Sure, we’re just a day (or two) away from Memorial Day Weekend, but we’re also another day closer to a brand new season of college football.
Of course, we want everyone to enjoy their summer, especially after a tumultuous year for many, but countdowns have begun to emerge through social media — some teams and coaches are counting the days until their first contest, which will most likely occur on either Friday, September 3 or Saturday, September 4.
According to ESPN.com, ten teams, including Hawaii and UCLA are slated to compete one week earlier on Saturday, August 28 while more matchups will follow on Wednesday, September 1, and Thursday, September 2.
Alabama, which captured the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) title in January, will begin its campaign on Saturday, September 4 against Miami — the game is one of many to watch on the first official weekend of the season — while Clemson will entertain Georgia that evening at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be televised on ABC.
Notre Dame and Florida State will square off on Sunday, September 5 at 7:30 p.m. before Louisville and Ole Miss cap the weekend on Monday, September 6.
While we’ll be keeping our eyes on various teams from the northeast to the west coast (and other pockets of the country this fall), there will be a few local games to watch (and yes, follow!) during the opening weekend, including Colgate at Boston College (Sept. 4), UMass at Pittsburgh (Sept. 4), and Holy Cross at UConn (Sept. 4).
September 4 will also be a busy day for numerous NCAA Division II and III teams — it will certainly be an exciting moment for many that are eager to return to the field as most teams did not play last fall or this spring due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
All in all, we’re excited about the upcoming college football season — be on the lookout for more content over the next few weeks and months as we get closer to kickoff — but also eager to produce some additional content on the pros and high schools.
Gavin Gray has enjoyed a successful spring season thus far, leading the Berry College football team to a pair of wins last month, including a come-from-behind victory against Birmingham-Southern College.
Gray, who was named the Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Newcomer of the Year in 2019, has tossed six touchdowns while recording 526 passing yards in two contests. His play on the field has positioned the Vikings for a chance to compete in the conference championship next weekend, but the focus for Gray and his teammates this week is an important matchup on Saturday, March 6 against Centre College.
Noontime Sports recently caught-up with Gray to discuss his team’s spring season, as well as what he and the Vikings must do to continue their recent success against Centre on Saturday.
Tell me about your team’s past two contests – from your perspective, what has worked on the offensive end?
From my perspective, each game had different aspects of our offense that worked. Against Birmingham-Southern, our run game wasn’t as strong so our passing game was our go-to. Against Rhodes College, our running game did well. I think it shows just how good our coaches are at finding what aspect of the offense (we) excel at during the game.
This may sound cliché, but how has the offense improved from your team’s initial spring game against Birmingham-Southern to last weekend’s 54-7 win over Rhodes?
I think the first game for everyone can be exciting and emotional. Our win against Birmingham-Southern gave everyone on the offense some valuable experience in not only a game (situation), but also a down-to-the-wire contest. Against Rhodes, it felt like everyone was more confident and knew what to expect.
Take me back to your team’s first spring game against Birmingham-Southern. What do you remember about that final drive, which saw you connect with Cameron Kawa for the game-winning touchdown?
We just told ourselves we needed to get first downs; don’t worry about the score because if we get first downs then the score will handle itself. The receivers on that last drive – and really all game – did a great job of coming back to me when scrambling, which helped us convert a big fourth down conversion. On the last play of the drive, Cam did a great job of getting open and giving me a ton of space to complete that pass for the touchdown.
We presume this was not the first time you led your team, both Berry and Calhoun (high school), on a game-winning drive, right?
I can’t remember having any game-winning drives but I do remember having game-sealing drives. Against Cedar Grove in the semifinals of the 2017 Georgia High School Association (GHSA) playoffs, the score was 14-6 and we needed to get a couple of first downs to run out the clock. I think those big moments like (that particular experience against the Saints) have helped me stay poised in moments like the final drive against Birmingham-Southern.
As you (and your team) turn the page to Centre College this weekend, what must you and the offense do to continue your recent success?
I think we have to continue to do what we do. Centre has a great team. They have a great defensive line with great linebackers and defensive backs. They are well-coached and stay disciplined. We know it is going to be a physical and tough game, but we just have to stay focused on the things we can control and make adjustments when they are needed.
The first official weekend of spring college football is in the books, which means it is time to unveil our initial Noontime Sports Team of the Week.
This week, we’re highlighting a few NCAA D-III student-athletes that competed this past weekend, but as the spring season progresses, we will include FBS and Division II players, too.
Noontime Sports’ Football Team of the Week (Feb. 8, 2021)
Austin Bertness (Trinity (Texas)): Bertness led all receivers in his team’s 11-point win over Austin with a game-high nine receptions for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
Kyle Bell (Howard Payne): Bell posted a game-high 19 total tackles, including 10 solo stops against Texas Lutheran.
Tommy Bowden (Mary Hardin-Baylor): In his team’s first contest of the spring season, the sophomore signal-caller rushed for a pair of touchdowns while throwing for 104 yards and another score. The Cru scored a convincing 41-0 victory over Belhaven last Saturday.
Ben Brockman (Southwestern): Brockman led all defenders with 11 total stops, including eight solo tackles to go with one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Southwestern opened its spring season with a 28-17 setback to East Texas Baptist.
Seth Cosme (Texas Lutheran): Cosme totaled 313 yards of total offense against Howard Payne, including 83 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 230 yards and two scores.
Blake Hinton (Hendrix): Hinton led his team with seven catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged 17.6 yards per reception in his team’s initial spring win against Millsaps.
