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Report — Chase Wolf, backup for Wisconsin Badgers QB Graham Mertz, also tests positive for COVID-19 – ESPN

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/30200062/report-chase-wolf-backup-wisconsin-badgers-qb-graha-mertz-tests-positive-covid-19

Report -- Chase Wolf, backup for Wisconsin Badgers QB Graham Mertz, also tests positive for COVID-19 - ESPN

No. 9 Wisconsin might be down to its fourth-string quarterback after Chase Wolf tested positive for COVID-19, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday night.

Wolf, the Badgers’ third-stringer, was not at Monday’s practice after he tested positive for the virus, according to the report. The Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal both reported Sunday that Graham Mertz, who started the season opener Friday, tested positive over the weekend.

Wisconsin was awaiting the result of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm Mertz’s result or rule it a false positive. Wolf also will take a PCR test to confirm a positive result from the antigen test. If confirmed, both Mertz and Wolf would miss a minimum of 21 days, according to Big Ten COVID-19 protocols for players.

Wisconsin is already without starting quarterback Jack Coan, who suffered a foot injury in preseason practice and underwent surgery Oct. 6. Coan, who started 18 games for the Badgers the past two seasons, is out indefinitely.

Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst, speaking with reporters Monday before practice, would not address Mertz’s status or that of any player regarding COVID-19 testing. Chryst said he is confident that Wisconsin can play this week’s game at Nebraska (0-1).

Redshirt junior Danny Vanden Boom likely would be the next quarterback in line if both Mertz and Wolf are out. After Nebraska, Wisconsin hosts Purdue before visiting No. 13 Michigan. Vanden Boom appeared in three games in 2018, completing the only pass he attempted for a 3-yard touchdown.

Chryst said he has no issue with the Big Ten’s 21-day policy, which is more stringent than those of other leagues.

“The No. 1 concern for the league, and I appreciate this, was how do we best keep everyone as safe as possible regarding the virus, and then how do you manage the impacts of it when someone has it,” Chryst said. “Admittedly, they told us it was more conservative, and if that helps one person, then that’s a good thing for us. We’ve known that there was a lot of work that went through this. For us to play, if that is something that’s in the best interest of everyone involved, then I completely support it.”

In a statement issued Sunday night, Wisconsin said it “will not be releasing COVID-related testing information regarding any individual student-athlete, due to medical privacy.”

The statement noted that no player who participated in Friday’s game tested positive before the game or reported any symptoms.

“Wisconsin Athletics continues to conduct daily antigen testing for the student-athletes, coaches and selected support staff associated with the Badger football program,” the statement read. “Individuals who receive a negative antigen test result continue to participate in team activities. Individuals who receive a presumptive positive antigen test result are removed from team activities and are required to take a PCR test to confirm positivity.”

Mertz, a redshirt freshman, was nearly flawless Friday in a 45-7 win over Illinois. He completed 20 of 21 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. He set team records for single-game completion percentage (95.2) and touchdown passes. Mertz completed his first 17 pass attempts, matching a team record for consecutive completions.

A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Mertz is considered the top quarterback recruit in Wisconsin history. ESPN rated him as the top pocket passer and No. 21 overall player in the 2019 recruiting class.

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Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” – NBC Sports – NFL

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/11/25/bruce-arians-on-lack-of-big-plays-from-antonio-brown-well-he-was-open/

Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” - NBC Sports - NFL

Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” - NBC Sports - NFL

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Through three games with the Buccaneers, receiver Antonio Brown has 18 catches for 157 yards and no touchdowns. Coach Bruce Arians apparently thinks the numbers should be higher.

“Well, he was open,” Arians told reporters on Tuesday when asked why Brown hasn’t made more big plays. “We had one go off his fingertips [and] I’m used to seeing him make that catch. We missed him last week on a ball, so it’s just a matter of hitting him. He’s doing a great job of running after the catch and within his role, I think he’s doing a really good job. It’s just when he’s going deep, we’re not hitting him.”

Quarterback Tom Brady targeted Brown 13 times on Monday night against the Rams, with Brown catching eight passes for 57 yards. Brown led the team in all three categories.

Brown has $750,000 in incentives tied to performance: $250,000 for 45 catches, $250,000 for 650 yards, and $250,000 for six touchdowns.

