Take 5: Football Friday


Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart looks on while Jake Fromm (11) throws a pass during the annual G-Day scrimmage on Saturday, April 20 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia.

By TPN Sports Staff

Started Fromm the bottom

Georgia Bulldogs starting quarterback Jake Fromm has the opportunity to do something special for the program this season.

The Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 3 in the country, just below their SEC foes in the Alabama Crimson Tide. This will be Fromm’s season to lead Georgia to the SEC championship and a college football playoff berth.

College football analysts have little respect for Fromm’s talent. They believe that Fromm is a “longshot” to win the Heisman trophy, yet they tout Nebraska’s inexperienced sophomore quarterback, Adrian Martinez, as one of the favorites.

Georgia has a tough slate for this season — they have to play No. 8 Notre Dame, No. 11 Florida, No. 10 Auburn and No. 12 Texas A&M. It’s a gauntlet that many have come to expect from life in the SEC, but Fromm and the Bulldogs have what it takes to beat at least three, if not all four, of these opponents. An SEC championship appearance for Georgia is inevitable and they will most likely have a rematch with Alabama as well.

This is where Fromm will show the nation that he is one of the best players in college football. He will lead the Bulldogs to victory and their first SEC championship title since 2017

Fromm will be named the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner after a remarkable season that places Georgia as the top team in the nation. He will prove wrong all those who doubted him from the beginning of the season.

Quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert have been at the top of a plethora of 2020 NFL mock drafts and after a winning season worthy of a Heisman, Fromm will be too. 

And who knows? Maybe he’ll win the college football playoff too.

-Tyler Moran, Staff Writer

A fresh face in the AFC

With Bill Belichick at the helm and Tom Brady running the offense, the New England Patriots have been the definition of consistency and excellence for almost two decades.

The past three years have been just about as successful as can be, with nine Super Bowl appearance, six wins, 16 division titles and no losing seasons. 

The Patriots’ come-from-behind victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI was the largest comeback in the big game ever. Belichick and Brady went all the way again the next year despite losing to the Eagles. Brady showed signs of aging last year, but his play was still steady enough to support a strong defensive effort that defeated the high-powered Rams for the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl.

Every year there are hot takes left and right predicting that Father Time will finally catch up to Brady. This isn’t one of those takes. However, this will be one of the rare seasons that the Patriots don’t get a shot at the Lombardi trophy.

Not that the Patriots don’t have a shot — they always do. But even Brady has never made it to four Super Bowls in a row. New England will win the division like they always do and have as good a shot at making it to the AFC championship as any. But it will be the Steelers or the Chiefs that will play in February this year.

Kansas City has one of the scariest offenses in football, with Andy Reid masterfully molding young phenom QB Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelce and receiver Tyreek Hill into the best big three in football.

The Steelers have something to prove with the Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown drama in the rearview mirror. The selection of Michigan LB Devin Bush will bolster a defense that could be sneakily good.

As steady a franchise as the Patriots are, it’s another team’s turn to win. The odds of making a fourth straight Super Bowl are already low, considering the Chiefs and Steelers are hungry for revenge after last season’s outcomes. It’s insane that predicting one out of 16 AFC teams won’t make the Super Bowl is a “hot take,” but that’s just how good the Patriots dynasty has been.

-Nick Carlisano, Senior Staff Writer

Cowboys back in business

All during the NFL offseason, wild speculation has followed Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and his contract hold-out. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones finally put an end to the media firestorm by signing the star running back to a six-year $90 million deal.

The contract contains $50 million in guaranteed money, making Elliott the highest-paid player at his position. With the contract holdout over, Elliott will play on a team which Jones claims has the talent to win the Super Bowl.

Dallas also re-signed key defenders Demarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith this offseason. On offense, wide receiver Amari Cooper and quarterback Dak Prescott are cheap and budding talents that will build on last year’s impressive second half.

Dallas finished last season 10-6, winning the NFC East, before bowing out in the divisional round of the playoffs. With much of their core talent returning in 2019 and questions about how Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz will perform in his return from injury, the Cowboys should be the favorites to win their division once again.

Only time will tell if they make it to the Super Bowl, but one thing is for sure — they’ve made their long-awaited return to contender status.

-Elliott Borawski, for the Pitt News

Ocean Stars get their biggest-ever win

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar may still be almost three years away, but qualification for the tournament is already taking place. In Africa, the game between Somalia and Zimbabwe ended in a 1-0 win for Somalia after an 87th minute header by Anwar Sidali Shakunda sealed the victory on Thursday.

The win was huge for Somalia’s “Ocean Stars,” as fans call them, in their first-ever win in 12 World Cup qualifying matches.

It was also one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Somalia entered the match ranked as FIFA’s No. 202 team, while Zimbabwe held the No. 112 spot.

The political climate in Somalia is taking the term underdog to new depths, as militant terrorist groups have forbidden people from watching and playing the sport. As a result, it is often too dangerous for people to play soccer in the open.

Even in the capital city of Mogadishu, the social remnants of Somalia’s civil war make it too dangerous to host soccer matches. “Home” games for the Ocean Stars are being held in Ethiopia and Djibouti — the latter being where last night’s game took place.

This win could be something huge for the Ocean Stars and the development of soccer in the country. If you’re looking for a team to root for a few years down the road, don’t overlook the Ocean Stars.

-Dominic Campbell, Staff Writer

RB Market in the NFL

Ezekiel Elliott agreed to sign a six-year $90 million contract extension with the Dallas Cowboys, ending his long holdout with the team to secure his future. Over the last two years, the running back market has been reset with the negotiations of Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell and now Zeke’s contracts. Additionally, Melvin Gordon is still trying to negotiate for a bigger contract, which will most likely get him traded.

Running backs are a major component of the offense, but do they deserve this type of money? Over the past five Super Bowl champions, only one of those teams had an elite running back — the Seattle Seahawks in 2014 — but even then Marshawn Lynch wasn’t a significant factor in the win. Marshawn had 39 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. The defense was stellar for the Seahawks with Malcolm Smith winning Super Bowl MVP.

Elite running backs are valuable, no one is debating that. But it comes down to where NFL teams should spend their money — on elite running backs demanding massive contracts or multiple great defenders and offensive players.

The drop-off for running backs is also very real. We have seen this with DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch. It’s becoming evident for 25-year-old Todd Gurley as well, with serious doubts already surrounding his enormous contract. Gurley has already developed arthritis in his knees. Running backs have to sustain constant impact from hard hits and blocking contact almost every offensive play, which means frequent injuries and shorter shelf lives.

To win the Super Bowl, a good running back is a must, but that doesn’t mean NFL teams need to pay for an elite running back. Using a committee running back system has shown itself to be extremely effective over the past couple of seasons — with the Eagles, Patriots and Broncos all taking part. Money is better spent on other positions rather than just an elite running back.

-Trent Leonard, Sports Editor