Jury still out, but “new” Notre Dame has positive start to 2017

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A summer of attempting to change the narrative and a week’s worth of Brian Kelly trying to tell media outlets this year is going to be different has paid off for at least one week. Notre Dame (1-0) opened the season at home with a 49-16 win against Temple (0-1), and has a few reasons to feel optimistic about this season after one game.

For starters, there is quarterback Brandon Wimbush. Wimbush got the Irish off on the right foot Saturday afternoon with a pair of touchdown passes and 106 rushing yards and a score. Brian Kelly has liked having dual threats run the offense, and Wimbush did just that against a Temple defense that was ripe for the picking.

Then there is running back Josh Adams, who tore up the Temple defense for 161 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Adams was a workhorse for the Irish running the football with an average of 8.5 yards per carry. As a team, Notre Dame piled up 353 rushing yards, which was more than the total yardage picked up by Temple on the afternoon.

Notre Dame may have room to improve on the defense, but the Irish did a sound job slowing down the running game for the Owls. It was expected there would be a transition period for Temple with a new head coach in Geoff Collins and a decent amount of roster turnover, an unproven quarterback situyation made running the football a key for Temple. The Irish held the Owls to fewer than 100 yards on the ground, with a trio of sacks helping out in the box score in that department. That is encouraging, but the next game poses a much more serious threat on the ground with Georgia coming in with Nick Chubb. Time will tell if this will hold up.

It wasn’t all bad for Temple, as Logan Marchi battled and passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns in a tough spot. Ryquell Armstead ran 19 times for 67 yards and the Owls spread the ball around in the passing game. It just was not nearly enough to battle Notre Dame in this setting at this time.

Notre Dame will stay home next week to host No. 15 Georgia. The game will be a primetime affair from Notre Dame Stadium with the Irish and Bulldogs squaring off at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC (check your local listings). Georgia opened the season against Appalachian State in a game that was ongoing at the time Notre Dame wrapped up the win. Temple will look to rebound next week with a home game against a local FCS threat from the Main Line, Villanova. Villanova is ranked in the FCS top 25 polls and is coming off a top 25 victory over Lehigh.

Brandon Wimbush scores 3 first-half TDs in first start for Notre Dame

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If this is going to be a different Notre Dame team this season, then new starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush is going to playing a key role. So far, so good as Notre Dame leads Temple 28-10 at the half in the season opener.

Wimbush has accounted for three touchdowns in the first half of the season opener in South Bend against defending American Athletic Conference champion Temple. Wimbush, making his first career start for Notre Dame, has thrown two touchdown passes and rushed for one more, Notre Dame opened up a 28-3 half on the strength of a 21-point first quarter, but the Owls have started to scratch back a little bit.

Logan Marchi completed a touchdown pass to Keith Kirkwood inside the red zone to cut into the lead, but that has been all the Owls have been able to muster aside from a field goal. Temple is playing the game without their top wide receiver, Ventell Bryant, who did not travel with the team due to a reported hamstring injury.

Temple has a lot of ground to make up against a more talented Irish team in the second half, and first-year head coach Geoff Collins will have his work cut out for him to turn this game back in his favor.

Memphis senior WR Sam Craft out for the 2017 season due to torn ACL

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Memphis senior Sam Craft will not play football in 2017 after suffering a torn ACL during a practice earlier in the week. Memphis head coach Mike Norvellconfirmed the unfortunate injury news to reporters Saturday.

I absolutely hate it for the young man. He’s one of my favorites,” Norvell said following a scrimmage on Saturday, according to The Commerical Appeal. “He came in, had an incredible offseason, was having a great camp. And then just on a, basically a route on air, took a misstep. Definitely, our thoughts are with him.”

Craft appeared in four games in 2016 and caught 10 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. He missed a chance for more playing time after suffering a hamstring injury at the end of fall camp. He also had a back injury bring his 2016 season to an early end. Craft recently made a position change form running back to wide receiver this year, and his work as a wide receiver was praised by Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson.

“He was having an unbelievable camp. He was one of our best receivers, I would say,” Ferguson told reporters, again according to The Commercial Appeal. “My prayers go out to him. He’s still our brother. He’s still going to be with us throughout the whole process. It just hurts not being able to have him there.”

Craft was entering his fifth year of eligibility. It remains unknown at this time if he and Memphis will apply for a waiver for a sixth year from the NCAA. Given his injury history at Memphis, he would seemingly stand a decent chance of getting another year from the NCAA.

Doak Walker Award watch list highlighted by 2016 semifinalists Barkley and Pettway

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A watch list of the top running backs in the nation has been released by the PwC SMU Athletic Forum on Thursday. The Doak Walker Award watch list is full of great players, including 2016 Doak Walker Award semifinalists Saquon Barkley (Penn State) and Kamryn Pettway (Auburn).

