South Carolina took one small step toward winning the SEC East and earning a trip back to Atlanta Thursday night with a tougher-than-expected win over an upset-minded Vanderbilt.
And, hey, a decent crowd showed up too.
What fans saw was mistake-prone football synonymous with the first game of the season. Neither Vandy nor the ninth-ranked Gamecocks could pass the ball, and it didn’t help that quarterback Connor Shaw (pictured) was nursing a bruised throwing shoulder half the night.
Shaw finished 7-of-11 for 67 yards and an interception. Not exactly numbers Steve Spurrier wants to see. About the only thing Shaw threw effectively was caution to the wind as he ran — recklessly, you could argue with that shoulder — 14 times for 92 yards. Marcus Lattimore, back from an ACL injury, tacked on 109 yards and two touchdowns.
It wasn’t pretty — but dang there were some grown up hits, y’all — but the Gamecocks squeezed out a 17-13 win over Vanderbilt*.
You have to give the Commodores credit for battling back after an early 10-0 deficit, and Vandy’s undersized offensive line was even able to keep South Carolina’s d-line, and Jadeveon Clowney, under control for part of the night. James Franklin has been preaching over and over that this isn’t the “same old Vanderbilt.”
Attitude-wise? Not in the least. There’s a new fire with this program that just hasn’t been there before. Performance-wise? There’s nothing “new” about Vandy yet. The Commodores weren’t able to capitalize on two early turnovers and good field position (when they had it).
Until the ‘Dores get that statement win, the corner can’t be considered turned.
(*Yes, there was a missed pass interference call; no, it’s not the story of the game. It was a close game, you can magnify a dozen things that could have gone differently.)
Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen was one of the most heavily discussed signal-callers in the country this offseason and labeled by many as a potential No. 1 overall draft pick. Some thought he has the physical tools to transition effortlessly from the Mountain West to the NFL just like Carson Wentz.
By late September though, people are starting to hit the brakes on the hype train for the Cowboys QB and so, too, is the player himself it appears. The Associated Press published a long profile of Allen this week and one nugget seemed to jump out: following a 49-13 loss to Oregon last Saturday in which he completed just nine passes for 64 yards and an interception, the quarterback promptly deleted Twitter of his phone.
“Those guys on Twitter aren’t making draft picks and putting together teams in the NFL,” Allen said. “All I really care about is respect from my teammates and my coaches here.”
We’ve seen players delete apps or jump off social media when they face a little adversity on the field and it seems that the Wyoming star is the latest to join the bandwagon and swear off tweeting in the foreseeable future. We’ll see if it makes any difference on Saturday as his team takes on Hawaii at home to open Mountain West conference play.
The future of the Big 12 conference still seems a little murky but one thing remains clear: commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be in charge no matter which way things go.
The league announced on Friday morning that Bowlsby’s contract was extended through 2025, keeping him at Big 12 headquarters through the next round of television negotiations and right up to the expiration date on the conference’s grant of rights.
“This is an important time for college athletics. This is an important time for the Big 12,” West Virginia President Gordon Gee, the chairman of the conference’s board of directors, said in a video statement. “To have a valiant and committed leader and someone who understands athletics as well as anyone in this country leading our conference is something that is very much important to the league and to the individual schools and I believe to college athletics.”
Bowlsby notably guided the Big 12 through on-again, off-again rounds of conference expansion the past few years and played a big role in bringing a football championship game and new tiebreaker scenarios to the league since he took over in 2012. The former Stanford and Iowa athletic director will be 73 at the end of his new contract, which is paying him right under $2.7 million a year according to USA Today.
Things got heated at Arkansas in the lead up to their next game and we’re not just talking about head coach Bret Bielema’s hot seat among the Razorbacks fan base either.
It appears that starting tailback Devwah Whaley was involved in what is being called a “minor disagreement” with a teammate this week at practice. While scuffles in the middle of an intense play are nothing new in football, there were a lot rumors that the running back was actually injured in the brouhaha and wouldn’t be able to take the field at AT&T Stadium on Saturday against Texas A&M.
“He’s ready to play,” the coach said on his radio show, according to Hawgs Illustrated. “How many times are 21-year-olds in a disagreement? Devwah is excited to play in the game in his home state.”
Whaley himself confirmed that he wasn’t injured and would be playing against the Aggies on Twitter:
While one side of this “disagreement” is all set to play at JerryWorld against Texas A&M, the other side is not. That’s because wide receiver Brandon Martin, who was also reportedly involved, is staying home in what Bielema labeled a previously determined decision due to his lingering hamstring injury. Either way, Razorbacks fans are probably hoping for a lot of the same fight they’ve seen this week from the team to carry over to their game on Saturday.
North Carolina’s injury situation has gone from bad to worse in the blink of an eye this week.
The school confirmed via their weekly injury report on Thursday night that three starters were lost for the rest of the season as linebacker Andre Smith, offensive lineman William Sweet and receiver Thomas Jackson all won’t return to action. The trio, who were not listed with a specific injury, were part of a whopping 19 players who were banged up on the report.
Smith did not play in last week’s game for the Tar Heels but it appears both Sweet and Jackson went down against Old Dominion and did not return.
“It is what it is. It’s the same old thing: The next guy has to get up, and the next guy has to play,” head coach Larry Fedora said earlier in the week. “You hope you can build some type of continuity at some point.”
The three starters join a lengthy injury list for the Tar Heels that is now up to nearly a 1/10th of the roster — nine names long — out for the year.
Defensive lineman Jalen Dalton was also ruled doubtful for UNC’s game against triangle rival Duke on Saturday, along with cornerback Corey Bell. offensive lineman Cam Dillard and Bentley Spain, as well as wideout Dazz Newsome, were all listed as questionable.