Kenneth Harrison

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Grounded in 2022

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Going into the 2022 NFL season the expectations were low for the Atlanta Falcons.

They traded Matt Ryan in the offseason to Indianapolis. Ryan had been the starting quarterback in Atlanta since he was drafted in 2008.

Veteran journeyman Marcus Mariota signed a two-year deal and was named the starter in March 2022. They also drafted Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati in the third round (74th overall) in the 2022 NFL draft.

I thought the Falcons were good enough to win six games before the season started. They went 7 – 10, primarily because Tampa Bay clinched the NFC South and rested several starters in the final game of the season.

Mariota had an outstanding college career. As a junior at Oregon in 2014 he won the Heisman Trophy, Maxwell Award, Manning Award, Walter Camp Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was named the AP College Football Player of the year.

He was drafted with the second overall pick in the 2015 draft by Tennessee, but he never lived up to the hype or expectations. He struggled with injuries and poor play before being benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill in 2019. He was a backup for the Raiders for two seasons before he signed with Atlanta.

He was clearly a short-term option at QB and the Falcons started the season 0 – 2 with losses to New Orleans and the Rams. They won their next two games against Seattle and Cleveland to get to .500.  They won two of their next four games, which were against San Francisco and Carolina.

Mariota was serviceable in the thirteen games he started, with a 5 – 8 record. He passed for 2,219 yards, 15 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and completed 61.3% of his passes. He also rushed for 438 yards and 4 scores.

He did play timid and make questionable plays. In the Week 2, 31-27 loss to the LA Rams Atlanta had the ball and was driving in the final six seconds. They were at the 50-yard line and had to throw a Hail Mary. He scrambled around running out the last 6 seconds, got sacked and fumbled.

Ridder started the final four games, going 2 – 2. He did not throw his first touchdown pass until Week 18 against Tampa. In those four games he threw for 708 yards, 2 TD’s, 0 picks and completed 63.5% of his passes. I’m not sure if he has done enough to not make Atlanta consider drafting a quarterback in the upcoming draft.

The future looks bright because they have some talented skill position players. Rookie Drake London (USC) was drafted 8th in the 2022 draft. He had 72 receptions, 4 touchdowns and 3 fumbles.

Fellow rookie running back Tyler Allgier (BYU) was a fifth-round pick and he played well down the stretch. He only started seven games, but he rushed for 1,035 yards, 3 scores and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.

Starting running back/kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson missed five games this season due to injury.

Atlanta ranked 27th in total defense, giving up 362.1 yards per game and 22.7 points per game. They are currently looking to hire a new defensive coordinator.

“It will be refreshing to go in there as we get to more formal interviews and hear other people’s perspectives and learn a lot about people,” coach Arthur Smith said. “We’ll hire the best candidate, but the way we built it won’t change.”

The Falcons will pick eight in 2023 so they have an opportunity to draft a superstar.

 

Frog Stomp

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Going into the national championship game I thought UGA winning was a slam dunk.

I thought they were forty points better than TCU. I was surprised to see people like Stephen A Smith and Robert Griffin III picking the Horned Frogs to win. They pointed out how they only had one five-star recruit and one four-star on the roster.

It turns out I underestimated the Bulldogs. No. 1 Georgia (15 – 0) demolished No. 3 Texas Christian University (13 – 2) 65 – 7. It was a beat down from the opening kickoff.

Starting quarterback Stetson Bennett IV was taken out of the game with 13:25 left in the fourth quarter. Kirby Smart called a timeout so he could walk off the field for the last time.

Bennett accounted for six touchdowns, four passing and two rushing. He completed 18/25 passes for 304 yards and rushed for 39 yards.

“As simple as it is, just one last huddle with the guys,” said Bennett, who finished with a 29-3 career record as Georgia’s starter. “That was special, coming off and seeing Coach Smart. That was really cool, and I appreciate that.”

“First time he’s ever walked off that I was hugging him,” Smart said with a smile.

