UGA, South Carolina open camp with QB question marks

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For the past few years, both Georgia and South Carolina had a firm grasp on just who would be their starting quarterback entering summer camp.  This time around, though, both are entering somewhat unfamiliar territory.

The Bulldogs and Gamecocks opened Summer Camp 2015 Tuesday, with the former commencing a three-man quarterback competition and the latter a four-man.  Mark Richt might have a bit of an advantage on his counterpart in Columbia, though, as the UGA head coach at least has a quarterback who has started a game at this level of football.

Greyson Lambert transferred to UGA earlier this offseason from Virginia, where he started nine of 12 games in 2014.  While Lambert may have an edge in experience, his play was spotty at best for the Cavaliers — 11 interceptions, 10 touchdowns — leading some (most?) observers to tap Brice Ramsey as the front-runner, with the graduate transfer with two years of eligibility potentially battling Faton Bauta for the backup spot.

For now, though, all three of the potential starters are starting dead-even in the eyes of the coaching staff — and that’s expected to remain that way for the foreseeable future, at least until one grabs the job and runs away with it.

“We’re going to rotate the top three guys, the three scholarship quarterbacks,” Richt said in quotes distributed by the school. “We’re going to rotate them one guy with the first unit, one guy with the second unit, one guy with the third unit, rotating it around on a day‑to‑day basis until we think it should stop.

“[The competition] could go all the way to the first game. At some point we may drop it to a two‑man race. It’s just hard to say how it’s going to go. But that’s our starting point.”

As for Steve Spurrier, he’s in the early stages of sifting through his four-horse race, a field that includes Connor Mitch, Lorenzo Nunez, Perry Orth and Michael Scarnecchia.  That foursome has combined to attempt nine collegiate passes, with Mitch responsible for six of them as Dylan Thompson‘s primary backup last season and Orth the other three.

Quarterback, though, is just one position of interest to the Ol’ Ball Coach.

“The quarterback battle is going on,” said Spurrier. “Like I told them, we’re charting everything. A lot of jobs are up for grabs. We had two huddles – two offenses and two defenses going rapid fire. Hopefully we’ll be doing that all week. We had more guys getting snaps. We didn’t have a lot of “watchers” here today.”

Both Richt and Spurrier would like a decision sooner rather than later to give the starter extended time working with the first-team offense ahead of their respective openers, but neither will rush a decision just for the sake of making one. At least as far as Richt is concerned, though, decision-making will play a key role in who emerges as the starter when the trigger on a decision is pulled.

“We’re obviously talking to them about the things that are important, about quarterback play. We’re not necessarily saying, this is what you have to do to win the job, per se, but this is what you have to do to become the best quarterback you can be,” Richt explained. “That’s the goal for everybody: to be the best quarterback, linebacker, safety, running back, whatever it is. We’re all trying to perfect our trade, so to speak. We talk about in terms of perfecting your trade.

“The more you know about your position, the more you are prepared, the faster you can play, and you’ll make better decisions as a quarterback if you get in a good habit of how you think, how you progress through your reads. Even your fundamentals, the balance that you have when you throw the football, all those things together help you become the best you can be. That’s what we’re hoping for for everybody.”

USC will open the season Thursday, Sept, 3, against North Carolina in Charlotte, while UGA opens two days later at home against Louisiana-Monroe.  Two weeks later, the Bulldogs will host the Gamecocks in Athens in a key SEC East clash.

East Carolina suspends starting lineman arrested on felony intent-to-sell charge

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As we continue our annual plunge into the offseason, the East Carolina football program is the latest FBS school that has an off-field issue with which to deal.

(CC: @TheFulmerCup)

According to multiple media outlets in the area, ECU offensive lineman Cortez Herrin was arrested late Saturday night on a pair of charges.  Herrin is facing one felony count of possession with the intent to sell or distribute.  He’s also facing a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana paraphernalia.

The details of what led up to the arrest haven’t yet been divulged.

What is known is that the East Carolina football program has suspended the starting lineman as the situation begins to make its way through the legal system.

“We are aware of the matter concerning Cortez Herrin,” East Carolina football head coach Mike Houston said in a statement. “He has been suspended indefinitely from all football activities as we continue to gather information.”

When healthy, Herrin has been a part-time or full-time starter at left guard for ECU the past three seasons.

In 2018, Houston started all 12 games for the Pirates.  He made five starts in 2017 as well.  A knee injury in 2019 helped limit him to five starts.

The news of Herrin’s arrest comes amidst an upheaval in Houston’s coaching staff.

Two hires complete Tom Allen’s Indiana coaching staff

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Once again, the Indiana Hoosiers football coaching staff is whole.

Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers announced the additions of two assistant coaches for Tom Allen. Jason Jones will serve as safeties coach, while Kevin Wright will coach tight ends.

Allen and Jones have a prior working relationship, having served on the same coaching staff at Ole Miss.

“I have so much respect for Jason,” the Indiana Hoosiers football head coach said in a statement. “I was fortunate to work with him for two seasons at Ole Miss. He has worked in the SEC and the Big 12, and he was a part of one of the top defenses in the country last year. Jason’s a great football coach and is the kind of husband, father and man I want in this program.”

Last year, Jones was the cornerbacks coach at Florida Atlantic.

“I am so thankful to Coach Allen for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great staff,” Jones said. “IU impressed me so much last season, and I can’t wait to contribute to even more success. I am excited and ready to get to work.”

Wright is a 20-year coaching veteran, with 13 of those years in the state of Indiana and the last five at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

“I’ve known Kevin for many, many years” Allen said. “He’s been one of the most successful high school coaches in the country and has done a tremendous job working with some of the top talent in the country at IMG. Kevin allows us to expand our recruiting base and continue our success in the state of Florida. He’s a great fit for our program in so many ways, and we are excited to welcome Kevin and his family to IU.”

These hirings came a month after a new seven-year deal for Allen was announced.

North Carolina new home for All-American FCS kicker

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The North Carolina football program is the latest to dip into the FCS ranks for some talent. Placekicker talent, but still.

Sunday afternoon, the North Carolina football program announced that Grayson Atkins is transferring to the Tar Heels. Atkins spent the past three seasons at Furman.

According to UNC, Atkins will graduate from the FCS school in the spring.  He’ll then join the North Carolina football program in the summer.

As a graduate transfer, Atkins will have one season of eligibility remaining.

Below are Atkins’ particulars, as relayed by UNC’s release:

An Inman, S.C. native, Atkins converted on 33-of-41 field goal attempts and 132-of-138 PAT attempts during his three seasons at Furman. He earned first-team All-America honors as a junior and second-team honors as a sophomore. Atkins was also named All-Southern Conference twice. His 231 career points rank 10th on Furman’s career scoring list and fifth on the kick scoring list. Combining the end of his junior season and the beginning of his senior season, Atkins made 18 consecutive field goals, which is a Furman and Southern Conference record.

As a junior in 2019, Atkins earned first-team AFCA FCS Coaches’ All-America honors to go along with All-America honors form the Associated Press and STATS FCS. He converted on 13-of-15 field goal attempts and 48-of-50 PATs. Atkins made all six field-goal attempts under 40 yards and went 7-of-9 on attempts from 40 or more yards including a 55-yarder. In addition to his first-team All-SoCon honors as a placekicker, Atkins earned second-team accolades as a punter after averaging 43.5 yards per punt.

This past season, sophomore Noah Ruggles made all 45 of his extra-point attempts for the Tar Heels.  He also hit on just 19 of his 27 field-goal attempts.

Florida transfer Chris Bleich moves on to Syracuse

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This development involving a now-former Florida Gators football player flew under our radar last week, so we’ll rectify that with an early-morning post to start this work week.

Chris Bleich started eight of the first nine games at right guard for Florida this past season, with the lone start he missed being due to blisters on his foot. However, the redshirt freshman had begun to lose playing time due to performance even as he maintained the starting job in name.

With his grip on the position loosening, though, Bleich decided to take his leave of the Gators in early November.  Florida Gators football head coach Dan Mullen subsequently confirmed the departure.  Mullen also confirmed that unspecified family issues at home triggered the decision.

In the latest Bleich development, Syracuse announced late this past week that the lineman has been added to the Orange’s roster. In its release, the football program stated that “Bleich must sit out the 2020 season due to NCAA transfer regulations unless granted immediate eligibility.”

It’s expected that Bleich will seek a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this coming season.

Bleich was a three-star member of Florida’s 2018 recruiting class, rated as the No. 13 player at any position in the state of Pennsylvania. The 6-6, 330-pound lineman played in just four games as a true freshman, and was able to preserve a year of eligibility by taking a redshirt that season.

If Bleich is granted a waiver, he’ll have three seasons to play three years.  If not, he’ll sit out 2020 and then have two years of eligibility starting in 2021.