Dallas Crawford

Report: Miami safety Jenkins to have season-ending back surgery

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Miami will be without one of its key defensive contributors of the 2013 season in the defensive backfield. Safety Rayshawn Jenkins is scheduled for back surgery on Monday, and the rehab time will cost Jenkins the entire football season.

Jenkins started in 12 games for Miami last season, recording three interceptions and 46 tackles. News of an injury was first broken by Jenkins on Wednesday on his Facebook page. In a status update, Jenkins announced he will not be playing this season. The injury to his back that triggered the need for surgery reportedly was suffered during weight lifting exercises. Jenkins attempted to continue practicing through pain earlier in the week but eventually needed to receive medical treatment.

The Miami Herald suggests Jenkins will have to spend the next six months in rehab following surgery on Monday, which means the 2014 season is out of the question, but a return for the spring seems to be in the cards.

Tough he started 12 games for Miami in 2014, Jenkins was most recently listed behind Dallas Crawford on Miami’s depth chart.

Virginia Tech takes advantage of Miami special teams woes in first half

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Miami got off to a fast start wearing their fancy new smoke gray uniforms and shiny helmets, but mistakes on special teams have really taken a toll on the Hurricanes against Virginia Tech in the first half. Virginia Tech leads Miami 28-14 at the break.

Miami got the game off to a quick start with a quick screen pass from Stephen Morris to Stacy Coley that went 81 yards for an early touchdown. Virginia Tech answered with a touchdown drive capped by a touchdown run by Trey Edmunds to tie the game. Miami then fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Hokies recovered the football at midfield. Five plays later Edmunds recorded another touchdown run as the Hokies capitalized on the special teams error. Edmunds would record his third touchdown of the run a little bit later as Virginia Tech once again took advantage of a special teams mistake when Miami punter Pat O’Donnell‘s knee hit the ground while fielding a low snap. Virginia Tech took over at the Miami 17-yard line and Edmunds ran in for a touchdown moments later to build a 21-7 lead on Miami.

Dallas Crawford punched one in for a Miami touchdown on the ext possession as the Hurricanes finally put together a solid drive, but Logan Thomas and a 32-yard pass to Joshua Stanford put the Hokies right back on the board with a 28-14 lead. Considering Virginia Tech has averaged just 22.3 points per game this season, Virginia Tech should feel pretty good about what is happening so far tonight.

Weekend Preview: LSU has what it takes to battle Alabama, BCS busters and more

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The biggest games of the week may have been played Thursday night, but the Saturday line-up  is not all that shabby either.

Alabama vs. LSU

Nobody has been safe in the SEC this season. Everybody has taken a loss except for one team, Alabama. Saturday night in Tuscaloosa the Crimson Tide host LSU. The SEC West match-up may not have quite the same magnitude recent meetings have had, but with the season winding down there is no good time to take a loss now for Alabama. Of course, that hasn’t exactly hurt them before. Could this year turn out to be different? Alabama cannot risk it to find out.

LSU is one of the few teams to have been able to handle the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. LSU has won five of the last six games in Alabama. Alabama’s only win at home against LSU since 1999 came in a 24-15 victory in 2009. So, does LSU have a chance at knocking of Alabama once more? Why wouldn’t they?

LSU has all of the ingredients they need to pull the upset. the Tigers have one of he top quarterbacks in the SEC (Zach Mettenberger), a power running game led by one of the top rushers in the SEC (Jeremy Hill) and one of the top defenses in the SEC. The problem for LSU is Alabama has all of those things as well.

A loss for Alabama may put a temporary dent on the bus to the SEC Championship, but no matter what happens it appears The Iron Bowl with Auburn is going to be huge.

ACC Championship Chase

Florida State (8-0, 6-0 ACC) is in a good spot in the BCS championship, but still must make sure to finish the year strong in ACC play. Florida State will look to avoid a huge upset Saturday when they travel to Wake Forest (4-5, 2-4 ACC). This should be a game that sees some big numbers put up by the Heisman front-runner Jameis Winston (Marcus Mariota‘s performance Thursday likely results in Winston leading the pack). Letting up at this point in the year is probably not wise for Florida State as there are other undefeated teams on the prowl for a trip to Pasadena. Don’t count on Florida State having a sluggish afternoon.

While Florida State may have the Atlantic Division pretty much wrapped up, the Coastal Division is still up for grabs. Miami (7-1, 3-1 ACC), despite losing running back Duke Johnson in the loss to Florida State last week, still sits in a good spot in the division. The Hurricanes host Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2)  Saturday in what may be the biggest hurdle the rest of the way before making their first trip to the ACC Championship Game. Stephen Morris will have to be smart with his pass selection because the Hokies have one of the tougher defenses in the ACC. Without Johnson, the Hurricanes will look to Dallas Crawford, who should be more than capable of handling the responsibilities.

BCS Buster Watch

Entering the week Fresno State (8-0, 5-0 MWC) remains in the perfect position for a BCS bowl berth. The Bulldogs are ranked 16th in the BCS rankings and ahead of the top contenders in The American (we’ll get to that conference in a moment). As long as Derek Carr can lead the Bulldogs to a road win at Wyoming (4-4, 2-2 MWC) Fresno State should remain in a good spot with time winding down in the regular season.

Northern Illinois (9-0, 5-0 MAC) dropped a spot in the BCS standings to 18th overall, but the Huskies still remain in striking distance of making a return trip to the BCS stage. As long as Fresno state keeps winning though, it will be tough to see Northern Illinois sneak in one more time.

