NCAA Football

Sony Michel Injury: Updates on Georgia Star's Shoulder and Return

Georgia's Sony Michel exited the game vs. Tennessee with an injury to his left shoulder. Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution initially provided details on the news:

Edward Aschoff of ESPN later indicated Michel would not be returning to the game:

Michel ended with 17 yards on three carries. Georgia will need to lean heavily on Heisman contender Todd Gurley to fend off the Volunteers, who trailed by just four points at the half.

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Minnesota vs. Michigan: Live Score and Highlights

Michigan 0, Minnesota 0 (Early 1st Quarter)

The Shane Morris era has begun, as the sophomore will start for Michigan today versus Minnesota. 

Michigan leads the series for The Little Brown Jug, 73-24-3. 

The Gophers received the ball in the first half. 

Follow Bleacher Report's Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81

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TCU QB Hilariously Fails to Prevent Safety, Penalty Negates Play

It's tough not to give TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin credit for giving a tremendous effort on this play against SMU. He did everything he could to prevent a safety after a bad snap but was unable to do so.

Luckily for the Horned Frogs, a Mustangs defensive lineman was flagged for offsides on the play, which negated the safety.

[Vine]

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Iowa's Louis Trinca-Pasat Does 'Namaste' Sack Celebration Against Purdue

Although some players like to get a little crazy with celebrations, Iowa defensive lineman Louis Trinca-Pasat likes to keep things simple.

Trinca-Pasat broke out a pretty short and sweet celebration after sacking Purdue quarterback Danny Etling on a third down during the second quarter of Saturday's game.

[@cjzero]

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Chauncey Manac Commits to Georgia: Bulldogs Land 4-Star 2016 DE

Georgia has an early kickoff with Tennessee Saturday, but coach Mark Richt and the Bulldogs got some fantastic news well before toe met leather in Athens Saturday morning.

Defensive end Chauncey Manac announced via Twitter that he had committed to Georgia, a major pickup for Richt and UGA’s 2016 recruiting class. Manac, a 4-star recruit who stands 6’3”, 220 pounds, hails from Homerville, Georgia, and plays for Clinch County High School.

He is rated by 247Sports as the No. 64 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, the No. 6 player in Georgia and the No. 5 defensive end.

He had offers from major programs across the South, including Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Per 247Sports recruiting analyst Jake Rowe (subscription required), Manac's commitment is not a surprise. He had named Georgia as his leader and wanted to play for the Bulldogs as an in-state product. 

Manac is Georgia’s third commit for 2016, joining quarterback Jacob Eason (Lake Stephens, Washington) and offensive tackle Ben Cleveland (Toccoa, Georgia). Both Eason and Cleveland are 5-star commitments, and Georgia ranks seventh nationally in 247’s very early national team rankings.

Manac is a standout pass-rusher who’ll fortify an already strong Georgia defense when he arrives on campus. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.72 seconds, per his Hudl page, and has the kind of frame that can add muscle in the years to come, making him a force to be reckoned with. Rowe sees him as an outside linebacker who is a stand-up pass-rusher with excellent raw ability. 

It is a solid pickup for the Bulldogs' 2016 defensive class. 

 

All star rankings courtesy of 247Sports.

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Best Signs from ESPN's 'College GameDay' Week 5

ESPN's College GameDay crew found itself in Columbia, South Carolina, for Missouri vs. No. 13 South Carolina during Week 5 of the 2014 college football season. 

Fans got creative with their signs for the SEC showdown. Below are some of our favorites, including some that didn't make it to air.

In case you had forgotten, Missouri missed a chance at a game-tying field goal in overtime in 2013.

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Northwestern vs. Penn State: Live Score and Highlights

Northwestern 14, Penn State 0—Early 2nd Quarter

If you're looking for two programs that appear to be polar opposites of one another, look no further than Penn State and Northwestern.  Penn State seems to be very much on the upswing, while Northwestern can't seem to get anything to go right after last season's disappointment.

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South Florida vs. Wisconsin: Live Score and Highlights

South Florida 3, Wisconsin 3, Mid-2nd Quarter

The Wisconsin Badgers and South Florida Bulls have began play and the game is airing on ESPNU.

Last week, Wisconsin (2-1) ran away with the victory over Bowling Green, literally. The Badgers set a Big Ten record with 644 rushing yards in that game, and they will look to keep things going when they take on South Florida (2-2) at noon ET on ESPNU.

The Bulls are coming off a 17-14 victory over Connecticut, but Saturday will be the first road game of the season for them.

Stay with us for live updates and analysis throughout the game.

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College Football: Top 5 Games to Watch in Week 5

Week 5 of the college football season will feature three intriguing matchups out of the SEC, which could have conference and national title implications.

