Tag:South Carolina
Posted on: September 27, 2010 5:53 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:57 pm
 

Breaking down the SEC division races

Posted by Chip Patterson

For the last four years, the winner of the SEC Championship game has gone on to compete and win the National Championship.  With the conference play heating up and a rematch of Florida-Alabama ahead in Week 5, here is a breakdown of the division races in the SEC. 

SEC EAST -- CONTENDERS

Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0)
So far...: The Gators got a slow start with a lot of questions after uninspiring victories over Miami and South Florida, but the last two games have shown a relentless defense and an offense that is beginning to find an identity.  That identity is looking like it includes the multi-talented freshman quarterback Trey Burton, who scored six times (5 times rushing, once receiving) against Kentucky.
  
Toughest challenges ahead: October 2 - at Alabama; October 9 - vs. LSU; November 13 - vs. South Carolina
   
Outlook: The biggest game of the season for the Gators will be their visit to Tuscaloosa on Saturday.  The rematch of the last two SEC Championship games has huge implications for both division races.  If the Gators fall to the Tide, they will likely need to win the rest of their division games to ensure a trip back to Atlanta for the title game.  An upset win over Alabama puts the Gators in the drivers seat for the title game, and likely would bring the Gators back into the national title discussion. 

South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1)
So far...: The Gamecocks burst on the scene with impressive victories and an improved offense that had Ol' Ball Coach running his mouth around the conference once again.  Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore has proven to be a game-changing back already, and until the 35-27 loss to Auburn, quarterback Stephen Garcia finally looked ready for a true breakout season.  Now the Gamecocks have a quarterback controversy on their hands, and their toughest challenges of the year left on the schedule.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 9 - vs. Alabama; November 6 - vs. Arkansas; November 13 - at Florida

Outlook: If they had been able to knock off Auburn on Saturday night, South Carolina would have been a frontrunner to knock Florida off its throne atop the SEC East.  Unfortunately, the loss has put them in a can't-lose scenario if they want to get reach their first SEC Championship Game in school history.  Looming dates against Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida in the Swamp will make it difficult to keep the loss column thin.  If they can get pull off an upset or two and get some help from, they could enter the Florida game with a chance to steal the division.

Pretenders: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia 

SEC WEST -- CONTENDERS

Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0)
So far...:  Alabama left very little doubt on Saturday who is the best team in the nation.  Being pushed up against the ropes on the road by a very talented Arkansas team, the defending champs battled back into the game and escaped Fayetteville with a victory.  After being down 17-7 at halftime, the Alabama defense (which had not allowed a TD all season until that game) tormented Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas offense in the second half.  Mallet was picked off three times and the Tide defense only allowed three points after halftime while Mark Ingram led the charge for Alabama to reclaim the lead and a win.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 2 - vs. Florida; October 9 - at South Carolina; November 6 - at LSU; November 26 - vs. Auburn

Outlook:  The tests are far from done for Alabama, but thankfully the two most threatening opponents remaining on the schedule (Florida and Auburn) both have to travel to Tuscaloosa.  After watching their performance on Saturday, it is hard to imagine many situations that don't involve Alabama back in the SEC Championship game.  However, South Carolina and LSU are both talented teams playing in hostile territory and those games should not be taken lightly.  If Auburn and Alabama don't slip, they could enter the Iron Bowl with the division title on the line.   

Auburn Tigers (4-0, 2-0)
So far...:  The Tigers are quickly becoming one of the darlings of the SEC.  For the third week in a row, Auburn has been locked in a nationally televised nail-biter and emerged victorious.  The 17-14 win over Mississippi State was not impressive by any means, but the overtime victory against Clemson and Saturday's upset of South Carolina have bumped the Tigers to No. 10 in the nation and now a relevant part of the SEC Championship discussion. 

