Posted on: May 12, 2011 1:15 pm
Edited on: May 12, 2011 1:16 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Suspended South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia spent last weekend celebrating his graduation in Columbia with family and friends. But a weekend of celebrating achievement has not erased the misconduct that has his future with the Gamecocks in jeopardy. Garcia was suspended April 6 for drinking before an SEC-mandated life skills event. After graduation, he met with head coach Steve Spurrier about his future with the program.
"Stephen Garcia's got a chance of being back," Spurrier told a group of fans gathered for his first "Fan Fest" address. "We'll see how the summer plays out and see if he can mature a little bit and quit acting immature-ish and childish and things like that."
Spurrier said the meeting with Garcia went "OK," and suggested that maybe Garcia will be allowed to join a group of "guys who know how to act responsibly and represent the University of South Carolina."
The Gamecocks have another chance to win the SEC East this spring, particularly with the pieces they return from last year's SEC Championship Game squad. Spurrier stands by backup Connor Shaw, but few believe that the Gamecocks can reach their potential with the sophomore under center. Sources have suggested to the Charleston Post and Courier that Garcia could be reinstated before summer workouts begin in June, and most expect him to return before the season starts.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 6:08 pm
Edited on: May 4, 2011 2:31 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
He's not exactly Curt Flood, but all the same Russell Wilson may wind up serving as a college football landmark: the sport's first legitimate free agent. Cut loose from N.C. State, eligible to play virtually anywhere thanks to his early graduation, "95 percent" likely to take advantage of that eligiblity, and -- most importantly -- a bona fide all-conference candidate with three years of starting experience and a 76-26 career touchdown-to-interception ratio.
So Wilson represents uncharted waters for college football; while other players have been eligible to transfer without penalty, none have offered such tantalizing immediate benefits. But which school is going to be the lucky one to sail into those waters?
We don't know. No one does, Wilson included; he's still got months of baseball ahead of him. But we can say which programs would be the best fit should Wilson decide to take a look. Here's our guesses for the comfiest landing spot for Wilson in each BCS conference, judging by both which team would benefit most by Wilson's arrival and which team Wilson would benefit most by joining. Enjoy:
SEC: TENNESSEE. Yep, we're saying the Vols, despite most of the early Wilson speculation centering on South Carolina, Ole Miss, and Auburn. But multiple reporters covering the Tigers have said they won't be interested; it makes sense considering that 2012 shapes up as a much more likely championship campaign for Auburn than 2011, and Gene Chizik won't want to spoil that with a first-year starter under center. Steve Spurrier will certainly give Wilson a ring if Stephen Garcia is finally dismissed, but if Garcia sticks around, neither he nor Wilson will want the controversy his arrival would bring. And though we have little doubt Houston Nutt would welcome Wilson with open arms rather than ride with the untested Randall Mackey or Barry Brunetti, Wilson can probably find a team with higher expectations.
Enter Tennessee. Yes, the Vols have a starter already, promising sophomore Tyler Bray. But Bray's boom-or-bust results late last season and ugly 5-for-30 spring game performance suggest that he might need more seasoning before taking the reins for a full SEC season. Bringing in Wilson lets the Vols redshirt and groom Bray for three solid seasons to follow, without taking a step back at the position; going to Tennessee lets Wilson play for a high-profile team in the nation's toughest conference, one with plenty of playmakers at his disposal. It's a win-win.
BIG TEN: WISCONSIN. An easy call: the perpetually consistent Badgers have the defensive playmakers, the ball-carriers and the receivers to put together another fine Big Ten team if they can hold the line on the offensive line ... and if they can find a quarterback. The results at the Badgers' spring game suggest they don't have the latter yet. The stodgy Badger attack won't make much use of Wilson's mobility, but no other team in the conference offers Wilson the chance to waltz in as the unquestioned starter for a top-25 program.
BIG 12: MISSOURI. After years of Chase Daniel and then Blaine Gabbert spearheading the Tigers' aerial attack, Gary Pinkel has to feel a little spoiled when it comes to quarterbacks. But that may be changing, as Mizzou comes out of spring without a clearcut starter and with neither candidate (Tyler Gabbert, younger brother of Blaine, or James Franklin) having looked quite in the Daniel/Gabbert class. Wilson would short-circuit any potential quarterback-platoon talk immediately upon arrival and give the Tigers one of the best trigger-men their spread could ask for. Wilson, meanwhile, would have the benefit of having the ball in his hands 40 to 50 times a game, for a team whose underrated defense should make them top-25 contenders.
