South Carolina spring game

SEC spring game wrap-ups

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In the week leading up to South Carolina’s spring game Saturday, head coach Steve Spurrier seemed confident in regards to the state of his Gamecocks ball team, getting a little “salty” when discussing a couple of SEC rivals.

Based on the number of fans in attendance, they’re feeling the confidence as well.

In front of what the school listed as 34,513 fans in attendance, the Black team, behind the play of quarterback Connor Shaw, outscored the Garnet team 38-24 in the annual Garnet & Black game.  In limited action, Shaw completed 6-of-7 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns.  Redshirt freshman Tanner McEvoy also tossed two TD passes for the Black squad.

Effectively the game was over at the half, with the Black team holding a 35-10 advantage with two quarters to play.

In his postgame comments, the Ol’ Ball Coach said that his 2012 Gamecocks “[have] a chance to be pretty good”, but also lamented a secondary and non-existent pass rush that allowed the quarterbacks to be so successful.

We obviously threw the ball and caught it better than any spring game. Probably more passing yards and completions. I thought coverage could’ve been better. We didn’t have a pass rush. Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor didn’t play much. The quarterbacks had time and the receivers caught about everything. They had good routes. Who’s to say if our coverage is suspect or not, but I know Coach Ward wasn’t happy about some guys getting behind them. It made the offensive guys look pretty good throwing and catching. Whatever it means, I don’t know. We’ll keep working and try to improve. You can tell we have pretty good-looking, physical guys. Brandon Shell looks like a big time offensive tackle. If he gets quicker and stronger, he’ll be a big time offensive tackle. It’s encouraging. I think he played probably 50 or 60 plays today. It was good to see a lot of those guys play a bunch. Most are in pretty good shape. The defensive line got tired. Some of them played both sides of course. It’s just the spring game; just a practice game. The highlight was at halftime introducing the senior guys. Hopefully the next year we’ll do the senior guys for doing something special like the 2011 guys did.

On the successful passing day
I guess it was nice for the offensive guys. Not real nice for the defensive guys. The quarterbacks picked them out well. That was surprising. They only threw one or two errant balls today. All the quarterbacks threw well and the receivers caught most of everything. That’s encouraging.

USC was one of six SEC teams to conduct its spring game Saturday, with recaps for the rest — minus Alabama, which has its own solo post HERE — available for consumption below:

Auburn — On the same day Auburn’s quarterback of the past was one of the school’s former Heisman winners to have his statue outside Jordan-Hare Stadium unveiled, the Tigers’ QB of the future was putting on a very impressive display inside the stadium that no doubt left the coaching staff (privately) salivating over the future.

Sophomore Kiehl Frazier dazzled the 43,000-plus in attendance, completing seven of his nine passes for 92 yards in helping lead the offense to a 36-27 “win” over the defense.  Head coach Gene Chizik, however, warned not to read too much into the numbers.

“I wouldn’t pay attention to any of the stats today. I wouldn’t read into any stats you may see, good or bad,” the coach said.

In addition to Frazier’s contributions, transfer running backs Mike Blakely (Florida) and Corey Grant (Alabama) each scored a touchdown on the ground.

Georgia — The story of UGA’s spring game may have been more about who wasn’t participating than about who was.  Neither cornerback Malcolm Mitchell, moved from wide receiver to cornerback at least for the short-term, nor stud freshman running back Keith Marshall were available due to hamstring issues.

Of those who were available, 44,000 fans at the annual G-Day Game watched as the Red team stopped a late two-point conversion to hold on for a 32-31 victory.  The winning side was led by running back Ken Malcolm’s two touchdowns as well as 112 yards passing and a touchdown from starting quarterback Aaron Murray.

Regardless of the particulars, head coach Mark Richt, like just about every other coach in America following these games, was pleased with what he saw.

“It was a great day for Georgia,” Coach Mark Richt said. “I feel like everyone enjoyed the game. I thought there were a lot of offensive plays that were made today. When you look at it, the defense was scoring points, too. I thought both sides of the ball played well. It was exciting.”

Missouri — With starter James Franklin out indefinitely after undergoing surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder, backups Corbin Berkstresser and Ashton Glaser combined to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns in Mizzou’s first Black & Gold Game as a semi-official member of the SEC.  The game feature two distinct scoring systems: the first half pitted the starting offenses and defenses against the backups — the reserves won those two periods 34-10 — while the second half featured the starting offense vs. the starting defense — the latter trumped the former 5-3.  Linebacker Donovan Bonner led a solid defensive effort against a Franklin-less offense, returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown and totaling six tackles.

Vanderbilt — In the Commodores’ annual Black & Gold spring game, the Black team was composed mainly of starters on both sides of the ball.  So, as logic would dictate, the Black team dominated the Gold team, coming out on the good side of a 30-0 whitewashing.  The duo of junior wide receiver Jordan Matthews and redshirt freshman wide receiver Josh Grady combined to score three touchdowns, including one that saw Grady take a direct snap and throw it to Matthews for the final score of the game.  Oddly enough, Grady did not catch a pass but still accounted for two TDs — one on the ground and the previously mentioned one through the air.

(Photo credit: South Carolina athletics)

Mark Dantonio won’t lose long-time assistant to head-coaching job at Div. II school

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Mark Dantonio of the Michigan State Spartans leads his team onto the field before a college football game against the against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Spartan Stadium on November 12, 2016 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
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At least for now and when it comes to one particular assistant, Mark Dantonio won’t have a hole to fill on his Michigan State coaching staff.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Spartans offensive line coach Mark Staten was one of five finalists for the head-coaching job at Div. II Northern Michigan. On his Facebook page Thursday, by way of ESPN.com, Staten indicated that he will be staying at MSU.