Among those included on this year’s initial Doak Walker Award watch list (more players can be added at any time) are LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, LJ Scott of Michigan State, Mike Weber of Ohio State, and Bo Scarbrough of Alabama, Washington’s Myles Gaskin, and Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin.

D’Onta Foreman of Texas beat out both Barkley and Pettway last season for the award. The Doak Walker Award has been presented to the nation’s top running back annually since 1990. Among the winners over the years have included Ricky Williams, LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and Montee Ball.

To be included on this watch list, the university athletic department must submit a nomination.

2017 Doak Walker Award Watch List

Josh Adams, Notre Dame
Ryquell Armstead, Temple
Kalen Ballage, Arizona State
Saquon Barkley, Penn State
Alex Barnes, Kansas State
Jamauri Bogan, Western Michigan
D’Angelo Brewer, Tulsa
Nick Chubb, Georgia
Jordan Chunn, Troy
Justin Crawford, West Virginia
Damarea Crockett, Missouri
Rico Dowdle, South Carolina
D’Andre Ferby, WKU
Kendrick Foster, Illinois
Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan
Myles Gaskin, Washington
James Gilbert, Ball State
Derrius Guice, LSU
Damien Harris, Alabama
Kyle Hicks, TCU
Justice Hill, Oklahoma State
Jon Hilliman, Boston College
Justin Jackson, Northwestern
Chris James, Wisconsin
Ty Johnson, Maryland
Ronald Jones II, USC
Ray Lawry, Old Dominion
Phillip Lindsay, Colorado
Tonny Lindsey Jr., Utah State
Bryce Love, Stanford
Sony Michel, Georgia
Dedrick Mills, Georgia Tech
David Montgomery, Iowa State
Jamal Morrow, Washington State
Ryan Nall, Oregon State
Jacques Patrick, Florida State
Kamryn Pettway, Auburn
Demario Richard, Arizona State
Diocemy Saint Juste, Hawaii
Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
Jordan Scarlett, Florida
LJ Scott, Michigan State
Bradrick Shaw, Wisconsin
Armand Shyne, Utah
Justin Silmon, Kansas State
Ito Smith, Southern Miss
Rodney Smith, Minnesota
Benny Snell Jr., Kentucky
Terry Swanson, Toledo
Shaq Vann, Eastern Michigan
Akrum Wadley, Iowa
Mark Walton, Miami
Warren Wand, Arkansas State
Tre Watson, California
Ralph Webb, Vanderbilt
Mike Weber, Ohio State
Braeden West, SMU
Devwah Whaley, Arkansas
Aeris Williams, Mississippi State
Shaun Wilson, Duke
Marquis Young, Massachusetts

AFCA lists 146 players to Good Works Team watch list

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It’s watch list season, and we all know the deal with watch lists. “These guys had good years last year,” the organizations say, “now pay attention to us because it’s the dead of July.”

Usually the watch lists simply consist of every FBS player who started at that position a year ago — or, in the case of positions with multiple starters, the best returning starter from each team. Which makes sense. No one’s being excluded here.

And then there’s the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team. The Good Works team has nothing to do with what happens on the field — its 22-member team will be released in September. “The student-athletes nominated for this esteemed award embody the true spirit of teamwork and selflessness, donating their limited free time to helping and serving others,” the press release reads.

But, still, the Good Works Team and its sponsor need publicity just like everyone else — and, thus, we have a list of the 146 best dudes in college football.

“After looking at the bios of the 146 nominees we received for 2017 Allstate AFCA Good Works Team, it really shows that there are great football student-athletes all over this country who just don’t care what happens between the sidelines, but they also care about their community and giving back to others,” AFCA executive director Todd Berry said in a statement. “The AFCA has been proud to partner with Allstate these past 10 years to honor football players who give more of themselves to help others in need.”

View the 146 watch list members below.

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS)