Chasing The American Dream

The American Athletic Conference championship picture will be a bit more clear after this weekend. The key game to pay attention to will feature Central Florida (6-1, 3-0 AAC) and surprising Houston (7-1, 4-0 AAC). UCF is ranked 21st in the BCS rankings, which is vital to Fresno State and Northern Illinois, but the Knights and Cougars will battle for the pole position for the conference’s automatic BCS berth. If Central Florida wins this weekend, the berth will be their’s to blow having already beaten Louisville this season. A Houston win could open up a bit of a complicated situation in the conference. Houston visits Louisville next week. If Houston wins this weekend and Louisville defeats Houston next week, a three-way tie at the top of the conference would be left to untangle. But let’s worry about that later if we need to. The big key this weekend is whether or not Central Florida wins. A win could make a case to bump the Knights up in the rankings, either closing the gap on Fresno State and NIU or passing them altogether.

The quarterback battle between Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Houston’s John O’Korn should be an entertaining one. Bortles will also be put to the test though, with Houston leading the nation in turnover margin with a +20, highlighted by 17 interceptions.

Is Arizona State’s Grice college football’s top red zone running back?

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The sport of college has evolved to the point where offenses tend to favor the passing game more than the running game, but once a team penetrates the red zone there are some dependable options carrying the football. Perhaps none are better right now than Arizona State running back Marion Grice.

Arizona State has been inside the red zone 43 times this season. The Sun Devils still get pass-happy inside the 20-yard line but Grice has carried the football 31 times through seven games and has scored a touchdown a little more than a third of the time. That is a pretty good ratio, and among the best in the country.

Here is a list of the top ten running backs with red zone touchdowns, according to CFBStats.com (as of October 23, 2013). No running back in the country has more red zone touchdowns than Grice, but Boise State’s Jay Ajayi is right in the conversation.

Red Zone Rushing Touchdowns

  1. Marion Grice (Arizona State) – 11
  2. Jay Ajayi (Boise State) – 10
    Keenan Reynolds (Navy) – 10
  3. Antonio Andrews (Western Kentucky) – 9
    Tyler Gaffney (Stanford) – 9
    Dallas Crawford (Miami) – 9
    Fitzgerald Toussaint (Michigan) – 9
  4. Jahwan Edwards (Ball State) – 8
    Ben Malena (Texas A&M) – 8
    Zach Zwinak (Penn State) – 8

Ajayi and Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews have really been carrying the load for their teams inside the red zone. Of the players listed above, only Ajayi, Andrews and Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds have carried the football more than 31 times inside the red zone.

The U may not be back, but Miami is undefeated

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Miami had one lead in the second half Thursday night at North Carolina. Fortunately for the Hurricanes, it came at the time it mattered most. Miami kept their undefeated season alive by coming from behind in the final minute of the game to escape Chapel Hill with a 27-23 victory, improving to 6-0. The victory may have come at a costly price though, as running back Duke Johnson and receiver Phillip Dorsett left the game with injuries and never returned after the first quarter.

Dorsett looked to have a knee injury and returned to the sidelines on crutches and out of uniform. Johnson appeared to take a knee to the head.

Miami trailed North Carolina by ten point sin the fourth quarter but turned to back-up running back Dallas Crawford for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to cap two separate drives of 75 and 90 yards on a night the Miami offense was full of frustration. Crawford stepped up in a big way with 33 carries for a game-high 137 yards. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris was intercepted four times but the Tar Heels were unable to take advantage of the turnovers. Miami managed to hold North Carolina to two field goals and twice had the defense return the favor with an interception of North Carolina quarterbacks Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams.

Remarkably, Miami still managed to pile up 556 yards of total offense. Most of those yards may have come while you were still scratching your heads wondering what was going on in this game. You would not be alone, that is for sure.

So now we are left wondering just what to make of Miami. With what we have seen this season int he ACC it still looks clear that Clemson and Florida State, who play each other Saturday night, are on a different level from the rest of the conference. Whichever team wins that game Saturday night will be the prohibitive favorite in the ACC the rest of the way. But can Miami take on the role of spoiler in the conference, not just for the winner of Clemson-Florida State but for the conference’s national image? This Miami team looks to be beatable, but they have proven they can scratch and claw their way to a win if they need to get a little scrappy (see: Florida, North Carolina). Depending on the status of Johnson and if they can get a semi-adequate performance out of Morris (who did pass for 322 yards, it should be noted), if Miami paired up with Clemson or Florida State on the right day, it would not be impossible to see the Hurricanes come up with a win.

It would not be likely, but it would not be impossible. Miami gets a chance to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 2005 when they host Wake Forest next week. Regardless of how banged up they may be, a win should be expected for an 8-0 start. Then things get interesting. A road game at Florida State could serve as an ACC Championship Game preview and the following week Miami hosts Virginia Tech. The Hokies and Hurricanes have been in this sort of position before, with a conference or division on the line. If Miami can earn a split, they should be in good shape to at least get to Charlotte for their first ACC Championship Game appearance in program history.

Assuming they are eligible for postseason play, of course.

Though it was in a losing effort, it should be mentioned that North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron was nearly unstoppable in the passing game. Ebron recorded 199 receiving yards and one touchdown. North Carolina’s season may not be going to plan, but Ebron continues to draw attention from NFL scouts, and for good reason.

North Carolina is now closing in on the brink of missing out on postseason eligibility. The Thursday night loss sinks the Tar Heels to 1-5. Just two more losses and North Carolina will be eliminated from postseason consideration.