Posted on: April 20, 2011 3:06 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
All twelve SEC head coaches jumped on board a conference call to talk about their Spring Practices. Here's a few notes on what each coach said.
Les Miles, LSU
On senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson:
"He gets it out of his hand so quickly now and goes through his reads much quicker," Miles said. "There's much less hesitation in his decision-making process. I also think going into your senior year, there's a want to have a great senior year, and the leadership position is something your quarterback must embrace.
Miles also said that new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe has been a major help for all of the quarterbacks on the roster. Backups Zach Mettenberger and Jarrett Lee pushed Jefferson this spring and will continue to do so in the fall, which makes the team better.
Will Muschamp, Florida
On quarterback John Brantley this spring:
"I’m really pleased with his poise, leadership and habits off the field studying what we need to do to be successful,” Muschamp said. “He’s got the ability and we’re very pleased.”
On Brantley's tough spring game:
“I don’t think in the spring game John had much of a chance,” Muschamp said. “I was behind him and saw it coming pretty fast, too.”
Muschamp made Florida's policy on grayshirting very clear, in that they don't do it period. He also mentioned that Javares McRoy transferred because he wants to play with his brother and Chris Dunkley left because, "sometimes things don't fit." All the injured Florida players should be healthy and ready to go this summer.
Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
"Well, we like the way the rule is now because we actually sign four or five guys that are on the bubble of qualifying. This year we've got about five that haven't quite done it and probably three that won't make it," Spurrier said. "We could not sign all of our guys which was embarrassing for us a little bit and for them. Sometimes time heals a lot of wounds. It appears that one guy in particular will be able to sign and come with us when all the freshmen report. Our state education is.. a lot of them are borderline of qualifying or not. It's helpful for the University of South Carolina to be able to oversign."
Spurrier touched on suspended quarterback Steven Garcia, which you can read more about here. It's the Old Ball Coach's 66th birthday today and he said he was teeing off with Boo Weekley at a pro-am this afternoon. Spurrier was upbeat on current quarterback Connor Shaw, even joking he "is from our planet," in contrast to Garcia.
James Franklin, Vanderbilt
On the challenge at Vandy:
"I love the word daunting. To me, it's an opportunity, it's a challenge," Franklin said. "Just like everything else in life, it's how you look at it and perceive the situation. The way myself, this staff and this program looks at it, we have a chance to really do something special."
Franklin said the team stayed healthy for the most part this spring which was key because of depth issues. The spring was mainly about laying a foundation and the head coach felt they did that.
Derek Dooley, Tennessee
On the fan base being more united with some stability in the program:
"I hope fans see a coach who wants to be here and appreciates the tradition and the history of Tennessee football and has a good systematic approach on and off the field," Dooley said.
The head coach also said his honeymoon was over with the fans and that it ended at kickoff of last season. Dooley dismissed some of the struggles of quarterback Tyler Bray in the spring game because of the way he performed throughout the spring. He briefly touched on the 'Dooley Rule' that was implemented requiring a runoff of time in the last minute of a game on a penalty and said that it makes the game better.
Nick Saban, Alabama
On meeting with players to evaluate their progress:
"We go over a player's strengths, weaknesses, things he needs to work on, academic circumstance, personal issues, problems, leadership things he can contribute," Saban said. "It's pretty comprehensive to sit down and talk, sort of develop a plan for what that person needs to do to be successful personally, academically and athletically."
Saban discussed the quarterback battle between Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron, including the possibility of playing both. Saban mentioned walk-on defensive back Ranzell Watkins as one player who is in the competition for a starting job because of his hard work this spring.
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
On the QB battle between Tyler Wilson and Brandon Mitchell:
"I think they still have a long way to go," Petrino said. "They both have great leadership qualities but they have a ways to go to do their job well so they can lead by example first."
Petrino said the Spring Game was one of the most attended in history and was a big deal because it was televised. He was pleased with figuring some of his offensive line out this spring and thought his defense showed off the veteran unit's maturity. Petrino mentioned having four good receivers will help the offense tremendously no matter the quarterback.
Houston Nutt, Ole Miss
On QB Randall Mackey's spring:
"I thought Randall Mackey had an outstanding spring," Nutt said. "You can see why he was a junior college All-American quarterback. He can really spin the play and buy some time, he has some escapablity and is very accurate. We knew he could be in the shotgun but he got up under center much better."
Nutt said Mackey was ahead in the quarterback derby but nothing is finalized until this fall. He thought the few seniors on the team really stepped up and showed great leadership. Nutt also liked the way the defensive tackles got better as the spring went on and felt they also became more physical. He labeled Wesley Pendleton as the surprise of the spring.
