Tag:Urban Meyer
Posted on: June 2, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: June 2, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tebow: I had headaches before '09 LSU game

Posted by Adam Jacobi

In the illustrious collegiate career of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the few scary moments was when the star QB suffered a concussion after being sacked during a 41-7 victory at Kentucky. Tebow was hit hard by Kentucky DE Taylor Wyndham, then his helmet struck his offensive lineman's knee during the fall, snapping his head forward violently and briefly knocking him out. Tebow would later throw up in the ambulance on his way out of the arena, another after-effect of the major concussion he received. That picture up top is Tebow immediately after suffering the concussion: the lights are on, but nobody's home. Might as well be an entirely different person.

What Tebow did NOT do, however, was miss any games; Florida had a bye week the following Saturday, and that gave Tebow two weeks to recover for the ensuing battle with LSU. He suited up, played well against a stout defense, and Florida won 13-3. Urban Meyer later told reporters that Tebow had been symptom-free for days and that he was cleared to play by team doctors, and all was well after that.

Funny thing, though; what the doctors and Meyer didn't know was that Tebow was still suffering from headaches up through pre-game warmups, and he admitted to hiding those symptoms in order to trick Meyer into letting him play. And lest one think this is an assumption made by a Florida-hating wacko with an axe to grind, that information came from the book Through My Eyes... authored by one Tim Tebow. Here's the relevant excerpt, via OnlyGators.com:

“I’m not going to let you play,” [Urban Meyer] said. He had tears in his eyes—he knew how much it meant to me.

“I have to play,” I responded.

He cut me off. “I keep asking myself, if you were Nate, would I let you play? I keep saying, ‘No.’ I can’t let you play.” He really wanted to win, but he was unwilling to take a chance with my health.

“But they cleared me, and I haven’t had headaches in days,” I countered. “There’s no reason for me not to play.”

“No headaches?”

“No, Coach. No headaches.” A headache had been starting to set in, but for all I know, it was from stress or a migraine, not the concussion. […]

I was praying in the locker room that the headache, which had been getting worse and worse, would simply go away. It didn’t. I could barely see by the end of the pregame warm-ups, it was hurting so badly.

It's important to note that Tebow says the headaches disappeared for good by kickoff, so they didn't affect his play in any way. So there's that. That doesn't mean Tebow should have been cleared to play, and Urban Meyer should have stood firmer in his refusal to play Tebow. I'm sure, had he known then what he knows now, that Meyer never would have let Tebow play that game, regardless of the fact that Tebow didn't suffer further injury. Heck, even if Tebow were legitimately symptom-free, he probably shouldn't have been playing yet at that point, like what Meyer suggested at first. CBSSports.com's Gregg Doyel excoriated Meyer for playing Tebow back when this all happened in '09; Tebow's revelations don't make Meyer look any better. 

It's like this: if someone drives their car somewhere without wearing their seat belt, and that person arrives at the destination without having anything bad happen, it would be utterly insane to credit that decision as being wise or safe. It's still heinously and needlessly dangerous, and so is lying about head injuries just to get back in the game. That's probably what killed the Minnesota North Stars' defenseman Bill Masterson 42 years agoin the NHL, and that's probably a significant factor in the surfeit of dead former NFL players who are found to have suffered from CTE these days.

Still, there's always that stigma involved with not playing through pain, and (for the most part) rightfully so -- sports would be nearly unwatchable if someone ran off to the sideline every time they took a minor injury -- so it's often difficult for athletes to intellectually justify the recovery process of a concussion compared to every other rehabilition. Unfortunately, nature doesn't fit neatly into that "play through it" mentality when it comes to brain injuries, and that's why it's critically important for coaches to educate their athletes on proper protocol and why lying about head injuries is so dangerous. Tim Tebow's okay today, and that's obviously good to see, but if he had taken another concussion in that LSU game, man, there's no telling what kind of hell would have been unleashed on his brain -- and on Meyer.

