Following yet another abysmal performance under center by Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier strongly hinted that a change at the position could be coming sooner rather than later.
Monday evening, the hint became a reality as Spurrier announced he has pulled the trigger on another quarterback change, with Connor Shaw replacing Garcia against Kentucky this weekend. And, barring injury, Spurrier’s intention, at least for now, is to allow the sophomore to go the distance against the Wildcats.
“This is his game, it’s his opportunity to go play and we think he’s ready,” Spurrier said in quotes distributed by the team. “We’re going to find out Saturday. Connor had a good practice tonight and, as most everyone knows, our quarterback play has not been as good as we hoped. We’ve got to do something. Maybe some other positions we’re looking at also.
“We’re looking forward to the game against Kentucky. I just ask all the Gamecock fans to give Connor your support the same way you have all the others players here. I think he’s ready to play well. It wasn’t that hard a call. At some point we have to do something to shake up this offense and this is the first step. We’ll see how it goes. It’s Connor’s game. Unless he gets hurt, this is his game.”
Shaw started the opener this season, but was replaced by Garcia after the Gamecocks fell behind East Carolina. Garcia, who had been the starter for the past two-plus season, started each of the next four games, but struggled mightily, throwing just four touchdowns versus nine interceptions. He’s 109th in the country in passing efficiency.
As ineffective and mistake-prone as Garcia has been, Spurrier had no choice but to go back to his Game 1 starter.
“It’s an opportunity I’m willing to take advantage of,” said Shaw. “I think I’m ready to play. I’m excited and we’ll see how it goes this Saturday. I feel confident and I feel like I’m ready to play.”
Paul Chryst is certainly taking a unique approach in reconstituting his Wisconsin coaching staff.
Earlier this month, Chryst hired Jim Leonhard as his new defensive coordinator despite the latter having just one year of experience as a coach at any level. Now, reports have surfaced that Chryst is bringing Bob Bostad back to Madison to fill a vacancy on the staff.
While Bostad was an offensive assistant during his first tour of duty with the Badgers, he’ll be a defensive coach in this latest stint. Specifically, he’ll serve as UW’s inside linebackers coach.
Bostad would technically replace Justin Wilcox, the coordinator Leonhard replaced after Wilcox took the head-coaching job at Cal last month.
From 2006-11, Bostad was an assistant for the Badgers — the first two seasons as tight ends coach, the last four as offensive line coach. After spending four seasons as the line coach for two NFL franchises — Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-13), Tennessee Titans (2014-15) — Bostad spent the 2016 season as tight ends coach at Northern Illinois.
In a coaching career that spans 27 seasons, this would be Bostad’s first job on the defensive side of the ball.
While the details are very hazy at the moment, a member of the Georgia football team has apparently suffered a health scare recently that calls into question his short-term future with the football program.
First reported by WSB-TV, defensive end Trent Thompson suffered an unspecified medical emergency very early Thursday morning and was rushed to an Athens hospital. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution subsequently confirmed the initial report.
Thompson was released from the hospital Thursday morning, his mother confirmed to the television station. No specifics have been released publicly, although the Journal-Constitution, citing sources with knowledge of the situation, is reporting that no drugs or alcohol were involved. It’s also believed that the issue isn’t related to football.
In the wake of those reports as well as others that indicated he had a run-in with Athens police immediately prior to the hospitalization, UGA released the following statement, which reveals that Thompson will be withdrawing from classes this semester because of the unspecified medical issues:
Based upon recent events, Trenton Thompson’s family has authorized UGAAA to release the following information. Trenton has been dealing with a significant medical issue which required emergency hospitalization and extended hospital stay. Trenton was recently discharged from the hospital and remains under close medical care. With respect to last night’s incident, the physical appearance and behavior described in the UGA PD report is solely related to an adverse reaction to medications prescribed specifically for his medical condition. The adverse reaction required emergency transport to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center where he was treated and released. Toxicology tests performed at the hospital were negative for OxyContin. We cannot release any further information at this time due to federal privacy laws. Due to the medical issues, Trenton is withdrawing from classes this semester, and his family requests privacy during this time.
As a sophomore last season, Thompson started seven of the 13 games in which he played. His 9.5 tackles for loss led the Bulldogs, while his five sacks were tied for the team lead and the 56 tackles with which he was credited were tops among linemen.
Capping off that breakout season, he was named MVP of UGA’s Liberty Bowl win over TCU.
Iowa State has suspended defensive back Mike Johnson after he was arrested Thursday on the accusation that he choked his girlfriend.
As reported by the Des Moines Register, Johnson and his girlfriend were fighting over social media posts and music playing over each other’s phones when each tried to reach for the other’s device. That escalated to the point where Johnson allegedly had both hands around the woman’s throat, to the point where told police she “saw stars” and had trouble breathing.
She also had, according to police, bite marks on her right cheek, on her neck and behind her left ear, a swollen upper lip and had what appeared to be dried blood on her. Johnson also said he was bitten during the altercation.
“We are aware of Mike Johnson’s arrest and allegations associated with his arrest,” head coach Matt Campbell told the paper in a statement. “Our program has zero tolerance for domestic violence. Mike has been suspended from all team activities, including practice, under the student-athlete code of conduct policy as we gather more information. His long-term status with the team will be determined once we gain more facts.”
Johnson posted 44 tackles, three pass breakups and 1.5 tackles for loss in 12 games last season.
James Conner will head to next week’s Combine with a clean bill of health, according to a report Thursday from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“Pitt RB James Conner, who missed most of 2015 with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, received a clean scan today, a week prior to combine, per source,” Schefter tweeted.
Conner led the ACC in rushing in 2014, rushing for 1,765 yards and 5.92 yards per carry with 26 touchdowns in 2014, before a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma diagnosis caused him to miss all but one game of the 2015 campaign. (And in that one game, Conner still rushed for nearly 10 yards per carry and two touchdowns.)
He battled back to return to the field in 2016, again leading the Panthers with 216 carries for 1,092 yards and 16 touchdowns while finishing third on the club with 21 grabs for 302 yards and four touchdowns.
Conner will compete at the Combine for draft positioning with fellow running backs Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and D'Onta Foreman, among others.