College football spotlight: Luke Del Rio and Florida suffer a bad break

Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio (14) gets dropped for a loss by Vanderbilt defensive end Jonathan Wynn during the first half on Sept. 30.
(Alan Youngblood / Associated Press)

Quarterback Luke Del Rio surely hoped his comeback was complete as he made his first start in 11 months for Florida.

The redshirt junior, whose father Jack is coach of the Oakland Raiders, was the starter in Florida’s first six games in 2016, until an injury to his right (throwing) shoulder — he also had a partially torn ligament in his left knee and a torn labrum in his left shoulder — ended his season.

During the offseason, he underwent surgery on both shoulders, then saw some extra competition join the Gators when Malik Zaire transferred from Notre Dame.

In the opener this season, redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks was the starter and Zaire was the top backup. But Zaire hasn’t played since finishing up that opening loss to Michigan, and the offense was sputtering under Franks against Kentucky last week until Del Rio came off the bench to lead a comeback victory.


That earned Del Rio the start Saturday against Vanderbilt. But it lasted less than a half.

Del Rio had his left shoulder driven into the ground after he completed a second-quarter pass. Helped to his feet, he headed immediately to the sideline and then to the locker room. Diagnosis: broken collarbone, out for the season.

Franks came on in relief and performed well, completing 10 of 14 passes for 185 yards with an inspirational reminder scrawled in marker on the underside of his left wrist: the word “Luke.”

“I can only imagine what he’s going through, him and his family,” Franks said of Del Rio. “It’s emotional. I definitely wanted to keep him in my prayers, especially when I was out there on the field.

“You want to play for somebody, and that was one of the persons I wanted to play for because he’s done nothing but support and helped me the whole time I’ve been here at Florida.”

The Florida offense hasn’t been clicking on all cylinders this season, but it hasn’t stalled completely for a record span. The Gators’ 38-24 win over Vanderbilt marked the 365th consecutive game in which they have scored. That tied the NCAA record established by Michigan, which wasn’t held scoreless over a 30-year span, from 1984-2014.

Florida was last shut out on Oct. 29, 1988, by Auburn, 16-0.

Purdue was best known as a basketball school when it hired Joe Tiller to run its football program, and the coach installed a spread offense that became known as “basketball on grass.”

Tiller, who coached at Purdue from 1997-2008, died Saturday at his home in Wyoming from natural causes. He was 74.

Together with quarterback Drew Brees, Tiller engineered a Boilermakers football revival, winning 87 games and losing 62 while making 10 bowl game appearances at a school that won 54 games and played in five bowl games in the 15 years before he took over.

Tiller showed typical modesty during a 2008 interview when asked how he wished to be remembered.

“I’ve always prided myself on being able to get along with anybody, whether they are a major donor or someone who comes to one game a year,” he said. “I’ve tried to respect everybody, so I would like my legacy to be that I was a good guy who could also coach football.”

He is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and four grandchildren.

North Carolina has lost 13 players to season-ending injuries, so the Tar Heels were susceptible to a pounding when they faced off against Georgia Tech’s triple option. And oh, they got one.

The Yellowjackets rushed for 403 yards, averaging 6.1 yards in 66 carries and keeping the ball nearly twice as long as the Tar Heels, 38 minutes 35 seconds to 21:25 in a 33-7 romp. Georgia Tech had scoring drives of 18 plays and 17 plays in the first half.

South Florida routed East Carolina, 61-31, for its school-record 10th consecutive win — and that’s not the only streak the Bulls have going.

They have scored 30 or more points in 22 straight games, the second-longest span of any team in decades.

Oregon scored 30 or more points in 23 consecutive games over the 2011-12 seasons. Oklahoma State, from 2010-12, and Hawaii, from 2006-07, had streaks of 22.

That South Florida did it against East Carolina wasn’t a surprise. The Pirates aren’t much for defense, having allowed a play of at least 70 yards in all five games this season and given up at least 34 points in nine consecutive games dating to last season.

The Bulls ran up 575 yards in offense, which was the least East Carolina (1-4) has given up in a game this season.

One other thing about the Pirates: Their punter, Austin Barnes, had a punt go five yards backward.

It banked off the back of a blocker.

As a senior at Skyline High in Sammamish, Wash., in 2012, Max Browne was the Gatorade national high school player of the year.

You’re probably familiar with what happened after that. Not much. He rushed to USC, graduating from high school a semester early in order to participate in 2013 spring practice, then waited and waited and waited. When he finally got a chance to start as a redshirt junior, he lost his job to Sam Darnold after a couple of games.

Browne is at Pittsburgh this season, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who have graduated to transfer with immediate eligibility. But even there he failed to show the kind of form that was expected of him coming out of high school.

Until Saturday.

Browne completed 28 of 32 passes for 410 yards and four touchdowns — connecting with 10 receivers — as Pitt routed Rice 42-10.

The breakout came one week after Browne lost his job to Ben DiNucci, who had been spelling the starter as the Panthers opened 1-2, their losses to nationally ranked Penn State and Oklahoma State. When DiNucci couldn’t win against Georgia Tech last week, Browne got another chance.

“I just tried to stay even throughout the whole thing,” Browne said of the shuffling. “There’s a lot of season left. When they gave me the nod, it was just business as usual.”

Undefeated Minnesota came into its game against Maryland with the nation’s stingiest defense against the run, giving up 59.0 yards per game. Maryland entered with its third-string quarterback, and off a lopsided loss to Central Florida.

So you can guess what happened: Maryland, led by Ty Johnson’s 130 yards in 18 carries, ran for 262 yards, and backup-to-the-backup quarterback Max Bortenschlager completed 18 of 28 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Final score: Maryland 31, Minnesota 24. Of course.

Bryce Love of Stanford is only the third player since 2004 to rush for more than 1,000 in the first five games of a season. After gaining a school-record 301 yards in 25 carries against Arizona State, he has 1,088 yards in 98 carries. Garrett Wolfe of Northerm Illinois had 1,181 yards through five games in 2006, and Leonard Fournette of Louisiana State had 1,022 yards in 2015… Ervin Philips, a senior wide receiver for Syracuse, established a school and Atlantic Coast Conference record with 17 receptions for 188 yards against North Carolina State in a 33-25 loss.

Associated Press reports contributed to this article.

Twitter: @MikeHiserman