Posts Tagged 'south carolina'

Spurrier’s Righteous Football Program

Steve Spurrier runs a tight ship....unless you peform on the field (google images)

Steve Spurrier runs a tight ship….unless you perform on the field.  News broke yesterday that South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team.  The “Old Ball Coach”  really put his foot down and sent a clear message to his players–if you are going to have off the-field-problems, your statistics had better be there…otherwise, you’re gone.

Garcia had more than his share of off-the-field.  Although the NCAA doesn’t keep the stat on their main board, Garcia’s unprecedented five suspensions has to be some kind of record.

Despite those suspensions, including his last documented on last spring indefinitely for causing a disturbance in a mandatory SEC players meeting which, ironically enough, centered around life choices for student athletes.  Even after that suspension, Garcia was promptly reinstated by Spurrier–just in the time for the opening of the 2011 season.

The troubled quarterback undoubtedly received a fair amount of lieniency, largely due to his productive season on the field last season.  In that sesason, Garcia threw for over 3,000 yards, completed 64% of his passes and had 20 touchdowns against 14 interceptions and led the Gamecocks to a SEC Championship Game–the first appearance ever by South Carolina.

Fast forward to this season, where Garcia has struggled mightily, throwing only four TDs and 9 interceptions with an unattractive completion percentage of 51%.  Couple that with sophomore backup QB Connor Shaw’s stellar performance last weekend against Kentucky, where he threw for over 300 yards with 4 TDs and no picks, and all of the sudden, Garcia’s off-the-field antics were viewed as much more detrimental to the team.

Spurrier taught his troubled quarterback a valuable life lesson this week.  Win football games and put up good stats, and you’re untouchable.  Should you lose a step on the field, however, and Spurrier will run his program with an iron fist.  You have to love a coach who prepares his young men for the harsh realities of the world–well done, coach.

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College FootBlog College Football Week 2 Recap

Denard Robinson worked his magic on Notre Dame again last weekend (photo courtesy of Melanie Maxwell I, annarbor.com)

With the end of week 2, the 2011 college football season continues to take shape.  <a href=”collegesportsfeed.com”>CSF</a> highlights five of the most crucial outcomes from the second week of the young college football season.

Denard Robinson is still lightning in a bottle: After having an up and down game through the first three quarters against Notre Dame, Michigan’s dynamic play maker saved his best for last in what was an instant classic in one of the most storied rivalries in college football.  Robinson threw for two touchdowns in the final 1:02 of the game, capping off yet another performance that saw him rush for over 100 yards and throw for over 300 yards.  Health is the key for Robinson, whose body wore down the second half of 2010, but he proved once again that he is arguably the most exciting player in all of college football.

<strong><a href=”auburn.rivals.com”>Auburn</a> bounces back: </strong> After needing a recovery of an on-side kick to knock off visiting <a href=”utahstate.rivals.com”>Utah State</a> in week 1, the Tigers played host to <a href=”mississippi.rivals.com”>Mississippi State</a>.  In another of the many thrillers of week 2.  Auburn stopped Mississippi State quarterback <a href=”mississippistate.rivals.com”>Chris Relf</a> just in front of the goal line, which prevented overtime.  The tough SEC schedule will only get tougher, but the Tigers passed a major test in week 2, against a legitimate top 25 team.

Richt officially on the hot seat:  Opening against two top 10 teams to start your season would be a tall order for any program, but that’s exactly what Mark Richt and Georgia has done in 2011.  After taking on a gritty and underappreciated Boise State team (currently ranked #4 in both major polls), the Bulldogs had to play host to last year’s SEC East champs, South Carolina (currently ranked #10 in the AP poll).  Bruising tailback Marcus Lattimore made up for quarterback Stephen Garcia’s dismal performance, by rushing for 176 yards and a touchdown.  In yet another game that went down to the wire, Georgia fell 45-42, making them 0-2 to start the season.  After going 6-7 last year, Richt can’t afford another losing season in 2011, and he has his work cut out for him to catch up after dropping the first two games of this young season.

Russell Wilson continues to impress: After being shunned by NC State head coach Tom O’Brien for electing to play professional baseball this summer, Wisconsin gladly accepted the talented senior quarterback, and Wilson has delivered.  In the first two games, Wilson has picked up right where he left off, when he led the NC State Wolfpack for his three years as their starter.  Wilson is completing over 79% of his passes and has thrown for five touchdowns with no picks, and he has also added 73 yards and a touchdown rushing.

