College Football Notebook

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Associated Press
The college football notebook …
CLEMSON, S.C. ó Thereís little mystery behind Clemsonís recent problems and coach Dabo Swinney said the fix is just as simple: Cut down on mistakes.
ěYou want some grand answer?î Swinney said Tuesday of Clemsonís issues. ěItís 11 turnovers in three games.î
The Tigers (9-2) led the nation in fewest turnovers with just six during their 8-0 start. But theyíve been extremely error prone the past three games, resulting in losses to Georgia Tech (two interceptions, two fumbles) and to North Carolina State (two interceptions, two fumbles).
The Tigers needed a second-half rally back two weeks ago to overcome a two-touchdown deficit and defeat Wake Forest, 31-28, despite two interceptions and a fumble.
ěWeíre lucky we hadnít lost all three,î Swinney said.
The ACC Atlantic winners will need to shore up ball security issues when they face No. 14 South Carolina (9-2) at Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday night.
Swinney said his playersí efforts havenít wavered the past month despite the losses.
ěWe know exactly who we are,î the coach said. ěWeíve got a great group of guys that winning is extremely important to.î
ATLANTA ó Georgia Techís running back situation is more crisply defined than Georgiaís four days before the annual battle for state bragging rights.
Coach Paul Johnson says he expects one of his top backs, Orwin Smith, to return from an injury to play for No. 25 Georgia Tech in Saturdayís game. Smith missed last weekís win over Duke.
Also Tuesday, Georgia coach Mark Richt says ěthere is a chanceî leading rusher Isaiah Crowell will return from his left ankle injury. Richt hasnít decided if backup Carlton Thomas will return from his latest suspension.
Crowell had only two carries before leaving with the injury in No. 13 Georgiaís difficult 19-10 win over Kentucky last week. The offense has been most productive with Crowell, a freshman who has 832 yards rushing.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. ó Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis plans to continue coaching despite hip pain that has him using a cane.
Weis said Tuesday evening that he will ěcoach for a long time.î
ěMy wife says I canít quit,î said Weis, who took the job in Gainesville partly because his wife loves horse country, partly because his daughter attends a special-needs school and partly because his son enrolled at Florida and got a job working for the football program.
ěRemember, I have a kid who is a freshman in college here,î Weis said. ěRemember the reasons why I came here. So Iíll be here for a while ó unless youíre trying to get rid of me.î
COLUMBIA, S.C. ó South Carolina defense has carried it through this season, so itís not much of a surprise that the No. 14 Gamecocks are a little beat up.
Seven players came out of last weekís game with The Citadel shaken up, including five linebackers from the Southeastern Conferenceís fourth-ranked defense.
Coach Steve Spurrier is optimistic most of them will be back, but said Tuesday it is too early to know who will be able to play Saturday against No. 18 Clemson.
ěRight now, theyíre all tentative. Weíre hoping that most of them will be cleared by the time the game gets here Saturday,î Spurrier said.
In a season full of offensive turmoil, South Carolinaís defense has been steady. Since struggling in the first two games, the unit has allowed just 15 points a game.
ěThis is our team,î defensive end Melvin Ingram said. ěWe feel like weíre going to put the team on our back. We feel like the team goes as far as we go.î
BLACKSBURG, Va. ó Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid laughed when asked about slowing down Virginia Techís Logan Thomas.
Not that he finds anything funny about trying to stop the 6-foot-6, 254-pound quarterback, who has a strong arm, uncommon poise and is unquestionably the toughest Hokie to tackle.
ěSomebody said heís like a fullback when he runs, but thatís not true,î Reid said on a teleconference Tuesday, laughing though he might have felt more like crying. ěHeís like a massive giant when he runs. Iíve watched him run the quarterback sneak for 14 yards running through everybody. Nobody could stop him.î
That was against Georgia Tech. Stopping the redshirt sophomore and the sixth-ranked Hokies is Reidís charge this week. The No. 24 Cavaliers host the Hokies on Saturday, with the winner earning a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
Reidís recollection of the ěsneakî isnít far off. The play actually went for 12 yards, and Thomas carried several Georgia Tech defenders into the end zone, giving the Hokies the lead for good in that contest.
Virginia Tech wide receiver Danny Coale said he was ěmarvelingî as he watched it unfold.
ěI was on the field and I just saw Yellow Jacket defenders, just white jerseys, kind of moving and they kept moving and when he came out of the pile he was in the end zone,î Coale said. ěItís pretty cool to see a guy whoís 6-6 and can lower his shoulder and excite the crowd like that.î
As long as the crowd is rooting for Thomasí team.
Thomas has run for nine touchdowns this season, breaking Michael Vickís regular season record for a quarterback in Frank Beamerís 25 years as coach. Several have been memorable, most notably a 19-yard burst up the middle with 56 seconds left to beat Miami 38-35, and last weekís 23-yard run on the same read option play as the Hokies beat North Carolina 24-21, their fifth straight win.
Both times, Thomas faked a handoff to David Wilson, the nationís fourth-leading rusher with an average of 131 yards, and then bolted through the line and virtually untouched into the end zone.
ěMarvelous read and a tremendous run to beat Miami,î Reid said.
Against the Tar Heels, Thomas also ran 18 yards on third-and-19, bowling over two defenders on the way, and then went for two yards on a quarterback sneak after being stopped at the line.
The Hokies are not allowed to tackle Thomas in practice, but linebacker Tariq Edwards has seen enough in games to be surprised at mistakes defenders keep making trying to bring him down.
ěHitting him up high. I look at other guys trying to hit him every week and Iím like, ëWhy are they even trying to hit him up high?íî he said. ěHeís like 270. I think the only way to bring him down is by trying to hit his legs. And most people, even when they try to do that, they bounce right off him.î
Thomas committed to the Hokies because he thought he would play tight end, and has said he even crossed schools off his list when they seemed intent on trying him to play quarterback.
But now, after drawing comparisons to former Auburn star and No. 1 NFL draft pick Cam Newton because of his size, Thomas continues to grow into the position every game ó with a tight endís mentality.
ěHeís a tough guy, heís a rough guy and I think he just uses good judgment, when the hitís necessary and when the hitís not necessary,î Beamer said, smiling and adding: ěWe havenít worked on him sliding yet, so I think he plays the way he plays and thatís rough and tough and thatís who he is.
ěThe bottom line is you donít want him taking any hits that he doesnít need to take.î
The Associated Press
11/22/11 18:04