Tag:Steve Spurrier
Posted on: March 15, 2011 5:47 pm
Edited on: March 15, 2011 6:03 pm
 

Stephen Garcia suspended for spring practice

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Spring practice began at South Carolina on Tuesday, and it seems that the Gamecocks are beginning their SEC East title defense without the quarterback that helped lead them to the SEC Championship game last December. Stephen Garcia was not at practice on Tuesday, as it seems he has been suspended for the nefarious "violation of team rules" by head coach Steve Spurrier.
Garcia has been suspended for the start of spring practice for a violation of team rules, a source with knowledge of the situation told The State. Garcia, a senior who is trying to hold off sophomore Connor Shaw this spring, could return to the team in time for Saturday’s scrimmage at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Coach Steve Spurrier is expected to be available for comment following today’s practice.
It has been confirmed that Garcia's suspension will last at least a week.

As for what those team rules were, we can't be entirely sure, though we do have an idea. There were reports earlier this month that Garcia, during the week of South Carolina's appearance in the Chik-Fil-A Bowl against Florida State, held himself quite a party in his hotel room. According to the story, when his coaches found out about the party, they forced him to run off his hangover on a treadmill and thought about suspending him for the game, or at least holding him out for a series.

The suspension never happened, but Garcia did go on to have a rather terrible game for the Gamecocks.

Whether that story is true, or is the cause of this suspension, nobody knows yet, and we probably never will. What we do know is that this isn't the first time Stephen Garcia has been suspended for a spring practice, and that Spurrier has made no secret of the fact that Connor Shaw is going to have a chance to earn the starting job this spring. Being suspended isn't the best way for Garcia to hold on to it.
Posted on: March 1, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Spurrier: oversigning a "ticklish situation"

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The Offseason of Oversigning continued to make headlines last week when a pair of South Carolina recruits publicly admitted they were told less than 24 hours before Signing Day that the Gamecocks would not have room in their 2011 class for them. (Though academic concerns may have played a role in Steve Spurrier and his staff's decision, other Gamecock recruits with similarly uncertain grade issues were not asked to grayshirt.)

Thanks in part to the timing of that story, it seems, the Wall Street Journal has also turned its attention to oversigning . In this piece , published yesterday, SEC head coaches Spurrier, Houston Nutt, and Bobby Petrino each defend their team's having signed more players than permitted by the NCAA's 25-players-per-class or 85-players-on-scholarship limits.

Petrino said he signed according to a formula that took players' academic standing into account and included players with "absolutely no chance" of qualifying; on oversigning in general, he said he doesn't "see it as a bad thing unless you're being dishonest or waiting until the last minute." Similarly, Nutt said he had never waited until the last minute to tell a recruit "oh by the way you don't have a scholarship." (This might be news to receiver Collins Moore, who Nutt told a week before Signing Day he didn't have a scholarship at Ole Miss, at least not until 2012.)

But the most interesting quotes of all belonged to the "Ol' Ball Coach," who criticized the Big Ten for not oversigning ("I think that really hurts them a lot"), said that initial problem with the two potentially grayshirted recruits was that more prospects had chosen the Gamecocks than had been expected, and that they'd been chosen because they were the two commitments with the most work to do academically. Most intriguing of all, Spurrier admitted he could have handled the "situation" more smoothly:
"What we probably could've done earlier in the recruiting is tell them that this could happen," he said. "But then again, we didn't know it was going to come up. It's a ticklish situation."
"Ticklish" or not, the coach of one of those players clearly isn't happy with the Gamecocks over their approach:
[Jordan] Montgomery's high school coach, Walter Banks , said, "I told them this was foul. I didn't have a clue until 18 hours before signing day, and if they say anything else, they're lying."
To be fair to Spurrier and the other coaches, the story's bevy of quotes from recruits (and their parents) makes it clear that oversigning isn't a particularly big concern on their end (though that also seems to stem from the abundant self-belief that they won't be the ones in danger should the roster ax end up swinging). And with at least one of the two Carolina recruits (and possibly both) still planning on enrolling in Columbia once they can, it's safe to say the parties most immediately affected don't see Spurrier's actions as -- to quote Florida president and grayshirting critic Bernie Machen -- "morally reprehensible."

