Tag:Marcus Lattimore
Posted on: March 30, 2011 11:03 am
 

Spurrier has "at least three or four more years"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's amazing what a little bit of winning -- both on the field and the recruiting trail -- can do for a college football coach.

Just ask Steve Spurrier,  who despite a handful of speedbumps this spring is still basking in the glow of last year's surprising SEC East title and the Gamecocks' flurry of recent in-state recruiting coups, from Alshon Jeffery in 2009 to Marcus Lattimore in 2010 to now Jadeveon Clowney in 2011. After years of mediocrity and persistent rumors each subsequent (sevin-win) season would be his last, Spurrier now says he's ready to coach well into the middle of this decade, if not beyond. As he told the Sporting News:
“I think we have the best talent since I’ve been here,” he said, “and I’m feeling really good about where the program is at and where I’m at. I’ve got at least three or four more years in me."

“I feel like I’ve been saying three or four more years since I was 50, and now I’m 65 and saying the same thing. But I really mean it.”

By this point, it seems silly to doubt him. Even as Spurrier also admits he expected "to do a little bit better" when he first arrived in Columbia, he now has both the sort of team that can contend for divisional titles and a division -- thanks to the surprising struggles at Georgia, Tennessee and Florida -- that's more wide-open than at any time in its 20-year history.

Add in that even with the relative disappointment of Spurrier's first seasons he's still enjoyed more sustained success than any other coach in Carolina's (inexplicably poor) history, and it's the safest of safe bets that the Ol' Ball Coach is going to be at the Gamecock helm for as long as he wants to be. If he says that's three to four years or more, thanks to the likes of Jeffery and Lattimore and Clowney, it's almost certainly going to be three or four years ... or more.


Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:36 am
 

Steve Spurrier is having an interesting spring

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. 

Overall, Spurrier was concerned with Shaw's timing and his ability to get the ball out quickly. He thinks, too, that the sophomore is deciding to run much too quickly, a complaint he's historically had about Garcia ...

As Spurrier heard Garcia and Shaw’s stats, he repeated them and sort of rolled his eyes.

“I wish one of them would just hit them all and take his steps and throw it when he’s supposed to,” Spurrier said. “That doesn’t happen. That’s why we’ll probably run the ball about 50 times a game, hopefully, with Marcus (Lattimore) and Kenny Miles and Eric Baker.”

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.

HTs: EDSBS , GTP


Posted on: March 10, 2011 1:42 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Georgia

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 Georgia , who begins spring practice today.


Spring Practice Question: Is the Bulldog offense ready to make a push up front?


Entering 2010, the biggest reason Georgia was supposed to be the biggest challenger to two-time defending SEC East champion (and heavy 2010 favorite) Florida was, not coincidentally, their biggest players. Led by veterans like bookend senior tackles Clint Boling and Josh Davis, the Bulldogs boasted the nation's most experienced offensive line . With highly-regarded (and well-compensated) OL coach Stacy Searels leading the unit, the line was believed to be the SEC's best.

Entering 2011, things are very, very different. That line fell far short of the advance hype, with the Bulldogs finishing a disappointing 10th in the SEC in rushing (ahead of only Vanderbilt and Tennessee), doing nothing special in pass protection, and even seeing Searels juggle the lineup late in the year. Though the line wasn't the only problem, it also did precious little to help as Georgia scored 12 points or fewer three times (all losses) and finished a mediocre 56th in the country in total offense. Following the disappointment, Boling, Davis, Trinton Sturdivant (who eventually replaced Davis) and guard Chris Davis all graduated. Searels accepted the same position at Texas. And the advance hype will almost certainly move on to some other team this offseason.

