Archive for January, 2014

Bama to sign FSU back-up Coker – Reports

FSU back-up quarterback Jacob Coker is about to join the battle to be Alabama’s new starting quarterback for 2014, ESPN has reported.

The report said that sources told the website: “Coker has been released from his scholarship and is free to transfer to another program. He is on course to graduate this spring, whereupon he’s expected to enroll” in Tuscaloosa.

Coker was No.2 at FSU to Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who lit up the country last year.

The report noted that Coker was outgoing Alabama QB AJ McCarron’s back-up at St Paul’s, Mobile, where he threw for over 1,500 yards and 16 TDs and ran the ball for 355 yards and 6 TDs.

He’s expected to battle Blake Sims for the job, as well as Alec Morris and two others.

BOTTOM LINE: If Coker comes in, Bama suddenly has a dual threat QB, or if Saban likes Sims, you can expect both players to be sharing time. This could be great for the Tide. Whatever happens, a lot will be expected of the players – even though a lot of the punishment will be taken by running back Derrick Henry, who’s our dark horse for a Heisman Trophy in 2014.

 

Georgia suspends top safety for first three games of 2014

Georgia has suspended top safety Josh Harvey-Clemons for the first three games of the 2014 season after once again ‘violating team rules’, following on from the player’s suspension from the Bulldogs’ loss in the Gator Bowl to Nebraska.

Harvey-Clemons will miss Georgia’s home game against Clemson, the road game at South Carolina, and the home game against Troy. With him missing (and if there’s no immediate improvement with new DC Jeremy Pruitt), the Dawgs could easily go 1-2.

Harvey-Clemons wasn’t allowed to travel with the team to the Gator Bowl after he reportedly violated the school’s drug abuse policy for a second time. He had already been suspended for the first game of the season against Clemson after a drug violation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

At Georgia, a second violation of team rules carries with it a four-game suspension, although we feel that he’s lucky not to get kicked off the team.

BOTTOM LINE: Georgia’s defense is considerably weakened by Harvey Clemons’ loss, but really, they should also be looking at the player, who frankly needs to be going to rehab and focussing on his own weaknesses rather than the team’s.

 

Alabama back-up QB to transfer, New one coming?

Alabama back-up quarterback Luke Del Rio has said that he’s leaving Tuscaloosa, although it’s not knowing where he will end up.

The player, who decided to walk on at Alabama despite being offered scholarships at Oklahoma State, Oregon State and Colorado State (according to Bama recruiting website TideSports.com) said via Twitter: “I had an incredible year at Bama, it’s sad to say that it will be my last,I’m excited for the next chapter of my life and what it will bring.”

His decision to leave – just days after the arrival of new offensive co-ordinator Lane Kiffin, has further fuelled rumors that Florida State back-up QB Jacob Coker could be transferring from Florida State, although the player himself dismissed that as ‘rumors’ before the Seminoles’ National Championship win over Auburn.

The rumor mill went on overdrive after an article by CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman, which seemed to connect Alabama coach Nick Saban to Coker……who’s currently nursing a torn meniscus after blowing it out in November.

Feldman’s article notes that Coker is a “lifelong Alabama fan”, which certainly got tongues wagging.

BOTTOM LINE: Rumor. Speculation. Don’t you just love the college football off-season? If Coker was to come to Alabama, it might well be Saban and Kiffin’s recruit of 2014.

South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier Gets Big Raise

Steve Spurrier, the head coach of South Carolina, has been given a contract extension to the 2018 season, as well as a raise that will see him earn $4m a season.

The quotable coach, who guided the Gamecocks to a victory over Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl and a final season ranking of No.4 in the nation last year, made $3.3m in 2013. But now, he’s making 21% more.

“We appreciate the attitude of the board of trustees in keeping our salaries competitive with the rest of the SEC,” the Ol’ Ball Coach in a statement. “We all hope to coach here many more years, and we still have some goals that have not been accomplished yet.”

South Carolina AD Ray Tanner said in a release: “With three straight top-10 finishes, South Carolina is as good as any program in the country. The contract raises and extensions for Coach Spurrier and his staff are a reflection of that success and are well-deserved.”

Spurrier made sure that his coaches were well-rewarded, too. All his assistants were given two-year contract extensions, apart from DC Lorenzo Ward, who received a three-year extension…..even quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, who saw his salary frozen for a year after he was arrested for public urination in 2011. He was suspended but returned for practice in August of the same year. His salary was bumped $100,000.

Interestingly, it wasn’t the blockbuster year for Spurrier or South Carolina. He publically said he was frustrated with star DE Jadeveon Clowney, who actually regressed in the 2013 season after an incredible 2012. He appeared to be drunk in a TV round-up of Carolina’s close win at UCF (a win that now looks a hell of a lot better bearing in mind UCF’s destruction of Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl). The Gamecocks lost at Tennessee and Georgia – something that probably didn’t go down so well with the fanbase. On the other side, the Gamecocks beat Clemson and stopped an unbeaten Missouri on the road….and beat Wisconsin to finish the season. It can’t have been all bad.

BOTTOM LINE: A lot of people hate Steve Spurrier, but we love him. He’s quotable, he sticks the needle into opponents, and he’s a breath of fresh air, especially in a world where college football coaches (apart from Les Miles) are a little more stayed. Having said that, South Carolina could quite easily have been an 8-4 season – especially if Clemson hadn’t turned the ball over so much and Missouri’s kicker been able to take a field goal. But as Gamecocks fans say: “We’ll take it”. Never grow up, Steve.

