Friday’s Five Burning Spring Ball Questions



It’s Friday and I know what you’re thinking. On a weekend that will be dominated by the NCAA basketball tournament, you need a little fix on spring football to get you to Monday. So here, at no extra charge, are Friday’s Five Burning Spring Ball Questions (P.S. If you have a burning question about spring ball, submit it here and it may get answered next Friday):

1. How badly is Steve Spurrier looking for a few good men on offense? So badly that he is starting to gaze in the direction of Ellis Johnson’s defense. Other than WR Kenny McKinley the Gamecocks really didn’t have anybody who could make big plays on offense last season. Spurrier has already called on defensive end Cliff Matthews at tight end to help with loss of Jared Cook (37 catches). Spurrier told Seth Emersen of The State Newspaper: “We’ve got to utilize all of our players, I think, better. Sometimes we’ve got guys out there that shouldn’t be out there, and we’ve got some of our most conscientious guys over there standing with me?”

Translation? The Head Ball Coach is getting tired of being mediocre on offense and his best athletes for a couple of years have been on defense. Stay tuned. This could get interesting but I still say that if the quarterback position (Stephen Garcia) plays consistently, which it never has in Spurrier’s four years at South Carolina, a lot of those problems on offense would be solved.


2. What is John L. Smith doing at Arkansas? Bobby Petrino had only one change on his coaching staff after year one in Fayetteville. Smith, the former head coach at Louisville and Michigan State, has come on board as special teams coach and will work with the defensive backs. Smith was fired at Michigan State after the 2006 season with a 22-26 record. Yes, there is a connection.  Petrino worked for seven seasons under Smith at Idaho, Utah State, and Louisville. They parted ways when Petrino went to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1999. When Smith went to Michigan State as head coach in 2003, Petrino left after one year as the Auburn OC and became the head coach at Louisville. Head coaches have told me that it never hurts to have a former head coach on the staff—if it’s a guy you trust not to stab you in the back. (Auburn fans may insert their comment here). He serves as an extra set of eyes on all the little things that a head coach has to be aware of.


3. Exactly how much does Florida plan to use John Brantley this spring? Brantley, a sophomore who threw 28 passes as a redshirt freshman, is Tim Tebow’s backup. So under normal circumstances and barring injury he wouldn’t figure to get a lot of snaps in 2009. But expect Brantley to get a lot of work this spring. Remember that in 2006, with Chris Leak as his starting quarterback, Urban Meyer made sure that freshman Tebow was involved enough in the offense so that his transition to starter in 2007 was very smooth. The same thing applies here. Scot Loeffler replaces Dan Mullen, now the head coach at Mississippi State, as quarterbacks coach. Loeffler, who spent last season working with the Detroit Lions, has extensive experience working with quarterbacks at Michigan (2002-07). In fact, Loeffler recruited Tebow for Michigan. He’ll help Tebow learn some of the subtleties he’ll need to play the position in the NFL, but it is Brantley who will benefit the most in the long term.


4. Can Terry Grant make a comeback at Alabama?  One of the most curious things about Alabama’s 12-2 team last season was what happened to Terry Grant. As a true freshman Grant led the Crimson Tide in rushing with 891 yards. He started nine games. I was convinced that this kid was going to be a star in 2008. But last season he fell to fourth on the depth chart behind Glen Coffee, freshman Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch. Coffee is gone and Ingram and Upchurch return (Upchurch is still recovering from neck surgery and has not been cleared for contact. He is expected to be ready this fall). But getting back into the rotation is no sure thing for Grant because there is so much talent waiting in the wings, including incoming highly-recruited freshman Trent Richardson. I guess it’s a good problem for Alabama to have but Grant is a pretty talented guy to be sitting.

5. Who in the wide, wide world of sports put together Miami’s schedule? I don’t normally start breaking down schedules until after spring practice. But several Miami fans sent me this one and it bears discussion now. Miami, with a team full of good, young talent and a new offensive coordinator in Mark Whipple, look to be a factor in the ACC Coastal after going 12-13 in the first two seasons under Randy Shannon. But the Hurricanes could be a lot better in 2009 and go 1-3 or even 0-4 in their first four games. They are:

Sept. 7: at Florida State on Labor Day night. It’s not the Florida State of old, but neither is Miami. The two played in October the past two years but agreed to move the game up this season for TV.

Sept. 17: A Thursday night (ESPN) meeting with Georgia Tech at home. Georgia Tech ran for 472 yards against the Hurricanes to beat them last November (41-23).

Sept. 26: A trip to Virginia Tech, the defending ACC champions. Miami is 2-2 in its last four trips to Blacksburg, where the Hokies return 15 starters.

Oct. 3: A visit from Oklahoma, a consensus top three team in the preseason with QB Sam Bradford, the Heisman Trophy winner.

That’s a schedule only an athletic director could love.



113 comments Add your comment

Coach BoBo

March 27th, 2009
12:17 pm

What is the over/under for UGA football players getting arrested this off-season?

Bo Williams

March 27th, 2009
12:24 pm

Assume I am the best coach available and I can have any of the following jobs:

UGA, Alabama, KY, UVA, Arizona, Florida

Rank them for me with commensts


March 27th, 2009
12:31 pm

I am surprised Tony Jabroni hasn’t started the “Joe Cox for Heisman” campaign. I cant wait to see UGA’s next blackout game. It’s sooooooooooooooo intimidating.

Jethro Bodine

March 27th, 2009
12:41 pm

Old Gold, while you are throwing defensive statistics around, how many points did GT give up in their last 2 games (both SEC teams). I believe it was like a HUNDRED! with MJohnson gone, looks like the North Ave boys may have some problems on D this year, which pretty much negates their triple option crap. Could be a long year, and bank on it, Ga starts a new string of 7 or 8 in a row.


March 27th, 2009
12:43 pm

In 2009, as in 2008, John Brantley will play much of the 4th quarter.
He’s a very talented QB.
Hotly recruited along side a stud named Stafford.
Oh, and when Tebow graduates or if he gets hurt?
We’ll be just fine, thank you.


March 27th, 2009
12:44 pm

And for the record, I wish Coach Spurrier all the best.


March 27th, 2009
12:48 pm


Did you happen to notice UGA’s schedule last year, or LSU’s this year?! ! !


March 27th, 2009
1:14 pm

Lanier… they’ll be lucky to finish third in the SEC east this year.


March 27th, 2009
1:16 pm

the real Old Gold – So cliche of you to play the thug card, but Miami players don’t get in trouble with the law like UF or UGA players do. Check your facts.

GT will be pretty good this year, as long as they can provide some more punch from the passing game. If they can mix that in, that offense can be difficult to scheme for.

And for all you guys claiming the SEC is such a tough conference, just remember that the two teams that played for that conference championship game (AL and UF) only really beat UGA as a “quality” opponent. LSU was crap and the rest of that conference was rather mediocre. Being a conference homer is for teams that never win anything.


March 27th, 2009
1:25 pm


Fla.- the most talent rich state, 2 NC in the last 4 years, nuff said.

Bama- tradition goes a long way. Saban will win a NC there pretty soon.

UGA- another talent rich state. Don’t even have to win a championship, win 1 game a year, Fla.

Arizona- hot women, PAC 10 is weak

Kentucky- low expectations. 8-4 will keep my job, 9-3 they’ll name the stadium after me.


March 27th, 2009
1:25 pm

Claiming not to be a conference homer is for conferences that get crapped on in their bowl games every single year, like the ACC for instance.

the real OLD GOLD

March 27th, 2009
1:28 pm

“SugarHillDawg,” clever, but not my prediction. “EW”….. nevermind…

hem o'roid

March 27th, 2009
1:29 pm

JETHRO BODINE–You been chewing on Ellie Mae’s grand daddy too long. ugay will never, I repeat never, win 8 in a row. All you leg humpers thought this would be the year, especially at half-time of the Tech game. Then the mighty force blew your arse off the field, like it will continue to do in the future. 8 in a row will always be a number owned by the immortal Bobby Dodd. Chew on that dawgterd.


March 27th, 2009
1:47 pm

“Claiming not to be a conference homer is for conferences that get crapped on in their bowl games every single year, like the ACC for instance.”


Why should you care if the rest of the conference lost all their bowl games? Are you cheering for one team, or for the conference?

When your team doesn’t achieve what you want it to, all you’re left with is claiming the conference you belong to is superior to the others. That’s lame.


March 27th, 2009
1:49 pm


1. Steve Spurrier: The Million Dollar Baby, Clint Eastwood tells Hillary Swank that ” Tough Ain’t Enough”. Well in South Carolina’s case, you can say that ” Talent Ain’t Enough”. Garcia might have a big arm but he doesn’t understand the offense. Spurrier’s offense can thrive( even with lesser talented players), but the QB has to understand the entire play not just his reads.Garcia has not demostrated that he can do this. Also, Spurrier is to blame for the offense’s ineptitude. Rotating QB’s is bad for an offense.

2. The jury is still out on Petrino. John L. Smith is another wack job. But if he can help Petrino, even for a year, then why not. Petrino is a mecernary coach and Arkansas seems to be alright with that. So why should Petrino worry about having a mercenary assistant coach?

3. What happened to Cameron Newton? Brantley might can run the offense, but Florida is fooling themselves if they think they can plug anyone in after Tebow. He’s a once in a decade player, like Herchel Walker and Bo Jackson. And this is coming from a Bulldog fan.

4. Terry Grant might be better served transferring. Lou Holtz didn’t use Kenny Irons and Irons went on to have a pretty good career with Auburn.

5. This year is do or die time for Randy Shannon. His first year he was cleaning house, his second year he was rebuilding. This year, he has his recruits in place and it’s time to make them work. Regardless of the schedule, Shannon needs to prove himself.

Marble Rye

March 27th, 2009
2:13 pm

Tony, here’s one for the Five Burning Q’s: Does GT’s run-heavy philosophy make it one-dimensional?

Jethro Bodine

March 27th, 2009
2:16 pm

Hem o roid, “UGAY”?; “leg humper?”….how original. Did you just make that up? Bobby Dodd? reaching a bit far back aren’t you? I didn’t see any response to the fact that Tech defense fell apart late last year, and this year could be worse. What a pain in the azz you are him o roid. And leave my cousin outta this!


March 27th, 2009
2:38 pm

Thanks for 20% of your time again Tony.

Mr. SEC Football., Do you think you give a fair amount of coverage to the local conferences in your column?

The Chris Matthews of college football.


March 27th, 2009
2:43 pm

Mike- actually that’s relevant. Playing in a pu$$y conference gets you no respect, just ask USC. When the Big 12 has those high powered offenses it makes the conference as a whole look stronger. When the SEC has won 4 out of the last 6 or 7 NC that’s a big deal. When you play in the Big East nobody cares. If the BRaves don’t win I still want the National League to win the WS. When you play in a conference with champions or you lose to the eventual champion it’s a little better than playing nobody. You must be a Mountain West fan.


March 27th, 2009
2:45 pm


We will stop saying 45-42, when you guys stop bringing back the whole LSU debacle. You guys are like living through them. Personally, I know Tech has a long ways to go to become a consistent winning team, but you can’t deny that CPJ has us headed in the right direction. Also, we still overachieved and beat every possible prediction for our season last year, which you guys cannot say for yourself. Things will be interesting in 09′. See you in November.

Corrine (D) FL

March 27th, 2009
3:07 pm

i want to gradulate percy harvey and coarch urban meyers for the best defense play i have ever seen.

go gator.


March 27th, 2009
3:09 pm

Mark – Nope, not a Mountain West fan. But as far as respect goes, I think USC gets plenty despite the fact the PAC10 sucks.Same goes for teams like OSU. They’re consistently in the top portion of the polls, despite their crappy conference.

When UM won the NC in 2001, they were in the Big East. OSU won in 02, then subsequently USC, and so forth. All crappy conferences.

Bo Williams

March 27th, 2009
3:44 pm

Mark, I was speaking of basketball. Try that ranking, please. Thanks.

Chris Mathews

March 27th, 2009
3:44 pm

Ramble On!!!:

I take exception to the comparison!

ACC Football=SEC Basketball

March 27th, 2009
3:55 pm

Corrine (D) FL: Thank you so much for your outstanding resolution celebrating the Gator. Did you actually gradulate from UF? Also, does this show how ignorant the people in Duval County are that elected you?