Mark Richt, Georgia
On spring practice overall:
"I think we got better, we practiced with the right amount of intensity," Richt said. "We competed well, guys were competing for jobs, competing in offense versus defense."
Richt said the offensive tackle situation is fluid and still up in the air and the third guy could end up playing both left and right tackle. Richt said he wouldn't ban social media for his players because he knows it's such a big part of their lives. "They sacrifice enough with the amount of time they put in," he said. Richt did mention that it would be an issue if a guy is irresponsible with it. Richt wouldn't comment on the locker room thefts that occurred a few weeks ago.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
On the quarterback position:
“The competition, to me, is wide open right now,” Mullen said. “Chris Relf, obviously, did a great job this spring. I don’t know if he separated himself from all the other guys but he also has the experience and has played in the game and has done nothing to not be our top quarterback at this point going into the summer.”
Mullen didn't comment on any of the injuries on the team. He mentioned that since there were so many young players, it was good to get some practice time with them and they did a great job. He said the defense won't really change with the departure of Manny Diaz but that they would try a few new things. Mullen said he doesn't have a top-flight wide out but the group overall is very solid.
Gene Chizik, Auburn
On the all the distractions around the program:
"We only focus on one thing and that's what we can control,' Chizik said. "We know we're doing everything the right way and feel good about the direction of the program. We don't pay attention to any outside distractions."
Chizik thought there was an eagerness to learn from the younger players on the team but they have a long ways to go. He wanted the quarterbacks to be more consistency and will be a battle into the fall. Incoming quarterback Kiehl Fraizer will be in the mix as well.
Joker Phillips, Kentucky
On what he's gotten out of spring football:
"I've really been pleased with the progress of our team defensively," Phillips said. "I'm really pleased after 14 practices that we're getting the best personnel on the field and we're unitizing some of our better people."
Phillips liked the development of the quarterbacks and feels they can be a better passing team in the fall. He said they're in "desperate need" of somebody stepping up on the perimeter at wide receiver and being a playmaker.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Boo Weekley, Brandon Mitchell, Chris Dunkley, Chris Relf, Connor Shaw, Dan Mullen, Derek Dooley, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, Jarrett Lee, Javares McRoy, John Brantley, Joker Phillips, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, Kiehl Frazier, Les Miles, LSU, Manny Diaz, Mark Richt, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Phillip Sims, Randall Mackey, Ranzell Watkins, SEC, Steve Kragthorpe, Steve Spurrier, Steven Garcia, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Wilson, Vanderbilt, Wesley Pendleton, Will Muschamp, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 4:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC West, team by team. In alphabetical order:
ALABAMA: The two big headlines for Tide fans this spring were the quarterback battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims (pictured), and the unveiling of the new Nick Saban statue added to those of the school's first three national title-winning head coaches. As our own Dennis Dodd reported (and as you can hear for yourself in the reverent tone of this student news broadcast), the statue left the Tide faithful plenty satisfied; the quarterback battle, not so much, as neither McCarron nor Sims was able to create any real separation from the other. (How close were they? At A-Day, McCarron went 21-of-38 for 222 yards and one interception, Sims 19-of-38 for 229 yards and an interception.)
But as we pointed out in our Tide spring primer, who's at the reins of the offense isn't nearly as important as whether the offense can remain productive without Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, et al. With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower each looking like terrors this spring in the linebacking unit and All-American safety Mark Barron showing few ill effects of his postseason pectoral muscle surgery (he returned a fumble 96 yards for a score at A-Day), the defense looks poised to live up the "best in the nation, or damn close" expectations. All the offense has to do is not screw things up, and the running game -- behind Trent Richardson, a dynamo on A-Day with 167 all-purpose yards, and a loaded line with former five-star right tackle D.J. Fluker beginning to fulfill his vast potential -- appeared ready to do the job nearly by itself.
The Tide still haven't found what looks like a go-to receiver in the wake of Jones' departure (Richardson led both sides in receptions and yards at A-Day), and the McCarron/Sims derby could be a distraction lasting well into the fall. But given the help either one will receive from the running game (and line) on display Saturday, none of that might matter.
ARKANSAS: The big question before spring started was simply "can the Hogs handle losing Ryan Mallett?" And though the Red-White game certainly isn't a guarantee, it's definitely an arrow pointed in the direction of "goodness, yes." Likely new quarterback Tyler Wilson averaged 9.7 yards per his 25 attempts, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His receiving corps -- on paper, the SEC's best, hands-down -- lived up to its billing, with Jarius Wright hauling in five balls for 157 yards and two scores. The White team defense had its moments, too, holding All-SEC candidate Knile Davis to just 44 yards on 16 carries.
