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Hokies lose Brewer for 4-8 weeks with broken collarbone

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) It was the injury Virginia Tech could least afford, and when the news that quarterback Michael Brewer was lost for four to eight weeks because of a broken collarbone, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler needed to collect himself.

“I put that kid through hell, and he played his tail off today,” Loeffler said of the senior, who transferred to Virginia Tech from Texas Tech before last season. “I said this to our team: `You can sit, you can feel sorry for yourself, you can do this.’ We’re going to rally around (Brenden) Motley.”

Brewer was injured when a 290-pound lineman hit and landed on him as he let go of a pass, and Motley struggled to get anything going until it was too late in the Hokies’ 42-24 loss to No. 1 Ohio State on Monday night.

The Hokies had just fallen behind 21-17, but had driven into Ohio State territory when Brewer got hurt.

The opportunity to feel sorry for themselves didn’t last long in Loeffler’s mind.

“We had a misfortunate thing occur to us today, but no one cares,” he said. “No one cares out there that Michael Brewer put in great time and he got hurt, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to rally around Motley, we’re going to develop a guy behind him in our room … and we’re going to find a way to win.”

Brewer was 11 of 16 for 156 yards with two touchdowns. Motley, more of a dual-threat quarterback, was 4 of 9 for 36 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran the ball seven times for 17 yards.

The Hokies wish they had a guy like Braxton Miller waiting in the wings.

Miller scored two touchdowns, including an electrifying 53-yard run, in his first game at wide receiver. The two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year, who missed last year after injuring his right throwing shoulder, was playing his first game at wide receiver. He made the position switch to ease a logjam at quarterback.

Cardale Jones, whose status as the starting quarterback wasn’t known until he came out for the first offensive series, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Ohio State avenged a 35-21 home loss last season.

Miller had a 54-yard touchdown reception to erase a 17-14 halftime deficit. Then he had a dazzling spin move on his long scoring run that lifted the Buckeyes to a 28-17 lead with 2:05 left in the third.

Jones added a 10-yard TD run in the fourth, and Barrett, who started for Ohio State until he was injured late in the season last year, threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Michael Thomas with 8:14 remaining.

The Buckeyes got off to a fast start, but the Hokies battled back.

Curtis Samuel made a great adjustment to haul in a 24-yard touchdown reception from Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott had an 80-yard scoring run, all in the first 10 minutes.

Virginia Tech responded with 17 straight points. Sam Rogers took a short pass from Brewer 51 yards for the Hokies’ first touchdown. Virginia Tech then used an interception to set up a field goal and a fumbled punt to set up a go-ahead touchdown 15 seconds before halftime on Brewer’s second touchdown pass.

Motley finished the Hokies’ scoring with a late 17-yard pass to Isaiah Ford.

College football players left in limbo as seasons get pushed

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Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson is ready to play football next month.

Or in the winter. Or even the spring.

He just wants to pull on his shoulder pads one last time, run onto the field in front of thousands of adoring fans, and experience the thrill of college football. It doesn’t matter much to Thompson whether flurries are flying or birds are chirping, he just wants an opportunity that the spread of COVID-19 is threatening to take away from him.

“I just want to play football, whenever that time may be,” Thompson said. “I just want to get the ball in my hands and compete. That’s all that worries me is I just want to play football, whenever that time is. Whenever is right.”

Thompson was speaking Tuesday, just as the Big Ten was announcing the cancellation of fall sports and exploring the option of playing football in the spring. Word soon trickled out that the Pac-12 would be following suit, joining mid-majors such as the Mid-American Conference and Mountain West in punting on a traditional college football season.

The Big 12, where the Wildcats play, had not yet made a decision. But as the dominoes begin falling across college sports, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that any of the Power Five schools step on the field next month.

“I want people to be safe. I’m not oblivious to what’s going on,” Thompson said. “But the end of the day, speaking for everybody, it would be nice to have answers, and not just have things pushed around. There’s so much uncertainty every single day – how things can change in 24 hours – it’s very hard on a player. I think if we were just to get some answers, we would be able to process what that would look like, whether that’s what we want or not.”

Many high-profile college players, including Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, have made it clear they want to play this fall. Lawrence was joined by Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard and numerous players from Florida State, Oregon and other high-profile schools over the weekend in using their social media accounts in an attempt to save the fall season – and be part of the decision-making process.

“We all want to play sports this fall. Every athlete, I’m pretty sure, wants to play their sports,” Michigan defensive back Hunter Reynolds said. “They just want to do so safely.”

President Trump even weighed in on the controversy Tuesday, repeating his call for football to happen this fall.

But the decision rests not in the hands of players or politicians but those of university presidents, who must weigh the health and safety of their students against other considerations, among them the significant financial repercussions of not having a college football season.

“This was an extremely difficult and painful decision that we know will have important impacts on our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and our fans,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “We know nothing will ease that.”

Pac-12 players at least know they won’t be playing this fall. The spotlight now turns to leagues that have yet to make a decision, and then to all administrators again as they begin wrestling with the prospects of spring football.

“It’s been a hard road not knowing whether we’re going to play or not,” said Kansas State linebacker Justin Hughes, who was looking forward to his senior season after missing much of last year to a knee injury.

“We have one last go-around. Don’t take it away from us – a year away from us – because there’s a tragedy going on right now,” Hughes said. “We want to do the thing we love safely, and whatever it takes to do that we’ll do it.”

Simply pushing college football to the spring is hardly a cut-and-dried answer. Nobody knows whether there will better treatments or even a vaccine by then, and the state of the world could be much the same as it is right now. And for those players who have NFL aspirations – Lawrence, Hubbard and many others – the prospects of risking injury by playing up until the draft almost certainly means many high-profile stars will ultimately opt out.

No wonder the fear among many college football players is not just of a lost fall but a lost season entirely.

“I need this season. This is my last season,” said Syracuse tight end Chris Elmore, who was awaiting word from the Atlantic Coast Conference on whether it will play this fall. “This could be a make-or-break for me to see whether I go to the next level or not. I’m committed to playing until they pull the plug on me.”

SEC, ACC, Big 12 still hoping to play football this fall

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And then there were three.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12 and Southeastern Conference were still moving forward Tuesday with plans for a fall college football season even as two other Power Five leagues, the Big Ten and the Pac-12, called things off.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey said he wanted to learn more about the factors that led the Big Ten and Pac-12 decisions. Sankey said he remained comfortable with the 14-member conference’s approach.

“We will continue to further refine our policies and protocols for a safe return to sports as we monitor developments around COVID-19 in a continued effort to support, educate and care for our student-athletes every day,” Sankey said in a statement.

The ACC said it would continue to make decisions based on advice from its medical advisers and state and local health officials.

“We will continue to follow our process that has been in place for months and has served us well. We understand the need to stay flexible and be prepared to adjust as medical information and the landscape evolves,” the league said in a statement.

The Big 12 Board of Directors was meeting Tuesday evening.

The Big Ten’s announcement that it was postponing all fall sports and hoping to make them up in the second semester came first. An hour later, the Pac-12 said all sports in its conference would be paused until Jan. 1, including basketball.