Tennessee will face Georgia in the first of three highly anticipated SEC games on Saturday. That game will be followed by rivals Arkansas and Texas A&M battling it out in Arlington and Missouri looking to upset South Carolina on the road in prime time. 

Top-ranked Florida State will travel to Raleigh to face an NC State team that has struggled on the road as of late. Cincinnati will also look to give Ohio State trouble and earn its first win in Columbus in school history. 

With much anticipation for the start of SEC play and important nonconference matchups, here are the top five games to watch on Saturday.   

Begin Slideshow

Tennessee vs. Georgia: Live Score and Highlights

The Georgia Bulldogs and the Tennessee Volunteers are getting ready to do battle between the hedges. The game will kick off at noon EDT and will air on ESPN.

The Bulldogs are coming off a dominating performance against Troy last week. Sony Michel racked up 155 rushing yards on 10 carries. Also, Isaiah McKenzie returned a punt for a touchdown, and he’s the first Bulldog to do that since Brandon Boykin against New Mexico State in 2012.

The Bulldogs are facing a Tennessee team that was off last week but looking to bounce back after a tough loss to Oklahoma the week before.

This will be the first SEC game for the Vols, and the key matchup will be the young offensive line for Tennessee facing an experienced Bulldogs defensive front seven led by Leonard Floyd and Ramik Wilson.

Be sure to come back to this live blog when the game starts for the latest, scoring updates and highlights.

 

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College Football Playoff 2014: Final NCAA Outlook Before Saturday's Week 5 Games

College football fans waiting for the first true week of great matchups will have to wait a little while longer. Week 5 provides some punch with a few intriguing games, but there are no ranked teams playing one another on Saturday.

Upsets in Carter-Finley or Razorback Stadium may be on the horizon, but most teams still have cupcakes coming up. On paper, this week looks drab, but fireworks are sure to take place no matter how weak the schedule looks.

Conference play is slowly beginning to build up steam, but the top teams are setting themselves apart. The likes of Florida State and Alabama are still in the top three in both polls, with the Seminoles facing a test this weekend.

Before the Saturday slate gets underway, here's a look at the current College Football Playoff outlook and a breakdown of the top games.

 

Breakdown of Week 5 Schedule

Will there be another shocker in Raleigh? In the last six games that Florida State has played on the road against N.C. State, the Wolfpack is a surprising 4-2. Sure, that dates back to 2002, but the Seminoles have gone 0-2 at Carter-Finley Stadium in their last two trips.

The Pack has a quarterback in Jacoby Brissett who has looked phenomenal, throwing for 1,005 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception thus far. Then again, the team hasn't been tested and stands at 4-0 after close wins over Georgia Southern and Old Dominion.

Florida can speak to the difficulty of playing Georgia Southern.

One of the biggest keys for N.C. State will be winning the turnover battle, something that seems possible with Brissett throwing just one interception. Joe Giglio of The News & Observer pointed that fact out when looking at Florida State's recent record:

Jameis Winston will be back on the field for the Seminoles, meaning the offense will be at full strength again. N.C. State's defense surrendered a combined 57 points against Georgia Southern and Old Dominion. The Wolfpack stands a chance but will need to play the game of its life on defense.

Meanwhile, down in Fayetteville, Arkansas will look to make a statement against undefeated Texas A&M. The Razorbacks lost their home opener against Auburn but have sense routed Texas Tech and Northern Illinois by an average of 29.5 points.

The Aggies head into Arkansas with hopes of making the College Football Playoff but haven't had a difficult matchup since smashing South Carolina. Coach Kevin Sumlin spoke about where the team stands heading into Arkansas, per Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle:

One thing we do know about Texas A&M is its offense is one of the best in the nation. Sumlin's team is currently fourth in the nation in passing yards (405 per game) and second in points scored (55.3).

That potent offense is led by Kenny Hill, who has emerged as a Heisman candidate through the first four games. ESPN College Football takes a look at the sophomore's current stats and pace of play:

If Texas A&M can get its offense rolling in Fayetteville, it might be a long day for the Hogs. But with a rushing duo of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams that has combined for 881 yards and 12 touchdowns, the Aggies' defense will be tested as well.

Texas A&M and Florida State have a chance to improve their chances at the playoff or come away with their first loss of the season. A lot is on the line on Saturday, with the intrigue boiling over for both programs on the road.

 

Follow @RCorySmith on Twitter.

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College Football Rankings 2014: Final NCAA Overview of Week 5 Standings

Week 5 of the 2014 college football season is upon us, but fans of the sport want to get a final look at the NCAA rankings before Saturday’s intense slate of games kicks off.

