Will Muschamp is hoping his second stint as a head coach goes better than his first.
He’s off to a good start.
South Carolina put together back-to-back scoring drives in the 4th quarter and took advantage of several second half mistakes by Vanderbilt to sneak out of Nashville with a 13-10 win. The game was every bit of a struggle to watch as the score would indicate and the two teams picked to finish at the bottom of the SEC East certainly won’t cause anybody to change their predictions of that happening after seeing the opener.
Vanderbilt began the game well, jumping out to a 10 point lead behind the strong running game of Ralph Webb (97 yards on the night) and Khari Blasingame (68 yards and a score). But things went downhill from there, with six straight three-and-out possessions at one point and a missed 45 yard field goal attempt late in the 4th quarter. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur was ineffective after flashing potential early, going just 8-of-22 on the night with 73 yards passing.
A 10 point lead looked like it would hold up though with such a tough Commodores defense limiting South Carolina on nearly every play. Gamecocks quarterback Perry Orth started behind center and was able to move the chains with his arm at times but he was spelled by freshman Brandon McIllwain throughout the night in order to bring more of a rushing threat to the offense.
In the end, both did enough down the stretch of the 4th quarter to get kicker Elliott Fry within range for a late field goal. The kick sailed through the uprights from 55 yards out but would have been good from 65 and was just enough to give South Carolina a wild comeback victory in Muschamp’s debut with the team.
The loss will prompt plenty of questions for Commodores head coach Derek Mason as the offense struggled once again to get going, wasting another good defensive effort. The decision to go for a long field goal (which missed) in the 4th quarter also set up Fry’s kick that proved to be the eventual game winner too.
It could still be a long season for South Carolina as they try to find their footing with a tough SEC schedule but Thursday night was no doubt a nice start for the new head coach.
Coaches say things to motivate their players even if nobody really believes it. Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, entering his third season in charge of the Sooners this fall, is already proving to be a veteran when it comes to setting the bar high and motivating his quarterbacks in the offseason.
Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts will undoubtedly be the starting quarterback for Oklahoma when the 2019 season kicks off for the defending Big 12 champion on Sept. 1 against Houston. However, Riley is not prepared to publicly anoint his newest quarterback as the heir to the throne of the offense that has produced the last two Heisman Trophy winners at the quarterback position. Instead, Riley is telling media members at Big 12 media days Hurts will have to go out and earn the opportunity.
Don’t be shocked by seeing that quote, because that is what the best coaches will do no matter who is on their team. Except in certain situations where a proven starting quarterback is coming back to the program for a second or third (or fourth?) season, coaches will always hope to inspire healthy competition at every position, including quarterback. By not gifting Hurts the starting job in the middle of July, Riley is setting the tone that will keep Hurts pushing to improve his game and keep other quarterbacks like Class of 2019 five-star recruit Spencer Rattler and four-star Class of 2018 quarterback Tanner Mordecai working to get their shot.
But Hurts is far from any ordinary transfer quarterback. Hurts was the starter for Alabama for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, in which Alabama went to the national championship game both seasons, losing one and winning the other. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa replaced Hurts at quarterback for that national title win against Georgia, but Hurts was a major reason why Alabama was in the national title game two years in a row with him as the starter. Hurts brings multiple seasons of starting experience form one of the top programs in the sport with him. And after Oklahoma lost Kyler Murray to the NFL Draft a year after losing Baker Mayfield, Hurts is stepping right into a position that carried high expectations and demands results.
Hurts may have had a couple of bumps in the road in Tuscaloosa, but he didn’t come to Oklahoma to be a back-up. Riley knows that, but he has the responsibility to make sure everyone on his team is working hard to improve. That message should be heard loud and clear, even if media pundits don’t have to believe it.
The NCAA transfer portal has seen a number of names come and go this offseason. Now, it appears, LSU cornerback Kelvin Joseph is stepping a foot in the transfer portal for a second time.
Joseph reportedly entered the transfer portal back in May, only to have that story disputed by his father. A day later, Joseph announced on Twitter that his father was, in fact, wrong with his claim. After some time passed, it seemed as though Joseph may end up staying in Baton Rouge to play for the Tigers this fall. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said “everything is good” regarding the status of Joseph as the story unfolded.
However, as multiple reports have surfaced at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama today, Joseph is now back in the transfer portal.
By entering the transfer portal, Joseph is free to have contact with any other college football program that may be interested in recruiting him. He would have to sit out the upcoming 2019 season if he transfers to another FBS program due to standard NCAA transfer rules, barring any appeal being granted for immediate eligibility.
Joseph was a four-star member of LSU’s Class of 2018. He played in 11 games for the Tigers last season and was suspended from the Fiesta Bowl for unspecified violations of team rules.
As it stands right now, the Missouri Tigers will not be going to a bowl game at the end of the 2019 season even if they go 12-0. That is because the NCAA slapped the Tigers with a postseason ban for the upcoming college football season as part of a litany of sanctions levied against the program in January for violations of NCAA rules linked to ethical conduct, academic misconduct and academic extra benefits. However, Missouri is hoping their appeal will relieve the sanctions with enough time to make some postseason plans.
A report from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports says Missouri is expected to appear in front of the NCAA’s Infractions Appeals Committee this week to state their case. However, no decision on the appeals is expected to be made for at least another month. A decision to lift a postseason ban could even come as late as September after the start of the 2019 season.
Missouri formally filed its appeal of the sanctions in March. Missouri Athletics Director Jim Sterk said in June he was hoping the appeal would be heard before the football season.
“We really think we have a strong case for overturning the majority of the decisions that they made,” Sterk said in a radio interview. “The people that are a lot smarter than me that worked on this case really presented an appeal that’s strong and compelling. And we’ll be doing an in-person hearing, we’re expecting somewhere in the middle of July and then hear something hopefully by before football starts or shortly thereafter.”
The NCAA lifting a postseason ban during the current season is not unprecedented. In 2014, the NCAA lifted sanctions against Penn State after the start of the season, thus allowing the Nittany Lions to have the opportunity to play in a postseason bowl game at the end of the year. At 6-6, Penn State went on to play in the Pinstripe Bowl against Boston College. The 2014 season was supposed to be the third year in Penn State’s four-year postseason ban as part of the sanctions in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal. Penn State served just two years of a postseason ban before the NCAA dropped the sanctions against the program amid legal battles.
If you have ever wanted to step into the video room managing replays and challenges in the SEC, then you are in luck in 2019. The SEC launched its new Twitter account specifically for updating fans on rules interpretations from inside the video center.
This is a great idea and one that should be implemented by other conferences with similar facilities. Although the account’s initial and (as of now) only tweet says fans will get inside access to statistics and other activities from inside the video center, the only information that fans will truly care about in any capacity will be the decisions and interpretations made during video replay reviews during SEC contests. This is a transparent way to relay the decisions that have been made on any specific replay in real time, which can be helpful in reacting to a controversial or citical turning point of a game.
Of course, whoever is sitting behind the monitor with access to this account may want to be careful when monitoring the mentions coming its way. This is an account every fan in the SEC, regardless of their fandom, will come to despise at least once this season.