Garrett Gilbert is out in Texas:  In the 2009 BCS Championship Game, Gilbert, then a true freshman, relieved an injured Colt McCoy against the top defense in the country, Alabama, and he passed with flying colors.  Although the Longhorns lost that game, Gilbert’s poise and athletic ability gave fans in Austin a lot to look forward to–at least they that’s what they thought.  Last season, much of the blame for Texas’ offensive woes was blamed on Gilbert, who completed less than 60% of his passes with just 10 TDs to go along with 17 picks.  In the first two games of the 2011 season, the junior signal-caller has done even worse, completing just 45% of his passes with two TDs and four picks.  Head coach Mack Brown decided last week during the BYU game that enough was enough and replaced Gilbert with back ups Case McCoy and David Ash, who are expected to split time for the remainder of the season, while Gilbert watches from the sidelines.

College FootBlog 3rd & 1: Week 8

For the second consecutive week, College FootBlog rolls out our 3rd & 1 feature, which breaks down three observations from the college football action from the previous weekend.  And we finish by giving one key match up to look for in the upcoming week.  Let’s get to it, shall we?

1st:  Another week, another set of hangover games.   Last weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide fell at South Carolina after thumping the hated Florida Gators the week before.  This weekend, Kentucky returned the favor.  Steve Spurrier took his Gamecocks into Lexington, and the Wildcats shocked them 31-28.  Not to be outdone, Oregon State lost a double-overtime thriller to Washington, just one week after knocking off previously undefeated Arizona.   

2nd:  Michigan QB Denard Robinson cannot take the punishment of a full Big Ten schedule.  Although Robinson is the most explosive player in college football, Rich Rodriguez has no other legitimate weapons on offense, making Robinson a one-man show.  Robinson is on pace for around 250 rushes this year–if his body can take it.  They need more production and more carries from their running backs to take some pressure off Robinson (RB Vincent Smith is second on the team in yards and carries and currently has nearly half the rushes (70) that Robinson has accumulated this season.  More importantly, Robinson, who is listed 6’0″ and only 188 lbs. does not have the body to take that many hits in the thick of the Big Ten schedule.

Wisconsin's bruising running back, John Clay took it to Ohio State this past weekend (google images)

3rd:  John Clay is the real deal.  The Big Ten’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, along with Wisconsin’s massive offensive line smacked Ohio State right in the mouth this weekend, en route to this season’s biggest upset as they took dominated the Buckeyes 31-18.  Clay led the Badgers’ ground assault with 104 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries (5.0 yards per carry).  Behind arguably the most physical offensive line in the country, the 255 lb. junior proved to be too much for a Ohio State defense that features seven players who could be playing in the NFL in the very near future.  Clay and fellow tailback James White will get another opportunity to shine on national television this upcoming weekend when they travel to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes.  If he has a similar performance against Iowa’s stout defense, Heisman voters will be forced to take notice.

…and 1:  Mizzou QB Blaine Gabbert will get his first major test of 2010 this weekend when Oklahoma comes to town.  At 265 yards per game, Gabbert ranks 20th in the country.  Statistically, the Sooners defense has been far from stellar this season, but a closer look shows that Bob Stoops’ squad has brought their A-Game in their only two legitimate contests so far this season.  The Sooners shut down Florida State in week 2 and rattled Texas QB Garrett Gilbert in the Red River Rivalry game a couple of weeks ago.  Look for OU to come after Gabbert, who has battled through a hip injury.  The Sooners will bring it this upcoming weekend, and they will look to ruin Mizzou’s homecoming weekend on the national TV game of the week.

College FootBlog 3rd &1: Week 7

In this new feature, College FootBlog’s 3rd & 1 will provide a quick, three-part analysis of the current week of college football, and we’ll also feature one thing to look for in the upcoming week of action. 

1st:  11 wins, 8 losses.  That’s Lane Kiffin’s record as a college football head coach after losing for the second consecutive week on a late field goal.  Things could get much, much worse for Kiffin as the season moves along.  The Trojans have given up 30 or more points in three of their six games this season, and they still must face the nation’s top offense, Oregon and the 22nd and 26th offenses in the country, Arizona State and Arizona, respectively.  With that schedule looming, Kiffin could find himself out of USC almost as quickly as he left Tennessee last season.