Left unsaid is whether Staten withdrew from the search process because he wanted to remain in East Lansing or if he became aware the program had decided to go in a direction that didn’t include him.

Decision was made after a lot of prayer, talking with family, friends and mentors. I appreciate all of those involved as I will continue to battle on as a Spartan. God Bless and Go Green!

Staten has been a part of Dantonio’s coaching staff for the past 13 seasons, the first three at Cincinnati and the last 10 at MSU. He’s been the Spartans’ line coach for the past five years.

Charlie Strong, Temple have reportedly spoken as USF talk heats up

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 11:  Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns at Cotton Bowl on October 11, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Temple lost its head coach to an FBS program in the state of Texas. Could the Owls find his replacement in the form of the former head coach at that state’s flagship university? Or, as is looking more and more likely, could they “lose” him to a fellow AAC school?

According to at least one report the former could be the case as the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing a source familiar with the situation, reported that Strong and Temple officials have spoken about the vacant head-coaching job. How strong, so to speak, the former Louisville and Texas head coach’s interest is in the AAC football program is something the source couldn’t gauge, the Inquirer noted.

That said, “[t]hey had a conversation with Strong, that is a fact,” the source said.

The strongest, so to speak, competition for Strong may very well be coming from USF, with Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders reporting that “[i]t is believed that USF has already begun negotiating a contract with Strong.” A subsequent report from the Tampa Bay Times noted that USF spent Thursday in heavy pursuit of Strong.

The 56-year-old coach had previously been connected to the USF job, and his deep ties to the fertile recruiting grounds in the state that makes a marriage almost a no-brainer for both sides.

Strong was fired by the Longhorns in November after going just 16-21 during his three seasons in Austin. UT currently owes Strong roughly $11.2 million as part of his buyout. Per the terms of his contract, Strong must make “reasonable efforts” to obtain another job. If he does, USA Today wrote, “Texas’ obligation to him will be offset by an amount equal to 50% of the total compensation Strong receives from his new job.”

Matt Rhule, who left Temple for Baylor earlier this week, was paid just north of $1 million for his final season with the Owls, a figure that was eighth amongst AAC coaches. Willie Taggart, who created the USF vacancy by leaving for Oregon, was the fifth-highest paid coach in the conference at $1.7 million.

Strong’s salary final salary of $5.2 million was sixth nationally.

Lamar Jackson, Jonathan Allen among those to win 2016 college football awards

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 26:  Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals throws a pass during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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The college football world gathered in Atlanta on Thursday night as nearly a dozen of the sport’s most prestigious awards were handed out from the College Football Hall of Fame.

While a few of the winners were announced before the televised ceremony, here were the players who took home some hardware at the annual awards show:

Walter Camp Player of the Year — Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson

Maxwell Award as national player of the year — Lamar Jackson

Chuck Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year — Alabama’s Jonathan Allen

Davey O’Brien Award for best quarterback — Clemson’s Deshaun Watson (his second in a row)

Doak Walker Award as best running back — Texas’ D’Onta Foreman

Biletnikoff Award for best receiver — Oklahoma’s Dede Westbrook

Outland Trophy for outstanding interior lineman — Alabama’s Cam Robinson

Rimington Trophy for best center — Ohio State’s Pat Elflein

Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back — USC’s Adoree’ Jackson

Lou Groza Award for outstanding place kicker — Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez

Ray Guy Award for best punter — Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky

John Mackey Award for outstanding tight end — Michigan’s Jake Butt

Butkus Award for best linebacker – Alabama’s Reuben Foster

Wuerffel Trophy for community service — Texas A&M QB Trevor Knight

Home Depot Coach of the Year — Colorado’s Mike MacIntyre 

Nick Saban says transferring quarterbacks will stay at Alabama through College Football Playoff

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 03:  Cooper Bateman #18 of the Alabama Crimson Tide prepares to take on the USC Trojans during the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium on September 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Alabama is busy preparing to face Washington at the end of the month in the College Football Playoff but news surfaced this week that two of the team’s backup quarterbacks are looking to transfer out of Tuscaloosa in the near future.

Redshirt sophomore David Cornwell announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will be headed elsewhere and redshirt junior Cooper Bateman did the same a few days prior. While there was a little concern that neither of them would be around for the Peach Bowl to backup starter Jalen Hurts, head coach Nick Saban confirmed the two transfers will be staying with the team through the semifinal and possible national title game berth.

“Absolutely. They have every intention of finishing the season,” Saban said in a press conference at the College Football Hall of Fame on Thursday. “I think these are situations when a younger guy won the job this year that these guys want to play someplace, and we want to — Cooper is a graduate, so he’ll be a graduate transfer, and we’re very supportive of these guys. They’ve done a fantastic job for us, and we hope that they get a good opportunity and a chance to play someplace. But they will be with our team, and they’re all anxious to finish the season with us.”

While Saban was very supportive of all the transfer decisions, the clearing out of the quarterback room probably isn’t what he had in mind in terms of roster management. Remarkably, Cornwell and Bateman are only two of the four signal-callers who have moved on from the Crimson Tide in 2016 alone. Blake Barnett actually started the season opener for Alabama but left school shortly after losing the full-time job to Hurts and is headed to Arizona StateAlec Morris transferred to North Texas back in January.

After Hurts, only a walk-on quarterback is listed on the Tide’s roster behind him heading into next season (not counting any incoming freshmen who have yet to enroll). Guessing that’s why Saban has been busy hitting the recruiting trail ahead of the upcoming dead period this week.