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2022 college football coaching carousel grades: Lincoln Riley an ‘A+’ with Brent Venables an ‘A-‘ replacement

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Lincoln Riley A+ As sudden and swift as Riley left Oklahoma, out on the West Coast the prospects at USC improved in a heartbeat. Riley carries the future of not only USC but the Pac-12 in his playbook. The league’s flagship program will start keeping California five-stars home. Riley has the coaching chops to move the Trojans back to the top. It was bit unnerving (for OU loyalists) when Riley said, “This was too good to pass up.” It made Oklahoma look like a stepping stone. USC looked forward to a limitless future. Mario Cristobal A It only took the UM administration 20 years to figure out, if you want to be like the SEC, you must spend like the SEC. It went out and got Cristobal, who was a recruiting force at Alabama and reinvigorated Oregon. Cristobal, reportedly making $80 million over 10 years, won two national titles at Miami as a player. He is motivated to see the Hurricanes get back to their glory having grown up and played in South Florida. The Canes under Cristobal will be physical in both lines, for starters. Brian Kelly A Jimbo Fisher wasn’t coming. Riley wasn’t interested. Athletic director Scott Woodward benefitted from the relationship between Kelly and his Notre Dame superiors running its course. Kelly has won big everywhere. There should be more of the same at LSU. Kelly will have a better shot at the College Football Playoff, but the pressure will be ratcheted up a level above even Notre Dame. It’s still not certain if Kelly knows the culture entirely at LSU. It’s a unique one that could be hard to navigate for a native of Massachusetts. His introductory speech at the basketball game went viral for all the wrong reasons. Billy Napier A Napier is the right guy and the right place at the right time. After the consecutive, at-times wacky regimes of Jim McElwain and Dan Mullen, Florida needed normal. Napier is normal. His next move after Louisiana had to be the SEC. Florida is one of the league’s premier programs. “The pieces of the puzzle are here. We’ve got to put the pieces together,” Napier said. With Georgia ruling the division — and maybe the nation after Monday — the pieces better come together fast. The Gators and AD Scott Stricklin are making a huge investment to surround Napier with top talent. Jeff Tedford A Tedford, still a youthful 60, returned to his old job after attending to health issues. He coached the Bulldogs from 2017-19, winning a Mountain West title in 2018. Six quarterbacks he mentored as either a head coach or coordinator have been first-round draft choices. (Aaron Rodgers, anyone?) Incumbent starting QB Jake Haener changed his mind and came back out of the transfer portal when Tedford was named coach. Brent Venables A- The departure of Riley stunned Sooners everywhere, but AD Joe Castiglione recovered quickly to grab the veteran Clemson defensive coordinator who has turned down several jobs over the years. This is a perfect fit with Venables having worked with or for Bob Stoops across 16 seasons. The Sooners will be better defensively. Considering the offense is being turned over to Jeff Lebby, the Air Raid concepts will stay in place. This is an impressive lineup to transition into the SEC. Jerry Kill A- The venerable Kill has been through hell – cancer, seizures. He is still one of the most respected football minds around. At age 60, he has plenty left in the tank. Kill reunites with New Mexico State AD Mario Moccia; the two worked together at Southern Illinois. New Mexico State is an incredibly heavy lift, but Kill is a gift for this struggling program. Marcus Freeman B AD Jack Swarbrick had a tough choice. Elevate an interim coach with a potential playoff berth looming or hire a permanent coach to replace Kelly. Swarbrick went with the popular choice. Freeman was Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator a year ago. Now, he’s in charge of one of the most visible sports franchises on the planet. The players love him. He can recruit. We know he can coordinate a defense. Can he run a program? The last three Notre Dame coaches without head-coaching experience were Charlie Weis, Bob Davie and Gerry Faust. Dan Lanning B After considering the implications of hiring Chip Kelly, AD Rob Mullens focused on the 35-year-old coordinator of the best defense in the country. Shortly after playing for the national title on Monday, Lanning will head to Eugene, Oregon. The cupboard is loaded from four straight top 13 recruiting classes per 247Sports from 2018-21. Sonny Dykes B As ugly as the process may have been — Gary Patterson forced out to get in front of Texas Tech for the services of Dykes — these are desperate times in Fort Worth. TCU wants to remain competitive in the reconstituted Big 12. Dykes comes over from one of the Horned Frogs’ biggest rivals with a proven track record of winning. His record at SMU (33-17) was the best of any coach since the death penalty. At a key point in its history, TCU is committed to spending big to stay relevant in the new Big 12. Tony Elliott B Like Venables, Elliott had multiple chances to leave Clemson over the years. That he “picked” Virginia is a sign he went for the right reasons, citing UVA’s successful mix of academics and athletics. Elliott is a proven offensive mastermind and recruiter. One concern has to be Clemson cratering offensively (95th in the country) after the loss of Trevor Lawrence. Bronco Mendenhall left the program in good shape despite a surprise resignation. Jake Dickert B The Cougars defensive coordinator was picked as interim coach when Nick Rolovich flushed his career and disowned his players by refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The move kept the players emotionally attached to a current staffer. Dickert had a certain charisma, going 3-3 down the stretch during tremendous upheaval. He’s the perfect pick for a program that always punches above its weight class. I don’t know if AD Pat Chun could have done better with a protracted search for a sitting coach. Rhett Lashlee B Lashlee is the perfect choice after the sudden loss of Dykes. He was Dykes’ offensive coordinator from 2018-19. That preceded a successful two-year run at Miami. Lashlee’s last three offenses have finished ninth, 12th and 13th nationally. He will attract quarterbacks and capitalize on a foundation established by Dykes. Jay Norvell B Pretty much anyone would have been an upgrade over Steve Addazio. Norvell made what, at first glance, looks like a lateral move from Nevada. But Colorado State has one of the best on-campus stadiums in the West, and given the surrounding talent, should be able to challenge for Mountain West crowns. Brent Pry B- VT needs a jolt of energy after the Justin Fuente era ended with 24-23 thud across four seasons. Pry has been with James Franklin at Vanderbilt and Penn State as a defensive coach for the last 11 years. With Clemson’s death grip possibly loosening on the ACC, there is no reason why the Hokies can’t be competitive in the league again. Kalen DeBoer B- Jimmy Lake was suspended then fired in November in a dizzying turn following a sideline altercation with a player. AD Jen Cohen is on the hook for Lake’s $9.9 million buyout plus DeBoer’s $16.5 million salary (over five years). That’s a bargain in the current overpriced market. DeBoer has one year of Power Five experience (Indiana offensive coordinator, 2019) but plenty of promise. A short, quick stop at Fresno State yielded a 12-6 record over two years. Mike Elko B- I thought Elko would take a better job than this once he decided to make the leap. The 44-year-old has long been a respected defensive mind. Elko had a hand in beating Alabama this season as Texas A&M defensive coordinator. Before that, he spent one season with Kelly at Notre Dame. His defenses have finished lower than 41st in total defense just once since 2012. Michael Desormeaux B- The former Ragin’ Cajuns defensive back was Napier’s co-offensive coordinator, so there is some continuity there. But after what Napier accomplished — back-to-back Sun Belt titles — there will be big headphones to fill. Sonny Cumbie B- Cumbie has a sneaky good resume. He threw for almost 5,000 yards for Mike Leach at Texas Tech and once replaced someone named Lincoln Riley as Tech’s inside receivers coach. At one point, he was the highest-paid offensive coordinator in the country at TCU. Cumbie became the Texas Tech interim coach after Matt Wells was fired. Louisiana Tech won 10 games just two years ago, so there’s that. Joe Moorhead B- Akron is getting a bargain with an experienced offensive mind. Moorhead reportedly took a big pay cut to become a head coach in the MAC. He was making $1.1 million as Oregon’s offensive coordinator. His deal at Akron ($2.5 million over five years) is worth significantly less than his buyout from Mississippi State a few years ago ($7 million). Could he have waited and done better? Possibly, given this team has three wins total across the last three seasons. But Moorhead wanted to be closer to his family and son Mason, an offensive lineman at Grove City (Pa.) College, 83 miles from Akron. Don Brown B- UMass barely looks like an FBS program. Brown is now 66. However, he led the Minutemen through a period of prosperity from 2004-08. This might be as good as UMass could have possibly done after Walt Bell went 2-23. Clay Helton C+ Helton went 46-24 at USC and wasn’t nearly good enough. If he goes 46-24 at Georgia Southern, they might make him school president. Helton ran the Air Raid at USC, so it will be interesting see which way the Eagles head offensively. The eight-year-old FBS program has an option tradition. Mike MacIntyre C+ Mac has been a turnaround master at both San Jose State and Colorado, winning 10 games at both places. Given his talents and the fluid nature of Conference USA, there is nowhere to go but up. The Panthers have lost 19 of their last 21 games. Jon Sumrall C+ Sumrall is the Trojans’ third coach since 2015. He knows all about Troy having served as Neal Brown’s linebackers coach from 2015-17. As Kentucky’s co-defensive coordinator, he guided a unit that faced only 804 plays, the fewest in the SEC. The Trojans are desperate to return to the top of the Sun Belt where they used to dominate. Joey McGuire C AD Kirby Hocutt fired Wells after a 5-3 start. He replaced him with Baylor’s outside linebackers coach, who has deep roots as a Texas high school coach. Sound familiar? In terms of football only, McGuire looks like a next-generation Art Briles … without the baggage. Ken Wilson C Wilson has spent a total of 19 seasons as a Nevada assistant. As a defensive coach, he’s never called plays on the Power Five level. Nine combined years at Washington State and Oregon helped Wilson get this job. A favorable word from Nevada legend Chris Ault couldn’t have hurt. Jim Mora C No matter who got this job, you must wonder about UConn’s commitment to football after leaving the AAC for basketball reasons. There is an ongoing limbo there as an independent. However, Mora seems committed having served as a Huskie offensive analyst in 2021. He went 46-30 in six seasons at UCLA. Stan Drayton C- What Matt Rhule did at Temple looks better every minute. Before jumping to Baylor, Rhule posted the only two back-to-back 10-win seasons in history. Rod Carey tried to keep it going but slumped to 4-15 the last two seasons. Drayton is a career assistant who has had 11 jobs since 2000.