So far in 2010, Florida QB John Brantley has not been able to get the Gators going on offense (google images)

2nd:  Florida’s offense will cost them at least one more loss.  Urban Meyer has tried to downplay John Brantley’s ineffectiveness all season, but here is a stat that no one saw coming–the Gators offense is ranked 96th nationally.  Looking at the remaining games on the schedule, the Gators have three games that should have fans concerned.  Georgia is down this year, but look for them to pull out all the stops in their annual battle in Jacksonville, and then UF will take on South Carolina before finishing up in Tallahassee against the much-improved Florida State Seminoles.  It’s hard to imagine the Gators winning all three of those games with their play so far this season.

3rd:  Alabama will still be in the SEC Championship Game and challenge for the BCS National Title.  Give all the credit in the world to Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks for knocking off the defending national champs this past weekend.  After blowing out the hated Gators the previous weekend, the Tide’s defense was exposed against Carolina QB Stephen GarciaNick Saban will use this as a wake up call, and if the Crimson Tide can take care of business and win out the rest of the season, it will be very hard to keep them out of the national title game in January.

….and 1:  Although Alabama’s running back duo of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson get all the hype, Wisconsin’s tandem of John Clay and freshman sensation James White have 339 more yards and seven more touchdowns in the same number of games.  Clay and White have combined for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns behind the Badgers’ massive offensive line.  Fire meets steel this weekend in Madison as Ohio State brings the nation’s #4 ranked rushing defense to town in a contest that has Big Ten title implications.  If Wisconsin can run the ball effectively, they will have a great shot at knocking OSU off, which would create a wild finish for the conference title.

2010 College Football SEC East Preview

In the last two weeks, College FootBlog has unveiled our Preseason Rankings for the ACC and the Big Ten.  This week, we take our shot at the SEC in another two-part breakdown.  We start with the SEC East and we will roll out our SEC West breakdown later in the week.  The SEC has long been known for being the best conference in college football, and this year should be no different.  Here is how we see the rankings going into the summer:

Florida QB John Brantley will put up big numbers this fall, but he will need a physical RB to join him in the backfield in the red zone (google images).

1.  Florida:  The loss of Tebow will certainly hurt the Gators’ chances, but Florida fans will quickly realize that John Brantley is a much more polished passer than their former Heisman Trophy winner at QB.  Brantley has more arm strength and more accuracy, and with UF’s speed at wide receiver, he will put up big numbers this fall.  There are two unknowns for Florida going into the fall that have been strengths of the team the last three years–talent and experience on defense and short-yardage plays on offense.  The Gators lost some key players on defense, including DE Carlos Dunlap, LB Brandon Spikes and big-play CB Joe Haden.  Urban Meyer has recruited with the best of them, but replacing those three impact players will be extremely difficult.  The issue that could cost the Gators a game or two this season is that without Tebow, they have no proven short-yardage running back.  With the goal line defenses in the SEC, that will likely cost them dearly in 2010 unless they find someone by August.  If they solve that problem, they will again be the team to beat in their division.

2.  Georgia:  The ‘Dawgs struggled with a conference record of 4-4 last season, but they have a lot of reasons for optimism in 2010.  Head coach Mark Richt will have a new defensive staff going into the fall, as the Bulldogs try to take a page out of Nick Saban’s book and institute the 3-4.  Even though it is an entirely different system, new D-coordinator Todd Grantham has some great players returning, headlined by NT DeAngelo Tyson.  After the spring workouts, Richt announced that Freshman QB Aaron Murray is first on the depth chart, but his inexperience should be offset by All-American WR candidate AJ Green and sophomore RB Washaun Ealey.  With the departure of Tebow from Florida, solid skill players on offense and a revamped defense, 2010 should be a year that UGA challenges Florida for a SEC Championship.

