Friday, December 30, 2011

Georgia RB Has Made His College Decision

Many a college football coach has frequented the halls of Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Georgia this past college football recruiting cycle to pay a visit to Running Back Mike Davis. Well yesterday, Davis let out via a tweet that he has made up his mind on where he will play his college football. Per Phil Kornblut, Davis says, “He chose his university because it is close to home and a good fit for him.”

The younger brother of former Clemson running back, James Davis, has already made official visits to Tennessee (Dec. 3rd) and Florida State (Dec. 16th). Even though his decision is made, the Georgia native plans to use his full allotment of five official visits in the month of January: South Carolina (Jan. 13th), Georgia (Jan. 20th) and Clemson (Jan. 27th)
Davis was a Florida commitment until early December of this year when he de-committed from the Gators. The former Gators commitment says only his mother and older brother are aware of his college decision. Davis will not announce a public decision until National Signing Day, Wednesday February 1, 2012.

SPURspective’s Prediction: South Carolina

Newly “minted” Defensive Coordinator, Lorenzo Ward, has been cultivating the relationships at Stephenson HS for over three years now and this year he will reap quite a recruiting haul for the Gamecocks. Ward was one of the only recruiters to continuously maintain contact with Davis during his commitment with Florida and that is why Ward’s persistence with Davis will benefit USC on National Signing Day.

The new job title Ward now carries with him at USC will only enhance his recruiting prowess in the Atlanta Metro area in the upcoming years. There is a reason Spurrier wanted to keep Ward on his staff and continuing to “mine” Georgia’s state capital for high school football talent is a very big reason why Ward was elevated to defensive coordinator position. With Ward’s new responsibilities, he will recruit much less on the road but when he does recruit, USC’s new defensive coordinator will reach across the border and pluck talent from the fertile recruiting grounds of the Peach state.

Go Gamecocks!

South Carolina Versus Nebraska: Numbers Crunch

In a little more than 72 hours, the University of South Carolina Gamecocks will take the field against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. USC will be coming off almost a 37-day layoff since hammering in-state rival Clemson 34-13 at Williams-Brice Stadium, while Carolina’s opponent, Nebraska last played nearly 38 days ago when the Cornhuskers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes 20-7. Nebraska enters the Capital One Bowl with a 9-3 (5-3 Big Ten record) overall record and losers of two of their final four games. There are some interesting themes in three of Nebraska’s losses this season. Let’s take a look at some statistics involving Nebraska’s three setbacks this season where the Gamecocks might look to exploit on offense.

→ 4 Mobile Quarterbacks accounted for Nebraska’s three losses. Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson and a combination of Northwestern’s Dan Persa/Kain Colter gave the black shirts defense all kinds of fits trying to contain the four quarterbacks in the pocket.
*Nebraska did defeat Ohio State, who was quarterbacked by freshman Braxton Miller. Miller is a mobile quarterback.

→ 50-plus opponent’s rush attempts were the critical statistic in all three Cornhusker defeats. Northwestern had 54 rush attempts. Wisconsin rushed the football 50 times and Michigan galloped 61 times on the ground against Nebraska.

→ 200-plus yards rushing is the objective against Nebraska’s Rush Defense, which ranks 67th in FBS, allowing 162 yards rushing. In each of the three losses, the opponents eclipsed more than 200 yards.

→ 70 percent run-to-pass ratio spells doom for Nebraska. Now this is not rocket science – if a team is running the ball seven out of ten times you guess that that team is winning or will win the game. Michigan, Northwestern and Wisconsin all were very run heavy (70% or greater) against Nebraska’s defense.

→ 20-plus yard plays allowed by Nebraska’s defense in their losses. In Nebraska’s nine wins this season, the Cornhuskers surrendered 28 plays that exceeded 20 yards or more. In the three losses, the black shirts defense yielded 15 20-plus plays against Northwestern, Michigan and Wisconsin. 33 percent (five of 15) of the big plays went for touchdowns!

→The quarterback position must average at least 78 yards rushing against Nebraska. Four quarterbacks tallied 235 yards rushing against the Cornhuskers in the three losses. Braxton Miller, Ohio State, rushed for 95 yards on 10 rushes in a loss.

→ 232 yards passing was the average amount surrendered by the Cornhuskers defense in their three losses. Nebraska ranks 18th in Pass Defense in the FBS; yielding only 189 passing yards per game.

→ Dual-threat quarterbacks (run/pass) presented NU with difficult match-ups. In the three losses, the opposing quarterbacks amassed at least 310 total yards of offense against Nebraska.

→ 400-plus total yards of offense is the common denominator of success against NU’s defense. In the three losses Nebraska gave up 457 total yards of offense on average.

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 SEC Football Schedule: South Carolina

The much-anticipated 2012 SEC football schedule has been released, and the USC Athletics Department must not have too many influential friends in Birmingham because next year’s slate is not a prelude to a trip to the Georgia Dome in early December! The Gamecocks have murders row in the month of October!

This year’s schedule, for all intents and purposes, is a hasty, last-minute hodgepodge of a schedule to include two new conference members, Texas A&M and Missouri. The SEC 2012 football schedule is not an indictment on future schedules, as the league continues to debate whether to play a nine-game league schedule or stick with the eight-game schedule (6-1-1 format), where each team plays six divisional games, one permanent team from the opposite Division and one rotating member from the opposite division.

Here is the Gamecocks schedule in 2012:

August 30th - @ Vanderbilt (Thursday/ESPN)
September 8th – BYE or East Carolina
September 15th – UAB
September 22nd – Missouri
September 29th – @ Kentucky
October 6th – Georgia
October 13th - @ LSU
October 20th – @ Florida
October 27th - Tennessee
November 3rd – BYE or East Carolina
November 10th – Arkansas
November 17th – Wofford
November 24th - @ Clemson

East Carolina date and time TBD.

Go Gamecocks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Defensive Coordinator Hired at USC

Per The Big Spur and AM-1400 The Team, Steve Spurrier has announced that Lorenzo Ward has been promoted to the Defensive Coordinator position replacing Ellis Johnson. Ward just finished his third year as Secondary Coach. Prior to joining USC, he served one-year stints at Arkansas and in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders. Prior to Oakland, he spent seven seasons at Virginia Tech working under Bud Foster, coaching the Secondary. Now that Spurrier has hired a DC, look for him to hire a Linebackers Coach, as well as a Running Backs Coach.

Congratulations to Lorenzo Ward!

Go Gamecocks!

Monday, December 26, 2011

To Play or Not to Play: The Kyle Nunn Decision is Made

According to the TheBigSpur, redshirt senior Kyle Nunn has decided to play in South Carolina's bowl game on January 2nd against Nebraska. The Sumter native had been weighing a decision to either play in the bowl game or skip the bowl game and apply for a medical redshirt. The probability of Nunn succeeding in being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA was slim to none. With Nunn's decision made, the senior offensive tackle will at least be guaranteed one more game in a Carolina jersey. Nunn's decision to play will be a welcome addition to USC Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach Shawn Elliott as well as to the overall scholarship numbers for the 2012 calendar year. Nunn began practicing with the team for the first time, since pre-Vanderbilt game on October 24th, last Thursday (two-a-days), Friday (prior to Christmas) and will resume practice in Orlando leading up to the Capital One Bowl next Monday against the Cornhuskers.

Good luck to Kyle Nunn!

Go Gamecocks!

Tennessee Running Back in Contact With USC

An interesting article appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper on Saturday December 24th regarding an Ole Miss commitment that apparently is still talking to four SEC schools, including South Carolina. I’Tavius Mathers is the second known running back target, along with Stephenson High School’s Mike Davis in Stone Mountain, Ga. that the Gamecocks are actively recruiting for the 2012 recruiting class.

According to Barton Simmons, a national recruiting analyst for 247 Sports, “South Carolina probably would be the next school that’s kind of got the best shot at him and Vanderbilt has stayed very much in the mix as well,” Simmons said.

Here is a link to the article in its entirety.

Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Former Ron Zook Assistant Pops Up On USC Radar

Per Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network, Illinois running backs coach DeAndre Smith has expressed interest in the running backs coach job at USC. Smith confirmed his interest in the position Thursday and hopes to talk with Steve Spurrier in the near future. Through his former head coach, Ron Zook, at Illinois and ex-Gators assistant coach under Spurrier, Zook spoke on behalf of Smith to Spurrier last week regarding the vacant South Carolina RB Coach position.

