North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).
It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.
How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.
South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.
As the 2015 season draws near, we peek into our crystal ball and
guess project how each of the five major conferences will play out. Today, we will be examining the home of the defending national champion, the Big Ten.
And while we’re at it, check out some of our other Power Five conference predictions HERE (ACC), HERE (Big 12) and HERE (Big Ten) as the CFT team continues to take its month-long glimpse of the upcoming season.
1. Georgia (10-3; beat Louisville in Belk Bowl)
There is one certainty when it comes to the East: UGA will not finish lower than third, a low-water benchmark for each of Mark Richt‘s 14 seasons in Athens that has included five division titles — none since 2012, though. They return the most talent of any team in the division, although the fact that they opted for Grayson Lambert as the starting quarterback has me second-guessing my prediction. It’s been a decade since UGA’s last SEC championship, and if they’re going to get back to that level they’ll have to do so with a schedule that includes both Alabama and Auburn as well as a road trip to Tennessee. Still, anything less than an East title and a spot in the SEC championship game would be decidedly disappointing — and would lead to yet another offseason of “is it time to go in another direction?” speculation.
2. Tennessee (7-6; beat Iowa in Taxslayer Bowl)
Am I a year early with this lofty projection? Possibly, especially given the team right below them. Still, there’s no denying that Butch Jones has stuffed his talent cupboard after the barren years under his predecessor, Derek Dooley. The Vols closed out last year on a positive note, going 4-1 down the stretch — the lone loss coming by eight to Mizzou — capping it off with an impressive 45-28 win over the Hawkeyes in the bowl game. That final flourish coincided with Josh Dobbs‘ ascension as the starting quarterback. With the scintillating playmaker poised to build off his first season at this level, the Vols could very well challenge both UGA and Mizzou for East supremacy.
3. Missouri (11-3; beat Minnesota in Citrus Bowl)
“Here we go again, denigrating the two-time defending East champion Tigers.” — the two Mizzou fans who frequent this site, probably. And, actually, that’s an understandable reaction, given how the Tigers have been the class of the division the past two seasons. They’re also one of the few teams in the conference that returns its starting quarterback. Still, there are concerns along the defensive line — they return just five starters on that side of the ball, period — and their schedule doesn’t do them very many favors as they play at Georgia and Arkansas as well as play host to Mississippi State. It wouldn’t shock me, though, if Mizzou made it three straight titles. In fact, the only thing that would shock the system is if they finish outside the top three in the division.
Just a little more than a week away from kicking off the new football season in Charlotte against North Carolina, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier has named his starting quarterback for the season opener. Connor Mitch will get the call as the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback.
“Connor will have every opportunity to take the reins and run with it,” Spurrier said Tuesday. “The competition was extremely close but we had to make a decision. We will give him all the support we can. As long as he takes care of the ball, keeps his head calm, he very easily could be the quarterback the entire year.
Mitch beat out Perry Orth and redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia for the job. Freshman Lorenzo Nunez was also competing for the starting job.
I felt like he was slightly ahead of the other guys. The other guys were pretty close. What the competition has done is get two other guys ready to play. If (Connor) sprains his ankle or can’t play we will be in good hands with Perry (Orth) or Michael (Scarnecchia), and also Lorenzo (Nunez), he is capable of playing a bit.”
You may have thought we were done taking a look at preseason all-conference teams. Think again, because the SEC has served up three preseason all-conference teams for you. Alabama and LSU each land 10 players on the preseason selections as determined by the coaches of the SEC. As you might expect with three preseason all-conference teams, all 14 members of the SEC manage to be represented, because that would have really stunk for Vanderbilt if they couldn’t make the cut. It is the college football preseason equivalent to participation trophies.
As noted by the sEC, coaches were not allowed to coach for their own players. South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper scored a spot on the preseason All-SEC teams not once, not twice, but three times. Cooper earned first-team honors at wide receiver and as an all-purpose athlete. Cooper again appears on the first team list as a return specialist. Other players earning first-team honors include Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, running backs Nick Chubb (Georgia) and Leonard Fournette (LSU). The defense is headlined by names like Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Curt Maggit (Tennessee), Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) Cyrus Jones (Alabama)and Jalen Mills (LSU).
Here are all All-SEC first team selections as determined by the coaches around the conference. You can view the SEC release for the other two if you are so inclined.
Nearly four months after leaving South Carolina, Brendan Nosovitch has reportedly found a new home.
Citing Nosovitch’s family, the Allentown Morning Call is reporting that the quarterback has decided to transfer to Boston College and continue his playing career with the Eagles. Because he has already graduated from the East Coast USC, Nosovitch will be eligible to play immediately in 2015. Not only that, but he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.
It should be noted that BC has yet to announce Nosovitch’s addition to the roster.
Nosovitch was a three-star member of USC’s 2012 recruiting class who has attempted two passes in his career, with both of those coming in 2013. In 2014, he moved from QB to tight end, although he mainly saw action on special teams last season. The Pennsylvania native switched back to quarterback to start the spring this year, although he lagged so far behind the others that it triggered his decision to transfer.