Posted on: October 8, 2010 12:03 pm

Greg McElroy suffered head injury against Florida

Posted by Tom Fornelli

While all eyes in Tuscaloosa were on Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones and his knee this week, which is good to go by the way, it turns out there was another injury to a key offensive player nobody was aware of.  For a time, not even Nick Saban or the Alabama coaching staff knew.

It seems that quarterback Greg McElroy suffered what's being called a head injury during 'Bama's 31-6 beatdown of Florida on Saturday night. 

"He's actually so poised and so good, he got hurt really in the second quarter and nobody knew it," Saban said. "He got hit in the head when he scrambled once, he got hit on the sidelines and it really affected him in the game, I think. We didn't know it until the fourth quarter when he called the play wrong on the formation wrong, then tried to run the play that we signaled."

While Saban didn't say the word, it seems somewhat obvious to me that if McElroy's head injury was a cut on his forehead, that wouldn't cause him to start calling the wrong plays in the huddle.  To me it sounds like he suffered some kind of concussion, and if that's indeed the case, the Crimson Tide might want to be somewhat cautious with their quarterback this week.

Though the odds of McElroy not playing on Saturday against South Carolina are somewhere between slim and "haha, yeah right."

After all, playing in pain is nothing new for McElroy.  He's dealt with a sore leg the last two weeks, and he broke two ribs against Texas during the title game in January.  So the kid is tough, but if he is suffering from a concussion, there's a thin line between tough and stupid.

Ribs will heal, the brain won't.
Posted on: October 8, 2010 11:25 am
Edited on: October 8, 2010 11:26 am

Georgia AD worried about right now, not future

Posted by Tom Fornelli

As the weather gets cooler down in Athens, Georgia, the seat beneath Mark Richt only grows warmer.  Georgia is 1-4 on the season, and 0-3 in the SEC.  With each loss the questions about Richt's future at the school only grow louder, but listening to his boss, athletic director Greg McGarity, it doesn't sound like Richt needs to worry about being fired before the season is over.

McGarity, who didn't take over the job officially until September 1, met with the school's Board of Directors for the first time on Thursday.  Though they weren't there to discuss Mark Richt as much as the budget, the inevitable questions were asked about Richt's future following the meeting.  McGarity made it clear he's doing everything he can to support his head coach right now.

"Oh, we talk every day, every other day," McGarity told reporters. "But our whole focus has been on this year. What we do is focus on: ‘Mark, what can we do to help? Is there anything we can do to help?'

"We basically have those conversations, but really we don't deal with the future. We're dealing with right now, the present, what can we do right now, because if we get too far ahead of ourselves we're going to lose our focus on ‘right now.'  We'll deal with all that stuff at the appropriate time."

Not exactly a vote of confidence, but at least Richt knows that he still has time to put a few wins on the board before his bosses sit down and figure out what they want to do.

Posted on: October 7, 2010 1:16 pm

Matt Simms has 'mastered how to take a sack'

Posted by Tom Fornelli

They say practice makes perfect, and if that is indeed the case, then it's no surprise that Tennessee quarterback Matt Simms feels he's really good at one particular aspect of his job.  Simms has been sacked more than any other quarterback in the SEC, 18 times in five games, which means the Tennessee offensive line is allowing 3.6 sacks a game.

Which is good enough to rank them 117 out of 120 FBS schools.

The offensive line shouldn't worry about it, though, because Simms is pretty good at taking them.  In fact, he thinks he's "mastered" the art of getting leveled by a blitzing linebacker.

"I know it sounds weird, but I really think I've kind of mastered how to take a sack and just protect my body and protect the football," said Simms on Wednesday. "Really, most people would think you try to tense up and kind of ball up your muscle, but really you kind of relax and let your body go, really to be honest, and not try to brace yourself by putting your hand out or bracing the fall."

Which, in a way, just about sums up the entire Volunteers season for Tennessee fans.  Just relax and welcome the deathblow.

Simms in on pace to be sacked 43 times this season, and that doesn't include the countless hits he's taking after getting rid of the ball.  On Saturday against LSU I saw about eight pass plays in a row in which Simms either ended up being sacked or knocked on his butt.  At that rate he'll be a full-fledged sack swami by November.
Category: NCAAF
Posted on: October 7, 2010 12:03 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2010 12:04 pm

Jordan Jefferson is still LSU's starter

Posted by Tom Fornelli

At just about any school in the country, if you were a quarterback who in the team's first five games of the season had managed to throw for only 449 yards while barely completing half of your passes, and had thrown two touchdowns and six interceptions, you probably wouldn't be expecting to start the sixth game.  If your school was LSU, though, and your head coach was Les Miles, you'd have no reason to worry.

In his never-ending quest to win football games in spite of himself, Les Miles announced on Wednesday that Jordan Jefferson will once again be LSU's starting quarterback this Saturday against Florida.   Actually, when asked who the team's starter would be, Miles said that he thinks "it will probably go exactly the same."