Toughest challenges ahead: October 16 - vs. Arkansas; October 23 - vs. LSU; November 26 - at Alabama

Outlook:  Cam Newton has officially arrived as one of the premiere quarterbacks in college football this season, and as long as the 6-6 250 pound signal-caller is scoring five total touchdowns like he did against South Carolina, Auburn will always have a chance.  The Tigers have the benefit of getting Arkansas and LSU at home, but this team cannot afford another performance like Mississippi State and expect to win.  If they play to their potential, Auburn could find themselves heading into the Iron Bowl with a shot to return to the SEC title game for the first time since 2004.

LSU Tigers (4-0, 2-0)
So far...:  LSU's defense has proven to be one of the best units in the nation.  Their offense, on the other hand, is about as productive as a late Friday afternoon.  With no good option at quarterback (Jarrett Lee is not a "good" option, just not as a bad) the Tigers have relied on their defense and return game to spring them out to an early No. 12 national ranking.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 9 - at Florida; October 23 - at Auburn; November 6 - vs. Alabama; November 27 - at Arkansas

Outlook:  If the Bayou Bengals are for real, they will get a chance to prove it in October in their road games against Florida and Auburn.  If LSU can take care of business away from Death Valley, they will make the November 6 show down with with Alabama a lot more interesting.  It is hard to support a team with no offense as a conference title contender, but they have at least earned the right to be in the discussion.

Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1, 1-1)
So far...:  Until halftime of Saturday's game against Alabama, Ryan Mallet looked like the best pro quarterback in college football, and the Razorbacks looked ready to have one of the most successful seasons in the programs history.  Unfortunately, the second half unraveling has temporarily overshadowed Arkansas' impressive start.
  
Toughest challenges ahead: October 16 - at Auburn; November 6 - at South Carolina; November 27 - vs. LSU

Outlook: Arkansas had not played a truly challenging team before Alabama, so there is a lot left for this team to prove.  The defense looked fired up and strong in the first half against the Tide, but it is unknown if they will be able to repeat the same performance on the road against a team like Auburn or South Carolina.  The Razorbacks made for a good story, but it is hard to believe that Alabama's comeback did not break their spirits a little.  Difficult to imagine that they will be able to reach that level of energy the rest of the season.

Pretenders: Mississippi State, Ole Miss

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Posted on: September 27, 2010 11:10 am
 

Spurrier pondering QB change

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Prepare to be shocked, ladies and gentlemen, for I come with news sure to shake the very foundation of your being.  Steve Spurrier, a coach who has always showed the utmost patience with every quarterback he has ever coached, is thinking of making a change at quarterback at South Carolina.

I'll let you compose yourselves before I continue.

Okay, so it's not that shocking, but it is true.  Following the Gamecocks loss to Auburn on Saturday night that saw Spurrier's team turn the ball over four turnovers in the fourth quarter -- including two fumbles on consecutive drives by Stephen Garcia -- the ol' ball coach is wondering if he'll be better off with freshman Connor Shaw under center when Alabama comes to town.

"I don't know what we'll do," Spurrier said about the quarterbacks. "We've got too far to go for (a decision). But we're not going to have competition.

"We know what both can do. We've watched both of them now for quite a while. We'll just make a decision on what's best for the team -- and maybe what's best for Stephen Garcia."


Spurrier was referring to Garcia's penchant for putting his head down at the point of contact.  As Spurrier put it, "I think he closes his eyes and he dives right in there.  That's a recipe for disaster."  So Spurrier is using his concern for Garcia's well-being for his decision this time.  Of course, while Garcia was responsible for two of South Carolina's four fourth quarter turnovers, Connor Shaw was responsible for the other two with his two interceptions.

Personally I think South Carolina's problem against Auburn wasn't their quarterback.  It was the 334 rushing yards the defense surrendered to Cam Newton and Michael Dyer.   With Alabama bringing both Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson with them to Jordan-Brice Stadium on Saturday, that's the area the team should be worried about fixing.
Posted on: September 25, 2010 11:45 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 11:53 pm
 

Auburn mounts 4th quarter comeback to win 35-27

Posted by Chip Patterson

When the clock expired on Saturday evening's SEC showdown between Auburn and South Carolina, it is safe to say that the college football fan in all of us was more than satisfied.  The top 25 matchup between two SEC schools striving for national prominence under the lights lived up to all the expectations as Auburn pulled off the 35-27 victory over the Gamecocks on Saturday night. 

