College football’s season may have wrapped up weeks ago, but the award season continued Friday night. Oregon defensive back Ugochukwu Amadi was named the winner of the Lombardi Award for the 2018 college football season at a banquet in Houston. The Lombardi Award is for the top FBS player based on performance, leadership, character, and resiliency by the Lombardi Foundation in Houston, Texas.
Amadi was one of seven finalists for the Lombardi Award this season. He beat out Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love, Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, Kansas State offensive tackle Dalton Risner, Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams, and Clemson defensive tackle Christian Wilkins.
The Pac-12 has been the home to the two most recent Lombardi Award winners. Stanford running back Bryce Love won the award for the 2017 season. Other previous winners of the Lombardi Award include Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh (2013), Luke Kuechly of Boston College (2011), Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska (2009) and Terrell Suggs of Arizona State (2002). Amadi is the first player from Oregon to win the award in the history of the Lombardi Award, which dates back to 1970.
College football’s award season is drawing near. The Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award is in the spirit of the season with the announcement of 10 finalists for their award this season, honoring the top fourth-year quarterback in college football using a number of conditions including character, scholastic achievement and leadership qualities in addition to on-field success. And because the award is designed for seniors and fourth-year juniors scheduled to graduate with their class, you won’t find Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa on this list.
West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and Michigan’s Shea Patterson are among the list of candidates up for the award as finalists this season, it was announced on Thursday. Both players have certainly played a key role in guiding their respective teams into position to play for and win their respective conference titles with the final weeks of the season underway. UCF’s McKenzie Milton is in a similar position and was named a finalist for the award as well.
Joining those three are a pair of ACC quarterbacks with Syracuse’s Eric Dungey and NC State’s Ryan Finley. Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Washington State’s Gardner Minshew are representing the Pac-12 and Penn State’s Trace McSorley joins Patterson as the Big Ten representatives on the list of finalists for the award. Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is the lone SEC player named as a finalist and Boise State’s Brett Rypien is standing tall for the Mountain West Conference.
Past Golden Arm Award winners include Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Stanford’s Andrew Luck, Boston College’s Matt Ryan and Notre Dame’s Brady Quinn. Rudolph was last year’s recipient of the award.
The targeting rule is one that routinely creates some confusion and ignites outrage over how it is officiated around college football, but sometimes there is a clear textbook example of the call that cannot be disputed. Late Friday night, one of those textbook examples was on full display, and it was completely ignored.
Late in USC’s 39-36 victory over Washington State, Porter Gustin launched himself into Cougars quarterback Gardner Minshew and made helmet-to-helmet contact. At the very least, the action should have been called for a late hit on the quarterback, but everything about this particular play was a clear targeting penalty that should have resulted in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic ejection from the game and the first half of USC’s next game.
As noted by Greg McElroy on the ESPN broadcast, Gustin missed the first half of last night’s game for a targeting foul the previous week at Texas, and yes, he should have been tossed from this game as well. No penalty flag was thrown on the play, which should be reviewed and addressed by the Pac-12 offices in the coming days.
It is impossible to suggest this missed call cost Washington State the game, but it did hurt their chances of winning. Had the call been correctly made, the Cougars would have moved the ball to the USC 10-yard line in the final minutes of the game. Instead, Washington State later resorted to trying a game-tying field goal from the 21-yard line, which was blocked. USC then ran out the clock after picking up a first down.
Virginia Tech hits the road this week to take on East Carolina, and they are doing so without starting right corner back Adonis Alexander. Hokies head coach Justin Fuente announced Alexander is not traveling with the team this weekend. Without spilling the details for why Alexander is not traveling with the team, Fuente strongly suggested Alexander was in violation of team rules.
“We will continue to uphold the exemplary standards of Virgina Tech football,” Fuente said in a brief statement. “Integrity, trust, and teamwork remain the foundation of this program and that will not change. Adonis has not lived up to our expectations at Virginia Tech.”
Alexander has started each of Virginia Tech’s first two games of the season and has accumulated 14 tackles and three pass breakups. With Adonis not making the trip to East Carolina this weekend, Virginia Tech will likely slide his backup, Brandon Facyson into the starting role. The redshirt senior has one tackle in the first two games of the year.
No team ever wants to go into a game without a starting cornerback, but the Hokies should be OK in this road contest. The Pirates have the nation’s 20th-ranked passing offense with 310.0 passing yards per game through the first two weeks, but Thomas Sirk has just one touchdown and four interceptions and Gardner Minshew has also been picked off once with one touchdown. Given the early season struggles for the Pirates, East Carolina has both quarterback options listed as potential starters as they continue to figure out how to move the football with any consistency.
Virginia Tech and East Carolina will meet at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on CBS Sports Network.