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SEC Headlines 2/21/2014

headlines-fri-150x150Hurry-Up Offenses & Proposed Rule Change

1. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier calls proposal “Saban rule.”  Tells USA Today - ”It’s ridiculous. Let’s let everybody keep playing the way they’ve been playing.”

2. Georgia coach Mark Richt: “I feel like if you can train offensive players to play five or six plays in a row, you can train defensive players to play that many plays in a row, too.”

3. Kevin Scarbinsky on comments by Arkansas coach Bret Bielema (earlier story here): “Bielema was wrong on so many levels… He actually made a case to ban the sport of football entirely.”

SEC Football

4. Mark Richt on the Josh Harvey-Clemons dismissal: “Guys understand that there are certain rules everybody needs to abide by and if they don’t they could possibly lose their privilege to play at Georgia.”

5. With the exception of offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, every Georgia coach will have some special teams responsibility.

6. That includes new inside linebackers coach Mike Ekeler who is fired up to be in Athens. “They’re gonna have to take me out of here at gunpoint.”

7. Arkansas has hired Clay Jennings from TCU to coach defensive backs.

8. Tennessee defensive lineman Danny O’Brien gets community service in exchange for having charges related to possessing a fake ID, resisting arrest and underage drinking dropped.

9. Alabama is suing former wide receivers coach Mike Groh for breaching his employment contract – claims he owes the school $57,000.

10. ESPN’s Chris Low takes a stab at the top-5 offensive linemen in the SEC heading into the 2014 season.

11. With Michael Sam and Kony Ealy off to the NFL, how does Missouri’s defensive line shape up for 2014?

12. A look back at Florida’s loaded 2007 recruiting class that included Cam Newton and here’s a review of Nick Saban’s first full signing class in 2008.

SEC/NFL 

13. Tom Brady to Johnny Manziel: “Ignore the noise.” Johnny’s official measurements - 5’11 and ¾ inches, 207 pounds –  but he has big hands.

14. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock on Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy: “He hustles, plays hard, has some natural edge ability and, in today’s NFL, that all adds up to a first-round pick for me.” Mel Kiper:  “Ealy is a guy, had he gone back, would have been a much higher pick…”

15. Likeliest first round picks from LSU are wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry

16. One take on former Georgia running back  Isaiah Crowell who’s entering the draft after his junior year at Alabama State – “extremely immature and has a history of off-field issues. Can be difficult to coach.”

SEC Basketball

17. With a win over Ole Miss Saturday, Florida will win its 19th straight and potentially vault to No. 1 in the polls.

18. Florida center Patric Young apologizes for calling Boston College “awful.”

19. Time to be optimistic or pessimistic on Auburn basketball?  Tony Barbee has a chance at his first winning season.

Headline of the day

20. Vomiting from car window, Oklahoma man hits head on mailbox.

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SEC Headlines 9/6/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Kentucky has a new starting quarterback this week against Miami of Ohio.  Max Smith replacing Jalen Whitlow.

2. What do teammates think of Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, who’ll make his 2013 debut Saturday?  ”Josh may be the most physical defensive back we have.”

3. “I don’t know that Georgia would have beaten Clemson with Harvey-Clemons, but it’s not a crazy thought.”

4. Is South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw the key to the game? “His legs were the difference (last year)…and if Georgia lets him do that again, it will lose again.”

5. When Florida plays Miami Saturday, it will be an emotional homecoming for Gators wide receiver and Miami native Quinton Dunbar.

6. Matt Hayes on the sellout in Miami: “Florida only received 12,500 tickets, which means more than 60,000 Canes fans might just make Sun Life feel like the Old Lady Orange Bowl of years past. ”

7. Home-opener for LSU this weekend against UAB.  Quarterback Zach Mettenberger: “It’s huge; I love playing in that stadium, love being in that environment.”

8. Arkansas fullback Kiero Small logged about 50 snaps last week - most in his Razorbacks career.

9. How many times has Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott watched the replay of his 75-yard touchdown run against Vanderbilt?“Probably close to 100 times, maybe.”

10. South Carolina sophomore safety T.J. Gurley is a Georgia native and will get the start against his home-state team Saturday.

11. New England quarterback Tom Brady’s message to Johnny Manziel? “So when you look across the ball you have respect for those guys, and you treat them with respect because football’s a physical game.”

12. Alabama is off this week – work has started on next week’s Texas A&M game.

13. Five true freshmen saw action for Auburn last week – even more could play against Arkansas State.

14. Alabama writer picks Arkansas State to beat the Tigers.

15. Missouri opens the season with four straight non-conference games. “Missouri’s schedule is perfect for a team looking to build momentum and create an identity.”

16. Austin Peay game for Vanderbilt part of “what the numbers indicate is by far the weakest nonconference schedule in the SEC.”

SEC Player Injuries/Suspensions

17. Alabama redshirt freshman defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson will have surgery on his knee after injuring it in practice.

18. Who will replace the injured Devrin Young in the return game for Tennessee?  ”We’ve got a number of guys that we feel very confident with…”

19. Dak Prescott will get the start at quarterback in place of the injured Tyler Russell for Mississippi State but the offensive scheme remains the same.