The defense played great, recording 5 sacks. They also recorded three turnovers. They recovered a fumble and had two interceptions. TCU quarterback Max Duggan was also a Heisman finalist like Stetson Bennett, but he struggled.

The Horned Frogs did score their lone touchdown in the first quarter to make the score 10 – 7. They very briefly made it look like they could compete with the Bulldogs. Both of Duggan’s interceptions came in the first half and led to UGA scores.

He threw his second pick with 36 seconds left in the half. Two plays later Bennett threw another touchdown pass to make the halftime lead 38 – 7. It was the largest halftime lead in a national championship game since the 2002 BCS title game when Miami lead Nebraska 34 – 0.

Georgia won their first national title in 41 years last season. Now they’ve repeated as national champs, making them the first team in the College Football Playoff era to accomplish that.

TCU was 5 – 7 last season, which lead to them hiring head coach Sonny Dykes from SMU.

“We’ll learn from it,” Dykes said, “and next time we’re on a stage like this, we’ll handle it better.”

Last season’s championship team had five first-round NFL draft picks.

“If the team last year played this year’s team, last year’s team probably had more talent on it,” Smart said, “but this year’s team was different. They just had this eye of the tiger; they weren’t going to lose.”

Georgia dominated on the ground, rushing 44 times for 254 and five TD’s. Kenny McIntosh was the leading rusher with 8 carries for 50 yards. Branson Robinson had 7 carries for 42 yards and two scores.

Sophomore tight end Brock Bowers won the John Mackey Award this year for the nation’s best tight end. He played great in this game, recording 7 catches for 152 yards and a score.

Ladd McConkey also had a big night with 5 receptions, 88 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Dykes compared Bowers to a tight end he coached while he was the offensive coordinator at Arizona. That guy was named Rob Gronkowski.

 

 

Tame Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This was a tough first season in Gainesville for first year head coach Billy Napier. The Gators started the season off with a win over No. 7 in the Swamp. It looked like they were going to have a great season.

That was the best game quarterback Anthony Richardson played this season. They finished the regular season 6 – 6 and 3 – 5 in SEC play. They lost to Vanderbilt and Kentucky, which is shocking.

The average season landed Florida in the Las Vegas Bowl against No. 17 Oregon State.

Florida was down to their third string quarterback because Anthony Richardson declared for the NFL Draft and skipped the bowl game. I have to wonder who is advising him because there’s no way he’s getting drafted in the first two rounds.

Backup quarterback Jalen Kitna, son of former NFL quarterback John Kitna was arrested on child pornography charges.

This was the first start for Florida redshirt freshman quarterback Jack Miller, and it showed. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 180 yards. Miller is a transfer from Ohio State.

The Beavers dominated and won the game 30 – 3.

“It’s my job to have the team ready to play,” Napier said. “We were not as ready to play as we needed to be.”

The Beavers reached 10 victories for the third time program history and the first time in 16 years. They first accomplished the feat in 2000, when coach Jonathan Smith was the team’s quarterback.

OSU running back Deshaun Fenwick rushed for 107 yards. He took up the load when Pac-12 Conference offensive freshman of the year Damien Martinez went out with an apparent shoulder injury on the Beavers’ second drive.

Martinez had rushed for at least 100 yards in six consecutive games and needed just 30 yards to become the fourth freshman in program history to gain 1,000 for the season. He had 12 yards on three carries before the injury.

Florida was 16th in the nation with 213.7 yards rushing per game, but Oregon State also had the 20th-best rush defense in allowing a 114-yard average. This was the fifth time the Beavers didn’t allow an opponent to rush for 100 yards, holding the Gators to 39.

Oregon State allowed just 219 yards while gaining 353.

Florida committed 11 penalties for 82 yards, including six for false starts. Back-to-back false starts wiped out a potential touchdown drive in the first quarter.

“I don’t know if we’ve had that many in an entire season, much less one game,” Napier said. “We lived in third-and-long today as a result of inefficiency, missed opportunities, penalties. When you live in third-and-long, your percentages of having success are not good.”

