Connect with us

News

UNC football: McCaffrey talks COVID-19 protocols, vaccination status of program

Published

on

UNC football: McCaffrey talks COVID-19 protocols, vaccination status of program

COVID-19 still isn’t going away nor is its impact on the University of Northern Colorado football team.

UNC coach Ed McCaffrey said Wednesday during his weekly press conference that players and coaches are regularly missing due to COVID safety protocols.

At one point, roughly 25 to 30% of the personnel was in quarantine due to positive tests or contact tracing. Sometimes the staff doesn’t know until the day before a game whether someone will be available, which makes it hard to ensure everyone is prepared.

Defensive coordinator Scott Darnell has led his group with little assistance the last several weeks.

“Availability of players and coaches is huge, just having them available,” McCaffrey said. “We don’t have a lot of rules within our program and show up, work hard and have fun. And we struggled to follow rule No. 1, which is just to show up.”

McCaffrey alluded to Washington State’s firing of football coach Nick Rolovich and assistants for not following state vaccination mandates. He thinks it’s because the university understood “the threat that COVID poses to people that aren’t vaccinated,” additionally, teams can’t perform up to their capabilities.

About 80% of the team has been vaccinated, the university told the Greeley Tribune last month.

The university requires vaccination against COVID-19, among other required vaccinations, for students and staff. It offered exemptions but required unvaccinated individuals to undergo regular testing and additional safety regulations.

McCaffrey encouraged all of the eligible players, staff and coaches to receive their vaccination in the offseason. Additionally, McCaffrey said the program welcomed Athletic Director Darren Dunn and medical professionals to speak with the team about the importance of vaccination.

At the end of the day, he allowed them to make their own choices and experience any consequences that may occur.

“We went through this thoroughly before the season,” McCaffrey said. “I just decided — and maybe it’s my fault, you know, maybe other coaches forced their coaches and players to get vaccinated — I decided that it’s each individual’s choice, but I encouraged them to.”

UNC follows quarantine guidelines from the local and state health departments, and it follows specific protocols from the Big Sky and NCAA.

McCaffrey said unvaccinated players must quarantine for roughly two weeks if they test positive for COVID-19 or come in contact with someone who tested positive.

Anyone who tests positive, regardless of vaccination status, needs to quarantine for at least 10 days.

Vaccinated players who come in contact with a positive case don’t have to quarantine if they test negative within three to five days.

The Bears have missed chunks of players due to positive tests, contact tracing and false positives.

Unfortunately, a handful of vaccinated players and coaches have experienced breakthrough illness.

A couple of cases have been “really scary.” McCaffrey said most of his personnel is on the mend, but some are still dealing with tough situations.

“I felt for liability reasons and other reasons, I’m not going to (force them),” McCaffrey said. “I’m going to let everybody know how important (the vaccine) is; let them know that’s the biggest challenge to our season, how it could bring us down if we’re missing too many players and coaches.

“Everyone made their choices,” he continued. “Unfortunately, for us, we have a high percentage of unvaccinated players and coaches, and certainly the worst case scenario happened.”

Even with COVID, which McCaffrey doesn’t want to downplay, he said it’s been a good opportunity for young players to get experience they might have otherwise missed on the sidelines.

Hopefully, though, the team can figure out a rotation that will work, no matter the situation, to end the season on a high note. Other teams will come to play and don’t care about the Bears’ struggles.

“It’s been very difficult,” McCaffrey said, noting unvaccinated individuals are still welcomed and encouraged to get vaccinated. “I hope that it’s not something that is going to significantly impact the rest of our season or our offseason or next season. We have to figure out what to do.”

UNC (2-5, 1-3 Big Sky) plays Southern Utah (1-6, 0-4 Big Sky) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Cedar City. The game will be televised on ESPN+.

google news

News

Patriots pound out 14-10 win at Buffalo, strengthen grip on AFC East

Published

on

Patriots pound out 14-10 win at Buffalo, strengthen grip on AFC East

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The easiest way to explain the Patriots has been to point to the past.

To compare this doubted, slow-starting bunch to the 2001 team, a Super Bowl champion backboned by strong defense and a powerful enough run game to support a young quarterback. On Monday, these Pats turned the clock back even further.

Amid blustery conditions, the Patriots set a franchise record with only three pass attempts and beat the Bills 14-10 behind a historic ground-and-pound approach. The Pats rushed for a season-high 222 yards and ran on 32 consecutive offensive snaps spanning the second and fourth quarters. The Patriots became the first team to win while attempting three or fewer passes since 1974.

Defensively, they repelled three straight Buffalo drives that reached the red zone to close out their win. Defending fourth-and-14 at his own 18, Pats defensive back Myles Bryant broke up Josh Allen’s final pass to officially send the Bills packing moments inside the 2-minute warning. Allen finished 15-of-30 for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Buffalo’s two prior drives ended in field goal attempts, a 33-yarder blown wide right and a 35-yarder made late in the third quarter. Swirling gusts were constant inside Highmark Stadium, even reaching 50 mph during play. But nothing could knock the determined Patriots off course.

