Baltimore Ravens NFL guard Ben Bredeson

Reports: Giants add to O-line, get Ben Bredeson from Ravens

The New York Giants continued to add depth to their offensive line, acquiring guard Ben Bredeson from the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, according to reports.

The Giants are sending a 2022 fourth-round draft pick to the Ravens, reports said. The Giants also get a 2022 fifth-round pick and a 2023 seventh-rounder, per reports.

The move comes a day after the Giants traded for center Billy Price from Cincinnati. They also recently signed interior lineman Ted Larsen.

Bredeson played in 10 games last season as a rookie for the Ravens, who selected the Michigan product in the fourth round of the 2020 draft. He played in just 5 percent of the offensive snaps last season. He wasn’t expected to make Baltimore’s initial 53-man roster.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) directs his receivers during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Jeff Hafley looks to build on early success as BC hosts Colgate

Coach Jeff Hafley hopes to build on an impressive debut season in Chestnut Hill as Boston College hosts Colgate in a nonconference matchup to open the season on Saturday afternoon.

Boston College went 6-5 (5-5 ACC) in Hafley’s first season as a collegiate head coach after serving as co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2019. The Eagles were bowl-eligible but elected to end their pandemic-isolated season early to allow players to go home to their families.

Hafley’s six wins were the most among first-year FBS head coaches last season.

“We’re definitely ready,” Hafley told ACC Network’s Packer & Durham show Monday. “It’s a little weird, last year at this time … we didn’t kick off until about (September) 19th, so (I’m) excited to start a normal year at the normal time with some fans and students, and really, really excited to kick off the college football season.”

Phil Jurkovec, a redshirt-junior quarterback who transferred to BC from Notre Dame for the 2020 season, returns as the starter under center after throwing for 2,558 yards, 17 touchdowns and five interceptions a season ago. BC ranked 24th in the country last season in passing offense, averaging 284.2 yards per game.

Defensively, the Eagles ranked 73rd nationally in total defense with 416.8 yards allowed per game.

The Eagles return 20 starters this season — including all five offensive lineman. The line is anchored by graduate Zion Johnson, who received 2021 Associated Press preseason first-team All-America honors.

With Patriot League athletics canceled last fall due to the pandemic, Colgate played only two games during its spring season. The Raiders lost 24-10 at Lafayette on March 13 and were defeated 40-8 at Fordham on April 3. Colgate went 4-8 in its last full season in 2019 and finished last in the 2021 Patriot League preseason poll.

“We do have to build this program back to a championship level,” said first-year Colgate coach Stan Dakosty, who was promoted from interim status after Dan Hunt stepped down in May. “You’re going to see a team that hates to lose. People ask, do you love to win or do you hate to lose? I hate to lose. That’s going to be evident as well.”

Saturday’s game marks the first-ever meeting between Boston College and Colgate. The Eagles last faced a Patriot League opponent in 2018, when they routed in-state foe Holy Cross 62-14.

–Field Level Media

Nov 14, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; Virginia Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong (5) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Louisville Cardinals in the fourth quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

No introductions needed as Virginia faces William & Mary

Familiarity is the theme as Virginia hosts William & Mary in the season opener for both teams on Saturday night in Charlottesville, Va.

Not only are both sides loaded with returning starters and veteran players, the coaching staffs for the Cavaliers of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Tribe of the Colonial Athletic Association also share multiple connections.

Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall enters his sixth year at Virginia with a 30-32 record, including 5-5 last season. On offense, he returns eight players with 10 or more starts as well as the players who produced 82 percent of the total offense from 2020. Six players on the defensive side have made at least 20 starts.

Mendenhall’s predecessor at UVA is Mike London, who is starting his third season in charge at William & Mary. He is 6-9 overall with the Tribe, including 1-2 last spring after the pandemic wiped out the fall slate. London, who was 27-46 in six seasons with the Cavaliers (2010-15), returns all of his starters on both sides of the ball.

London’s coaching staff includes former Virginia assistant Vincent Brown and former Cavaliers players Gordon Sammis, Matt Johns, Ras-I Dowling, Keenan Carter and Darryl Blackstock.

“I think what Coach London has done at William & Mary, it makes complete sense to me,” Mendenhall said of having so many former Virginia players as coaches. “It’s the exact model that I believe in and will continue to. I love hiring from within and building from within.”

