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Clemson starting Kelly Bryant; FSU goes with Deondre Francois

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Perhaps the two most notable quarterback decisions to be made in the ACC have now been made. At Clemson, Kelly Bryant will be the starting quarterback when the defending ACC champions begin the new season this weekend at home against Furman. At Florida State, Deondre Francois will make his return as the starting quarterback for the Seminoles on Sunday night in Tallahassee against Virginia Tech in an ACC clash.

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney had been keeping his distance from naming a starter for the upcoming season all summer. Bryant was battling to keep the starting job from freshman sensation Trevor Lawrence. While the future of Clemson football may look incredibly bright with Lawrence in the fold, relying on experience with Bryant may have been one of the deciding factors. Clemson’s 2017 season ended with a thud against eventual national champion Alabama in the Sugar Bowl semifinal of the College Football Playoff, but Clemson had accumulated a 12-1 record with Bryant playing all 14 games for the Tigers last season. The only loss on the year prior to meeting Alabama was on the road at Syracuse, when Bryant was knocked out of the game with an injury.

Bryant completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,802 yards and 13 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Obviously, he had big shoes to fill in following Deshaun Watson as the starting quarterback, but the pressure to keep Clemson in the title hunt never really seemed to get to him.

Francois never really got a chance to get his 2017 started after being knocked out of Florida State’s season opener against Alabama last fall. Francois, a sophomore in 2017, completed 19 of 33 pass attempts for 210 yards and a touchdown against Alabama before having his season prematurely ended with a knee injury. Francois had come off an impressive freshman season in 2016, in which he passed for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns with seven interceptions and rushed for five additional touchdowns.

Francois has had an eventful offseason, of course. In April, Francois was suspected of possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. The quarterback later agreed to enroll in a pre-arrest diversion program as a result. In January, Francois was cleared in a domestic violence investigation involving his girlfriend due to conflicting statements and a lack of independent witnesses led to an inability to press charges. With no legal liabilities standing in the way and with Francois appearing to be the most ideal fit to run the offensive style Willie Taggart wants to bring to Tallahassee, it was likely just a matter of how healthy Francois was before a starter was named.

With Clemson and Florida State now settled on starting quarterbacks, the ACC Atlantic Division race is now set to begin, with the Tigers likely still the team to beat and Florida State hoping to bounce back from a rough 2017 season to make some noise in the ACC championship hunt.

Auburn WR Jashawn Sheffield arrested twice in one-week span last month in Georgia

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Thanks to an Auburn football player, it’s a two-for-Tuesday on the arrest front.  And, to clarify, that’s player in the singular.

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Jashawn Sheffield was arrested May 9 in Georgia on one count of disorderly conduct.  But wait, there’s more.  Exactly one week later, the Tigers wide receiver was arrested in the Peach State yet again, this time “DUI Less Safe.”

Both of those charges, incidentally, are misdemeanors.

No details of what led to either arrest have been released.  As for the DUI charge?  The Advertiser writes that “[i]n the state of Georgia, a ‘DUI Less Safe’ can be charged if a law enforcement officer believes a driver is less safe behind the wheel because of alcohol consumption, even if that person is under a specific blood-alcohol content.”

As a result of the two off-field incidents, though, Sheffield has been indefinitely suspended by the Auburn football program.  AU football players are set to return to campus next week to commence voluntary workouts.  Because of the suspension, the receiver won’t be one of the ones returning.

Sheffield was a four-star member of the Auburn football Class of 2019.  The Georgia native was the No. 28 player in his home state regardless of position.  The 6-1, 183-pound receiver also played in the Under Armour All-America game.

As a true freshman, Sheffield appeared in one game.  He didn’t catch any passes in that lone appearance.  He did, though, rush for 30 yards on a pair of carries.

Because he played in four or fewer games, however, Sheffield was able to take a redshirt for the 2019 campaign.

(Tip O’ the Cap: The Fulmer Cup)

LSU adds first-ever games vs. Grambling, Southern to future schedules

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Amidst these trying times across the country, LSU has made a couple of historic additions to its future football schedules.

Monday, LSU announced that it has added a pair of one-off football games with Grambling and Southern.  LSU will face Southern on Sept. 10, 2022.  Grambling and LSU will then tangle Sept. 9 the following season.  Obviously, both of those will be played at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

Both Grambling and Southern are Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the state of Louisiana.  It will mark the first time LSU has ever played either in football.