Mississippi State OC hired by Texas

Mississippi State offensive co-ordinator Les Koenning – fresh from a bowl victory and a win in the Egg Bowl over Ole Miss – is leaving Starkville to be the new wide receivers coach at Texas, according to the Clarion-Ledger.

The Clarion-Ledger noted: “Under Koenning’s guidance MSU’s offense set numerous school records, culminating in 13 this season. He also worked with the quarterbacks developing both Tyler Russell and Dak Prescott. Russell leaves the program with a handful of single season passing records. Many analysts are calling Prescott a sleeper for next year’s Heisman.

This season Mississippi State – with Tyler Russell injured for most of the season and Dak Prescott replacing him – was 43rd  in the nation in total rushing offense and 53rd in the nation in total passing offense. They averaged 27.7 points per game, or 71st in the nation.

Koenning worked at Texas A&M as wide receivers coach in 1996, but hasn’t worked with them solidly since then.

BOTTOM LINE: If Mississippi State gets an OC who can coach a QB, Bulldogs fans will be happy.

 

Saban fires secondary coach

Nick Saban has fired secondary coach Greg Brown after a season which saw Alabama struggle in the backfield.

Alabama, who gave up 180.3 yards per game, struggled in their final games against Auburn and Oklahoma. In the Auburn game they gave up a game-winning touchdown at the end of the game, and against Oklahoma, they were consistently troubled by Sooners QB Trevor Knight.

The responsibility for coaching the defensive backs has fallen to current defensive co-ordinator Kirby Smart, who also gave up his linebacking coach position to Kevin Steele, who comes from the director of personnel position.

Florida QB Murphy to transfer

Back-up Florida Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy is to transfer despite starting seven games in the place of injured starter Jeff Driskel last season.

Murphy is to join old offensive co-ordinator Steve Addazio at Boston College, where he reported to be enrolling as soon as this week.

Murphy had a mixed season for an awful Gators team, passing for 1,1216 yards, 6 TDs and 5 INTS, and rushing for 61 yards and 3 TDs.

The good news for the Gators is that Driskel is going to return after getting injured in the second game of the season, but is expected back by Spring Practice.

BOTTOM LINE: If Driskel stays fit, it won’t matter that Murphy’s gone to BC. However if he doesn’t – and Matt Jones can’t start the year – then it could be another long old season for Will Muschamp.

 

Florida RB to miss spring practice

Florida running back Matt Jones is to miss the spring practice after needing another knee surgery.

Is it not known whether Jones – who needed surgery on his left knee after destroying it in the Gators’ loss at LSU in mid-October after he started four games this season – will be fit enough to start Game 1 in September against Idaho at The Swamp.

BOTTOM LINE: It’s not great news for Florida that Jones is out, but Florida at least has some experience and depth at the position in Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown. This isn’t good news for the ‘turnaround season’ that Will Muschamp was looking for.

LSU LT Collins to stay, helping O-Line

LSU left tackle La’el Collins has decided to stay at LSU for his senior season.

The giant tackle, who weight 315 pounds and stands 6 ft 5, decided to stay in school after starting for 25 games that he could have featured in.

It hasn’t been a good off-season for LSU fans in terms of juniors decided to go to the draft, with star wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, star redshirt sophomore running back Jeremy Hill, and Collins’ cohort on the offensive line, Trai Turner, deciding that it would be time to go pro.

On the defensive side, defensive tackles Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson both opted to go pro.

BOTTOM LINE: Collins’ decision is going to keep LSU’s inexperienced offensive line intact for the 2014 season, which will help starting running back [Add name here] and starting quarterback, projected to be Anthony Jennings. With the wide receiving talent going pro, LSU’s going to be depending a lot on the rush.

Georgia hires FSU DC

Georgia has hired Florida State defensive co-ordinator Jeremy Pruitt in a blockbuster deal.

Pruitt – who only a few days ago lifted the last-ever BCS Championship with the Seminoles – said:  “This is an outstanding professional and personal opportunity. I’m looking forward to meeting the current players and getting on the road to visit with recruits.

Florida State was best in the nation at scoring defense, third in least total yards per game given up, and second in turnovers (gained).

OnlineAthens.com noted that Pruitt also worked under Nick Saban, and runs a 3-4 defensive scheme…..like Grantham. Georgia fans will be hoping that they turn out better than Grantham’s defense of 2013 which – although young – struggled to keep up with the SEC.

Gene Stallings, who was head coach at Alabama when Pruitt played there, told Online Athens:  “He was a quality, quality individual. I think they’re getting a good man, I really do. I’m sure he’s very knowledgeable about what he’s going to be working with. Most of my guys were pretty knowledgeable about football. I was into techniques a whole lot more than I was schemes. If you’re looking for a good football coach, you better be a good technique coach and I think Jeremy will do an excellent job at techniques.

The vacancy became open when DC Todd Grantham left to Louisville on a 5-year, $1m-per-year deal. Pruitt is currently earning over $500,000 at Florida State, OnlineAthens said.

The reaction from UGA fans has been stunned. “Wow”, said Michael Ruppersburg, while Wick Cauthorn added: “This is really going to help recruiting”.

BOTTOM LINE: Grantham’s defenses have been accused by UGA fans as underperforming for the talent that they had, and Bulldogs fans will be hoping that Pruitt changes that mentality. Sanford Stadium can be a tough place to play when things go wrong.

 

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