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 11, 2011 12:32 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Following Florida's Orange and Blue game on Saturday, new head coach Will Muschamp said that if the season were to start today, John Brantley would be the team's starting quarterback. I think I speak for the entire Gator Nation when I say that it's a good thing the season isn't starting for another five months then.
Those Florida fans who showed up to the game or watched on television were no doubt hoping to see some amazing growth shown by Brantley now that he's under the tutelage of Charlie Weis and in an offense that is better suited to his skills. Instead those fans saw Brantley, playing for the Blue team, start the day with six consecutive incompletions, and finish the afternoon completing 4 of his 14 passes for 45 yards. The Blue squad only managed 3 points with Brantley at the helm in the first half.
Which will of course lead to a lot of teeth gnashing over Brantley and the Florida offense over the next few months as the team prepares for the 2011 season. It's also important to note that just because Brantley is on top of the Florida depth chart at the moment, that doesn't mean he'll still be there come the fall. Both Tyler Murphy and Jeff Driskel have five months to take the job away, though neither were spectacular on Saturday either.
I tend to believe that when it's all said and done, Brantley will still be the starter in Gainesville, as we shouldn't put too much stock in the spring game. By all accounts, Brantley had looked great during the practices leading up to the game. Besides, considering that he has an entire new offense to learn under Weis, it's not exactly realistic to expect Brantley to have mastered it after only a few weeks worth of practice.
It takes months to learn the hundred variations of the same four plays that Charlie Weis calls over and over again.
So give him a little more time, Gator fans.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Florida , who starts spring practice today.
Spring Practice Question: What's going to be drawn on the blank slate of the Florida offense?
As spring practice 2011 opens, there may be no single unit in the entire country more intriguing than the Florida offense.
It's true. Consider that just three years ago it was the envy of college football, an unstoppable force led by the Heisman-winning Tim Tebow, featuring the most explosive receiving/rushing playmaker in the college game in Percy Harvin, drawn up and play-called by one of the best spread-option gurus in the nation in Dan Mullen, positively littered with future successful pros like Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez ... it was the kind of offense custom-built to win a national championship, and it did. And then two seasons later, in the hands of Steve Addazio, it was a crumbling heap that finished an unthinkable 82nd in total offense. That was an offense built to go 7-5, and it did, too.
So it's hardly surprising Will Muschamp decided to scrap the entire thing and start over. It's maybe somewhat surprising, though, he'd start over with something he's familiar with but Florida hasn't run in ages: a true two-back, under-center, pro-style system as run by the newly-contented Charlie Weis.
The result of that decision is that what we know about the new Gator offense is dwarfed by what we don't, the questions at this stage far outnumbering the answers. A sampling:
Is Weis's offense going to incorporate anything left over from the Meyer era? It's not what Weis knows or what Muschamp hired him for, so don't expect much different from Weis's offenses at Notre Dame or the Kansas City Chiefs. But with a collection of personnel recruited for (and in many cases, much better-suited) the Meyer spread, there must be the temptation to include certain elements of the old scheme here and there. We'll see if Weis gives in to that temptation this spring.
Can John Brantley's career be salvaged? If there's any former Meyer recruit who might have been happy to see the offense overhauled, it would have to be the pass-first Brantley, who was asked by Addazio to fill many of the running-game holes Tebow did without only the tiniest fraction of the success. Weis's system could make Brantley a star, but whatever offense he's running, Brantley will have to be substantially more poised this spring if he's going to hold off a challenge from early-enrolled freshman Jeff Driskel.
What happens to the heirs to Harvin? What success the Gator offense had in 2010 was frequently the result of getting the ball to Jeff Demps, the diminutive sprinter who took several handoffs the distance. But a pro-style tailback job doesn't typically go to backs of Demps's (or fellow veteran blazer Chris Rainey's) size, and Demps's history of nagging injuries won't help him convince Weis and Muschamp he or Rainey will be ready to be an every-down back. With one of those injuries sidelining Demps for at least the start of spring, the larger Mike Gillislee or Mack Brown may be able to stake their claim to the position.
Will the offensive line bounce back? Much of the disappointment of 2010 started with the disappointing play up front, as a veteran line began its year with Mike Pouncey memorably dribbling snaps back to Brantley in the season opener and never seemed to truly recover. Now the Gators enter spring with a new line coach brought in from the NFL in Frank Verducci, and just one healthy 2010 starter available. But the competition for open spots and fresh voice following the departure of Addazio could lead to better results all the same.
