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Minnesota DB Antoine Winfield, Jr. to miss remainder of season with foot injury

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For the second year in a row, Antoine Winfield, Jr.‘s season ends just four games after it started.

After appearing in 12 games and starting nine as a true freshman in 2016, Winfield was lost for the year four games into his sophomore campaign of 2017. He obtained a hardship waiver to play this season as a redshirt sophomore, but now will miss the rest of the season to a foot injury suffered in a 42-13 loss to Maryland on Saturday.

He will undergo surgery on Monday.

In a statement announcing the injury, Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck announced the Gophers will pursue another hardship waiver for Winfield, meaning he would be a fourth-year sophomore in 2019 if approved.

Winfield is the second Gopher to be lost for the season, following running back Rodney Smith.

“We are heartbroken for Antoine,” Fleck said. “Like Rodney Smith, I know he will keep his oar in the water, keep moving forward and will work tirelessly to return to the field next season. We believe Antoine meets the waiver requirement for a sixth year of eligibility and we will file that waiver with the NCAA at the conclusion of the season.”

Winfield led all Gophers defensive backs with 17 tackles on the year while tying for the team lead with one interception. He was also the team’s punt returner, notching a 76-yard score in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State on Sept. 1 and a 31-yard return in a 26-3 defeat of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 15.

Minnesota (3-1) is off Saturday before visiting Iowa on Oct. 6

Minnesota RB Rodney Smith lost for year to knee injury

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Minnesota running back Rodney Smith will miss the remainder of the season after sustaining a knee jury against Fresno State, the program announced Monday.

“I am devastated for Rodney, but I know he will keep his oar in the water and continue to move forward and attack his rehabilitation process,” Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “He is a leader on this team and I look forward to him working with our young players as we continue to grow this season.”

A senior from Jonesboro, Ga., Smith entered the season ranking fifth in Gophers history in career carries (651) and seventh in yards (2,959). He earned the Bronko Nagurski Award as the team’s MVP in 2017 after carrying 299 times for 977 yards and three touchdowns. Smith was also named MVP of Minnesota’s 2016 Holiday Bowl win over Washington State, rushing 17 times for 74 yards and a touchdown.

Smith was off to a promising start to his senior campaign, rushing 24 times for 153 yards in a 48-10 win over New Mexico State last Thursday. He carried one time for one yard in Saturday’s game with Fresno State. Smith was injured on the third play of the game after catching an 11-yard screen pass and remained on the turf after being tackled.

Minnesota went on to win the game, 21-14.

Smith has already used his redshirt season, but Fleck said Monday that Minnesota will apply for a waiver to get its running back a sixth season.

With Smith out, Minnesota figures to turn a pair of freshmen — Bryce Williams and Mohamed Ibrahim — to carry the load at running back.

Kellen Mond’s comeback effort falls short as No. 2 Clemson holds off Texas A&M

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A furious Texas A&M comeback effort led by Kellen Mond fell just short, as No. 2 Clemson raced to an early lead and held on for a 28-26 win in College Station.

The Aggies moved the ball consistently throughout the night but saw four drives of 30-plus yards end in some form of disaster. A&M opened the game by moving 66 yards before a missed Daniel LaCamera field goal, and also saw a 30-yard march end in a missed field goal.

Then, with the Aggies trailing 14-6 midway through the third quarter, Mond converted a 3rd-and-11 at the Clemson 44 by rushing 23 yards, setting up a 1st-and-10 at the 21. But Mond cramped up after the run, forcing backup Nick Starkel into the game. Clelin Ferrell immediately sacked Starkel, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Clemson’s Justin Foster.

Two plays later, Clemson (2-0) quarterback Kelly Bryant hit Tee Higgins for a 50-yard completing, setting up a touchdown to give Clemson a 21-6 lead.

After that, Mond came alive. He found Camron Buckley for a 69-yard completion, setting up a 9-yard scoring strike to Kendrick Rodgers to pull the Aggies (1-1) within 21-13 at the 4:22 mark of the third quarter.

Clemson answered that score, keyed by a 40-yard strike from Bryant to Hunter Renfrow, moving 75 yards in eight plays to set up Travis Etienne‘s 1-yard plunge, giving Clemson a 28-13 lead with a minute remaining in the third quarter.

But Mond immediately led the Aggies back, needing only a handful of snaps to travel 75 yards. Mond hit Quartney Davis for a 14-yard touchdown grab, the first catch of any kind of his career, to bring the Aggies within 28-20 with 14:07 still to play.

The teams traded punts through the next three possessions until A&M moved in position to potentially tie the game, but Davis fumbled the ball through the end zone on a play that was ruled a fumble on the field and was impossible to overturn upon review.

That fumble gave Clemson the ball at its own 20 with 2:09 remaining, but the Tigers could not achieve a game-clinching first down, and Will Spiers‘s 22-yard punt handed the Aggies the ball at the Clemson 49 with 1:12 still to play.

Mond needed only 26 seconds to score, hitting Rodgers for a 10-yard gain, accepting a pass interference penalty on Clemson and then finding Rodgers again, this time for a 24-yard score.

