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Tag:Steve Spurrier
Posted on: September 1, 2011 7:59 pm
 

It's official: Spurrier to start Shaw, rotate QBs

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Earlier Thursday, we asked if Steve Spurrier really wanted to open the door and invite in the kind of quarterback controversy that could hamstring his team's preparation for its make-or-break Week 2 visit to Georgia--if not sink its entire season. Apparently, that answer is yes.

Spurrier announced early Thursday evening that he would employ a planned quarterback rotation for the Gamecocks' season opener against East Carolina, with true sophomore Connor Shaw starting and senior Stephen Garcia entering the game at the start of the second quarter. The decision will end Garcia's streak of 28 consecutive starts.

Though much immediate speculation has focused on whether the decision is a belated punishment for Garcia's fifth career suspension this past spring, Spurrier told reporters (including CBSSports.com's Josh Kendall) it was as straightforward as Shaw winning the start in practice:
"I said we are going to have a preseason competition to see who the starter is going to be. The guy who rated the best was Connor Shaw. He played better than Stephen Garcia, simple as that so he’s going to start the game."
While Shaw may have done the better job in the "preseason competition" he will nonetheless enter the East Carolina matchup with substantially less experience that the fifth-year senior Garcia. Shaw appeared in nine games as 2010 true freshman but threw just 33 passes. Though Shaw did complete an impressive 70 percent of those, his most meaningful snaps came late in Carolina's first tense meeting with Auburn, when he threw two interceptions in eight passes.

As for who gets the call against the Bulldogs in Athens, Spurrier has said it would come down to who played better against the Pirates this Saturday in Charlotte. But if neither decisively outplays the other, the quarterback position could prove to be a major headache as the following week advances.

Steve Spurrier has, of course, forgotten more about quarterback coaching than we'll ever know. But this is nonetheless the sort of decision -- coming as it does on the eve of the Gamecocks' most anticipated season in program history -- that will open him to major, major criticism if it backfires on he and his team.

Posted on: September 1, 2011 4:40 pm
Edited on: September 1, 2011 5:56 pm
 

SEC Interrogation: Week 1

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Each Thursday we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:

Steve Spurrier: are you really going to voluntarily saddle his team with a full-blown quarterback controversy? The Ol' Ball Coach has always done things his way, and it's safe to say very few other coaches' ways would include telling a fourth-year senior starter he's going to share snaps in a potentially challenging season opener, threatening to bench him if his competition outplays in said opener, and publicly declaring said competiton has outplayed him in preseason scrimmages.

Stephen Garcia has seen and heard it all from his head coach before, of course, and given his off-field history, it makes a certain amount of sense for Spurrier to keep Connor Shaw's confidence and focus at its highest possible point at all times. If the Gamecock schedule gave the team a few weeks' worth of breathers, it would make sense to keep Shaw engaged and Garcia on his toes.

But Spurrier doesn't have that luxury; East Carolina isn't Western Carolina, and the Gamecocks' critical trip to Georgia arrives right on its heels in Week 2. If Shaw (pictured) plays well enough Saturday to force another week's worth of Spurrier waffling, Carolina is going to enter the single most important game of its entire season with a colossal question mark still hanging over the team's collective head. And though we're not Steve Spurrier, we retain serious doubts as to whether that's the best way for it to prepare.

Jarrett Lee: can you avoid making the killer turnover? We won't hide from it: when we wrote in this space not long ago that Les Miles had failed his LSU team by not finding a better replacement for Jordan Jefferson than Zach Mettenberger in his first year out of JUCO or fifth-year senior Lee, yes, that was a knock against Lee. To this point, Lee's career -- a 53.5 career completion percentage, those nation-leading 16 picks in 2008 -- is the sort which, frankly, has to be knocked.

But if Lee has matured into the kind of under-control, safety-first game manager that always seems to be under center at LSU's rivals at Alabama, there's nothing stopping the Tigers from being, well, Alabama; the overpowering line, breakout running back (we see you, Spencer Ware), and lockdown defense are all in place.

Now we just have to find out about Lee, and fortunately, we won't have to wait long. Oregon forced 37 turnovers a year ago, the second-highest total in the nation; even without Cliff Harris, if Lee is loose with the ball, the Ducks are going to take it the other way.