The Hogs' spring wasn't perfect -- backup tailback Broderick Green went down for the year with an ACL tear -- and Bobby Petrino hasn't even officially named Wilson the starter yet. But with the quarterback position looking solid and the defense boasting its best spring in years, the loss of Mallett sure hasn't put much of a dent in the Hogs' new position as West challengers just yet.
AUBURN: The Tigers entered the spring looking for playmakers to fill at least part of the colossal void left by Cam Newton's and Nick Fairley's departures. And at defensive end, they may have found some; sophomores Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae both drew positive reviews throughout the spring, and previously little-used junior Dee Ford burst into the rotation with a big camp and a pair of sacks at Auburn's A-Day game. New line coach Mike Pelton said he was impressed by -- and would use -- all three this fall.
The rest of the defense didn't have a shabby A-Day, either, as they defeated the offense 63-32 in Gene Chizik's unique scrimmage scoring system. But most of the offense's efforts went towards polishing up the passing attack (tailbacks Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combined for just seven carries), and those efforts didn't yield much in terms in terms of finding big-play potential. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen (pictured) won MVP honors for his 65 yards receiving and catching the lone touchdown of the scrimmage, and DeAngelo Benton added one 48-yard reception. But otherwise, offensive excitement was hard to come by, and Chizik afterwards called the quarterbacking from Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley "inconsistent." (The two will compete for the starting job into the fall.)
Under Chizik, Auburn hasn't made much of an effort to put on a show in their spring game -- the reviews on Newton's debut in the 2010 version were universally ho-hum -- but there still seems little doubt Gus Malzahn will look for much more explosiveness out of his attack come fall camp.
LSU: It's the same old story on the bayou. The Tigers entered spring hoping to finally put their quarterbacking issues to rest behind someone, be it incumbent starter Jordan Jefferson or someone else ... and left it with Jefferson still the starter and still on less-than-firm ground after an ugly 4-of-14, no touchdowns, one interception performance.
Well, less-than-firm ground with the LSU fanbase , anyway. Bayou Bengal supporters seem to have universally pinned their hopes on JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, despite Mettenberger being mired at third on the depth chart entering the spring game. But you can't blame them when Jefferson struggled the way he did, Jarrett Lee averaged all of 4.5 yards per-attempt (with a pick, of course) and Mettenberger did this:
None of that made any difference to Les Miles and the LSU staff, who gave Jefferson the team's "Jim Taylor Award" for his spring effort and leadership. And quarterback or no quarterback, LSU showed how formidable they'd be all the same: Spencer Ware followed up his breakout Cotton Bowl performance with a huge spring, the secondary looks as airtight as ever even without Patrick Peterson, and there's plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
But unless Jefferson lives up to his coaches' faith in him -- and that spring game performance did little to assure anyone he will -- LSU's still going to have some headaches.
MISSISSIPPI STATE, OLE MISS: Despite their wildly divergent 2010 seasons, the question for both Mississippi schools was the same entering the spring: how would their defenses fare after losing several major contributors from last year?
In Oxford, that question was all the more important for last year's defense having been such a disappointment in the first place. And it got even harder to answer mid-spring when potentially the unit's best player, linebacker D.J. Shackelford, was lost for the year with an ACL tear. The Rebel defense had a successful spring game all the same, holding the two offenses to just 27 total points and scoring seven of their own on an Ivan Nicholas interception return. But coming against a Rebel offense in flux after seeing former JUCO Randall Mackey ascend to the likely starter's job (and former favorite Nathan Stanley leave the program), the jury will remain out despite the positive signs.
Up the road in Starkville, the news seemed more unambiguously positive: Dan Mullen said his defensive line "dominated" the Marron-White Game, producing 11 tackles-for-loss. The Bulldogs already seemed happy with their new linebackers, and that was before redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna blew up for eight tackles and a pair of sacks in the spring game. The secondary may remain a work-in-progress (State quarterbacks, including backup Dylan "Yes, That" Favre, combined to average a healthy 7.8 yards per-attempt), but the front seven looks like it shouldn't take too big a step back.