With vaunted teams like Florida State, Auburn, Texas A&M, Baylor and more all playing on Saturday, there will be more than enough action to keep even the most jaded college football fans satisfied.

Here are the Week 5 college football rankings and a focus on Saturday’s most underrated matchup.

 

*Full links for Amway Coaches, Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls.

 

Matchup of the Day: USC vs. Oregon State

One of the most underrated games on Saturday’s schedule is the Pac-12 battle between the ranked USC Trojans and the Oregon State Beavers.

USC is ranked No. 18 overall in the Associated Press and Bleacher Report Top 25 polls, but ranked No. 22 overall in the Amway Coaches Poll. The Trojans were considered an early-season favorite to contend for a spot in the playoffs, but a loss to Boston College two weeks ago has thrown a wrench in the works.

According to Josh Webb of USCFootball.com, how the Trojans perform on Saturday will be one of the determining factors in how the team finishes the 2014 season:

Led by junior quarterback Cody Kessler, the offense has averaged 292 yards per game through the air. Add in the 151 yards per game on the ground for USC, and the offensive unit is more balanced than many anticipated.

After dominating Fresno State in the season opener and beating the vaunted Stanford Cardinal, USC suffered a hangover and lost the following game at BC. With a bye in Week 4, the Trojans have been stewing on the 37-31 loss and will look to bounce back against a conference foe.

The task won’t be easy against the Beavers, though, as USC head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke glowingly about Oregon State, via ESPN.com:

Sean Mannion I think is a great player and he has been doing it for quite a while and he's in a really good scheme. Coach (Mike) Riley does a great job with the play-action pass game. They do a really nice job with their stack and bunch assignments, running two-man routes and really forcing your secondary to communicate on the fly.

As good as Sarkisian thinks Oregon State is this year, the Beavers haven’t won at the L.A. Coliseum since 1960. If there was ever a time to buck the trend, it would be with the talented squad head coach Mike Riley put together.

Led by Mannion and the 903 yards and four touchdowns he threw over the first three games, the Beavers offer an offensive unit just as balanced as USC’s. With an average of 301 yards passing and 145.7 yards rushing per game, Oregon State will torch a Trojans defense that allowed 37 points and 506 total yards to Boston College.

While Oregon State has not won at the Coliseum in a long time, the two teams have split the last six meetings. If the Beavers find a rhythm early and USC isn’t fully mentally recovered from the loss to BC, this could be one of the biggest upsets in Week 5.

A win for Oregon State would put them at 4-0 this season and would make the program a top candidate to crack the Top 25 in the Week 6 rankings. For USC, another loss would likely push them out of the rankings.

Predicted Final Score: Oregon State 30, USC 27

 

*Stats via ESPN.com.

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College Football Week 5: Live Scores, Highlights and Reaction

Week 5 may not have the highly ranked matchups, but it still packs a punch. After all, as the first four weeks of the 2014 season have shown, anything can happen on any given Saturday in college football. 

Tennessee is out for revenge against Georgia at noon ET on ESPN after last year’s overtime thriller. Stopping Todd Gurley and company won’t be an easy task, though.

Arkansas and Texas A&M square off in a SEC West battle at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS. Can Bret Bielema and his potent ground game hang with Kenny Hill and the high-flying Aggies offense? 

Missouri travels to South Carolina (7 p.m. ET on ESPN), hoping to show the college football world its loss to Indiana last week was nothing but a fluke. 

Jameis Winston makes his return for Florida State against North Carolina State at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC. The last time the ‘Noles played in Raleigh, though, they lost a heartbreaker.

What will happen this time around?

 

Keep it locked right here at Bleacher Report for live scores, highlights and much more! 

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Todd Gurley Must Take Georgia to SEC Title Game to Remain Heisman Frontrunner

Todd Gurley embarked on his 2014 season aiming to fight recent history and threaten to become the first non-quarterback to win the Heisman Trophy since Mark Ingram in 2009. As long as he keeps winning and gets No. 12 Georgia into the SEC championship, he has much more than a fighting chance.

The hype has closely followed the star junior rusher around Athens, Georgia, but injuries have always tempered said hype. Those who hadn't hopped on the Gurley-wagon by the opening weekend, however, likely did so after watching him on Week 1 against Clemson.

Gurley had exactly the debut he needed to claim frontrunner status in the Heisman race. He took his first 15 carries for 198 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-21 win, and returned a 100-yard second-quarter kickoff for a touchdown to tie the game just for good measure.

Most importantly, he passed the eye test. Larger than life and running angry, Gurley looked like the finished product for whom so many Bulldogs fans had their fingers crossed all summer long.

When the last Heisman winner from your school is Herschel Walker, you better pass the eye test.