Posted on: June 2, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Gary Pinkel has no Ohio State aspirations

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Now that Jim Tressel is no longer the head coach at Ohio State, we should all probably get ready for six to eight months of speculation about who will eventually take his place in Columbus. The name we'll hear about more often than any other is Urban Meyer, but what if Meyer is serious about being done with coaching? Where will Ohio State go from there? Gary Pinkel's name is one that could come up, as Michigan was interested in the Missouri head coach, and Pinkel is from Ohio. Given the success he's had at Mizzou and his Ohio roots, it would only make sense that he be mentioned.

Though Pinkel would like to put an end to that speculation right now. Talking to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Pinkel said that Missouri is where he's at and where he plans on being.

"There's 5,000 names probably up for that," Pinkel told the paper. "I grew up in Ohio and I have great respect for Jim Tressel, too. It's very unfortunate what happened and how everything came down.

"I'm the head football coach at the University of Missouri and I'm committed to trying to continue to build the program and make it better and better. And that's what I intend to do."

Which is a lot easier said than done because, after all, there is no offer in front of Pinkel right now. The Dispatch also asked him what he would say should he get an offer, and Pinkel said he'd tell Ohio State the same thing. Which is no doubt exactly what Missouri fans want to hear from their head coach, but depending on what happens with Ohio State when the NCAA is done with the school, it may not be as easy to tell Ohio State no if a real offer eventually does come along.

Posted on: May 30, 2011 4:53 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2011 8:26 pm
 

Urban Meyer won't pursue a job this fall

Posted by Tom Fornelli

With the news of Jim Tressel's resignation from Ohio State this morning, as you'd expect, it didn't take very long for people to begin speculating about who would be replacing Jim Tressel in Columbus. A name that has come up pretty often in that speculation is that of former Florida head coach and current ESPN analyst, Urban Meyer. Which is probably why Meyer did his best to nip that speculation in the bud on Monday afternoon, releasing a statment through ESPN publicist Mike Humes on Twitter.

"I am committed to ESPN and will not pursue any coaching opportunities this fall," Meyer said in the statement. "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the people at ESPN this spring and remain very excited about my role with the network this fall.

"Jim Tressel has been a respected friend and colleague for a long time. I wish Jim and his family the very best now and in the future."

Tressel out at OSU

Will this put an end to the speculation? Of course not. Some have already begun trying to read between the lines of what Meyer was saying. Which is not surprising given the nature of the college coaching world. After all, it wasn't that long ago that Jim Tressel was sending the message that he'd wouldn't be stepping down as Ohio State's head coach, and look where we are now.

So no matter what Meyer says publicly, people are still going to speculate that he'll be on the Ohio State sideline in 2012 after taking a year off from the coaching grind. You have to figure that Ohio State will approach him about the job at some point given his ties to the state of Ohio, the school, and his coaching pedigree.
 

Posted on: May 27, 2011 1:03 pm
Edited on: June 13, 2011 9:56 am
 

CBSSports.com College Football 100: 80-71

By the Eye on College Football bloggers

To celebrate the 100 99 98 days remaining until the first Saturday of the new college football season, this is the CBSSports.com College Football 100: our countdown of the 2011 season's 100 most influential players, coaches, administrators, venues, or any other related
things in college football. It's like that other "most influential" list, but, you know, more important. Also: it's supposed to be fun. Enjoy.

80. KIRK COUSINS, quarterback, Michigan State. Saying a team has "a lot to prove" after an 11-win season usually bodes poorly for how the season ended, and for Michigan State, that's no exception; the Spartans went 11-2, but those two losses were a 37-6 shellacking by Iowa and a 49-7 massacre in the Capital One Bowl against Alabama that didn't even seem that close. It was bad. Fortunately, MSU has the personnel to put together another strong showing in 2011.

