Associated Press

Derrick Henry, Kyle Allen push No. 10 Alabama past No. 9 Texas A&M

4 Comments

It’s pretty tough to beat Alabama when Derrick Henry rumbles for two touchdowns. It’s nay impossible when your own quarterback pitches in three more. Henry’s pair of scores and Kyle Allen‘s three pick-sixes doomed No. 9 Texas A&M in a 41-23 loss to No. 10 Alabama Saturday afternoon in College Station.

After a pair of punts to open the game, Allen opened the scoring for Alabama when Minkah Fitzpatrick snagged a misfire and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter. Henry raced in untouched from 55 yards out two-and-a-half minutes later to give the Tide a 14-0 lead, and a 73-0 run over the Aggies dating back to last season’s 59-0 demolition.

Taylor Bertolet put A&M on the scoreboard with a 54-yard field goal late in the first quarter, but Henry scored again to open the second quarter, this time a six-yard plunge, to push the lead to 21-3. After another Bertolet field goal, Texas A&M threatened to pull within one score, driving deep into Alabama territory, but Allen again misfired, and Tide safety Eddie Jackson capitalized on the mistake with a 93-yard race back, turning a potential 21-13 deficit to a 28-6 hole with 6:28 to go.

But from there, the Aggies’ defense stiffened – helped greatly by Alabama standout center Ryan Kelly leaving the game with an apparent concussion – and the Tide special teams took over for the A&M offense as the unit that couldn’t get out of its own way.

It started when Christian Kirk raced a punt back 68 yards for a touchdown to close the scoring in the first half, and continued into the second when Alabama return man Cyrus Jones fumbled at his own 47. Allen hit Ricky Seals-Jones for a 44-yard gain, then again for a three-yard toss, and suddenly 28-6 turned into 28-20.

But where Alabama capitalized on its chances, Texas A&M did not. After Myles Garrett blocked a J.K. Scott punt immediately after the Seals-Jones touchdown, allowing Texas A&M to take over just 29 yards away from a potential game-tying touchdown, the Aggies moved backward. Allen took a five-yard sack on 3rd-and-10 and Bertolet’s ensuing 52-yard field goal try was five yards short. And just as soon as A&M was back in the game, the Aggies were out of it.

Alabama added two Adam Griffith field goals to push the lead to 34-20 and, with the score at 34-23 with 5:18 remaining, Fitzpatrick again intercepted Allen and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving Alabama its final score at 41-23.

For the game, Allen was 20-of-40 for 263 yards with a touchdown and three pick-sixes. Freshman Kyler Murray played sparingly, completing 2-of-4 passes for 21 yards and tossing in another interception. Texas A&M never established the run, credited with only 32 yards on the day. Tra Carson led the Aggies’ ground efforts with 13 carries for 46 yards.

Henry, meanwhile, totaled 32 carries for 236 yards and two touchdowns. It was the second-most rushing yards ever for an Alabama running back since Nick Saban‘s arrival and the most allowed by a Texas A&M defense since Texas’s Cedric Benson rumbled for 283 yards in 2003. Each member of the Aggie defensive line – primarily Garrett and defensive tackles Zaycoven Henderson and Daylon Mack – had their moments, but Henry still got his yards when Alabama needed them. Jake Coker added an economical 19-of-25 passing for 138 yards plus 13 rushing yards.

But, when Henry rumbles for 200-plus and the opposing quarterback throws more touchdowns for your team than his own, 150 yards is all you really need, isn’t it?

Family of the first Black football player in University of Texas history suing the NCAA

Texas football
University of Texas
Leave a comment

A racial pioneer in the Texas football program is back in the news.

As we have noted previously, dozens of Texas student-athletes, including football players, are demanding change at the university.  One of those demands is naming a part of Royal-Memorial Stadium in honor of Julius Whittier, the first-ever Black player in University of Texas football history.

Coincidentally or not, the family of Whittier this week filed a lawsuit against NCAA.  In the suit, which is seeking damages in excess of a million dollars, the Whittier family is accusing the NCAA of negligence and wrongful death in connection to the pioneer’s passing in September of 2018.  Whittier had been battling Alzheimer’s for several years prior to his death.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “[p]ostmortem examination of his brain at Boston University… revealed that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease associated with head trauma.” The suit, filed by Whittier’s sister on behalf of her brother’s estate and three surviving children, alleges the Whittier’s death at the age of 68 was the direct result of football-related head trauma.

“Julius Whittier was a pioneer who became a lawyer and a member of the district attorney’s staff in Dallas County, and his life was about justice,” the family’s attorney told the Chronicle. “His family wants to carry on in his name and hope that we can make changes.

“We don’t want to end football. We just want to make it as safe as possible and make sure that everybody is informed about what can happen. That has not been the case historically, and we want to change that.”

The sister, Mildred Whittier, had previously filed a lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of college players who suffered brain injuries from 1960 to 2014.

In 1970, Whittier became the first black player to letter in football at Texas.  He first joined the Longhorns in 1969.  At the time, though, the NCAA did not allow freshmen to play.  Whittier lettered every year from 1970-72, first as an offensive guard and then as a tight end his senior season.