Even when his team came out flat after its bye and fell to South Carolina, making things interesting again atop the SEC East, Gurley still looked monstrous with 131 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown. In fact, the biggest critique of Mark Richt amid the loss was not giving his stud back the ball on the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

His stats tapered off somewhat in limited duty against Troy last weekend, but he did take his six carries for 73 yards—including a 48-yarder. Heading into that game, Tom Hart of the SEC Network noted Gurley's dominance after contact:

Failing to post a dominant stat line didn't do anything to hurt his Heisman chances, either, as Seth Emerson of The Telegraph (Macon) explained:

Heading into the SEC gauntlet, Gurley won't have many second halves off and will need to make the most of it. But most importantly, he just has to keep the Bulldogs in the win column.

Georgia welcomes Tennessee to Samford Stadium on Saturday, then hosts Vanderbilt before traveling to Missouri and Arkansas. After that, the Bulldogs have a bye before facing Florida and visiting Kentucky. 

It will be much, much easier said than done for Georgia to make it through that six-game stretch unbeaten. But Gurley and the Bulldogs will likely need to, as they face No. 5 Auburn on Nov. 15. 

Recent history is somewhat on their side. The last time they fell to South Carolina was 2012, and they rallied to make it to Atlanta before falling to Alabama yards shy of a national title appearance.

Marcus Mariota might not be able to be caught should Oregon win out, but the Ducks face a gauntlet themselves. Texas A&M has freshman sensation Kenny Hill, who has hardly begun his trek through the SEC West.

As for Gurley and Georgia, the red carpet is rolled out for them to make it to Atlanta—as long as South Carolina loses another game. And if they don't, it's hard to see the star rusher making a serious case to win the Heisman outright.

Gurley can take a few losses and still win it, but not if Georgia ends the season on a sour note. Quarterbacks like Johnny Manziel and Robert Griffin III have overcome early-season slip-ups to win the award, but both peaked as the voting ramped up and posted big-time late-season wins.

Even if Mariota or some of the other contenders slip up and have a bad game, they won't fade into the background. And with the ridiculous numbers Melvin Gordon is putting up in Wisconsin's backfield, he's set to have some company at his own position.

But if Gurley leads Georgia to Atlanta and keeps them largely unscathed in the process, his hype will only continue to grow, so long as he keeps running like a man possessed.

Gurley has his work cut out for him just staying healthy through a brutal slate of hard-hitting SEC defenses, and he'll have to walk that tight-rope knowing that his best will be needed to negate the Bulldogs' struggling secondary. Quarterback Hutson Mason has shown signs of being a strong game-manager, but this offense showed in Columbia, South Carolina that it will only go as far as Gurley takes it.

And where he takes this Bulldogs squad will have a vast impact on whether his name is called in New York City come mid-December.

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10 Biggest Questions Facing Top 25 Teams Heading into Week 5

Just like that, the final weekend of college football in September is upon us. 

Hopefully it passes quickly, because this week's slate looks unappetizing.

There's an argument to be made that the week's most compelling game, at least on paper, happened Thursday night between Arizona State and UCLA—and the Bruins won 62-27. 

Then again, it's the games you least expect that sometimes turn out to be the best.

In any case, here's a list of the 10 biggest storylines heading into Saturday, which features zero matchups between top-25 teams. 

Begin Slideshow

Shy Tuttle to Tennessee: Volunteers Land 4-Star DT Prospect

When it came to recruiting defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, well, programs around the country weren't terribly shy. With plenty of options to choose from, however, Tuttle eventually settled on Tennessee.

Ryan Bartrow of 247 Sports reported the news of Tuttle's highly anticipated decision Friday:

Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (Lexington, N.C./North Davidson) verbally committed to Tennessee at a press conference at his high school.

Tuttle said he chose the Volunteers over North Carolina and North Carolina State because he felt comfortable there.

“I like the atmosphere,” Tuttle said of Tennessee. “I have a good relationship with the coaches.”

It was a group effort for the Volunteers to land one of the nation’s elite recruits. Tennessee defensive line coach Steve Stripling led the way with assists from area recruiter Mark Elder and ace recruiter Tommy Thigpen.

“Coach Stripling talked to me every day,” Tuttle said. “He’s pretty cool as a person.”

Tuttle likes Tennessee's future. The Volunteers signed a Top 10 class in 2014 and are placed inside the nation’s Top 10 this cycle.

“They are doing a pretty good job of rebuilding,” Tuttle said of Tennessee. “I like the way they treated me with respect and it feels like home there.”

His commitment is a huge boost to Butch Jones's class.