At 9-4 and winners of a league-high seven straight, the Pats extended their division lead to a game and a half and ensured they will lead the AFC when they return after their upcoming bye week.

Rookie quarterback Mac Jones went 2-of-3 for 19 yards passing and took four quarterback sneaks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots’ one first-half pass attempt marked the fewest by an NFL team since 1978.

The Patriots and Bills both sputtered at the start, the wind affecting a third-down toss to Damien Harris that slipped through his hands and a third-down pass to Buffalo tight end Dawson Knox whose own butterfingers led to another punt.

The Pats failed to bully Buffalo (7-5) on their second series and again rain into a brick wall over three straight carries. Jake Bailey then sailed a 15-yard punt he lost immediately to the wind. Lucky for the Patriots, Bills running back Devin Singletary fumbled a hand-off four plays later, and defensive tackle Lawrence Guy fell on it, killing a drive that started in their territory.

Finally, the bullies broke through.

Taking a third-down toss left, Damien Harris (110 rushing yards) followed picture perfect blocking from his offensive line and cut upfield against a sea of Bills defenders before speeding all alone to a 64-yard touchdown. His score was the Patriots’ longest rushing touchdown in a regular-season game since Curtis Martin in 1997. Facing a relentless wind, the Pats bypassed an point-after try and instead scored a 2-point conversion sending Brandon Bolden on another toss left.

Ahead 8-0, the Pats defense flexed again late in the first quarter and choked out another drive. N’Keal Harry then curiously joined All-Pro Gunner Olszewski back deep for the first punt return of his NFL career. Sure enough, the ball soared toward Harry, took one bounce and glanced off his facemask for a fumble. An alert Bills coverage unit pounced on it at the Patriots’ 14-yard line.

On the very next snap, Allen rifled a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis. While the Pats answered immediately with a 54-yard field goal drive, Buffalo’s run defense stonewalled them through halftime.

Breaking out of the locker room, the Bills booted their third straight punt and again yielded little to the Patriots’ rushing attack. Buoyed by another mistake — Bryant’s unnecessary roughness hit on Allen as he scampered out of bounds — Buffalo tacked on a field goal. And again, the Patriots answered with a field goal drive, this time a 33-yarder from Nick Folk.

In the fourth quarter, the Bills crawled into Patriots territory with a mix of short completions, runs and an Allen scramble. Then another Pats penalty, a horse collar tackle courtesy of Dont’a Hightower, vaulted them inside the 10-yard line. Dusting themselves off, the Patriots stood their ground against a first-down run, then sacked Allen on second-and-goal and forced a hopeless incompletion on third down.

Tyler Bass’ ensuing kick went wide right. After another Patriots punt, the Bills marched back, only to be beaten back again by the wind and the NFL’s best defense.

Here were the best and worst Patriot performances Monday:

Best

Offensive line The Pats piled up 222 rushing yards without any help from their passing game. That’s a huge credit to the big men up front.

Red-zone defense Buffalo finished 1-of-4 inside the red zone.

DT Davon Godchaux He finished with a game-high 10 tackles and helped limit the Bills to four yards per carry.

Worst

WR N’Keal Harry His fumble led to the Bills’ only points through three quarters.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Guregian: No need to pump the brakes on the Patriots. They’re for real.

Published

on

Guregian: No need to pump the brakes on the Patriots. They’re for real.

The game came down to a testament of wills, but more important, coaching decisions.

Playing in crazy elements, with gusting winds and blustery freezing temperatures, surely altered the game plans for the Patriots and Bills in this Monday Night Football showdown of AFC East titans.

That’s why the Patriots having Bill Belichick remains a huge advantage.

He identified the way to win in those elements, and stuck with it no matter the down and distance.

He was going to be conservative with his offense, sink or swim.

That plan didn’t include much of Mac Jones.

Belichick ran, ran, and ran some more. Every down, every possession, he had Jones hand the ball off, and it worked to the tune of a hard-fought 14-10 win in Orchard Park.

If the Patriots had lost, there would inevitably be more questions about Belichick’s strategy, but it’s hard to argue with results.

The Patriots now have seven straight wins, and remain atop the AFC East at 9-4, and also stick as the AFC’s top seed.

After the game, Belichick called the conditions “somewhat challenging.” Naturally, he didn’t make a big deal out of only throwing the ball three times.

“We kind of played the way we felt we needed to win,” said Belichick.

Usually, the Hoodie makes opposing teams play left-handed, taking away their best asset.

Against the Bills, he voluntarily played left-handed, taking Jones out of the mix. And the Patriots still ruled.

Talk about taking the starch out of the Bills, who had to be deflated being crushed in the trenches, and losing their grip in the division so soon.