The Gators will begin next season with a trip to Pac-12 champion Utah. The roster will be very different so this will be a tough game.

One positive thing is they are a “serious contender” for Coastal Carolina signal caller Grayson McCall. He entered the transfer portal on December 12.

McCall took over as the Chanticleers starting quarterback in 2020 and never looked back. He’s since started 32 games, compiling a completion percentage of 70.4, 8,019 passing yards, 78 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 1,053 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns along the way.

He’s the only player to earn Sun Belt Player of the Year honors three times in conference history.

Finishing 6 – 7 is disappointing but Napier should be able to improve in his second season.

At The Top

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The high school football season ended last weekend after the state championships were played. Let’s take a look at the entertaining 7A game.

Mill Creek 70 – Carrollton 35: This was for the state’s highest classification. Carrolton (14-1) was undefeated going into the game.

The Hawks (14-1) won their first state title in school history. Both teams are ranked nationally, Mill Creek is No. 18 and the Trojans are No. 26. The game was played in the fog and light rain at Georgia State’s Center Parc Stadium.

This gave Gwinnett its third straight state champion in Class AAAAAAA. Their 70 points broke the state record for most points scored by one team in a state final, according to Georgia High School Football Daily records, besting the old mark of 62 set by Valdosta in 1971 and Warner Robins in 2020.

This game also set the championship record for most combined points scored in a game with 105. The previous record was set in 2013 when Griffin beat Carrollton 56 – 35 (91).

Junior running back Cam Robinson ran for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Mill Creek ran for a total of 410 and averaged 9.5yards per carry.

“It’s not about me, it’s about us,” said Mill Creek’s Josh Lovelady, a coach at the school since it opened in 2004, and head coach the past four seasons. “What I mean by us is it isn’t just about the players here and the coaches here. A lot of coaches and a lot of alumni. I had people from all over the United States, ‘We’ve got you, coach.’ They understand what this program is about. It’s a foundation, building bricks. It came to that point but it took a lot of work by a lot of people from the Touchdown Club to the players to the administration.”

Mill Creek’s lone loss came to Buford, who was ranked No.1 and undefeated during the regular season.

The Hawks were dominant in the postseason and beat their first four playoff opponents so thoroughly the mercy rule with the running clock was used.

“I’m just so proud. Some unbelievable hours by our coaches. It’s a wonderful feeling. It’s wonderful because we did it the right way. I know it’s just my opinion, but by golly, we did it the right way with our kids. I’ve got so many youth pictures of our kids in little Hawk baggy uniforms, all those guys that played together at 10 years old and now they’re here. That’s what makes it so special.”

Carrollton hadn’t allowed more than 28 points in a game all season. The Trojans never got the deficit to single digits after the first quarter despite 529 yards and five touchdowns from freshman quarterback Julian Lewis. The Hawks finished with 601 yards of offense.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s a blessing to be able to be here and win it,” Mill Creek senior linebacker/tight end Jamal Anderson said. “Obviously, it’s a lot of emotion going through my body right now. I’ve been with the Mill Creek Hawks for what, 10, 11 years since I was 6 years old. It’s great. It’s great to get a win for the coaching staff. I know a lot of these guys haven’t been here yet to win one. So, it’s been a great time, great experiences with this team.”

A wild first half had Mill Creek with TDs that covered 66, 88, 96 and 80 yards, while Carrollton scored on two 80-yard passes.

 

 

 

 

The Next King Bee?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia Tech fired head coach Geoff Collins after starting the season 1 – 3. Collins never won back-to-back games at Georgia Tech. He was outscored 210-20 over the final 5 games of his tenure against FBS opponents.

Offensive line coach and run game coordinator Brent Key filled in as interim head coach.

Key went 4 – 4 and led the Yellow Jackets to some upset wins. They beat #24 Pitt and #13 North Carolina. He has interviewed for the position but I don’t believe Tech is going hire him.