Virginia, picked to finish fifth in the ACC Coastal Division in the preseason poll, is led by quarterback Brennan Armstrong, running back Wayne Taulapapa, wide receiver Billy Kemp IV and the versatile Keytaon Thompson, who lined up at QB, RB and WR last year.

Quarterback Hollis Mathis and running back Malachi Imoh lead W&M, picked to finish 11th in the 12-team CAA.

“I feel good about the talent of this team, about the depth of this team, about seniority, about the leadership,” London said. “There are a lot of positive things coming out of the spring to the summer and going into the fall.”

Virginia is 30-6-1 in the all-time series and has won 10 of the last 11 meetings, including 52-17 in the most recent clash on Sept. 6, 2019. William & Mary’s last win in the in-state rivalry was in 2009.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Navy Midshipmen head coach Ken Niumatalolo looks on during the second half of the game against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Navy looks to hit ground running against Marshall

Navy hopes a revitalized rushing attack will get things moving in the right direction against visiting Marshall in a nonconference game on Saturday in Annapolis, Md.

The Midshipmen, whose success has long been rooted in running the ball in its triple-option attack, were slowed last year. Navy averaged just 177.7 yards on the ground, its lowest output since 1994.

Navy finished 52nd nationally in rushing, marking the first time in coach Ken Niumatalolo’s 13 seasons it didn’t finish in the top six. Navy averaged just 275.1 yards and 16.6 points per game, which both ranked among the bottom 10 in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Midshipmen’s inability to run the ball led to a 3-7 record, just their third losing season in the past 18 years.

Navy’s struggles to run the ball stemmed from inconsistent play at quarterback, a position that is still a work in progress with sophomores Xavier Arline and Tai Lavatai fighting for the spot. Arline made three starts and threw a dozen total passes as a freshman and became just the fifth freshman in program history to start against Army. Lavatai spent last year on the scout team.

“I think the competition has been good,” Niumatalolo told reporters. “It allows guys to — don’t settle, don’t get complacent.”

Navy returns 23 players — 10 on offense, 13 on defense — who started multiple games in 2020, which should help make last season’s losing record an anomaly. The defense, led by returning linebacker Diego Fagot, got better as the season progressed.

In its final three games of the season, all losses, Navy yielded 205 yards to Memphis, 296 to Tulsa and 162 to Army, marking the first time the Midshipmen held their opponents to under 300 yards total offense in three straight games since 1997.

Marshall was ranked as high as 15th nationally last year after starting 7-0 before ending the season on a three-game losing streak capped by dropping the Camellia Bowl to Buffalo, 17-10. But the Thundering Herd have reason to be optimistic this season.

Charles Huff will make his head coaching debut for Marshall on Saturday after spending the past two seasons as the running backs coach at Alabama.

Quarterback Grant Wells returns after a terrific freshman year in which he threw for 2,091 yards with 18 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. He’s among nine returning starters on offense, which includes wide receiver Corey Gammage and All-Conference USA tight end Xavier Gaines.

The Thundering Herd return eight starters — led by linebackers Abraham Beauplan and Eli Neal — from a unit that led the nation in scoring defense (13.0 points per game) and was second in total defense (279.4 yards per game) a year ago. Marshall allowed more than 17 points just once last season — in a 22-13 loss to Alabama-Birmingham in the Conference USA title game.

Still, Huff is focused on playing disciplined against the Midshipmen, whose triple-option is hard to prepare for since few run it.

“You’re going to give the other team 75, 80, 100 yards, it’s going to be hard to win,” Huff told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “I don’t care if you’re the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ from back in the ’90s, you’ve got no shot.”

–Field Level Media

May 1, 2021; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) hands off to running back Kyren Williams (23) in the first quarter of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Jack Coan to lead No. 9 Notre Dame against Florida State

When No. 9 Notre Dame opens its season Sunday night in Tallahassee against Florida State, it will have a new quarterback in Jack Coan.

But this is by no means Coan’s first rodeo. He made 17 starts at Wisconsin from 2018-19, completing 69.6 percent of his passes in 2019 for 2,727 yards with 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

Coan was going to start more games last fall after the Big Ten Conference finally decided to play an eight-game schedule. But a practice injury opened the door for Graham Mertz to take the job.

