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Offensive & Defensive MVPs for the Active Northeast CFB Teams

Phil Jurkovec & BC vs. Pitt

The 2020 college football season is roughly half-way over for a few of the Northeast teams (B1G), almost done for others (ACC, WVU, AAC), and whatever the heck UMass is doing (got dominated in 2 games so far, ready to be hurt again).

Now seems like a perfect time to do mid-season MVP awards for each team. (Not really, but it’s 2020. Nothing makes sense!)

Without further ado, I present to you the MVPs on both sides of the ball. Of course, like actual MVP awards these are heavily weighted to skill position players. Sorry O-Linemen, nothing personal!

Penn State

O – Junior WR Jahan Dotson (Nazareth, PA | Nazareth Area High) – One of the few bright spots for Penn State offensively this season, Dotson seems to make spectacular catches multiple times per week.  He really shined against Ohio State’s vaunted secondary in their 2nd game of the year.  Jahan leads the Nittany Lions with 23 receptions for 388 yds and 5 TDs through 4 games.

D – Junior LB Ellis Brooks (Mechanicsville, VA) – The rangy linebacker has emerged as a defensive leader in Micah Parsons’ absence.  Through 4 games he’s tallied 31 tackles, 4.5 for loss, 1 sack, and 1 forced fumble.  Honorable mention to sophomore DE Jayson Oweh (Howell, NJ | Blair Academy).

Maryland

O – RS Sophomore QB Taulia Tagovailoa (Ewa Beach, HI by way of Alabama) – An electric QB transfer from Bama, Taulia has authored 2 big wins for the Terps (Penn State and Minnesota).  He stunk up the joint in the first game against Northwestern, but that is looking more like an aberration each week. 770 yds, 6 TDs, and 4 INTs for Taulia through 3 games (3 of those INTs in the Northwestern game).  Senior RB Jake Funk (Gaithersburg, Md. | Damascus) deserves honorable mention. 

D – Junior LB Chance Campbell (Towson, MD | Calvert Hall) – The thumping linebacker leads the UMD defense with 33 tackles (10 more than next highest), 4.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery for a TD in just 3 games.

Rutgers

O – Junior RB Isaih Pacheco (Vineland, NJ | Vineland South) – Shifty back Pacheco shines in both the rushing and passing games.  He’s got 287 yds on the ground and 82 in the air with a pair of scores through 4 games. 

Senior WR Bo Melton (Mays Landing, NJ | Cedar Creek) – Just about every time Melton touches the ball good things happen for the Scarlet Knights.  In 4 games, he has 19 receptions for 331 yds and 4 TDs.  Melton’s only kick return went for 65 yds and he has a 58 yd punt return TD to boot! 

D – Senior LB Olakunle Fatukasi (Far Rockaway, NY | Grand Street Campus) – Big O has tallied 40 tackles, 5 for loss, 2 fumble recoveries, and a forced fumble through 4 games. Honorable mention to Senior LB Tyshonn Fogg (Baltimore, MD | Calvert Hall).

Cuse

O – Freshman RB Sean Tucker (Owings Mills, MD | Calvert Hall) – The third Calvert Hall player to be mentioned is just a Freshman.  He’s been forced to emerge after some injuries for the Orange.  Through 6 games, Tucker has 3 TDs, 414 rushing yds, and another 61 receiving.

Junior WR Taj Harris (Beverly, NJ | Palmyra) – Through inconsistency at QB (due to aforementioned injuries) Harris has been the rock on offense. He’s gone for 507 yds and 4 TDs so far this year. 

D – Soph LB Mikel Jones (Miami, FL) – This guy really fills up the stat sheet: 56 tackles, 1 for loss, 3 INTs, 1 pass defended, 2 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries.  He has made his impact more so in pass coverage but the overall number of tackles shows that Jones excels in all facets of the game.  

Boston College

O – Redshirt Soph QB Phil Jurkovec – (Pittsburgh, PA | Pine-Richland) – The Notre Dame transfer has immediately reinvigorated BC football (I’m sure some influence from new coach Jeff Hafley as well).  Through 9 games he’s got 2355 yds and 17 TDs with just 5 INTs. At 6’5”, he can also move a bit and has added 130 rushing yds and 3 TDs. Jurkovec may be a legitimate Heisman contender next year. 