But that doesn't mean it's too late for the Georgia line to get Mark Richt to another SEC title game. For starters, there's still plenty of talent on hand even after the departures, starting with senior center Ben Jones (pictured, a 2009 All-SEC pick before being overlooked last year), 325-pound senior guard Cordy Glenn, and junior guard Kenarious Gates, another player who ascended to the starting lineup late in the year. After seemingly tuning out Searels last year, the Bulldogs will have a new voice in their ears in new coach Will Friend. And maybe most importantly of all, the remaining Bulldogs will have the sting of last year's failures -- rather than an offseason of praise -- fueling them. If Georgia's spring practice shows that the line is enjoying the proverbial addition by subtraction and looks poised to make good on the hype a year late, the rest of the SEC should look out.

Previous Spring Primers
Why? Because if the Dawg line falls into place, everything else on the offense should, too. Aaron Murray was arguably the nation's best freshman quarterback in 2010 and could be the SEC's best signal-caller as a redshirt sophomore. Even with A.J. Green and Kris Durham gone, players like Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, and Rantavious Wooten -- not to mention future NFL tight end Orson Charles -- give the Bulldog receiving corps plenty of potential. And maybe most importantly of all, though he won't be in for spring, incoming tailback recruit Isaiah Crowell could deliver a Marcus Lattimore- like impact for an offense that spent 2010 crying out for a game-changer in the backfield.

Add all of that to a defense that seems certain to improve in the second year of Todd Grantham's 3-4 scheme, in a division that's as wide open as any in the SEC's recent memory, and the tools are there for Richt to forge a championship season out of even the miserable ashes of 6-7. But they won't do much good without a huge step forward from the offensive line, and that's where Bulldog fans' primary focus ought to be this spring.

Posted on: February 14, 2011 4:05 pm
 

Shane Beamer joins the Virginia Tech staff

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Sometimes Valentine's Day is about reuniting former lovers, and other times it's about reuniting a father and his son. In the case of Virginia Tech, it's the latter this year. The school announced on Monday that Shane Beamer was leaving his position at South Carolina to return to the Hokies as running backs coach.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity to return to Virginia Tech,” said Shane Beamer in a release. “I’ve been gone 11 years and during that time I’ve been around a number of great coaches and great programs and had the opportunity to learn a lot. Now, I look forward to returning to Blacksburg and helping Virginia Tech continue to win championships.

“I’m also excited to have the opportunity to be around Coach Hite. I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for him and I welcome the chance to learn from him.” 

The coach Hite Beamer refers to is Billy Hite, whom he is replacing as running backs coach. Hite has been moved to a new administrative position where he'll serve as an assitant and advisor to Frank Beamer. Hite had been the running backs coach at Virginia Tech for the past 33 years, taking the job under Bill Dooley in 1978. When Frank Beamer took over the job in 1987, he kept Hite on his staff.

Of course, this is not a move motivated by nepotism at all. Shane Beamer has plenty of experience as an assistant throughout college football, and over the last two seasons helped put together a couple of very strong recruiting classes at South Carolina. He helped bring in Marcus Lattimore last season. Odds are that it's those recruiting chops that motivated his father to bring him back to Blacksburg.
Posted on: January 11, 2011 2:14 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 3:18 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC: Bowl Edition

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 11, 2011 2:04 am
Edited on: January 11, 2011 3:10 am
 

BCS Championship Bowl Grades: Auburn

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Offense

This is uncomfortable, so let's just get it out of the way right now: Cam Newton did not win this game for Auburn. Oh, he made some good plays, and his overall numbers -- 20-34, 265 yards, 2 TD, INT, 22 rushes, 65 yards -- are certainly respectable. The fact is, though, that this game was only close because Newton missed two wide-open first-half touchdowns that could have blown the game open, and neither drive ended in points. Newton then injured his shoulder during the second half, and turned into a shell of his normal self. While he doesn't deserve a ton of scorn for his late fumble that let Oregon back into the game -- if a ball gets punched out from behind like that by someone you don't even see, well, what were you supposed to do? -- if Newton weren't running tentatively to begin with on account of that sore shoulder, does Casey Matthews still catch him from behind?