The 6'3", 315-pound Tuttle is one of the top defensive linemen in the country. He is considered a 4-star defensive tackle by 247Sports' composite system, which ranks him as the 42nd-best prospect overall, the sixth-best defensive tackle in the country and the top player from the state of North Carolina in the class of 2015. 

The North Davidson star has dominated over the past three years, racking up 244 tackles, 44 tackles for loss, 27 sacks, 10 pass breakups, nine forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries, per 247Sports. Not surprisingly, he's been both an All-State and All-American selection already in his career.

ESPN Insider (subscription required) offered the following scouting report on the player:

Strength to anchor and quickness to disrupt. Demonstrates good short-area burst and down the line speed for an interior defender. A wide-bodied frame that plays with good upper and lower body strength to anchor the run. Displays high level awareness and recognition skills. Redirects well in tight areas. A nasty wrap up tackler. Very effective versus the run.

Needs to continue to improve his technique as a pass rusher and become more dominant in this facet.

Tuttle is an extremely physical and athletic player for his size. Two-gap strength with shade quickness to disrupt. A top-level prospect that will benefit from further polish to his technique and speed development.

It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that Tuttle has developed into a fearsome player. After all, his uncle Perry Tuttle played for the 1981 Clemson national championship team and eventually was a first-round pick in the NFL as a wide receiver.

His nephew is obviously more of a bruiser. Check him out in action for yourself:

Without question, Tuttle pops on the tape. Along the way, he's impressed just about everyone who has seen him play.

"I've been doing this for 21 years, and potential-wise, he's the best player I've coached," North Davidson head coach Mark Holcomb told WXII12's Kenny Beck.

"He's an outstanding young man, an outstanding student athlete, a great worker," he added. "He's got a great work ethic and the other kids just follow him. That's what we want."

Tuttle has everything coaches would want from a top defensive tackle recruit. He's scheme versatile, strong, a hard worker and has plenty of room to continue to grow as a player. Physically he's already a beast, and with a few tweaks in his game he should be a major presence at the college level.

Tennessee has potentially gotten itself a game-changer. Tuttle is many things out on the field, but bashful isn't one of them. 

 

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Shy Tuttle Commits to Tennessee: What 4-Star DT Brings to Vols

When Lexington, North Carolina, star defensive tackle Shy Tuttle verbally committed to Tennessee on Friday, per 247Sports, it gave the Volunteers their second major national recruiting victory for a top-tier tackle during this recruiting cycle.

So much for a program that has struggled to lure elite interior linemen in recent classes.

Now, if his commitment holds, the Vols will be able to pair Tuttle with 5-star Kahlil McKenzie in the middle of their defensive line for the foreseeable future.

Tuttle solidifies what will become the nation's top interior defensive line class.

"It's been a long, long time since Tennessee landed two defensive tackles in the same class who are as talented as Tuttle and Kahlil McKenzie, who are ranked by 247Sports as two of the nation's top four defensive tackles," GoVols247's Ryan Callahan told Bleacher Report.

"When you throw in Quay Picou, a 4-star prospect, I can't imagine that any other team will end up with a group of defensive tackles in the 2015 class that's more impressive than Tennessee's," Callahan said.

"King Tut" is the kind of jumbo athlete that is difficult to find to anchor an interior, and once he gets in a collegiate training and nutrition system, he's going to be a force. Though his strength is against the run, Tuttle's film displays that he has the lateral quickness to be a complete tackle.

There's a reason why he's one of the top high school players at his position in the country.

 

Franchise Duo

Though Tennessee loaded up on talented defensive linemen in the 2014 recruiting class, a group of big men highlighted by Derek Barnett and Dewayne Hendrix lacked beef. 

The Vols currently have just two defensive linemen listed on their official roster who weigh more than 300 pounds (freshmen Michael Sawyers and Charles Mosley)

Tuttle and McKenzie give the Vols nearly 635 pounds of bulk and athleticism to clog the middle of the line. In the trench warfare of the SEC against running teams like Alabama and Georgia, guys like that are essential.

The 6'3", 315-pound defensive tackle helps fill a role that currently doesn't exist on the Vols roster, and he could find himself with immediate reps because of it.

His coach at North Davidson High School, Mark Holcolm, recently told Scout.com's Chad Simmons where he believes his star projects on the next level:

He's gonna be a shade nose or a 3-technique at the next level. He's a run-stopper, but he can run down a line and make plays. That's one of the things people noticed about him early is his ability—he tackled a couple of jet sweeps early from a 3-technique and a 5-technique. I think that's what people see: a man that big who moves that well. ...

He can be as good as he wants to be in terms of getting with a nutrition regimen. ...

He's going to blossom into probably a 330-pound animal. That's what he's going to be down the road.