D – Grad Student LB Max Richardson (Duluth, GA) & Redshirt Junior LB Isaiah McDuffie (Buffalo, NY | Bennett HS) – The bash brothers are each among the top 5 in total tackles in the nation. (Not entirely fair as the ACC has played more games than most other conferences, but still impressive).  McDuffie has the slight edge in overall with 87 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 3 sacks, an INT, and a fumble recovery.  Richardson is right behind with 85 tackles, 8 for loss, 3.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery himself.

Pitt

O – Senior QB Kenny Pickett (Oakhurst, NJ | Ocean Township) – Pickett hasn’t had an ideal 2020 as he’s had to miss 2 games due to injury.  In his 6 other games, he was able to manage 1599 passing yards, 8 TDs, and 3 INTs. He also added 132 rushing yds and 6 TDs.  His absence shows his importance even further as the Panthers struggled when Pickett was not able to go.

D – Redshirt Senior DE Patrick Jones II (Chesapeake, VA) – The D Line has been phenomenal as expected for Pitt with 38 sacks in 8 games.  Jones has led the charge with 8 sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss among 32 total tackles.  Soph Linebacker Sirvocea Dennis (Syracuse, NY | Christian Brothers Academy) very much deserves honorable mention.  Redshirt Soph DB Paris Ford (Pittsburgh, PA | Steel Valley High School) was also having a stellar year.  He opted out of the season after game 7 to prepare for the NFL draft as he is a likely first round pick.

WVU

O – Redshirt Junior QB Jarret Doege (Lubbox, TX) – The transfer from Bowling Green has been a traditional pocket passer for the Mountaineers.  In 8 games, he’s gone for 2219 yds in the air with 13 TDs and 3 INTs. He’s “added” -73 yds on the ground, hence the pocket passer designation.

Junior RB Leddie Brown (Philadelphia, PA | Newmann and Goretti High) – Brown looks like he’ll easily break 1,000 rushing yards on the year as he’s already at 897.  He’s got another 184 yds through the air with 11 total TDs. 

D – Soph Safety Tykee Smith (Philadelphia, PA | Imhotep Charter) – Smith plays the ‘spear’ position for WVU and it has been effective.  55 tackles with 8 for loss, 2 INTs, and 4 passes defended.  A pair of transfers deserve honorable mention in Grad Transfer LB Tony Fields II (Las Vegas – transfer from Arizona) and Redshirt Senior CB Alonzo Addae (Pickering, Ontario – transfer from New Hampshire).

Temple

O – Redshirt Junior WR Jadan Blue (Randallstown, MD | Mount St. Joseph) – The shifty and speedy WR leads Temple with 5 TDs in 6 games.  He also is second in receiving yards with 374 and is the primary kick returner with 202 yds on 11 returns. 

D – Redshirt Junior DE Arnold Ebiketie (Silver Spring, MD | Albert Einstein High) – Is tied for first place in the AAC for forced fumbles per game (0.5).  Also leads Temple in tackles, which is impressive from the DE position.  He’s added in 8.5 TFL, 4 sacks, and 1 scoop and score.  Grad Student LB William Kwenkeu (Waldorf, MD | St. Charles) gets the honorable mention nod here.

Navy

O – Senior FB Nelson Smith, (Baton Rouge, LA) – Is smaller in stature, as is typical of service academy athletes, but is a battering ram.  The 2nd ranked FB in the country, he’s gone for 447 yds on the ground and 7 TDs in 7 games. Honorable Mention to Junior FB Jamale Carothers (Bowling Green, KY) who happens to be the 3rd ranked FB in the country. 

D – Junior LB Diego Fagot (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Is another one leading his school in tackles (53) from the LB position. 8.5 of those were for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 passes defended in 7 games.  

Army

O – Entire rushing attack – Take a look at the stat sheet below (Through 8 games).  Army has played a weak schedule and runs the option, but the sheer volume of rushers with 3+ yards per carry and multiple TDs is astounding.   

RkPlayerAttYdsAvgTD
1Christian Anderson723134.34
2Jakobi Buchanan693304.84
3Sandon McCoy622103.48
4Tyrell Robinson433478.10
5Jemel Jones412375.83
6Anthony Adkins382667.04
7Tyhier Tyler382235.91
8Cade Barnard201105.51
9Artice Hobbs IV171066.20
10Maurice Bellan13463.50
11Tyson Riley12574.80
12Cade Ballard9202.21
13AJ Howard Jr.7304.30
14Christian Parrish5163.20
15Braheam Murphy3206.70
16Jordan Blackman2199.51
17Wilson Catoe14747.00
18Reikan Donaldson12929.00
Dang Army!

