Andre Ellington

No Choice: injury to keep Clemson from redshirting 4-star RB

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The ripple effects from Zac Brooks‘ injury has commenced in earnest.

Wednesday, Clemson announced that Brooks would miss the entire 2014 season due to a foot injury.  That left the Tigers with just three healthy running backs… and Dabo Swinney with no other choice.

In a move not entirely unexpected, the head coach confirmed Thursday night that true freshman Adam Choice will not redshirt as had previously been planned.

“With Zac’s injury we have just three healthy running backs to open the season,” Swinney said in quotes distributed by the team. “You can’t go through a season with just three backs, so Adam Choice is going to play this year. Adam has had a great camp. He has a lot of natural ability and we have been very impressed with his ability to pick up the offense. We will get him ready and he will have an impact at some point this year.”

Choice was a four-star member of the Tigers’ 2014 recruiting class, rated as the No. 10 running back in the country by Rivals.com. How choice will fit in with the current rotation of junior C.J. Davidson, redshirt freshman Wayne Gallman and senior D.J. Howard, the presumptive replacement for Brooks as top back, remains to be seen.

As for the specifics of Brooks’ injury, Swinney said it’s a ligament issue in his foot, similar to the one suffered by former Clemson great Andre Ellington.  Swinney sounded optimistic Brooks, the Tigers’ leading returning rusher, will be available for the start of spring practice next year.

“The positive is that Zac will still have two years to play. He has not redshirted. Andre has come back from it just fine. He had a 1,000-yard rushing season for us an is now the top back in Arizona (Cardinals).”

(Photo credit: Clemson athletics)

Thursday afternoon one-liners

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Meandering our way through the offseason, a single one-liner at a time…

— In poll results that will surprise absolutely no one, Michigan-Ohio State was overwhelmingly voted as the most important game in the Big Ten for the upcoming season.

— Rocker-turned-country singer Darius Rucker would give up a Grammy for a South Carolina national championship.

— At least for now, hoops-mad Kentucky beating upper-echelon programs on the football recruiting trail.

Deseret News: Neither the Utes nor Aggies can afford to lose the ‘Battle of the Brothers’ in week

— Past performance in limited opportunities suggests Clemson’s Rod McDowell is more than capable of replacing the production lost by the departure of Andre Ellington.

— The Big Ten Network taps Michigan State’s linebackers as the best group in the conference.

Memphis Commercial Appeal: Tiger coach Justin Fuente eager to “raise the bar” but warns of tough debut in AAC.

— Colorado State’s Jim McElwain had 150,000 reasons to ensure his players made the grade.

— Four-star JUCO defensive impressed following visit to Auburn, although Arkansas is still believed to be the front-runner.

— The top six as announced via Twitter for five-star 2014 defensive back Jamal Adams? Florida, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas and Texas A&M.

— Ex-Kansas State great Jordy Nelson simply can’t stay away from his Manhattan roots.

— Troubled former All-American Rolando McClain, who abruptly retired from the NFL last month at the age of 23, has returned to Alabama and is enrolled in classes.

Predictions 101 — Week 4

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If we were Lane Kiffin, we’d blame the players, injuries or even the media. But alas we aren’t the faultless USC head coach, and we’ll accept responsibility for last week’s 2-5 record (both straight up and vs. “the number”).

Speaking of Kiffin, we had a bead on his Trojans faltering at Stanford, but ultimately didn’t have enough guts to call for the full-scale upset. There’s no glory in predicting that the Trojans won’t cover. That’s a weekly certainty. But when we only land a pair, we cherish it.

Last week’s official upset call (Virginia over Georgia Tech) spectacularly went up in flames. The home office in Burbank, which currently handles the value-laden longshots, promises to do better this time around. With the extra assistance, those should most always get you across the line in good shape.

It’s a good slate of “ranked vs. ranked” this week, hopefully we can rise to the occasion.

TOP 5 GAMES OF THE WEEK (Thursday, Sept. 20, thru Saturday, Sept. 22)

1) No. 10 Clemson at No. 4 Florida State
Sat., Sept. 22 — 8 p.m. ET, ABC

The Seminole defense is allowing a single point per game. When an elite program opens against Murray State and Savannah State that sort of stonewalling is not a shock. But, last week’s 52-0 rout of Wake Forest, a team that had taken four of the last six meetings, was a bit of a surprise and signals that Florida State is definitely for real.

With upset alerts and full-blown stunners littering the college football landscape each week, there’s something to be said for a team that goes about its undefeated business to the tune of 176-3.

This defensive display isn’t anything entirely new. The Seminoles now have held 11 consecutive opponents to 19 points or less.

Perhaps it’s both good and bad news for the Tigers that FSU’s under-20 streak began after back-to-back 35-30 losses on the road at Clemson and Wake Forest last year.

The biggest threat to the Seminole end zone is Tiger wideout Sammy Watkins, who warmed up in a 41-7 victory over Furman after serving a two-game suspension. Last season, Watkins caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns versus Florida State.

Fourth and fifth on Jimbo Fisher’s list of worries — Tajh Boyd and Andre Ellington are second and third — are pass protection and short-yardage rushing efficiency. Both stem from uncertainties along an offensive line that allowed the Demon Deacons to sack quarterback E.J. Manuel three times.

Coach Corso will be right to back his alma mater by putting on a headdress out in the parking lot, but it’ll be “closer than the experts think.”

Opening point spread: Florida State by 13

The pick: Florida State 26-24

2) No. 18 Michigan at No. 11 Notre Dame
Sat., Sept. 22 — 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC

This prediction comes courtesy of Shane Hedani from the P101 satellite office in Maunawili, Hawai’i.

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The Fifth Quarter: Week One Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

The fans
After one of the worst — check that, the worst — offseasons in the history of the game, a full day of the glorious entity called college football was back at a campus or on a television near you.  Certainly, what happened the past few months, particularly at Penn State, wasn’t washed away completely by the start of a new season, but it did allow fans all across the country get back to doing what they love to do — irrationally rooting for a school they may or may not have a direct connection to and obsessing over any and every call that may or may not have gone their way.  Welcome back, college football.  Oh how we’ve missed your on-field glory.

Should Tide rise over USC to No. 1?
We asked this question in our poll tonight, but will expound on it here.  In every way imaginable, in every single phase of the game, No. 2 Alabama was the better team in the defending BcS champion’s 41-14 woodshedding of No. 8 Michigan.  And it wasn’t even really that close.  Ben did an excellent job recapping the carnage in Arlington Texas, so I’ll tackle this the question posed in this note.  And, if you’re a fan of marquee nonconference matchups, you’d answer the same way I would: hell yes.  Teams that schedule these types of games should be rewarded for playing top-ranked programs, and bumping them a spot or two or three or whatever would/should have an impact on athletic directors looking for more of those types of early-season games.  Besides that, it’s rather obvious even as it’s awful early: the Tide will once again be a major factor on the national stage yet again.  That was a textbook evisceration by Nick Saban‘s charges of what’s a very talented Michigan team.  The good thing for the Wolverines?  They have 11 more regular season games to make up the spots they will tumble in the polls when they come out early this week.  And, they can take solace in the fact that they won’t face a better team the remainder of the regular season.

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