But whether it's an issue to recruits or not, whether Spurrier and the other SEC coaches defend it or not, the assault on oversigning from power brokers like Machen and Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity mean legislative change on oversigning could be coming all the same. (Maybe as soon as this year's annual SEC meetings , if Mike Slive is to be believed.) And until/unless that change happens, Spurrier and the rest of the SEC can't expect the negative attention from outlets like the Journal to simply go away.
Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:08 pm
 

Golden hires Seahawks' Fisch to run 'Cane offense

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Miami head coach Al Golden may not have been able to keep Alabama from poaching away his offensive line coach yesterday , but he appears to have taken a big step forward in putting together his offensive staff all the same today . Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch has agreed to become the Hurricanes' offensive coordinator after one season under Pete Carroll in the Pacific Northwest.

And although Fisch has spent most of his coaching career in the NFL, he also has one year of experience as an offensive coordinator at the collegiate level, having helmed the Gopher attack at Minnesota for one year under Tim Brewster. Unfortunately, as the Miami Herald's Manny Navarro points out, that year didn't go so well:



Fisch will have substantially more talent on hand a Miami than he did in Minneapolis, but all the same he'll clearly have to do a much better job of preparation and play-calling to stay in the Hurricane job any longer than he stayed with the Gophers.

That said, Fisch has worked with any number of well-regarded head coaches -- including Steve Spurrier, his head coach when Fisch broke into coaching as a graduate assistant at Florida -- and with all accounts describing him as a young, energetic coach, he should be able to connect with both Miami's players and potential recruits. If he's learned from his Minnesota experience, Golden could have found himself a coaching steal.

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

Posted on: December 15, 2010 12:53 pm
 

UF to become Alabama-Gainesville under Muschamp?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Will Muschamp had the pleasure of working under both head coaches from last year's national championship game, serving as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at LSU (and again with the Miami Dolphins ) and as Mack Brown's DC and coach-in-(not)-waiting-(any longer) at Texas.

But the early reports on his tenure and yesterday's introductory news conference left no doubt which of those two coaches Muschamp wants to emulate, whose methods he has the greater respect for, whose program he wants to refashion for himself in Gainesville. We'll give you a hint: it's not the guy whose staff he just abandoned.

No, it's Saban who Muschamp appears to be taking his cues from, starting with Muschamp's attempts to pluck away Saban's current Muschamp-in-training, Kirby Smart. As a Saban-trained coordinator himself, Muschamp could have looked to bring in a coach with a different philosophy and blend the two approaches; instead, he appears to be trying to hire a coach who can impart what he -- and the coordinator, if Smart or another Saban disciple is hired -- learned from the master with the minimum amount of confusion (or dissent) possible.

Even more telling is Muschamp's approach to the Gator offense :

 

"We will be a pro-style attack offensively and defensively," said Muschamp, who has agreed to a five-year, $13.5 million contract ...

"I know there's going to be a lot of people who ask what type of style offense are we going to be," Muschamp said. "I think it's important that we have some pro-style systems to what we want to do.

" ... Will there be more pro-style ideas in our offense? There certainly will be. We want to be balanced in what we do."

Muschamp also said he wanted his new offensive coordinator to have NFL experience. Despite the overwhelming success of the spread in the current college game -- both of the offenses in this year's BCS title game will be helmed by spread gurus who, far from being NFL veterans, were a New Hampshire assistant and a high school coach just a few short years ago -- it may be a good time to move towards a pro-style set, as those offenses become rarer and enjoy some of the change-of-pace aspect the spread utilized in the past.

That doesn't mean it'll be easy, however. The current Gators were recruited exclusively for Urban Meyer's/Dan Mullen's spread-option attack, and the offensive staff will have to be completely overhauled. But the Saban-taught philosophy Muschamp is trying to instill requires a run-heavy, clock-killing, two-tight-end-power approach to give the hypothetically-overpowering defense its opportunity win the game (not to mention appeal to NFL-hungry recruits), and so that's what the Gators will do.