D – Senior LB Jon Rhattigan (Naperville, IL) – Stout LB who both leads Army in tackles and really fills up the stat sheet.  Here is what his line looks like: 60 tackles, 8 for loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs, 93 return yards, 1 TD, 2 passes defended, and 1 fumble recovery. 

Buffalo

O – Junior RB Jaret Patterson (Glendale, MD | Saint Vincent Pallotti) – Just went off for 301 yds and 4 TDs on the ground last night (Tues, 11/17) in about 3 quarters. That puts him at 511 yds and 8 TDs in 3 games this season. He’s a 1st Team All-MAC performer that will be playing on Sundays for sure. The one question is how he can perform in the passing game as he hasn’t had to be utilized much there.

D – Senior Safety Tyrone Hill (Passaic, NJ | Don Bosco Prep) – A leader on defense, Hill earned all-MAC honors last season. In 2 games, he’s tallied 5 tackles and 3 passes defended.

UMass

O – Freshman QB Will Koch (Niceville, FL) – Threw the only TD of UMass’ short (2 game) season.  Has not thrown a pick and is on pace for a 66.7% completion percentage.  Son of Vermont legend and Silver Medal Olympic skier Bill Koch.   

D – Senior LB Mike Ruane (Middletown, NJ | Rumson-Fair Haven HS) – Leads the Minutemen so far in tackles (17), TFL (3), and sacks (1).


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Big 10, Pac-12 Punt On Fall Football

Over the last few weeks, it has become inevitable that the college football season was in jeopardy.

Although players, coaches and, of course, fans have been loud and outspoken about wanting to play, on Tuesday, a major domino would fall.

Two of the most prestigious conferences in the NCAA pulled the plug on playing football this fall as both the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they would not be playing fall sports including football this year.

Many had the feeling that these would be the first two conferences to say no to playing this fall. The Big Ten was intentionally the first team to release a 2020 altered schedule leading to believe they were set to play this season.

Mentioning concerns with the pandemic and safety of the players, first-year Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren made the Big Ten the first of the Power Five conferences to pull the plug.

The Pac-12 followed meaning at this point, 40% of the major college football teams have now decided to not play football this fall.

Top tier teams now such as Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon, USC, Arizona State and countless others will now attempt to put together a plan for football in the spring.

As of today, the SEC, ACC and Big 12 of the Power Five plus the American Athletic Conference, Conference USA and Sun Belt have made no immediate moves. The three remaining Power Five conferences have made their intentions known they still have plans to play this fall.

While the pandemic is a great concern of every team and conference in the nation, one thing that should be addressed as soon as possible is that college football in the spring in not feasible.

Playing a sport as grueling as college football, especially for positions like linemen and running backs, is just not possible twice in one calendar year.

Plus, if there is a chance that the SEC, ACC, Big 12 or any mix of those figure out a way to play in the fall, it will make it even more likely that there could be no spring football season for just the Big Ten and/or Pac-12.

Especially if the NFL Draft chooses to not move the NFL Draft which is scheduled for April 2021. Even if they were to postpone or move it to the summer, top tier prospects would not play and put themselves at risk of getting injured that close to becoming a pro.

If spring college football some how did happen, it wouldn’t be anything like you would watch in the fall. Key players would be missing, rankings would be skewed and would we even have a Playoff or bowl games?

Flying under the radar in all of this is the Pac-12 is now the first to make a statement about basketball as well. Just like football players, coaches and fans held on hope during the college basketball shut down earlier in the year about playing, the roles have now switched.

Unfortunately, unless some-how college basketball can figure out a modified “bubble” style similar to what the NBA and WNBA is using very successfully, we’re about to enter another sports season with a massive gap.

At this point, if we can’t play college football, we’re not playing college basketball either.

Pac-12 not only called off fall football, but they also said there will be NO sports until at least January 2021 cutting out the first half of the basketball season on the west coast.

It’s time to get real about all this. You’re either playing football this fall or you’re not until fall of 2021.

Will there be any teams start to rebel? I mean, Ohio State was without question going to be a National Contender this year. Michigan’s head coach Jim Harbaugh has been one of the most outspoken about wanting to play this fall.

What happens if they reach out to the SEC or ACC about playing some games? The AAC is on the outside-looking-in when it comes to the Power Five, so what if they reach out to Ohio State and Michigan while Nebraska wants to play some SEC teams and Oregon reaches out to the Big 12?

How can the NCAA say no to them? Will players transfer? Will coaches like Harbaugh, David Shaw, Scott Frost and Chris Petersen start looking at NFL jobs?

