Posts Tagged 'steve spurrier'

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.

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!

College Football Week 9 Prediction: NC State at Florida State

This weekend, Russell Wilson and the NC State Wolfpack travel to Tallahassee to take on the very unpredictable and inconsistent Florida State Seminoles.  A lot is at stake in this ACC match up as FSU will look to stay alive in the hunt for the ACC Championship Game, and NC State will look to snap their current three game skid.  As always, College FootBlog will break down each team, analyze the upcoming game and make a score prediction.

Christian Ponder has quietly put together the best passing stats in the ACC (google images)

Christian Ponder has quietly put together the best passing stats in the ACC (google images)

Florida State

Strengths:  The 2009 season has not been good to the ‘Noles, but the play of quarterback, Christian Ponder, has been the only constant they have had.  Ponder currently leads the ACC in total offense and is fourth nationally.  Ponder’s passing yards per game is tops in the ACC and currently ranks fifth nationally.

In addition to the yardage, Ponder has also managed to throw 12 touchdowns, compared to just one interception.

The only time Ponder has had trouble finding the end zone was against the South Florida Bulls, but even in that match up, he threw for 269 yards and did not throw a pick.

Despite an inconsistent running game and an atrocious Seminole defense, Ponder has kept his team in each game until the final whistle.  He will have to continue his great play if FSU has a shot this Thursday.

Key Concerns:  FSU’s defense has been downright horrible this season.  Whether it has been against the run or the pass, there have been too many holes to count in Mickey Andrews’ defense.

How bad is it?  The ‘Noles’ defense currently ranks 99th in the FBS in total defense, giving up just over 413 yards per game.  That breaks down to 98th in the country in rush defense (182.43 yards/game) and 79th in the nation in pass defense (231.14 yards/game).

russell wilson

Russell Wilson has quietly put up great numbers for the Wolfpack for the second straight season (google images)

NC State

Strengths:  As with FSU, the Wolfpack also has a great quarterback who has been overlooked nationally, due to the team record.  Russell Wilson was the first team All-ACC quarterback last year as a freshman.

This season, Wilson has avoided the sophomore slump.  With very few dynamic players to distribute the ball to this season, he has thrown for 1659 yards, but more importantly, he has thrown for 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions.  Wilson has also added 249 yards and another three touchdowns on the ground this season, while averaging over four yards per carry.

Key Concerns:  Although statistically, the NC State defense does not appear that bad, stats can sometimes be deceiving.  The Wolfpack currently rank 59 nationally in passing defense, but they haven’t exactly faced the best passing attacks in the country.

The Wolfpack have gone up against two FCS opponents this season and have yet to face, and they also took on Steve Spurrier’s anti-Fun & Gun offense in South Carolina, which ranks 47th in the FBS.  The ‘Pack will have their hands full this weekend.

NC State Offense vs. Florida State Defense

Unless FSU’s defense pulls a 180, this weekend will be much of the same for the ‘Noles.  As much as the Seminoles have struggled on defense this season, mobility and athleticism at the quarterback position has given them even more fits–see Jacory Harris and Josh Nesbitt, who were both able to rack up huge days against FSU in Doak Campbell Stadium

Russell Wilson provides a nice blend of those two athletic QBs.  Wilson may be an even better passer than Harris–he just does not have the stable of WRs that Harris has at his disposal.  And Wilson has the ability to make plays with his feet as well.  Look for him to have a very big day.  EDGE:  NC State

Florida State Offense vs. NC State Defense

As previously mentioned, NC State’s defense, especially against the pass is not as good as the stats may indicate.  Look for Christian Ponder to continue to add to his great season and distribute the ball to all of his weapons on offense.  This Seminole offense will present the biggest challenge the Wolfpack has faced so far this season.  Ponder should also have a very big day.  EDGE:  FSU

Special Teams

NC State’s TJ Graham is a solid returner and has already brought one kickoff back for a touchdown this season, and kicker Josh Czajkowski has converted on 7 of 9 field goal attempts. 

Florida State counters with a couple of solid return men, including freshmen phenom Greg Reid.  Reid has not brought a kick back for a touchdown this season, but many teams have stayed away from him on kick offs.  Freshman kicker Dustin Hopkins has been inconsistent on extra points and field goals, but he rebounded nicely last week against North Carolina.  Hopkins has done a solid job, however, of kicking the ball into the endzone on kickoffs, which has helped with field position.  Slight EDGE:  FSU

Prediction

Predicting games in the ACC this season has been a crap shoot, and the outcome of this game could easily go either way.  Russell Wilson is an outstanding athlete, and he will keep the Wolfpack in the game.  FSU showed last week that they can actually win a game down the stretch, and Christian Ponder has proven that with a little bit of protection, he can keep his team in the ‘Noles in any game.  Look for Ponder to have another solid outing this weekend, and that should prove to be the difference in this one, but it will likely go down to the wire. 

Score Prediction:  FSU wins 34-31