PAC-12: UCLA. Let's face it: the 3-9 Bruins maybe don't have a heck of a lot to offer in terms of football glory. But after their seemingly endless quarterback carousel of the past few seasons, no program would be more appreciative -- no coach more thankful -- than UCLA and Rick Neuheisel. If Wilson can salvage a winning season out of 2011 and potentially turn around the flagging tenure of Neuheisel, the gratitude aimed his way from the Westwood faithful would likely dwarf anything he'd receive anywhere else. (Besides, most of the other Pac-12 contenders -- Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal, even ineligible pseudo-contender USC -- have fairly established quarterbacks.)
ACC: FLORIDA STATE NO ONE
[This section originally discussed the "far-fetched" possibility that Wilson could transfer to the Wolfpack's intra-division rivals in Tallahassee, but it's more than far-fetched; it's impossible, since Wilson's release -- originally, erroneously reported as "unconditional" -- specifies that he may not transfer to an ACC school or any school on NCSU's schedule. In retrospect, this is a common sense precaution. Apologies.]
BIG EAST: WEST VIRGINIA. We're kidding, mostly; Geno Smith enjoyed an excellent spring game and will be the Mountaineers' 2011 starter. And given Wilson's unwillingness to give up on a "football dream" that likely includes the NFL, he would likely pass on Dana Holgorsen's Mike Leach- inspired "Air Raid" offense anyway, which has struggled putting its passers in the pros. But an offense like Holgorsen's, as helmed by a talent like Wilson? We can dream of those kinds of pinball games, can't we?
Tags: ACC, Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Barry Brunetti, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Blaine Gabbert, Cal, Chase Daneil, Christian Ponder, Curt Flood, Dana Holgorsen, E.J. Manuel, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Gene Chizik, Geno Smith, Houston Nutt, James Franklin, James Franklin the Missouri quarterback not the Vanderbilt coach just so we're clear, Jimbo Fisher, Mike Leach, Missouri, N.C. State, Ole Miss, Ole Miss, Oregon, Pac-12, Randall Mackey, Rick Neuheisel, Russell Wilson, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Gabbert, UCLA, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Posted on: April 27, 2011 5:49 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC East, team by team. In alphabetical order:
FLORIDA: When spring began, we said the Gators might have the most interesting offense in the country. Urban Meyer's former spread-option death machine, destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up, by none other than Charlie Weis, in the image of the steady no-frills pro-style attacks Will Muschamp saw work for old boss Nick Saban, as piloted by 2011-or-bust quarterback John Brantley? That's quite the storyline they've got going there.
But the Gators will have to hope it's a story that will be rewritten come the fall. While no one was expecting the offense to look like Weis's old New England Patriot attacks after three weeks of practice, no one was expecting it to put on a 13-10 spring game universally panned as a hideous eyesore, either. Brantley went an ugly 4-of-14 after missing his first six passes, the leading rusher was a walk-on defensive back, and the entire offensive output for the game amounted to 340 yards.
Much of that can be pinned on a wicked rash of injuries that took out most of the offensive line, an entire stable of running backs, multiple receivers, etc.; encouragingly, much of it can also be pinned on a rampaging defensive line led by Sharrif Floyd, Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell, all members of Meyer's loaded 2010 class and all looking posied to make good on their five-star hype. But the bottom line is that much of it can also be pinned squarely on Brantley, who Muschamp and his other coaches universally lauded for an excellent spring but who showed little of that alleged improvement when playing in public.
Does it matter? Give him a solid summer and a solid fall camp, and it may not. But until Brantley proves he's something other than what he's appeared to be since the moment Tim Tebow left -- in over his head -- skepticism is in order.
GEORGIA: The biggest question entering the most critical spring of Mark Richt's spring tenure concerned the Bulldogs' biggest players: could their offensive line bounce back? When you have Aaron Murray, Orson Charles, a fleet of talented (if still unproven) receivers, and eventually Isaiah Crowell, if you have a line, you're going to have a heck of an offense.
