The Hornets dropped their third game in a row on Monday night in Utah, falling 112-102 despite battling all the way back into the game, even taking the lead at one point after being down as many as 21 points in the first quarter. Those first quarter struggles have become a major issue for the team during this road trip, as the team has trailed by at least 17 or more points at some part of the first quarter this week and have been outscored 113-55 overall in the quarter in those three affairs.
Wednesday was early signing for the class of 2022 in college football and it may have been the wildest signing day in the history of the sport. Not only did teams like Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Michigan have big day in terms of landing prospects, but the college football world was sent into a state of shock when the No. 1 player in the class according to 247Sports Composite player rankings, Travis Hunter, flipped his commitment from Florida State to FCS Jackson State. The move sent college football fans into a tizzy and began speculation about what led to the move from the extremely talented defensive back from Suwanee, GA.
The inaugural season for Charlotte FC is nearing, as last night they held their expansion draft, adding three players to their roster for the upcoming 2022 season. Today their full schedule for the season was released. Last night on Sports Radio FNZ, our very own Willie P hosted draft coverage for the club and followed that up with a visit on Wilson & Norfleet. Willie was asked about the playing model we can expect from Charlotte FC in Bank of America Stadium, and he replied: An attacking style. He (Miguel Angel Ramirez) wants to play on the other side of the pitch. He wants to have an aggressive mindset. He wants to have very fast wingers and forwards that can keep the ball centralized, and in the attackng zone.
Bank of America Stadium was the focus of the Queen City sports fan on Tuesday night and for the first time in a while it wasn't about the struggles of the Panther franchise that has some concerns about its future. Instead, the focus was on the MLS expansion franchise that held its expansion draft as they selected five players for the new franchise. Forward Orrin McKinze Gaines II (Austin FC), defender Anton Walkes (Atlanta United) and Joseph Mora (D.C. United) were the players selected by the franchise that they held on to at the conclusion of the night and will be a part of the inaugural season of MLS soccer in Charlotte. The team also selected defender Tristan Blackmon (Los Angeles Football Club) and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City FC), both of whom were traded to other teams in exchange for valuable General Allocation Money (GAM) that can be used in free agency.
There's no denying that the transfer portal has changed college football over the last couple of seasons, as college athletics is going through a major overhaul with NIL, the portal, etc. Another major example of that was former Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler, who entered the season as the presumptive favorite to win the Heisman Trophy and be the #1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Rattler was benched during the annual Oklahoma-Texas showdown, and outside a brief stint against Baylor, didn't play much the rest of the way, as freshman QB Caleb Williams guided the Sooners to a 10-2 record, and a berth in the Alamo Bowl. After the season concluded, Rattler announced he was entering the transfer portal, after losing his starting job, and his head coach Lincoln Riely left Norman for Los Angeles, to try and revive the USC program. After roughly 3 weeks of speculation of where Rattler would land, we got that answer last night, as he announced he will be transferring to play at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are currently 6-6 and will compete in the Duke's Mayo Bowl against North Carolina, on Thursday, December 30th in Charlotte. Shane Beamer more than exceeded expectations entering the season, and with the transfer of Rattler, the Gamecocks could be in store for a big season in 2022. Richard Johnson from the SEC Network, joined Wilson & Norfleet earlier this morning, and when asked about what attracted Rattler to Columbia, Richard replied: If he has eyes on getting to the next level (NFL), and getting to the next level quickly, one decent year in 2022 at South Carolina, against the likes of Georgia, against the likes of Clemson, against some of the teams South Carolina will play next season, will be a rocket booster pack for him.
James Bouknight might be the most polarizing player on this 2021-22 roster in terms of his role with the team. In the midst of playing in just seven of the team's first 24 games of the season, fans were calling for him to be given an opportunity and now that that has happened, fans want more and rightfully so. Bouknight has played in each of the last five games during this period of COVID issues for the Hornets and has played well. He is averaging 10.0 points per game and shooting 50.0% from behind the arc while averaging 17.7 minutes per game during that stretch, leaving to wonder if he deserves a role in the rotation for this team even when they return back to full strength.