Over the final five games, Brown needs 27 more catches, 493 yards, and six touchdowns to meet the minimum requirement. The Bucs also must make the playoffs for any of the money to be paid.

Another $750,000 hinges on 35-percent playing time, a threshold he’s easily satisfying. However, the playing-time payment is tied to the Bucs winning the Super Bowl. That’s currently looking like a steep uphill climb for Tampa Bay.

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Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange – NBC Sports – NFL

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/11/25/inside-the-john-harbaugh-mike-vrabel-pregame-exchange/

Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange - NBC Sports - NFL

Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange - NBC Sports - NFL

USA Today Sports

After Sunday’s game between the Titans and Ravens, both Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh downplayed a pregame interaction sparked by Harbaugh approaching Titans players who were on the Ravens’ midfield crest.

As usual, however, NFL Films cameras and microphones are everywhere.

Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network posted a clip from Showtime’s Inside the NFL containing the exchange.

Harbaugh says, “It’s disrespectful.”

Vrabel dismissively waves his call sheet as he says, “Go coach.”

“It’s disrespectful.”

“Go coach a game.”

They trade more words that are hard to hear (an “F” bomb may or may not be included) before they return to their “tastes great” vs. “less filling” exchange: “It’s disrespectful” and “go coach.”

So, yes, something happened. And, yes, the decision of Harbaugh to dismiss Vrabel’s attempted handshake after the game ended (both coaches claim that a handshake happened) now makes more sense.

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Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” – NBC Sports – NFL

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/11/25/bruce-arians-bucs-offense-comes-down-to-whether-quarterback-plays-well-or-not/

Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” - NBC Sports - NFL

Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” - NBC Sports - NFL

USA Today Sports

The season-long dance of the awkward continues between Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

The Bucs have won seven games and they have lost four. When they lose, Arians has no qualms about placing blame on Brady, if need be. On Tuesday night, Arians painted with a broader brush.

“[O]ffensively, it’s just a matter of each and every week if the quarterback plays well or not,” Arians said on his weekly radio show, via JoeBucsFan.com. “And our job is to make sure he’s comfortable and let him play well.”

In the same show, Arians said the pass blocking against the Rams was “really, really good.” Arians also reiterated that the interception from Brady that sealed the defeat late in the fourth quarter “was just a poor decision,” that Brady “did not read the coverage properly and threw a poor ball.”

Although Arians has at times made it clear that Brady still needs time and continuity to become fully comfortable in the offense, that sense doesn’t become obvious in sound bites that come off as dumping blame on Brady. At a time when it’s believed that the Buccaneers’ primary objective for the rest of this year is to ensure that Brady will be back for another one (one in which all tickets hopefully will be available for sale), Arians either didn’t get the memo — or he’s not fully on board with the idea.

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Legacy of S***stain 17 could be decided Friday against ISU – 247Sports

https://247sports.com/college/texas/Article/Texas-Longhorns-football-legacy-of-Shtstain-17-could-be-decided-against-Iowa-State-Tom-Herman-Sam-Ehlinger-TaQuon-Graham-Derek-Kerstetter–155365524/

Legacy of S***stain 17 could be decided Friday against ISU - 247Sports

They’re proudly known as the “Sh*tstain 17” because they didn’t get a cool recruiting-year nickname from Tom Herman’s creative marketing staff like the classes in 2018 (RevolUTion 18) and beyond.

On Tuesday, three members of the SS17 definitely sounded determined to outperform their nickname when Longhorn seniors play their last home game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Friday at 11 a.m. CT against a surging Iowa State team.

“It’s really important for this senior class, with all the ups and downs we’ve been on, to leave this football program better than we found it,” said senior defensive tackle and captain Ta’Quon Graham.

“What we mean by that is, we want to ride out on top as Big 12 champions. We obviously have to take this week by week, and we’ll meet our destination if we take care of business.”

Longhorns’ senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger was taken for a trip down Memory Lane by reporters, one of whom asked him if he regretted saying, “Longhorn Nation!! We’re baaaaaaaaack!!” after beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, capping a 10-4 season in 2018?

“I don’t regret it, because I learned from it,” a chuckling Ehlinger said. “It’s one of those things that I’ll look back and be like, ‘That was pretty funny.’ I was still a teenager, so you can expect something like that from a teenager. But it was a great learning moment for me.