There was good news and bad news on that front, the latter a devastating torn ACL suffered by fifth-senior and projected starting tackle Trinton Sturdivant. But there were positives, too, namely a terrific spring from potential All-SEC center Ben Jones and guard-to-tackle position switch Cordy Glenn. G-day primary tailbacks Ken Malcome and Caleb King combined for 69 yards on 12 carries, a not-so-shabby 5.8 yards per-carry. Overall, the line was impressive enough this spring that senior Justin Anderson -- billed as a potential starter on the OL -- has been moved to defense.
The Dawgs had themselves a fine spring on the defensive front as well, with newly bulked-up nose tackle Kwame Geathers the talk of the Bulldogs' spring camp and converted safety Alec Ogletree providing a big boost the linebacking corps. The secondary is unsettled and one of those aforementioned receivers needs to emerge as a go-to target for Murray, but if the improvements in the front seven and offensive line aren't mirages, the Bulldogs wil be back in the thick of the East race all the same.
KENTUCKY: Consider it a successful second spring for Joker Phillips and the Wildcats. We noted that with nearly all of the major players from 2010's surprisingly effective Wildcat passing game gone, Phillips would want to make rebuilding that passing attack around junior quarterback Morgan Newton priority No. 1 in spring camp. And though we'll have to wait until fall to see the finished results, for now it looks like Mission Accomplished: Newton had a terrific spring, capped by a 23-of-44, 256-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Wildcats' Blue-White Game.
Things weren't perfect: the Wildcat receivers were plagued by drops, and a defense still adjusting to new co-coordinator Rick Minter's aggressive schemes paired several big plays with several breakdowns. But with Newton cementing himself as a reliable option under center and a veteran line paving the way for new tailback Raymond Sanders to average better than 7 yards a carry, there's far more optimism for the Wildcat offense coming out of spring than going in.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Whatever storyline you might have constructed ahead of time for the Gamecocks' spring, it was always going to overshadowed by the continuing Stephen Garcia circus. Until Carolina receives a definitive word one way or the other on Garcia's return (though as we wrote earlier today, that return seems likely), the team is going to be in something close to suspended football animation. The lack of developments aside from Garcia was only enhanced by the fact that so many of Carolina's key players -- Marcus Lattimore, Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore, an offensive line with four returning starters -- are known commodities.
That said, the Garnet-Black Game showed that if Garcia doesn't come back, the Gamecocks won't be totally lost at quarterback. Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson combined to go a productive 23-of-40 for 344 yards (though Thompson threw a pair of picks), and on an offense with weapons like Lattimore, Jeffery, and tailback Kenny Miles (43 yards on just 6 carries in the spring game), "productive" should be enough.
The downside: those passing numbers came against a Gamecock secondary that got routinely torched in 2010 (FBS 97th in pass defense). Garcia or no Garcia, more improvement in that secondary will be necessary to take Carolina back to Atlanta.
TENNESSEE: Entering spring, the road to improvement for the Volunteers was clear: get stronger, more physical, better along each line of scrimmage, then let the Vols' cadre of up-and-coming skill position stars -- led by sophomore quarterback Tyler Bray -- do the rest.
The Vols made plenty of headway on the first part of that equation; the White team earned a dominant victory over the more starter-heavy Orange in the Vol spring game thanks in no small part to a bruising run game led by second-string tailback Raijon Neal; defensive linemen on both squads were able to get consistent quarterback pressure; and offensive lineman Alex Bullard and defensive tackle Daniel Hood won the team's top awards for spring performance. Both lines remain so young that there's still a long way to go to SEC dominance, but it seems unlikely they'll be pushed around the way they were at times in 2010, either.
But as for the other part of the equation, stay tuned. Bray went a miserable 5-for-30 quarterbacking the defeated Orange side, with Derek Dooley suggesting afterwards that perhaps Bray had been overconfident. Bray is expected to take a major step forward in his first full season as the Vols' starter, but if that step winds up as minor as the spring game proposes it might be, all the line improvement in the world won't push the Vols back into relevance in the SEC East.
VANDERBILT: When you finished last season dead last in the conference in both total offense and total defense -- and you are Vanderbilt -- any kind of improvement in any area will be music to new coach James Franklin's ears. But fortunately for the 'Dores, they saw some green shoots in two positions that have been partocularly troublesome the past few seasons.