The backfield hydra of Le'Veon Bell, Edwin Baker and Larry Caper will be the main focus of MSU's offense, but just like with Wisconsin's massive rushing attack last year, it's the senior quarterback at the helm that'll really keep defensive coordinators up at night. Not only that, but Cousins' arm is better than Scott Tolzien's. Significantly better. This'll be Cousins' third season starting, too, and though Mark Dantonio may not need his senior QB to average over 200 passing yards per game again, it'll be hard to keep Cousins' production down--especially when he's facing eight men in the box half the time. It's not a stretch to think Cousins could lead the Big Ten in passing efficiency in 2011--and even less of a stretch to think he could lead his men to double-digit wins once again. -- AJ

79. JOE PATERNO, head coach, Penn State. JoePa gets his own special Memorial Day weekend breakout entry; read it here.

78. BRANDON LINDSEY, defensive end, Pitt. The Pittsburgh defensive end had a stellar junior season in 2010, leading the Big East in tackles for loss (18.0) and finishing second in sacks (10.0). The Panthers have all new leadership up top, with Todd Graham in as head coach and Keith Patterson coming with him from Tulsa as defensive coordinator. Patterson is moving Pitt to a 3-4 defense that utilizes a hybrid "Panther linebacker," one often standing at the line of scrimmage.

The plan, according to Patterson and Graham, is to put Lindsey's explosiveness to use at that new "Panther" position. Graham compared Lindsey's role in 2011 to that of James Harrison--the ultimate playmaking linebacker in the city. Unfortunately, Lindsey missed spring practice with a shoulder injury. But the coaching staff is still counting on his frightening burst and ability to swarm to the ball in the backfield once fall camp opens. If Lindsey racked up 18 tackles for loss coming off the line, it would not be surprising to see the senior among the nation's leaders in his new role. -- CP

77. TRAVIS LEWIS, linebacker, Oklahoma. Travis Lewis's importance to the Oklahoma defense was already enough to warrant his inclusion on this list before the tragic recent death of fellow linebacker Austin Box. Now, not only will Lewis be looked to to lead the defense, but also help his teammates get over the loss of a teammate. He's the senior member of the Oklahoma linebacking corps, racking up an impressive 360 tackles (47.5 for loss), 6 sacks and 8 interceptions in his first three seasons.

As impressive as Lewis has been, though, he'll have to help improve one key part of Oklahoma's defense in 2011: stopping the run. The Sooners gave up 151.8 yards per-game on the ground last season, and while that number isn't terrible, it's not good for Oklahoma on the whole. Why? Because when teams are running on Oklahoma they're killing the clock, and every second that ticks away is a second that the Sooners' high-powered offense isn't on the field. As the leader of the linebacking corps, it will be up to Lewis to help stuff the run and get the Sooner offense back on the field. Whether he's able to do this or not could be the deciding factor between a Big 12 championship and a national championship in Norman. -- TF

76. "THE FLORIDA WAY," team code of conduct, Florida. So how, exactly, did one of the nation's most talented teams suffer five regular season losses in 2010, one shy of their total for the previous four years combined? As per usual with questions like these, it wasn't one factor but a perfect [deleted]storm for the Gators: poor coaching from the coaches, poor execution from the players, poor treatment from the football gods. (How many times out of 100 does LSU's accidental bounce-pass to their kicker on their game-deciding fake field goal actually wind up in the hands of the kicker?) But in retrospect, it appeared to be poor focus that cost the Gators more than anything. With Urban Meyer at the end of his coaching rope, Florida frayed in all kinds of directions: transfer rumors, sloppy fundamentals, petty arrests, Twitter embarrassments. The effort on gameday was there; the discipline needed for it to produce Meyer's usual results was not.

Enter Will Muschamp and the "Florida Way," his name for the team's new all-encompassing code of conduct. With most coaches and most teams, we'd call this sort of thing a P.R. sop for the coaching honeymoon, and move on to on-field matters. But when it comes to the Gators, 2010 proved this is an on-field matter. Before Charlie Weis's schemes can take root, before Muschamp can create his usual teeth-rattling D, the Gators have to rebuild the foundation of focus and discipline forged in the Tim Tebow days. If they do, though -- if the still supremely-talented Gators can follow through on the "Florida Way" -- expect them to follow it right back up the SEC East standings. -- JH

75. PRESEASON TOP 25'S, polls, mid-August.  To some extent, the polls will always be the most influential component of all college football--they're what ultimately awards that national championship everybody's after, after all. (Or do through the BCS middleman, anyway.) But it's also true that the polls, for the most part, respond to the events on the field rather than vice versa.

