Ryan Day said Monday he was “caught off-guard” when Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was placed on administrative leave and he was named interim coach. But in the four weeks that have ensued, Day said he has settled into the role and watched the Buckeyes’ team leaders step up.
“Every day it’s become more normal,” said Day, 39. “The first few days it was a lot. ... We can actually get better from it. Our team has gotten stronger. The team, the players and the coaches have gotten stronger.”
Day and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano met the media Monday for the first time since news broke on Aug. 1 that Ohio State had placed Meyer on leave two days before the start of fall camp. The university subsequently investigated how Meyer handled allegations of domestic abuse made by the ex-wife of former assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer was suspended last week for the first three games of the season.
Day also announced that sophomore Dwayne Haskins will start at quarterback, replacing the graduated J.T. Barrett. Haskins had been in competition with redshirt freshman Tate Martell, whom the team still plans to play in some capacity, Day said.
—Alabama listed both junior Jalen Hurts and sophomore Tua Tagovailoa as starters on the team’s first depth chart, five days before the Crimson Tide open the season against Louisville.
Tagovailoa’s name was listed first, followed by a slash and Hurts’ name, but the competition appears to be ongoing. The two have battled for the job throughout camp, but coach Nick Saban has shown willingness in the past to allow quarterback battles to go into the season, including Hurts’ freshman year in 2016.
“They’ve both done a good job in fall camp,” Saban said of this year’s battle. “We’re excited about the progress both guys have made and what they’re capable of doing.”
—New Florida State head coach Willie Taggart ended months of speculation, naming redshirt junior Deondre Francois the team’s starting quarterback one week ahead of the No. 19 Seminoles’ season opener against No. 20 Virginia Tech on Labor Day night.
Francois, the Seminoles’ starter as a freshman who missed most of last year after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in Florida State’s 2017 opener against Alabama, went 10-3 his first season under center in 2016, capped by a 33-32 Orange Bowl win against Michigan. He earned the nod over sophomore James Blackman, who stepped in when Francois went down last year and went 7-5 in 12 starts.
—Kelly Bryant will open the season as Clemson’s starting quarterback.
The team released its official depth chart Monday morning with the incumbent Bryant on top, besting highly touted freshman Trevor Lawrence and redshirt freshman Chase Brice for the starting spot.
Last season, in his first year replacing Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Bryant started 14 games and led the Tigers to the ACC title and the College Football Playoff.
—Ohio State transfer Joe Burrow has won the starting quarterback job at LSU, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans reported.
Burrow beat out sophomore Myles Brennan for the gig. A junior, Burrow transferred to LSU in May after graduating from Ohio State in three years.
He played in 10 games for the Buckeyes as a reserve over the past two seasons, completing 29 of 39 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. Burrow competed for the Ohio State starting job in the spring with Haskins, but Meyer didn’t make a decision and Burrow opted to depart the school.
—Kellen Mond will start for Texas A&M at quarterback in Thursday’s season opener against Northwestern State, according to a 247Sports report, but fellow sophomore Nick Starkel is also expected to play.
Head coach Jimbo Fisher said last week he wasn’t ready to name a starter, and he indicated both players could see action early in the season before a firm decision is made. Per 247Sports, both players have been told Mond — who received the first-team reps over the weekend — will start, but both will play.
Starkel started five games and played in eight last season, leading the Aggies with 1,793 yards and 14 touchdowns, along with six interceptions. Mond started eight games, throwing for 1,375 yards, eight scores and six picks.
—Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Tristan Gebbia skipped practice, and it appears likely he will transfer after withdrawing from classes at the university.
Head coach Scott Frost confirmed to reporters Gebbia — who lost the competition for the starting quarterback job to true freshman Adrian Martinez — missed practice. Frost also indicated he is still trying to learn more about the quarterback’s situation.
Martinez, who will be the first true freshman QB to start a season opener for the Cornhuskers, would be the only quarterback on scholarship left on the roster if Gebbia were to transfer.
—Florida coach Dan Mullen named Feleipe Franks the team’s starting quarterback after a “really close” battle with fellow redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask.
Last year, Franks became the first redshirt freshman to start a season opener for the Gators since 1988. He started eight games and played in 11, throwing for 1,438 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions, but he was benched on two separate occasions.
Trask, a three-star prospect who wasn’t a primary starter in high school, had foot surgery before the season opener last year and missed the whole season after redshirting in 2016.
—Mississippi State suspended senior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald for Saturday’s season opener for a violation of team policy, head coach Joe Moorhead announced.
Moorhead did not specify what the violation was, offering only that it happened in the spring. He added that Fitzgerald has been a “great leader and great teammate” since the incident, and that the quarterback has been elected a team captain.
Fitzgerald is returning from a dislocated right ankle sustained in November. He will miss the team’s opener against Stephen F. Austin before being available to return Sept. 8 for a game against Kansas State.
—AJ Bush was named starting quarterback at Illinois after prevailing in a three-man competition.
Bush, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, was chosen by coach Lovie Smith over sophomore Cam Thomas and promising true freshman Matt Robinson.
Bush, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior, played in five games for the Hokies last season. He completed 7 of 11 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown.
—Nearly a year after sustaining a nearly career-ending injury, Jake Luton is again Oregon State’s starting quarterback. He beat out sophomores Conor Blount and Jack Colletto for the role.
Luton suffered a fractured thoracic spine injury during a game against Washington State on Sept. 16, 2017, and faced an arduous rehabilitation process. The 6-foot-7 senior passed for 853 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions last season prior to the injury.
—Junior-college transfer Terry Wilson will open the season as the starting quarterback at Kentucky, coach Mark Stoops announced.
Wilson edged fellow sophomore Gunnar Hoak for the position. Redshirt freshman Danny Clark is the third stringer. Wilson passed for 2,133 yards and 16 touchdowns for Garden City (Kan.) Community College last season. He was intercepted 11 times.
—Junior Kaleb Barker has been selected as the starting quarterback for Troy’s season opener against No. 22 Boise State, coach Neal Brown announced.
Barker was chosen over sophomore Sawyer Smith, who will also see action in the opener. The Trojans are counting on the two signal callers to replace four-year starter Brandon Silvers.
—UCLA has suspended six players for Saturday’s season opener, the school announced.
Running back Soso Jamabo, tight end Devin Asiasi, defensive linemen Osa Odighizuwa and Moses Robinson-Carr, offensive lineman Boss Tagaloa and defensive back Mo Osling are out for the opener against Cincinnati for what the school described only as violations of athletic department policy.
Asiasi and Tagaloa will miss three games, and Jamabo was suspended for two, coach Chip Kelly confirmed. The remaining players will be out only Saturday.
—Arizona dismissed freshman linebacker Santino Marchiol from the team, coach Kevin Sumlin announced, after a video surfaced this weekend apparently showing Marchiol twice using the word “monkey” to refer to a former Texas A&M teammate.
Last week, USA Today reported that Marchiol accused Fisher’s coaching staff of breaking several NCAA rules during its first offseason at College Station. Among Marchiol’s allegations, he said linebackers coach Bradley Dale Peveto improperly distributed money to entertain recruits; the team held non-voluntary workouts in June; and the training staff mishandled an ankle injury Marchiol sustained last year.
—Field Level Media