One is quarterback , where previously scattershot senior Larry Smith completed 16-of-26 for 233 yards and a touchdown, leading his Black side to a 19-7 win over the Gold. The other is the defensive line , where defensive tackle Colt Nichter recorded a pair of sacks and defensive end Kyle Woestmann collected a sack and an interception. But when you're Vandy, you'll take whatever you can get.
"The big thing," Franklin said, "is that we stayed healthy."
For the same review of the SEC West, click here.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alec Ogletree, Alex Bullard, Alshon Jeffery, Ben Jones, Caleb King, Charlie Weis, Colt Nichter, Connor Shaw, Cordy Glenn, Daniel Hood, Derek Dooley, Dominique Easley, Dylan Thompson, Florida, Georgia, Isaiah Crowell, James Franklin, John Brantley, Joke Phillips, Justin Anderson, Ken Malcome, Kenny Miles, Kentucky, Kwame Geathers, Kyle Woestmann, Larry Smith, Marcus Lattimore, Mark Richt, Morgan Newton, New England Patriots, Nick Saban, Orson Charles, Raijon Neal, Raymond Sanders, Rick Minter, Ronald Powell, SEC, Sharrif Floyd, South Carolina, spring practice, Stephen Garcia, Stephon Gilmore, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tim Tebow, Trinton Sturdivant, Tyler Bray, Urban Meyer, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp
Posted on: April 27, 2011 1:32 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
In case you heard about his recent indefinite suspension and assumed Stephen Garcia had run out of strikes in his South Carolina career: we suggest today you assume differently.
Steve Spurrier has released a post-spring Gamecock depth chart, and it's still none other than Garcia listed first at quarterback. That listing comes with not one but two qualifications: an "OR" naming Connor Shaw the co-starter, and an asterisk noting that Garcia is currently serving his suspension (His fifth of his career, if you're keeping track.)
But it's also a crystal-clear message that the Ol' Ball Coach is not ready to simply cut his losses with his troubled star and move on. He said last week that Garcia would "hopefully" "be back with us," but added that Garcia's return would be a "university decision." That's no doubt the case, but between his comments and the depth chart, it's obvious that if it's Spurrier's decision, Garcia will be under center for the Gamecocks' season opener this fall.
That's probably not what Shaw or the other Gamecock quarterbacks want to hear, and to their credit, they collectively put together a respectable (if not eye-popping) performance in the Garnet-Black spring game earlier this month. But Spurrier also made it clear that he was less-than-thrilled with their efforts earlier in the spring, and given the kind of ceiling Garcia showed off in outings like the walloping of No. 1 Alabama last year, it's probably going to take more than a decent-to-good spring game to convince an eternal QB skeptic like Spurrier his best option isn't his suspended veteran.
The Garcia soap opera no doubt has another couple of twists and turns to take before the 2011 season. But at this stage, his eventual return seems more likely than not.
Posted on: April 20, 2011 12:29 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Ever since South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia was given his latest in a long line of suspensions, folks have been wondering what Garcia's future at the school would be. Will he return to the team in time to once again be the Gamecocks starter in 2011, or is it possible he'll never play a down of football in Columbia again? Nobody really knows, not even Garcia's head coach apparently.
Steve Spurrier was part of the SEC's spring football teleconference on Wednesday morning, and when the question was asked about Garcia's future, he didn't really have much of an answer to give.
“It will be a university decision probably happen sometime during the summer," said Spurrier. "Sort of check his progress and see how he is reacting to some certain issues. The athletic director, the president, and I, we’ve all started giving him some guidelines. We’ll see how he follows those.
“He’s all set to graduate in May as long as he passes one of two courses he’s taking now. With his degree in hand, obviously he’s eligible to play anywhere in the country. And he’s got another year remaining. So, hopefully, we will work it out that he will be back with us with a lot better attitude then he’s ever had.”
Now, while I have no inside information on what the guidelines for Garcia are, given his history, I have a hard time imagining he'll be able to follow them. Garcia has already been given plenty of chances to get his act together at South Carolina, and he's repeatedly screwing all of them up. I mean, he'd already been suspended for spring practice when he showed up to a team function reeking of alcohol, which led to the latest suspension.
Does that sound like the type of thing somebody who learns from their mistakes would do?
In my opinion, Spurrier and South Carolina would probably be better off cutting ties with Garcia and just moving on.
