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No. 6 Clemson leaning on defense early in the season
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No. 6 Clemson leaning on defense early in the season

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Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, center, joins his team in singing the alma mater after Saturday’s home win against South Carolina State.

CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s defense has come out strong this season and may provide the sixth-ranked Tigers their best path toward staying on top in the ACC while their offense gets untracked.

Clemson hasn’t allowed a touchdown through two games, something it last accomplished in 2017 with All-Americans Christian Wilkins and Clelin Ferrell leading the way. The Tigers limited Georgia and South Carolina State to just a field goal on offense. (Georgia’s touchdown in a 10-3 victory in Week 1 came on an interception return for a score.)

“Holding the offenses out of the end zone two straight weeks, it’s not an easy thing to do, regardless of who you’re playing,” Tigers defensive coordinator Brent Venables said.

FSU off to another poor start

Mike Norvell said he believes in his players, and that Florida State has lost two games to start the season they should have won. But they haven’t.

Any ascent from a 3-6 season in 2020 has instead been halted by a demoralizing loss to FCS Jacksonville State in which the Seminoles took two steps back. FSU has struggled to get started in September, dropping five straight season openers. The Seminoles are 0-2 for the third time in five seasons.

Va Tech TE done for season

Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente says tight end James Mitchell will have knee surgery and miss the rest of the season following an injury suffered Saturday.

Mitchell, the preseason All-ACC first-team tight end, took a low hit on a run from the 2-yard line in the No. 15 Hokies’ 35-14 victory against Middle Tennessee. Mitchell, who investigated leaving early for the NFL after last season, has 838 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns for his career.

Hurricanes lose RB for year

No. 24 Miami has lost running back Don Chaney Jr. for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, and starting linebacker Keontra Smith will miss several weeks with a leg injury.

Both were injured in the Hurricanes’ win over Appalachian State on Saturday. Chaney had a touchdown run in that game, then left shortly afterward with the injury to his right knee. Smith was part of nine tackles in Miami’s first two games.

BC QB could miss rest of year

Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec underwent surgery for a hand injury that knocked him out of this weekend’s game against UMass and “could potentially miss the remainder of the year,” the school said Monday. BC also said kicker Aaron Boumerhi is out for the season with a hip injury.

Jurkovec was the ACC co-quarterback of the week for Sept. 7. His 2,558 yards in his first 10 starts were the most by any quarterback in school history.

Saban upbeat on injured All-Am

Top-ranked Alabama is hoping to get three starting defenders back from injury in time for its road game at No. 11 Florida.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday that the news on preseason All-America linebacker Will Anderson Jr. was “very encouraging” two days after he went down with a right knee injury against Mercer.

Cornerbacks Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis both missed that game with undisclosed injuries. Saban expected them to practice Monday.

Ga’s Bennett shines as replacement

JT Daniels has certainly done nothing to lose his job as No. 2 Georgia’s starting quarterback.

He led the Bulldogs to five straight wins after taking over as the No. 1 signal-caller. Surely, he’ll be taking snaps as soon as he’s healthy.

Then again, when your backup throws five touchdown passes in a single half, tying the school record and sharing honors as SEC offensive player of the week, there’s bound to be some talk of a possible quarterback controversy. Stetson Bennett completed 10 of 12 for 288 yards, with three of his scoring throws going for more than 60 yards.

The Bulldogs (2-0) face South Carolina (2-0) this week in primetime.

Fla. ignoring calls for QB change

Florida backup quarterback Anthony Richardson, one of the nation’s more dynamic players through two games, is expected to practice this week while recovering from a strained right hamstring. How much or how early he plays against Alabama on Saturday remains to be determined.

Coach Dan Mullen offered little insight Monday into his decisions at the all-important position leading into what could be a program-defining game for the No. 11 Gators (2-0), who have lost seven in a row to the defending national champion Crimson Tide (2-0). This much is certain: Mullen plans to ignore outside calls for Richardson to play over inconsistent starter Emory Jones.

“I’ll be honest with you; I don’t listen to many suggestions,” Mullen said Monday.

LSU RB academically ineligible

LSU running back John Emery Jr. is expected to miss the remainder of the season for academic reasons, coach Ed Orgeron said Monday.

Emery, a junior, was expected to compete to be the Tigers’ starting running back this season but has been ruled academically ineligible. He rushed for 378 yards and three touchdowns in nine games as a sophomore in 2020.

QB King out for Texas A&M

Texas A&M quarterback Haynes King is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair his broken right leg, suffered early in the seventh-ranked Aggies’ 10-7 win at Colorado over the weekend.

Coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that King’s surgery to repair a broken tibia went well but that there is no timeline for his return. With King out, Zach Calzada becomes the team’s starter this week.

Arkansas fined for field-storm

The SEC has fined Arkansas $100,000 after Razorbacks fans rushed the field following last Saturday’s 40-21 win over Texas. The fans violated the league’s access to competition area policy that was adopted in 2004.

Arkansas beat its former Southwest Conference rival before a crowd of 74,531 — the ninth-largest in Arkansas history. The win vaulted Arkansas into the AP top 25 poll for the first time since 2016.

Kelly has solutions for Notre Dame

Brian Kelly knows that his No. 12 Notre Dame team is a work in progress.

After escaping Florida State in overtime to open the season, the Irish showed little improvement during a 32-29 comeback victory at home over Toledo. It has some wondering if Notre Dame is ripe to be picked off by Purdue. Kelly’s solution?

“One is to put your players in a position where they’re not making mistakes … keep it simple so they can play fast and free,” he said Monday. “The second thing is to get players on the field that are fresh so we don’t have guys that are fatigued and making mental mistakes.”

USC fires Helton 2 games into season

Southern Cal has fired coach Clay Helton two games into his seventh season in charge. Athletic director Mike Bohn made the move Monday, two days after an embarrassing 42-28 home loss to Stanford.

Helton went 46-24 during his tenure in charge of the longtime West Coast college football powerhouse.

Helton twice took over as USC’s interim head coach before getting the job on a permanent basis late in the 2015 season. Helton’s Trojans won one Pac-12 title and one Rose Bowl.

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