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College Football Notebook: Tar Heels put Virginia loss behind them

Associated Press
The college football notebook …
CHAPEL HILL ó Cameron Sexton didn’t really have to look at the game film from the weekend loss at Virginia. North Carolina’s quarterback knew what to expect: mistakes.
“There was a ton,” Sexton said Monday. “I just think it was kind of a weird game. We got stuck where we just couldn’t quite get it. The opportunities were there and we’re going to capitalize on those. We’re going to get that fixed.”
Turnovers, wasted timeouts, a prevent defense that did nothing but keep the Tar Heels from ending their long losing streak in Charlottesville ó it was all there to see. Sexton and his teammates know those problems can’t resurface, not if the Tar Heels hope to continue what has been their most successful season in recent years.
Saturday’s 16-13 overtime loss to the Cavaliers knocked North Carolina (5-2, 1-2 ACC) out of the national rankings and dropped them back in the race for the league’s Coastal Division title. Next up is No. 23 Boston College in the first of consecutive home games against one-loss league teams, meaning the Tar Heels have to clean up the problems that littered their 14th straight loss at Virginia.
ACC PLAYERS
GREENSBORO ó Maryland quarterback Chris Turner and offensive tackle Bruce Campbell earned weekly honors from the ACC on Monday.
Turner was named offensive back of the week after throwing for 321 yards and a touchdown in the shutout win over then-No. 21 Wake Forest. Campbell was offensive lineman of the week, helping the Terps run for 140 yards while allowing no sacks.
Also winning ACC honors were: Virginia linebacker Jon Copper as defensive lineman of the week, Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich as defensive back, Florida State kicker Graham Gano as top specialist and Miami quarterback Jacory Harris as rookie of the week.
HEISMAN WATCH
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has picked a front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, and it’s not last year’s winner.
Tebow, who could become the first player since Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1975 to win consecutive Heismans, said Monday that Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is his top choice right now.
“Being smart and just looking at guys who are having a good year, he obviously is someone to look at and would probably be my top guy I’d vote for right now,” Tebow said. “He’s playing extremely well and doing a great job leading his team and handles it with a lot of class, too.”
As a previous winner, Tebow has a Heisman vote, and he used No. 5 Florida’s off week to catch up on some of the hopefuls for college football’s most prestigious award.
McCoy stood out.
The fellow junior completed 29 of 32 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for two scores in the Longhorns’ 56-31 victory against Missouri on Saturday. Texas beat Oklahoma 45-35 a week earlier and took over the top spot in The Associated Press poll.
OHIO STATE-PENN STATE
COLUMBUS, Ohio ó Having proven for at least one game that they’re better than they’ve seemed, the No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes now have to impress No. 3 Penn State.
“The mindset was, ‘Let’s show how good we are.’ I think we did,” offensive guard Jim Cordle said after Saturday’s 45-7 rout of No. 20 Michigan State, undoubtedly the Buckeyes’ most impressive game of the season. “We wanted to get some momentum going for the back end of the Big Ten season.”
That “back end” of the season kicks off with a national spotlight game under the lights Saturday night at Ohio Stadium. On the line is first place in the Big Ten for both the Buckeyes (7-1, 4-0) and Nittany Lions (8-0, 4-0).
TUBERVILLE RUMORSAUBURN, Ala. ó Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville is healthy, is not quitting his job and isn’t tired of coaching.
Rumors to the contrary have apparently circulated enough on the Internet to prompt Tuberville to address them in the opening comments of Monday’s news conference.
“I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been here 10 years, I plan on being here 10 more and I’m looking forward to it,” Tuberville said. “And all these rumors get started, and I’m 10 years an Auburn man and I’m 10 years more of an Auburn man than most, because I’ve put my heart and soul in this thing and we ain’t gonna stop now.
“We’re going to keep working and striving to get better because we do have a good football team. We’re not playing well right now and this is a transition year, but we’re going to get better.”
The preseason Southeastern Conference Western Division favorites have gotten off to a 4-3 start and dropped three of their last four games ó by a combined nine points ó with a struggling offense. Tuberville also fired first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin three days before last weekend’s loss to heavy underdog Arkansas.
Tuberville said he had received calls and e-mails during Auburn’s open week inquiring about his health, but said he has not had the rumored stroke and had a full physical three months ago. Tuberville hasn’t lost his sense of humor about the situation.
“I appreciate the sympathy cards for my illnesses and all that, but please don’t send any flowers,” Tuberville said. “Save your money until Christmas because it looks like the way the economy is, we’re all going to need it. So that’s a paid political announcement by Tommy Tuberville, by the way.”
Tuberville said he and Auburn officials did not negotiate a contract settlement during the open date and he isn’t quitting.
“I get call after call with people asking, ‘Are you going to quit?’ I’m not a quitter,” he said. “I don’t know where stuff like that gets started, but it’s just part of it. But I felt after all that that the rumors are getting out of hand. I just wanted to get things straight.”
Tuberville said athletic director Jay Jacobs “has been very supportive” and he sits down with President Jay Gogue after the season.
“I’m a football coach and everything else that goes along with it,” he said. “I know more about this program than most people combined with what I have put into it in the last 10 years.”
Tuberville signed a two-year contract extension last December that will pay him $2.8 million this season and increase $200,000 annually until it reaches $3.8 million in 2013, the final year.
The contract includes a buyout that will be at $6 million in 2008, $5 million in 2009 and $4 million after that if Tuberville leaves for another job or is fired.
Among the other rumors Tuberville wanted to address:
óThat he’s tired of coaching. “I feel as good right now as I ever have about coaching football, and I still have that drive.”
óThat he doesn’t enjoy recruiting. “Well, I went 2,500 miles last Thursday and Friday. And I covered a lot of high schools and talked to a lot of coaches and I love every minute of it, and our recruiting is going great.”
Only Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer has had a longer tenure at his current school than Tuberville, who is in his 10th season at Auburn. He has led the Tigers to a 13-0 season in 2004 and 79 wins since 2000 ó 13th best in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“It’s going to get better,” Tuberville said. “All the detractors from outside that keep throwing stones at us, that’s fine. I love it.”

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