There have been many successful college football coaches that have made the jump to the NFL, and it didn't work out. Names that come to mind our Lou Holtz who won a national championship at Notre Dame, Steve Spurrier who won a championship at Florida, Bobby Petrino who built Louisville into a national program, and oh Nick Saban who is arguably the best coach in the history of college football. When the Panthers lured away Matt Rhule from Baylor and outbid the Giants to get him, it was perceived that David Tepper had found in Carolina what Mike Tomlin is in Pittsburgh. A 10-19 record later, it appears that Rhule's time in Carolina is running short, as players started voicing their concern in the media following the loss to Atlanta yesterday. Urban Meyer entered the NFL this season when he took over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the #1 overall pick in Trevor Lawrence. Meyer had won national championships at both Florida and Ohio State, before taking on the NFL. Jacksonville has managed only two wins this season, as their coach has had issues both on the field and off the field. He's fought an uphill battle from day one, and it doesn't seem to be getting any better, any time soon. Mello Miller from the Draft Scout joined Wilson & Norfleet earlier today, and when asked about the struggles of Rhule and Meyer he replied: I'm more surprised at the struggles of Matt Rhule than Urban Meyer. (Rhule) I thought that he would be such a good NFL pedigree guy. That he could come in, and pair him with Joe Brady, would be pretty good Ironically enough, it looks like both Matt Rhule and Urban Meyer are headed to faster exits than anticipated upon their arrival in the NFL.
Sunday really felt like a last ditch effort for the Panthers to save a season that was going off the rails after a 3-0 start and that last ditch effort fell short against the Atlanta Falcons thanks to three turnovers and another lackluster overall performance in their eighth loss in the last ten games. This is the fifth straight loss that the team has suffered at home after two straight wins to begin the season, wins that look even less impressive now than they did at the time.
For the first time in their life, the Martin twins were separated this offseason, with Caleb heading to Miami, while Cody stayed here in Charlotte. "That's my best friend," Cody told the Mac Attack when he joined Mac and Bone on Friday morning. "We been together forever and whether it was playing sports or whatever the case is, we've done everything together. It's an adjustment; it's still an adjustment." Both guys have seemed to make the most of the separation, as both are having career years so far this season. Caleb is averaging a career-high in points per game (7.6), field goal percentage (48.9%), effective field goal percentage (56.3%) and rebounds per game (3.2) while playing the most extensive minutes of his career so far this season in Miami. Cody, meanwhile has become an extremely important piece for the Hornets this season, posting his career-highs in points per game (8.6), field goal percentage (48.8%), 3-point field goal percentage (50.0%), effective field goal percentage (57.1%), free throw percentage (57.1%), assists (2.4) and steals (1.4). Not too bad for guys what are still supposedly adjusting.
It is officially due or die time for the Carolina Panthers, and maybe Matt Rhule. Carolina is coming off their scheduled by week, sitting at 5-7, and just recently fired their offensive coordinator, Joe Brady. Even with being two games below .500, the Panthers are only 1 game out of the final playoff spot in the NFC heading into Sunday's matchup with the Atlanta Falcons. Atlanta brings with them a 5-7 record as well, and have won all of their games away from Atlanta, including winning in London earlier this season. It is well documented that Panthers QB, who is from southern Georgia, grew up a fan of the Falcons, and idolized Micheal Vick as a kid. Earlier today on Wilson & Norfleet, Carl Dukes a radio host from 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, joined the show to talk about Sunday's game and Newton specifically. Dukes expressed that Newton will be ready to play on Sunday, saying: "You're going to get Cam's best effort on Sunday, simply from a pride standpoint. I don't know what the game plan is, but I do know this; he gets up for the Falcons, and he will be ready" In his career, Newton is 6-9 against his division rival, having thrown for 21 touchdowns against 16 interceptions in their 15 career games against Atlanta. Carolina is set to host the Falcons, Sunday at 1 PM at Bank of America Stadium.