WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl
WHEN: December 27, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE SKINNY: The game itself has been mostly an afterthought for both teams in the month of December given what has gone on around the programs off the field, but the two resurgent football teams will still meet up to play a football came looking too cap off a banner season for both.
For Temple, they’ll be making a return trip to Annapolis just three weeks after upsetting Navy to capture the American Athletic Conference title for the second ever conference championship in football at the school. As great a run as that was for the Owls, that success came with a price as head coach Matt Rhule departed for Baylor not long after. Former Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was brought on as his replacement but you do wonder what the motivation factor will be for this game from standout defensive lineman Haason Reddick and company.
As for Wake Forest, they had an impressive turnaround in 2016 that resulted in equalling their win total from the past two years combined. That produced a bowl invite for the first time under head coach Dave Clawson but the excitement over making the postseason has been overshadowed by the #WakeyLeaks scandal that has resulted from a radio analyst giving opponents certain aspects of the Demon Deacons’ game plans over the past two years. Add to that the loss of defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Notre Dame and it hasn’t been a great month of December for the team.
Wake Forest can turn that around with their first bowl win since 2008 but it is probably a bit too much to ask given how talented Temple has been this season. The Owls end up winning this one thanks to their explosive offense getting things done in the fourth quarter to open up a close one for most of the day.
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
THE PREDICTION: Temple 31, Wake Forest 20
No stranger to transfer, E.J. Price is embarking on a search for a new college home — again. Whether football is involved, however, seemingly remains to be seen.
On his personal Twitter account Thursday morning, Price announced that he is “stepping away” from the Kentucky football program. In the tweet, the offensive lineman stressed, in all-caps, that “I WAS NOT KICKED OFF I AM LEAVING.”
In a subsequent tweet. he stated it was “time for me to overcome football.”
Earlier this month, head coach Mark Stoops mentioned “some inconsistencies with [Price] that he needs to iron out.” In another tweet, the lineman stated the following:
Price was a four-star member of USC’s 2016 recruiting class, rated as the No. 8 offensive tackle in the country. He transferred from USC to Kentucky in July of last year.
Because of NCAA transfer rules, Price was forced to sit out the 2017 season.
South Alabama recently received some positive news on the personnel front.
A USA spokesperson (for the university, not the country) confirmed to al.com that Andrew Reinkemeyer has been granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. The tight end will use that additional season of eligibility, his last, to play for the Jaguars in 2018.
The decision to grant Reinkemeyer an extra season of eligibility was seemingly a no-brainer.
As a true sophomore at a Kansas junior college, Reinkemeyer suffered an injury in the 2015 season opener and didn’t play again that year. After transferring to USA, Reinkemeyer missed the entire 2016 season because of the torn Achilles tendon that cost him most of the previous season at the JUCO.
Finally healthy last season, Reinkemeyer caught 10 passes for 75 yards for the Sun Belt Conference program. He was the leading receiver amongst Jaguars tight ends in 2017.
The latest addition to Larry Fedora‘s North Carolina coaching staff has been confirmed.
Following up on reports that surfaced earlier this month. UNC announced Wednesday that Fedora has hired Robert Gillespie. While not confirmed by the football program in the release, it’s expected Gillespie will serve as the Tar Heels running backs coach, a position he’s held for most of his coaching career.
“We are excited to welcome Robert and his family to Chapel Hill,” Fedora said in a statement. “He has a well-earned reputation as a great offensive coach and recruiter, and he has a wealth of experience working with running backs at a very high level. We are happy to have him join our staff as we get into the bulk of spring practice.”
Gillespie fills the hole created by the departure of Gunter Brewer, who left as the Tar Heels’ wide receivers coach for a job with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this month. It’s expected that Luke Paschall, currently the running backs coach, will assume Brewer’s role with receivers.
Gillespie, a former Florida running back, spent the past five seasons as the running backs coach at Tennessee. He was originally retained by new UT head coach Jeremy Pruitt before parting ways with the football program shortly after National Signing Day.
In addition to UT, Gillespie has spent time on coaching staffs at South Carolina (2006-08), Oklahoma State (2009-10) and West Virginia (2011-12). He was the running backs coach at each of those stops.
It appears Alabama can breathe a sigh of relief on the injury front.
Tuesday, after the reigning national champions had put the finishing touches on its first practice of the spring, Nick Saban confirmed that quarterback Tua Tagovailoa had suffered an unspecified injury to the thumb on his LEFT (throwing) hand. It was expected that the quarterback would travel to Birmingham for further evaluation of the injury.
While there’s been nothing official yet from the football program or head coach, al.com, citing unnamed sources, writes that the injury “is believed to just be a sprain and he should be able to return to practice in at least a limited capacity at some point soon.”
Until then, Jalen Hurts will take the majority of the reps as the Crimson Tide continues its march through their 15 spring practice sessions.
The rising true junior Hurts, who has started every game but one the past two seasons, and the rising true sophomore Tagovailoa, the national championship game hero who replaced Hurts at halftime of the overtime win, are engaged in a competition for the starting job that, barring a post-spring transfer, is expected to extend into summer camp. That said, most observers outside of the UA football program fully expect Tagovailoa, because of his proficiency in the passing game relative to Hurts, to earn the job at some point before the Tide opens the defense of their title against Louisville in Orlando Sept. 1.