No, if anyone on the Auburn offense deserves praise, it's true freshman tailback Michael Dyer. Dyer put the team on his back in the second half, and  finished with 143 yards (96 of which came in the second half) on 22 carries. Dyer wore Oregon's smallish defense down over the course of the game, and his roll over an Oregon defender on the last drive of the game led to a 37-yard gain that put Auburn in position to win the game. Again: he's a true freshman. That the SEC gets both him and Marcus Lattimore for two more years is, well, kind of unfair. Final Grade: B

Defense

Nick Fairley has a lot to learn about on-field maturity, but as a defensive tackle, he is an absolute nightmare to block. Fairley was instrumental in the Tigers' ability to control the line of scrimmage, registering three tackles for a loss, forcing numerous hurried throws, and opening up opportunities for his teammates when he drew double-teams. His draft stock skyrocketed today, even after a dumb (but not uncharacteristic) personal foul penalty for shoving LaMichael James in the facemask well after a play was dead.

Still, Oregon only rushed for 75 yards on 32 carries -- less than a quarter of the Ducks' rushing average coming into the game. It was the first time since last season's opener against Boise State that Oregon hadn't rushed for over 100 yards in a game. That is dominance. The 374 passing yards allowed? Not so dominant, of course, but Auburn spent the entire year getting shredded through the air and it never mattered. Same goes for tonight. Final Grade: B

Special Teams

Wes Bynum wasn't particularly challenged by his field goals, which is a good thing, and he put all his kickoffs to the goal line. Oregon got no free yards from poor kickoffs, and Auburn's punting was equally inhospitable -- Ryan Shoemaker put three punts inside the 20, had no touchbacks, and allowed only six punt return yards. In close games, details matter, and Auburn took care of the details on special teams tonight. Final Grade: A

Coaching

For all the follies that usually surround collegiate game management, Gene Chizik did a very good job today. He let Gus Malzahn call an aggressive game without trying anything insane on offense, and none of his playcalls were worthy of scorn -- even that botched 4th and goal was a great call, and nobody was anywhere close to Eric Smith. Newton just failed to get the ball to him, for whatever reason. Speaking of Smith, though, his cheap shot on Dion Jordan that left the Duck bloodied near his eye was an outright disgrace, and he shouldn't have been allowed back on the field by the referees or by coaches. Smith would be injured early in the second half, rendering the point moot, but he shouldn't have been out there anymore in the first place. That's really the only gripe, though. Final Grade: A-

Team Grade

Auburn is your 2011 BCS Champion, and it achieved that by playing a team game. The secondary got torched at times, but the defense stiffened up as a whole in the red zone. Auburn's gameplan evolved nicely over the course of the game, adjusting for Newton's aches on the fly without completely neutralizing him. The game was sloppy at times, and closer than it had any right to be, but it was also scintillating at its peaks and Auburn was obviously a big reason why. Congratulations to Newton, Fairley, and the rest of the perfectly imperfect Auburn Tigers for their national championship. Final Grade: B+


Posted on: January 10, 2011 4:11 pm
 

FWAA releases Freshman All-American team

Posted by Tom Fornelli

For the tenth straight season the Football Writers Association of America released its Freshman All American team on Monday, and going over the list, there aren't a whole lot of surprises.  Generally there aren't a lot of freshman who come into college football and have a huge impact, but there are some names on this list who were a huge part of their team in 2010.  Guys like Marcus Lattimore, Danny O'Brien and Robert Woods.  Jimbo Fisher took home the head coaching honors, thanks to a nice first campaign in charge of the Florida State program.

The SEC and Big 12 tied amongst the conferences, all eleven of which are represented, with five players apiece.  Here's the full list.


Posted on: January 1, 2011 1:35 am
 

Bowl Grades: Chick-Fil-A Bowl

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

South Carolina loses Marcus Lattimore to an early head injury and can't rally from a 13-0 hole, falling 26-17 to Florida State.

