The will-he-or-won’t-he as it comes to Antone Exum‘s availability will last at least another day.
The Virginia Tech cornerback said Tuesday he wants to go through a full week’s worth of practice before determining whether his reconstructed right knee is ready for the live bullets of a game. That decision, Exum said, should come after Thursday’s practice.
Exum tore his ACL playing a game of pickup basketball in January and has spent the past several months rehabbing in an effort to return this season. There had been some hope that the cornerback would be healthy enough to play in the opener against Alabama but, obviously, that didn’t happen.
He was finally medically cleared in very late September and it was thought he would see the field for last Saturday’s game against North Carolina. The Friday before, however, the defensive back decided “to give the knee a little more time before going full game speed” and sat out against the Tar Heels.
“Basically, I just needed more time to fine-tune some things,” Exum said yesterday according to the Roanoke Times. “I wasn’t at the level I wanted to be at and go out and perform. I could have been solid, but I want to be able to perform at a very high level. I don’t want to go out there again until I can perform at that best-corner-in-the-country level.”
The high level to which Exum is accustomed to playing includes being named second-team All-ACC last season.
With multiple teams in the coach spill top 10 losing this week, there was bound to be some shaking up the rankings this week. The coaches poll still has Ohio State on top, followed by TCU, Michigan State and Baylor. Florida had the biggest jump in the rankings while Georgia had the biggest drop The coaches poll also welcomes some new additions this week.
The Florida Gators, fresh off a stomping of previous No. 3 Ole Miss (down to No. 13) moved up 11 spots in this week’s coaches poll. Florida is one of five SEC teams in this week’s coaches poll. The Big Ten has five as well. So does the Pac-12.
No. 23 Iowa, No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Memphis make their debuts in the coaches poll this week, giving us our first glimpse on the national perception in the Group of Five race. I may have Boise State down a few pegs, but the coaches, or those who actually submit the votes, have the Broncos on top of the Group of Five pack. Memphis is right there as well, but not Toledo.
Here is this week’s coaches poll:
- Ohio State ( first place votes)
- Michigan State
- Florida State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Boise State
Notre Dame fell two points shy of tying a road game at Clemson Saturday night, partly because the decision to go for two-point conversion on one early fourth-quarter touchdown backfired on the Irish. Down 12 points early in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly chose to go for two-points to cut the Clemson lead to 10 points, meaning Notre Dame would need a touchdown, extra point and a field goal to tie. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Irish trailed by 12, 21-9.
Had the Irish gone for the easier and more likely extra point, Notre Dame would have been down 11 points. That is still a bit of an uphill battle that would require a two-point conversion later on anyway, but it also meant Notre Dame had to score two touchdowns instead of a touchdown and a field goal for a shot at tying the game. Making things worse, Notre Dame burned a timeout after the touchdown before deciding which two-point conversion play to run.
Notre Dame’s execution of a late two-point conversion with the game on the line with under 10 seconds to play also came into question as the Irish looked to give freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer the call on a run-pass option. This was stuffed by Clemson as Kizer held on to the football. Kelly, after the game, defended his quarterback’s decision to try and run for the two points.
“We had fair numbers,” Kelly said. “He’s reading it at the line of scrimmage, if the numbers were fair, they were in zone coverage. It was the right call. He made the right call.”
Sometimes a player can make the right decision and still come up short. Perhaps that is exactly what happened in the rain at Clemson Saturday night. Kizer made the best possible decision in the heat of the moment, but Clemson came out on top with solid work up front on the line of scrimmage. Of course, as it turned out late in the game, Notre Dame would have only needed an extra point to tie Clemson in the final seconds after the Tigers tacked on a field goal to set up a seven-point deficit with an Irish extra point earlier. The Irish were forced to go for two because they chased the points earlier in the quarter. Hindsight might be 20/20, but Kelly is not looking back on that decision.
Kelly is hardly the only coach to make some questionable decisions under pressure this season, or this weekend. He is, however, another example of a coach being paid millions to put his program in the best position making some questionable calls that have come back to bite him. Maybe Notre Dame would have won in overtime. The Irish certainly had the momentum in their hands. Or maybe Clemson wins anyway. Who knows?