Tennessee identified Tuttle as a top target early and really began to emerge as a strong candidate to land his commitment toward the end of the summer.

Tuttle didn't have the same family ties to the program as McKenzie, whose father and uncle starred for UT in the 1980s, so the Vols used some out-of-the-box recruiting tactics to help lure him.

Whereas McKenzie's bucket hat campaign drew some considerable buzz over Twitter, the real unorthodox measures were taken with Tuttle when UT superimposed his image over Jay-Z's alongside Beyonce. The tactic drew headlines.

Whether UT's methods to lure Tuttle were lauded or loathed varies, but the Vols undoubtedly could not care less.

In the end, they got their man, and he will team with McKenzie to give Butch Jones and defensive line coach Steve Stripling a formidable force on the defensive front for the next three or four years.

 

Re-Opening North Carolina

During the salad days of the 1990s, the Vols thrived recruiting the fertile grounds of North Carolina. After a half-decade lull, Tuttle's pledge continues a recruiting revival in that state for Jones in his short time at UT.

Under Johnny Majors and Phillip Fulmer, elite prospects such as Carl Pickens, Leonard Little, Heath Shuler, Montario Hardesty, Jonathan Crompton and O.J. Owens matriculated west. Even though the players didn't always pan out, UT got its share of the most coveted kids who came out of that state.

It's back to the future the past few years.

The renewed success began with star sophomore wide receiver Marquez North, who stuck with UT after it fired Derek Dooley. It hasn't stopped, either, as UT has raided its neighbor for a total of 10 players from North Carolina who have either signed or committed for future classes.

One of the many reasons Tennessee has stayed in a down cycle for so long is its struggles in recruiting the Carolinas and Virginia, but those days are over.

With a couple of its ace recruiters—Tommy Thigpen and Mark Elder—spearheading the efforts, the Vols are a force again over there, winning battles recently reserved for teams such as Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Alabama.

Tuttle may be the biggest victory yet. While he could have gone to the home state Tar Heels or Wolfpack as well as Clemson, Alabama or others, he elected to play for the Vols.

Getting a player with his size, athleticism and upside is a major win on the recruiting trail.

The Vols desperately need to add at least one more offensive lineman, a linebacker and a couple of cornerbacks in this year's class. But Tuttle is another player who is a cornerstone, an elite lineman who is essential to have when it comes to building programs that can win important conference games.

He's the prototype SEC defensive lineman and appears primed to have a big career in Knoxville.

"Tennessee might have had more pressing needs than another defensive tackle, but it's hard to imagine the addition of Shy Tuttle not making a major impact on the Vols' defensive line," Callahan said.

"He's a powerful defensive tackle with good size, and those are hard to come by. And he's planning to be an early enrollee, which should give him a good chance of contributing right away."

There are plenty of hills to climb on Rocky Top, but with players like Tuttle, better days are on the way.

 

Unless otherwise noted all statistics gathered from cfbstats.com. All recruiting information from 247Sports.

Brad Shepard covers SEC football and is the Tennessee Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow Brad on Twitter @Brad_Shepard.

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Notre Dame Football: Lou Holtz Weighs in on Playoffs, Investigation

Stop me if you've heard this one: Lou Holtz likes Notre Dame.

But after years of serving as a punching bag on ESPN for his pro-Irish delusions, the former Notre Dame coach and current TV pseudo-psychologist, Dr. Lou has every reason to be bullish about the Irish after watching them play the first three games of the season. 

"After the first week, I had them as one of my top six teams for the playoff," Holtz told me this week. "I now have them as one of my top four."

Holtz made that proclamation after seeing the Irish up close and watching some of Notre Dame's future opponents begin to wilt. Yet it's more than just the early-season struggles of teams like Florida State, USC and Stanford, Holtz formed his opinion after getting a rare in-season look behind the scenes in South Bend when he visited with Brian Kelly and the team, taking in Friday's practice before the Michigan game. 

"This football team, there’s something special about it," Holtz told me. "Watching them practice, watching them play, it’s a special team. I don’t look at the stars, I look at the third-teamers at practice. Everybody’s focused on what they’re doing. There’s no individual there, there’s no selfishness there, and there’s great talent."

That last part is particularly important, according to Notre Dame's second-most winningest coach. It's also a big reason why Holtz could rattle off the Irish's upcoming schedule from the top of his 77-year-old head. 

"I think that they will beat Florida State in Tallahassee. I think they’ll get by Stanford at home," Holtz said, walking me through the potential pitfalls. "The only other game, with [Taylor] Kelly being injured, the quarterback at Arizona State, does volumes for us. And I just don’t think that Southern Cal is as talented as some thought after the Stanford game."