20. Arkansas safety Rohan Gaines will be a game-time decision.

21. What’s the status of LSU running back Jeremy Hill? “Looming return…which could very well happen this week…”

22. Jeremy Fowler on an all-violation of team rules squad: “Florida and A&M had a combined 11 players suspended last week..”

SEC/College News

23. NCAA subcommittee discussing the idea of an early signing period in college football.  Growing trend of early commitments.

24. NCAA wants to be more like the United Nations.

25. Should it really be up to the NCAA to decide on hardship waivers?

26. After Notre Dame got blown out by Alabama, coach Brian Kelly turned to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick for advice.

27. 80-year former coach Don James hospitalized.

SEC Basketball

28. Vanderbilt releases their full schedule for 2013-2014.

29. Missouri freshman forward Jonathan Williams showed up to campus weighing less than 200 pounds. He’s now up to 218.

30. Antonio Barton is a better fit in Cuonzo Martin’s system at Tennessee than former point-guard Trae Golden.

Media

31. Following his seven-touchdown performance, Peyton Manning has a future – as a sports broadcaster.  ”I would think all the networks would be tripping over each other if Peyton Manning wanted to do this.”

Extra

32. Is that Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin imitating his quarterback?

 

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Auburn Hires Loeffler As New OC

Auburn has hired former Florida quarterbacks coach and current Temple offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler as the man to replace Gus Malzahn.  He did great things with the Owls run game last year (they were seventh in the nation) and his pre-Temple resume features work with a number of top college quarterbacks: Tim Tebow, Chad Henne, Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Drew Henson and John Navarre.

Still, AU fans didn’t go into the coordinator search with Loeffler’s name on their tip of their lips.  There are questions today as to what changes he will make to Malzhan’s hundred-mile-an-hour spread system.

“Scot is a rising star whao has worked with some very good quarterbacks, has achieved a tremendous amount of success,” Gene Chizik said via statement.  “He is a tireless worker, is an outstanding recruiter and knows the rigors of competing in this conference.”

After a lengthy stint at Michigan — look at that quaterbacks list again — Loeffler joined Urban Meyer’s Florida staff for the 2009 and 2010 seasons.  In 2009, he was Tebow’s position coach… when Superman rolled up a 164.17 passer rating. 

Meyer’s offense was a spread offense, but it differed from Malzahn’s.  Still, it’s likely Auburn will remain a run-first team and now they have an experienced quarterbacks coach to coax the maximum from Clint Moseley, Kiehl Frazier and newcomer Zeke Pike.

Auburn recruit JaQuay Williams said last week that Chizik had told him the Tigers would still be a spread team (three- and four-receiver sets) with a bit more pro-style added to the mix.  Loeffler seems like a good fit to create that blend.

“Auburn is one of the special jobs and special places in college athletics with a tremendous amount of history and tradition,” Loeffler said of his new home.  “I’m excited to get started and look forward to beginning recruiting, meeting the players and staff, and interacting with the Auburn family.”

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Weis Working On Brantley’s Mind At UF

New Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is considered a quarterback guru.  He’s turned passers like Tom Brady, Matt Cassell, Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen into stat kings and/or winners.  And Gator fans are hoping he can do the same with John Brantley.

The senior’s confidence likely took a serious hit as he and the rest of UF’s offense stumbled and bungled its way to an 8-5 record last season.  But gone is Urban Meyer’s spread — a horrible fit for Brantley — and in has Weis’ pro-style attack. 

The new coach’s first order of business?  Getting inside his quarterback’s head:


“Without them taking on my personality, I try to make them think more like I do.  How to take over the team.  How to run the huddle.  How to be authoritative.  How to manage the team.  How to build relationships with all the players on the team.

There’s a lot to being a quarterback.  There’s a lot more than throwing fade routes in the red zone.”


So far, so good.  Brantley’s wideouts — Andre Debose and Frankie Hammond Jr. — both talked up their QB to FoxSports.com’s Scott Carter.

Unfortunately for Brantley, Debose and Hammond have yet to live up to their own expectations.  And the same can be said for most of the offensive skill players in Gainesville.

All eyes will be on Brantley this fall to see if Weis can lead yet another signal-caller to success.  But if Brantley does succeed, Weis will have done some good work with those around him, too.

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Expect Weis To Break Brantley In Slowly… As He Did Brady

Just two years ago, CBS analyst Gary Danielson — one of the best in the business, by the way — ranked John Brantley among the top five quarterbacks in the SEC.  That was while Brantley was still serving as Tim Tebow’s backup.

Needless to say, Brantley failed to live up to the hype last season.  Part of the blame for that disappointment should go to a coaching staff that couldn’t or wouldn’t adjust its offense as it had years earlier for Chris Leak.  Part of the blame should also go to a set of skill players who fell just as short of their recruiting rankings as Brantley did.  And a chunk of the blame goes on the QB himself.

With quarterback wiz Charlie Weis now in Gainesville, one of the questions I’ve been asked most by radio hosts across the South is: “Will Weis fix Brantley?”

My answer: “Yes.  Eventually.” 