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‘It’s everything’: Johnson leads Canada through semifinal for chance at gold – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — After an undefeated run through their first six tests at the 2022 World Junior Championship, Canada will meet its biggest on Saturday night, under the lights at Rogers Place. The red and white are going for gold.

“It’s everything,” Canadian standout Logan Stankoven said of the opportunity awaiting them, a wide grin spread across his face after his side took down Czechia 5-2 on Friday to advance. “There’s no place I’d rather be than playing for the gold tomorrow, on our home soil, in front of the fans.”

For the second straight game, it was Stankoven and his linemates who played a lead role in guiding Canada to the win column, he and wingers Kent Johnson and Tyler Foerster keeping their crown as the team’s most dominant line heading into the tournament’s finale.

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After Stankoven took his turn at a dominant performance to clinch Wednesday’s quarterfinal, Friday’s tilt was Johnson’s time to show the world what he can do.

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The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect was certainly due for a big night. Entering this semifinal with the most shots of any skater in the tournament, and only one goal to show for it — albeit a spectacular one that saw him pull off The Michigan — Johnson finally saw the floodgates creak open a little bit more on Friday.

It started as it has for his line the past few games — a dominant shift in the offensive zone in which he, Stankoven and Foerster whirled around the opposing defenders looking for the right moment to strike. Eventually, it came on the heels of a Stankoven-to-Foerster look, the chance leading to a rebound that found Johnson in the slot. After pouring on shot after shot every game for the past two weeks, the 19-year-old made no mistake.

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But it was as a setup man in the second period that Johnson truly flexed his offensive muscle. Ten minutes into the frame, he was dancing along the wall and drawing defenders towards him before flipping a beautiful backhand over to a streaking Stankoven, who put it away. Five minutes later, he was loading up a slapper at the top of the point on the power play, only to fake out the Czech defenders and instead dish it softly to a waiting Mason McTavish, who wired home the signature one-timer he’s burned many a goalie with during this tournament.

