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Sirens flashing in Texas RB room as Jordan Whittington out 4-6 weeks with groin injury

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All the emergency sirens are currently flashing in the Texas running back room as Tom Herman announced Monday that freshman running back Jordan Whittington will be out 4-6 weeks with a groin injury.

He will fly to Philadelphia as soon as possible to surgically repair a torn abductor suffered during No. 10 Texas’ 45-14 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday night. Whittington has dealt with nagging groin injuries since high school, and a cut he made during a 14-yard reception on Saturday night appeared to tip the scale from “nagging” to “fully injured.”

While this may seem like an overreaction to losing a true freshman running back who has never carried the ball in a live college game — he caught two passes for 17 yards in his one series before the injury — and did not play running back in high school, the 5-star athlete was expected to be a major player at running back this season partially because of his talent (he was a 5-star, after all) and largely because, well, there’s no one else.

With Whittington out, Texas is currently down to one (1) healthy scholarship running back. That would be sophomore Keaontay Ingram, who bulked up to 220 pounds in the offseason to prepare for an increased workload, but has also battled nagging injuries throughout his career. Ingram missed two weeks of training camp due to a bone bruise, but he was healthy enough to rush 11 times for 78 yards and a touchdown on Saturday night.

Whittington joins a running back infirmary that already includes senior Kirk Johnson, who has battled numerous injuries throughout his career and is currently out due to a joint sprain in his shoulder, and Daniel Young, a junior who sustained a high ankle sprain in late August. Texas signed 4-star Derrian Brown in its 2019 class, but he is working to get back to football after suffering a stroke in February.

Texas also recruited 4-star running back Noah Cain in the 2019 class, but he picked Penn State over the Longhorns on Signing Day in February.

As for who will carry the ball outside of Ingram, well, that’s an interesting list. Texas moved true freshman quarterback Roschon Johnson to running back late last month, a move that was sold as temporary at the time but now appears permanent. Johnson acquitted himself well on Saturday, rushing seven times for 26 yards and showed himself a willing blocker but, still. Texas is set to play No. 6 LSU on Saturday and its backup running back is a true freshman who never played running back in a game until three days ago.

Herman also announced true freshman linebacker David Gbenda has been moved to running back; he’ll be third string on Saturday.

Obviously, the elephant in this room is quarterback Sam Ehlinger. He’s a willing (to say the least) runner who is certainly a large part of the Longhorn running game, but the larger he becomes the greater the chance he takes the wrong hit to the wrong part of his body, and then Texas will enter Defcon 1 offensively.

Behind Ehlinger is redshirt freshman Casey Thompson, whose five passes on Saturday night represent the only passes of his college career.

Slot receivers Devin Duvernay and Jake Smith could also garner carries to diversify the ground game — Duvernay carried the ball twice on Saturday; Smith rushed for 741 yards as an all-purpose back en route to Gatorade National Player of the Year honors at Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Prep last year — and safety BJ Foster could represent an emergency, emergency option after rushing for 952 yards and 18 touchdowns on 9.5 yards a carry as a senior at Angleton (Texas) High School, but clearly the most sensible, rational option for Texas is to call in every shaman, faith healer and witch doctor on Earth to cast a protective spell on Ingram’s joints for at least the next four-to-six weeks.

This weekend, a Notre Dame home game won’t be sold out for first time since 1973

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All good things, streaks in this particular case, must come to an end.

Saturday afternoon in South Bend, Notre Dame will play host to Navy in the 93rd renewal of their football rivalry.  And, according to the South Bend Tribune, the game won’t be played in front of a sellout crowd at Notre Dame Stadium (capacity: 77,622), which is actually a startling development.

This weekend, you see, will mark the first time since Thanksgiving Day 1973 (vs. Air Force) that the Fighting Irish haven’t sold out a home football game, snapping a streak of 273 straight sellouts.  Ahead of that streak being snapped, the Irish’s athletic director for the past dozen years, Jack Swarbrick, attempted to downplay the development.

From the Tribune:

It was never sort of important to me to keep it alive, but I understand why other people thought so. It’s a point of distinction to a lot of people and our fans.

“For me it’s always been: What’s the stadium environment like? Are we creating a great environment for our team and for our student-athletes? That you can say it’s also sold out is sort of a byproduct of that.