Smith is on the market with the change in head coaches at Illinois. This is his second season with the Fighting Illini and his 13th in college coaching. He has produced eight 1,000-yard rushers in eleven seasons, including Mikel Leshoure, who last season set an Illinois record with 1,697 yards, leading the Big Ten’s second best rushing attack in league history at more than 256 yards rushing per game.

When Smith was RB Coach at Northern Illinois University last decade, he produced two current NFL running backs: Atlanta’s Michael Turner & Chicago’s Garrett Wolfe.

Smith joins a lengthy list (Texas A&M’s Randy Jordan, Air Force’s Des Kitchings, Wisconsin’s Thomas Hammock and Oregon State’s Chris Brasfield) of potential candidates for Graham’s old position. Graham resigned to become running backs coach at Tennessee.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gamecocks Kyle Nunn Might Play in Bowl Game

Kyle Nunn got some good news today. Doctors have cleared him to play in the Gamecocks bowl game on January 2nd. Nunn suffered an injury against Navy but played the following week versus Vanderbilt. The Sumter native finally succumbed to the injury the week following the Vanderbilt game and prior to the Auburn game on October 1st. A few weeks later the fifth year senior had surgery on his leg to remove a blood clot. Since Nunn's injury, Gamecocks o-line coach Shawn Elliott has mixed and matched several o-line combinations before finally settling on a same starting unit the last three games of the season. If Nunn does decide to play in the bowl game then it becomes a very slim chance he returns for a sixth year due to a medical hardship which he will have to submit paperwork for post-bowl game.
Nunn would bring a welcome sight to quarterback Connor Shaw's blind side along the offensive line and allow senior tackle Rokevious Watkins to shift back to his more normal right tackle position. The fact that Nunn is considering playing in the Capital One Bowl should lend some insight into the belief that USC's coaches are not optimistic that Nunn will be granted a sixth-year of eligibility by the NCAA. It will be a great addition to the o-line if Nunn could play versus Nebraska.

We shall wait and see if the fifth-year senior will suit up for South Carolina on January 2nd. If he begins practicing soon then bank on Nunn being in the starting line-up against Nebraska in Orlando.

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Possible Replacements for Ellis Johnson at USC

Folks, let's wish Ellis Johnson well on his new gig in Hattiesburg!
Before I discuss my candidates to replace Ellis Johnson, let’s take a look at the history of Steve Spurrier hiring defensive coordinators. Spurrier has had to hire eight defensive coordinators in his head coaching career. Spurrier has a history of trying to hire defensive coaches who have given him problems in the past, whether it was at Duke, Florida or South Carolina. Of those eight hires, only once has Spurrier promoted a coach from within the program (2006 Spurrier promoted Tyrone Nix on the USC staff after the one-year debacle of John Thompson and the d-line, stand-up defense failed miserably at the SEC-level) to the defensive coordinator position. So if you are trying to guess who might be atop Spurrier’s list, do not think the obvious, i.e. Ron Zook (Spurrier & Zook did have a conversation recently per 107.5 The Game’s Heath Cline), Randy Shannon or Mike Stoops. Spurrier typically has hired coaches he has not had a prior relationship with in the coaching fraternity. Here is a breakdown of the Steve Spurrier defensive coordinator hires:

→In 1991, Spurrier hired Ron Zook away from Ohio State to be the Defensive Coordinator at Florida. Zook served three years as DC until Spurrier demoted Zook following the 1993 season.

→In 1994, Spurrier hired Tulane’s Bob Pruett after discovering it was difficult to play against Pruett’s Green Wave defenses.

→In 1996, after Bob Pruett left to take over the Marshall University program following the loss to Nebraska, Spurrier hired Kansas State’s Bob Stoops at the behest of his Athletic Director, Jeremy Foley. Foley pointed out to Spurrier that Stoops’ defenses ranked highly in a lot of defensive categories.

→In 1999, after Stoops accepted the Oklahoma job, Spurrier wanted to hire Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster, but Foster “hedged” on committing to Spurrier, so Spurrier instead hired Missouri’s Jon Hoke. Spurrier left Florida after the 2001 football season and accepted the Washington Redskins job in the NFL.

→In 2005, when Spurrier returned to college football to take over at USC, he hired former ECU Head Coach John Thompson to be his defensive coordinator at South Carolina. Thompson was the first coach Spurrier had hired as d-coordinator, who had prior SEC experience as a defensive coordinator.

→In 2006, Spurrier fired John Thompson and promoted Tyrone Nix to defensive coordinator. The only time Spurrier had not gone outside his own program to hire a defensive coordinator.

→In 2008, after Nix was told he was being demoted from d-coordinator, Spurrier hired former Georgia defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, who was on Bobby Petrino’s staff in Atlanta.

→Later in 2008, VanGorder is on the job for almost one month, when he is offered a job to stay on the Falcons staff as defensive coordinator with new head coach and friend Mike Smith, who came up from the Jacksonville Jaguars.

→Spurrier calls Ellis Johnson and offers him the d-coordinator job at USC. Johnson accepts the job offer after just committing to Petrino at Arkansas one month prior. Johnson had no ties to Spurrier but ties to the Palmetto State.

Remember the last couple of USC hires came from lesser-known schools; Shawn Elliott (App St), Jay Graham (Miami of Ohio), and G.A. Mangus (Middle Tennessee State), while Lorenzo Ward came from Arkansas via Ellis Johnson's recommendation. Eric Wolford came from Illinois because of his relations with Spurrier Jr. at Arizona. Safeties Coach Jeep Hunter and Spur/Special Teams Coach John Butler had zero ties to anyone on staff when Spurrier hired them. Craig Fitzgerald was hired back in 2009 from Harvard at the advisement of the owner of Under Armour, which outfits USC Athletics teams.

There will be plenty of applicants, but don't buy the Mike Stoops (possibly headed to Texas A&M or rejoin brother, Bob, at Oklahoma) or Randy Shannon (There is a reason this guy has not landed a job with several openings at big time BCS-level schools) hype! Some of these names I have listed below are not sexy candidates but their results on the field definitely qualify them for consideration to replace Ellis Johnson. Think outside the box USC fans because history demonstrates that SOS certainly does!

Here is SPURspective’s list of potential candidates:

1. Manny Diaz (Texas D-Coordinator/Texas 15th ranked defense in 2011) ---
“Pipe dream” probably but at least make a call and gauge Diaz' interest. You might have to back the money truck onto the front porch and say, "name your price", but if South Carolina wants to play big boy football (SEC) then Hyman and the administration are going to have to ante up with the money to pay a high-profile coach. Diaz has experience in the SEC, coaching for one year at Mississippi State under Dan Mullen in 2010. Diaz spent six seasons at N.C. State where he coached linebackers and the Secondary, so he has ties to the Eastern seaboard in regards to recruiting. He also has cut his teeth at the college ranks coaching linebackers and has a connection with a current member of Steve Spurrier’s staff. Quarterbacks Coach G.A. Mangus & Manny Diaz coached together at Middle Tennessee State from 2006-2008 prior to Mangus leaving for USC early in 2009.

2. Bob Shoop (Vanderbilt D-Coordinator/19th ranked defense in FBS) ---
Vanderbilt's defense has always given Spurrier problems and this year was no different, as Shoop’s defense only allowed two offensive touchdowns to USC. Shoop developed strong defenses at the FCS level, William & Mary, where in the last two years at William & Mary Shoop’s defense allowed slightly more than 14 points/game. Prior to joining the staff at William & Mary, Shoop coached at UMass, he was the Head Coach at Columbia University and Secondary Coach at Boston College. Shoop headed up Vanderbilt’s defense this year during James Franklin's first season and directed the Commodores defense to a top 20 unit. The Commodores forced 27 turnovers (17 INTs), a top 25 rushing defense and a top 30 scoring defense yielding slightly less than 21 points/game.

3. Chuck Heater (Temple D-Coordinator/12th ranked defense in FBS) ---
Coached at Florida, 2005-2010, with Urban Meyer and was the Recruiting Coordinator when UF signed stellar classes in 2006 & 2007. Heater followed Adazio to Temple where the Owls had the 12th ranked defense in FBS in Heater’s first season as Defensive Coordinator. Heater has coached in the SEC and has Florida recruiting ties. His defenses registered 33 sacks this season ranking in the Top 25 in that category. Temple’s defense also ranked 3rd in the FBS for Scoring Defense behind Alabama & LSU. Under Heater’s guidance, the Owls only allowed slightly less than two touchdowns per game.