Amryn Jeffrey (Millsaps): Against Hendrix, Amryn Jeffrey completed 19 of 34 passes for 206 yards and four touchdowns.
Landon McKinney (Howard Payne): Against Texas Lutheran, McKinney tallied 377 yards of total offense, including 68 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns. He completed 19 of 28 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns.
Wyatt Messex (Trinity (Texas)): Messex enjoyed a successful start to his team’s spring season by completing 22 of 34 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for. game-high 46 yards on 14 carries.
Will Newman (Rhodes): In his team’s first contest of the spring season, Newman led the Rhodes defense with 12 total tackles, including 11 solo stops and two tackles for a loss of three yards against Birmingham-Southern.
Jake Parker (Howard Payne): Parker caught a game-high 11 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown against Texas Lutheran.
Mason Perkins (Texas Lutheran): Perkins averaged 20.5 yards per reception in his team’s initial spring contest against Howard Payne. Perkins caught 10 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns.
Blake Phipps (Howard Payne): Against Texas Lutheran, Phipps tallied eight points on five extra points and a 42-yard field goal.
Branden Rew (Birmingham-Southern): Rew led all defenders in his team’s 52-0 win over Rhodes with three receptions for 98 yards and two touchdowns.
Aaron Rideaux (Austin): Against Trinity (Texas), Rideaux led his team with six grabs for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He averaged a game-high 15.7 yards per reception.
Austin Russell (Millsaps): Russell hauled in a game-high 128 receiving yards on nine grabs, along with three touchdowns. He averaged 14.2 yards per reception.
Colton Strickland (McMurry): Against Sul Ross State, Strickland posted eight total tackles, including five solo stops, three-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 19 yards, one-and-a-half sacks for a loss of 15 yards, and two quarterback hurries.
Kord Tuttle (Pacific Lutherlan): Against Pugent Sound, Tuttle posted 11 total stops, including eight solo tackles to go with one interception (14 yards). He finished last Saturday’s game with two-and-a-half tackles for a loss of 19 yards and one sack for a loss of 15 yards.
Duncan Varela (Pugent Sound): In his team’s first spring season contest against Pacific Lutheran, Varela led all rushers with 132 yards on 35 carries and two touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 14 yards and one touchdown.
Liam Vincifora(Millsaps): Vincifora concluded his team’s initial spring contest with 10 total tackles, including six solo stops, two tackles for a loss for 46 yards, and one sack for five yards.
Jacob Wood (Hendrix): Wood enjoyed a very successful start to his team’s spring season by completing 17 of 29 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for a game-high 146 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown.
Tomorrow’s matchup – the 49th meeting between these two academies – will be streamed on ESPN3 with kickoff scheduled for 12:05 p.m.
Below is our pregame preview, as well as our prediction – let us know if you agree or disagree by sending a tweet to @NoontimeSports. Enjoy the game, everyone!
Noontime’s Coast Guard-USMMA Preview: It’s been nearly a year since the Bears and Mariners tangled on the gridiron, but it seems as if both teams are eager and ready to play some football.
Coast Guard enters the contest with a great deal of experience on both sides of the ball. Quarterback John Barbera, who has appeared in five contests, including three last season, will start his first game for the Bears – expect the Glen Mills, Pennsylvania native to target Justin Moffatt, who led the NEWMAC last season with 66 receptions while posting a career-best in receiving yards (872) to go with five touchdowns.
Linebacker Eugene Bizer will be tasked with leading a Coast Guard defense that will need to slow down a Mariners squad that averaged 41.1 points per game last fall. Merchant Marine’s offense is very run-heavy and it is expected that the Mariners will lean heavily on halfback Matt Restifo, who finished last season with career-bests in rushing yards (389), yards per game (43.2), and touchdowns.
Eric Davidson and Colton Ray will be two players to watch on the Mariners defense tomorrow – this particular unit limited opposing foes to 112.7 rushing yards per game last season.
Noontime’s Prediction: This has the potential for a back-and-forth affair, but I think this contest will come down to whichever defense can slow down the opposing attack. I don’t anticipate a high-scoring affair like we witnessed last season, but instead both teams scoring at least three, maybe four touchdowns. PREDICTION: Coast Guard 30, USMMA 26
It’s been a busy week of blogging to producing some new content for our social channels – we’ll recap it later today in during our Friday Rewind post – but in the meantime let’s dish out a late morning edition of the Daily Noontime.
So tomorrow will be a special day for our New England NCAA D-III football fans with Coast Guard Academy competing against the United State Merchant Marine Academy with kickoff scheduled for 12:05 p.m.
Fans can stream the game between the Bears and Mariners on ESPN3 – here is a preview of tomorrow’s Secretaries’ Cup.
According to Sports Illustrated, there seems to be growing concern about not just the remainder of the college football season, but also the college football playoffs. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby knows the college football world is heading into some serious uncharted territory, but as of now, no games and bowls have been canceled, including the traditional New Year’s Day contests, so please remain calm, everyone.
Switching gears to college basketball – what is college basketball again? – it appears as if 40 teams will compete in ‘Bubbleville‘ at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut later this month. 45 games will be played over an 11-day period with the final contests scheduled for Saturday, December 5.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) has started its college basketball season, but things have not gone smoothly due to the coronavirus. It’s likely every NCAA men’s and women’s basketball team will be impacted at some point this winter by the virus. And that could mean games – not just a few, but many – will get postponed or canceled.
Alright, that will do it for now, but stop by later and as always, make sure to smile, everyone!