Will any playmakers step up in the receiving positions? Yes, the receivers were a problem last year too, as the entire corps of wideouts and tight ends totaled just eight touchdown receptions and as a team the Gators averaged barely more than 10 yards a completion. Deonte Thompson led the way by netting 15 yards per-catch and 570 yards total; a big spring should establish him as the team's clearcut No. 1 and a potential All-SEC candidate. But it will also be worth watching Jordan Reed and Trey Burton, top-drawer athletes who moonlighted as Wildcat quarterbacks a year ago and have been shifted into starting roles as a tight end and slot receiver, respectively. If Thompson's ready to take the next step and Weis can find the best way to put Reed and Burton to use, the Gators could come out of spring with plenty of optimism regarding their receiving corps.
With so many questions, it seems unlikely Florida will find the right answers to all of them. But with so many potential answers at virtually any position you choose, whatever Weis and Muschamp cook up, it promises to be fascinating viewing ... and at the least, a good bit more effective than the not-even-close-to-fascinating viewing the Gators offered last season.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Charlie Weis, Chris Rainey, Dan Mullen, Deonte Thompson, Florida, Frank Verducci, Jeff Demps, Jeff Driskel, John Brantley, Jordan Reed, Kansas City Chiefs, Mack Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Gillislee, Mike Pouncey, Notre Dame, Percy Harvin, SEC, spring practice, Spring Practice Primer, Steve Addazio, Tim Tebow, Trey Burton, Will Muschamp
Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The quarterback position was a bit confusing in Gainesville last season. John Brantley was the starting quarterback for the Gators last season, but to be honest, he didn't really fit the position in the team's spread offense. While Brantley has an arm, he's not exactly the dual-threat you look for in a quarterback in such an offense. Which is why Trey Burton and Jordan Reed also spent some time at the position, in what was a three-headed monster that seemed to spend more time biting the Gators than the opposition.
Well, now that Urban Meyer has moved into a studio, and Steve Addazio is gone, Will Muschamp has brought in Charlie Weis and a brand new offense. Now, with spring practice nearing, the Gators are making some room at the quarterback position. While John Brantley is still atop the team's depth chart, neither Burton or Reed will find their names listed under QB, as they've both been moved. Reed is listed as a tight end and Burton is at fullback, though he'll play other positions.
Which makes you think that the road has been cleared for Brantley to win the job, but he still has plenty of competition. Along with rising sophomore Tyler Murphy, there are the two members of Florida's latest recruiting class to contend with in Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel is currently third on the depth chart, and could challenge Brantley in camp.
Will Muschamp said on Monday that while Brantley would seem to have an advantage over the rest due to his experience, the depth chart right now is just a starting point. Nobody is locked in to any position.
Still, I'd imagine that Brantley will wind up winning the job. He's better suited for the pro-style offense that Charlie Weis will be running in Gainesville than the one he ran under Meyer and Addazio.
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When John Brantley struggled operating Urban Meyer's run-first spread offense last season, Florida's coaching braintrust turned more and more towards "athletes" Jordan Reed and Trey Burton to handle the quarterback position, and not without some success; Burton's 171 yards-from-scrimmage played a major role in the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia, for instance.
But with new head coach Will Muschamp taking his cues from mentor Nick Saban's more traditional, pro-style offensive philosophy -- and Charlie Weis hired to deliver exactly that -- it's no surprise that the aerially-limited Reed and Burton won't be taking snaps any longer. Or at least, not on anything resembling a regular basis, since Muschamp confirmed this week that he's considering permanent position switches for both :
Muschamp said he has contemplated moving Trey Burton to safety or cornerback and might move Jordan Reed to tight end.Muschamp would be well-advised to make good on the "integral part" promise for both players, as both Burton (pictured) and Reed flashed playmaking ablity in 2010 that few other Gators -- if any, aside from running back Jeff Demps -- would be able to duplicate.
At the same time, two factors make Reed's and Burton's moonlighting at quarterback a luxury the Gators can afford to do without. One is that Weis's under-center, pocket-passing attack should be a much, much better fit for the strong-armed Brantley's talents than Meyer's spread. The second is true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel; his letter of intent may still be hot off the fax, but his eye-popping performance at the Under Armour All-American Game and enrollment in time for spring camp suggest he could take over the reins as soon as this fall, if need be.
Of course, with Driskel still a true freshman (no matter how talented) and Brantley coming off of one of college football's most disappointing seasons, the Gators may still need some kind of fallback plan, and at the very least they're going to need every offensive hand they've got fully on deck to help their quarterbacks. Quarterbacks or not, you haven't heard the last of Burton and Reed by a long shot.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 4:48 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 4:49 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
After more than a month of entertaining the option of transferring, it looks like Florida quarterback John Brantley will remain a Gator for the 2011 season. John Brantley III, the quarterback's father, recently reached out to the Palm Beach Post to express his son's excitement to be a part of the new regime in Gainesville.