But there's one set of ballots that not only wind up shaping the narrative of the entire season, but can and do influence results between the lines. Those are the preseason top 25's, easily the most influential polls of the season. Not do only do they establish a blueprint that forms the basis for every ballot that comes afterwards, but seemingly every year they build a wave of hype and expectation that drowns some team's championship season before it even begins. Ask Ole Miss in 2009 (the most recent, striking example) about the latter phenomenon. Ask Auburn in 2004 -- and their inability to overturn the two teams entrenched at the the top of the polls since preseason -- about the former. In college football, polls matter; the preseason variety matter even more than most. -- JH

74. JEFF GODFREY, quarterback, UCF. How do these stats sound for a starting freshman quarterback? 168-294, 2,071 passing yards, 12 TDs, 122.9 passing efficiency, 17 rushing yards, and 5 rushing TDs. Pretty solid production overall for a freshman, no? Probably one of the best freshman seasons in UCF history, right? Yes, it was one of the best: that was Daunte Culpepper's freshman year at UCF. Godfrey's, meanwhile, was better across the board.

Here's what Godfrey put up: 159-238, 2,159 passing yards, 15 TDs, 154.3 passing efficiency, 566 rushing yards, and 10 rushing TDs. Godfrey's throwing motion needs work, but the arm strength is there; he's surprisingly adept at the deep ball. Then there's the rushing. Godfrey doesn't have Denard Robinson's level of speed, but he's still darn fast--fast enough to be a nightmare for opposing secondaries when he's scrambling. Put it all together, and Godfrey -- as a true freshman -- was a more efficient passer than super-sophs Matt Barkley, Landry Jones, Robinson, Darron Thomas and even Godfrey's closest prototype: Robert Griffin III. Godfrey is already one of the brightest stars in Conference USA, and we have a feeling he's nowhere near done collecting accolades. -- AJ

73. KYLE WHITTINGHAM, head coach, Utah. One of two coaches to join the Pac-12 this year, Whittingham has been around the block before. He's got a BCS bowl win and undefeated season on his resume already, making him one of the most accomplished coaches in his new league from the get-go. His first task is trying to avoid the terrible stretch run the Utes had last season (losing three of their last five) and get them back to where they were earlier in the season.

The seventh-year head coach has plenty of weapons at his proposal and has brought in one of the school's most well known alums, Norm Chow, as offense coordinator to give the Utes a boost. Whittingham should be able to lean on Chow, who comes over from UCLA has has years of experience in the Utes' new conference. Whittingham is known more for his defensive instincts and he'll have to get the pass defense up to speed before jumping into league play and facing the Pac-12's the plethora of good quarterbacks. The schedule is manageable but most of the tough games are on the road. Welcome to the league, Kyle. -- BF

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72. GARRETT GILBERT, quarterback, Texas. It wouldn't be fair to pin the entirety of Texas' 5-7 season in 2010 on Garrett Gilbert, but it wouldn't be honest to say the young quarterback didn't have a substantial role in it either. It was never goign to be easy to just walk onto the field and fill the formidable shoes of Colt McCoy ... and Gilbert proved it. He completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, but he also completed quite a few to the wrong team, throwing 17 interceptions to only 10 touchdowns.

Obviously, if Texas is going to rebound in 2011 and get back to playing for a Big 12 title, then Gilbert is going to have to perform a lot better. Odds are he will. He has a year of experience under his belt now, and has a new offensive coordinator in Bryan Harsin, a coordinator that had quite a bit of success with quarterbacks at Boise State. If Gilbert can improve his grasp of the offense, be more efficient with his throws, and -- most importantly -- turn the ball over less, life should be a lot happier in Austin this fall. If not? Well, then heads are going to roll. -- TF

71. JAKE BEQUETTE, defensive end, Arkansas. Is it possible the fate of the SEC West -- a division featuring two consensus top-five teams -- could rest in the hands of a second-team all-conference end few fans outside the SEC (and even a good number in it) have ever heard of? It might not be likely; Alabama and LSU have the hype they have for a reason. But it's certainly possible, ironically enough because of the Razorbacks' offense.

