UTEP opened practice Friday, making Stanford the only team not to begin fall camp (the Cardinal start their 2013 preparations on Monday). Even with nearly every team on the practice field, it was largely a quiet Friday around college football. The exception, of course: USC, where it's never quiet.
USC's offense took a potentially serious blow Friday, as star wideout Marqise Lee left practice on a cart after suffering an apparent right shoulder injury. Lee was injured after trying to catch a long pass from Cody Kessler. The Trojans' medical staff eventually ushered him away from practice:
Lee was carted off the field for medical evaluations, and obviously did not return to Friday's session. Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin did not have any updates to offer on Lee's status, saying he didn't see the injury himself as he was preparing for the next play.
Kessler later told reporters that Lee said he would be fine.
Lee, the defending Biletnikoff Award winner as the nation's best wide receiver, is crucial to a Trojan offense that has to break in a new quarterback and is dealing with myriad injuries at receiver. Season-ending injuries to George Farmer and freshman Steven Mitchell have decimated the USC receiving corps already, leaving Lane Kiffin with just five scholarship wideouts.
Brian Kelly talked with the press after Friday's practice, bluntly assessing his team after only a handful of practices. Kelly praised his team's competitiveness early in August camp (via SI.com):
"Some of the best competitive practices that I've coached in a long time,'' Kelly said Friday. "Now we haven't played a game, and I'm not saying that equals 13 wins. But I've coached a lot of football and it's been very competitive football. It's fast football. It's as fast as I've seen at Notre Dame. I hope that translates into winning football.''
Notre Dame is taking the camp concept literally: Kelly opted to take his team to a retreat in Marion, Indiana, 100 miles from campus, to avoid distractions. So far, it is apparently working:
"Not talking about Manti Te'o and the Alabama game and all that ... we were able to focus on this year and ourselves,'' Kelly said. "That's a good thing.''
Kelly offered no news on the quarterback front, and senior Tommy Rees remains the presumed starter when the Irish open against Temple on Aug. 31.
Gators starting quarterback Jeff Driskel participated in his first practice Friday, eight days after an emergency appendectomy. Driskel reported that everything felt fine after practice, making him one of the few players on Florida's roster not dealing with an injury at the moment (via SI.com):
The Gators lost senior receiver/kick returner Andre Debose and freshman linebacker Matt Rolin for the year with torn knee ligaments. Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (sprained knee) and safety Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot) will be sidelined at least a week, and freshman offensive lineman Rod Johnson had surgery Friday to repair torn meniscus in his right knee. Johnson will miss at least three weeks.
"It's unfortunate and frustrating for everyone involved,'' coach Will Muschamp said. "You can stomach (them) a little better because football's a tough game, football's a violent game. Sometimes those things happen. ... You hate to be hard about it, but that's part of the game, and they understand that when they play.''
As Alligator Army's Andy Hutchins writes, the Debose injury doesn't hurt Florida as much as it would have last season. The Gators have wide receiver depth that was lacking in 2012, and won't have to resort to walk-ons barring an epidemic striking Gainesville.
The Hurricanes held their preseason Media Day on Friday. The assembled press received a tour of the new Schwartz Center football practice facility, complete with a walk through the Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson locker room. If you smell what The Rock is cooking, it smells a lot like used towels.
Al Golden did not speak to the media Friday -- he has held multiple press conferences before Friday's event -- but reporters watched practice and spoke with players. State of the U came away impressed with the Canes defense: "The offense looked a bit sluggish, but I can honestly say that it was in large part to how the defense was playing." Freshman Ray Lewis III received some media attention for all the obvious reasons.
UConn also held its Media Day Friday, and when Paul Pasqualoni talks, you best listen:
It wasn't all tight ends for Pasqualoni, though. The Huskies have a number of questions on defense, with holes to fill on the defensive line and at linebacker. UConn is also expecting better production from a running attack that averaged just 87.9 yards per game last season, good for 121st among FBS teams:
"I think everybody knows that we need to have more production in the run game than we had a year ago. I think Lyle McCombs is working his way out of that sophomore slump he and he'll get back to his old ways. Max DeLorenzo is having a pretty steady camp right now. He's made some plays, he's run the ball tough and he's shown some production. Joe Williams, from an assignment standpoint, has practiced as well as he has. Joe is a fast guy, he can contribute and is trying hard to get that done."
UConn opens its season against Towson on Thursday, Aug. 29.
Life ain't easy for a Blazer. The program is coming off its second consecutive 3-9 season, and has not put together a winning record since 2004. Plans for a new on-campus stadium are on indefinite hold; home games are played in the mostly-empty 71,000 seat Legion Field. And now the one thing that worked last season -- a passing attack that averaged 306 yards per game -- takes a hit, with senior wide receiver Jackie Williams receiving his walking papers Friday:
UAB wide receiver Jackie Williams has been dismissed from the team.
Blazers coach Garrick McGee announced Friday that Williams, the team's leading receiver last year, was let go for "undisclosed reasons.''
McGee says in a statement released by the school: "Jackie is a good kid and a good player, but what's best for our football program is that we part ways.''
Williams led the Blazers in both receptions and yards in 2012, hauling in 52 passes for 799 yards and a touchdown. The team's second- and third-leading receivers, Nick Adams and Patrick Hearn, graduated, so UAB is starting all over again.