4. Scott Larkee (Harvard D-Coordinator/23rd ranked defense in FCS) ---
Larkee took over the defensive coordinator & linebacker’s job in 2009. Larkee coached with Craig Fitzgerald, USC’s Strength & Conditioning Coach, for two years at Harvard. Larkee recruits the Northeast (New Jersey & Pennsylvania) so he would bring another presence to an area of the country where USC is becoming more prevalent in regards to recruiting. Harvard's defense was ranked 23rd in FCS this season and was a top five Scoring Defense allowing 17 points/game, a top five rushing defense and forced 25 turnovers. He just completed his fifth season at Harvard.

5. Lorenzo Ward (Defensive Coordinator USC/4th ranked defense in FBS) ---
Ward followed Johnson to USC via Arkansas back in 2009. Prior to coming to South Carolina, Ward coached the Secondary for one year at Arkansas, coached one year, 2006, in the NFL at Oakland and coached the Secondary for seven seasons at Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer. IMHO, let the Capital One Bowl be Ward's audition for the job. Let's see how Ward makes "in-game" adjustments and develops a game plan for the entire defense instead of exclusively for the Secondary. Remember, Ward provided Ellis Johnson with Secondary defensive schemes for an opponent but Johnson was the game day manager of the defense. Ward is a great recruiter and has really established ties to the Atlanta Metro area for South Carolina especially at Stephenson HS in Stone Mountain, GA where they produce plenty of D-1 athletes on an annual basis. Ward is under a three-year contract with USC that expires at the end of this season.

6. Vic Koenning (former Defensive Coordinator at Illinois/7th ranked defense in FBS) ---
Koenning led Illinois to the 7th ranked defense in FBS this past season. He is headed to Chapel Hill to become new Head Coach Larry Fedora’s Defensive Coordinator, but if Spurrier called him to gauge his interest, I bet Koenning would not mind the opportunity of sticking it to Clemson on an annual basis! Koenning coached at Clemson from 2005-2008 before Dabo Swinney relieved Koenning of his coaching responsibilities. Koenning has been a d-coordinator at Troy, Wyoming, Clemson and Kansas State and has fielded quality defenses at each university. Koenning has been at Illinois the last three seasons where the Illini have fielded Top 25 defenses the last couple of years.

7. Mel Tucker (current Interim Head Coach Jacksonville Jaguars):
Tucker was elevated to the Interim Head Coach from the Defensive Coordinator position after Head Coach Jack Del Rio was fired. Tucker has engineered the 12th best defense in the NFL this season with the Jaguars. Jacksonville is the 4th best Scoring Defense in the NFL giving up less than 21 points/game. The Jaguars have the 4th best Pass Defense in the NFL surrendering only 197 yards/game while the Rush Defense is ranked 14th best in the NFL yielding only 110 yards/game. Tucker is a Nick Saban disciple having coached under Saban at Michigan State and LSU. Tucker also coached at Ohio State under Jim Tressel earlier last decade before accepting a job in the NFL in 2005.

8. Sal Sunseri (Alabama Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers Coach):
Sunseri just completed his third season at Alabama, where he has assisted Nick Saban with the architecture of the best defense statistically in the FBS. Sunseri has the pleasure of coaching his son who was a freshman at Alabama this season. Before going to Tuscaloosa, Sunseri was the d-line coach for the Carolina Panthers. In seven seasons with the Panthers, Carolina’s defense was a top 10 defense in four of those seven years in fewest yards allowed. He also coached six All-Pro d-linemen in his seven seasons in Charlotte. Prior to Sunseri’s stint in the Queen City, he was on the Michigan State staff with current USC d-line coach Brad Lawing in 2001 where Sunseri coached linebackers.

These names are just names I researched. What do you think?

BTW, both South Carolina and Nebraska have lost their Defensive Coordinators to non-BCS schools (head coach positions) leading up to the Capital One Bowl game.

Go Gamecocks!

Former USC & Clemson Coach Joining Johnson at USM

Per 1400-AM The Team in Columbia, Clyde Wren will be joining Ellis Johnson at Southern Mississippi. Wren's title will be Director of Football Operations on Johnson's staff in Hattiesburg, MS.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ellis Johnson will not Coach USC in Capital One Bowl

Per 107.5 The Game, Ellis Johnson stated in his USM Press Conference that he would not coach the Gamecocks in the January 2nd bowl game in Orlando, FL.

Nebraska Defensive End will Play in Capital One Bowl

Per 107.5 The Game in Columbia, Nebraska coach Bo Pelini says defensive end Eric Martin will play in the Capital One Bowl but face disciplinary action for being ticketed for leaving the scene of an accident.

Source: Ellis Johnson to be Named Southern Mississippi Coach

Per Tyler Cleveland of the Hattiesburg American newspaper, Ellis Johnson will be named the head football coach at the University of Southern Mississippi, a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said late Monday night.
A press conference to announce Johnson could be held as early as today on the Southern Miss campus.
Johnson, who will replace Larry Fedora, comes to Southern Miss from South Carolina, where he has served as defensive coordinator since 2008, and is considered one of the finest defensive minds in the country.
Johnson interviewed last week in Atlanta with the Southern Miss football coaching search committee, and interviewed again Monday afternoon in Hattiesburg with Southern Miss president Martha Saunders.
No contract has been signed, but Johnson and the university had reached an agreement in principle with only the details remaining to be ironed out.
Johnson's coaching career spans 27 seasons, and has featured multiple stops in Mississippi.
The Winnsboro, S.C., native served as defensive coordinator under former Southern Miss coach Curley Hallman in 1988 and 1989 and under Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State from 2004-2007.
He left Starkville to join Steve Spurrier's staff at South Carolina after helping the Bulldogs finish 8-5 and reach the Liberty Bowl in 2007. During his tenure in Columbia, S.C., defenses at South Carolina have consistently ranked in the top 20 in the nation. In 2010, the Gamecocks' 12th-ranked rushing defense helped secure the school's first SEC East title. This past season, 2011, Johnson guided USC's defense to the 4th overall rated defense, 268.92 total yards, in FBS.
Fedora announced two weeks ago his intentions to go to North Carolina after coaching the Golden Eagles in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 24 in Honolulu.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Southern Mississippi Names Ellis Johnson Head Football Coach

Per multiple media outlets, in the next 24 hours University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles will announce South Carolina’s Assistant Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson as the next Head Football Coach in Hattiesburg, MS. Johnson replaces Larry Fedora, who accepted the North Carolina job earlier this month. Johnson and his wife toured the USM facilities this afternoon following the Gamecocks' first of two-a-day practices leading up to January 2nd Capital One Bowl.

Not sure if Johnson will stay on with the team through the bowl game or not? Also no significant names as possible replacements to replace Ellis Johnson.

From everyone in Gamecocks nation congratulations to Coach Ellis Johnson on this significant opportunity in his life. I wish him and his family much success in Hattiesburg and Conference-USA.

Go Gamecocks!

USC Coach on Southern Miss Campus Today

Per Heath Cline of 107.5 The Game, Ellis Johnson is in Hattiesburg, MS today checking out the USM facilities. There has been some Twitter chatter that Johnson has been named the head coach at Southern Miss. Those reports are unconfirmed at this time. USC is conducting its second of two-a-day practices today without its Defensive Coordinator. Johnson remains one of the top two candidates for the Golden Eagles. Johnson was the only candidate for the USM job that was on campus this afternoon.

Stephenson High School RB Visits FSU over the Weekend

Per Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network, RB Mike Davis of Stone Mountain, GA made an official visit to Florida State over the weekend. "It went well," Davis said. "I had a great time with the players. I just enjoyed myself being around the players." Davis met with head coach Jimbo Fisher and the offensive coaches and got a good feel for their plans for him. "I thought they could use me well," he said. "They showed me all the typical stuff. I know the coaching staff well. They showed me a good time." Davis also has taken an official visit to Tennessee. He will visit USC, Clemson and Georgia officially in January. He hasn't talked to Clemson since the Tigers had their in home visit, and he hasn't heard recently from USC. Davis said there is no favorite and he will not announce a decision until Signing Day.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New Southern Mississippi Coaching Candidate "races" to Top of List?

Per Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American newspaper, Murray State University Head Football Coach, Chris Hatcher, is surging to the top of USM's coaching list. Hatcher, Racers Head Coach since December 2009 & compiled a 13-11 record in two seasons, was a candidate for the USM job back in 2007 before Larry Fedora was named Head Coach of the Golden Eagles. Magee states that Hatcher, current USM Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson and South Carolina Assistant Head Coach & Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson are all viable candidates to replace Fedora. Magee says that USM officials could have a decision by early this week on a new head football coach of the Golden Eagles football program.