Plus, they have no idea what to make of Jones, still having to face him again down the road.

Maybe some — including the Bills — will feel Belichick’s strategy was an indictment on the rookie quarterback, who passed just once in the first half, and only twice in the second half.

It appeared more a reflection of Belichick sticking with what he felt was the best way to win. Ditto offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Heavy personal, ground and pound. Nonstop. Forty-six running plays, three passes.

“The coaches have been in a lot of games like this,” said Jones. “Coach Belichick, Coach Josh, they’ve been in every type of element there is. They know what it takes to win.

“So I think we knew if we held onto the ball, we’d be OK.”

Jones, who was experiencing those nasty conditions for the first time, doesn’t have the strongest arm, and in those winds, Belichick didn’t want to take a chance.

The elements spoke to the Hoodie, and he and McDaniels didn’t blink with their intentions to pound the rock, and also, rely on the defense to keep Josh Allen at bay.

Even the strong-armed Allen (15-for-30, 145 yards) had some difficulty rifling some balls through the 40 mph winds.

Turnovers loomed large. Ball security and field position was paramount.

Ultimately, Belichick wasn’t trying to earn style points, he was trying to win a significant football game.

And that’s just what he did.

No need to pump the brakes on these Patriots, even playing old style football. They’re for real. They are legitimately going to make noise down the road.

And that just eats away at Bills head coach Sean McDermott, who refused to give Belichick much credit for the win, or simply being out-coached.

“I don’t think, with all due respect, it’s not a Bill Belichick type thing,” said McDermott, “it’s what are you doing with the opportunities you got.”

Well, the Bills certainly didn’t do much. They were 1-for-4 in the red zone, and largely couldn’t run the ball. As it was, Allen was their leading rusher with 39 yards. The Patriots, meanwhile, ran all day.

They’re built to win in December and January in the outdoors. Between their defense and ability to run, they’re going to be a tough out especially against teams like the Bills, whose defense is built more to stop teams with elite passing games, such as the Chiefs.

Having a lighter, quicker front may be good against Patrick Mahomes & Co. but not against mashers and maulers like the Patriots.

The Bills knew the Patriots were going to run, loading the box with seven and eight guys, and they still ran, and did so effectively. At one point, McDaniels called 32 straight running plays.

Damien Harris gained over 100 yards. Rhamondre Stevenson was just as huge, as the Patriots ran down the Bills’ collective throats for 222 yards.

The Patriots were effective running whether they were going into the wind, or had it at their backs.

This was old-school running as McDaniels made good use of traps with great blocking from the line up front, along with fullback Jakob Johnson and N’Keal Harry at times.

The Patriots had a lead, so there was no real need to put the ball up in Belichick’s mind and gamble.

But that plan also called for the defense to stop the less-conservative Bills, with Allen putting the ball up, largely because Buffalo trailed.

Unlike his offense, Belichick didn’t hold back with his defense, sending an all-out blitz against Allen with a fourth-and-14 from the Patriots 18-yard line with 2:00 to play to help preserve the lead, and the win.

Belichick played his cards right, and in the process, demoralized the Bills, and remain a team no one wants to play, especially outdoors in the elements.

Devin McCourty put it all in perspective, talking about finding ways to win, and doing whatever it takes to accomplish the goal.

“That’s why I love playing here. This team isn’t about one person, it isn’t about egos, it isn’t about this is what we do, so we’re going to do it  . . . it’s about winning,” said McCourty. “We’re going to adjust and find a way to win . . . I think everyone will look at this game and say, they played good defense. But we ran the ball, we broke out a long run when we needed to run the ball and take the clock down . . . this week our offense morphed into a team that was going to run the football and it worked.”

google news
Continue Reading

News

Boston pension payouts at-a-glance

Published

on

Boston pension payouts at-a-glance

The city’s pension payouts list police and fire commanders atop the heap with a total of 470 retirees from various departments pulling down six figures annually. Here are the annual pensions at a glance:

Top 5:

$193,570 William Gross, former police commissioner

$185,416 John McDonough, ex-school superintendent

$181,979 Lisa Holmes, past BPD superintendent

$178,086 William Ridge, past BPD superintendent

$173,278 Joseph Finn, former fire commissioner

Oldest pensions:

1956, Joseph Vogel, firefighter hurt on job, $14,446

1959, Leroy Mahoney, firefighter injured, $20,158

1964, Robert Glynn, police officer injured, $20,083

1970, James Hardaway, firefighter hurt, $19,129

1974, Frank Murano, BFD injured on job, $24,835

Miscellaneous:

$111,126, top-earning retired teacher

$108,890, top fire scuba diver

$52,673 Ray Flynn, former mayor

$33,752, tree climber

$32,562, vehicle impound specialist

$21,216, telephone operator

Go to bostonherald.com for the database listing all 12,718 city retirees.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending