Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn’t happy with the persistent questions from the media regarding the team’s quarterback competition. Saban isn’t prepared to name a starting quarterback, and he may not do so before the Crimson Tide takes the field Aug. 30 against the West Virginia Mountaineers in Atlanta.
Senior Blake Sims (pictured above) and junior Jacob Coker have been battling throughout fall camp to lead the Crimson Tide onto the field, and neither of the signal callers have truly separated themselves from the other. Saban doesn’t plan to name a quarterback until one does.
“Until someone clearly wins the job, we’re not going to make a decision,” Saban said when he addressed the media Saturday.
Coker, a Florida State transfer, has generally been considered the favorite to win the competition. Coker may have lost to Jameis Winston in a quarterback competition last year, but there clearly is no shame in that after Winston went on to win the Heisman Trophy and a national championship. Coker is believed to have one of the strongest arms in college football and all the tools necessary to be a dynamic passer behind Alabama’s stout offensive line.
However, Sims isn’t willing to hand the job to Coker. The senior waited his turn behind A.J. McCarron, and he’s prepared to take over the offense as a senior. At the moment, Sims’ familiarity with the team’s system gives him a slight edge over Coker.
With neither quarterback clearly establishing himself at the top of the depth chart, another option will likely be considered. Saban may utilize a two-quarterback system to start the season and let live game action determining which of the two is truly prepared to lead the team into SEC play.
Alabama will have three weeks from the start of the season to figure out the solution before it plays the Florida Gators Sept. 20.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.
“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).
Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.
In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.
A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.
Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.
Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.
Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.
“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”
It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.
Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.
For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.
Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.
Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)
- Ohio State – 80,134
- Nebraska – 78,312
- Alabama – 74,326
- Penn State – 71,000
- Georgia – 66,133
- Clemson – 60,000
- Michigan – 57,418
- Florida – 48,000
- Auburn – 46,331
- Oklahoma – 43,723
How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.
The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.
You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.
Last season, Jeff James was one of seven players suspended for Miami’s Russell Athletic Bowl game against West Virginia. Nearly four months later, he’s gone.
In a press release, Miami announced that the defensive back “is no longer a member of the football program.” No reason was given for the nephew of former Hurricane great Edgerrin James deciding to leave The U.
“I talked to Jeff and we both felt it was in his best interests to get a fresh start somewhere else,” head coach Mark Richt said in a statement released by the school. “We wish him all the best in his future plans.”
James was a three-star member of UM’s 2016 recruiting class. 247Sports.com had the Orlando high school product rated as the No. 112 safety in the country and the No. 1,678 player in its composite rankings.
The defensive back played in one game as a true freshman, the season-opening win over FCS Florida A&M.