Junior quarterback Cam Newton took the Auburn offense on his back when it counted most, leading a 334 yard team rushing effort with 176 yards of his own.  Newton found the end zone 4 times, once through the air and three times on the ground, and completed 16 of 21 passes with no interceptions.  With the home crowd on his back, there was no doubt who would control the game when Auburn needed plays made in the final quarter of play.

South Carolina proved themselves as a legit threat in the SEC, but a pair of Stephen Garcia fumbles halted Gamecocks drives that could have put them ahead or brought them back into the game on both occasions.  Garcia eventually was benched in favor of freshman Connor Shaw, who picked up 70 passing yards quick, but was picked off on two of his eight attempts.

Auburn, now 4-0, sits in the drivers seat in the SEC West.  Leading up to the Iron Bowl, Auburn's greatest threats will be LSU and Arkansas, but both of those games will be played in Jordan-Hare Stadium.  South Carolina's hopes of an SEC Championship Game berth were not crushed by Saturday's loss, but with Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida left on the schedule, the loss to Auburn was not something the Gamecocks could afford.

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Posted on: September 25, 2010 11:55 am
 

Game day weather updates, Week 4

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Here's the weather outlook for all of today's important matchups. Conditions look ideal everywhere but Auburn and LSU. All times are Eastern.

Noon kickoffs

Georgia Tech at North Carolina State, 12:00, Raleigh, NC: Lower 90s, partly cloudy

Afternoon kickoffs

No. 16 Stanford at Notre Dame, 3:30, South Bend, IN: Lower 60s, partly cloudy, breezy

No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas, 3:30, Little Rock, AR: Lower 80s, partly cloudy

Evening kickoffs

No. 8 Oklahoma at Cincinnati, 6:00, Cincinnati, OH: Upper 60s, clear

No. 12 South Carolina at No. 17 Auburn, 7:45, Auburn, AL: Lower 80s/Upper 70s, scattered thunderstorms

No. 24 Oregon State at No. 3 Boise State, 8:00, Boise, ID: Mid 80s at kickoff, lower 70s by halftime, clear 

Late kickoffs

No. 22 West Virginia at No. 15 LSU, 9:00, Baton Rouge, LA: Upper 70s, chance of thunderstorms

California at No. 14 Arizona, 10:00, Tucson, AZ: Mid 80s, clear

No. 5 Oregon at Arizona State, 10:30, Tempe, AZ: Lower 90s, clear

Posted on: September 24, 2010 5:22 pm
 

Insane Predictions: Week 4

Posted by the College Football Blog staff

Every season, every month, every week, there are several outcomes and achievements that, frankly, nobody operating within reason would ever predict. Who could have predicted Nebraska would beat Florida for the title by 38 points, or that Boise State would pull off three late trick plays to knock off Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or that Mike Pouncey would screw up a baker's dozen worth of snaps in one game? Nobody... until now. We're going to try capture that lightning in a bottle by making similarly absurd predictions every week. Are they at all likely to come true? No. Do we even believe the words we're writing? No. But if we make even one correct call on these, we will never stop gloating. Ever.

Highly Unlikely

The Michigan State Spartans lose Kirk Cousins to an injury during the first quarter of their game against Northern Colorado.  His replacement, freshman Andrew Maxwell is dealt the same fate early in the second quarter and the Spartans go into the half trailing 21-10.  After quarterback-turned-WR-turned-back-i
nto-QB-because-of-emergency-in-this
-scenario Keith Nichol succumbs to a horrible stomach virus in the locker room, interim head coach Don Treadwill calls on punter Aaron Bates to lead the team in the second half.  Bates comes out and throws for 300 yards three touchdowns and kicks another three field goals as the Spartans roll to a 40-21 victory. -- Tom Fornelli