Needing a two-point conversion to push the game into overtime, Mond was intercepted in the end zone.

Hunter Renfrow recovered the onside kick to clinch the win for Clemson. The win moves Clemson to 23-4 in one-score games in its last 27 such games.

In a losing effort, Mond was the star of the night, hitting 23-of-40 passes for 430 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions while also leading the Aggies’ ground efforts with 10 carries for 33 yards. Trayveon Williams rushed 17 times for 31 yards.

Clemson also failed to run the ball consistently, mustering 115 yards on 32 carries. Bryant was the Tigers’ leading rusher with 54 yards on 15 carries. Instead, Clemson (2-0) was carried by a handful of big plays in the passing game.

Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Bryant hit Amari Rodgers for a 64-yard gain, turning a 3rd-and-15 into a 1st-and-10 at the A&M 16. Bryant scored on a 1-yard dash four plays later to give Clemson a lead it would not relinquish through the first half.

After forcing an A&M punt, Clemson put freshman quarterback Trevor Lawrence in the game, and the freshman immediately made the absolute most of his opportunity, finding Higgins for a snatch-and-dash 64-yard score.

Bryant got the bulk of the duties for Clemson, playing the entire second half and completing 12-of-17 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. Lawrence was 5-of-9 for 93 yards and a score. Etienne led all Clemson running backs with eight carries for 44 yards and a touchdown.

The win pushed Dabo Swinney to a four-game winning streak in his personal rivalry with Jimbo Fisher. Swinney now owns the ledger, 6-5. The Aggies and Tigers will complete their home-and-home in Clemson in Week 2 of next season.

Big plays propel Clemson to halftime lead at Texas A&M

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At the 3:15 mark of the first quarter, Clemson appeared to be in trouble. Though the score was just 3-0 in favor of Texas A&M, the Aggies were pushing Clemson’s vaunted defense around and the Tigers’ offense had accomplished precisely zero. Clemson’s first drive lost six yards before a punt, and its second possession appeared headed to the exact same end. Facing a 3rd and 15 from its own 20, it appeared Dabo Swinney may be forced to make his first tough decision of this young season, between veteran quarterback Kelly Bryant and his talented true freshman Trevor Lawrence.

And then Bryant threw to Amari Rodgers.

Rodgers snagged the ball and dashed for a 64-yard gain, turning a 3rd-and-15 into a 1st-and-10 at the A&M 16. Bryant scored on a 1-yard dash four plays later to give Clemson a lead it would not relinquish through the first half.

After forcing an A&M punt, Clemson put Lawrence in the game, and the freshman immediately made the absolute most of his opportunity, finding Tee Higgins for a snatch-and-dash 64-yard score. (In fairness, the catch and run were better than the throw).

Nevertheless, Clemson had a 14-3 lead at the 14:13 mark of the second quarter, which would hold through the remainder of the frame.

Outside of those two plays, Texas A&M has largely held its own with the Tigers. The Aggies put together an 11-play, 66-yard drive, an 8-play, 32-yard drive and an 8-play, 30-yard drive, but managed just three points after all three marches stalled, which was compounded when Aggies kicker Daniel LaCamera missed his first try and had his third blocked.

Clemson also forced Texas A&M into three three-and-outs, plus another drive that went four yards in five plays.

Texas A&M caught a break when a Clemson drive that moved 53 yards after the blocked LaCamera field goal ended when a 4th-and-goal try from the 1 never made it out of the backfield, as the under center snap sputtered through Bryant’s legs, forcing Adam Choice to hop on the ball rather than concede a turnover.

Clemson will receive to open the second half.

With FCS foe on tap, Miami to hold out injured WR Ahmmon Richards, DE Demetrius Jackson

Louisiana State University vs University of Miami
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Given their Week 2 opponent, Miami is (rightly) erring on the side of caution when it comes to two of its more important players.

In the season-opening loss to LSU Saturday night, defensive end Demetrius Jackson and wide receiver Ahmmon Richards (pictured) each sustained knee injuries. With FCS Savannah State up next this weekend — they were whitewashed 52-0 by UAB in their opener — Mark Richt confirmed Thursday that neither Jackson nor Richardson will play this Saturday.

They’re just not ready to go,” the head coach explained. “They’re not in [a] position to play now.”

Richt couldn’t say whether either or both will be available for the Week 3 matchup with Toledo next weekend. After a Sept. 22 game against Florida International, The U opens ACC play the following weekend against North Carolina.

Richards missed the first two games in 2017 because of a hamstring issue, then suffered a season-ending meniscus injury in late November. At the time of that latter injury, Richards was third on the Hurricanes in receptions (24) receiving yards (439) and receiving touchdowns (three). The year before as a true freshman, he led the team with 934 receiving yards.

Prior to being injured in the season opener, Richards had one catch for nine yards.

Jackson’s 2017 season ended prematurely as well as he suffered an injury to his right knee in the early-November win over Virginia Tech and didn’t play again. His 7.5 tackles for loss were tied for the team lead at the time.