Which means that Jefferson will start, play terribly, get bailed out by his defense, and then Les Miles will do something insane at the end of the game that should cost him his job yet, somehow, will result in another victory.

Which I guess is Miles' reasoning.  Sure, the LSU offense outside of Stevan Ridley has been the equivalent of the Hindenburg disaster -- oh the humanity -- but the Tigers are still 5-0.  Let's just ignore that Jarrett Lee -- who comes with his own share of "hey I'm just gonna close my eyes and throw this ball somewhere" problems -- threw for 185 yards against Tennessee last week and has a rating of 133.22 (Jefferson's at 87.99) this season.

Heaven forbid Miles put in the quarterback who has shown a modicum of competency this season, then the games might not be close enough at the end for him to totally mess them up and get away with it.  And what fun is Les Miles if he doesn't have a chance to nearly blow a game?

Posted on: October 7, 2010 11:44 am
Edited on: October 7, 2010 11:49 am

Georgia WR Kris Durham working back to the field

Posted by Chip Patterson

With the current state of affairs, the 1-4 Georgia Bulldogs are a few losses away from complete free-fall in Athens.  Mark Richt, despite a 7-2 bowl record in his nine seasons as head coach, has found himself on the hot seat fighting for his job.  Popular belief was that the Bulldogs' funk would snap with the return of All-American wide receiver A.J. Green.  But after a Caleb King fumble that prevented Georgia from kicking the game winning field goal against Colorado, Bulldog fans are tired of excuses for this four game losing streak.

One thing quarterback Aaron Murray has not had this season has been both of his top two receivers.  A.J. Green, who sat out the first four games as punishment from the NCAA for selling a game-worn jersey, returned against the Buffaloes with 7 catches, 119 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  However the Bulldogs were missing their leading receiver Kris Durham, who suffered a neck stinger near the end of Georgia's loss to Mississippi State September 25.

After Wednesday's practice, Richt suggested there is a chance the Bulldogs could play their top two receivers together for the first time in the 2010 season.
"Yesterday, I would've said I don't think so on Kris (playing) but he's got a 50-50 chance, we'll see how he does Thursday, however it's a no contact day," said Richt. "Last week, it went right up to pre-game before the decision was made and we'll see, we might be in the same boat to figure it out. I hope he can play. Marlon [Brown] will not play, but we don't think its anything long-term."
Having Durham and Green on the field together will benefit everyone involved in the Georgia offense.  Durham has already proven to be a reliable target for freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, catching 17 balls for 324 yards in four games of action, and Green is clearly already clicking with Murray as well.  With both receivers on the field, the Tennessee defense will be prevented from dedicating too much of their attention to Green, allowing him to get some single coverage opportunities.  

Regardless, the time for excuses is over in Athens.  Georgia begin winning games to avoid making 2010 the worst season in the Mark Richt era, and possibly the last.  

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Posted on: October 7, 2010 11:12 am

Spurrier to fans: Be nice to Corso

Posted by Tom Fornelli

ESPN's Gameday will be in South Carolina this weekend for the Gamecocks' game against Alabama.   It's the first time the show has visited Columbia since 2006, which was a visit that didn't go quite well for the show's mascot, Lee Corso.   You see, the year prior Corso said that Steve Spurrier wouldn't win a national championship at South Carolina if he coached there for 400 years.

As you would expect, South Carolina fans spent most of their time booing Corso during the show.

Well, it's four years later, and you can be sure that Gamecock fans haven't forgotten, and plan to let Corso hear it again this weekend.  Though if they do, they'll be disobeying Spurrier.  Through a release from the school, The OV* has asked the fans to give Corso a break.

"I just want to encourage all of our fans and our students to really be a class act this weekend," said Spurrier in the release. "GameDay is here. The whole nation will be watching.

"I think the last time they were here, some of our students or fans were giving Lee Corso some grief. I know he did say that it's almost impossible to win the SEC here, but I guarantee he'd love to see South Carolina win it. He would love to crawl across Williams-Brice Stadium and salute the fans. That's what he said he'd do if we ever win it. He was just trying to mention how difficult it was since we've not really been all that close in our history.

"Lee Corso is a good person and a good man. I guarantee he roots for us most of the time. I hope our fans and students will really show the country that we are a class bunch of people here in Columbia and we'll have a big Saturday."

Gee, I wonder if they'll listen?

*The Original Visor

Posted on: October 6, 2010 4:20 pm

Feinstein: Duke should leave ACC football

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As a program, Duke is terrible at football. Currently, historically, inexorably terrible. Duke football had more seasons with two wins or fewer in the last decade (seven such seasons) than they've had bowl game invitations in the nearly 60 years they've been in the ACC (five). They are so, so bad.

In spite of this crushing haplessness, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe told one local radio station recently, "We have a struggling team, but we don't have a struggling program."