Friday, December 16, 2011

South Carolina Football Recruiting Board

National Signing Day is seven weeks away (Wednesday, February 1st), and the South Carolina Gamecocks coaching staff is trying to secure the last pieces of the 2012 USC Signing class. Carolina currently has 20 verbal commitments. Four of the verbal commitments plan to enroll early for January 2012 classes. The four players are Brock Stadnik (OL), Clayton Stadnik (OL), Jerrell Adams (TE) and Kelvin Rainey (TE). As of right now, the Gamecocks have 16 scholarships open (I included the two transfers, Mattox & Addison, as well as Kyle Nunn (OL), who probably will not be granted a sixth year of eligibility, along with 14 graduating seniors). Now there is speculation more attrition (possibly RBs Eric Baker & Kenny Miles) will occur post-Capital One Bowl. When the season ended, USC had 84 players on scholarship (one under the limit of 85). Once the Capital One Bowl completes then USC will have 68 players on scholarship. USC is anticipating bringing in at least 23-24 signees on Signing Day. There will be a numbers crunch unless more players decide to pursue football futures outside of Columbia in 2012. It will be interesting to see how Steve Spurrier, Jr. orchestrates the final few scholarship slots for the 2012 recruiting class with extremely little wiggle room.

Here are the final few prospects that bear watching for Gamecocks fans on South Carolina’s Football Recruiting Board:

Cornerback Chaz Elder (Banneker HS, Atlanta, GA): Chaz Elder almost pulled the trigger for USC back in August but held off because he wanted to take visits. Elder has visited USC and Georgia so far with expected trips to Vanderbilt and Arkansas. His favorite school is South Carolina followed by UGA and Vanderbilt. Elder says he will make his announcement at the Under-Armour All-American Game in early January. Elder is a three-star prospect, per 247sports, and is recruited by Lorenzo Ward.
Prediction: South Carolina

Safety Elijah Shumate (Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey, NJ): Elijah Shumate is a big target on the board for USC. He is friends with USC commit Kaiwan Lewis, as well as USC freshman Sheldon Royster. Shumate has never stated a favorite but it is perceived that USC and Rutgers sit atop his list of college choices. The Garden State native visited Carolina for the Florida game and the experience only cemented the Gamecocks in his top tier. Shumate has already visited USC and Rutgers (top two choices) and plans to visit Notre Dame (Dec. 16th), Oklahoma and Georgia Tech. Shumate has stated that he plans to announce his decision at the Army All-American Game in early January. He is a four-star prospect, per 247sports, and is recruited by G.A. Mangus.
Prediction: South Carolina

Spur Jordan Diggs (Island Coast HS, Cape Coral, FL): Jordan Diggs is a Gamecocks legacy. His father, Shed Diggs, played linebacker for the Gamecocks during the mid-80s. The USC coaching staff has told Diggs that he is the only prospect being recruited to play the Spur position on the Gamecocks defense. The Gamecocks were the presumed leader in the clubhouse, due to Diggs’ family connections to Carolina but up until Jordan Diggs actually stepped foot on campus during the Clemson game for his Official Visit, USC was playing catch-up to a couple of other schools. Diggs has taken all five official visits (Nebraska, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Michigan State and South Carolina). IMHO, it is down to USC (leader), Nebraska and Vanderbilt. Diggs is a four-star prospect per 247sports and is recruited by G.A. Mangus.
Prediction: South Carolina

Defensive End Tyriq McCord (Jefferson HS, Tampa, FL): Tyriq McCord is a hybrid defensive end/linebacker prospect with a lot of high-level BCS programs chasing his signature. McCord plays at the same high school that former Gamecocks quarterback, Stephen Garcia, played. This is shaping up to be a South Carolina/Florida battle with programs like Miami, Southern Cal, TCU and Georgia on the outside looking in at the other two programs. McCord has stated that he will make all five of his official visits before he decides. He has gone on the record that he plans to make a decision at the Army All-American game in early January but that decision could be delayed if he pursues more official visits. McCord visited USC for the Florida game and that official visit cemented the Gamecocks at the top of his list even more firmly. He visited Miami in early December (2nd). He plans to visit UGA (Dec. 16th), Southern Cal (Jan. 13th) and TCU. The fact that he currently does not plan to officially visit Florida does not bode well for the home state Gators. Anytime a big time recruit does not take an official visit to the in-state school, doubt creeps into the minds of coaches and fans into the genuine interest “said recruit” really has in his state university’s football program. McCord has favored the Gamecocks for a while even prior to his official visit back in November, but that lead has only strengthened, as the Gamecocks and Gators went in opposite directions to end the season. Another factor in Carolina’s corner is the fact that McCord is cousins with USC junior d-lineman Aldrick Fordham. If McCord leaves the sunshine state, he is Columbia bound, if he remains in-state, he heads to Gainesville. McCord is a four-star prospect, per 247 sports, and is recruited by G.A. Mangus.
Prediction: South Carolina

Defensive End Jonathan Bullard (Crest HS, Shelby, NC): Jonathan Bullard is a big defensive end that could grow into a defensive tackle down the road. He plays for Coach Mark Barnes at Crest HS. Barnes coached a trio of current Gamecocks players, Travian Robertson, Byron McKnight and Jay Wooten, when he was the head coach at Scotland County HS in Laurinburg, NC. Three teams stand out for Bullard at the moment: Clemson, Florida and South Carolina (in order of perceived preference by the prospect). Bullard is set to reveal his decision next Wednesday, December 21st. It is believed he will choose Clemson, where his good friend Carlos Watkins is already committed to the Tigers, but do not count out the Florida Gators, where his friend and high school teammate Rhaheim Ledbetter is already committed. Also, remember Crest HS sent former All-American LB Brandon Spikes to Florida; he now plays for the New England Patriots. Steve Spurrier is supposed to make an in-home visit with Bullard’s parents today but the visit is not set in stone. Bullard is a four-star prospect, per 247sports, and is recruited by Shawn Elliott.
Prediction: Clemson

Running Back Mike Davis (Stephenson HS, Stone Mountain, GA): Mike Davis recently came back on the recruiting market after de-committing from the Florida Gators, allegedly following UF’s pursuit of five-star running back Keith Marshall, who committed to UGA last week. USC has maintained constant contact with Davis even after he committed to UF. Davis has two high school teammates, Kyle Fleetwood & Carlos Hood, already committed to South Carolina. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson Tigers RB Mike Davis and, yes, the Tigers are heavily involved as of recently. Davis has already officially visited Tennessee (Dec 2nd) and has scheduled visits to FSU (Dec. 16th), USC (Jan. 13th), Clemson (Jan. 20th) and UGA (Jan. 27th). Even though his brother played at Clemson, the sibling is not a slam dunk to wind up in Pickens County---far from it! Florida is out! Davis will not be reconsidering the Gators. UT is a school to watch, and it helps that they have former Gamecocks RB Coach Jay Graham on staff now, but Graham was not Davis’ lead recruiter while at USC. For some unknown reason, UGA does not have strong ties to Stephenson HS, which produces a bunch of D-1 caliber athletes, but never count out UGA, especially if Davis takes an OV (official visit). So that leaves three teams to watch for the Mike Davis sweepstakes: USC, Georgia and UT, possibly Miami, as well (teammate, LB Raphael Kirby, committed to UM). Davis says he will announce close to Signing Day. He is a four-star prospect, per 247sports, and is recruited by Lorenzo Ward.
Prediction: South Carolina

Athlete Chris Moody (Henry County HS, McDonough, GA): Chris Moody is a talented athlete playing quarterback in high school that USC wants to convert into either a Safety or Cornerback at the college level. With USC’s numbers crunch, the Gamecocks have had an “on again off again” relationship with Moody. Early in his recruitment, Moody stated that he wanted to play quarterback in college and that he wasn’t as receptive to the idea of switching sides of the ball and playing defense in college. After South Carolina had two defections in the Secondary this week, the Gamecocks have reengaged Moody and he has been more “open” to the concept of playing defense for USC. The schools involved with Moody are Central Florida, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Indiana, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and USC. Moody made an unofficial visit to USC for the Auburn game and enjoyed his visit. He has set official visits to UCF for Jan. 13th, Vanderbilt on Jan. 20th and would like to visit South Carolina on Jan. 27th, if possible. Moody is a three-star prospect, per 247sports, and is recruited by Lorenzo Ward.
Prediction: Vanderbilt

If two South Carolina coaches, Mangus & Ward, can seal the deal with five of the six prospects listed above then the Gamecocks will “ink”, more than likely, another Top 10 recruiting class in 2012. This class would be another stellar group of prospects stacked behind prior signing day classes (2011, 2010 & 2009) that have turned the tides of Gamecocks fortunes on the football field.

Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sporting News Tabs USC's Ingram to All-American Team

The offseason awards continue to descend upon Melvin Ingram as the native from Hamlet, NC picked up another distinguished acknowledgement from The Sporting News today. Ingram joined some of his freshmen teammates, Clowney & Matulis, who were recognized to the Sporting News' Freshman All-American team yesterday.
The Sporting News is one of only five All-American groups the NCAA uses to determine its consensus All-Americans. Ingram was previously named to the AFCA, Walter Camp and Associated Press first-team squads, making him a consensus 2011 All-American.
The senior defensive end now enters rarified air as a Gamecocks football player becoming the first Gamecock to be considered a consensus All-American since Del Wilkes in 1984 and just the third overall, joining Wilkes and George Rogers (1980).
Ingram led the Gamecocks with 13.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. He also intercepted two passes, was credited with six quarterback hurries and scored three touchdowns, including a 68-yard scamper on a fake punt in the Gamecocks' win at Georgia.

Congratulations #6!!!

Go Gamecocks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Spurrier Jr. Withdraws Name From CCU Consideration

Steve Spurrier Jr. the USC Wide Receivers Coach/Passing Game Coordinator/Recruiting Coordinator has officially taken his name out of the Coastal Carolina University coaching search to replace David Bennett. The man who wears multiple hats at USC was one of the favorites to replace Bennett but in the end the Gamecocks will keep the younger Spurrier on the elder's staff heading into year eight of SOS. Spurrier Jr. earns $250k per year at USC and it was reported that Coastal Carolina would have problems finding a compensation package appealing enough to entice Spurrier Jr. to accept the Chanticleers job. CCU still owes David Bennett multiple years of compensation on a contract already.

Ellis Johnson to Interview for USM Job Thursday

Per Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network , USC assistant head coach for defense Ellis Johnson will meet with Southern Miss officials Thursday in Atlanta to interview for the Golden Eagles head coaching job a source said Wednesday. The school conducted two on campus interviews Tuesday, Southern Miss offensive coordinator Blake Anderson and Louisiana Lafayette offensive coordinator Jay Johnson, a former assistant at USM.

According to Southern Miss beat writer Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American, Johnson and Anderson have emerged as the top two candidates from more than 300 coaches who expressed interest in the job.

Alabama Contacts South Carolina Commitment

Per the Atlanta Journal Constitution, here is a story about Lovejoy High School Defensive Back, Rico McWilliams. McWilliams committed to South Carolina back in August over a number of schools. This story was written on December 8th.

Here is the story written by AJC Recruiting Writer, Michael Carvell:

Alabama is flirting with one of Georgia’s best cornerbacks, Lovejoy’s Rico McWilliams. He committed to South Carolina last summer.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pound McWilliams is considered one of the state’s top “cover corners” and has helped lead Lovejoy to the Class AAAA state championship game against Tucker at 8 p.m. Friday. McWilliams has prototype size, speed (4.4 in the 40), and athleticism for the DB position.

Lovejoy coach Al Hughes said he has been contacted by Alabama assistants Kirby Smart and Chris Rumph about his star defender.

“They made an ‘unofficial’ scholarship offer,” Hughes told the AJC. “They’ve want to sign three cornerbacks this year, and he’s one of those three. Alabama said that they know his focus is on the state championship game. They told him to think about things, and after the playoffs are over, they would continue to pursue him if he’s interested.”

McWilliams said, “Coach Smart is a good coach, and he’s really likes me. He said they need more DBs. That’s good and a real honor that they like me. Don’t get me wrong, but right now I’m focused on the state championship and trying to get that ring. I’m not going to really think about anything to do with recruiting until after the state championship game.”

McWilliams said he remains committed to South Carolina.

Two Gamecocks Named to Sporting News Freshman Team

Defensive End Jadeveon Clowney and Offensive Lineman Mike Matulis have been named to the Sporting News Freshman All-American Team.

USC Coach Withdraws Name from CCU Football Coach Search

Per 107.5 The Game, USC Offensive Line Coach/Run Game Coordinator Shawn Elliott has withdrawn his name from the Coastal Carolina head football coaching search.

More details when available!

Go Gamecocks!

Ingram a First Team AP All-American; Allen 2nd Team AP All-American

Per AM-1400 Sports Talk First Edition, senior defensive end Melvin Ingram was named AP All-American First Team by the Associated Press. Ingram's teammate, Antonio Allen, was named to the Associated Press All-American 2nd team.

Congratulations to both players.

Go Gamecocks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gus Malzahn Heads Home to the "Natural State"

Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik must now replace a second coordinator off his Tigers staff on the Plains as Gus Malzahn has accepted the Arkansas State Head Football Coaching position. Malzahn replaces Hugh Freeze who left to become the Head Coach at Ole Miss. Malzahn leaves Auburn after three seasons as Offensive Coordinator & oversaw the Cam Newton show last year as Auburn captured the national championship this past January.
Last week Ted Roof, Defensive Coordinator, left to takeover the defense at UCF.
Also Auburn's leading rusher, Michael Dyer, has been suspended for the bowl game and his return to the team is undecided right now.
They say bad things come in "3's"!

NU Player Cited for Leaving the Scene of an Accident

According to 107.5 The Game, Nebraska Cornhuskers defensive end Eric Martin was cited Sunday for leaving the scene of an accident after allegedly backing his car into a parked vehicle late Saturday night. According to a Lincoln, Neb., police report, Martin backed his car into the bumper of an unoccupied vehicle in a Wal-Mart parking lot at about 11 p.m. local time Saturday.

The police report estimates the damage to the parked vehicle at approximately $2,000, while Martin's car incurred damage of about $500. Leaving the scene of an accident and failing to furnish information is a Class II misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Martin's citation is the second off-field incident involving a Nebraska player during the weekend. Huskers starting center Mike Caputo was cited early Sunday on suspicion of DUI after police allegedly found him slumped over the wheel of a running car.

Martin started two games this season and has 22 tackles, including three for loss and two sacks, as well as a fumble recovery.

Ellis Johnson to Interview at Southern Mississippi

Per 1400-AM The Team, South Carolina Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson is scheduled to interview on Thursday for the vacant Southern Mississippi Head Football Coaching position. Johnson served as the Golden Eagles Defensive Coordinator in the late 80s (1988-89).

USC Freshman Defensive Back Announces Transfer

Per 107.5 The Game, freshman Defensive Back Martay Mattox has decided to transfer from South Carolina. Mattox enrolled early at USC in January 2011 after graduating from Clarke Central HS in Athens, GA. Mattox was listed as a backup cornerback on the Gamecocks roster and participated mostly on Special Teams without recording a tackle this season.

Mattox has not announced where he will continue his playing career.
There will likely be more attrition within the football program, as the Gamecocks are very tight on scholarship numbers with Signing Day 2012 looming in less than two months.

Mattox is the second USC football player to announce a transfer within the past two days. Earlier this week, redshirt sophomore defensive back Corey Addison “tweeted” that he would be leaving Carolina to pursue more playing time elsewhere. Addison recorded three tackles this past season.

Shrine Bowl Week of the Carolina’s: USC Angles

This Saturday, the 75th annual Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas will pit high school football stars from South Carolina against their rivals from North Carolina. The week leading up to the Shrine Bowl is a recruiting smorgasbord, as scouts from recruiting services convene in Spartanburg, SC to evaluate prospects from both states in person. There are several storylines leading up to kickoff of this football game. Here are a few angles from a Gamecock’s spurspective on the Shrine Bowl.

If the Wide Receiver position on the Sandlappers (South Carolina) squad is a representative of the future at USC, then the Gamecocks future pass catchers are in good hands. Shaq Roland, of Lexington HS, a recent South Carolina Mr. Football award recipient and Kwinton Smith, of Dillon HS, form a dynamic duo for the South Carolina Shrine Bowl team. Both are four-star rated players, per 247sports, and well-worth their notoriety earned on the high school gridiron. If the Sandlappers quarterback can get time to throw the ball to his receiving weapons, then Roland and Smith should have big days against the Tarheels secondary.

Another USC Wide Receiver Commitment will be participating for the North Carolina squad. Jody Fuller of Sun Valley, NC will suit up against some future teammates on Saturday. Fuller is a four-star prospect, according to 247sports.

A wide receiver worth monitoring on the Sandlappers is Quinshad Davis of Gaffney HS. Davis is a taller wide receiver prospect than Roland or Smith but has not received a committable USC offer yet. The Gamecocks recruiting numbers are so tight right now that a player with Davis’ skill set might have to take his talents out-of-state unless a last-minute offer comes from USC or Clemson.

The lone recruiting target for the Gamecocks is playing for the Tarheels squad. Jonathan Bullard a defensive end from Crest High School in Shelby, NC is a four-star prospect, according to 247sports. According to Phil Kornblut, Bullard is ready to make his announcement on December 21st after the Shrine Bowl. The highly regarded d-lineman is down to Clemson, USC and Florida. IMHO, Bullard will choose Clemson when he announces next week, because I think Bullard believes he will get playing time a lot sooner at Clemson versus USC (look at Clemson’s roster along the d-line for 2012 and beyond). Now, Steve Spurrier does have his in-home visit with Bullard’s parents this week and that visit will go a long way on selling USC to Bullard’s parents.

Bullard reminds me of Travian Robertson as a high school prospect. Bullard is heavier than Robertson was in high school and like Robertson, who played defensive end in HS, Bullard wants to play Defensive End in college; the problem is that Bullard projects, by experts, as a defensive tackle long-term in college or the NFL. Convincing Bullard that he is a defensive tackle (long-term) versus a defensive end could backfire on USC’s coaches if Bullard is dead set on playing defensive end, but at least Carolina’s coaches would be up front and honest with the young man.

This year’s Shrine Bowl has very few USC commitments or recruiting targets versus year’s past.

We’ll see how the Sandlappers perform on Saturday. I know one thing, if I am the South Carolina quarterback, I will be throwing the ball an awful lot!

Go Gamecocks!

Nebraska Offensive Lineman Arrested for DUI

Mike Caputo, the starting Center on the o-line, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol near Lincoln, Nebraska per the Omaha World Herald. Per the newspaper, a preliminary test revealed Caputo’s blood alcohol level was .103 percent. The legal limit in Nebraska is .08 percent.

According to the Omaha World Herald, Caputo, a senior, is the most experienced member of the Cornhuskers o-line having started 26 consecutive games at Center. Big 10 coaches named Caputo to the Big 10 2nd team a couple of weeks ago.

Sophomore Cole Pensick and redshirt freshman Mark Pelini are Caputo's top backups and have traveled with the team all year, but neither received many in-game snaps behind the first-team veteran, per the newspaper.
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said through a Nebraska University spokesman that he's aware of the incident. "(I) am awaiting more information before making any further comment," he said.

As of Monday, no charges had been filed by the Lincoln City Attorney General Office and Caputo has a court date set for January 12, 2012.

This could be a big blow to Nebraska’s running game if Caputo is suspended by Head Coach Pelini for the Capital One Bowl.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Southern Mississippi Head Football Coaching Search Update

The Hattiesburg American Newspaper, reported on Friday that the short list of coaching candidates to replace recently departed Larry Fedora includes the following:

1. Southern Miss Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson
2. University of Louisiana-Lafayette Head Coach Mark Hudspeth
3. University of South Carolina Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Ellis Johnson
4. LSU Running Backs Coach/Recruiting Coordinator Frank Wilson

According to the writer, Patrick Magee, sources within the Golden Eagles football program believe administrators want to promote from within the USM family, which means Offensive Coordinator Blake Anderson might be the clubhouse leader.

Southern Mississippi is expected to begin interviews Tuesday and talk with multiple candidates to replace Fedora, who left last week to take over the football program at UNC.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Two USC Coaches Possible Candidates at Coastal Carolina

Per Phil Kornblut, sources indicate that two University of South Carolina football coaches, Steve Spurrier Jr. and Shawn Elliott, are candidates for the vacant head coaching position at Coastal Carolina University, a member of the Big South Conference. Spurrier Jr. just finished his seventh season at USC, while Elliott just completed his second full season at Carolina. CCU fired its Head Coach, David Bennett, on Friday after a 7-4 season. Bennett had been at Coastal Carolina since 2002 and coached his first season of football in 2003. Bennett has been the Chanticleers only head football coach.

South Carolina has already lost one assistant coach, Jay Graham to Tennessee, since the 34-13 win over Clemson. IMHO, losing Elliott, who coaches the o-line and is the Run Game Coordinator, would be a bigger blow to the USC program than losing Spurrier Jr., who coaches wide receivers and is the Recruiting Coordinator. The Gamecocks had the third best rushing offense in the SEC this past season under Elliott’s leadership, while,

IMHO, the wide receiving corps never developed a true second option at wide receiver behind Alshon Jeffrey under Spurrier Jr.’s tutelage.

Time will tell how the Coastal Carolina University search plays out but it bears watching if you are a USC fan.

Go Gamecocks!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Texas A&M Names New Football Coach

Texas A&M has announced that Kevin Sumlin will be the next Head Football Coach in College Station, TX. Sumlin departs the University of Houston after leading the Cougars to a 12-1 season and a berth in the Conference-USA Championship game. Sumlin served at Texas A&M under former Aggies Head Coach R.C. Slocum earlier last decade.

USC Commit is 2011 South Carolina Mr. Football

For the fourth consecutive year, a USC football commitment has been named SC's Mr. Football. Lexington High School's Shaq Roland joins previous winners, Jadeveon Clowney ('10), Marcus Lattimore ('09) and Stephon Gilmore ('08). Congratulations Shaq Roland!

Go Gamecocks!

Friday, December 9, 2011

New Name Surfaces for Vacant USC RB Coach Position

According to 1400-AM The Team, current Texas A&M Running Backs Coach Randy Jordan has expressed interest in the available South Carolina Running Backs Coach position. The USC position came free when Jay Graham surprisingly bolted for his alma mater, Tennessee, on Tuesday. Jordan is still employed by Texas A&M but his future in College Station is in doubt because the Aggies fired their Head Coach, Mike Sherman, a couple of weeks ago.
Jordan grew up in Manson, NC and played at the University of North Carolina in the early 1990's. After graduating from UNC, Jordan played nine years in the NFL before getting into the college & pro coaching ranks. Jordan has coached in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders for one year, 2003. The Tarheel native then moved into the college coaching fraternity with stops at Nebraska (2004-2007) and then Texas A&M (2008-present).
IMHO Coach Spurrier has probably gotten a significant number of applications for the vacant spot on the Gamecocks coaching staff. I mean who wouldn't want to coach Marcus Lattimore or Brandon Wilds? Not sure if Randy Jordan is even a top candidate, but the former Tarheel football player is a native from North Carolina as was Jay Graham, and having coaching ties to the state of North Carolina is crucial for South Carolina to continue making headway into the border state to the North. There is a lot of talent in the Tarheel state so it would behoove Spurrier to add another coach to the Gamecocks program with strong ties to the Tarheel state.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kansas University Hires Charlie Weiss

Per 107.5 The Game in Columbis,SC the former Notre Dame Head Football Coach is now the Kansas Jayhawks Head Football Coach. Weiss whom just completed his first year as Florida's Offensive Coordinator under Wil Muschamp replaces Turner Gill whom was fired by KU. If you remember before Weiss relocated to Gainesville, FL he was the Offensive Coordinator of the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs. No word on who UF might target to replace Weiss.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Jadeveon Clowney Named SEC Freshman of the Year

All 12 coaches of the Southeastern Conference voted Rock Hill, SC native Jadeveon Clowney the SEC Freshman of the Year per the SEC League offices. Clowney registered 32 tackles, six sacks and forced five fumbles.

Congratulations Jadeveon Clowney!

Go Gamecocks!

College Coaching Rumor Mill & USC Player Info

Per Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network, expect Southern Methodist University, SMU, to make Clemson’s Offensive Coordinator, Chad Morris, the number one target to replace June Jones. Jones has accepted an offer to become Arizona State’s new Head Football Coach. Clemson earlier this week gave Morris a significant raise upwards of over one-million dollars to keep him from leaving Clemson for another coordinator position. Keep in mind, Morris is a Texas native and legendary high school football coach from the Lone Star state. It was perceived that if a college head coaching position opened in the state of Texas that Chad Morris would be a viable target of the institution (SMU and potentially Houston University). Kornblut stated that his source said expect SMU to throw at least two million dollars towards Morris to entice him to take the helm of the Mustangs program. It was announced just yesterday that SMU will become a member of the Big East Conference beginning in 2013.