With Mertz entrenched as the Badgers’ QB1 for this year, Coan transferred to South Bend and won the job in the preseason. He may not have the pure physical skills of predecessor Ian Book, but his accuracy and experience shouldn’t leave him too far behind the guy who won more games as the Fighting Irish’s quarterback (30) than anyone in school history.

“He’s been really good. He’s the same guy every day,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said of Coan. “He’s so consistent in terms of who he is and his makeup, his preparation. I think he’s even improved since the spring in a number of the more detailed areas that we asked him to.

“He’s certainly been in some big games. He’s going to go out there and he’s been in this environment before. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to have some jitters, but he’s going to know how to get in that zone.”

That could be really helpful, given the Irish’s offense is as green as a shamrock. They return only two starters, although one is running back Kyren Williams. All he did last year was rush for 1,125 yards and 13 touchdowns in their run to the College Football Playoff semifinals.

The offensive line is breaking in four new starters, including true freshman Blake Fisher at left tackle and Marshall transfer Cain Madden at right guard. The only experienced hand is center Jarrett Patterson.

Florida State is hoping that year No. 2 of the Mike Norvell era is an improvement. Last season was dreadful, with the Seminoles going 3-6 in a season that featured a 28-day COVID-19 break and just two wins over FBS teams.

Norvell was brought in from Memphis to invigorate a program that floundered badly in Willie Taggart’s two years. Norvell’s track record speaks of an ability to produce lots of points with a fast-paced attack, but four quarterbacks last season combined for 13 interceptions and 10 touchdowns.

There is still uncertainty about that position. Holdover Jordan Travis, who threw for 1,056 yards in eight games and led the team in rushing with 569 yards, is being pushed hard by transfer McKenzie Milton.

Milton threw for 8,683 yards and 72 scores in three years at UCF before suffering a gruesome knee injury in 2018 at South Florida. He hasn’t played since.

“Pretty remarkable, just the things that he’s been able to do coming off that injury a few years back,” Norvell said of Milton.

Norvell didn’t name a starter on the team’s official depth chart that was released at the start of the week.

–Field Level Media

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones vaults in OROY odds, leaving sportsbooks exposed

Mac Jones immediately became one of the favorites to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after the New England Patriots released veteran quarterback Cam Newton on Tuesday.

Jones’ OROY odds shortened significantly at numerous sportsbooks.

He went from +800 to +450 at PointsBet, moving past fellow first-round quarterbacks Zach Wilson (Jets), Justin Fields (Bears) and Trey Lance (49ers), and behind only Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence.

OROY Odds (PointsBet):
–Trevor Lawrence +350
–Zach Wilson +600
–Justin Fields +700
–Trey Lance +750

Jones’ OROY odds shortened from +1200 to +500 at BetMGM and from +700 to +300 at WynnBet.

The sudden movement also makes Jones one of the biggest liabilities for sportsbooks in the OROY market.

He is the third-biggest liability at BetMGM to win the award behind Wilson and Steelers running back Najee Harris. Jones is currently backed by 9.1 percent (sixth-most) of the tickets and 17.8 percent (second-most) of the handle at the book.

Jones also saw his NFL MVP odds shorten from +25000 to +8000 at BetMGM, while his odds to lead the NFL in passing yards moved from +20000 to +5000. He is also being offered at +2500 to lead the league in interceptions.

PointsBet Director of Communications Patrick Eichner told Field Level Media that “Jones is currently our 4th biggest liability for OROY but that will change quickly…”

The former Alabama star was selected 15th by New England in the 2021 NFL Draft. He was the fifth quarterback off the board behind Lawrence (No. 1 overall), Wilson (No. 2), Lance (No. 3) and Fields (No. 11).

What wasn’t impacted significantly by Newton’s release was the Patriots’ odds.

Eichner said “the Patriots have not seen any moves as a team,” while New England’s Over/Under win total of 9 at WynnBet shifted from -145 to -150.

Newton, who struggled in the Patriots’ preseason finale after being sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols, saw his NFL MVP odds lengthen from +8000 to +20000 at BetMGM. With no starting job in sight, Newton’s odds to lead the league in passing went from +5000 to +50000 while his odds of leading the league in picks lengthened from +2500 to +10000.

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Syracuse, New York, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Jeff Sims (10) warms up prior to the game against the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia Tech, Northern Illinois look for improvement in opener

Georgia Tech’s third season under coach Geoff Collins gets underway Saturday when the Yellow Jackets host Northern Illinois at Atlanta in the season opener for both teams.

Georgia Tech was 3-7 in 2020 as Collins steadfastly loaded up with prospects that fit his schemes, particularly his pro-style offense, as the Yellow Jackets continue to distance themselves from the spread option attack used successfully by former coach Paul Johnson.

Collins said the team has grown close during the offseason. “To see how guys have matured in the locker room, how they’re seeing the big picture and enjoy being around each other is so nice,” he said. “This a very focused group.”

The offense is led by quarterback Jeff Sims, who threw for 1,881 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 492 yards and six touchdowns as a true freshman in 2020. But Sims also threw 13 interceptions and struggled at times with ball security.

There is a good group of running backs, led by Jahmyr Gibbs, who ran for 460 yards and four touchdowns and caught 24 passes before injuring his knee. Jordan Mason, the team’s leading rusher in 2019, ran for 352 yards in 2020. The top returning receivers are Malachi Carter and Adonicas Sanders.

The defense is led by linebackers Quez Jackson and Maryland transfer Ayinde Eley, and an experienced secondary that includes cornerback Tre Swilling and safeties Juanyeh Thomas and Tariq Carpenter.

Northern Illinois was very young last season — the second-youngest in FBS with 71 percent of the roster made up of underclassmen — and finished 0-6 against a Mid-American Conference-only schedule. NIU returns nine starters on offense and 10 on defense.

The Huskies’ biggest question mark may be quarterback. Michigan State transfer Rocky Lombardi threw for 1,902 yards for the Spartans from 2018-20 and helped them beat Michigan and Northwestern last season. Freshman Ethan Hampton enrolled in January and won the backup role. None of the quarterbacks on the roster completed a pass for NIU in 2020.

“I like our quarterback room,” said NIU coach Thomas Hammock, who begins his third season as head coach. “Rocky has come in and been the type of player that we need him to be. He’s an extension of the coaching staff. He handles all the checks, he gets guys linked up and he’s the leader out there.”

NIU’s top returning backs are Harrison Waylee (456 yards rushing, one TD) and Erin Collins (192 yards rushing, four TDs). The three top receivers also return, including Tyrice Richie, who had 53 catches and four touchdowns in 2020.

The defense is led by cornerback Jordan Gandy, who led the team with 41 tackles and seven pass breakups, all-conference linebacker Kyle Pugh, hard-hitting safety Devin Lafayette and defensive lineman/linebacker Nick Rattin.

This will be the first ever meeting between the two teams.

–Field Level Media

Nov 23, 2019; Louisville, KY, USA; Syracuse Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito (13) looks to pass the ball against the Louisville Cardinals during the first quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterbacks on shuffle as Syracuse visits Ohio

When Syracuse faces Ohio on Saturday night in Athens, Ohio, fans would be wise to keep their roster sheets handy.

Both Syracuse head coach Dino Babers and Ohio’s Tim Albin have said they plan on playing more than one quarterback in the nonconference matchup.

For Babers, redshirt junior Tommy DeVito will start his third straight season opener for the Orange, but sophomore Garrett Shrader (a Mississippi State transfer) will also see the field.

“Somebody has to run out there first,” Babers said. “But I think both of those guys will be in the game enough that they’ll be able to show what they can do.”

Albin, 55, is making his debut as a Division I head coach. Since 2005 he had served as Ohio’s offensive coordinator under former head coach Frank Solich and was elevated after Solich announced his retirement July 14.

Albin said he’ll also likely use two quarterbacks in the opener. Redshirt freshman Kurtis Rourke is set as the starter, while UNLV transfer Armani Rogers will also likely get work.

“Both will play at some point in time,” Albin said.

Both teams are coming off trying seasons in 2020. The Bobcats were 2-1 and finished in the nation’s top 25 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, but saw half of their six-game schedule wiped out due to COVID-19 positive tests and contact tracing. The cancellations left them out of the Mid-American title chase.

“We’ll be ready, our guys are ready to get after it,” Albin said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Ohio averaged 216.7 yards rushing per game and RB De’Montre Tuggle led the way with 7.6 yards per carry, 134.3 per game, and accounted for seven scores. Stopping the run will be a primary concern for the Orange, who gave up 32.7 points and 209.2 rushing yards per game last season.

