sparingly this season for the Irish, completing 3 of 5 passes for 17 yards. Kizer thanked Notre Dame in a short video announcing his decision on Bleacher Report .

Kizer became the starter at Notre Dame early in the 2015 season after Zaire was injured against Virginia. In his first college action, Kizer led the Irish from behind for a victory against the Cavaliers with a late touchdown pass.

Zaire returned this season and he and Kizer had a tight competition in the spring and preseason. Coach Brian Kelly never did name a starter and both Kizer and Zaire were used in the team's opening night loss against Texas. Kizer was far more effective, but still Kelly would not commit.

Had some ups and downs, throwing eight interceptions, and was even benched for Zaire for some series during a 17-10 loss to Stanford in October.

"DeShone is an extremely gifted quarterback that was faced with a difficult decision," Kelly said. "He could return as a senior captain at Notre Dame -- a place that he loves, and with a program that respects him immensely. Or, he could begin the next chapter in his life and accept the opportunity that likely awaits in the NFL.

"While he chose the latter, the type of leadership DeShone displayed this past season will benefit our program moving forward. He'll certainly be missed on and off the field, but we're very happy for him and his family."

Alabama: Lane Kiffin leaving, going to FAU
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Lane Kiffin is about to be a head coach again, after agreeing Monday to start anew and take over at Florida Atlantic.

Kiffin's soon-to-be-former boss, Alabama coach Nick Saban, confirmed the hiring and said his offensive coordinator will remain with the Crimson Tide for the College Football Playoff.

"FAU has selected someone that's going to do a great job for them," Saban said in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at a news conference to promote the upcoming Peach Bowl.

FAU had no immediate comment because the deal has not been finalized. Kiffin has agreed to a five-year contract, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because neither Kiffin nor the school had confirmed the hiring.

A message left for Kiffin was not immediately returned Monday.

"I'm ready to start next season already," FAU offensive lineman Matt Murphy tweeted after word of Kiffin's hiring broke.

Kiffin has been the offensive coordinator at Alabama for the last three seasons, helping the Crimson Tide win last season's national championship and get back to the College Football Playoff with the No. 1 ranking this year. FAU will be his third collegiate head coaching job, and the first since USC fired him five games into the 2013 season.

"Lane's done a phenomenal job for us for the last three years," Saban said. "We appreciate the impact that he's made on this program. We think this is a wonderful opportunity for him to be a head coach again."

Saban said in recent days that he wanted to help Kiffin get another opportunity to be a head coach. It wasn't clear if Kiffin would have been back at Alabama next season otherwise.

"They've made a great hire," Saban said of FAU.

It has been an annual rite in recent years that Kiffin's name gets mentioned for high-profile openings, as it was in the past few weeks for since-filled jobs at Oregon and Houston.

Kiffin interviewed with Houston twice, the school's board of regents chairman told KILT-AM radio in Houston last week.

"Sure, he's been a head coach and he's been an OK head coach," the regent, Tilman Fertitta, said in that radio interview. "But I can tell you this -- it was not a safe hire."

FAU apparently disagreed.

FAU and Kiffin had their dialogue intensify late last week, although the pairing seemed somewhat unexpected. Kiffin made $1.4 million this season at Alabama; FAU was paying Charlie Partridge a bit over $500,000 annually when he was fired after his third consecutive 3-9 season.

FAU President John Kelly has wanted to continue raising the school's profile, including on the athletic fronts. And hiring Kiffin is the sort of splashy move that will certainly get the Owls plenty of attention.

"Owl Nation is Soaring High!" Kelly tweeted on Monday. "Unbridled Ambition."

Kiffin lasted 20 games as coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007 and 2008, going 5-15.

He returned to college ball and was 7-6 in 2009, his lone season at Tennessee. And he went 28-15 in parts of four seasons at USC.

Kiffin becomes the third marquee head-coaching hire in the state of Florida in recent weeks. FIU hired former Miami and North Carolina coach Butch Davis in November, and former Louisville and Texas coach Charlie Strong was hired Sunday at South Florida.

They'll all face in-state recruiting battles against Miami coach Mark Richt, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, Florida coach Jim McElwain and Central Florida coach Scott Frost.

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

usa-logan-marchi-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday


Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday


Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.