Also, Kornblut reiterated through his source that USC’s Ellis Johnson will be a candidate in the Southern Mississippi Head Coaching search.
Other information regarding USC and Clemson through Kornblut’s sources was that Alshon Jeffrey and Stephon Gilmore will not be back at USC next year and that basically both players have already lined up management teams for their future in the NFL. We shall see. I do not expect Jeffrey back, but as for Gilmore, I still think there is a chance he returns to USC for his senior year.

In regards to Clemson, Kornblut stated that Tight End Dwayne Allen would probably not return for his senior season to Clemson.

More to come!

Go Gamecocks!

Is Ellis Johnson a Viable Candidate at Southern Mississippi?

According to 107.5 The Game and the Hattiesburg American newspaper, South Carolina Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator, Ellis Johnson, is a viable candidate to replace Larry Fedora, who accepted the University of North Carolina Head Football Coach position late last night. Why would Southern Mississippi be interested in the Winnsboro, SC native? Well, Johnson was the Defensive Coordinator for the Golden Eagles from 1988-89 and associates of Southern Mississippi were fond of Ellis Johnson during his brief stay in Hattiesburg, MS.

Per Patrick Magee of the Hattiesburg American newspaper, Johnson would be one of eight possible candidates to replace Larry Fedora. Johnson is one of the most respected defensive coordinators in college football and has deep ties to the Southeast, having served as a defensive coordinator on staffs at Alabama, Southern Miss, Mississippi State, USC, Clemson, Appalachian State and Head Coach of The Citadel (2001-2003).

This is pure speculation until names start bubbling to the surface in the coaching rumor mill. But once Southern Miss begins its coaching search then USC fans might have cause for concern with our current Defensive Coordinator. Johnson does have aspirations of being a head coach for the second time in his career and a Conference USA Head Football Coaching position would be a respectable and “good fit” for Johnson. Southern Miss has tradition and is capable of beating bigger BCS level schools for high school talent in Mississippi and surrounding Border States.

Stay tuned Gamecock fans!

Go Gamecocks!

Two USC Basketball Prospects De-commit

Inside USC Basketball Coach Darrin Horn’s program, the victory (58-55) over Clemson on Sunday was a much-needed boost to morale, but the outside perception of a fledgling program picked up steam on Monday night when point guard Ian Baker and small forward Carlos Morris de-committed from the Gamecocks program. According to Phil Kornblut of the South Carolina Radio News Network, the pair of Jacksonville, FL prospects reneged on a verbal commitment to Coach Horn and staff because of “uncertainty” with Horn’s future at South Carolina, compounded by the slow start to the season (3-5) with tough early losses to lesser non-BCS schools. The pair had committed to USC back in late August but, upon the urging of their high school coach, never signed a LOI, Letter of Intent, to play at South Carolina. Baker and Morris are now free to communicate with other schools but both players state that USC is still under consideration, as long as Horn and staff remain in Columbia, SC.

SPURspective’s Insight: Darrin Horn is in a tough situation going into his fourth year at the helm of USC men’s basketball. The apathy towards USC men’s basketball, the dwindling attendance at the Colonial Life Arena and the poor performance of a young basketball team provide little inspiration that Horn & Co. can turn around the fortunes of Gamecocks basketball. USC plays six straight home games before they begin SEC Conference play. Five of the six non-conference games are winnable with the lone exception being 2nd ranked Ohio State on December 17th in a nationally televised game. After wrapping up the non-conference portion of the Gamecocks basketball schedule against S.C. State, USC plays at Kentucky, home versus Vanderbilt and home versus Florida. The SEC schedule makers did Carolina no favors as those three teams are all Top 25 teams and more talented than USC. The Gamecocks have three wins right now. I’ll predict Carolina goes (4-2) over the next six games with losses to Ohio State & Presbyterian College (won at Cincinnati earlier this season). My prediction is that South Carolina will enter its SEC schedule with no more than seven wins and it’ll take a miracle for this team to reach double-digit victories. I anticipate no more than three conference wins and another first round loss in the SEC Basketball Tournament, which would make Horn winless (0-4) in four years in the SEC Tournament. Athletic Director Eric Hyman will have a tough decision to make at the end of the season as to whether he sticks with his guy, Horn, or goes in another direction of leadership for the men’s basketball program. My guess is the latter scenario plays out and USC will have a new men’s basketball coach for the 2012-13 season.

Go Gamecocks!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Headed to Sunshine State

Carl Pelini, 46, comes to Florida Atlantic University after four years as the defensive coordinator at Nebraska. His brother, Bo, the Huskers’ head coach, hired him in 2008. Under Pelini, Nebraska’s defense was No. 1 in the country in 2009, but dropped to No. 8 in 2010. This season the Huskers were 9-3 (5-3 Big Ten), ranked 20th in the nation by AP and ranked 36th in defense, allowing 350.7 yards per game. Nebraska allowed just under 162 rushing yards/game and yielded just over 188 passing yards/game. Carl Pelini will not coach in the Capital One Bowl versus South Carolina on January 2nd.

USC RB Coach Jay Graham Heading to Rocky Top

According to Tennessee Head Football Coach Derek Dooley, UT is welcoming back one of its former lettermen, Jay Graham, to join the Volunteers football staff. Graham just completed his third season as USC’s running backs/tight ends coach. USC ranked third in the SEC with 198 rushing yards/game this season.

This is a lateral move for Graham, as he will be the new Running Backs Coach at Tennessee. Graham will replace former Volunteers WR Coach Charlie Baggett, who resigned from UT last week, as Derek Dooley is reshuffling his staff in Knoxville. Graham is the seventh all-time leading rusher (2,609 yards) in Tennessee football history.

While Spurrier will have dozens of qualified applicants for the vacant running backs coach position, the departure of Graham to UT is a big blow to South Carolina football recruiting. Coach Graham had really cultivated a lot of relationships with high school football prospects in the Charlotte, NC area. It was anticipated that the upcoming recruiting cycle of 2013 could have been very productive in North Carolina where Graham recruited for USC.

USC fans, this is part of the process when you enjoy successful seasons. Other college coaching staffs will poach your staff for coaching upgrades. I hate to lose Coach Graham, but I’ll accept it as part of the sacrifice to be successful in college football.
Good luck to Coach Graham (except the USC game) and his family as he returns to his alma mater.

Go Gamecocks!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Ole Miss Hires Freeze to Lead Rebels Football Program

The University of Mississippi will name former Arkansas State University Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze as its new Head Football Coach at a 2 p.m. news conference this afternoon. Freeze is a Magnolia State native and graduate of Southern Mississippi. Freeze, in one year at ASU, led the Red Wolves to a 10-2 record and captured the Sun Belt Conference Title on Saturday night. Freeze served as an assistant coach at Ole Miss under former head coach Ed Orgeron from 2005-2007.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Capital One Bowl: Nebraska vs. South Carolina

Per multiple USC player's Twitter accounts.

USC Jumps Into Top 10

In the latest Coach's Poll USC is ranked 9th.

Orlando Bound?

There is a 99% chance the Gamecocks are headed to the Capital One Bowl, barring any unforeseen last-minute deals. This will be the first time Carolina has played in Orlando since 1975, when it was The Tangerine Bowl. South Carolina's opponent will be determined based on the BCS rankings, but we know it will be a team from the Big 10. The top two candidates are Michigan and Nebraska. If Michigan is ranked outside of the top 14 in the BCS, the Wolverines will play South Carolina for the first time since 1985. If Michigan is inside the top 14 of the BCS, the most likely opponent for USC would be Nebraska. USC last played Nebraska in 1987.

The BCS rankings will not be announced until 8:15 p.m. tonight. The Capital One Bowl has a payout of $5 million per team.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Championship Weekend & Top 10 Games

Championship weekend kicks off tonight when the inaugural Pac-12 Championship takes place in Eugene, Oregon. Four other BCS Conference championships will be decided and the Big 12’s de facto champion will be determined by the winner of the Oklahoma/Oklahoma State contest. So take a break from Christmas decorating or shopping and enjoy the last weekend of college football. Here are my picks for the top 10 games of Week 14.