“But if my choice is (77,622) people in an environment that’s not really good versus 75,000 in a raucous environment, I’ll take the latter every time.

Notre Dame’s 237-game streak had been the second-longest active streak in college football behind Nebraska’s 373, which will move to 374 when Big Red hosts Wisconsin this weekend. The last time the Cornhuskers failed to sellout Memorial Stadium was during the 1962 season.

Four finalists named for 2019 Paul Hornung Award

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The field for the award that fetes the nation’s most versatile college football player has been whittled down significantly.

Earlier Thursday, the Louisville Sports Commission announced the four finalists for the 2019 Paul Hornung Award that have been chosen by the 17-member selection committee.  And (surprise!), all four of the finalists come from Power Five conferences: Lynn Bowden Jr. (Kentucky), Clyde Edwards-Helaire (LSU), Joe Reed (Virginia) and Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska).

All four of the finalists come from the offensive side of the ball and have spent time as return specialists as well.  Because of injuries at the position, Bowden, listed as a wide receiver to start the season, has started the last three games at quarterback for UK, with the Wildcats going 2-1 in that span.

Reed is primarily a wide receiver and Edwards-Helaire a running back, while Robinson has split his time between both positions.

The 2018 winner of the Hornung Award was Purdue’s Rondale Moore, who likely would’ve been given serious finalist consideration again this year if not for his season essentially being derailed by a lingering hamstring injury.

For all of the statistical particulars for each candidate, click HERE the award’s press release:

 

Texas’ Jalen Green apologizes for vicious hit that angered K-State

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It appears Kansas State will have to settle for a mea culpa.

In the second half of last Saturday’s game, Texas cornerback Jalen Green (pictured) leveled K-State wide receiver Wykeen Gill (not pictured) on a play away from the ball and was ejected from the contest after (eventually) being flagged for targeting.  The play will cost Green the first half of UT’s game this Saturday against Iowa State per NCAA targeting rules, but will likely cost Gill at least one full game as he will be sidelined for the Week 12 matchup with West Virginia as the receiver is currently in concussion protocol.

That disparity didn’t sit well with K-State’s head coach.

“It’s unfortunate because it was away from the play, didn’t have anything to do with the play, and Wykeen is probably going to miss a game,” Chris Klieman stated at his weekly press conference Tuesday. “When you have a hit like that and somebody only misses a half, I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Wednesday afternoon, Green issued an apology in which he stated, in part, that he “realize[s] how it may have looked” but “I do want everyone to know I was not trying to take a cheap shot.”

As for “not trying to take a cheap shot,” you be the judge.

Heisman favorite Joe Burrow headlines Davey O’Brien Award semifinalists

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When it comes to the semifinalists for one of the most prestigious quarterbacking awards in college football, they are who you thought they’d be (for the most part).

Wednesday afternoon, the Davey O’Brien Award released its list of 16 semifinalists for a trophy named in honor of the former TCU College Football Hall of Famer.  Headlining this year’s group is LSU’s Joe Burrow, who enters Week 12 of the regular season as the overwhelming favorite to win the 2019 Heisman Trophy.

One finalist from a year ago, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, is a semifinalist this year as well.  Oklahoma’s Jalen Hurts is the only two-time semifinalist again in the mix, although this is his first time as a Sooner as the first two came while he was a member of the Crimson Tide.

Georgia’s Jake Fromm, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence are also former semifinalists who are up for this year’s award.

The Big 12 leads all conferences with four semifinalists, followed by three apiece from the AAC, Pac-12 and SEC.  The Big Ten accounted for two while the ACC had one.

The 2018 winner of the Davey O’Brien Award was Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray.  Below is the complete list of semifinalists for the 2019 award.

  • Charlie Brewer (Baylor)
  • Shane Buechele (SMU)
  • Joe Burrow (LSU)
  • Sam Ehlinger (Texas)
  • Justin Fields (Ohio State)
  • Jake Fromm (Georgia)
  • Anthony Gordon (Washington State)
  • Justin Herbert (Oregon)
  • Tyler Huntley (Utah)
  • Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma)
  • Trevor Lawrence (Clemson)
  • Tanner Morgan (Minnesota)
  • Malcolm Perry (Navy)
  • Brock Purdy (Iowa State)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama)
  • Brady White (Memphis)