Georgia: how comfortable are you in Todd Grantham's 3-4 defense? Much of the pregame chatter regarding Georgia's chances against Boise State have revolved around whether Isaiah Crowell can live up to his considerable hype, and there's no question Crowell's potential impact would give the Dawsg a huge boost.

But just as key -- if not moreso -- will be how the Bulldog defense handles a Bronco offense that's going to come out guns blazing. Chris Petersen and his staff have always been at their best with extra time to prepare, and if the Bulldogs haven't shored up what was an improved-but-hardly-airtight defense from 2010, Kellen Moore and Doug Martin are going to punish those leaks with a quickness. Some of the Dawgs' personnel issues with the 3-4 have been resolved (starting with the ascension of nose tackle Kwame Geathers and the shift of hard-hitting safety Alec Ogletree to inside linebacker), but that doesn't mean all the kinks are ironed out just yet.

And if there's one or two too many kinks remaining, the Broncos could be up big before the Dawgs even know what hit them, much as Virginia Tech discovered a year ago. The Hokies were able to mount a full comeback behind Tyrod Taylor, but with an angry Dawg crowd "behind" a psychologially-fragile 6-7 team, Mark Richt may not be so lucky. Grantham's unit had best be prepared.

Also worth asking: What can Ole Miss accomplish in the air, either offensively or defensively? (Some measure of competence from Barry Brunetti and the rebuilt Rebel secondary would go a long way towards SEC competitiveness.) Does Kentucky have any offensive playmakers? (No Randall Cobb, no Derrick Locke, no Mike Hartline, no Chris Matthews. What's left?) Quarterbacks: how do they look? (In addition to Ole Miss and LSU, there's some level of uncertainty at Auburn, Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt ... the number of teams in the league that know what they're getting from under center are vastly outnumbered by the ones that don't.)



Posted on: August 31, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 3:42 pm
 

Jadeveon Clowney could start for South Carolina

Posted by Bryan Fischer

Steve Spurrier has positioned South Carolina to not only make to a run at another SEC East title, but a BCS bowl as well in 2011.

Key to the Old Ball Coach transforming the Gamecocks into a - gulp - perennial contender? Impact freshman from in-state.

In 2009, wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey signed with the program and wound up a consensus Freshman All-American. Last year running back Marcus Lattimore picked South Carolina and was a unanimous pick for National Freshman of the Year as the Gamecocks rolled to a division title.

This year, with perhaps his most talented team returning, Spurrier has added the consensus number one overall recruit in the country in Jadeveon Clowney. The 6-foot-6 defensive end racked up 29.5 sacks his final year in high school and pretty much lived in the opponent's back field. While his dominance is unlikely to translate right away at the collegiate level, it's clear South Carolina is going to incorporate Clowney in their defensive line rotation right from the get-go to see what he can do.

"We're trying to let him learn," Spurrier said Wednesday. "Obviously there's a lot of attention if you're the number one recruit in the nation. He's not listed as the starter but he'll be in there a whole lot, early and often."

An ankle injury has slowed him down some during fall camp but he's abused his fair share of offensive lineman during the month of August. It's unclear how exactly defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson will use his newest weapon but don't be surprised if Clowney rushes the passer as a stand up linebacker on occasion. He'll likely take the field behind senior Melvin Ingram but starting the opener versus East Carolina hasn't been ruled out.

"He may start or he may not, I'm not sure what our line coach wants to do right now," Spurrier said. "He's certainly in the mix and a player who is going to play a lot."

Clowney won't just be a speed rusher off the edge for the Gamecocks either. Spurrier notes the freshman has added a few tricks to his repertoire.

"He's also a power rusher," Spurrier added. "In high school, he flew all over the place, fast, ran around everyone. But he's actually gained about 10 pounds or so and is up to 260 or so. He can use a power move also. That's obviously very good for defensive ends."

A scary proposition for opposing left tackles this season and a reason why several quarterbacks are bracing for his impact.
Posted on: August 30, 2011 4:44 pm
 

Pizza-toting Gamecock QB injured in moped wreck

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Third-string South Carolina quarterback Andrew Clifford's injury shouldn't have nearly the kind of impact on Saturday's clash between the Gamecocks and East Carolina Pirates that starting corner Akeem Auguste's might. But it's a whole lot more ... interesting.

