The first quarter of Thursday night’s ACC game may have come at a cost for Miami. Running back Duke Johnson took a knee to the head on a play and was sent to the locker room. He was later reported to be done for the game, leaving Miami without their top offensive player with three quarters still to play. It got worse for Miami, who trails UNC at halftime by a score of 17-14.
Later in the first quarter the Hurricanes lost wide receiver Phillip Dorsett, who took an awkward helmet shot to his left leg and needed to be assisted off the field, although he did walk under his own power. He was also reported to be done for the night as well and returned to the sideline out of uniform and on crutches before halftime. Dorsett is Miami’s third-leading receiver this season and provided one of the top offensive highlights of the night by hauling in a 68-yard pass from Stephen Morris.
As far as the scoreboard was concerned, Miami had to settle for two field goals and trailed North Carolina at the end of the first quarter, 7-6. North Carolina’s offense had been thriving on the play of tight end Eric Ebron, who quickly went over 100 yards. While Bryn Renner has been leading the offense for most of the night, it was Marquise Williams who came in and connected with Ebron, who broke away from defenders and sprinted down the right sideline for a 71-yard touchdown.
It would be the special teams that gave Miami a lead early in the second quarter though, when North Carolina had a field goal blocked. Miami’s Ladarius Gunter returned the blocked kick 67 yards for a touchdown.
North Carolina took back the lead later in the second quarter when Renner completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis.
The Tar Heels may have Miami on the ropes. The defense has forced Morris to make some poor throws and without Johnson and Dorsett, the Miami offense needs to see some players step up to fill those roles consistently. If Miami can get by this week given the ay this first half has played out, they should feel very fortunate.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has been a joy to watch over the course of the first few days. Highlighted by some significant upsets and some thrilling finishes, this year’s tournament has everybody talking, including college football coaches. This is especially true for college football’s non-power conference programs, who seem to be celebrating the upsets performed early on by schools like Marshall, Loyola-Chicago and, of course, UMBC.
UCF took to Twitter to extend congratulations to the University of Maryland Baltimore County after the 16-seed Retrievers became the first team in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s history to upset a No. 1 seed, in which UMBC throttled No. 1 Virginia by 20 after an unbelievable second-half performance that left Virginia clueless how to respond.
UMBC has been the story of the first round for the historic upset of the Cavaliers, but FAU head coach Lane Kiffin claims he picked UMBC to win the game. In fact, Kiffin showed off a bracket in which he picked UMBC to win it all. Of course, such a bracket cannot be taken too seriously, especially after closer inspection reveals Kiffin went heavy with the underdog mentality throughout his bracket. Perhaps such a bracket strategy plays into the kind of mentality Kiffin is attempting to build at FAU.
Troy coach Neal Brown also used the UMBC upset to make a case for the Group of Five representation in college football to get more of a fair shake in the sport of college football.
Brown is not the only person to have this thought, although the idea has just as many on the other side of the fence as well. The College Football Playoff is a much smaller system to determine a college football champion and expansion is a hot-button topic of conversation for a variety of reasons. The current format allows for one guaranteed spot in a major bowl game for the highest-ranked conference champion from the non-power conferences, but undefeated UCF was still left out of the College Football Playoff last season and it may be a long time before a non-power conference champion gets a shot at the playoff.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach has proposed a 64-team college football playoff, but the most likely step for expansion of the playoff system will double the field to eight teams. That would still likely leave out some top non-power conference options, but it would leave the door open just a little wider for a team like UCF last year.
A routine U.S. Navy training flight that ended in tragedy had a college football connection.
Earlier this week, two Navy aviators were killed when a fighter jet crashed off the coast of Key West, Florida, this past Wednesday. Those who lost their lives were, according to the Associated Press, Lt. Cmdr. James Brice Johnson and Lt. Caleb Nathaniel King, who served in the “Blacklions” of Strike Fighter Squadron Two One Three (VFA-213). Johnson was the pilot of the aircraft.
“[T]he aircraft crashed on final approach to Boca Chica Field following a training mission,” Military.com wrote. While details are scant at the moment, below is from that website’s report:
The crash happened around 4:30 p.m., Hecht said. Both pilots onboard the Super Hornet ejected, he said. Initially, Hecht said a search-and-rescue effort for the aircrew was still ongoing around 6 PM, but later he said the pilots were recovered within minutes and taken by ambulance to the medical center.
An eyewitness, Barbie Wilson, told Military.com the crash “looked like something out of a movie.”
Wilson, who lives on the back side of the air station, said she stopped to watch an F/A-18 flying overhead, as she often does, and was shocked to see what appeared to be a massive malfunction in midair.
“Literally, the wings went vertical, and there was a fireball, and it just literally dropped out of the sky,” Wilson said.
King (pictured, left) was a linebacker for the Midshipmen football team from 2009-11. He played in 38 games during his time at the military academy.
“Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the entire King family,” Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said in a statement. “We lost a dear brother and warrior. The entire Navy Football Brotherhood mourns the passing of a great American. We love you Caleb!”
The dream of Temple football playing in an on-campus stadium appears as though it’s on hold after a Philadelphia city council meeting got heated once again and resulted in the pulling of support by a key local leader.
Per KYW 1060, City Council President Darrell Clarke told the radio station that he would not support the reported $125 million project at a meeting earlier this week. Though the university leadership remains focused on making the new stadium happen eventually, the dwindling support from those in the community have basically stalled the effort and puts into question where the team will play football in 2020 and beyond.
Protestors against the stadium being built already interrupted a town hall meeting on the project last week.
“We do not feel that a 35,000 seat stadium fits in a residential block,” said Reverend Bill Moore, who is part several local groups pushing to ax the project.
Temple had signed an extension on their lease with nearby Lincoln Financial Field (the home of the Philadelphia Eagles) but that agreement runs only through the 2019 season. The hope had been to get the new on-campus stadium built by the time the 2020 campaign rolled around but that is looking increasingly unlikely as local residents — and now city council members — become more and more vocal in their opposition to the project.
The university has not issued a formal statement on their next steps after this latest setback but at least the team itself is moving forward as usual with spring football already under the way in Philly.
Just like an old house, older stadiums require tons of money to keep them up to date. Those in the state of Arkansas are very aware of that when it comes to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that a study commissioned by the state has found that roughly $17 million worth of repairs, maintenance work and improvements are needed at War Memorial if the 70 year old venue wants to remain in operation. The timeline for such changes were listed as anywhere from three years for “critical” issues to five years for other items, which come as part of a whopping $160,000 study from Conventions Sport & Leisure International LLC.
The millions of dollars of work required is notable because the Fayetteville-based Razorbacks have annually played a game at the stadium in Little Rock dating back to 1948. The team will not only host their first spring game under new coach Chad Morris at the venue but will also play Ole Miss in Little Rock during the upcoming season. That contest is the last scheduled game for Arkansas at War Memorial however as the contract to hold games there is expiring in 2018.
It remains to be seen what the next steps are for UA football, the state and the venue are. Even prior to this most recent study being commissioned, the Razorbacks were looking to have as much as $10 million worth of work done at the stadium to meet their own requirements and those of the SEC in general for conference play.
“Discussions are continuing” Kevin Trainor, associate athletics director at Arkansas, said in an emailed statement to the paper.
Could this be the last we see of the Razorbacks in Little Rock? Given the history between the city, stadium and team it would seem doubtful but somebody’s got to pay for renovations and it may be a while before anybody ponies up the cash needed to get the venerable old building up to date.