Deshaun Watson’s Heisman Trophy campaign didn’t get off to the fast start he was likely hoping for but the Clemson quarterback probably doesn’t mind escaping Auburn with a 19-13 on Saturday night.
The victory by the Tigers (ACC edition) answered plenty of questions about the No. 2 team in the country and, perhaps more interestingly, gave us insight into just what kind of year the Tigers (SEC edition) face as the 2016 season gets underway.
There were not a ton of question marks about Clemson after all. But for everybody who wondered if Dabo Swinney and coordinator Brent Venables could reload on defense for the third year in a row, it appears the answer is a resounding yes. The Tigers were swarming from start to finish at Jordan-Hare Stadium, limiting Auburn to 262 yards of offense and forcing three turnovers.
Even more impressive was the emergence of Mike Williams. The wideout was injured in the team’s opener last year and missed the entire 2015 campaign as a result. He didn’t show any signs of rust though, ending the game as Watson’s favorite target with nine catches for 174 yards and making life miserable for Auburn defensive backs on every snap.
The feel good story of Week 1 helped the offense survive some rough patches against a fairly fast SEC defense, including turning the ball over twice and getting bogged down several times when entering Auburn territory. Still, the addition of Williams to go along with Watson and tailback Wayne Gallman (123 yards and a touchdown) gives Clemson perhaps the best trio in the country on offense.
While Auburn struggled on offense all night — using three different quarterbacks — the Tigers’ defense kept them in the game under the first outing with new coordinator Kevin Steele. The offense will be what keeps head coach Gus Malzahn, firmly on the hot seat on the Plains, up at night though.
Speaking of answers, the home team bizarrely had a chance to win the game at the end thanks to a miscue by Swinney. With just 47 seconds left on the clock, Clemson opted to go for it on 4th and 4 instead of attempting a field goal from the Auburn 17 yard line. Gallman failed to pick up the first down and the team promptly turned the ball over on downs.
Auburn got as close as the 40 yard line before Sean White launched a pair of Hail Marys into the end zone. Clemson knocked both down but it was certainly a nervous ending for both teams after such a tense — and at times inexplicable — game.
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.
It’s been an interesting, to say the least, couple of days off the field for top-ranked Alabama.
Wednesday, reports surfaced that former five-star quarterback Blake Barnett, who started the Tide’s opener, is leaving the program and will transfer, although Nick Saban held out hope that he’d stay. A day later, Rivals.com is reporting that senior linebacker Tim Williams has been arrested on a charge of carrying a pistol without a permit.
The arrest was made by the university’s police department, although the details of what led to the charge have not been divulged.
Last season, Williams was second on the team with 10.5 sacks. This season, Williams has totaled 1.5 sacks in four games. He started one of those contests.
Williams is the third Tide player arrested this year on a weapons charge.
In May, star offensive lineman Cam Robinson and defensive back Laurence “Hootie” Jones were arrested in Louisiana and charged with one count each possession of marijuana and illegal carrying of a weapon. Additionally, Robinson was charged with felony possession of a stolen firearm. A month later, the district attorney in the case announced that he had declined to prosecute the players, citing a lack of evidence.
Well, that and the below infamous reasoning.
“I want to emphasize once again that the main reason I’m doing this is that I refuse to ruin the lives of two young men who have spent their adolescence and teenage years, working and sweating, while we were all in the air conditioning,” DA Jerry Jones stated.
After originating in the state, the ACC championship game is headed back to Florida.
In an announcement that should come as a shock to absolutely no one, the ACC confirmed Thursday that the 2016 football title game will be played in Orlando. The game will be held at Camping World Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 7:45 p.m. ET.
The 65,000-seat stadium serves as the home of the Citrus Bowl postseason game and also played host to this year’s Ole Miss-Florida State opener on Labor Day. ACC officials met with their counterparts from the city earlier this week to finalize the deal.
An announcement on the new site likely would’ve come earlier were it not for a pair of high school football championship games scheduled for the same day at the same venue. Those games will now be played the following weekend.
The move to Charlotte comes almost two weeks to the day that the ACC announced it was yanking the title game away from the city of Charlotte and out of the state of North Carolina. The move was in response to the controversial House Bill 2 (HB2), a law which some claim fosters discrimination against members of the LGBT communities.
Charlotte had played host to the ACC football championship game every year since 2010. Prior to 2010, the first three league title tilts were played in Jacksonville (2005-07) and the next two in Tampa (2008-09).
Ohio State assistant Greg Schiano has been cited for failure to obey a traffic-control device as a result of accident that left a bicyclist injured, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
The accident involving a 26-year-old student occurred last Thursday at just before 7 a.m. local time on the Columbus campus. According to reports at the time, “Schiano was traveling east and turning north… when he struck the westbound bicyclist.”
The cyclist was transported to a local hospital and was listed in stable condition with a head injury. In the week since, there’s been no update on his condition, including whether he remains hospitalized.
Schiano has an arraignment set for Oct. 5, three days prior to OSU’s game with Indiana. The citation for failing to stop for the traffic light could mean a fine of $55 for Schiano as well as $97 in court costs.
The former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach is in his first season with the Buckeyes as Urban Meyer‘s associate head coach and, along with Luke Fickell, defensive coordinator.