“Once they said there was going to be a pro-style, transferring wasn’t even a question.” Brantley III said his son is “excited” about the team switching from Urban Meyer’s spread-option to Weis’ pro-style offense. The spread-option was “the only reason we wanted to transfer.”Brantley experienced a frustrating first year in the post-Tebow era at Florida, throwing just 9 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 13 games of action. He found himself pulled often, and could not seem to get comfortable with the rest of the pieces in Urban Meyer's offense. It's clear that Will Mushchamp's change in direction has completely altered the Brantley family approach towards Gators football.
In his one season as a starter, Brantley did not win over many fans in Gainesville. Only so much of that can be blamed on the "system." With Charlie Weis stepping in as offensive coordinator, there will be expectations for Brantley to show improvement almost immediately. He has a whole season to get comfortable, and if he can't get it done with the new leadership in place, Gators fans will be wishing he had transferred.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 3:18 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
1. The SEC is still the best conference in college football. Yes, the conference may have only gone 5-5 in bowl games this season, and it may have included a couple losses against a Conference USA team and a Big East team, but here is the stat that actually mattered: for the fifth straight year, the national champion calls the SEC home. Oh, and let's not just ignore the fact that a twelve team league had ten teams playing in bowl games to begin with. Fans of other conferences around the country may have been hoping the conference would get knocked down a peg this postseason, but prepare yourselves for plenty more "ESSSS EEEEEEE SEEEEEE" chants in 2011.
2. The 2010 season belonged to Cam Newton and Auburn. Whether the headlines were good or bad this season, the college football world seemed to revolve around a tiny town in eastern Alabama and the quarterback that caught a nation's eye. It's somewhat fitting that on the final drive of the season, the one that gave Auburn its national championship, the one player who put the team on his back for most of the season had to play a secondary role thanks to being banged up. For once, Cam Newton 's defense and his offense decided to carry him to the finish line. We don't know for sure what Cam Newton's future will hold, but odds are that Newton is bound for the NFL. How will Auburn fare next season without its Superman?
3. Alabama is still really good . Honestly, if college football did have a playoff system in place of the bowls, would any of you have been shocked to see Alabama make it to another title game? The Tide suffered three losses this season. They came at the hands of South Carolina , LSU and Auburn . When the worst loss of your season is against the SEC East champion, you didn't have a bad season. Then the Tide went out and put an exclamation point on the year by pasting Michigan State -- a team with one loss and ranked in the top ten -- by 42 points.
4. The SEC East should be better next season. While the SEC may have gone 5-5 as a whole during the bowl season, the SEC East was responsible for four of those losses. The good news for the division is that things should improve a bit next year, as Georgia and Tennessee aren't likely to suffer two losing seasons in a row, South Carolina will still have Marcus Lattimore and won't have Stephen Garcia , and Florida might actually have an offensive system suited for its quarterback. Well, if John Brantley stays. Plus, with all the key players that Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and LSU will be losing to the NFL this spring, the West shouldn't be nearly as dominant.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 12:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If the Urban Meyer spread-option regime was still in charge at Florida, no one would bat an eye at John Brantley exploring his transfer options. (There's probably no truth to the rumor they've added a picture of him running the zone read to the Dictionary of American Slang under "square peg in a round hole," but we wouldn't blame them if they had.) But with Will Muschamp heralding a new offensive era in Gainesville and Charlie Weis, the coach that turned Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen into first-round draft picks, now in the offensive coordinator's chair, you'd think that would be enough to placate Brantley, right?
It might be. But not just yet :
After a difficult first season as a starter and Urban Meyer 's resignation, the redshirt junior is considering leaving a school.
That means the Brantleys might be waiting a bit; Weis isn't expected in Gainesville until after his season concludes with the Kansas City Chiefs .Between Brantley losing a year of eligibility in the event of a transfer (assuming he stays within the FBS) and Weis's reputation for grooming quarterbacks, it still seems unlikely Brantley will bolt. But if he does, it will make things awfully awkward for Muschamp and Weis in their first season; the only other quarterbacks on the depth chart are Trey Burton and Jordan Reed, neither of which will be a good fit at all for Weis's dropback-passer schemes. That would likely make incoming true freshman Jeff Driskel the starter by default, and though Driskel is one of the most highly-regarded recruits in the country, asking any true freshman to step in and take the reins for an SEC team from Day 1 is asking for trouble.
So expect Muschamp and Weis to make their best sales pitch to Brantley as soon as they possibly can. Their first season with the Gators might just depend on it.