Trust us: Ryan Mallett or no Ryan Mallett, no attack with arguably the nation's best receiving corps receiving, Knile Davis running, a veteran line blocking and (most of all) Bobby Petrino coaching will be less than outstanding. All the Hogs need to make a serious run at Atlanta is the top-drawer SEC defense they've lacked the last couple of seasons ... and Bequette, their most explosive pass rusher, is the key. The Hogs have loads of experience in the secondary and two rock-solid linebackers in Jerico Nelson and Jerry Franklin. If Bequette can more consistently generate the devastating bull rush he showed in flashes in 2010, the Hogs will have a defense that can look their SEC West rivals in the eye--and, when paired with that offense, take them right back into the BCS bowl hunt. -- JH

The 100 will return here to Eye on CFB Tuesday after the holiday. Until then, check out Nos. 100-91 and 90-81, and follow us on Twitter.

Posted on: May 10, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Gators' frosh RB Blakely already transferring

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Mike Blakely hasn't played a down at Florida. He hasn't even played a down of practice, being forced to sit out spring practice after surgery on an injured shoulder.

But the early-enrolling class of 2011 running back has apparently seen enough to know the Gator program isn't for him. Head coach Will Muschamp has announced that Blakely is seeking a transfer and will be leaving Gainesville following this semester:
"Mike has come to the conclusion that the University of Florida is not where he wants to play football," Muschamp said. "We wish him the best of luck" ...

“Everyone at Florida has been very supportive of me in my time here and I'm thankful for the experience that I had, but I've made a decision to continue my college football career somewhere else," Blakely said.
Despite his limited time with the Gators, Blakely's signed letter-of-intent and early enrollment means he will be nonetheless required to sit out the 2011 season as a transfer. (We think; he may be seeking an NCAA waiver of some sort.)

One of the nation's top running back prospects last year -- he ranked at No. 66 overall in the Maxpreps top 100 and the No. 7 tailback -- Blakely was expected by many to challenge Chris Rainey, Mike Gillislee and the rest of the incumbent Gator tailbacks for the starting job in Charlie Weis's power-first pro-style overhaul.

But like most members of the Gators' class of 2011, Blakely had committed to Urban Meyer and the previous regime's spread look; per one early report, after getting a first-hand look at Weis's approach, the change in offensive scheme was enough to prompt the transfer request.

As for Blakely's next step, his destination is a matter of speculation, though it seems likely he'll look for an offense similar to the Meyer spread he originally committed to. What we do know is that the team adding him will be getting a potential playmaker whose stunningly brief Florida tenure shouldn't be the last we hear of him by any means.

Posted on: April 28, 2011 5:31 pm
 

Jenkins: "No option" to stay offered by Muschamp

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In the end, the details of Janoris Jenkins' departure from the Florida Gators are just that: details. Whether Jenkins had any say in the matter, or whether he was simply dimissed by Will Muschamp following his second marijuana-related arrest in a matter of weeks, Jenkins will be playing his football somewhere else in 2011 regardless (if he plays at all).

But that doesn't mean Jenkins didn't deserve to offer the record his side of the story, as he emphatically did in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel Wednesday. Muschamp had tweeted that he and Jenkins "both felt" it was best for Jenkins to "move ahead to the next stage of his career." But according to Jenkins, it was only his coach who felt that way: 
"The only thing he said was I was dismissed as soon as I walked in the room," Jenkins said. "He washed his hands of me" ...

"They know he didn't give me no option to make. … There was nothing else I could have done or said."
Jenkins mentor Sandy Cornelio, who said he had also been present for Muschamp's meeting with Jenkins, claimed that the coach had offered Jenkins "no explanation" for his decision.

