Oregon v Colorado

Mike Belotti: Mariota will be better than Newton in NFL


Former Oregon coach Mike Belotti has very high opinion of current Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Belotti told a local Charlotte radio station on Tuesday that the Heisman Trophy contender will be a better NFL quarterback than Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers’ current starter.

“I think he’ll be a fine quarterback at the (NFL) level, much like a Kaepernick-type guy … better than Carolina’s quarterback right now,” Belotti told WFNZ-FM’s “The Drive” on Tuesday.

Belotti cited Mariota’s work ethic and how he is a student of the game, while noting that Newton gets by mostly on his athleticism and physical tools.

“Cam has never had to work as hard, and I think he is finally now starting to get it and spend time in the classroom with the coaches. A lot of things come really easy to Cam. I think he still thinks he can just go out there and do it,” Bellotti said.

“I think Marcus is a combination of the athlete and the student.”

Belotti also believes Mariota is superior as a runner to Robert Griffin III.

“I don’t know if he is quite as good a pure passer (as Griffin), but he is a better combination because RGIII is more of a sprinter as opposed to a football runner and so he puts himself in situations where he can’t protect himself,” Bellotti said.

Whatever one’s opinion is on the matter, there’s a good chance that Mariota could soon have one very important thing in common with both Newton and Griffin III — a certain stiff-arm trophy, perhaps?

Vols ‘very confident there was no inappropriate conduct’ between Butch Jones, player

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Tennessee Volunteers watches the action during a game against the Chattanooga Mocs at Neyland Stadium on October 11, 2014 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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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’s keeping ‘fingers crossed’ for leading rusher’s availability

De'Veon Smith
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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