But for those expecting Weis to use Brantley as he used Brady Quinn back in 2005 at Notre Dame, you might be disappointed.

Weis loves the passing game and when he arrived in South Bend he immediately started slinging the ball around the hallowed ground of Notre Dame Stadium.  Quinn threw 97 more passes in his junior year under Weis than he did in his sophomore year under Ty Willingham.

All told, Weis called on Quinn to throw the ball 450 times over the course of Notre Dame’s 12-game season.  That’s a whopping 37.5 attempts per game.  But Quinn already had two years of starts under his belt by that point.  He’d already thrown 685 passes in his career before Weis got his hands on him.  In other words, Quinn could handle more weight being put on his strong right shoulder.

Florida’s new offensive coordinator didn’t inherit that kind of experienced signal-caller in Gainesville.  Brantley’s lone season as a starter resulted in just 329 pass attempts, five losses, numerous boos, and a career’s worth of bad memories.  Now he’s having to learn a new system (albeit one that should be much better suited to his skills).

Weis’ Irish teams usually attempted around 450 passes per season.  The exception was 2007 when Notre Dame was breaking in a new starter in Jimmy Clausen.  Toss in a Clausen injury and Weis’ team threw only 389 passes that season, far off the coach’s usual pace.

For an even better example of what we at MrSEC.com expect Weis to do with Brantley this fall, we suggest you think of Tom Brady.  No, not 2010 NFL MVP Tom Brady, but 2001 backup-turned-starter Tom Brady.

People forget that Brady was for the most part a clutch caretaker during New England’s first Super Bowl run.  He didn’t carry the Patriots’ offense as he has the past few seasons in Foxboro.  Instead, he managed it and — when necessary — he pulled off some late-game magic.

By the numbers, Brady threw 500 passes in the 17 games he started in 2001 (29.4 attempts per start or about eight fewer per game than Quinn in his first year under Weis).  Brady threw 25 or fewer passes in six games that year.  But four of those six under-25-attempt games came in his first seven starts.  In his final 10 starts of the year, Brady threw fewer than 25 passes only twice. 

Unlike with the experienced Quinn at Notre Dame, Weis took his time to break-in the less experienced Brady at New England.

Something else to consider: Like Florida, New England lacked a workhorse back in 2001.  The Patriots of that season relied on trick plays — end-arounds, reverses, double-reverses, flea-flickers, and direct snaps to backs — to keep defenses on their toes and off of Brady.

Patriot wide receivers Troy Brown and David Patten combined for 16 rushing attempts that season.  That might seem like a small number to Florida fans used to seeing Urban Meyer’s spread offense, but for 2001 professional football, Weis was using over-the-top gimmickry.


At this point, no one knows what exactly to expect from Weis’ first Florida offense or his quarterback, but here’s guessing Florida’s ’11 offense will look somewhat similar to New England’s ’01 offense:


1.  A safe passing game that doesn’t call on the quarterback to have to carry the team in the early weeks.

2.  A running back by rotation.

3.  And numerous gimmick plays utilizing the team’s speedsters (Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey) to keep defenses off balance.


Obviously, if the Gators find themselves behind in games, Weis will have to let his QB put the ball in the air more often.  But if the Gator defense lives up to expectations, we look for Weis to gradually break Brantley into the offense just as he did with Brady a decade ago. 

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Muschamp Explains Weis Hire. Again. And Again.

It’s mid-May and Will Muschamp is still having to answer questions about why he chose Charlie Weis — long of the NFL and briefly of Notre Dame — to run his offense at Florida.

“The track record speaks for itself,” the coach said last week in Tampa.  “From a play-calling standpoint, a developer of quarterbacks; Matt Cassel, Tom Brady, four Super Bowl rings and 16 years of NFL experience speaks for itself.”

Yes, it does.  Weis might not have succeeded as a head coach in South Bend, but he has succeeded at just about every stop as an offensive coordinator.  In addition, Muschamp says he and Weis share many beliefs when it comes to offensive attacks.

“Philosophically, he and I are on the same page with what we want to do.  We want to be balanced on offense.  You have to be able to run the football to win games in our league consistently.  You can’t be a one-dimensional team in our league and survive the season.”

It’s interesting that of Muschamp’s two ex-NFL coordinator hires, Weis is getting more scrutiny than less-heralded D-coordinator Dan Quinn.  That wouldn’t have anything to do with the surly demeanor Weis often displays with reporters would it?

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UGA’s Murray Wants To Be Brady, Not Marino

Aaron Murray put up some remarkable numbers as a redshirt freshman quarterback last year.  And the Georgia QB did it with both his arm and his legs.  For that reason, he’s viewed by many as the next “can’t miss” quarterback in the SEC.

But Murray says he isn’t worried about stats, just wins.

“I think the (success of) quarterbacks aren’t determined by touchdowns or interceptions… the greatness of them is how many championships they win,” Murray told The Macon Telegraph.  “You look at guys like Dan Marino compared to Tom Brady, (Marino’s) one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but no rings.  All that matters is how many championships you’ve got.  That’s all I care about.”

Gotta wonder what Marino thinks everytime he’s used as the poster boy for never winning a title.

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