Noted sports author (and Duke alum) John Feinstein felt compelled to respond to WRAL in Raleigh:

"Is this team not part of the program? I said years ago, I got shouted down. And I'll still be shouted down, that Duke should not play ACC football."

He went on to claim that if Duke had a president with any leadership ability, he would get together with the presidents at Tulane, Army, Navy, Rice and Vanderbilt and form "Conference SAT" - a league for good academic schools that haven't been competitive in their current football leagues.

First of all, leave it to a Duke fan to turn sucking at football into an elitist activity. Bravo, Feinstein. Second, on its face, this seems like a good idea (and how about Northwestern not making the list? Congrats, Wildcats fans!); excepting the rare and fleeting moments of success, these programs typically struggle, and their unusual admissions standards certainly don't help matters.

The only problem is that nobody's going to want to watch that league. Their television ratings would just be "NO." And if they're not going to get good ratings, they're not going to make money, and really the only reason for a school to ever field a football team is to finance the rest of its athletic department. What Feinstein's really making the case for is that these schools should stop fielding football teams, but that's probably a little too uncomfortable for a Duke partisan to consider rationally at this point.

Posted on: October 6, 2010 3:47 pm

These Gators refuse to adapt

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Florida Gators may be 4-1 on the season but, by and large, they haven't played nearly as well as a team as that record would indicate.  They started the season with three straight wins over Miami (OH), South Florida and Tennessee and all three of those contests were a lot closer than what we've all become accustomed to seeing from the Gators.

Now, obviously, there is a reason for this.  No matter what your personal feelings were for Tim Tebow when he was playing in Gainesville, it's hard to argue that Tebow was the perfect quarterback for the Florida offense masterminded by Urban Meyer and called by Steve Addazio.   Losing Tebow is something the team needs to adjust to.

Unfortunately it's an adjustment that Florida's coaching staff doesn't seem willing to make.

It wouldn't be fair to compare John Brantley to Tebow because they're two completely different quarterbacks.  Tebow was the battering ram who would occasionally make an ugly throw whenever it was needed.  Brantley is your more traditional quarterback, with an arm that is much stronger than his legs.

Yet the Gators are treating Brantley as if he's Tebow, asking him to run more speed options than throw deep ins.  Brantley has carried the ball 15 times this season for 60 yards, with no run gaining more than 11 yards.  He also picked up some bruised ribs on an option run courtesy of the Alabama defense.

Even after seeing that unmitigating disaster, Addazio says that there will be no change in the way the Gators conduct business on Saturday against LSU.

"That's a part of who we are and that won't change," said Addazio. "It's like everything else. Get a little better, operate it a little better. Twenty of them? No. But the element is there and element will always be there."

Which is fine. It's hard for an offense to completely overhaul its identity in the middle of a season.  Still, you would think Addazio would take a look at his team's performance against Kentucky two weeks ago.

Without question the Gators 48-14 win over the Wildcats was their most impressive outing of the season, dominating the game from the opening kick to the final whistle.  In that game Brantley ran the ball four times and picked up a yard.

However, Trey Burton took some snaps at quarterback running the option and picked up 40 yards on five carries.  Each one of his five runs ending with six points as Burton went on to break Tim Tebow's school record with six touchdowns in the game.

Brantley had a fine afternoon throwing the ball, as well, completing 24-of-35 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.

So why won't Addazio use this approach the rest of the season?  Against Alabama Brantley ran the ball eight times to lose a yard.  Burton had half as many carries, and only picked up five yards.

Forget about the output, as even Tebow had his problems with the sturdy Alabama defense last season, and look at the philosophy.  Burton was coming off an amazing game and only got half as many carries as the quarterback who has struggled to run the ball all season.

Hell, Brantley had more carries than every Florida running back other than Jeff Demps, and Demps was playing on an injured foot.

In what world does this make sense to anybody?

Not even Brantley sounds like he's comfortable running so much, though he isn't stupid enough to say it publicly.

"I don't mind doing it at all," Brantley said. "It is a little different. Gotta get a little used to it at game speed, but I'm comfortable doing it. That's what our offense is. It's been successful for us these last four years, so why not keep doing it?"

He doesn't mind doing it.  Not I enjoy doing it, not I want to do it.  He doesn't mind.  

Well, I don't mind watching Project Runway with my girlfriend if she asks me to, but that doesn't mean I want to. 

The reason you don't keep doing it is because in the four games you have been things haven't worked out too well.  In the one game you didn't, and mixed it up, you had your best game of the season.

If I can see this, then why can't the Florida coaching staff?

Go with a two quarterback system.  When you want to run the option, bring in Burton.  If you want to pass, use Brantley.  I seem to recall a former Florida quarterback who wasn't exactly suited to run an option offense either.  His name was Chris Leak.   That's when the Gators started using Tebow in run situations, and things turned out pretty well that year as the school's trophy case can attest to.
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