Georgia Tech preparing 2 backup QBs with Jeff Sims still injured

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
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ATLANTA — Georgia Tech is preparing two backup quarterbacks to play at Florida State with Jeff Sims nursing a sprained foot.

“He had an MRI, and everything checked out with it,” interim Yellow Jackets coach Brent Key said of Sims. “He’s day-to-day moving forward.”

Key said Sims hasn’t been ruled out against the Seminoles, but he is planning to use backups Zach Gibson – a redshirt sophomore and an Akron transfer who filled in for Sims in last week’s loss to Virginia – and freshman Zach Pyron if Sims can’t play.

“I fully expect both Zachs will play in this game,” Key said. “(Sims) is day-to-day, but you have to expect both scenarios.”

Sims, in his third year as Georgia Tech’s starter, has completed 110 of 188 passes for 1,115 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He’s also run for 288 yards and a score.

Sims was injured in the second quarter against Virginia and didn’t return. Gibson came in and completed 10 of 25 passes for 99 yards. Pyron has no game experience.

“When you get in those situations, you can’t overload a kid,” Key said. “You have to play to their strengths and what will help you move the football during the game. To be able to have both those guys, Gibson and Pyron, utilize the strengths that they have will help us as an offense.”

The Yellow Jackets (3-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 2-1 under Key as they prepare to face Florida State (4-3, 2-3).

Florida schools, South Carolina move home games ahead of Ian

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Three Sunshine State universities took steps to salvage home football games as Hurricane Ian approached.

Florida moved its game against Eastern Washington from Saturday to Sunday. Central Florida did the same with its game against SMU. South Florida relocated its Saturday game against East Carolina from Tampa, Florida, to Boca Raton.

Although South Carolina is a safer distance from the major storm, the Gamecocks didn’t want to wait to make a decision regarding their game against South Carolina State. Those schools will now play Thursday night, two days earlier than previously scheduled and at least a day before Ian reaches the area.

Stetson canceled its home game against San Diego scheduled for Saturday in the Pioneer Football League.

No. 23 Florida State and 22nd-ranked Wake Forest, meanwhile, are “closely monitoring” the storm while expecting to play as planned in Tallahassee.

“We remain confident that we will be able to safely host Saturday’s football game against Wake Forest at its scheduled kickoff time,” FSU athletic director Michael Alford said Wednesday.

Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson was cautiously optimistic.

“It’s one of those deals that you certainly hope that the ACC office makes the right decision,” Clawson said. “And if they don’t, we will. We’re not going to travel down there and put anybody at risk. … Obviously, this is in the league’s hands and Florida State’s hands. We would hope that they make the right decision. But if we feel there’s any danger to our players going down there, we’re not going to go.”

The storm is expected to hit the state’s southwest coast Wednesday. It tore into western Cuba on Tuesday as a major hurricane, with nothing to stop it from intensifying into a catastrophic Category 4 storm before it hits Florida, where officials ordered 2.5 million people to evacuate before it crashes ashore Wednesday.

Universities across the state closed campuses for the week. But football is big business and a much-needed revenue source for many. Playing the cross-country game at Florida guarantees Eastern Washington $750,000, a significant payday for a school with an athletic budget around $17.5 million.

South Carolina State also relies on its “paycheck game” from South Carolina.

“There’s no perfect plan, but we’re trying to put together the best thing for our team at this moment,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said.

The Gamecocks last moved a game due to weather in 2016, playing a scheduled Saturday game on Sunday.

The NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers relocated their football operations to the Miami area Tuesday in preparation for Sunday night’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Buccaneers are expected to practice at the Dolphins’ training complex in Miami Gardens starting Wednesday. So far, there has been no change for the game, which is scheduled for Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

“We are not discussing any potential (relocation) sites,” the NFL said Wednesday in a statement. “We continue to monitor the storm and are in constant communication with the clubs and local authorities. Decision could be made as late as Friday.”

The Dolphins play at Cincinnati on Thursday night. They changed their travel plans for Wednesday and are leaving a few hours earlier than originally scheduled, in anticipation of severe weather.

Also in Tampa, the Rays have other concerns besides clinching an AL wild card. As they opened a three-game series in Cleveland, players and coaches were keeping an eye on the impending hurricane. The Tampa Bay-St. Petersburg area was last directly hit by a hurricane in 1921.