Without question, there will be severe repercussions if the Big Ten and Pac-12 don’t play, but the other Power Five conferences do play in the fall. It’s safe to bet that the landscape of college football would never be the same following a year that has changed the lives of millions.

I’m anxious for the next couple of weeks because I expect much more changes and announcements from the teams that have now cancelled their season plus there is without question a possibility more conferences could also pull the plug on their season soon as well.

As we said in March when this reared its ugly head, when it comes to looking forward to anything in 2020, don’t hold your breath…especially when it comes to college athletics this years.

Mountain West Pulls Plug On Fall Sports

Add the Mountain West conference to the list of conferences not playing football this fall.

In an announcement on Monday, the Mountain West joined the MAC as the FBS teams to pull the plug on Fall sports this year due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

Although the postponement is “indefinite,” the league will work towards looking into playing in the Spring if the option is available.

No Power 5 conference has postponed it’s Fall sports’ season as of Tuesday morning, but the Big Ten could make a decision as early as Tuesday regarding their playing status this season.

Fall College Football Season In Jeopardy?

After taking precautions this off-season including programs delaying summer conditioning and preseason practice, adding and following health and safety protocols, and altering the schedule to only play conference opponents, it still seems the hopes of a fall college football season is fading quickly.

Last week, NCAA Division II and III both canceled their fall sports championships resulting in many conferences pushing back football to the spring of 2021.

In the FBS, UConn got the ball rolling by suspending all football activities for the 2020 season. This worried some around college football, but some others brushed it off due to the fact that UConn was playing as an independent this season therefore would’ve faced problems just getting a full schedule.

Then, on Saturday, the first major domino may have fallen.

The first FBS conference to pull the plug on fall sports would be the Mid-American Conference as they announced that they would postpone the entire fall sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

League presidents voted unanimously for the postponement and will hold on hope there will be a way to play football in the spring.

The MAC is in no way a Power 5 conference, but without the ability to play non-conference games against Power 5 schools, the MAC member schools would be strained in their ability to implement all the safety and health protocols the bigger conferences would have in their journey to play this season.

Therefore, that still leaves a bit of hope for Power 5 football this fall…until Sunday.

An emergency meeting between commissioners of the Power 5 conferences was held to discuss the likelihood of actually playing fall sports. The overall feeling from the meeting was that every day that goes by, it seems more and more likely that it would be impossible to play this fall.

Many conference leaders, especially those from the Big Ten, expressed interest in postponing the college football season until the Spring in hopes that the pandemic would be better controlled by early next year.

While conference leaders explore different avenues for the season, players have begin to jump in to the talks.

While some notable players have opted out of the 2020 college football season including projected NFL first-round picks Caleb Farley (CB, V-Tech), Jaylen Twyman (DT, Pitt), Rondale Moore (WR, Purdue), and Micah Parsons (LB, Penn State) among others, maybe the most notable spoke out on Sunday.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence took to Twitter with a series of tweets expressing interest in playing and also, mentioning the risks involved with not playing this season.

Using the hashtag #WeWantToPlay, Lawrence was met with support from other notable players including Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Cuba Hubbard and Alabama running back Najee Harris.

Parents from many players have also pledged their support to the players movement of playing this season.

If there is play, regardless of the schedule or if teams just play “regional” opponents, if there is travel, there will be positive tests.

It’s inevitable with the virus at it’s current state.

Major League Baseball has ran into it’s problems with multiple outbreaks and while that will get the mass attention, for the most part, the season has been a success through early-August.

The way it looks though now, I wouldn’t be surprised if this Fall features only pro football and we see a Spring college football season featuring an unusual schedule, a high number of injuries and many notable players opting out due to the risk with playing so close to the NFL Draft.

But, hey, spring college football is better than no college football, right?

ACC Sets 11-Game Football Schedule, Adds Notre Dame for 2020

While the fate of college football is still very uncertain, conferences continue to make changes to accommodate travel and other concerns during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Atlantic Coast Conference announced that it has reworked it’s football scheduling to allow each team to play a total of 11 games and will incorporate Notre Dame to the ACC for the 2020 football season.

Notre Dame, which competes in the conference for each sport except football, has lost many opponents already this season with conferences moving for conference-only schedules. With that in mind, Notre Dame will give up it’s independent status this year in hopes to have a full schedule of opponents.

The ACC also announced that it will eliminate the traditional divisional format for the 2020 season. The two teams with the best winning percentage will meet for the ACC Championship.

Notre Dame, as part of the deal, will equally share TV revenue among the 15 schools. Specific game dates and broadcast details will be released in the coming days.