We'll cover the SEC East next week once the slowpokes at Kentucky hold their spring game this weekend.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Alabama, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Barrett Trotter, Bobby Petrino, Broderick Green, Cam Newton, Clint Moseley, Corey Lemonier, Cotton Bowl, Courtney Upshaw, D.J. Fluker, D.J. Shackelford, Dan Mullen, DeAngelo Benton, Dee Ford, Dont'a Hightower, Dylan Favre, Ferlando Bohanna, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Ivan Nicholas, Jarius Wright, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Jefferson, Julio Jones, Kentucky, Knile Davis, Les Miles, LSU, Mark Barron, Mark Ingram, Michael Dyer, Mike Pelton, Mississippi State, Nathan Stanley, Nick Fairley, Nick Saban, Nick Saban state, Nosa Eguae, Ole Miss, Onterio McCalebb, Patrick Peterson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Phillip Sims, Randall Mackey, Ryan Mallett, SEC, Spencer Ware, spring practice, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, What I Learned, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: April 14, 2011 2:21 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Just one year ago, Ole Miss sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley had springboarded from a relief appearance in the Cotton Bowl into the Rebels' starting signal-calling job. With potentially three years' worth of every-down snaps ahead of him, all surrounded by Houston Nutt's usual array of skill position talent, Stanley's future in Oxford couldn't have looked much brighter.
Fast forward a year, and Stanley won't even finish spring camp on the Rebels' roster, having told Nutt he intends to transfer after slipping all the way to (per the Clarion-Ledger) No. 4 on the Ole Miss depth chart. Nutt's public statement:
“After meeting tonight, Nathan has decided to leave the program. We wish him the best and are going to help him find a new school. I appreciate all he has done for Ole Miss and the type of student-athlete he has been.”How did Stanley go from heir apparent to afterthought so quickly? It started with the ballyohooed arrival last summer of Jeremiah Masoli --a move on the Rebel staff's part few could argue with given Masoli's talent, but no doubt one that also told Stanley the staff wasn't entirely comfortable with him as the unquestioned starter. Sure enough, Stanley received only one start -- the season-opening disaster against Jacksonville State which Masoli finished -- before watching the final 11 games from the sidelines. The Rebels then welcomed two more transfers (JUCO Zack Stoudt and West Virginia transfer Barry Brunetti) this spring and watched 2010 JUCO redshirt Randall Mackey take spring camp by storm.
Though Stanley publicly welcomed Masoli and the benefits of last fall's competition, at this stage it's worth wondering if his confidence (or motivation under the staff who'd worked to replace him) ever recovered; by all accounts Stanley made no impact whatsoever this spring and had seen his repetitions reduced significantly over the course of the past few weeks. A transfer at this stage was all but inevitable, and seems from this perspective like the best thing for Stanley.
As for Ole Miss, the program and Stanley going their separate ways is probably best on the Rebels' end too. But Brunetti will need an NCAA waiver to avoid sitting out his transfer year this coming season; if that waiver is denied, Mackey and Stoudt become the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.
Without Brunetti, it's dangerous living for Nutt. But of course, that's also the only way Nutt knows how to live.
Posted on: April 13, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: April 13, 2011 1:16 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
After years -- or as it must have seemed like to Buffs fans, millenia -- of injuries, waffling, and general lack of leadership at the quarterback position, the arrival of new head coach Jon Embree (and graduation of annual backup/spot starter Cody Hawkins) seems to have put an end to the question marks. Tyler Hansen is officially your Colorado quarterback starter, and it doesn't sound like there's any wiggle room in Embree's decision:
Those are some mighty fine numbers there, and suggest the Buffs coule have a legitimately threatening passing game for the first time since the Gary Barnett era. Of course, since they've all come against the Colorado secondary, they also suggest Embree has some work to do in the secondary.
But given how hamstrung Colorado has been by the quarterback position the past few season, it's hard to imagine any Buffs fans -- or Embree, who knows how badly the seemingly rudderless Dan Hawkins Buffs need a strong, rally-to-the-flag on-field leader like an entrenched senior Hansen -- offering up the first complaint.
(And hey, while we're discussing Colorado and quarterbacks, you should know former Georgia backup quarterback and occasional Bulldog receiver/punt returner Logan Gray has transferred to Boulder and should be eligible immediately, due to the same graduate program loophole that allowed Jeremiah Masoli to startfrom Day 1 at Ole Miss. But don't expect Gray to show up at all on Colorado's quarterbacking depth chart, much less challenge Hansen; he's expected to help fill in the Buffs' depeleted corps of wideouts.)
Posted on: April 12, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: April 12, 2011 12:24 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Bad news for Ole Miss' defense, as the news the school feared the most about linebacker D.T. Shackelford was what the Rebels got on Tuesday. After undergoing an MRI on his injured knee on Monday, the school announced on Tuesday that Shackelford has torn the ACL in his right knee, and he's going to be out from six to eight months.