3.  South Carolina:  Steve Spurrier’s “Fun & Gun” offense has never quite materialized since he took over in Columbia, and last season was an offensive season he would like to forget, and much of those issues were due to a very bad offensive line that surrendered more sacks than any team in the SEC and were also dead last in rushing in the conference.  Spurrier brought in Shawn Elliot from Appalachian State to coach the offensive line.  That should help an O-line that can’t get any worse.  The good news for the Gamecocks is that they have some very talented skill players on both sides of the ball.  Offensively, quarterback Stephen Garcia threw for over 2,800 yards and 17 TDs, despite the poor play on the line in front of him.  Look for those numbers to improve behind a better running game.  Defensively, South Carolina returns several players from a defense that finished 15th nationally in total defense.  That defense and an improved line will result in more respect in Columbia this season.

After just one season in Knoxville, Lane Kiffin departed for USC and left the Vols high and dry in the thick of the recruiting season (google images)

4.  Tennessee:  The Vols lost several key players on defense, including NFL first rounder Eric Berry.  The lone bright spot on offense was running back Montario Hardesty, and he has left for the NFL.  Former five-star prospect Bryce Brown announced this past spring that he was leaving the program as well, leaving little in the cupboard for what was already an anemic offense. The key losses on both sides of the ball, in addition to all the coaching changing leave the Vols with an uphill battle this fall.  Now for the bad news.  New head coach Derek Dooley must clean up the mess that former coach Lane Kiffin left behind when he abruptly departed the Vols for USC, just weeks before National Signing Day, which put a major strain on recruiting. The Vols should still have the talent to compete in the SEC, but they are at least another year away from being a serious contender.

5.  Kentucky:  Joker Phillips officially moves from assistant coach to running the show this fall, and he will have his hands full.  The Wildcats must replace four starters on the offensive line and several key players on defense, including linebackers Sam Maxwell and Micah Johnson.  Quarterback Matt Hartline returns this year from injury and should have the upper hand for the starting job, but Morgan Newton, who started seven games last season has a legitimate shot at taking the starting role away during two-a-days.  With all the losses on both sides of the ball, it could be a tough season in Lexington.

6.  Vanderbilt:  If last year’s 2-10 season was any indication, it could be another long season for the Commodores this fall.  It’s not all doom and gloom, though.  Running back Warren Norman returns after being named last season’s SEC Freshman of the Year.  Also on offense, quarterback Jordan Rogers (brother of Green Bay Packers’ QB Aaron Rogers) comes to Vandy after leading his junior college team to a Juco National Championship last season.  Rogers is expected to battle Larry Smith for the starting job.  Regardless of who lines up under center, the Commodores must improve their offense, which finished 110th nationally last season,  if they want to have a shot at a .500 season.

Check College FootBlog later this week for our breakdown of the SEC West!

Who’s on the Hot Seat in 2010?

Even though it is only March, there is already some buzz around college football about head coaches at some prestigious programs who could be coaching for their jobs next fall.  College FootBlog takes a look at five coaches that will have a lot of eyes on them during the 2010 season.      

Mark Richt will need to compete for an SEC title if he wants to keep the heat off in 2010 (google images)

Unfortunately for Richt, the SEC, more than any other BCS conference, is a “what have you done for me lately?” league.  Despite a stellar record of 90-27, since taking over for the Bulldogs, to fans and boosters in Athens, Richt still has not been able to win the ‘big one,” and a repeat performance of last season’s 4-4 conference record could send him job hunting next January.  Of all the coaches on this list, Richt makes the least sense, but ask Ohio State’s John Cooper if a great overall record is enough to keep a job at a bigtime college football program.

4.  Steve Spurrier/South Carolina

“The Old Ball Coach” has made a very small splash since returning to the SEC five years ago.  Long gone are the days of his “fun ‘n gun” offenses he had when he led the Florida Gators to their first National Championship.  The Gamecocks expected big things from Spurrier, and although his overall record since taking the helm in Columbia, his SEC record is a very unimpressive 18-22 in his five-year tenure.  He could be one more .500 season away from a forced retirement.

3.  Dan Hawkins/Colorado 

Hawkins has faced criticism since his arrival at Boulder, and the rumblings from boosters and fans only intensified when he named his son, Cody as the starter at quarterback for the Buffs.  Many thought last season would be his last at CU after his team produced a dismal record of 3-9.  In Hawkins’ time there, he has managed a 16-33 record and a 10-22 record against Big 12 opponents.

