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Virginia Tech coaching search: Gary Patterson, Hugh Freeze, Shane Beamer among top candidates

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To the surprise of few, Virginia Tech parted ways with coach Justin Fuente on Tuesday. Now the scramble begins to find the next replacement for Frank Beamer.

Fuente finished with only 10 wins over his last two seasons. The last time Virginia Tech played this poorly was 1991-92. Fuente was once the fresh, young face coming out of Memphis. Now, he and Virginia Tech must reboot.

The Hokies enter the coaching carousel clearly behind LSU and USC in terms of pecking order for top jobs. They are in a tier with Washington and TCU, which also recently fired coaches for vastly different reasons.

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With the Virginia Tech search just starting to heat up, here are some of the top candidates the Hokies may be looking towards.

Gary Patterson, ex-TCU coach: Patterson’s name popped up for this job as he left TCU. He was nowhere near done with coaching when he was shown the door. It’s a fit considering his accomplishments and defensive background. The Hokies could use some defense. Patterson could use a new gig. At 61, he has plenty of song-writin’ and defensive-schemin’ to go.

Shane Beamer, South Carolina coach: Will Beamer go home again? He’d be leaving South Carolina after one year to coach in his father’s shadow. Beamer hasn’t established himself as a head coach yet, but you can bet his name will be circulated. The usual route is to succeed at a lesser program before making the jump up. The Gamecocks are a respectable 5-5 in Beamer’s first season. 

Jamey Chadwell, Coastal Carolina coach: We’ve seen what Coastal looks like without Grayson McCall (a second loss last week to Georgia State). What does Coastal look like in the future after going 19-3 the last two seasons? It isn’t a candidate list without Chadwell. He’s going to jump at one of these jobs. Virginia Tech seems like a good fit.

Need more college football in your life? Listen below and subscribe to the Cover 3 podcast where we break down Virginia Tech parting with coach Justin Fuente after six seasons. 

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Hugh Freeze, Liberty coach: Freeze’s reputation has been through a multi-year car wash. His offense still works. He still produces quarterbacks and offensive numbers. Freeze is desperate to move up. Malik Willis going in the first round of the NFL Draft would be a good calling card.

Billy Napier, Louisiana coach: This has to be the year Napier bounces. There are too many good jobs out there and too many good jobs that can still open. Napier, 42, is simply too good of a coach with a 37-12 record at Louisiana, 19-2 since the start of the 2020 season. If not Virginia Tech, then Arizona State. If not Arizona State, then Washington. If not Washington, then Washington State. Who knows? Maybe LSU (looking for a big name) and Florida (not open yet) are options, too.

Luke Fickell, Cincinnati coach: There is Fickell the coach and Fickell the process. Don’t be surprised if his agent, Jimmy Sexton, uses Fickell’s interest in this job to get more money out of Cincinnati … or USC or LSU. Fickell wins either way, though not necessarily Cincinnati.

Who will be the next head coach of the Hokies, and which SEC defensive coordinator could be a dark-horse candidate for the job? Visit VTScoop for the latest coaching Hot Board, all from VT insider Evan Watkins.

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Jacobs, defence lead Raiders to first win of season over Broncos

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Just when it looked as if the Las Vegas Raiders might blow another fourth-quarter lead, they put the ball in the hands of Josh Jacobs and the running game to finish off the Denver Broncos.

The emphatic game-sealing drive gave Josh McDaniels his first win as a head coach since being fired by Denver in 2010 and backed up the message he gave his players all week.

“He said it to the offense and defense: You should want the burden to finish the game, not hoping that someone else does their thing or they they fix the problem,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Whatever the game asked for, it’s our turn to do our job.”

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The Raiders did just that. Jacobs ran for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns, Amik Robertson returned a fumble 68 yards for a score and the Raiders beat the Broncos 32-23 on Sunday.

After opening their first season under McDaniels by losing three straight one-score games, including a blown 20-point lead to Arizona in Week 2, the Raiders (1-3) managed to do enough on the ground and on defense to hold off Russell Wilson and the Broncos (2-2).