While Holtz's optimism does feel like vintage Holtz, he made it clear that the biggest reason he felt that way was the blossoming relationship between Brian Kelly and quarterback Everett Golson. 

"I love Everett Golson. He is just a winner," Holtz said. "He’s got great peripheral vision, and he made a couple of throws against Michigan that I want to tell you, you don’t see except on Sunday. And not every game on Sunday. He’s got a rifle of an arm, he’s got a quick decision, excellent vision. There’s just something about him."

Of course, with Notre Dame still shy three key starters and five total players as their academic investigation drags on, we still don't know how good this team can be until the dust settles. But after talking to a coach who spent a decade dealing with the university's administration, I took the opportunity to ask him about his experiences dealing with off-field issues.

"When I went there, they said you’ll have nothing to do with the academics, and you’ll have nothing to do with the discipline of an individual on campus," Holtz said.

Then he walked through his experience in 1989, reminding me that things aren't all that different today under the Golden Dome than in Holtz's era. 

"1989. We’re defending national champs," Holtz recalled. "I found out the morning our team reported, right before the team picture, that Tony Brooks, our leading ground-gainer from the previous year, had driven his car onto campus the day before in order to empty his clothes.

"He was suspended for the season. He wasn’t allowed to drive his car on campus because he had too many parking tickets, and, consequently, Tony wouldn’t be able to play that entire year.

"In that same conversation, they informed me that Michael Stonebreaker was involved in a car accident in the offseason. He had alcohol on his breath, but was not arrested for drunken driving, and he was not given a citation. But because of that, our All-American linebacker, Michael Stonebreaker, would not be able to play the entire year. I found that out the morning we reported in 1989."

But just as some have wondered why Kelly hasn't complained more about the separation between the football program and the handling of his players, Holtz said it comes with the territory. 

"You know what you do? That’s Notre Dame. They make the decision. You close ranks, you pick up the rifle and you march on."

On a day where Holtz spent his morning promoting the AFCA Allstate Good Works Team, a passion of his that he hopes will remind football fans of the good things happening right now, Holtz's love for the game was more than apparent. 

So was his love for Notre Dame, a feeling Holtz will take to his grave (literally, he's got two plots in the campus cemetery for himself and his wife). That's why you could hardly blame the former coach for finding the teaching moment—and recruiting pitch—that he believes makes Notre Dame different than just about every other college football program in America. 

"Discipline isn't what you do to somebody, it's what you do for somebody," Holtz said. "What Notre Dame does, they're not looking at this week or next week, they're looking at 40 years down the road. It's not a four-year decision, it's a 40-year decision."  

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Miami Football: Surprises, Disappointments so Far for 2014 Hurricanes

Through the opening third of the 2014 regular season, the Miami Hurricanes have a few surprises and disappointments on both sides of the football.

The 'Canes are returning to conference action this weekend, and any underperforming players must start to contribute regularly while the unexpected bright spots cannot stop producing. 

Miami is still seeking its first ACC Championship Game berth, and that goal would take a serious hit with a loss to Duke on Saturday.

If that were to happen, it will be another frustrating year in Coral Gables, and it will partly be a result of the early-season shortcomings. But if the 'Canes eventually earn the division crown, they'll point directly to an encouraging signs that emerged in September.

 

Surprises

The True Freshmen Trio

Simply watching quarterback Brad Kaaya's high school tape, it was apparent he was immensely talented and had potential. But developing on a weekly basis like he has as a true freshman?

Special.

Having had to endure the Kyle Wright, Kirby Freeman, Jacory Harris and Stephen Morris eras, Miami and its fans haven't seen this kind of decision-making under center seen since the days of Ken Dorsey and Brock Berlin.

The gunslinger Kaaya set a freshman record with 342 passing yards against Arkansas State and proceeded to rack up 359 the following weekend at Nebraska. He'll likely raise that mark by the end of the season, but that's not even his most noteworthy feat.

Kaaya is on pace to top the program's 26-year-old single-season record of 29 passing touchdowns.

Two of his current 10 scores have gone to Braxton Berrios, another member of the 2014 class, who leads all wide receivers with 14 catches. The shifty slot receiver has tallied 149 yards, and he's already become a fixture in the 'Canes offense.

Many hoped Chad Thomas would immediately take over on the defensive line, but Courtel Jenkins has provided the biggest impact by a freshman in the trenches, tallying 10 stops to date. The tackle has established himself in the rotation behind senior Olsen Pierre and junior Calvin Heurtelou.

 

Thurston Armbrister's Emergence

He was once a barely recruited, zero-star safety out of Hollywood Hills, Florida, but Thurston Armbrister has become the best outside linebacker for the Hurricanes.

