Mark Richt on Todd Gurley: You’ve gotta give him the ball

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One of the biggest reasons to like Georgia’s chances in the SEC, if not just the SEC East, in 2014 lies on the health of running back Todd Gurley. The victim of a sprained ankle last season, Gurley appears to be primed for a bounce back season for the Bulldogs and he probably should be the focus of the offense early on. Head coach Mark Richt knows he has quite the talent ready to take handoffs but also realizes the importance of keeping him healthy.

“If he’s healthy, he’s gonna make great runs. I mean you’ve gotta give him the ball,” Richt said in a report recently published by The Telegraph. “We’ve done a pretty good job of throwing the ball to him. But Keith Marshall’s pretty talented, obviously. Brendan Douglas, we like what he did. We’ve got a couple highly-touted guys coming in, I wanna see what they can do.”

There is no doubting that Georgia tends to have a pretty solid running game. That should be the case again in 2014, and it should help take the pressure off the quarterback in a year of some transition under center. With breaking in a new full-time starter at the position, it should be expected the running game carries the load more in the beginning of the season. Richt is suggesting a healthy Gurley is going to be leading that charge, but they need to do so smartly.

“So are we gonna give it to (Gurley) 30 times a game and wear him to a nub, no,” Richt explained. “But there may be a game or two where he’s feeling in, and we’ve got momentum, and he’s pounding, we’re gonna let him pound. But Douglas pounds pretty good too. Keith Marshall can hit a home run at any moment. So we’ll use all those guys.”

Earlier this offseason Richt said there were no plans to redshirt Marshall, so he should be a part of the offensive gameplan as well.

Helmet sticker to Saturday Down South.

2017 starting LT Josh Ball, suspended after being accused of dating violence, won’t return to Florida State

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It appears Josh Ball‘s playing career at Florida State has come to an end.

In November of last year, reports surfaced that Sandra Sellers, an FSU student who dated Seminoles football player Josh Ball for a year and a half, had accused the offensive lineman of dating violence, including allegations that he physically attacked her on at least three occasions.  In mid-May, in connection to those allegations, Ball was suspended by the university after a ruling by the school’s judicial panel and led him to play at the junior college level in 2018.

While there was speculation earlier this month that Ball would attempt to rejoin the Seminoles football team, the lineman posted on Twitter Thursday evening that his time in Tallahassee is over.  Ball did, though, state that he is leaving the university “in good standing.”

“I have made the determination to stay closer to family and not return to Florida State even though I have been cleared and [am] in good standing to do so by the Florida State administration,” Ball wrote.

Ball started the last nine games of the 2017 season at left tackle for the Seminoles.  Exiting spring practice this year, and with last year’s starter Rick Leonard no longer around due to expired eligibility, the redshirt sophomore was penciled in as FSU’s starting right tackle.

A Fredericksburg, Va., native, the 6-8, 335-pound Ball spent the 2018 football season at a Kansas junior college.

Minnesota again extends P.J. Fleck’s contract

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In November of last year, not even all the way through his first season with the Golden Gophers, P.J. Fleck was given a contract extension.  A year and a month later, it’s lather, rinse and repeat on the contractual front.

Early Friday afternoon, Minnesota announced that the university and its head football coach had agreed to another contract extension.  The extended deal was formally approved by the university’s Board of Regents earlier in the day.

With the tweaked contract, Fleck, whose original five-year contract was agreed to in January of 2017, is now signed through the 2023 season and on into 2024.  Fleck made $3.35 million in 2018; there was no word on what if any financial adjustments were included in the extension.

“It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and our great state,” a statement from Fleck began. “Our family loves living in Minnesota, and I look forward to leading our football program into the future. Through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student-athletes, and through recruiting, we are building a championship culture that our fans can be proud of.

“Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, [athletic director] Mark Coyle, President Kaler and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program. We are so excited and humbled with the contract extension!”

Taking over a program that won nine games in 2016, Fleck has guided the Gophers to records of 5-7 and 6-6 his first two seasons at the school.  This year, Minnesota beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and, in the process, became bowl-eligible for the first time under Fleck.

Pitt mourns death of College Football Hall of Famer Bill Fralic

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The extended Pitt football family is mourning the loss of one of the greatest Panthers ever.

Following a battle with cancer, Bill Fralic passed away Thursday, the football program announced in a press release Friday.  The former Pitt All-American was 56 years old.

“Bill is truly one of the iconic figures in the history of Pitt Athletics,” athletic director Heather Lyke said in a statement. “He set a tremendous standard for our current generation of student-athletes, not only as an athlete but also for what he went on to accomplish once his playing days concluded. Bill’s reputation for giving back might even transcend his Hall of Fame football career. He was a passionate supporter of Pitt and Penn Hills. Our deepest sympathies to his wife, Susan, and his many loved ones and friends.

Fralic, whose No. 79 jersey was retired more than three decades ago, was a three-time first-team All-American at Pitt, earning unanimous honors his last two seasons with the Panthers.  Twice Fralic finished in the Top 10 of the Heisman Trophy voting, the first-ever offensive lineman to do so.

Fralic’s prowess on the gridiron also led to a word that’s still a part of the football lexicon.

Fralic’s collegiate career led to the phrase “Pancake Block” being added to the football lexicon. Pitt publicists used “Pancakes” as a statistical barometer for each time Fralic put an opposing defensive lineman on his back.

The passing of Fralic comes less than a week after he paid for the hotel rooms for all of the players and coaches at Penn Hills High School, his alma mater which played for the PIAA Class 5A championship last Friday night.

Dismissed UAB RB Kingston Davis arrested for domestic violence

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Kingston Davis‘ downward spiral has hit yet another new low.

According to al.com, Davis was arrested Thursday morning on one count of domestic violence by strangulation or suffocation in connection to a late-September incident while he was still a member of the UAB football program.  Details of what led to the arrest and charge have not yet been released.

The arrest comes nearly three weeks after a tweet surfaced that contained videos allegedly showing “Davis brandishing a gun in one video and threatening violence in another.” That tweet has since been deleted.

Around that same time, Davis’s name had been removed from UAB’s online roster.  In late September, Davis was indefinitely suspended from the Blazers football team for what was described as an unspecified student-conduct issue.

In three games this season prior to the original suspension, Davis rushed for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. The two rushing touchdowns were tied for the team lead at the time.

In mid-December of last year, Davis announced that he would be transferring from a Kansas junior college — hello “Last Chance U” — to UAB after being dismissed by the JUCO.  In March of that same year, Davis had decided to transfer from Michigan.

A three-star member of the Wolverines’ 2016 recruiting class, Davis was rated as the No. 1 fullback in the country. As a true freshman in Ann Arbor, the 6-1, 245-pound back carried the ball twice for 17 yards.