“Definitely don’t have any regret about it. Now, would I do it again? Probably not. But I don’t regret it.”

Ehlinger, however, didn’t open up when was asked what was really said between him and then-Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray after Texas’ 48-45 victory in the Cotton Bowl in 2018.

Ehlinger smiled and said, “Sorry. I don’t remember.”

Several seniors who will be recognized Friday, transferred in, such as defensive end Jacoby Jones and graduate transfer receivers Tarik Black and Brenden Schooler.

Others are fifth-year guys like safety Chris Brown and offensive linemen Denzel Okafor and Tope Imade. Still others are long gone, such as running back Toneil Carter and receiver Jordan Pouncey, who transferred. A couple walked away from football (cornerback Kobe Boyce and defensive lineman Rob Cummins).

The seniors who came in as part of the SS17 followed three straight losing seasons, resulting in Charlie Strong being replaced by Herman heading into the 2017 season.

“We came in as a class that wasn’t super highly recruited,” said senior center and captain Derek Kerstetter. “We weren’t just all big-name guys. But a lot of us have come in and played. So I think that was something special – just seeing how we really wanted each other to be successful.

“We just kind of came in with our heads down, didn’t care what people said about us. So I think it was just fun seeing guys like Sam Cosmi, who was a very low recruit, come in and just do so well. So it’s been fun just seeing guys like him (Cosmi) and TQ and all those different guys become so successful.”

The remaining members of the SS17 who will be recognized on Senior Day are Ehlinger, Graham, Kerstetter, left tackle and captain Sam Cosmi and tight end Cade Brewer.

There were highs for these seniors: going 3-0 in bowl games, including a Texas Bowl win over Missouri to cap a 7-6 season in 2017; the Sugar Bowl win over Georgia; and an Alamo Bowl win over then-No. 11 Utah, capping an 8-5 season in 2019.

There were lows. Like losing seven times to unranked opponents when Texas was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 – the most such losses in that span. Back-to-back upsets by sad-sack Maryland teams made the program feel like a deflated balloon gasping through the air to open the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

These seniors are 1-4 against Oklahoma; 1-3 against TCU; 2-2 against Oklahoma State; 2-1 against Iowa State; 3-1 against Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia; and 3-0 against Kansas and Kansas State.

As far as memorable moments, Ehlinger said throwing a fourth-down touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman with 45 seconds left to take a 17-14 lead on USC at the Coliseum as a freshman in 2017 is high on the list. Kerstetter said his memorable moment was beating USC the next year in Austin after trailing 14-3 early.

There are more memories to be made with three games left against ISU, K-State and KU as part of UT’s Control Your Own Destiny Tour.

With Kansas State (4-4, 4-3) having lost three in a row and now on its third-string quarterback – who happens to be a freshman – and Kansas being winless (0-7, 0-6), the most daunting challenge for Texas (5-2, 4-2) to close the regular season will come on Friday.

Iowa State (6-2, 6-1) is a veteran team on a roll that happens to have the nation’s leading rusher in sophomore Breece Hall and perhaps the Big 12’s defensive player of the year in linebacker Mike Rose, who leads the league in interceptions (four) and is second in the league in tackles.

Take down the Cyclones and these proud members of the SS17 keep their dream alive of possibly playing for (and winning) a Big 12 championship – leaving no doubt about putting the program in a better place than where they found it.

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Utah, Washington to play Saturday after Arizona State game canceled – ESPN

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/30383795/utah-washington-play-saturday-arizona-state-game-canceled

Utah, Washington to play Saturday after Arizona State game canceled - ESPN

Utah and Washington will play Saturday in Seattle, the Pac-12 announced Tuesday.

The game came together just hours after Utah’s game against Arizona State was canceled, leaving both the Utes and the Huskies without an opponent this week. Washington’s Apple Cup rivalry game against Washington State was canceled on Sunday.

“The scheduling of this game is consistent with the Conference’s commitment to provide opportunities for student-athletes through maximum scheduling flexibility while still prioritizing health and safety,” the Pac-12 said in a statement.

When the Pac-12 announced that it would allow nonconference games, it included a stipulation that should any Pac-12 team become available by Thursday of a given week, a nonconference matchup would be called off in order to prioritize a conference game. That rule would have prevented a BYU-Washington game from taking place, had the schools’ early-week discussions led to an agreement to play.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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