Posted on: April 8, 2011 11:55 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
So it's become quite clear that South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia really enjoys himself a beer or twelve from time to time. He's been suspended by South Carolina five times during his time at the school, and from we can tell, with just about every single suspension has resulted from Garcia's desire to have a good time (One was a result of being arrested for keying a professor's car). In the last month he's been suspended from spring practice for a party he held in Atlanta before South Carolina's bowl game, and earlier this week he was suspended indefinitely for showing up at a team function smelling of alcohol.
You seriously have to wonder if Garcia will still be a member of the team when the season begins this fall, and how many more chances Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks are willing to give him.
Anyway, this is all just a buildup into some stupid MSPaint drawings I did of Garcia. It's been a while since I displayed my amazing artistic skills here on the blog, and when the latest Garcia news broke, what can I say? The muse. She struck. So without further ado, here's a little piece I like to call "Stephen Garcia Runs The 40."
Posted on: April 6, 2011 6:16 pm
Edited on: April 6, 2011 6:21 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
In what has seemingly become a spring tradition in Columbia, South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia found himself suspended for all of spring practice in March, which was allegedly due to some partying he did down in Atlanta while the Gamecocks were in town for the Chik-Fil-A Bowl. Well, now it seems that Garcia's suspension won't just be for spring practice, as it's had the indefinite tag added to it according to athletic director Eric Hyman.
"Being a student-athlete at the University of South Carolina is a privilege, not a right," said Hyman. "We have expectations for our student-athletes and we make them aware that there are consequences for their actions. Stephen has exhibited behavior that is unacceptable for one of our student-athletes. Therefore, he has forfeited the privilege to participate in any football related activity until further notice."
As for what Garcia did to earn this newest suspension, that hasnt' been announced as of yet. Though The Post & Courier's Travis Haney tweeted that he "heard rumbling earlier in afternoon of another incident" that he said was minor compared to what happened at the bowl game. Haney also tweeted that Garcia "did not represent himself well at a school function." As for whatever that could mean, well, let's just say I have my theories.
Whatever the case is, Garcia isn't doing much to endear himself to South Carolina or Steve Spurrier, and I get the feeling that Connor Shaw will see a lot more playing time this season. Maybe even all of it.
Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:36 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
We wouldn't go nearly so far as to say that South Carolina's spring practices have been cursed. But we also don't think there's any arguing with the fact that -- as the old Chinese curse goes -- Steve Spurrier is living in interesting times this spring.
Start with last Thursday, when (as you may have heard) Gamecock signee, consensus national No. 1 recruit, and action figure Jadeveon Clowney was briefly detained by police at a Columbia bar Clowney had entered unlawfully. Though Clowney was not arrested and cleared of any wrongdoing in the robbery that led to the detainment, the incident made national headlines nonetheless.
So to emphasize his (future) player's innocence, Spurrier elected last Friday to do what any other coach would do in this situation: arrange for the local police chief to stop by during his post-practice meeting with the media and handcuff him in a simulated detainment , of course. And yes, via The Big Spur , there's video of this handcuffing:
When we say "any other coach" would do the same thing here, we actually mean "no other coach," naturally. It's great to see that even if Spurrier isn't quite lighting up scoreboards the way he did in his Florida salad days, his sense of the theatrical has remained entirely intact.
By his own admission, though, if his quarterbacks's performance thus far this spring is any indication, his offense this fall won't have much use for flash or theatricality. Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw did not fare well in Saturday's first scrimmage of spring camp, and Spurrier did little to hide his disappointment:
Senior Stephen Garcia, in his first scrimmage action since his suspension last week, was 5 for 13 for 51 yards ... Backup Connor Shaw was often shaky in his decision-making, going 4 for 14 for 47 yards and an interception on a deep ball. He did make one nice throw on an out route to Lamar Scruggs, a 14-yard pickup as he was getting hit.
Complaining, loudly, about his quarterbacks is obviously nothing new for Spurrier. But he's right that those stats are the furthest thing from inspiring, particularly considering Garcia and Shaw were going up against a secondary that finished dead last in the SEC in opponent's quarterback rating in conference play. Even with a back as superhuman as Lattimore, running the ball 50 times a game isn't going to produce a second straight trip to Atlanta.
Spurrier knows that, which is why his frustration with his quarterbacks is so palpable. It's just one more interesting story to watch in what's becoming a very interesting spring in Columbia.