“This is an incredible opportunity to join our fan bases of these historic Louisiana institutions and championship programs,” athletic director Scott Woodward said in a statement. “These dates will be days to celebrate not only football, but the state of Louisiana and all of our people. It’s time and we are all proud to be a part of it.”

“We are excited to announce our games against Southern and Grambling in the future,” LSU head football coach Ed Orgeron said in his statement. “We have a great relationship with all universities in our state. It is important to LSU to have a great relationship with all of the universities in our state.”

The two games also complete LSU’s nonconference schedules for both seasons.  In addition to Southern, LSU will face Florida State (Sept. 4, New Orleans), New Mexico (Sept. 24) and UAB (Sept. 28) in 2022.  The following year, its Florida State (Sept. 3, Orlando), Army (Oct. 21) and Georgia State (Nov. 18) joining Grambling.

Report: Two Marshall football players test positive for COVID-19, are in isolation

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It appears Marshall will serve as a guinea pig for the rest of the college football world.

Monday, Marshall announced that three individuals — two student-athletes and one university employee — tested positive for coronavirus.  It was subsequently reported that the two student-athletes are Marshall football players.  According to the school, none of the three cases are related.

All three, incidentally, are asymptomatic.  None of the names are being released by the university.

Ahead of the return to campus, the individuals were tested for the virus.  All three are, per university protocol, now in isolation.  Their close contacts are being identified and instructed to follow appropriate protocols, including quarantine or self-isolation, the university stated.

Below are some of the guidelines being followed by the university:

  • All student-athletes arriving on campus are in mandatory self-isolation for one week;
  • Following the completion of the self-isolation period, all student-athletes are tested for COVID-19 and must return a confirmed negative result before being allowed out of self-isolation;
  • All Athletic Department employees who come in close contact with student-athletes are being tested; and
  • Any student-athlete returning a positive test is required to quarantine and follow positive test guidelines. A student-athlete who tests positive will be required to secure a negative test before completing the quarantine period.

“It shows that what you are doing is working,” said Marshall athletic director Mike Hamrick. “If a positive comes up, we’ve caught it and we can quarantine them. Everyone else was negative and what we set out to do with our testing is working. I think that’s the positive thing about it. You want to know. That’s why you test.”

Notre Dame-Navy game moving from Dublin to Annapolis

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As expected, the pandemic will impact this year’s matchup between Notre Dame and Navy.

Notre Dame and Navy are scheduled to open the 2020 season Aug. 29 in Dublin, Ireland.  While there were talks about moving the game, Navy’s athletic director was confident the game would still be played as scheduled.  And where scheduled.  In late April, though, it was confirmed that, even if the game could be played in Dublin, it would likely be fan-less.

Tuesday morning, the inevitable occurred as it was announced the matchup between Notre Dame and Navy will not be played in Dublin.  Instead, it will take place in Annapolis at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

This will mark the first-ever time the rivalry game has been played at the home of the Midshipmen.

“We are obviously disappointed not to be traveling to Ireland this August,” the Navy AD, Chet Gladchuk, said in a statement. “But, as expected, our priority must be ensuring the health and safety of all involved. I am expecting that we will still be able to play Notre Dame as our season opener, but there is still much to be determined by health officials and those that govern college football at large. Once we have a definitive plan in place, we will announce the specifics pertaining to the game. I am extremely grateful to all that were involved in the planning of our game in Aviva Stadium, especially John Anthony and Padraic O’Kane who created what would have been another extraordinary event in Dublin. I realize many are disappointed and were looking forward to the spectacle of this event and a visit to the Emerald Isle, but I do know there is a complete understanding of why it’s in our best interests to make every effort to relocate the game.”

“Our student-athletes have had great experiences competing in Ireland and are very disappointed not to be returning to Dublin in 2020,” said Gladchuk’s counterpart with the Fighting Irish, Jack Swarbrick, in his statement. “The change of venue has been a very difficult decision for our colleagues at the Naval Academy, but we are in full support of their choice. We are also grateful for everything our partners in Ireland have done to make this a smooth transition. We look forward to going back to Ireland for a game in the not too distant future.”

In addition to the venue change, the date will be changed as well.  While not yet determined, it will be played Labor Day weekend on either that Saturday (Sept. 5) or Sunday (Sept. 6).

This year’s game will mark the 94th-consecutive meeting between the programs, making it the longest-continuous-intersectional rivalry in the country.