Athletic director, Todd Stansbury was also fired with Collins. J Batt was hired as the new AD after working at Alabama for five years as its executive deputy AD, chief operating officer and chief revenue officer. He’s also made stops at East Carolina as the senior associate athletics director and at Maryland as the associate AD.

We are going to take a look at the finalists for the position. Bill O’Brien is one of the names that has been mentioned. The 53-year-old was an assistant for the New England Patriots from 2007 to 2011. He also replaced Joe Paterno as head coach at Penn State from 2012-13. O’Brien became the head coach of the Houston Texans in 2014 and stayed until 2020.

He was hired as the offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2021. He helped the Crimson Tide to a Southeastern Conference Championship in 2021 while assisting Nick Saban in crowning his first Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (Bryce Young). O’Brien coached Alabama’s offense to 40.8 points per game this season.

Tulane head coach Willie Fritz is also one of the four coaches interviewed for the position. He led the Green Wave to a 10 – 2 record and they are ranked No. 18 in the nation. He’s been at Tulane since 2016 and his overall record is 41 -45.

Fritz met with the media today ahead of Tulane’s conference championship matchup and he was asked about the reports that have linked him to the Georgia Tech head coaching job. Here is what Fritz had to say:

“I talked to the team about it and obviously the initial report gets more traction than the secondary report but I am the head football coach of Tulane, I am extremely proud to be the head coach at Tulane and we are looking forward to the ballgame on Saturday and that is what I told our guys when I visited with them this morning. So… I don’t want to talk about those kinds of things, I want to talk about the ballgame.”

Tulane plays UCF in the AAC Championship Game this weekend and the winner of that game is likely heading to represent the group of five conferences in the New Year’s Six Bowl Game, which would be the Cotton Bowl this season.

Fritz was the HC at Georgia Southern in 2014-15 and led the Eagles to a 17 – 7 record. This stop also means he has experience recruiting in the state of Georgia.

Coastal Carolina head ball coach Jamey Chadwell is also in consideration for the job. He has led the Chanticleers to a 39 – 21 record since taking over in 2017.

Georgia Tech has to hire a good coach that can make the program relevant again.

The Best Remain

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The second round of the 7A GHSA playoffs had a major upset. No. 1 Buford lost their first game of the season to No. 6 Walton, 42 – 35. They ended the Wolves 22-game win streak, quest for a fourth consecutive state championship and a possible national championship. This is the first time this century that Buford has not advanced to the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

“We’re not used to feeling like this around here and that’s a good thing,” Buford head coach Bryant Appling said. “It also handicaps you to an extent because you’ve got to understand what it feels like (to lose) and work a little bit harder. There’s an inch in there we can get and we just didn’t get to it this year.”

The upset means any of the remaining eight teams in the quarterfinals has a legitimate shot to win it all. We are going to take a look at those matchups.

#2 Colquitt County vs North Gwinnett: The Packers (12-0) have to be the favorite to win the state championship now. They beat Harrison in the second round 49 – 28. Colquitt County has an explosive offense. The least amounts of points they scored in a game was 24 against Valdosta.

The Bulldogs (10-2) come into the game unranked but they have had a good season. Their best player is four-star defensive tackle Kayden McDonald. He’s ranked as the 22nd recruit in the state for the class of 2023 and he committed to Ohio State. They also have four-star linebacker Grant Godfrey.

I expect this to be a very close game but Colquitt will win.

#5 Mill Creek vs #7 Westlake: The Hawks (11-1) have the best player in the state, five-star safety/receiver Caleb Downs. They also have Clemson commit and three-star linebacker Jamal Anderson. I think this is the most talented team left in the playoffs.

The Lions (9-3) also have a Clemson commit, corner back Avieon Terrell. This should be a close game but I give the edge to Mill Creek.

#3 Carrolton vs #6 Walton: The Trojans (12-0) are unbeaten and still somehow underrated. They only have two wins this season that were decided by less than 10 points. They beat Marietta in the second round, 47 – 14.