Which means his 2011 season is in serious jeopardy.
Shackelford injured the knee during drills on Monday, and head coach Houston Nutt was worried that the injury could be serious when it happened. Now we know how serious it is, and Nutt will have to find a new middle linebacker this season. Shackelford had been expected to take over the starting job this season following the graduation of Jonathan Cornell, who led the Rebels in tackles last season.
After starting six games in 2010, Shackelford managed to finish seventh on the team with 48 tackles. Shackelford also managed to lead the team with 5 sacks. It's expected that either Clarence Jackson or Ralph Williams will battle for the starting middle linebacker job in Shackelford's absence.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Tags: ACC, ACC recruiting, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Aziz Shittu, Big 12, Big 12 recruiting, Big Ten, Charlie Strong, Cincinnati, David Shaw, Dorial Green-Beckham, Florida, Georgia, Jim Harbaugh, Joker Phillips, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Malcolm Brown, Malcom Brown, Miami, Nathan Holmes, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oshay Dunsmore, Pac-12, Pac-12 recruiting, Penn State, Recruiting Review, SEC, SEC recruiting, Stanford, Texas, Tom Lemming, USC, Vanderbillt, Zach Banner
Posted on: April 5, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 7:55 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The end of March Madness is always a bittersweet occasion. On one hand, it'll be five long months for fans of major college athletics before the football season kicks off, and seven months before the ball is tipped and there you are again. Sure, there are pro sports going on, but seven-game playoff rounds? Who's got time for that?
On the other hand, the end of the NCAA Tournament means the beginning of a different, wonderful tourney: the Name of the Year competition. Every year, 64 actual, documented names are put up for round-by-round voting, with one name to reign supreme. Why yes, there is a bracket.
As you can see, college football has contributed some of these names. Superstar South Carolina recruit Jadeveon Clowney is a 7-seed in the Chrotchtangle region, squaring off against the always dangerous Charlie Soap. There's also LSU defensive lineman A'Trey-U Jones, plus a number of recruits: Arkansas commit Quinta Funderburk, Ole Miss recruit Philander Jones, and uncommitted 2012 cornerback recruit Leviticus Payne. Also, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo rode a wave of support from Every Day Should Be Saturday to take the 2009 NOTY title. So this is totally relevant to college football, you see.
Sadly, though, we don't think that kind of popular support will be there for Clowney this year. While his name is cool and he is an absolutely terrifying propsect, it's not nearly silly enough to muscle past the likes of La'Peaches Pitts, Solo Alone, or the utterly preposterous Taco B.M. Monster. We're sure Clowney will settle for the consolation prize of demolishing the SEC and getting drafted in the first round of the NFL. Which he will.
Past that, we have a few observations.
So... who's your winner?
Tags: 2011 Name of the Year, 2011 Name of the Year Bracket, A'Trey-U Jones, Arkansas, Barkevious Mingo, Charlie Soap, Dr. Loveday Conquest, Jadeveon Clowney, Jihad Larry, Jihad Larry, La'Peaches Pitts, Leviticus Payne, LSU, Monsterville Horton IV, Name of the Year, Name of the Year Bracket, Ole Miss, Philander Jones, Quardrophenia Taylor, Quinta Funderburk, Reverend Demon Sox, SEC, Shaka Smart, Solo Alone, Solo Alone, South Carolina, Taco B.M. Monster, Taco B.M. Monster, VCU, Yolanda Supersad
Posted on: April 5, 2011 12:48 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This much we knew already: Mississippi State is going to pay out some level of fine to the SEC this offseason for its cowbell addiction, for its shocking, shocking inability (or, more accurately, "completely expected" inability) to prevent its fans from ringing their bells at inappropriate moments during league games in Starkville.
But an altercation between two State students at the 2009 Egg Bowl could make those cowbells an even more expensive habit for the university, thanks to a lawsuit already pending against Mike Slive and the SEC that could now expand to include MSU:
Doug Foster , attorney for William Matthew Brasher , has filed a motion in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court requesting that MSU and president Mark Keenum be added to the suit.Stunningly, there has no been indication on State's part that it is willing to offer Brasher $10 million -- once again, the sum of 10 million American dollars in a case in which one man allegedly knocked another man unconscious with a cowbell -- in order to close the suit.
Whether or not the court could wind up ordering State, or the SEC, or Slive to pay some smaller sum to Brasher is not something we're lawyer enough to take a guess at. But this much we know: if they do, State may have wished they'd gone for, say, tambourines instead.