Temple upsets Penn State in Happy Valley. There's really no excuse for this happening; even with Temple starting out 3-0 and PSU looking average with true freshman Robert Bolden at QB, Penn State is still highly favored in this contest. But the Temple front seven (led by returning MAC Defensive Player of the Year DE Adrian Robinson) gives the Nittany Lions' enough fits that Temple goes into halftime leading by 10, Bolden gets benched, Kevin Newsome performs worse in relief, and the Owls shock Happy Valley, 27-20. -- Adam Jacobi

Marcus Lattimore is held to less than 70 yards rushing by the Auburn defense. Lattimore only ran for 57 yards against Southern Miss, but when the Gamecocks have really needed yards this season, they turn to number 21.  He will likely get at least 18 carries, and the Tigers did give up 140 yards to Clemson's Andre Ellington, but look for the defensive line to step up and shut down Lattimore at home in primetime. -- Chip Patterson

Severely Unlikely

Mike Leach makes it through the entire broadcast of the Houston - Tulane game without some reference to "symptoms of concussion" followed by awkward silence that lasts as long as an equipment shed is wide. -- Chip Patterson

With his team trailing 24-21 late in the fourth quarter against Arkansas, Nick Saban calls a timeout as his team is marching down the field looking for the go-ahead touchdown.  "I've had an epiphany, gentleman.  I'm not here to win football games, I'm here to make you all better men and better human beings.  Sometimes being the bigger man means letting the other man have his moment in the spotlight."  Saban then forces Greg McElroy to kneel four straight times to end the game. -- Tom Fornelli

Boise State sets the post-WW2 single-game record for most team yardage (pre-WW2 may be a touch out of reach) in their victory over Oregon State, 94-0. Kellen Moore and the rest of the Broncos' starters play every snap, even after Oregon State puts in their second stringers in the 4th quarter. Following the game, Chris Peterson then throws his headset at the press box and yells, "Are you not entertained?!" Boise does not budge in the polls. --Adam Jacobi

Completely Insane

During the third quarter of a listless win at Washington State, USC head coach Lane Kiffin will disappear from the sideline for several minutes, and television cameras will catch him talking on his cell phone. He will claim to have been speaking with old college friends since the game was "boring," but anonymous sources with knowledge of Kiffin's cell phone records will later tell reporters that Kiffin was trying to negotiate a deal to rejoin Pete Carroll in Seattle as an assistant with the Seattle Seahawks. The deal falls through when Kiffin asks for $17.5 million a year. -- Adam Jacobi

Oregon State takes Boise State to overtime on the legendary Smurf Turf.  In overtime, Chris Peterson calls a trick play that finishes with Kellen Moore crossing into the end zone to win the game.  Upon crossing the goal line, Moore rushes over to the cheerleaders and drops to one knee... where he proposes to Buster Bronco.  The horse says "neigh." -- Chip Patterson

With the USC Trojans up 14-0 on Washington State in the first quarter, Matt Barkley finds Ronald Johnson for a 67-yard touchdown to make the score 20-0.  Lane Kiffin then decides to just kick the extra point. -- Tom Fornelli

Posted on: September 15, 2010 2:57 pm
Edited on: September 15, 2010 3:30 pm
 

Gamecocks dismiss Weslye Saunders from team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It looks like the NCAA's investigation about football players and their involvement with agents has claimed another victim.

Word broke on Wednesday afternoon that the South Carolina Gamecocks had dismissed the previously suspended tight end Weslye Saunders from the team. Saunders had been suspended indefinitely by Steve Spurrier for a "violation of team rules," though Spurrier also said at the time that it had nothing to do with Saunders' alleged residence at the Whitney Hotel in Miami or the NCAA's investigation.

“Weslye Saunders is no longer part of our football program,” said South Carolina AD Eric Hyman in a release. “Beyond that I will have no further comment.”

Whitney, along with other players like North Carolina 's Marvin Austin and Alabama 's Marcell Dareus , came under scrutiny for living in the Whitney Hotel with questions about how they were paying for their stay. The players were all asked to vacate the hotel in August and pay off any outstanding balances--something Whitney reportedly did with the help of a loan -- but Saunders and a number of teammates reportedly still reside there.