Walton quarterback Jeremy Hecklinski and running back Makari Bodiford played key roles in the upset of Buford. Neither team has a senior ranked as a top 100 recruit in the state but they have talent. I’m picking the Raiders to win since they were able to beat the top ranked team.

#8 Milton vs #10 Grayson: The Eagles (9-3) beat Norcross 30 – 23 to advance to the quarterfinals. Senior safety Bryce Thornton is a three-star recruit and he’s committed to Florida. They have another three-star safety, Robert Billings and he’s committed to Clemson. The strength of the defense is the secondary.

The Rams (10-2) beat Camden County 28 – 10 in the second round. The best player on the team is four-star safety and LSU commit Michael Daugherty. At linebacker they have Tennessee commit Jalen Smith.

I think this will be a very good defensive game and the offenses will have to protect the football. I think Grayson will win.

 

Let’s Get It On

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The high school football regular season is over and the playoffs are now here. Let’s take a look at some of the top 7A teams and their road to the state championship.

#1 Buford: The Wolves (10-0) just moved up to 7A this season, but they have not had any trouble adjusting. They have won three consecutive state championships in 6A and 5A.

They have won state championships in every classification prior to moving up to 7A.

They are the number one seed in region 8-7A and they are playing Peachtree Ridge.

The Lions (6-4) are the No. 4 seed from region 7-7A. In their four loses the closest margin of victory was 21 points. I expect Buford to beat them by a large margin.

The second round will be against the winner of South Forsyth/#8 Walton.

#2 Colquitt County: The Packers (10-0) are region 1-7A champs. They are led by senior running back A’Marius Pace, junior quarterback Neko Fann and junior wide receiver Ny’Quavion Carr. They host No. 4 see Pebblebrook (4-6) from region 2-7A.

Colquitt County only has one win by less than 20 points this season. They will beat up on Pebblebrook. The second round they will face the winner of Harrison/Brookwood.

#3 Carrolton: The Trojans (10-0) are not a team we typically see ranked at the end of the season. They have had an impressive season and won region 2-7A. They host Lowndes (5-5) in the first round. This is a down year for the Vikings so I expect Carrolton to beat them. The next round will be against Marietta or Newton.

#4 North Cobb: The Warriors (8-2) had high hopes coming into the season. They played #1 Buford in the second game of the season and lost 21 – 14. Unfortunately, four-star senior quarterback Malachi Singleton played the entire second half with a broken foot. That was his last game of the season and he has had surgery.

Even with their best player sidelined North Cobb has had a good season and they won region 5-7A.

They host Denmark (6-4) from region 6. The Danes have some talented players on their team. This could be a close game. If the Warriors win, they will face the winner of Mill Creek/Meadowcreek.

#5 Mill Creek: The Hawks (9-1) have the top player in the state, five-star safety Caleb Downs. They also have three-star linebacker and Clemson commit, Jamal Anderson Jr. As you can guess, he’s the son of the former Atlanta Falcons running back.

Their only loss was to Buford, 39 – 27.

Mill Creek hosts another Gwinnett County team, Meadowcreek. I think the Hawks are actually the second-best team in 7A and I expect them to make a deep playoff run.

#6 Grayson: The Rams (8-2) were undefeated and won the state championship in 2020. They are trying to get back to that in 2022.

The best player on the team is four-star safety Michael Daugherty. They are the top seed in region 4-7A and host No. 4 seed Hillgrove. If they win that game, they will play the winner of East Coweta and Camden County.

#7 Lambert: The Longhorns (9-1) seem to be flying under the radar despite having a great season. They play 3 seed Wheeler in the first round. If they win, they will face the winner of North Gwinnett/Dacula.

I think Buford will win the championship but I’m ready to see how these teams perform.

 

Instant Classics

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Georgia-Florida rivalry dates back over 100 years.

If you ask Georgia the first meeting was in 1904. If you ask Florida the first game was in 1915. They have played every season since 1926, with the exception of a World War II interruption in 1943.

The game has been held in Jacksonville since 1933. It’s one of the few neutral site rivalry games in college football. Let’s take a look at some of the best games in the series history.