Memphis to wear ‘BLM’ decals on their helmets this season

Memphis football
Getty Images
1 Comment

Memphis will take its off-field social activism onto the football field this fall.

Across the country, student-athletes, football players especially, have seen their collective voices grow louder in protesting for racial equality and against social injustices. And flags.  Several members of the Memphis football program took to the streets of their city last month to do just that.

This week, on his personal Twitter account, first-year Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield announced that his players will wear “BLM” decals on their helmets throughout the 2020 college football season.  “BLM,” of course, stands for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

“The use of the BLM logo on a helmet decal was an idea from our student-athletes,” Silverfield told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal in a text message. “It doesn’t mean we support any anti-American, violent organization or hate group or any specific political party. In fact, I love this country and I love our players. Rather the decal is a show of support to our team.”

And what of a backlash against wearing the decals?  It was subsequently reported by The Athletic that “[a] prominent University of Memphis booster has informed the school that he will match, and then double, whatever donations the school might lose as a result of the Black Lives Matter helmet decal.”

The name of the booster was not revealed.

Memphis is coming off a school-record 12-win football campaign.  They claimed the program’s first-ever win in the AAC championship game after two straight losses.

Head coach Mike Norvell left the school for the same job at Florida State in mid-December.  Memphis stayed in-house for its next head coach, with Silverfield, the offensive line coach, promoted three days later.

College Football in Coronavirus Quarantine: On this day in CFT history, including experts holding out hope that the famed oaks on Toomer’s Corner could survive being Updyked

college football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The sports world, including college football, has essentially screeched to a halt as countries around the world battle the coronavirus pandemic. As such, there’s a dearth of college football news as spring practices have all but been canceled at every level of the sport. And there’s even some concern that the health issue could have an impact on the 2020 college football campaign.

In that vein, we thought it might be fun to go back through the CollegeFootballTalk archives that stretch back to 2009 and take a peek at what transpired in the sport on this date.

So, without further ado — ok, one further ado — here’s what happened in college football on July 4, by way of our team of CFT writers both past and present.

(P.S.: If any of our readers have ideas on posts they’d like to read during this college football hiatus, leave your suggestions in the comments section.  Mailbag, maybe?)

2019

THE HEADLINE: Five-star 2020 LSU commit probably would’ve committed to Ohio State if Urban Meyer hadn’t left
THE SYNOPSIS: Elias Ricks is the recruit in question.  The cornerback ended up signing with LSU earlier this year.  Ricks, expected to contribute to the defending national champs immediately, underwent offseason surgery for a torn labrum.

2018

THE HEADLINE: Fox, BTN reportedly among those making run at Paul Finebaum
THE SYNOPSIS: Yeah, that didn’t work out as the SEC mouthpiece remains at ESPN.

2017

THE HEADLINE: Penn State suing Tennessee DC Bob Shoop for breach of contract
THE SYNOPSIS: Nittany Lions were seeking $900,000 the university said Shoop owed after he left as the defensive coordinator at Penn State for the same job at Tennessee in January of 2016.  In February of 2018, the two sides settled their dispute.  Terms of the settlement weren’t divulged.

2015

THE HEADLINE: Alabama self-reports multiple secondary violations
THE SYNOPSIS: “Alabama” and “NCAA violations” always bring out the commenters.  This was no exception.

2013

THE HEADLINE: Tragic: new Ole Miss OL killed in car accident
THE SYNOPSISPark Stevens’ truck collided with the back of a semi-truck attempting to cross a four-lane highway.  The lineman was a 20-year-old junior college transfer.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Experts not ready to say Toomer’s oaks are ‘definitely not going to make it’
THE SYNOPSIS: Thanks to Alabama “fan” Harvey Updyke, the iconic trees at Auburn definitely didn’t make it.

2011

THE HEADLINE: Purdue player missing; last seen swimming in Indiana lake
THE SYNOPSIS: Sadly, 22-year-old running back Sean Matti‘s body was found a day later.

Pandemic-related restrictions force Western Michigan to schedule a new season-opening opponent

Western Michigan football
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The coronavirus pandemic has already impacted the 2020 season for Western Michigan football.

Western Michigan was scheduled to open the upcoming football season against Colgate on Sept. 4.  However, the Patriot League, Colgate’s conference, mandated late last month that all of its member schools not be permitted to travel by air or stay overnight in another locale.  As the distance between Hamilton, NY, to Kalamazoo, Mich., is nine-plus hours, that opener was certainly in jeopardy.

This week, Western Michigan confirmed that it will now open the 2020 college football season against Stony Brook.  The game will still be played Sept. 4 at Waldo Stadium, the football home of the Broncos.

“We are looking forward to opening the 2020 season with Stony Brook,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said in a statement. “We know coronavirus has changed, and will keep changing, how we operate this season. We will continue to operate with an abundance of caution for the safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff members, fans and WMU community.”

It should be noted that Syracuse is also supposed to open its home schedule Sept. 19 against Colgate.  It’s unclear if that game will be played, although distance certainly isn’t as much of an issue as it was for Western Michigan.

WMU is coming off a second consecutive 7-6 season under Lester, who will be entering his fourth season with the Broncos.  That 2019 campaign also included narrowly missing out on a berth in the MAC championship game.