FLORIDA STATE

Offense: The Seminole offense rarely looked like a well-oiled machine, particularly after quarterback Christian Ponder left the game for good with a first-quarter concussion, and a few more touchdowns in place of field goals would have salted the game away sometime in the third quarter. But in a game defined by blown chances and mistakes on both sides, that the 'Noles managed not to screw up four potential (and eventually converted) Dustin Hopkins field goal opportunities counts for a lot, and backup E.J. Manuel's two clutch throws on FSU's game-clinching fourth-quarter drive -- one on third-and-eight to set up first-and-goal, the other to score the touchdown -- count for even more.

But what counts the most was the 218 yards rushing stunningly piled up on what had been the nation's eighth-ranked run defense. Even without any real passing threat once Ponder left the game, the Seminole line blasted hole after hole in the Gamecock front seven, and Chris Thompson took advantage to the tune of 147 game-changing yards. GRADE: B

Defense:
When FSU corner Greg Reid -- the game's best player by a wide, wide margin -- walloped Lattimore on Carolina's first drive to dislodge the ball, end a Gamecock scoring threat, and (cleanly) knock Steve Spurrier's biggest weapon out of the game, the tone was set. Maybe the Seminoles were going to give up some yards here and there (414 in all by the time the whistle blew), but it wasn't going to matter as long as they had a big play waiting ... and they nearly always did. The 'Nole pass rush recorded only two official sacks but harassed Stephen Garcia into poor throws all game long; the defensive backs turned three of those throws into interceptions; and Reid, a demon all night, separated Alshon Jeffery from the ball as well late in the third quarter for another crucial turnover, Carolina's fifth of the game. In short: yardage allowed, schmardage schmallowed. GRADE: A-

Coaching: In a game where both teams appeared equally motivated and (almost) equally sloppy, the star of the game from a coaching standpoint was FSU defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, whose blitz packages the Carolina offensive line never developed an answer for. But credit also goes to Jimbo Fisher and his offensive staff for never asking the clearly-limited Manuel to do too much. GRADE: A-

SOUTH CAROLINA

Offense: Particularly considering they were forced to play nearly the entire game without the linchpin of their offense -- a situation that had already seen the Carolina offense roll over and die a couple of times this season -- the Gamecocks as a whole weren't that bad. 414 yards of offense ought to be worth a lot more than 17 points. But it's not when your quarterback has the kind of nightmare game Garcia had, throwing three picks-to-zero touchdowns, missing multiple open receivers, and generally looking every bit as lost as he'd looked in his previous two bowl starts (blowout losses to Iowa and UConn).

He didn't get a whole lot of help -- no Lattimore, Jeffrey's fumble, blown assignments in pass protection, etc. -- but it was Garcia's loose screws that first let the Gamecocks' wheels come off. GRADE: C-

Defense:
There shouldn't be much shame in the Gamecocks' defensive performance; allowing only 308 yards of total offense should be enough to win most games, and if not for a whole series of huge stands from the Carolina D following offensive (and special teams) miscues, the game would have been well out of hand before the halftime whistle.

At the same time, there might have been more time for a Gamecock comeback if not for all the clock burned off by Thompson's runs, and allowing Manuel to go 7-for-7 on the deciding touchdown drive directly after the offense had scored to cut the lead to 19-17 will stick in coordinator Ellis Thompson's craw all offseason. The Gamecocks were good, but it's not true to say they were good enough. GRADE: B

Coaching:
Spurrier's perenially lackadaisical approach to blitz protection caught up to him again, but aside from that, there's not much to take issue with in Carolina's coaching performance; the coaches can't be held responsible for Lattimore's sudden injury, Garcia having one of those games, the defensive line getting beat straight up in the running game, etc. Unlike the last two years, the Gamecocks at leats played like they wanted to be at their bowl game. GRADE: B+

FINAL GRADE:
The 2010 Chick-Fil-A Bowl provided some drama in the late-going, but between the insistence on South Carolina's part to hand the game over to Florida State and FSU's insistence on politely kicking another field goal to keep the Gamecocks in it anyway, you can't call it a classic. And with the final five minutes an anticlimax following Manuel's final touchdown toss, this blogger isn't sure he'd even call it "good." Grade: B

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com