The senior has registered 24 tackles, including four sacks. Additionally, he has forced two fumbles, recovered another and broke up a pass.

According to Christy Cabrera Chirinos of the Sun Sentinel, Armbrister has made an impression as a leader, too. He's also been a mentor to younger teammates like freshman outside linebacker Darrion Owens, who should take Armbrister's role next year.

"He's really made me catch on really fast my first game…everything he knows, I know," Owens said. "If I mess up, he'll be right on me...He's helped me a lot."

Ultimately, there's no question Armbrister has proven to be the team's breakout star in 2014.

 

Pat O'Donnell's Replacement

"You can forget about trying to replace Pat," head coach Al Golden told InsideTheU (subscription required) in May, and there was absolutely zero reason to disagree. The now-Chicago Bears punter shattered school records, leaving a massive void to be filled.

"He was obviously a great punter," new Miami punter Justin Vogel said in mid-August, per Susan Miller Degnan of The Miami Herald. "I'm just going to do whatever I can do, and we'll see what happens. I'm not going to try and worry about beating him. I'm just going to worry about being the best I can for this team."

However, the Florida transfer is providing most of what the Cincinnati transfer brought to the Hurricanes and is indeed replacing him quite admirably. Vogel has averaged 44.8 yards per kick over 13 punts, which currently ranks second in program history.

While Miami certainly wishes it didn't need to use Vogel much, not being able to flip field position could prove detrimental during ACC play. Nevertheless, when the offense stumbles, it's reassuring to know the punter hasn't caused more problems.

 

Disappointments

Stacy Coley's Slow Start

Stacy Coley finished 2013 with six touchdowns in his final five games, scoring in three different ways—rushing, receiving and a punt return. He accomplished all this in Phillip Dorsett's absence, so pairing them up was an exciting thought.

However, after catching only three screen passes at Louisville, Coley left the Florida A&M game early and then missed the matchup against Arkansas State. But a shoulder injury is not what makes the talented sophomore a disappointment through four games.

Considering he has just six receptions for just 31 yards and his longest kick return is 29 yards, Coley is still looking for his first explosive play.

He's too talented for the cold streak to continue for an entire season, but the speedster has been underwhelming so far.

 

Tackling Relapse

"Defensive deficiencies resurface in Hurricanes' loss to Nebraska," Fox Sports Florida's Christina De Nicola wrote.

The Cornhuskers rushing attack simply overpowered Miami, totaling 343 yards on 6.4 per attempt. Ameer Abdullah was hardly challenged, picking up an extra yard or two on practically every carry and shaking off tacklers like Taylor Swift does haters.

Gap control was barely a thought, and the Nebraska duo of Abdullah and Tommy Armstrong Jr. absolutely punished the 'Canes.

After Miami players and coaches spent the spring and summer sessions preaching how the defense's tackling has improved, one poor showing returned a truthful voice to the critics.

 

Struggles at Cornerback

Originally thought to be the defense's strongest unit, the secondary has ceded a 62.7 completion percentage to opposing Football Bowl Subdivision passers, which ranks 91st in the nation.

Though Tracy Howard has the team's lone interception of a quarterback, the junior has not been the dynamic shutdown corner he was expected to be.

What's more, Howard's unwillingness to take on Abdullah on a tackle attempt near the end of the first quarter of the Nebraska game was so blatantly obvious that it's no wonder Ladarius Gunter and Artie Burns have been starting ahead of him.

However, both players haven't been much better. Nebraska receiver Kenny Bell picked on the cornerbacks, reeling in a 40-yard touchdown as Gunter chased him down and picking up 17 yards on 3rd-and-11 against Burns.

The Hurricanes have yet to face the ACC's best wideouts—namely Duke's Jamison Crowder, Florida State's Rashad Greene and Pittsburgh's Tyler Boyd—so the defensive backfield needs to start locking down receivers, or else those three receivers are poised to have career days.

 

Note: National rankings from CFB stats, and individual numbers from hurricanesports.com.

Follow Bleacher Report college football writer David Kenyon on Twitter: @Kenyon19_BR.

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10 College Football Teams That Can't Afford for Starting QB to Get Injured

There is arguably not a more important position in college football than quarterback.

The entire offense runs through the quarterback; the poise, confidence and talent from whoever is taking snaps under center can easily be transferred to the rest of the team. In many cases, the team wins and loses by its quarterback play.

But what happens if the quarterback falls victim to injury?

Ohio State found that out the hard way, as quarterback Braxton Miller was announced out for the entire season prior to Week 1. After beginning the season as national title contenders, the Buckeyes seem to be struggling to even win its division.

Here are 10 teams that could face similar plights if their starting quarterback were to be injured.

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