College Football Notebook
The college football notebook …
WINSTON-SALEM ó Alex Kinal can forget footy. The only football he’s concerned about these days is the American kind.
The former Australian rules standout has found a spot as a punter at Wake Forest.
“It was kind of a leap of faith for both of us,” coach Jim Grobe said Tuesday. “But we haven’t been disappointed. He’s got a big-time leg.”
Kinal said he had to retrain his leg to kick in a more Americanized way.
A well-struck ball in Australia ó where the game is called “footy” ó rotates end-over-end and might not clear 10 feet in height. That’s exactly what U.S. coaches don’t want in a sport that prizes spiraling punts that hang in the air for several seconds at a time.
“We kick it end-over-end (in Australia) because it’s sort of more precise ó you know exactly where it’s going,” Kinal said. “If (Australians) get a ball kicked to us like we kick one of these balls here, it’s called a hospital ball because you will go to the hospital if you stand underneath it. And that’s not a lie. I’ve stood underneath plenty of them.”
He didn’t take up the American version of the sport until last April and says he’s never put on a helmet and pads in a game. Still, he’s hoping there’s room for another Aussie special-teamer in the United States.
His first game comes Thursday night at Syracuse.
Kinal’s journey from Down Under started last fall when he shot a video of himself punting and sent it to “a bunch of D-I schools.” He heard back from four, and says Wake Forest was the most attractive of the bunch.
GAMECOCK QB OUT
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó South Carolina third-string quarterback Andrew Clifford is out for up to three weeks after he was knocked unconscious when he fell off his mo-ped while carrying a pizza he bought as a late-night snack.
Coach Steve Spurrier said Clifford wasn’t wearing a helmet and suffered a concussion and needed a few stitches.
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has a good feeling about his Tigers this season.
He told his players this week they’re capable of special things after coming off their first losing season since 1998.
“We’re a team that’s going to prove some people wrong,” he said Tuesday.
The Tigers open the season Saturday at Death Valley against five-time Sun Belt Conference champion Troy.
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó Logan Thomas has looked the part of major college quarterback since getting the job at Virginia Tech last spring. He quickly has adapted to his role as a leader and the face of the offense.
The only thing he hasn’t done: Doing all of those things against another team. He’ll get that chance Saturday when the No. 13 Hokies play Appalachian State.
“I think it will be a little bit different. Maybe when I’m standing in the tunnel, but as of right now, I’m the same person I’ve always been, calm and collected, but it’s still only Tuesday,” he said. “Saturday is probably going to be a different story.”
A&M OUT, SMU IN?
COLLEGE STATION, Texas ó Texas A&M can’t wait to get out of the Big 12 Conference. SMU would like nothing more than to join the league.
The first weekend of the college football season presents a number of intriguing matchups, but perhaps none is odder than No. 8 Texas A&M hosting the Mustangs on Sunday. The usual questions around a team’s first game have been overshadowed by a second straight year of conference realignment — with a twist.
SMU, which currently plays in Conference USA, has been the only school to publicly campaign for an invite into the Big 12 if the Aggies leave.