Eight days ago, the brother of Arizona State running back Marion Grice was tragically and senselessly killed in an alleged robbery over a pair of basketball shoes.
During Saturday’s 62-28 blowout over Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, Grice led all rushers in the game with 14 carries for 159 yards and two touchdowns. All while continuing to deal with what is surely unimaginable grief.
The bowl was never close. ASU jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and led 34-7 at the half. The Sun Devils scored 28 points in the third quarter to put the game away for good. Quarterback Taylor Kelly threw for 272 yards on an efficient 17-of-19 passing. The win gives ASU an 8-5 record, the first winning record for the program since 2007.
But the story was Grice, who rejoined the team earlier this week after going home to Houston, Texas, to be with his family. Deservedly so, Grice was named the most outstanding offensive player for the game. While no amount of success today will ease the pain of his loss, perhaps it was able to bring at least a little bit of happiness to Grice, who more than deserved some.
In the midst of reports that he had a physical altercation with one of his Tennessee players during summer camp this year, Butch Jones labeled the speculation “absolutely ridiculous.”
Apparently, his bosses agree with the head coach.
At a board meeting Thursday, UT-Knoxville chancellor Jimmy Cheek stated that he and athletic director Dave Hart had done their “due diligence” in investigating the accusations that Jones and senior offensive lineman Mack Crowder were involved in some type of physical skirmish during practice this past August. The end result of interviews with Jones, coaches and players was the conclusion that there was nothing to the reports and message-board rumors.
“There’s been a lot of rumor and misinformation on social media and message boards about an alleged incident during football practice,” Cheek said according to GoVols247.com‘s Wes Rucker. “It’s not our practice to respond to rumors, but I thought it was important to let you know that we’ve done our due diligence and Dave Hart and I are very confident there was no inappropriate conduct with any players or coaches.”
Shortly after Cheek spoke at the board meeting, Crowder took to Twitter with a series of missives that speaks around the issue.
Michigan played without its leading rusher in Week 5. The Wolverines are hoping there won’t be a repeat in Week 6.
De'Veon Smith sustained a lower-leg injury in the Week 4 win over BYU and didn’t travel with the team for last Saturday’s win over Maryland. Smith has been practicing with his teammates throughout the first few days of this week, and head coach Jim Harbaugh is guardedly optimistic that the running back will be available for what’s turned into a huge Big Ten matchup with Northwestern Saturday in the Big House.
“He’s practicing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s going to stay good and be ready to play,” Harbaugh said during a radio appearance Thursday morning. “But we’ll (keep) looking at that every day.”
Despite essentially missing a game and a half, Smith currently leads the Wolverines with 331 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. He’s added four receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown coming out of the backfield the first four games.
Should Smith be unable to go again, the Wolverines have three other backs with at least 100 yards on the ground: Ty Isaac (187, 7.2 yards per carry), Drake Johnson (125, 4.2 ypc) and Derrick Green (100, 3.3 ypc).
In addition to Smith, Harbaugh is hopeful Channing Stribling will be available this weekend as well. The starting cornerback didn’t play against the Cougars because of injury