Last season as one of the top defensive players in the country, Tyrann Mathieu was the only player from that side of the ball among the five finalists for the 2011 Heisman Trophy.
In what is nothing less than a shocking and significant development, the player nicknamed the Honey Badger will have no shot at repeating that feat or, more importantly, helping LSU defend its SEC title.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, head coach Les Miles announced that the All-American cornerback is no longer on the team after violating team policy. What that specific violation was has yet to be revealed.
“This is a very difficult day for our team,” Miles said in a statement. “We lose a quality person, teammate and contributor to the program. However, with that being said, we have a standard that our players are held to and when that standard is not met, there are consequences.
“It’s hard because we all love Tyrann. We will do what we can as coaches, teammates, and friends to get him on a path where he can have success. We are going to miss him.”
Mathieu was one of three players suspended for one game last season, reportedly for failing a drug test. The drug in question was allegedly synthetic marijuana.
Suffice to say, this is a huge blow for the Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the coaches’ poll and No. 4 in our attempt at preseason prognostication. Already somewhat thin at the position thanks to the departure of fellow All-American corner Morris Claiborne, Mathieu’s departure leaves a gaping and inexperienced hole in the secondary.
Mathieu’s loss will also be felt on special teams. Last season as a sophomore, Mathieu returned two punts for touchdowns and finished fourth in the nation in returns with a 15.6 average.
Georgia starting right guard Ben Cleveland suffered a fractured left fibula in the Bulldogs’ 43-29 win at Missouri, according to Dawgs247.
According to the site, the injury will not require surgery or a cast, but Cleveland will miss “at least a month.” No. 2 Georgia hosts Tennessee on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) and Vanderbilt before a massive visit to No. 5 LSU on Oct. 13. They’ll take Oct. 20 before closing SEC play with Florida, No. 17 Kentucky and No. 10 Auburn.
The fibula is a non-weight bearing bone and, thus, a significantly less damage break than the tibia.
Cleveland is a redshirt sophomore from Toccoa, Ga. He has started Georgia’s last nine games at right guard.
The Cleveland injury is not the only ailment Georgia is dealing with at the moment. Dawgs247 noted starting left tackle Andrew Thomas, who missed the Middle Tennessee game with a left ankle injury and seemingly re-aggravated it in the first half, when a player rolled up on him. He did not return to the game afterward.
Fellow sophomore Justin Shaffer replaced Cleveland at right guard in the Missouri win.
On a night the Vols celebrated their 1998 national championship team, Tennessee played about as far away from national championship-caliber football as you’ll ever see a Tennessee team play. The Vols lost to Florida 47-21 in a game that was simultaneously better and worse than the final score. Tennessee was only out-gained 387-364 and won the first downs battle 18-14, but much of that was due all the short fields the Vols gave Florida after coughing up half a dozen turnovers. When fans started pouring out of Neyland Stadium early in the third quarter, the scoreboard read Florida 33, Tennessee 3.
And that’s not all.
Over the course of the game, head coach Jeremy Pruitt told linebacker Quart’e Sapp to leave the field after Sapp, Pruitt said, declined to enter the game.
“Since I’ve been here, Quarte has been a really good ambassador to our program, he’s done everything I’ve asked him,” Pruitt said. “He left the field because he wouldn’t go into the game when he was asked to go in. I don’t know how things were done before, but when you tell somebody to go in and they refuse to go in, we’re not going to do that around here. So I asked him to leave.”
On Sunday, Sapp released a statement on Twitter saying he did not refuse to go in the game. Sapp’s statement does not clarify exactly what happened, but he expressly denies he was asked to enter the game and refused.
“During the UT vs. UF game I was never asked nor did I refuse to go into the game. There was a sideline confrontation (I’m sure will be resolve internally that occurred and the other party had to be restrained.”
Sapp, a redshirt junior, was listed as Tennessee’s No. 2 weakside linebacker entering the Florida game. Given the praise Pruitt heaped upon Sapp above and the fact Tennessee can’t exactly turn away able bodies with Georgia, Auburn and Alabama coming up in its next three games, but bet here is this spat gets resolved internally and everyone moves on.
For the second year in a row, Antoine Winfield, Jr.‘s season ends just four games after it started.
After appearing in 12 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield was lost for the year four games into his sophomore campaign of 2017. He obtained a hardship waiver to play this season as a redshirt sophomore, but now will miss the rest of the season to a foot injury suffered in a 42-13 loss to Maryland on Saturday.
He will undergo surgery on Monday.
In a statement announcing the injury, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck announced the Gophers will pursue another hardship waiver for Winfield, meaning he would be a fourth-year sophomore in 2019 if approved.
Winfield is the second Gopher to be lost for the season, following running back Rodney Smith.
“We are heartbroken for Antoine,” Fleck said. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.”
Winfield led all Gophers defensive backs with 17 tackles on the year while tying for the team lead with one interception. He was also the team’s punt returner, notching a 76-yard score in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 and a 31-yard return in a 26-3 defeat of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 15.
Minnesota (3-1) is off Saturday before visiting Iowa on Oct. 6
Wake Forest has relieved defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel of duties, head coach Dave Clawson announced Sunday.
After starting the season 2-0 with wins over Tulane and Towson, the Demon Deacons have allowed 97 points in consecutive losses to Boston College and No. 8 Notre Dame.
“This was a difficult decision and not a spur of the moment decision,” said Clawson. “I want to thank Coach Sawvel for all his hard work with our football program over the last two years. Coach Sawvel is a very good person and a good football coach.”
Wake Forest ranks 110th nationally in yards per play allowed (6.35) and 106th in scoring (33.5).
With Sawvel out, defensive analyst Tom Gilmore has been elevated to the full-time staff as outside linebackers coach. Coordinator duties will be split up amongst the remaining staff, and specific duties have yet to be assigned. Gilmore joined the Wake staff over the summer; he was formerly the head coach at Holy Cross.
Wake Forest (2-2) hosts Rice on Saturday.