Arizona State – Tashon Smallwood

Arkansas – Frank Ragnow

Arkansas State – Blaise Taylor

California – Raymond Davison

Auburn – Daniel Carlson

Central Florida – Shaquem Griffin

Baylor – Taylor Young

Connecticut – Vontae Diggs

Boise State – Brett Rypien

Georgia – Aaron Davis

Bowling Green – Nate Locke

Houston – Steven Dunbar

BYU – Fred Warner

Illinois – Nick Allegretti

Clemson – Christian Wilkins

Kansas – Joe Dineen, Jr

Colorado State – Zack Golditch

Kentucky – Courtney Love

Duke – Gabe Brandner

Louisiana-Lafayette – Grant Horst

East Carolina – Jimmy Williams

Louisville – Lamar Jackson

Florida State – Mavin Saunders

Maryland – Adam Greene

Georgia Tech – Matthew Jordan

Memphis – Spencer Smith

Georgia Southern – Myles Campbell

Miami – Demetrius Jackson

Indiana – Rashard Fant

Minnesota – Eric Carter

Kansas State – Dalton Risner

Mississippi – Javon Patterson

LSU – Danny Etling

Missouri – Corey Fatony

Marshall – Ryan Yurachek

Nebraska – Chris Weber

Middle Tennessee – Brent Stockstill

Nevada – Austin Corbett

Mississippi State – Gabe Myles

North Carolina – Austin Proehl

North Carolina State – A.J. Cole, III

Notre Dame – Tyler Newsome

Northwestern – Justin Jackson

Oklahoma – Nick Basquine

Ohio State – J.T. Barrett

Pittsburgh – Brian O’Neill

Oklahoma State – Mason Rudolph

South Alabama – Tre Alford

Old Dominion – Josh Marriner

USC – Jordan Austin

Penn State – Brandon Smith

Tennessee – Todd Kelly, Jr

Rutgers – Sebastian Joseph

Texas – Naashon Hughes

San Jose State – Nate Velichko

UTEP – Ryan Metz

SMU – Justin Lawler

Toledo – Cody Thompson

Stanford – Harrison Phillips

Tulsa – Willie Wright

Syracuse – Zack Mahoney

Utah – Chase Hansen

TCU – Shaun Nixon

Virginia – Quin Blanding

Texas A&M – Koda Martin

Wisconsin – Derrick Tindal

Texas State – Gabe Schrade

Utah State – Jontrell Rocquemore

Tulane – Parry Nickerson

Vanderbilt  – Tommy Openshaw

UCLA – Kenny Young

Virginia Tech – Joey Slye

Alabama – Minkah Fitzpatrick

West Virginia  – Rob Dowdy

UAB – Shaq Jones

Western Kentucky – Marcus Ward

Combined Divisions (FCS, II, III & NAIA)

Amherst College – Reece Foy

Moravian College – Nick Zambelli

Aurora – Kurtis Chione

Murray State  – Zach Shipley

Berry College – Michael Wenclawiak

Norfolk State  – Kyle Archie

Bethel (Minn.) – Josh Dalki

North Greenville  – Johnny Burch

Butler – Isaak Newhouse

Northwestern College (Iowa) – Jacob Jenness

Carnegie Mellon – Sam Benger

Notre Dame College – Justin Adamson

Carson-Newman – Antonio Wimbush

Ohio Dominican – Austin Ernst

Chadron State College – Steven Allen

Ohio Wesleyan – Jerry Harper

Chapman – Diano Pachote

Peru State College – Gunnar Orcutt

Colorado State-Pueblo – Zach Boyd

Princeton – Kurt Holuba

Dakota State – Jacob Giles

Saint Augustine’s – Justin Shaw

Davidson College – Ryan Samuels

Saint John’s (Minn.) – Will Gillach

East Stroudsburg – Larry Mills

Samford – Deion Pierre

Eastern Kentucky – Jeffrey Canady

South Dakota State – Jake Wieneke

Edinboro – Ryan Stratton

Southern Arkansas – Stacy Lawrence

Ferris State – Jake Daugherty

Southwestern Assemblies of God – Stephen Lawson

Fordham – Manny Adeyeye

Stephen F. Austin – Marlon Walls

Franklin & Marshall College – Tyler Schubert

Stonehill College – Jermel Wright

Frostburg State – Jordan Procter

Susquehanna – Tommy Bluj

Georgetown College (Ky.) – Kody Kasey

Texas A&M-Commerce – Luis Perez

Grinnell College – Carson Dunn

Catholic U.– Patrick Vidal

Harding – Gavin De Los Santos

The College of Wooster – Patrick Mohorcic

Hillsdale College – Danny Drummond

U. Chicago – Chandler Carroll

James Madison – Jonathan Kloosterman

Mount Union – Alex Louthan

Kalamazoo College – David Vanderkloot

Puget Sound – Dwight Jackson

Kennesaw State – Luther Jones

Saint Mary – Kyle Dougherty

Liberty – Trey Turner

St. Thomas (Minn.) – Matt Christenson

Manchester – Jared Bourff

South Dakota – Stetson Dagel

Marist College – Lawrence Dickens

Wartburg College – Matt Sacia

Mercer – Thomas Marchman

Wayne State (Mich.) – Deiontae Nicholas

Michigan Tech – Cayman Berg-Morales

West Texas A&M – Dillon Vaughan

Millersville (Pa.) – Kevin Wiggins

Western Carolina – Keion Crossen

Minot State  – Logan Gunderson

Western New England – Garrett Jones

Mississippi College – Chris Manning

Wingate – Lawrence Pittman

Montana State – Mitchell Herbert

Youngstown State – Armand Dellovade