Whitney, a native of Durham, North Carolina has also admitted to being a long time friend of Marvin Austin.

Updates on this developing story as they come.

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Posted on: September 15, 2010 8:49 am
Edited on: September 15, 2010 9:52 am
 

Georgia DC fires back after Spurrier comment

Posted by Chip Patterson

Earlier this week, we saw South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier take a jab at the Georgia defense in reagards to their attempt to stop freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, who totaled 182 yards and two touchdowns in the 17-6 victory.  Ol' Ball Coach has been known to yap a little, particularly when he has a good team to back it up, but this was early in the season for such a jab at Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

“When you have a back like Marcus [Lattimore] and the linemen opened cracks, I’m sure that Georgia defensive coordinator [became frustrated],” Spurrier said. “That little inside zone play, the NFL doesn’t run that play. That’s a new scheme, I guess.

“I’m sure they knew we’d run it, but they certainly didn’t stop it much.”

Grantham, who spent the last 11 seasons in the NFL, was certainly not going to sit back and have his coaching questioned by Spurrier.  If there is one thing that Spurrier probably should not have brought up was experience in the league.  After all, Spurrier does not have much room to talk when that topic is brought up, which leads us to Grantham's comeback.

“Yeah, that was texted to me,” Grantham replied with a grin. “I appreciate his assistance, you know. But we actually knew what plays they were running. And they actually run that play in pro ball, and our offense actually runs that play, too. So we’re kind of on top of our game.

“It was kind of an out-of-left-field comment,” Grantham added. “I kind of took it more as a shot at the NFL. I really wasn’t sure if it was because of his lack of success there or what. So I kind of took it more like that than anything.”
(Ooooohhh! Let's take this out back! Five o'clock at the willow tree!

Grantham was sharp to make a reference to Spurrier's failed experiment with the Washington Redskins.  His 12-20 record in two seasons that included no playoff visits and a failed Danny Weurffel experiment before resigning and returning to the college game.  Fans of the NFL would suggest that Spurrier couldn't handle the professional ranks, and most of the writing on the wall would support their argument.  

Regardless, it is always fun to see these coaches spit some fire at each other.  The kind of smack talk that elevates rivalries to new levels.  Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the Gamecocks picked up the W already and, unless the Georgia can knock off No. 12 Arkansas on Saturday, a jump ahead towards the SEC East crown.

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 11:55 am
 

Steve Spurrier's getting cocky

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Before the season started there were a log of prognosticators wondering if this would finally be the year in which Steve Spurrier 's South Carolina Gamecocks finally took that step to becoming a legit contender in the SEC.  Well, following the first two weeks of action, it looks like the preseason hype wasn't that far off.

After an opening night victory against Southern Miss the Gamecocks passed an even bigger test by handling Georgia with relative ease on Saturday, and it doesn't seem to be hurting Spurrier's self esteem any.  The man has always had a large ego, but these wins only seem to be making it bigger.  Following yesterday's win Spurrier said that Mark Richt told him that he had a "heck of a team" and that it was the first time another coach had told him that at South Carolina.

All fuel for the Spurrier fire, and he used his newfound heat to burn Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham during his postgame press conference .

“When you have a back like Marcus [Lattimore] and the linemen opened cracks, I’m sure that Georgia defensive coordinator [became frustrated],” Spurrier said. “That little inside zone play, the NFL doesn’t run that play. That’s a new scheme, I guess.

“I’m sure they knew we’d run it, but they certainly didn’t stop it much.”


Grantham had been a long-time assistant in the NFL before joining Richt's staff this season.

In his defense, I'm not sure there are many defenses around the country who are going to be able to stop Marcus Lattimore .  The kid may only be a freshman, but he's a man .  A very big man who is going to punish SEC defenses for quite some time.

Then there likely won't be many NFL defensive coordinators who can slow him down when he moves to the next level.

As for Spurrier, I hope the Gamecocks keep winning because the more they do, the better Spurrier's press conferences are going to get.

 
 
 
 
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