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Del Olaleye: The weekly college football update includes UNC, Ohio State

Urban Meyer -- and his fans -- are in the news. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Not the way to start fall camp

If you’re UNC’s Larry Fedora you had to think the worst was behind you when last season ended. The 2017 season was a disaster. Injuries destroyed the depth across his football team and he finished the season 3-9. When you’re depending on LSU transfer Brandon Harris at QB to start the year things probably aren’t going in the right direction. A new season usually brings new hope. That is until your team is hit with mass suspensions because multiple starters sold exclusive Jordan brand shoes. North Carolina is one of a few football programs to wear the Jumpman logo on their uniforms and the players thought selling Jordan brand shoes wouldn’t be a bad way to make some some extra cash.

Tar Heel fans found about the suspensions this week but Fedora and his assistant coaches had this hanging over their heads since January when the violations were self reported. One the suspensions handed down just so happens to affect the most important position in their program. North Carolina entered fall camp hoping to settle a quarterback battle. That battle has some clarity now that potential starter Chaz Surratt has been suspended for four games for his entrepreneurship.

The NCAA has their rules and until they are changed they must be followed but multiple Tar Heels players will miss a third of the season for essentially selling stuff they own. They were given these things only because they play football so making money off them is considered an impermissible benefit. The NCAA calls these secondary violations. The same way they classify a coach seeing a recruit at the wrong time of year or calling a player during a “dead period.” Coaches get a slap on the wrist for secondary violations. They definitely wouldn’t be forced to miss a fourth of the season. UNC is an ACC opponent so I’m not crying that some of their players won’t be available for their game against Miami. I hope the Canes blow them out. Just  know that if actual paid employees of the North Carolina program did the same thing nothing would come of it.

More on Ohio State and Courtney Smith

It turns out Ohio State never met with Courtney Smith despite her allegations that their former employee and her ex-husband Zach Smith was physically abusive to her. This is according to Ms. Smith’s lawyer, Julia Leveridge.  As their six-person committee attempts to get to the bottom of who knew what and when, that factoid might be something Ohio State needs to answer for.

We’re not done with the Buckeyes

If you didn’t know college football fans are weird and borderline nuts just take a look at any video from the Urban Meyer rally. I guess the petition to save Meyer’s job that has 30,000 signatures wasn’t enough. They all wanted to look other crazies in the face. As simply as it can be put, the people in Columbus wanted to get together to try save the job of alleged enabler of domestic abuse. One person at the rally was the father of former Buckeyes and current Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. It just so happens the younger Elliott has had his own issues in regards to treating women in the correct manner.

We didn’t need Ohio State fans showing up en masse in front of a building to point out the obvious. We all know they value a great football coach over anything else. Urban Meyer left Florida because he couldn’t control the monster he had created. No one talks about that very much because he won multiple titles in Gainesville. The people in Columbus certainly didn’t care about all that after having to deal with a 6-7 season under interim coach Luke Fickell. Fickell was promoted to the position after Jim Tressel resigned following previously being suspended for five games for lying about his players getting free tattoos. There are people that haven’t forgotten about Meyer’s time at the University of Florida. His former players are talking about their time at Florida with Meyer and isn’t at all complimentary. I’m sure Buckeyes fans will blame Brett McMurphy for that too.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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