1966: #7 Florida was 7 – 0 entering the game. Quarterback Steve Spurrier went on to win the Heisman Trophy and Walter Camp Trophy this season but he couldn’t beat Georgia.

The Bulldog defense forced him to throw three interceptions and won the game 27 – 10.

All-American defensive tackle Bill Stanfill said: “Holding pigs for my dad to castrate was quite a challenge. I can’t say that helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier.”

This game defined the rivalry years later when Spurrier became the head coach of his alma mater in 1990. He emphasized the Georgia game as “the biggest of the year” and his players responded well to that.

2002: Since 1990 Florida only lost one game to Georgia.

The Bulldogs were 8 – 0 and ranked fifth going into this game. The Gators were surprisingly 5 -3 and unranked. They upset UGA and won 20 – 13.

Florida QB Rex Grossman was very inconsistent but he played well. Grossman threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns.

“This was huge,” Grossman said. “It couldn’t have been any bigger for us.”

“It’s real unbearable,” said Georgia senior tackle Jon Stinchcomb, tears streaming down his face. “For the rest of our lives, all the seniors will know they never beat Florida. It’s one of our biggest rivalries, and we’re all 0-4. That’s a pretty tough pill to swallow.”

This was UGA’s only loss and they finished 13 – 1 and ranked third.

1997: #14 Georgia snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with an emphatic 37 – 17 win. Junior safety Kirby Smart intercepted two passes in the game. His mother Sharon is from Florida and she may have been more happy about the victory than he was.

“She was born and raised in Florida, almost went to the University of Florida, she’s from Plant City,” Smart said this week. “So, it meant a lot to her. And getting to see her, that was probably the best part of it.”

Robert Edwards rushed for 124 yards and tied his school record with four touchdown runs. Hines Ward finished with 203 total yards.

“That’s one of the few scores that I actually remember,” said Matt Stinchcomb, an All-American left tackle for the Bulldogs. “I don’t think I can tell you what the score was I don’t think in any other game that I’ve ever played in – 37-17 sticks out in my mind. It was certainly a special day for sure.”

The Gators had won 52-14, 52-17 and 47-7 the previous three years against the Bulldogs.

Pitiful Panthers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Carolina Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule Monday morning. Carolina is off to a 1 – 4 start and lost to San Francisco 37 – 15 on Sunday.

Rhule is in his third season as the head coach in Charlotte. His overall record is 11 -27.

Under Rhule, the Panthers went 1-27 when allowing 17 or more points, including 25 losses in a row. Every other team has multiple such wins in that span.

This is less than six full months after owner David Tepper said it could take five, maybe six years to rebuild an organization capable of sustaining excellence and contending for championships.

Tepper in late April said: “I believe in Matt. He has my full support.”

“I’m a fan,” Tepper added that day. “I don’t like to lose. But it takes time and it takes a foundation, and it takes time to create the foundation to win. I do believe Coach Rhule and [general manager] Scott [Fitterer] have done a great job of creating that foundation.”

Rhule was a hot coaching candidate when he was hired for the job in January 2020. He rebuilt Baylor and Temple. He had his best seasons in his third year at both of those schools, winning at least ten games.

He had a seven-year, $62 million contract. Rhule is still owed more than $40 million.

He inherited Cam Newton, who was released in March 2020 as he rehabbed from foot surgery and an ailing shoulder that made him a shell of the player who won the NFL MVP Award in 2015.

The Panthers brought in Teddy Bridgewater, who was released one season after getting a three-year, $63 million deal. They then traded with the New York Jets for the 2018 third overall pick Sam Darnold, who had gone 13-25 as the starter in New York.

Carolina brought back Newton midway through the 2021 season, when Darnold suffered a shoulder injury, only to watch him go 0 – 5.

“That’s the most important position on the field,” Tepper said after the team moved on from Newton. “Unless you have that guy for sure that gets you to the playoffs and Super Bowls, you have to keep reevaluating that because that’s the only thing that matters is Super Bowls.”

