It’s a soggy afternoon down in Atlanta for ACC football between Georgia Tech and North Carolina, but that has not been enough to slow the Tar Heels down in the first half. North Carolina has built a 20-14 lead.
Bryn Renner has thrown for 178 yards and two touchdowns and his receivers have dropped a handful of passes as well. Perhaps the weather conditions are playing a factor in to the production. Romar Morris has rushed for 32 yards and a touchdown to lead North Carolina’s offense and the Tar Heel defense has done well to not allow Georgia Tech to find a rhythm.
North Carolina wasted little tim in opening the scoring with a touchdown on the game’s opening possession. Morris capped a quick six-play drive with a four-yard touchdown run to the left side of the field, but North Carolina failed to convert a two-point conversion attempt. The lead was expanded to 13-0 following a Renner touchdown pass to tight end Eric Ebron.
Georgia Tech finally got on the scoreboard early in the second quarter when David Sims barely cross the goal line before losing grip on the football. Sims had just crossed the goal line as the ball popped loose and was scooped up by North Carolina. The initial ruling was touchdown and a video review determined there was conclusive enough evidence to overturn the call. Ultimately it appears the right call was made but it was very close to being a punch-to-the-gut moment for the Yellow Jackets. If the ball had been ruled a fumble, the turnover likely would have upheld because the replay was so close either way. Down 13-0 at the time, not punching one in from the goal line would have left a very empty feeling for the home team.
Renner scrambled to keep a play alive inside the red zone on the ensuing possession and found Sean Tapley for another touchdown. Georgia Tech picked up a critical touchdown late in the half to cut in to the lead and maybe even flip the momentum in their favor. The Tar Heels could not get off the field on a third and long around midfield and Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee connected with Darren Waller for a 21-yard touchdown over the middle of the field. Lee has only attempted nine passes, which is typical of a Paul Johnson offense, but he has completed five of them for 82 yards and a touchdown.
The game doesn’t feel as though it should be as close as it is at the half, but credit to Georgia Tech for not going away at the end of the half. If North Carolina can pull this one out they will make a huge statement in the ACC Coastal Division, but right now Georgia Tech is in solid position to come back as well.
After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.
According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.
Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).
Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.
Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.
Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams pled no contest to charges from a DUI incident last August. On Wednesday, he received his sentence from a county judge and learned he would be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.
According to The Lincoln Journal-Star, Williams was also fined $1,000 for his latest DUI charge. Williams has until March 3 to apply for house arrest, although prosecutors made a push for Williams to serve his time behind bars after not being locked up for two prior DUI charges.
Nebraska opens spring football practices on March 4. If he is ruled eligible for house arrest, that would allow Williams to continue coaching in the spring. Otherwise, he could have to miss at least some of Nebraska’s spring practices depending on when his jail sentence would begin.
Williams was pulled over for driving under the influence last August with a BAC above .15. Further complicating things was the fact Williams also had two previous convictions for DUI. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley suspended Williams without pay through the end of August and was prohibited from coaching in Nebraska’s first four games of the 2016 season.
Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”
“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”
Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.
The Ole Miss Rebels will not be going to a postseason game in 2017 after the university opted to self-impose a one-year postseason ban. The decision came as a result of an updated notice of allegations received from the NCAA as part of an expanded investigation. The school has charged the program and university of a lack of institutional control.
Ole Miss Chancellor Jeff Vitter, athletics director Ross Bjork and football coach Hugh Freeze provided an update on the latest regarding its NCAA investigation with a video.
In addition to the 2017 postseason ban, Ole Miss will forfeit all annual postseason revenue (reportedly to be about $7 million).
The latest notice of allegations included eight potential violations from the football program, including setting up hunting trips for a student-athlete on private land owned by a booster, providing housing for recruits and boosters providing food to student-athletes enrolled at another institution and more. Freeze was charged with violating head coach responsibility legislation. As expected, Ole Miss will contest the latest allegations levied against the university and football program that are deemed not supported by evidence.
The latest allegations:
- Prospective student-athlete went hunting on private land owned by booster, arranged by football program (Level III)
- Former staff member arranged for lodging and transportation for prospective student-athlete enrolled at another institution (Level I)
- Same former staff member knowingly committed recruiting violations and provided false information to enforcement staff (Level I)
- Same former staff member initiated and facilitated two boosters having contact with a recruit (Level I)
- A different former staff member arranged for friend of a recruit and two recruits to receive merchandise from a store owned by a booster amounting to $2,800 (Level I)
- Freeze had impermissible in-person, off-campus contact with a recruit (Level III)
- Booster provided money, food and drinks to a recruit and his companions at booster-owned restaurant on two to three occasions (Level I)
- Freeze violated head coach responsibility legislation
- Scope and nature of violations demonstrate university lacked institutional control and failed to monitor conduct and administration of athletics program (Level I)
Ole Miss has 90 days to appeal.