“It’s just incredible some of the passes he makes,” Stankoven said of Johnson post-game. “The things he does are crazy, and it just goes to show how great of a player he is. He’s pretty nifty.”

Added Connor Bedard, who added to Canada’s goal tally with a gorgeous snipe of his own in the first period: “He’s probably the smoothest player I’ve ever seen, just the way he can find seams and look guys off.”

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Key to Johnson’s standout performance over the course of the tournament has been the two players he’s been able to hop over the boards with, too. While the rest of Canada’s lineup has seemed in constant flux, with head coach Dave Cameron shuffling his lines in search of the right combination of skill-sets — even splitting up Bedard and McTavish for Friday’s semifinal — the trio of Johnson, Stankoven and Foerster has been a no-doubter game in and game out.

“I think [it’s] just our compete level, and being able to create chances off the forecheck,” Stankoven said of why his line has been able to emerge as the squad’s best. “I thought at the beginning of the tournament there wasn’t as much of that, but as the tournament’s gone on we’ve found our chemistry and know where each other are, so it’s been great.”

Even with the sterling night from the trio, putting away Czechia — who entered Friday’s game fresh off upsetting the similarly-undefeated Americans — was no easy assignment. Things got particularly dicey in the second period, as the Czechs picked up steam and started making a strong push, peppering Dylan Garand from all angles.

The netminder stayed calm and composed, looking as unflappable as he has each time he’s been in the cage over these past two weeks, holding the Czechs at bay.

In the third, though, Czechia finally made things interesting, sniping twice in a two-minute span to cut the host’s lead in half, before Joshua Roy tucked home Canada’s fifth to put his team’s minds at ease.

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“They’re a good team and they didn’t get away from their game at all. They pushed back, and they wanted to climb their way back into the game,” Stankoven said of that late chaos. “Obviously when they made it 4-2, we realized, ‘Hey, we’ve got to shut this thing down and make sure that we play well enough defensively.’ And that fifth goal sealed the game.”

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With Czechia dispatched, the page now turns to Saturday night, where months of preparation and weeks of toil out on the Rogers Place ice will culminate in one 60-minute chance at history.

“We’re going for the gold. That’s what we come for,” coach Cameron said of the task at hand. “It’s not going to be easy. I mean, the last couple of games showed the nitty gritty of it — it’s a grind. So, we’re excited about the challenge, but we also realize it’s going to be a battle.”

If there’s any solace to be taken, it’s that the red and white will march into the tournament’s finale with some experience under their belt, a number of this 2022 group’s leaders having claimed gold at last year’s U18 Championship in Texas.

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Bedard, Stankoven, and Brennan Othmann all put up goals in the gold-medal game during that championship run. That education is crucial, Cameron explained, because there’s simply no other way to get it.

“One of the things you can’t practice is pressure,” the coach said. “You can talk about it all you want, but the pressure of the game, the pressure of a shootout, and all that — you can practice it until hell freezes over, but you can’t duplicate that pressure.”

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On Saturday night, Canada will find out just how battle-tested they are, just how much they’ve learned on the paths that led them to this moment. For McTavish, the team’s captain, who’s dominated this tournament to the tune of eight goals and 15 points through six games, that final battle for gold can’t come soon enough.

“It’s something special,” he said Friday at Rogers Place, a maple leaf-adorned hat pulled low over his curls. “You know, it’s why you play the game. Every kid dreams about the gold-medal game.

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“Hopefully we can take advantage of the opportunity.”

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NFL preseason Week 2 scores, highlights, updates: Packers rookie Romeo Doubs continues to impress vs. Saints

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The NFL preseason has reached the midway point with Week 2, which serves as the de facto “dress rehearsal” for starters to prepare for the beginning of the regular season — which is just three weeks away. For teams that don’t have joint practices this week, Week 2 of the preseason is critical.