CFB: Top Stories from Week 1

  • The biggest news comes out of Tallahassee, Florida where Quarterback Deondre Francios is announced out of the season. Francios was sacked in the fourth quarter in the 24-7 loss again Alabama. As he came up gingerly he could not apply any pressure to his left knee. Reports later confirmed he has a torn left patellar tendon that will need surgery. The estimated recovery time will be seven months.Source: ESPN News Services

  • ICYMI: UCLA comes back from a 34-point deficit to defeat Texas A&M. Quarterback Josh Rosen had five consecutive touchdowns in the second-half which helped lead the comeback.

  • To make matters worse for the Texas A&M Aggies, a regent calls for the firing of Kevin Sumlin after the meltdown in week one. After a short message on Facebook, the regent advises, “In my view, he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better.”

  • While Florida State lost their Quarterback, Alabama lost a pair of OLBs with season ending injuries in their 24-7 victory. Terrell Lewis (elbow injury) and Christian Miller (torn biceps) both suffered season-ending injuries

    Source: Alex Scarborough of ESPN


  • Despite being pulled in the second half of the game against Michigan, Feleipe Franks will be the starter in week two according to Gators Head Coach Jim McElwain. Frank was replaced by Malik Zaire in the second half as the Gators offense still struggled.

College Football Playoff Expansion

I was one of the biggest supporters of the Bowl Championship Series, and in just three quick years the College Football Playoff has quickly, and swiftly shut me up. Of course, what would College Football be without always trying to improve and make it self just that much better? I cannot help but think I have a great idea that could put NCAA Football just that much closer to the almighty NFL.

It’s the simplest way possible, expand the College Football Playoff to eight teams. But there is so much more to it than just adding four schools. By adding just one extra round, there are several doors that open for the NCAA. But above all else, there is one primary reason why this could be an absolute slam dunk and would allow for everyone (except the #9 ranked team) to come out winners.

Home Playoff Games

The NCAA has shown its true colors on more than one occasion over the past few years, and everyone pretty much understands that they, just like everyone else, needs money to help lead them in the next direction they take. Which leads me to the first group that wins: The NCAA

By adding four teams, they would be adding two additional games and one extra round. The sponsors would jump at the opportunity to throw their name in front of these games. For example, “The College Football Playoff 1st round, brought to you by Goodyear” sounds great. The naming rights would sell for a solid amount of cash. You could also have four different sponsors for each 1st round game.

So now that we have made the NCAA happy by getting the money out of the way, let’s dive into why the fans win. First and foremost:

More Teams

This is simple but very true. The more teams you let in, the more people will be invested in watching the games. Expanding the footprint of the Playoffs would do great things. Not sure how many Michigan fans willingly watched a Buckeye team get dismantled, knowing the whole time that was the team they let slip by. But under this system, the #6 Wolverines would face the #3 Buckeyes in the first round of the playoffs, in the Horseshoe in Columbus. Let me type that out again… Michigan and Ohio State would play in a playoff game. Who is not going to watch that!?

College Football is always changing, but there is one thing that always remains the same.

The Atmosphere

Think about the atmosphere at Bryant-Denny Stadium on an average October afternoon while the Tide play against a mediocre SEC team. An atmosphere that no NFL team could dream of competing with in a regular season game. Now, think about a crisp December night in Tuscaloosa as the Tide watch the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, or Oklahoma Sooners come running out to compete in the first round of the playoffs. I sure hope Big Al is ready, because he may have to hold the stadium up, because that crowd may damn well bring the house down.

There is something that goes almost unnoticed throughout bowl season, that has almost become completely accepted. This will provide, and even playing field.

Though not many admit it, there is already home field advantage in bowl games. You will not typically hear the SEC, or PAC-12 teams say anything about it, but it is there. Ohio State playing LSU in the 2007 Sugar Bowl for the title. LSU’s home state. USC playing 14 miles away from their home field against Texas in the 2006 National Championship. This new format will even the playing field. Those Florida speed men may not be so quick in the frigid Pennsylvania December air in Happy Valley. Clemson may look a little shaky in a South Bend snow storm, or a 40 degree down poor in East Lansing.

Adding home field advantage to the College Football Playoff adds that extra urgency during the regular season. That last second field goal wide to the left could put you in a hostile environment. The fumble recovery on the 1-yard line could mean an extra home cooked meal. This would add even more intrigue to a sport who already has plenty of it. This could make the sport even bigger.

Ian South
NCAAF Baseline Times Contributor