Of course, Muschamp didn't really have to spell things out for Jenkins, did he? Given his public mandate to put an end to the Gators' string of arrests under Urban Meyer and instill a greater sense of discipline in the team, Muschamp couldn't really let a three-time arrested star go unpunished without appearing to be as "soft" as Meyer was frequently criticzed for being. Jenkins may complain, but the conflict here really shouldn't be about Muschamp's decisions regarding his team.

That said, if the decision was entirely Muschamp's, he should be honest enough to present it as such. (A Florida athletic department spokesman said the school "stand[s] by" the earlier statement.) Besides: there didn't seem to be much doubt in the reaction to the news that Jenkins hadn't really left by choice anyway. The only functional difference in claiming the decision was mutual and admitting it wasn't was making an already acrimonious situation more acrimonious ... and while Jenkins might have deserved the dismissal he got, we're not sure he deserved that, too.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:49 pm
 

What I Learned This Spring: SEC East

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC East, team by team. In alphabetical order:


FLORIDA: When spring began, we said the Gators might have the most interesting offense in the country. Urban Meyer's former spread-option death machine, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, by none other than Charlie Weis, in the image of the steady no-frills pro-style attacks Will Muschamp saw work for old boss Nick Saban, as piloted by 2011-or-bust quarterback John Brantley? That's quite the storyline they've got going there.

But the Gators will have to hope it's a story that will be rewritten come the fall. While no one was expecting the offense to look like Weis's old New England Patriot attacks after three weeks of practice, no one was expecting it to put on a 13-10 spring game universally panned as a hideous eyesore, either. Brantley went an ugly 4-of-14 after missing his first six passes, the leading rusher was a walk-on defensive back, and the entire offensive output for the game amounted to 340 yards.

Much of that can be pinned on a wicked rash of injuries that took out most of the offensive line, an entire stable of running backs, multiple receivers, etc.; encouragingly, much of it can also be pinned on a rampaging defensive line led by Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, all members of Meyer's loaded 2010 class and all looking posied to make good on their five-star hype. But the bottom line is that much of it can also be pinned squarely on Brantley, who Muschamp and his other coaches universally lauded for an excellent spring but who showed little of that alleged improvement when playing in public.

Does it matter? Give him a solid summer and a solid fall camp, and it may not. But until Brantley proves he's something other than what he's appeared to be since the moment Tim Tebow left -- in over his head -- skepticism is in order.

GEORGIA: The biggest question entering the most critical spring of Mark Richt's spring tenure concerned the Bulldogs' biggest players: could their offensive line bounce back? When you have Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, a fleet of talented (if still unproven) receivers, and eventually Isaiah Crowell, if you have a line, you're going to have a heck of an offense.

There was good news and bad news on that front, the latter a devastating torn ACL suffered by fifth-senior and projected starting tackle Trinton Sturdivant. But there were positives, too, namely a terrific spring from potential All-SEC  center Ben Jones and guard-to-tackle position switch Cordy Glenn. G-day primary tailbacks Ken Malcome and Caleb King combined for 69 yards on 12 carries, a not-so-shabby 5.8 yards per-carry. Overall, the line was impressive enough this spring that senior Justin Anderson -- billed as a potential starter on the OL -- has been moved to defense.

The Dawgs had themselves a fine spring on the defensive front as well, with newly bulked-up nose tackle Kwame Geathers the talk of the Bulldogs' spring camp and converted safety Alec Ogletree providing a big boost the linebacking corps. The secondary is unsettled and one of those aforementioned receivers needs to emerge as a go-to target for Murray, but if the improvements in the front seven and offensive line aren't mirages, the Bulldogs wil be back in the thick of the East race all the same.

KENTUCKY: Consider it a successful second spring for Joker Phillips and the Wildcats. We noted that with nearly all of the major players from 2010's surprisingly effective Wildcat passing game gone, Phillips would want to make rebuilding that passing attack around junior quarterback Morgan Newton priority No. 1 in spring camp. And though we'll have to wait until fall to see the finished results, for now it looks like Mission Accomplished: Newton had a terrific spring, capped by a 23-of-44, 256-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Wildcats' Blue-White Game.

