No. 23 North Carolina crushes Miami, moves one win closer to first ACC title game

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Let’s get the negative out of the way first: North Carolina has next to zero non-conference resume. The Heels beat FCS North Carolina A&T, FCS Delaware and 5-5 Illinois, then lost to 3-7 South Carolina on opening night in what will go down as perhaps the 2015 season’s most bizarre result. So if UNC wins out but finds itself on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday, that’s why.

And now the positive: this team is really good, and getting better by the week.

The 23rd-ranked Heels unloaded on Miami Saturday in Chapel Hill, scoring the game’s first 45 points en route to a 59-21 shellacking.

As is customary of 38-point detonations, Carolina out-played Miami on offense, defense and special teams. Marquise Williams completed 11-0f-16 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown while rushing 12 times for 101 yards and three scores. Elijah Hood added 17 rushes for 132 yards and a one-yard paydirt plunge that opened the scoring late in the first quarter.

As a team, North Carolina rushed 46 times for 298 yards and six touchdowns while liming the Hurricanes to only 99 yards on 32 carries. Most of the yards Miami did gain came well after the game was decided; the Hurricanes netted only seven yards on 18 first-half rushes.

Completing the trifecta, Ryan Switzer returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, pushing the score to 31-0 and putting the game all but out of reach with 40 seconds remaining in the first half.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya netted 326 passing yards, but needed 43 attempts to get there. The sophomore tossed one touchdown, nudging the score to 45-7 at the 6:30 mark of the third quarter, but threw one interception (which Jeff Schoettmer returned 60 yards to the Miami 14, Williams scored one play later) and lost a fumble when the Hurricanes had a chance to chip into a 31-0 deficit just before the half.

The loss dropped Miami to 6-4 (3-3 ACC) with two games remaining in an already lost season.

North Carolina, though, moved to 9-1 overall and 6-0 in the ACC, needing only a win at Virginia Tech next Saturday or at N.C. State on Nov. 28 or one Pittsburgh loss in its two remaining games to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and a spot opposite No. 1 Clemson in their first ACC Championship.

We probably won’t see these Heels in this year’s College Football Playoff. But Clemson certainly isn’t looking forward to seeing them in Charlotte on Championship Saturday.

Police investigating death of FCS player as a suicide

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Sadly, there’s more tragic news involving a college football player on which to report.

According to multiple media outlets, University of Montana Grizzly football player Andrew Harris was found dead at his residence in Missoula Tuesday.  The Missoulian writes that “police are investigating the scene as a suicide.”

Harris was just 22 years old.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to Andrew’s family and friends at this difficult time,” university president Seth Bodnar said in a statement sent out to the Missoulian. “The entire UM family mourns his loss and our hearts go out to all who knew him.”

A redshirt junior, Harris was a defensive lineman who played in 11 games during his time with the Griz.  Our thoughts, prayers and condolences going out to all of those impacted by Harris’ passing.

And for those in the reading audience: The phone number for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.  Please, pick up the phone and call that number if you ever get to the point where you feel like you just can’t go on.  Or call somebody, anybody.

South Carolina’s third-leading rusher enters NCAA transfer database

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Another day, another trip into the infamous portal.

The latest to put his name onto the free-agent market is Ty’Son Williams, who a South Carolina official has confirmed is now listed in the NCAA transfer database.  If Williams follows through with the move — he can always remove his name from the database and return — it would be the running back’s second transfer as he came to USC in August of 2016 after beginning his collegiate playing career at North Carolina.

As Williams would be leaving as a graduate transfer, he’d be eligible to play immediately at another FBS school if he ultimately decides to leave.

Williams was third on the Gamecocks with 328 yards rushing in 2018, while his four rushing touchdowns tied for the team lead.  The year before, his first on the field at USC after sitting out the 2016 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, he was second on the team in yards (471) and yards per carry (5.0).

A four-star member of UNC’s 2016 recruiting class, Williams was rated as the No. 21 running back in the country and the No. 5 player at any position in the state of South Carolina.

Four-star 2018 WR Marquez Ezzard leaves Miami

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As Miami continues to collect players with steep FBS experience, they’ve also lost a touted member of last year’s recruiting class.

In a press release sent out late Wednesday morning, Miami announced that Marquez Ezzard has decided to leave Manny Diaz‘s football program.  No specific reason for the unexpected departure was given.

That said, the speculation is that a pair of wideout developments — Jeff Thomas did an about-face and returned to Miami after signing with Illinois, Buffalo grad transfer K.J. Osborn was added earlier this month — played a significant role in the decision.

“Marquez and I talked, and we decided that it was in his best interests to pursue opportunities at another school,” the first-year head coach said in a statement. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”

Ezzard was a four-star 2018 signee who played in three games as a true freshman, catching two passes for 24 yards.

Medically retired in August, Torrence Brown to transfer from Penn State to Southern Miss

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So much for that.

In August of last year, Torrence Brown announced that, “[d]ue to multiple injuries and surgeries, my career at Penn State has come to an end.” The defensive end spent the 2018 season as a student assistant coach for the Nittany Lions, seemingly kickstarting a career in coaching.

While that may ultimately be his employment lot in life, it’s been put on hold as Brown confirmed Tuesday via Twitter that he has decided to transfer to Southern Miss to continue his collegiate playing career.  The lineman was actually committed to the Golden Eagles before flipping to the Nittany Lions in February of 2014.

Brown started four of 14 games as a redshirt sophomore in 2016 and then started the first three games the following year before going down with a season-ending knee injury.

Because of NCAA bylaws, a player who medically retires while at one school is not permitted to play at that same school if he opts to restart his playing career.  He can, though, transfer and continue it elsewhere.

In January of 2016, Adam Breneman ended his playing career at Penn State and medically retired because of chronic knee issues; seven months later, the tight end resurfaced and continued his playing career at UMass.