These are all good ideas, of course. There's a reason Saban has been as overwhelmingly successful as he's been at every stop of his college career, and even the reasons that go beyond his X's-and-O's or administrative prowess -- his inhuman work rate, his ability to close the deal with recruits, his detail-focused willingness to control every aspect of his program -- are traits that Muschamp would seem to share. There's no reason to blame Jeremy Foley for asking Muschamp to provide a second Crimson Tide in Gator colors, especially since the odds appear so good that Muschamp's going to give it to them.

But what if he doesn't? Part of what has made Florida Florida over the past two decades has been their unorthodox thinking under two coaching mavericks in Steve Spurrier and Meyer. Both of them arrived with offenses derided as effeminate jokes that would never work in the SEC, then departed with national title rings and new Heismans in the school's trophy case. Gator fans have been accustomed not only to winning, but of winning in a uniquely identifiable, Florida-first fashion.

That's not to say they won't accept victories as a kind of SEC East edition of the current Tide; if what we might call Alabama-Gainesville winds up with a championship or two under Muschamp, you could probably sell them officially-licensed UAG t-shirts. But if Muschamp can't deliver the goods, if it turns out Foley hasn't hired the new Saban but only the Nutrasweet facsimile of the real thing, Florida fans may wonder (and wonder quickly, and vocally ) if they shouldn't have found another coach -- like Spurrier, like Meyer -- willing to build the Gators in his own image rather than someone else's.

 

Posted on: December 14, 2010 11:48 am
Edited on: December 14, 2010 12:51 pm
 

Applewhite not joining Gator staff

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The time between the announcement that Will Muschamp had become the new Florida head coach and the rumor that he'd be bringing fellow Texas staff member and former Alabama offensive coordinator Major Applewhite along as his offensive coordinator was so small you'd have to measure it in nanoseconds.

But like so many other assumptions made during the coaching carousel's silly season, it turns out a gun was being jumped , as the Gainesville Sun is reporting that Applewhite has either decided to turn Muschamp down -- with the departure of Greg Davis at Texas, he could be in line for a promotion in Austin -- or Muschamp has decided to go in a different direction. Either way, Applewhite won't be coming to Gainesville.

If that's despite overtures from Muschamp, the Gators might be receiving a blessing the disguise. Though Florida has enough raw offensive talent that virtually anyone who isn't Steve Addazio could turn them into a functional attack, Gator fans spoiled by the Steve Spurrier and Tim Tebow years likely won't settle for "functional," and unless Muschamp's defense is truly terrifying, "functional" won't win the championships the Gators have become accustomed to, either. Applewhite already has a long and promising career as a position coach, but his turn at the Tide's wheel was anything but revelatory, as Alabama limped in at 75th in total offense that season and (by most accounts out of Tuscaloosa) was only saved from demotion by his move to a lower-rung position in Austin.

Though Applewhite may have learned enough from his one season as a play-caller and his last couple of years under Mack Brown to succeed in his next attempt in the coordinator's chair, there's no question he'd be something of an unknown quantity. This being Florida, the Gators likely don't have to settle for an unknown quantity. Though Dana Holgorsen may be looking elsewhere and Auburn has probably wrapped up Gus Malzahn for at least this offseason, Muschamp should just about have his pick of the rest of the nation's OC's. Applewhite may, in fact, be a good choice ... but from here, it still seems the Gators can do better.


Posted on: November 30, 2010 10:56 am
Edited on: November 30, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Garcia ailing ahead of SEC title tilt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Stephen Garcia left the first meeting between Auburn and South Carolina a little worse for wear, taking a knock to the head (though not one severe enough to be ruled a concussion) that helped prompt Steve Spurrier -- who said Garcia was "woozy" -- to turn to true freshman Connor Shaw for the game's final two drives. Shaw threw interceptions on both those possessions, ending any chance of a late Gamecock comback, so Carolina knows already it will have to have Garcia healthy and at his best to keep pace with the Tigers' SEC -best offense.