That's not to make light of what must have been a scary situation this past weekend, when Clifford lost control of his moped and was found unconscious before being rushed to the hospital. Clifford was not wearing a helmet at the time and Steve Spurrier said the sophomore was also carrying a pizza as he drove.

"Hopefully that was a lesson for all of our guys who drive scooters," Spurrier said. "You can advise them to wear a helmet, encourage them, but if they’re not going to wear one…"

Fortunately for Clifford, his injuries won't keep him out of action long. After receiving stitches and being diagnosed with a concussion, Clifford is expected back in two-to-three weeks.

Barring injuries to both Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw, the Gamecocks won't miss him on the field. But maybe they'll learn something about scooter safety from his experience all the same.

Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:42 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup, 8/29: QB starters named

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the weekend's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.

LSU: Not that it took anyone by surprise, but Les Miles officially named senior Jarrett Lee the starter for Saturday's season opener against Oregon. For his part, Ducks head coach Chip Kelly doesn't expect the Tigers to be any less formidable for Lee getting the nod. (Per our Oregon RapidReporter Chris Hansen, Kelly also called LSU "“the most talented team we play all season.”)

Interestingly, Miles said he suspended the arrested Jordan Jefferson not as a disciplinary measure, but so Jefferson could tend to his legal troubles. "It's absolutely correct for him to be free at this point to tend to his personal business," Miles said. "If he were playing on this football team, it would be too much." Jefferson has changed his legal representation in the wake of his arrest.

ARKANSAS: In an announcement even less surprising than Lee's, Bobby Petrino finally named Tyler Wilson the Hogs' starting quarterback for their season debut against Missouri State, ending the non-suspense. Petrino said sophomore Brandon Mitchell will see playing time, possibly as early as the second quarter. (If Mitchell still sees time against opponents more dangerous than the Bears, that will be a development worth watching.)

Injured running back Knile Davis has promised he'll do everything he can to help his team from the sideline. As for replacing him, senior DeAnthony Curtis may get a shot after looking impressive following his move from cornerback.

ALABAMA: Still no sign of JUCO wideout Duron Carter at practice, with Nick Saban telling reporters he "has information" on Carter's status but that he'll believe his arrival "when he sees it." Saban also seemed to confirm that the Tide will begin the year with a rotation between quarterbacks Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron. "“I don't want either guy … to think that if they go in the game and make a mistake, that's when the other guy gets to go in," he said. "That's not how it's going to get managed."

In positive news, long snapper Carson Tinker is close to fully recovered from injuries suffered in the spring tornado that killed his girlfriend, Ashley Harrison.

GEORGIA: Mark Richt announced a surprising change to his defensive starting lineup, confirming that safety Bacarri Rambo (the team's leading tackler in 2010) would start the year second-string behind Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams. Even with corner Branden Smith "day-to-day" with a foot injury, Richt said former corner Commings would not switch positions to cover for Smith.

The Dawgs are banged-up elsewhere as well, with JUCO nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins struggling with a hamstring injury and tailback Richard Samuel not yet at full speed despite practicing Saturday.

SOUTH CAROLINA: He's still Steve Spurrier: the Ol' Ball Coach said that both Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw would play in the Gamecocks' opener against East Carolina, and added that neither has won the starting job yet. Giving the understudy Shaw meaningful playing time could be a dangerous move against the Pirates, whose pass-heavy attack could exploit a Gamecock secondary that struggled in 2010 and could be without starting corner Akeem Auguste; Auguste has a foot injury and missed practice at the end of last week.

Could CBSSports.com second-team All-American Devin Taylor see time on offense? Garcia told reporters the Gamecocks have been working on a package including the 6'7" defensive end.

ELSEWHERE: At Auburn, star sophomore running back Michael Dyer says he's 100 percent healthy after a nick earlier in fall camp. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers' depth will result in them playing more than their typical 18-to-20 players ... Florida running back Jeff Demps admitted his track obligations put him behind the curve when it came to learning the Gators' new offense ... Tennessee has moved corner Prentiss Waggner to safety to cover for the dismissal of Janzen Jackson, who will transfer to FCS McNeese State, that school announced.

Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:36 pm
 

Updating the SEC quarterback races

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With lots of movement on the SEC quarterback front the last few days, now seems a good time to update the entire league's worth of races, team-by-team. Here's the latest, in alphabetical order:

ALABAMA: The Tide's season opener against Kent State is just 11 days away, but Nick Saban hasn't given any more indication towards his staff's decision between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims than he did when spring practice opened. In fact, his last comment on the situation was to say that one of them might play a position other than qurterback. McCarron remains the slightest of favorites due to his extra year of experience, but the closer the opener grows, the more likely it becomes that Saban makes good on his April threat to platoon the two. And given that not even the most catastrophic of quarterback outings could submarine the Tide against the overmatched Golden Flashes, it might make some sense to use the opener as one final audition for both.

ARKANSAS: Believe it or not, the Hogs still don't have an official starting quarterback, as Bobby Petrino has refused to name Tyler Wilson the starter over sophomore Brandon Mitchell. That's despite the fact that anyone not directly related to Mitchell believes the job is 100 percent Wilson's and the junior has been lighting the practice fields up all camp. This one appears to be a formality designed to keep the carrot in front of Mitchell for as long as possible, but stranger things have happened, we guess.

AUBURN: As you probably know, junior Barrett Trotter has been named Cam Newton's successor, with redshirt sophomore Clint Moseley the backup and true freshman Kiehl Frazier third-string. But Gus Malzahn hasn't ruled out using Frazier in some capacity, and gave the four-star recruit every snap in last weekend's scrimmage. A late-season appearance might be in the cards, particularly if Trotter struggles.

FLORIDA: No controversy here: John Brantley has been the unquestioned starter since fall camp broke, with both coaches and players seeming to go out of their way to praise the much-maligned senior and downgrade the chances of five-star freshman Jeff Driskel. "John’s our starter, and he’s our quarterback, and I don’t have any anticipation of (Driskel playing)," Will Muschamp said when discussing the Gators' opener against Florida Atlantic. Driskel has, nonetheless, won the backup's role.

GEORGIA:
The Bulldogs don't have any drama, with Aaron Murray the unquestioned starter and sophomore Hutson Mason the established backup ahead of true freshman Christian LeMay. Mason has had an up-and-down fall camp, though, with some reportedly sharp practices offset by outings like one four-interception practice he called "my worst day ever — in football, period."

KENTUCKY: Morgan Newton
has long since been anointed the Wildcat starter, but Kentucky may need him to stay healthy even more than the Bulldogs' need the same for Murray. Newton and the Wildcat coaches have both had ample praise for backup Maxwell Smith's ability to pick up the offense after just one spring camp and one fall practice ... but the reason Smith's had just one of each is because he's a true freshman, and not a particularly highly-regarded one (according to recruiting experts) at that.

LSU:
Now here's some drama. Much to many Tiger fans' chagrin, as of this moment not even the threat of a second-degree battery arrest is enough to move the gauge-needle on Jordan Jefferson's starting job away from "likely." Now here's the even more depressing news for those bayou residents hoping strong-armed JUCO (and former Georgia backup) Zach Mettenberger would assume the top spot: Mettenberger still hasn't even supplanted Jarrett Lee as the Tigers' backup. According to Lee himself, Jefferson is still running with the "ones" in practice, Lee the twos, and Mettenberger is left with whatever reps Lee doesn't take. If Jefferson does miss the opener against Oregon, it will now be quite the shock if Mettenberger gets the call over Lee, who does say he's had the best camp of his long career.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: 
We know that Chris Relf will be the Bulldog' starter. The question is: will backup Tyler Russell borrow any of Relf's snaps, as he did early in 2010 as the designated pocket quarterback? The consensus seems to be that he won't, with third-stringer Dylan Favre (yes, the nephew of that other Favre) reportedly closer to Russell than Russell is to Relf. Dan Mullen hasn't entirely ruled out a return to a quarterback rotation, but we'll be surprised if we see Russell in the event of anything other than a Relf injury.