The Carolina Panthers won’t play Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold against the New England Patriots Friday, yet New England will play its starters after the joint practices this week. Jordan Love will start for the Green Bay Packers against the New Orleans Saints, who will be without Jameis Winston (foot). Capping off the night will be the Houston Texans at Los Angeles Rams

Below, we will track all the must-see highlights from Friday’s action, the appetizer for the main course of games this weekend. 

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Schedule

Thursday

Bears 27, Seahawks 11 (Takeaways)

Friday

Patriots 13, Panthers 10 (fourth quarter –  Live blog)
Packers 13, Saints 10 (third quarter – Gametracker)
Texans at Rams, 10 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Saturday

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Broncos at Bills, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Lions at Colts, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Commanders at Chiefs, 4 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Steelers at Jaguars, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Raiders at Dolphins, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
49ers at Vikings, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Buccaneers at Titans, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Cowboys at Chargers, 10 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Sunday

Eagles at Browns, 1 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Bengals at Giants, 7 p.m. ET (Gametracker)
Ravens at Cardinals, 8 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

Monday

Falcons at Jets, 8 p.m. ET (Gametracker)

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Chris Olave scores his first touchdown

Olave is giving Saints fans a preview of what’s to come when he lines up alongside Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry this fall. The first-round pick connected with Ian Book on a 20-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half — his first in a Saints uniform. 

Olave had just one catch for four yards last week, but had two in the first half of this one. 

Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe made a dangerous throw rolling to his left, and Hayes read the pass to take the ball the other way and tie the game. Zappe hasn’t been as sharp in his second outing this preseason, one in which Matt Patricia is calling plays. 

Romeo Doubs touchdown

There’s a spot for Doubs to earn snaps with the first team this year, and this touchdown catch from Jordan Love demonstrates why. Doubs came up with this impressive four-yard touchdown reception over Brian Allen to put the Packers up, 10-3, over the Saints in the second quarter. Love is starting to show trust in the fourth-round rookie. 

59-yard field goal from Wil Lutz

Lutz missed all of 2021 with a core muscle injury, as the Saints missed his reliability in the kicking department. He certainly looked like his old self with this 59-yard field goal to close out the first quarter.

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Just 13 of 23 on 50-plus yard field goals in his career, Lutz hitting this kick is very encouraging.

Romeo Doubs making his case to move up the depth chart

Doubs was one of the young wide receivers Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers criticized during the week, so he was in the spotlight with the second teamers participating in the majority of this one. A 17-yard catch on the opening drive on a Jordan Love throw makes a strong impression, even if Doubs failed to corral a third-down pass earlier. 

No longer a quarterback for the Saints, Hill has shifted his focus to tight end for the 2022 season. The No. 2 tight end in New Orleans, Hill made an early impact by catching a 10-yard pass from Ian Book. Hill adds an extra dimension to the Saints offense in his new role, and can still play wide receiver and running back in short-yardage situations. 

The Patriots averaged just 1.9 yards per play in the first quarter with just 21 yards of offense, but Nelson Agholor changed that with this 45-yard catch on an impressive throw from Mac Jones. Going against a second-team defense or not, this is what Patriots fans want to see from their new-look offense.

New England scored a touchdown — a two-yard run from Ty Montgomery — three plays later.

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Canada’s Auger-Aliassime falls to Coric in Cincinnati quarterfinals

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Felix Auger-Aliassime’s run at his first Masters 1000 title ended in the quarterfinals for the second-straight week after a 6-4, 6-4 loss to Croatia’s Borna Coric at the Western and Southern Open on Friday in Mason, Ohio.

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The Canadian, seeded seventh at the Western and Southern Open, also reached the quarterfinals in Montreal last week at the National Bank Open.

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Coric, ranked No. 152 on the ATP Tour, is the second-lowest semifinalist in the history of the Cincinnati tournament. The Croatian could rise to as high as No. 29 if he wins the tournament.

Coric won a whopping 31 of 32 points when he got his first serve in and did not face a break point.

Auger-Aliassime saved two match points in his previous contest against Jannik Sinner, but couldn’t mount a comeback against Coric, who won his final two service games without giving up a point.

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