“Watching the news, watching the computer,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I know the Bay area has been pretty fortunate over many, many years now, but just thinking about everybody there and hopefully people have done right to prepare and wherever it goes, it doesn’t hit as hard as the speculation.”

Meanwhile, the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning postponed preseason games scheduled to be played at home Wednesday against Carolina and Thursday against Nashville.

The NBA’s Orlando Magic called off practice on what would have been their second day of training camp Wednesday, and said their plans for Thursday were uncertain. Forecasters say Orlando – in the central part of the state – could see flooding and, at minimum, tropical storm conditions as Ian nears the coast.

Rodemaker rallies Florida State to 35-31 win at Louisville

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Florida State at Louisville
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Pressed into duty on the road Friday night due to an injury, Tate Rodemaker lifted Florida State to yet another improbable victory.

This time, the Seminoles didn’t need a blocked extra point with no time left to win as they did two weeks ago against LSU. Instead, they relied on their backup quarterback to lead the way in a 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Louisville.

The sophomore came in after Jordan Travis suffered a lower left leg injury with a little more than four minutes left in the second quarter and Florida State down 21-14. All the Valdosta, Georgia native did was lead the Seminoles to three, 75-yard second-half scoring drives. The last came with 7:54 left with a sensational 2-yard catch in the end zone by Johnny Wilson that put the Seminoles (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) up for good.

Rodemaker, who finished 6-for-10 passing for 109 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, said his mindset upon entering the game was to treat it like his work during the week.

“The first half I just kind of got thrown out there,” Rodemaker said. “The second half was, I just went out there and played my game. I just told myself, `This is like practice and I’d been doing it all week.’ I just transferred it over to the game.”

Florida State gained 260 of its 455 yards with Rodemaker taking the snaps. Treshaun Ward added 126 yards rushing on 10 carries for the Seminoles. Wilson finished with seven catches for 149 yards and both touchdowns from Rodemaker.

Florida State coach Mike Norvell said his team “willed” itself to the win, and that was due in large part to Rodemaker’s performance.

“That was an example of what this team is built on,” Norvell said. “It was a special night. That is one that I will remember forever. That was an incredible atmosphere. We’ll talk about that heart and that identity.”

The Cardinals (1-2, 0-2) lost despite racking up 495 yards on offense. Malik Cunningham threw for 243 yards on 21-of-34 passing with a touchdown and an interception. The fifth-year senior also added 127 yards rushing and two scores on 17 carries.

Hindering the Cardinals’ effort were three turnovers, including a second-quarter fumble by Cunningham on a botched handoff at the Seminoles 12 early in the second quarter. Louisville, which held four leads in the game, also committed 11 penalties for 81 yards.

“It’s just very hurtful and disappointing, you know, not being able to win this game,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “I felt Florida State is a good football team, but we were right there and going toe to toe and in control of the game until late.”

The Cardinals had a chance to win the game after Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 36-yard field goal with 1:44 left, but Kevin Knowles II picked off a Cunningham pass at the Florida State 38 with 37 seconds left.

TRAVIS INJURY

Friday’s game was a battle of attrition, with Travis’ injury being the most prominent injury. He left the game with just more than four minutes left in the first half after being sacked by Louisville defensive end Yaya Diaby, who had grabbed Travis by the legs on the play.

Travis walked off the field with trainers and went under the stadium. In the second half, he was on the sideline with crutches and a boot.

Before the injury, Travis, who started his college career at Louisville, had started hot, completing his first 11 passes. He finished with 157 yards, two scores and a pick on 13-of-17 passing.

Norvell said the team will evaluate Travis when the Seminoles return to Tallahassee.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: Losing Travis for any length of time could be a big blow for the Seminoles. However, for at least Friday night, Rodemaker’s heroics were enough to lead the comeback.

Louisville: It may be hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but given the way the Cardinals season started, Friday’s game was one they really needed. The defense that showed up in the second half of the win at Central Florida last week failed to show up when needed in the second half on Friday.

UP NEXT

Florida State returns home for a primetime game Saturday night against Boston College.

Louisville hosts South Florida next Saturday afternoon.