2.  Ron Zook/Illinois

Like Hawkins, many were surprised that Zook still had a job this January.   Zook brought his excellent recruiting skills with him to Champaign, but other than his first third full season there, his Illini teams have never finished better than 8th in the Big Ten.  Take away his lone winning season in 2007, and Zook’s record is an absolute train wreck at 12-35.  A slow start in 2010, and Zook could easily be replaced during the season this fall. 

 

In two seasons in Ann Arbor, Rodriguez has just eight total wins (google images)

1.  Rich Rodriguez/Michigan

After a good start in 2009 with a 4-0 record, including a thriller against rival Notre Dame, Rodriguez’ squad managed just one more win the rest of the season.  The Wolverines lost back to back games by 25 points versus Penn State and Illinois, and many folks in Ann Arbor were calling for his head before Thanksgiving.  Rodriguez has fallen victim to the same stubborn attitude that Bill Callahan brought to Nebraska. 

In Callahan’s case, he immediately instituted a West Coast offense with old school, smash-mouth option-style personnel.  Rodriguez, on the other hand, immediately forced his spread option offense on a group of athletes who had come to Michigan because of Lloyd Carr’s pro-style attack.  Callahan wore his welcome very quickly in Omaha.  Rodriguez could easily follow suit. 

Let the Les Miles rumors begin!

2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings Part 1

With the 2009 football season now officially in the books, College FootBlog will tackle the ongoing debate of which conference is the best in the FBS.  In this three-part breakdown, we will rank the six major conferences from the BCS in 2009, and we will also provide an outlook for each conference for the 2010 season. 

In our first of three articles, we will take a look at teams five and six in the power rankings of the major BCS conferences, although it should be noted that Boise State and TCU could make us rank eight conferences at the conclusion of next season. 

Oregon State's Quizz Rodgers has his sights set on a Pac 10 Title (google images)

6.  Pac 10 

2009 Recap:  For the last several years, USC has brought respect to the conference, but last year’s fall from grace left put the pressure on the other teams in the conference to step up.  No one else did–at least not consistently.  The Pac 10 was a dismal 2-5 in bowls last season and one of those wins was USC’s victory over a very mediocre Boston College team in the Emerald Bowl.  Losing three linebackers and quarterback Mark Sanchez in the first day of the NFL Draft last season proved to be too much for Pete Carroll to overcome. 

After a promising start, Cal fell far below expectations, and Oregon started and finished with huge losses on national television.  Toby Gerhart led the Stanford Cardinal on the college football map, but overall, the Pac 10’s 2-5 bowl record was very underwhelming. 

2010 Outlook:  All signs point to the Pac 10 having a big turnaround next season.   Conference Champ Oregon returns quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LaMichael James.   Oregon State will have the Rodgers brothers returning key running backs coming back next year, Arizona is emerging after an 8-5 record, and Jim Harbaugh and Steve Sarkisian have Stanford and Washington out of the cellar of college football. 

5.  ACC

 2009 Recap:  The ACC barely made the cut for the fifth worst conference in college football last season.  For the

VT's Ryan Williams exploded on the scene in '09, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 19 TD's (google images)

second year in a row, the Atlantic Coast Conference was consistently inconsistent.  Paul Johnson once again proved to critics that the triple option can (and does) work in major college football, but they could not get things going against Iowa’s defense in the Orange Bowl. 

Virginia Tech racked up ten wins, but once again, Frank Beamer was unable to get his team over the hump as one of college football’s elite teams.  For what seems like the fifth straight year, Clemson failed to live up to all of the hype as well, losing five games, including one against a very average South Carolina team.  Overall, ACC teams finished with a 3-4 bowl record in ’09. 

2010 Outlook:  Like the Pac 10, the ACC should make significant strides in 2010.  Georgia Tech may take a step back with Jonathan Dwyer departing to the NFL, but several teams should be much improved.  Virginia Tech returns running back Ryan Williams and QB Tyrod Taylor, and we may actually see Miami and Florida State get back on the map.  Each of the traditional power houses from Florida showed signs that they may be on the cusp of regaining greatness, but they were up and down for much of the season.  Look for Miami and FSU to make a serious run at Va Tech next season. 

Note:  Look for Parts 2 & 3 of College FootBlog’s 2009 BCS Conference Power Rankings later this week.