“We kind of had the mindset we wanted this to be a physical game and leaned on Josh and the running game a little bit more than what we have and really established that,” McDaniels said. “Our goal was to try to make it that kind of game and make it a fourth-quarter game.”

Maxx Crosby had two of Las Vegas’ three sacks, and Robertson had the game-changing play late in the first half as Denver repeatedly failed to take advantage of good field position.

After getting a 5-yard TD pass from Wilson to Courtland Sutton to cap a 34-yard drive in the first quarter, the Broncos turned three other chances with prime field position into one field goal and the fumble by Melvin Gordon III that Robertson returned for the touchdown.

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Wilson had his most efficient game of his short tenure in Denver, completing 17 of 25 passes for 237 yards and two TDs. He also ran for a 3-yard TD that cut the Raiders’ lead to 25-23 after completing a 55-yard pass to KJ Hamler.

But Denver scored only once on six drives in the second half.

“We have to get better,” first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “Across the board as an offense, I think we will.”

Jacobs put it away with a 7-yard TD run with 2:01 to play. He became the first Raiders player to rush for at least 130 yards and two TDs in a game since Darren McFadden did it in 2011 against the Jets.

“We had to go down there and call game,” Crosby said. “Josh Jacobs is a damn baller. That’s been my brother since day one. I’m so happy for him. He went down there and closed the game.”

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Carr didn’t have to do much for the Raiders, completing 21 of 34 passes for 188 yards as Las Vegas got the running game going for the first time this season. Davante Adams had nine catches for 101 yards.

Jacobs scored on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and set up a field goal in the third with a 42-yard run that was his longest since his rookie season in 2019.

The Raiders finished with 212 yards rushing for their most in a game since getting 218 against the Broncos in 2016.

“He’s one of the best runners that I’ve ever been around,” McDaniels said about Jacobs. “I’ve been around some good ones. He has a great ability to make yards after contact. He has a great ability to make yards even if there’s not a whole lot there right away.”

SURPRISE SCORE

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The Raiders’ defense got into the scoring mode for a change when Duron Harmon forced Gordon’s fumble and Robertson took it to the end zone.

It was the first TD by the Raiders’ defense or special teams since Erik Harris had a pick-6 against the Chargers on Nov. 7, 2019. The 43 regular season games without one was the second longest of the Super Bowl era, trailing only a 49-game streak by the Browns from 1979-82.

The play came shortly after Broncos receiver Jerry Jeudy motioned at the 5-foot-8 Robertson that he was too short to cover him.

“Once he started talking, it kind of elevated my play,” Robertson said.

NOT SO SPECIAL

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Both teams had their issues on special teams with Tyron Johnson botching a punt return that backed the Raiders up near their goal line in the first quarter.

Las Vegas also set up Denver with good field position when a surprise onside kick failed.

Both teams also missed extra points in the second quarter with Daniel Carlson missing his first kick of any kind this season for the Raiders and Denver’s Brandon McManus missing his second in the past two seasons.

INJURIES

Broncos: RB Javonte Williams and edge rusher Randy Gregory both left the game with knee injuries in the second half and will have MRIs to determine the severity. … S P.J. Locke and LB Aaron Patrick left the game with concussions.

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Raiders: LB Denzel Perryman left with a concussion in the first half.

UP NEXT

Broncos: Host Indianapolis on Thursday night.

Raiders: Visit Kansas City on Monday, Oct. 10.

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FOX Bet Super 6: Three contestants win Terry Bradshaw's $1,000,000 prize

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Three contestants won a piece of Terry Bradshaw’s $1,000,000 jackpot in the FOX Bet Super 6 NFL Sunday Challenge. Find out how they won!



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Packers beat Patriots in overtime, but Aaron Rodgers' trust issues remain

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Aaron Rodgers struggled in the first half and doesn’t feel comfortable throwing to his young receivers. But the Packers persevered.



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