“And until you have that guy, you’re evaluating, evaluating, evaluating every year.”

Rhule believed the roster was good enough to be competitive this season if they had solid quarterback play.

Carolina was one of the finalists to trade with the Houston Texans for Deshaun Watson this past offseason. Once he chose Cleveland it made Baker Mayfield expendable. The Panthers traded for Baker in July.

The Baker Mayfield experiment has been a disaster so far. Mayfield hasn’t regained the form he had in 2020, when he led the Browns to an 11 – 5 record and playoff win, as he is putting up career lows in almost every statistical category.

Mayfield’s 16.5 QBR is the lowest among passers with at least three games in the NFL this season while he has completed a league-worst 54.9% of his passes and has committed five turnovers (four interceptions and a lost fumble).

Defensive pass game coordinator Steve Wilks was named the interim coach. Wilks, 53, was previously a head coach in the NFL with Arizona in 2018. He posted a 3 – 13 record and was fired following his first season.

 

 

 

 

Buzz Kill

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Geoff Collins era at Georgia Tech has ended. Athletic director Todd Stansbury was also fired.

Collins was in his fourth season as the head coach in Atlanta. He has a record of 10 – 28, with no better than three wins in the previous seasons. This is the lowest winning percentage (.263) of the team’s 13 full-time coaches. Stansbury’s tenure as the department’s ninth athletic director is complete after six years.

The Yellow Jackets are off to a 1 – 3 start this season. They lost Saturday at Central Florida, 27 – 10. Tech played well enough to win but made enough mistakes to lose.

“I just think that critical situations, have to make sure we’re getting points on the board, and we’re not doing it, and obviously that falls on me as the head football coach,” Collins said.

They got in the red zone five times and did not score on any of those possessions. Tech missed two field-goal attempts, fumbled the ball away twice and turned it over once on downs.

The Yellow Jackets averaged 7.2 yards per play against UCF. Since the start of the 2000 season, before Saturday, ACC teams had averaged at least 7.2 yards per play 438 times, according to sports-reference.com. None had ever scored fewer than 17 points.

“Outgained them by over 100 yards, but when the other series of events happen, it’s hard to win games against a really good football team. Obviously, credit to UCF, but not the result we wanted,” Collins said.

The head football coach and the athletic director being relieved of their duties on the same day with more than half the season remaining is a highly unusual scenario for Tech.

Collins had several shortcomings that caught up with him. In his 38-game tenure, the Jackets lost six games by 40 points or more. Previously, Georgia Tech had lost by 40 points or more six times over 42 seasons.

Tech allowed four blocked punts in the first four games, all of which led to touchdowns. Ironically for Collins, he oversaw the punt unit and was not able to fix the issue.

Stansbury is a Tech grad that also played football for the Yellow Jackets. He’s the first Tech AD to not leave the post on his own accord. He was hired in 2016 from Oregon State. He hired Collins in December 2018 from Temple to succeed Paul Johnson.

I thought Collins was a bad hire from the beginning. He was only 15 – 10 in his two seasons at Temple. He pitched his idea to Stansbury that he would use branding and culture to land top recruits. He’s from Rockdale County and he worked under former coaches George O’Leary and Chan Gaily.

Collins is contractually due the full amount remaining on his final three years, $10.5 million.

I saw some of the candidates for the job and honestly, I do not think they can land them. Deion Sanders is at the top of the list. Coach Prime is at FCS Jackson State and he has landed several four and five star recruits. That includes the top recruit in the class of 2022, Travis Hunter, who is from Metro Atlanta.

Sanders played for the Falcons and Braves. After a 4-3 record in his first COVID-19 shortened season with the Tigers, he led JSU to an 11-2 record (9-0 SWAC) in his second campaign. The Tigers are 4-0 to start 2022 while outscoring opponents 190-37.

Shawn Clark, Appalachian State’s head coach is also a candidate. Georgia offensive coordinator Todd Monken should also be considered.

 

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