Unfortunately, Spurrier announced yesterday that may be a luxury they simply won't have:
Garcia hurt his right thumb in Saturday night's victory over Clemson when his hand struck a Clemson defender's helmet, an injury he addressed after the game. However, USC head coach Steve Spurrier revealed late Sunday afternoon that Garcia has a 'banged-up' left (non-throwing) shoulder as well.

As a a result, Garcia is not expected to practice early this week, but could join his teammates in workouts by the middle of the week.

"His right hand is very sore," Spurrier said Sunday during a teleconference with reporters to preview Saturday's SEC Championship game. "And his left shoulder got popped a little bit. He probably won't do too much the first couple of days this week, but hopefully by midweek or so he should be pretty close to full go. He's a little banged up right now, but he should be okay, we think."
If Spurrier's expecting him back at practice by midweek, Garcia remains likely to play in Atlanta. But if you're a Gamecock fan, "He should be OK, we think" can't sound encouraging, particularly given Auburn's penchant for knocking opposing quarterbacks (Ryan Mallett , Greg McElroy , Jarrett Lee , Garcia) out of the game. There's also been a credible report that Garcia's injury is severe enough to put his arm in a sling on Sunday. (For those of you interested in such things, Vegas has reportedly taken the game off the board in response to Garcia's status.)

When all is said and done, expect Garcia to suit up, take the field against the Tigers, and deliver the same kind of gutty effort that's always marked his tenure in Columbia. But if he's not 100 percent, Carolina's already long-seeming odds against the Tigers will get that much longer.


Posted on: November 13, 2010 11:06 pm
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 13)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. South Carolina and Auburn will battle for the SEC title in Atlanta. It's official, even though the game is three weeks away, we know that no matter what happens from here on out, South Carolina and Auburn are headed to Atlanta to square off for the SEC Championship.  It'll be the first time since 2004 that the game didn't feature Florida, Alabama or LSU.   Coincidentally, that's also the last time Auburn played in the game, beating Tennessee 38-28.

2. Sources tell me Cam Newton is still awesome.   Distractions?  What the hell is a distraction?  Cam Newton sure didn't play like a kid who spent the last week dealing with the media circus surrounding his NCAA investigation.  Newton finished the day with 299 total yards and four touchdowns during Auburn's 49-31 win over Georgia.

3. I worry about Marcus Lattimore's future. Listen, I totally understand why Steve Spurrier and South Carolina choose to ride Lattimore's back.  The kid is a beast, and he completely changes the Gamecocks offense.  Still, when I see him get 41 carries on Saturday night -- along with 38 against Georgia earlier this season -- I do worry that he'll be worn out by the end of his college career.  We've all seen in the past at places like Wisconsin what happens to running backs who carry the ball hundreds of times in their college career when they get to the NFL.  I just hope Lattimore doesn't suffer the same fate.

4. The Cam Newton Saga seemed to have a bigger effect on Mississippi State.
  Newton played like Cam Newton against Georgia, but Mississippi State played like a team that should have coughed up the dough on Saturday night.  Sure, Alabama -- a ticked off Alabama team at that -- had a lot to do with it, but the Bulldogs didn't look very good in their 30-10 loss.

5. Tennessee has its quarterback. Who would have thought back in September or early October that Tennessee would have a chance to go bowling this season?  I certainly didn't, but thanks to the continued rise of Tyler Bray and his back tattoo, the Vols have played incredibly well the last few weeks.  Bray threw for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns as Tennessee destroyed Ole Miss 52-14.  Now, if the Vols can manage to win their last two games against Vanderbilt and Kentucky -- which isn't all that crazy -- they'll finish the season 6-6 and be bowl eligible.

6. Florida's offense is still terrible.
  Listen, you may have been fooled by seeing Florida score 41 points against Vanderbilt last week, and some pollsters might have been as well, but I wasn't.  An offense that has struggled all season did so again on Saturday night, managing a paltry 226 yards and 14 points against a Gamecocks defense that gave up 24 points to Tennessee, and 31 to Kentucky.  If Steve Addazzio survives this season, then somebody is going to burn Gainesville to the ground.
 
 
 
 
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