Garrett Gilbert

A win with an asterisk would be just fine with Clemson’s Swinney

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Florida State will open Saturday night’s home game against Clemson without starting quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston will not play until the second half of the key ACC Atlantic Division battle due to a half-game suspension. This seems to give Clemson an advantage at the start of the game, but nothing is guaranteed. If Clemson does return home with a win over the top-ranked Seminoles, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will not care if anyone chooses to place an asterisk next to the result.

“Georgia beat us,” Swinney said referring to Clemson’s season-opening loss at Georgia, per per TigerNet.com. “Did we put an asterisk by that? We didn’t have three senior starters.” Clemson was without  defensive end Corey Crawford, offensive guard David Beasley and defensive back Garry Peters for the week one road game at Georgia. All three were suspended (as well as offensive tackle Shaq Anthony) for violations of team rules.

“Heck, no. They beat us. Period. There’s no asterisk by that. Give me a break.”

Swinney also made reference to Alabama’s 2010 BCS Championship Game victory over Texas to prove his point further. Texas lost starting quarterback Colt McCoy to an early injury in the game, leaving the Longhorns having to turn the offense over to a young and inexperienced Garrett Gilbert.

“I don’t think there’s an asterisk on that crystal ball down in Tuscaloosa,” Swinney said. “I think we’ve got a national championship trophy [at Clemson, referring to the 1981 season] where we beat Nebraska. I don’t think they played Turner Gill in that game but it still says national championship.” Gill did not play in that season’s Orange Bowl due to a leg injury.

The bottom line is pretty straightforward. Clemson can only worry about whatever they see on the other side of the field. The game still lasts 60 minutes and there is more than enough talent for Clemson to prepare for coming at them from the Florida State sideline. Florida State will give the start under center to Sean Maguire. Maguire’s parents already gave their tickets away. If Clemson benefits from Florida State being without Winston for 30 minutes, that is not Clemson’s problem.

Of course, if Florida State does lose, we then can entertain the arguments from Jimbo Fisher about how a fully-equipped FSU would split 10 games with Clemson down the road. Right?

Rutgers QB Nova now all-time leader in 5 interception games

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Rutgers gave Penn State a good fight on Saturday night in its first Big Ten conference game. If not for a five-interception night from quarterback Gary Nova, Rutgers may very well have been celebrating its first Big Ten conference victory as well, instead of looking to rebound from a 13-10 loss to the Nittany Lions. Nova’s awful stat line Saturday night put him in a league of his own, sort of.

Nova was intercepted five times in a game for the second time in his career. Since 2000, according to the play index on College Football Reference, six different quarterbacks have been intercepted five times in a single game. Nova is the only player appearing on the list twice.

Nova was intercepted six times by Kent State in a 2012 loss. That is tied for the most single-game interceptions since 2000 with Travis Wilson of Utah. Wilson was picked off six times by UCLA in a 44-22 loss last October. The other quarterbacks to throw five interceptions in a game since 2000 are Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty (2013, vs. Tennessee), SMU’s Garrett Gilbert (2012, vs TCU), Houston’s David Piland (2012, vs. UCLA) and Mississippi’s Zack Stoudt (2011, vs. Vanderbilt). (EDIT: As reminded on Twitter, Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin was intercepted five times in a bowl game against Florida. Because that game was not vacated by the NCAA, that should count as well.)

Nova’s five interceptions is misleading though. The fifth interception came in the final minute of the game with Rutgers in desperation mode. Two other interceptions may fairly be accredited to the shortcomings of Nova’s intended targets failing to bring in a pass. Nova will receive the bulk of the blame, a responsibility that comes with the territory of being a starting quarterback. There is no indication head coach Kyle Flood is ready to make a change under center though.

Helmet sticker to Reddit for the find.

Neal Burcham holds off A&M transfer, named SMU’s starter

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The official successor to Garrett Gilbert has been anointed, and it’s just who most expected it to be.

Following practice Thursday, June Jones announced that Neal Burcham has been tapped as SMU’s starting quarterback.  The Mustangs’ quarterback competition technically involved multiple players, but it essentially came down to Burcham and Texas A&M transfer Matt Davis.

“He has been waiting his turn to get in there,” Jones said. “I have been impressed watching him the last couple of years. He’s prepared himself, he’s worked hard. It’s just getting familiar with the offense and knowing where to go with the ball quickly and knowing your reads.”

The redshirt sophomore started the last two games in place of an injured Gilbert last season and went through spring practice, which Davis didn’t take part in, as the No. 1 quarterback. Jones cited Burcham’s experience in the offense as the deciding factor.

Burcham, a three-star member of the Mustangs’ 2012 recruiting class, completed 64-of-106 passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013.  Davis isn’t going away anytime soon, however, as the four-star 2012 signee still has three years of eligibility remaining counting this season.

SMU adds former A&M QB, Rice LB as transfers

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First it was (possibly) a Duke lacrosse player.  Now, SMU is officially adding a pair of experienced football players as well.

The Mustangs announced Friday that they’ve added transfers Matt Davis and Cameron Nwosu (pictured) to the football roster. Both are expected to be eligible to play immediately in 2014, the school stated.

Davis, a quarterback, comes to SMU from Texas A&M by way of the JUCO ranks. A four-star member of the Aggies’ 2012 recruiting class, Davis was listed as the No. 3 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 15 player at any position in the state of Texas. He redshirted as a true freshman his only season in College Station as he transferred in August of 2013.

Beginning in 2014, Davis will have three years of eligibility remaining and will compete immediately for the opportunity to replace Garrett Gilbert under center for the Mustangs.

In Nwosu, the Mustangs are getting a very experience linebacker coming off a knee injury that cost him the entire 2013 season. During his time at Rice, Nwosu started 25 consecutive games prior to the injury. He finished second on the team with 92 tackles in 2012.

Nwosu graduated from Rice, making him immediately eligible.

Boo birds triggered Garrett Gilbert’s transfer from Texas

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And now we know the rest of the story — although we kind of figured this was how it played out all along.

In an interview with NFL.com, former SMU quarterback and current draft hopeful Garrett Gilbert opened up about his transfer from Texas in 2011.  Specifically, Gilbert acknowledged that the incessant booing he received at home as he attempted to replace UT legend Colt McCoy played a significant role in his decision to leave the Longhorns.

“Hearing boos again, not really being able to shake that, at that point I kind of knew it might be time to start over and wipe the slate clean,” Gilbert said, according to NFL.com. “It’s tough to sum up quickly. For whatever reason, things didn’t work out. I think that led to some forcing the ball, trying to force things to happen. Maybe I read the papers a little too much, as well.”

Gilbert was UT’s starter in 2010, and then the first two games of the 2011 season. Following a miserable performance in Week 2 against BYU — a week after suffering a shoulder injury — Gilbert was dropped to No. 3 on the depth chart behind sophomore Case McCoy and freshman David Ash in the week leading up to the UCLA this past weekend. The shoulder injury officially ended his season in mid-September; one month later, he was given a release from his UT scholarship.

In early November of 2011, Gilbert, a five-star member of UT’s 2009 recruiting class who nearly helped the Colt McCoy-less Longhorns upend Alabama in the BCS title game that season, transferred to SMU, finishing out his career with the Mustangs.