#14 Georgia vs. #1 LSU: The SEC Championship is the biggest game besides the NFL’s Super Bowl. Both of these teams feature Top Five Total defenses (UGA – 5th, LSU – 2nd) and big strong defensive and offensive lines. The Bulldogs are riding a 10-game winning streak since losing its first two games (Boise State & USC) of the season. LSU has won 13 games in a row dating back to last year’s loss at Arkansas. This is the third SEC Championship game pairing these two universities. LSU won in 2003 and Georgia won in 2005. The winner of this game will have an advantage in the running game by game’s end.
Prediction: LSU has faced a much tougher gauntlet of games than UGA, Bayou Bengals win 41-20.

#10 Oklahoma @ #3 Oklahoma State: The “Bedlam Series” takes center stage in the Big 12 since the conference could not maintain its championship game with all the comings & goings. Oklahoma has owned the “Sooner” state showdown winning eight in a row in the series. There is a slight, slight chance if OSU wins this game and LSU somehow gets blown out by Georgia in the SEC Championship, that the writers and computers might vote OSU into the BCS Championship game to play Alabama.
Prediction: Defense is optional in this game, Oklahoma in a squeaker 50-48.

#15 Wisconsin vs. #13 Michigan: The inaugural Big 10 Championship game is a rematch from a game Michigan State won on a last-second Hail Mary pass at home. With a win, Wisconsin will trek to Pasadena for the second year in a row and play in the Rose Bowl. Both teams are riding four-game win streaks. Wisconsin brings a high-octane offense, while Michigan State counters with a strong defense.
Prediction: I doubt the two teams can replicate the drama from the first game, Wisconsin wins 42-31.

#22 Texas @ #17 Baylor: If Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, RG3, puts up big numbers against a good Texas defense then the Bears’ junior QB will thrust himself into the Heisman spotlight. Griffin has thrown 34 touchdowns and averages more than 330 passing yards/game. Baylor beat Texas in Austin last year snapping a 12-game losing streak to the Longhorns. Baylor is undefeated at home (7-0).
Prediction: Texas’ defense is decent (Big 12 standards), Baylor’s offense is exceptional, Baylor wins 48-34.

#5 Virginia Tech vs. #20 Clemson: The A-She-She Championship is another rematch from an early October game where Clemson manhandled the Hokies in Blacksburg, VA. Virginia Tech has not lost a game since the setback to Clemson eight weeks ago. Clemson has limped down the stretch losing three of four games by an average of almost three touchdowns. The Hokies are in familiar territory in the A-She-She Conference Championship playing in their fourth title game in five years. Last year, Virginia tech beat FSU.
Prediction: Like the “turkey leftovers,” the Clemson mojo is gone, gobble, gobble, Hokies win 42-21.

#24 Southern Miss @ #6 Houston: This is the biggest game for the Houston Cougars football program since the late 80s when Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware was slinging balls all over the field in the Run-n-Shoot. A win guarantees Houston a spot in a BCS game (Sugar Bowl) and more than likely gives current Cougars Coach, Kevin Sumlin, a leg up on Southern Miss Head Coach Larry Fedora for the Texas A&M gig. Both men, Sumlin & Fedora, have ties to the state of Texas and A&M in particular.
Prediction: Another game where defense is optional, Houston prevails 49-38.

Ohio U vs. Northern Illinois: The Mac Championship is being played in Detroit. Both of these teams are riding win streaks. Ohio U has won five in a row, while NIU has won seven in a row. NIU’s offense has scored at least 40 points in nine games this season.
Prediction: Northern Illinois in a wild shootout wins 45-38.

UCLA @ #9 Oregon: The fightin’ Rick Neuheisels (fired on Tuesday) get the Pac-12 berth in this championship game, because Southern Cal is serving an NCAA sanction from the Reggie Bush saga. UCLA is 6-6 coming off a 50-0 debacle versus cross-town rival Southern Cal, and the Bruins had to petition the NCAA for an exemption to be able to play in a bowl game if they have a losing record post-Pac-12 Championship game.
Prediction: Hide the women and children, because this game will get ugly, quack, quack, Ducks roll 63-0.

Iowa State @ #11 Kansas State: K-State can achieve 10 wins by defeating Iowa State. The Wildcats are positioning themselves for a hopeful invite to the Cotton Bowl. Iowa State is bowl-eligible and Head Coach Paul Rhodes has done a masterful job in Ames, Iowa with not much to sell. The Wildcats are a big methodical running football team, while the Cyclones are a scrappy, over-achieving squad.
Prediction: Kansas State has been the most surprising team in the Big 12, no surprises in Manhattan, KS on Saturday, KSU rolls 44-24.

Connecticut @ Cincinnati: Cincinnati lost a lot of wind out of its sails last night when West Virginia beat USF. UC needs to win to at least claim a share to a Big East Title. UConn won last year’s meeting. Cincinnati’s Head Coach Butch Jones is being mentioned as a possible candidate at several higher BCS schools. A Big East title (even co-title) would look good on Jones’ resume if he indeed pursues another career opportunity.
Prediction: Bearcats claws the Huskies, Cincinnati squeaks by 27-20.

My next blog will be Monday when I breakdown USC’s bowl game destination and opponent.

Go Gamecocks!

South Carolina Bowl Game Destination – Update writer’s Jerry Palm and Brett McMurphy both project the University of South Carolina to play in the Capital One Bowl if LSU defeats UGA. The opponent for USC in the bowl game is predicated on the outcome of the Big 10 Championship.

Scenario One:
If Wisconsin defeats Michigan State and LSU beats Georgia, then USC will more than likely play Nebraska, because Michigan State just played in the Capital One Bowl last year and lost 49-7 to Alabama. Michigan is a possible opponent if the Wolverines are not selected as an at-large BCS selection (Sugar Bowl).

Scenario Two:
If Wisconsin loses in the Big Ten Championship, then the Gamecocks and Badgers will meet in the Capital One Bowl.

Bowl Destination (percentages):
Capital One Bowl: 90%
Cotton Bowl: 9%
Outback Bowl: 1%

Go Gamecocks!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Texas A&M Fires Head Football Coach Mike Sherman

Per ESPN, Texas A&M has severed ties with Mike Sherman after four years at the helm of the Aggies football program. Sherman compiled a 25-25 overall record and finished this season at 6-6 with a season finale loss to heated rival Texas. Early candidates to replace Sherman appear to be Houston's Kevin Sumlin, Mississippi State's Dan Mullen, Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart, Louisville's Charlie Strong and Southern Miss' Larry Fedora.

South Carolina’s 2012 SEC Football Schedule Not Favorable for Gamecocks

According to 107.5 The Game in Columbia, which quotes a website called, the SEC Conference officials have done the University of South Carolina zero scheduling favors with 2012’s football schedule. This report is unsubstantiated by SEC officials, but according to the radio report, South Carolina will play an eight-game league schedule except with a different format. Since the league expanded back in 1992, each team played five divisional opponents, two rotating SEC West Division teams and one permanent SEC West opponent (Arkansas, in USC’s case).

Next season, the SEC Conference will expand to 14 teams with the additions of Texas A&M and Missouri, so league officials have been scrambling to accommodate the new league members while balancing traditional SEC rivalries.

Bottom line, this is what South Carolina’s SEC Conference schedule will look like when the SEC officially announces its members’ 2012 schedules.

South Carolina 2012 schedule (H) = Home, (A) = Away:

SEC East Opponents: Georgia (H), Tennessee (H), Kentucky (A), Vanderbilt (A), Missouri (H) & Florida (A)
*Note* - Missouri will replace Mississippi State on USC’s home schedule. This means, since Missouri will be visiting USC in 2012 that in 2013, Carolina fans will trek to Arkansas (permanent foe) & Missouri (divisional foe) in the same calendar year (2013).

Rotating SEC West Opponent: LSU (A)
*Note* - LSU replaces Mississippi State on USC’s schedule; MSU was supposed to visit Columbia this upcoming year, as USC played at MSU this past season.

Permanent SEC West Opponent: Arkansas (H)
*Note* - USC fans were hoping to get Arkansas off the schedule as a permanent opponent after the SEC invited Texas A&M and Missouri into the conference, but no such luck. Texas A&M and Missouri will be each other’s permanent opponent.

Blogger’s Note: This information is all circumstantial based off a radio report from second hand information, but it goes along with some other unconfirmed outlets, as well. So it appears South Carolina will be playing two of the top three teams from the SEC West next year in LSU and Arkansas. IMHO, the SEC Conference will transition to a nine-win league schedule possibly in 2013, which gives SEC officials more time to tinker with future schedules.

Go Gamecocks!