Canadian Patrice Rene appears set to return to North Carolina’s lineup in time for the No. 15 Tarheels’ rivalry game against Virginia and a potential all-Canadian showdown.
The redshirt senior defensive back didn’t play in North Carolina’s 41-23 win over then No. 13 North Carolina State last weekend due to an unspecified injury. But head coach Mack Brown said earlier this week he expects both Rene and safety Cam Kelly to play Saturday when North Carolina (4-1) faces Virginia (1-4).
“Their rehab was delayed because of COVID because they couldn’t be at the office and couldn’t work with our training staff,” Brown told reporters his week. “They’re better now, I do think they’ll both play this weekend, really for the first time.
“Usually, it takes about nine months for a knee and with theirs, it took more like a year just because of the lack of being able to work out with our training staff and our strength staff like they wanted to.”
The six-foot-three, 205-pound Rene, of Ottawa, played in two games last year, starting one, before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Rene made his first start for North Carolina in 2017 and started all of the team’s contests in 2018, recording his two career interceptions that season.
The return of Rene and Stewart is certainly timely for North Carolina as sophomore cornerback Storm Duck will miss a fourth straight game with an undisclosed injury.
On Saturday, Rene could find himself having to defend against Virginia senior receiver Terrell Jana, a Vancouver native.
The six-foot, 195-pound Jana is Virginia’s second-leading receiver with 25 catches for 303 yards and a touchdown. Jana, a Cavaliers team captain, had three catches for a team-high 60 yards in last weekend’s 19-14 loss to No. 11 Miami.
Since starting the season with 39-20 win over Duke on Sept. 26, the Cavaliers have dropped four straight. A 41-23 decision to top-ranked Clemson on Oct. 3 started the team’s losing streak as Virginia’s defeats have come against teams with a combined 18-5 overall record.
Both Jana and Rene appeared on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s fall top-20 list for next year’s draft. Terrell was ranked third overall while Rene appeared at No. 8.
ROLLING ALONG: Upstart Coastal Carolina and Canadian linebacker Enock Makonzo look to keep their breakout season going.
The No. 20 Chanticleers (5-0) are in The Associated Press Top-25 rankings for the first time. They’ll chase a sixth straight victory Saturday when they face Georgia State (2-2).
The five-foot-11, 195-pound Makonzo is third on the team in tackles with 29 (20 solo), five tackles for a loss , two sacks, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. The redshirt junior from Lachine, Que., started the team’s first two games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury.
DIFFICULT PROPOSITION: A tough bounce-back proposition for No. 18 Penn State and Canadian linebacker Jesse Luketa.
The Nittany Lions were upset 36-35 in overtime by Indiana in the season opener for both teams last weekend. On Saturday, Penn State takes on No. 3 Ohio State, which is coming off a lopsided 52-17 victory over Nebraska.
Luketa, a six-foot-three, 242-pound junior from Ottawa, had three tackles against Indiana. The criminology major made his first career starts for the Nittany Lions last year after seeing action as a true freshman in 2018.
Safety Jonathan Sutherland, a five-foot-11, 202-pound redshirt freshman also from Ottawa, had a solo tackle against Indiana.
Luketa and Sutherland comprise half the Canadian content on Penn State’s roster. Tight end Theo Johnson, of Windsor, Ont., and receiver Malick Meiga, a freshman from St. Jerome, Que., are also with the Nittany Lions.
And in April, quarterback Christian Veilleux, another Ottawa native, committed to Penn State in April.
UNBEATEN COWBOYS: Don’t look now but the sixth-ranked Oklahoma Cowboys are the Big 12’s only unbeaten team.
Albertans Chuba Hubbard and Amen Ogbongbemiga have helped stake the Cowboys to a 4-0 record heading into their game Saturday versus Texas (3-2).
Hubbard, a six-foot-one, 208-pound running back from Sherwood Park, Alta., has run for 478 yards on 94 carries (5.1-yard average) and five TDs this season. The redshirt junior has run for at least 100 yards in 18 of his past 21 games, including his last three straight.
Hubbard rushed for over 2,000 yards last season. Not surprisingly, the Cowboys are the Big 12’s top-rushing team, averaging 216.3 yards per game.
But the defence has also been solid, allowing just 12 points per game, tops in the conference and eighth nationally. Oklahoma State has also held opponents to a combined total of 11-for-57 on third-down conversions (193 conversion rate, third in FBS).
Ogbongbemiga is third on the team in tackles with 25 with 1.5 sacks. The six-foot-one, 235-pound senior from Calgary was named Oklahoma State’s top defensive player last year after registering 100 tackles.
He’s also the second-ranked prospect on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 list for next year’s draft behind Iowa offensive lineman Alaric Jackson.
NEXT MAN UP: Canadian John Metchie III showed last weekend he’s capable of picking up the slack created by the loss of Jaylen Waddle.
Waddle, regarded as one of the most explosive players in U.S. college football, suffered a broken ankle in No. 2 Alabama’s 48–17 rout of Tennessee last weekend. Metchie, a six-foot, 195-pound sophomore from Brampton, Ont., was the Tide’s leading receiver in the game with seven catches for 151 yards.
The loss of Waddle is a huge blow to Alabama’s championship aspirations. The five-foot-10, 182-pound junior remains the Tide’s leading receiver with 25 catches for 557 yards (22.3-yard average) and four TDs.
But Metchie is third on the team in receiving with 21 receptions for 499 yards and three TDs. His 23.8-yard average per reception is tops with the Tide and he’s averaging a stellar 99.8-yards receiving per game.
As a freshman, Metchie had four catches for 23 yards while appearing in all 13 of Alabama’s games.
Alabama (5-0) faces Mississippi State (1-3) on Saturday.
EXTRA POINTS: This week, Pro Football Focus College listed Alonzo Addae of Pickering, Ont., a senior at West Virginia, second in its highest-graded power five safeties. The five-foot-11, 189-pound Canadian was 10th on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s fall Top-20 prospects for the league’s ‘21 draft. PFF also listed Metchie second among in its highest passer rating when targeted… Montreal’s Bruno Labelle, a tight end with the No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0), needs just one reception Saturday against Memphis to establish a career high. The six-foot-four, 248-pound senior has seven catches for 47 yards and a TD this season, matching the career best he first established at the school in 2018. Labelle comes in having registered 17 career catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communication last year and was named to the 2019 AAC All-Academic team. Earlier this year, he was ranked No. 17 on the fall CFL Scouting Bureau of the top-20 prospects for next year’s CFL draft … The 13th-ranked Michigan Wolverines and Michigan State Spartans renew their long-standing rivalry Saturday. Luiji Vilain, a six-foot-four, 253-pound senior defensive end from Ottawa, will suit up for Michigan. Vilain was ranked No. 15 on the CFL Scouting Bureau’s top-20 fall list for next year’s college draft.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2020
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press