USC v Oregon

Relieved Trojans get through spring game unscathed


Thanks to injuries of varying degrees of severity and personnel limitations wrought by NCAA sanctions, USC’s main mission heading into Saturday was seemingly getting out of the spring game relatively unscathed health-wise.

If that was indeed the Trojans’ mission, consider it accomplished.

With a no-tackling mandate in full effect, the Trojans’ defense came out with a 34-27 decision over the offense in front of 15,000 fans.  As explained by the team’s official website, the scoring system in part involved the defense being awarded 3 points for defensive stops of drives and 5 points for turnovers in the 91-play game.

In the end, however, the only thing that mattered was the fact that the Trojans emerged from the annual game healthy, with the added bonus of continuing the progression that’s been ongoing since the sessions began last month.  Or, as the Los Angeles Times put it…

“Kiffin was simply relieved that his team emerged without another season-ending injury.”

Statistically, and for what it’s worth, quarterback Matt Barkley (duh) led the Trojans’ offensive attack, throwing 212 yards on 22 completions and one touchdown.  Continuing a something-to-watch-for trend this spring, however, the senior signal caller tossed another interception.  D.J. Morgan, the presumptive favorite to start at running back — especially with the season-ending injury suffered by linebacker-turned-tailback Tre Madden — ran for 56 yards on six carries, with 47 of those yards coming on a touchdown run.

In addition to the yards he was expected to pile up in a meaningless exhibition game, Barkley may have also put himself in the running for a quote-of-the-year award.  No, actually, he did put himself squarely in that mix.

“All that stuff is just such bogusness.”

The 2012 Heisman Trophy front-runner — yes, he is, so stop the whining before it even starts — was referring to the preseason love the Trojans have already garnered, love that will likely translate into, at bare minimum, a Top Two preseason ranking when the polls come out in early August.  Bogusness or not, and regardless of how much the program from Kiffin to Barkley and all points in between attempts to downplay it, lofty preseason rankings are exactly the position in which the Men of Troy will find themselves come August.

If they remain healthy?  There’s no reason the Trojans can’t live up to the lofty preseason expectations.  Regardless of how much it’s downplayed in the spring.

Dalvin Cook returns to practice for FSU

TALLAHASSEE, FL - SEPTEMBER 12: Dalvin Cook #4 of the Florida State Seminoles runs the ball against the South Florida Bulls in the second half at Doak Campbell Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Tallahassee, Florida. Florida State defeated South Florida 34-14 as Cook rushed for 266 yards and three touchdowns. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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With each passing day, it appears Miami won’t be able to avoid one of the most talented and productive running backs in the country.

Thursday, Dalvin Cook returned to practice for the first time this week.  Cook suffered a hamstring injury in the first quarter of Florida State’s win over Wake Forest this past Saturday, and had spent the previous two days of practice riding a bicycle while the rest of his teammates prepped for the in-state and conference rivalry game against The U this Saturday.

The Palm Beach Post wrote that Cook showed “no signs” of the hamstring injury that had some worried about his availability in Week 6.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher, who said Wednesday he doesn’t “ever count Dalvin out” because of his healing ability, will meet with reporters later this evening and could address Cook’s status for the weekend then.  Or, he could play to keep the Hurricanes guessing, even as most assume the All-ACC back will be on the field.

Cook is far and away FSU’s leading rusher, with his 142.5 yards per game good for eight in the country and his six rushing touchdowns tied for 20th.

Gophers down eight starters for game vs. Boilermakers

EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 03: at Ryan Field on October 3, 2015 in Evanston, Illinois. Northwestern defeated Minnesota 27-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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It would be an understatement of significant proportions to say that the Minnesota football team is banged up.

How banged up?  On his radio show Thursday, head coach Jerry Kill, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported, revealed his team will be down a whopping eight starters for Saturday’s game against Purdue.

Kill’s revelation comes one day after he confirmed a total of 20 players donned non-contact jerseys in practice earlier in the day.

The coach didn’t specifically identify which starters would be sidelined, with the Pioneer Press writing “[t]he known injuries to starters include safety Damarius Travis (hamstring), cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun (knee), tight end Lincoln Plsek (back) and tackle Ben Lauer (knee/hand).”

One injured starter who will play, Kill confirmed, is quarterback Mitch Leidner. While not detailing any specific injury, Kill said Wednesday that Leidner “hasn’t been healthy. He’s been beat up.”

Overall, though, the Gophers’ health, or lack thereof, is bordering on historic.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my 32 years in coaching,” Kill said yesterday. “The toughest thing for me right now is all of these kids that work so hard, and when they get hurt, it kills me. … We are running out of people.”

Coming off an 8-5 season last year, the Gophers are struggling. While they stand at 3-2 after five games, the three wins came by a total of nine points over the likes of Colorado State, Kent State and Ohio. Their second loss — the first was by six to TCU in the opener — was a 27-0 shutout at the hands of Northwestern in the Big Ten opener last weekend.