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)

Michigan State, Washington round out future schedules with Utah State

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Needing to fill a single spot in some future schedules, both Michigan State and Washington have come calling to the Mountain West for an opponent. Utah State was happy to oblige.

Michigan State will host Utah State on September 1, 2018. The Aggies will travel to Washington on September 19, 2020. For their travels, Utah State will collect $2.9 million between the two games, according to FBScheduels.com ($1.4 million from Michigan State, $1.5 million from Washington).

The Big Ten and Pac-12 each use nine-game conference schedules, leaving three spots open for non-conference games. The Big Ten requires all conference members schedule one game per season against another power conference opponent (the Pac-12 has no such requirement of its members at this time), although exceptions are made. Utah State, as a member of the Mountain West Conference, would not satisfy that requirement for the Big Ten, but the Spartans already have a road game against Arizona State (Pac-12) on the schedule in 2018. Michigan State and Arizona State will play again in 2019 in East Lansing. Michigan State also has future power conference matchups with Notre Dame (2017, 2026, 2027) and Miami (2020, 2021). Michigan State will also play BYU in 2020 in Provo.

Washington has future power conference matchups with Rutgers (2017), Auburn (2018, in Atlanta), and Michigan (2020, 2021). The Huskies will also face Mountain West Competition from Fresno State (2017), Hawaii (2019), and Nevada (2027).

Utah State will face power conference opponents on the road in 2017 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest), 2018 (Michigan State), 2019 (Wake Forest, LSU), 2020 (Washington), and 2021 (Washington State). Utah State will also host Washington State in 2020 as part of a home-and-home deal. Utah State also has an annual series against BYU running through 2020.

Old Dominion hopes to “hit the ground running” on new stadium project

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Some fans of the Old Dominion football program may be getting a little impatient with the progress (or lack of) in the development of the football stadium, but Old Dominion athletic director Wood Selig says things are coming along nicely and progress will start to be seen soon enough.

“Once we get the architects engaged, we’ll figure out what $55 million will buy in 2019 dollars,” Selig said, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “Then we’ll have an idea for how much additional money needs to be raised to support the project.”

Old Dominion is planning on tearing down Foreman Field at the end of the 2018 season and rebuild it with modern seating and amenities. The $55 million project remained on the books in the Virginia budget in February, allowing the university to move ahead with their plans. The first step is finding an architect to take on the job.

Because Old Dominion’s football stadium is among the smallest in the nation and will remain so even after the rebuild and renovations, the entire project is expected to move fairly swiftly once the work actually begins. Old Dominion isn’t building a grand football palace, so any concerns over the lack of updates on the stadium should be calmed.

If nothing else, the concerns raised about the lack of updates on the stadium renovations may just mean Old Dominion has some eager fans excited about the future of the program.

Baylor interim president to Texas senators: “We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor”

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Texas senators are taking aim at Baylor University and are hoping to persuade the university to be more open and transparent despite being a private university.

Baylor interim president David Garland faced criticism from senators during a hearing with the Senate Higher Education Committee on Wednesday regarding the coverup of rape accusations found throughout the football program in recent years.

“We were not trying to cover up what happened at Baylor,” Garland said to the committee. Unfortunately for Garland, that was far from enough to sway the senators on the committee from playing nice with him and Baylor University.

I’m sorry, but I don’t buy that for a minute,” Senator Kel Seliger replied, according to The Texas Tribune. “I don’t buy that for a minute. I think that is exactly what was going on.”

The exchange between the interim president at Baylor and the senator came during a hearing regarding a state bill that requires any school receiving more than $5 million in Tuition Equalization Grants from the state to comply with open records and open meetings laws in the state of Texas. Baylor, being a private university, believes it should not have to comply with the bill, which would open up the doors to more information regarding Baylor’s handling of vile accusations within its university and athletics department.

The exchange comes a day after Baylor moved to dismiss a lawsuit claiming 52 rapes over a three-year period occurred at the university.

If you thought the ugliness around the Baylor situation was going to be limited to athletics, you thought wrong. This is clearly a state-wide concern and battle now. And things are always bigger in Texas, right?

A&M-UCLA opener in 2017 moved from Saturday to Sunday

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Grab your calendars as there’s been a change to your opening(ish) weekend college football agenda.

Texas A&M road trip to UCLA is one of a handful of high-profile games that will help launch the 2017 season Labor Day weekend.  The game, which will be played at the famed Rose Bowl, had been originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 2.  However, it was announced Wednesday that the game will be pushed back to Sunday, Sept. 3.

The game will kick off at either 7:30 or 8 p.m. ET, with the actual time being determined at a later date.

This year’s game will serve as the back-end of a home-and-home series between the two schools.  The Aggies claimed a 31-24 win over the Bruins in overtime last season in College Station.

The 2017 season will actually commence the weekend of Aug. 26 with five games featuring FBS teams, including Stanford against Rice in Australia and Colorado State opening their new on-campus stadium against Oregon State.  The first full weekend kicks off the following Thursday — Ohio State-Indiana highlights that day’s lean slate — and continues with a handful of games the next day — hello Colorado-Colorado State, Washington-Rutgers and Utah State-Wisconsin among others.

The first full Saturday features the likes of Alabama-Florida State, Florida-Michigan, West Virginia-Virginia Tech, LSU-BYU, Louisville-Purdue, Cal-North Carolina, Maryland-Texas and South Carolina-North Carolina State squaring off Sept. 2.

A&M-UCLA is the only Sunday game, while Tennessee and Georgia Tech will close out the weekend at the brand-new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Labor Day night that Monday.