Things weren't perfect: the Wildcat receivers were plagued by drops, and a defense still adjusting to new co-coordinator Rick Minter's aggressive schemes paired several big plays with several breakdowns. But with Newton cementing himself as a reliable option under center and a veteran line paving the way for new tailback Raymond Sanders to average better than 7 yards a carry, there's far more optimism for the Wildcat offense coming out of spring than going in.

SOUTH CAROLINA: Whatever storyline you might have constructed ahead of time for the Gamecocks' spring, it was always going to overshadowed by the continuing Stephen Garcia circus. Until Carolina receives a definitive word one way or the other on Garcia's return (though as we wrote earlier today, that return seems likely), the team is going to be in something close to suspended football animation.  The lack of developments aside from Garcia was only enhanced by the fact that so many of Carolina's key players -- Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, an offensive line with four returning starters -- are known commodities.

That said, the Garnet-Black Game showed that if Garcia doesn't come back, the Gamecocks won't be totally lost at quarterback. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined to go a productive 23-of-40 for 344 yards (though Thompson threw a pair of picks), and on an offense with weapons like Lattimore, Jeffery, and tailback Kenny Miles (43 yards on just 6 carries in the spring game), "productive" should be enough.

The downside: those passing numbers came against a Gamecock secondary that got routinely torched in 2010 (FBS 97th in pass defense). Garcia or no Garcia, more improvement in that secondary will be necessary to take Carolina back to Atlanta.

TENNESSEE: Entering spring, the road to improvement for the Volunteers was clear: get stronger, more physical, better along each line of scrimmage, then let the Vols' cadre of up-and-coming skill position stars -- led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray -- do the rest.

The Vols made plenty of headway on the first part of that equation; the White team earned a dominant victory over the more starter-heavy Orange in the Vol spring game thanks in no small part to a bruising run game led by second-string tailback Raijon Neal; defensive linemen on both squads were able to get consistent quarterback pressure; and offensive lineman Alex Bullard and defensive tackle Daniel Hood won the team's top awards for spring performance. Both lines remain so young that there's still a long way to go to SEC dominance, but it seems unlikely they'll be pushed around the way they were at times in 2010, either.

But as for the other part of the equation, stay tuned. Bray went a miserable 5-for-30 quarterbacking the defeated Orange side, with Derek Dooley suggesting afterwards that perhaps Bray had been overconfident. Bray is expected to take a major step forward in his first full season as the Vols' starter, but if that step winds up as minor as the spring game proposes it might be, all the line improvement in the world won't push the Vols back into relevance in the SEC East.

VANDERBILT: When you finished last season dead last in the conference in both total offense and total defense -- and you are Vanderbilt -- any kind of improvement in any area will be music to new coach James Franklin's ears. But fortunately for the 'Dores, they saw some green shoots in two positions that have been partocularly troublesome the past few seasons.

One is quarterback , where previously scattershot senior Larry Smith completed 16-of-26 for 233 yards and a touchdown, leading his Black side to a 19-7 win over the Gold. The other is the defensive line , where defensive tackle Colt Nichter recorded a pair of sacks and defensive end Kyle Woestmann collected a sack and an interception. But when you're Vandy, you'll take whatever you can get.

"The big thing," Franklin said, "is that we stayed healthy."

For the same review of the SEC West, click here.

Posted on: April 27, 2011 12:15 pm
 

Urban Meyer's daughter tired of OSU rumors

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's only natural, really, that people would start speculating that if Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel were to be fired thanks to everything going on at Ohio State, that Urban Meyer might be the man to replace him. After all, Meyer isn't coaching anywhere at the moment, and while he may want to spend some time with his family, nobody thinks that he's retired from coaching. There's also the fact that Meyer is from Ohio and he had his first coaching job at Ohio State, which is where he also met his wife.

Meyer and his wife Shelley, who is also from Ohio, then went on to produce three children. One of whom is getting really sick and tired of people asking her about whether or not her father will be taking the Ohio State job.

There. That should put an end to all the speculation, right?

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com