OLE MISS:
We touched on this earlier today in the wake of Randall Mackey's arrest and "likely" suspension for the Rebels' season opener, but it appears Barry Brunetti -- always the narrow favorite to win the starting job coming out of spring practice -- is now the most likely candidate to begin Ole Miss's 2011 season under center. But will he stay there? The Rebel coaching staff seems genuine in their repeated statements that none of their three candidates has separated himself from the other two, and former Houston Nutt doghouse resident Zack Stoudt offers a stronger-armed passing element that both Brunetti and Mackey lack. Unless Brunetti shines out of the gate, expect Stoudt to get a serious look at some point. And if Mackey avoids the doghouse himself, the same could go for him, too.

SOUTH CAROLINA:
Steve Spurrier promised a legitimate quarterback battle back at SEC Media Days, but whatever slim chance Connor Shaw actually had of unseating Stephen Garcia, it likely evaporated last week when Shaw injured his thumb and missed three practices. Never say never with Spurrier, but it will likely take some truly egregious play on Garcia's part (or another off-field incident) for Shaw to see any meaningful playing time.

TENNESSEE: Tyler Bray hasn't always pleased his coaches or put his best foot forward this fall, but he appears to have done plenty enough to hold off Matt Simms, who sounds as if he's resigned himself to being the backup. All the same, having Montana as an opening-week tune-up should be an excellent opportunity for Bray to make sure the Vols' two-headed QB wounds of 2010 don't reopen.

VANDERBILT:
The biggest news for Vandy's quarterbacks this week won't actually have any impact until 2012, when newly official Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels becomes eligible. Until then, Vandy will make do with either senior Larry Smith or junior Jordan Rogers, who together directed an offensive performance at Saturday's scrimmage one disappointed Vanderbilt blog described as "Vanderbilt-like." It may take more than one season (or the arrival of Carta-Samuels, who spearheaded the Cowboys' bowl run in 2009) for James Franklin to get the 'Dores' long-simmering quarterback woes ironed out.


Posted on: August 19, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Spurrier: coaches "paranoid" about open practices

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Steve Spurrier has never been one to follow the coaching football crowd or refrain from speaking his mind, and he proved it once again Thursday on his weekly radio call-in show.

For starters, Spurrier announced that Saturday's Gamecock scrimmage would be open to the public, a reversal from earlier policy regarding the scrimmage and a move that flies in the face of the nationwide trend towards closing off fall practices.

But even more interesting was Spurrier's rationale for the switch: “We don’t have to act like all those guys who are paranoid somebody is going to come and watch a ball play," he said on the radio show.

What makes Spurrier's statement particularly interesting is that "all those guys" include most of his SEC head coaching brethren. Les Miles closed LSU practices to the media several days early, unhappy with the local coverage. Will Muschamp closed Florida's spring practice for the first time ever and has kept fall camp likewise off-limits. Dan Mullen closed off Mississippi State practice Aug. 8. Reporters at Auburn are barred from scrimmages while players are instructed not to discuss certain aspects of those scrimmages, aspects like "who played well."

All of which is entirely those coaches' prerogative, of course, as it is the many, many other coaches across the country who employ the same policies. And if asked to choose between more incisive coverage of their team and the potential revealing of information that might help their team's opponents, or more generic coverage and fewer leaks, the overwhelming majority of fans will support closed practices and the latter.

So whether Spurrier is being fair or not in labeling the move towards tighter restrictions "paranoia," don't expect to see it change anytime soon ... just like, as we've seen again, the Ole Ball Coach himself.

Posted on: July 29, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Stephen Garcia could be reinstated next week

Posted by Tom Fornelli

South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended since April following an alcohol-fueled outburst at a life skills seminar, which was just the latest suspension for Garcia since he came to the school. With camp starting next week for the Gamecocks, though, it's not exactly a huge surprise to hear that Garcia could be reinstated to the team as soon as Monday.

Steve Spurrier said as much during a press conference on Thursday.

"Stephen Garcia has changed his lifestyle almost completely," Spurrier told the Post and Courier. "He's been on time, no goofing around. He's being very serious. He's showing a commitment we've never seen before.

"Now, hopefully that will continue. I expect it to continue."

As we've already gone over here on the blog, Garcia's presence for the Gamecocks this season is vital, as they're going to win the national championship.

Garcia's suspension wasn't the only one Spurrier addressed on Thursday, either. Quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus was suspended indefinitely earlier this week after he was arrested for urinating in public, and Spurrier said he could be reinstated in time for the start of camp on Wednesday.

So let's hope for a dry weekend in Columbia. 
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com