We can probably excuse UCLA for coming out flat against Nebraska this afternoon in Lincoln. As if flying in to Big Ten territory for a noon kickoff is not enough of an adjustment for a team from the west coast, the Bruins have been preparing all week and playing today with heavy hearts following Sunday’s tragic loss of Nick Pasquale, who was struck by a car last weekend. The Bruins may have started sluggish but head to the locker room having put a touchdown on the scoreboard. Nebraska leads the Bruins 21-10 at the half.
Jim Mora is not a coach who will be looking for excuses for the way the first half played out for the visiting Bruins. Quarterback Brett Hundley led the UCLA offense on to the field for the game’s opening drive and proceeded to wave his warms begging for more crowd noise from the red-clad Nebraska fans. He then took off running on the first snap of the game and had the ball popped out of his arms. Fortunately for Hundley, UCLA landed on the loose ball to avoid an early disaster. Hundley as not been particularly sharp, completing eight of 16 passes for 153 yards and he was intercepted on UCLA’s second possession of the game. UCLA’s running game has yet to take off either, mustering together just 26 yards on the ground in the first half. Paul Perkins had a touchdown run up the middle of Nebraska’s defense inside the red zone to give the Bruins a little bit of a lift.
Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has had a better outing so far with three touchdown passes, and Nebraska’s defense has been playing well for the most part. They have had their frustrating moments as well, including the inability to wrap up Hundley scrambling to stay alive on UCLA’s final possession of the half. Hundley managed to escape multiple Nebraska defenders and found enough room to pick up a first down to continue the drive that would result in a touchdown.
UCLA was given credit for a field goal midway through the second quarter, but an official video review overturned the call. The call was the right call in this case, because the football was wide right. For what it is worth, Pac 12 refs are being used for the game but a Big Ten crew is working the video replay.
As far as kickers go, this is a rather significant development.
Last week, Wisconsin’s Rafael Gaglianone did not make the trip to East Lansing for the Michigan State game because of a back issue. Not only will the placekicker miss this Saturday’s game against No. 4 Michigan, he will be sidelined for the remainder of the 2016 season after undergoing back surgery.
According to the school, Gaglianone’s condition improved Sunday but subsequently worsened. It was then decided that the junior would undergo the medical procedure.
A similar back injury, the school said, led Gaglianone to miss spring practice last year.
“You’re disappointed for Rafael because of all the work he’s put in and how well he was playing,” head coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. “From a football perspective, I’ve appreciated the way the other guys in that unit have responded this week.”
This season, Gaglianone has connected on seven of eight field goal attempts and all 10 extra points. Included in that total was what turned out to be the game-winning field goal in the opener against LSU at Lambeau Field.
Including this season, Gaglianone, who will be eligible for a medical hardship waiver, has been good on 44-57 field goals in his career and all but two of his 111 point afters.
With Gaglianone sidelined, the Badgers will turn to Andrew Endicott. The senior, who hadn’t previously attempted a field goal or extra point at the collegiate level, made 1-1 of the former and 3-4 of the latter in replacing Gaglianone against MSU.
And now we know a little bit more of the rest of the story.
Thursday morning, reports surfaced that Alabama linebacker Tim Williams had been arrested for carrying a pistol without a permit. Other than the fact that Williams was arrested by university police officers, no details were available. Until now.
Williams was arrested in the Tuscaloosa Publix parking lot around 2:00 a.m., sources told AL.com.
Police officers were doing a normal patrol when they smelled marijuana coming from Williams’ vehicle, according to sources. A passenger, who was not an Alabama football player, said the marijuana was his, but the officer then found the pistol under Williams’ seat while searching the car, according to sources.
The school has yet to publicly comment on the situation, although the player took to Twitter to acknowledge “a mistake.”
Coming off a 2015 season in which he was second on the Tide with 10.5 sacks, Phil Steele named the senior as a preseason first-team All-American.
A significant piece of Duke offensive puzzle won’t be available to the Blue Devils in Week 5.
On its weekly injury report released Thursday, Duke announced that Jela Duncan will not play against Virginia Saturday because of an unspecified leg injury. The running back sustained the injury in the 38-35 win over Notre Dame last weekend.
With 314 yards, Duncan is far and away the Blue Devils’ leading rusher. Next closest is Shaun Wilson‘s 122 yards.
Duncan, a senior who’s endured a rocky career thus far, also leads the team with four rushing touchdowns, while his 5.6 yards per carry is tops amongst Blue Devils with 10 or more carries.
The football program also confirmed that defensive end Dominic McDonald will miss a second straight game because of what’s described as an upper-body injury. McDonald started the first three games of the season before missing the Notre Dame game with the same injury.
And, finally, the school announced that linebacker Tinashe Bere will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a leg injury. While he didn’t start any of the four games in which he played this season after starting six last year, he’s sixth on the team in tackles with 13.
Depending on your point of view, James Franklin‘s boss has either given the Penn State head coach a needed vote of confidence… or the dreaded vote of confidence.
With an underwhelming 14-12 record heading into his third year, Franklin’s Nittany Lions have continued to underwhelm with a 2-2 record through the first third of the 2016 season. Following a 39-point loss to Michigan, Franklin’s record against the Big Three in the B1G East — UM, Michigan State, Ohio State — dropped to 0-7. Not only have the Nittany Lions lost all seven, they’ve lost those seven by an average of 22 points per game. Five of those losses were by at least 12 points, with four of those coming by 24 or more.
The fact that the Nittany Lions aren’t even remotely ready to compete in their own division let alone nationally has led to renewed chatter that, by season’s end, Franklin could either be sitting on the hot seat or standing in the unemployment line. Wednesday, PSU athletic director Sandy Barbour used a Chamber of Commerce appearance to very stridently and publicly defend her head coach.
From Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror:
James is not on any hot seat,” Barbour said Wednesday.
“He’s not on the hot seat, and he’s not going to be on the hot seat in December,” Barbour said.
“James is going to be our football coach,” the AD added. “I believe in where this football program is going under James Franklin, and I think he’s going to be our football coach, period.”
“I think I’ve been really, really clear on I think he’s doing a spectacular job as a teacher, as a coach, as a leader of these young men,” she said. “That’s really, really important to Penn State. He and his staff are absolutely nailing that.
Barring a complete and total collapse between now and the end of November, Franklin will get a fourth season. Heading into that fourth year, however, he will very likely be on the hot seat on which Barbour currently swears he doesn’t currently sit.