“They remind me of old Nebraska without the option,” Babers said. “They understand the scheme. There is no hesitation when they’re going somewhere. It’s old-school football. I can appreciate that.”

Syracuse was a miserable 1-10 last fall and Babers has had back-to-back losing seasons heading into his sixth with the program. DeVito (593 passing yards, four TDs) and Shrader will work behind an offensive line returning seven players with starting experience.

Syracuse is a slight favorite coming in and is 2-0 all-time against Ohio, but the two teams haven’t played since 1921. The Bobcats haven’t knocked off an ACC opponent since 2005, when they topped visiting Pitt in overtime in Solich’s first home game at OU.

–Field Level Media

Aug 2, 2021; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) performs a drill during training camp at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Malcolm Butler out again amid reports of retirement

Arizona Cardinals defensive back Malcolm Butler missed a second consecutive practice Tuesday amid reports the two-time Super Bowl champion is considering retirement for personal reasons.

The Cardinals seem to be in the dark about Butler’s status and future.

NFL Network reported Monday night that Butler is going through a personal situation that has put stepping away from the game on the table.

The Cardinals signed Butler to a one-year, fully guaranteed $3.25 million deal in the offseason to help bandage the loss of All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency.

Butler, 31, was slated to start opposite Byron Murphy. Robert Alford is currently on the reserve/COVID-19 list. That leaves the Cardinals with rookies Marco Wilson and Tay Gowan as well as Luq Barcoo at cornerback as they prepare for their Week 1 game against Tennessee on Sept. 12.

Butler has 17 career interceptions in 100 games (84 starts) with the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans, who cut Butler in the offseason in a cost-saving move. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 and won two Super Bowls with the Patriots.

In 2020, he made a career-high 100 tackles and registered four interceptions and 14 passes defensed for the Titans.

It was at the Cardinals’ home field in Glendale, Ariz., where Butler made the most memorable play of his career: the interception of a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line in the waning minutes of Super Bowl XLIX in 2015. It sealed the New England Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

–Field Level Media

Jul 22, 2021; Hoover, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers head coach Bryan Harsin speaks to the media during SEC Media Days at Hyatt Regency Birmingham. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Harsin era opens as Auburn hosts Akron

Bryan Harsin makes his Auburn coaching debut when the Tigers host Akron in Saturday night’s season opener at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It is the first of two anticipated tune-up games for Auburn before traveling to No. 19 Penn State later this month.

The unranked Tigers are big favorites over the Zips, who are coming off a 1-5 season and are picked to finish fifth this fall in the East Division of the Mid-American Conference. The Tigers host Alabama State, an FCS program, on Sept. 11.

Brought to the Plains after a successful six-year stint at Boise State, where he went 69-19, Harsin had to stay home two weeks in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19. He returned to practice Monday and doesn’t see his absence from the field as a major factor in preparing for the Zips.

“I’ve been able to watch practice live so I’ve got that, which has been great,” he said last week. “Actually, I’ve been able to see some things you don’t usually get when you have that bird’s-eye view.”

Junior quarterback Bo Nix and leading rusher Tank Bigsby are among seven returning starters on offense and linebackers Zakoby McClain, Owen Pappoe, and Chandler Wooten return on defense.

Nix has passed for 4,957 yards in starting the last two years. Bigsby rushed for 834 yards in 10 games as a freshman in 2020.

McClain was Auburn’s top tackler (113) in 2020, and Pappoe and Wooten have been named permanent co-captains for 2021. Pappoe had 93 stops last year but Wooten sat out 2020 over COVID concerns.

The Tigers lost a potential starter up front when defensive tackle Tyrone Truesdell, left the team before fall camp and transferred to Florida. He had 19 career starts.

Akron welcomes back quarterback Kato Nelson and linebacker Bubba Arslanian. Arslanian had 74 tackles in just six games to lead the Zips. Nelson sat out 2020 after having shoulder surgery. He made 10 starts in 2019, passing for 1,820 yards and 11 touchdowns.

“I’m feeling great,” Nelson said. “I’m healthy.”

Coach Tom Arth, who is 1-17 in two years at Akron, is hoping that the experience gained in last year’s abbreviated season pays dividends.

“Even though it was half of a traditional year, those six games were valuable to us in the development of our roster,” he said.

–Field Level Media