March 27th, 2009
3:56 pm

the hogs will finish in the top 2 in the west this year!!!!!

Sven Ottke

March 27th, 2009
4:00 pm

Imagine that……5 burning questions and 4 of them are SEC related. This blog and affiliated paper are worthless. John L. Smith at Arkansas…burning? Terry Grant at Alabama….burning? Give us all a break.

Biggus Piggus

March 27th, 2009
4:13 pm

I am a Razorback fan, and even I don’t care that much about what John L. Smith is doing (except praying that he will reverse the long, Houston Nutt-started tradition of Arkansas special teams being disastrously bad).

The burning question at Arkansas is whether Ryan Mallett is all that, and if he is why does he have time in the offseason to get plastered (and arrested).


March 27th, 2009
4:18 pm

The ACC is the Lane Kiffin of football conferences. Constant trash talk but can rarely back it up on the field. When you’re on par with the quality of the SEC consistently, I’m sure you’ll get equal coverage. Until then, the truth remains that just not that many people care about ACC football.


March 27th, 2009
4:20 pm

Bo: UGA, Alabama, KY, UVA, Arizona, Florida

I’m obviously biased but I would have to rank the jobs (highest first) KY, AZ, FL, VA, AL, GA. Not sure who KY can expect to hire when they only gave Gillespie two years, though. Following Lute at AZ is no picnic (shoes to fill, tough act to follow, insert cliche here).


March 27th, 2009
4:33 pm

Per Sven Ottke “This blog and affiliated paper are worthless.”, yet Sven seems to keep coming back, time after time after time.

I guess it’s worth something after all. Instead of asking for a break, just take one…a long one.


March 27th, 2009
4:42 pm

This topic is perfectly proportionate material. Listen ACC fanatics, you are in the DEEP SOUTH. History and tradition are on the SEC’s side, always has, always will. So if all you have to say is “why not more ACC?”, simple fact is more people crave the SEC, way more. So please, say something relevant, don’t cry about it. STAY ON TOP SEC!


March 27th, 2009
4:59 pm

Burning question # 6, why would Donovan leave UF for UK? Turn down an offer from the NBA and a mega million dollar contract just to take over at a school that has fired two good coaches. This doesn’t make sense to Me. Burning question # 7, are UGAs DEs snakebit? The dawgs finally have some depth at O line but can’t seem to keep a pair of starting DEs healthy. Burning question # 8, what will Grobe pull out of his sleeve this year? He will lose a lot of players, but I would almost bet the farm Wake will be in the running as the season winds down. Burning question # 9, can Steven Garcia stay away from beer long enough to learn Spurriers offense? Burning question # 10, will Bama have room for any new students or will all the classrom space be taken up with Saban’s gray shirts?

Columbus Dawg

March 27th, 2009
5:39 pm

With all of the linemen the Gaytors are losing, along with Tebow’s two best players in Harvin and Murphy, along with Tebow’s big mouth, I can’t for the life of me believe that the Turds are in for another year like 2007. Can’t wait.

Quit cryin'

March 27th, 2009
6:01 pm

Anybody who doesn’t think the SEC is the best college football conference in the nation, please remind me which conference won the last three titles…go back to your Dungeons and Dragons and leave the football to people who know what they’re talking about.


March 27th, 2009
6:02 pm

Burning question #11. Who will play the fourth DE position for the Spring Game now that Dobbs is gone?


March 27th, 2009
6:22 pm

You guys are whistling by the graveyard with Spurrier. They are going to be very good this year.


March 27th, 2009
8:20 pm

Saw Tebow and Brantley throwin’ the ball around first spring practice. Brantley is bigger this year and has a laser arm. He looked real good completing pass after pass with seeming little effort. Tebow I can never figure out, his throwing motion… looks awkward, ball doesn’t have that same snap yet somehow when it reaches it’s destination it is right on the money. Threw a very impressive bomb to a very speedy Deonte Thompson…dropped it right in! HOW does he do it?!?!

bukhed dawg

March 27th, 2009
9:19 pm

Randy you are correct about Florida’s schedule. Thats embarrasing – Charleston Southern – Troy and FLA INT. If they happen to lose a game at either LSU or Georgia then they wont get to the championship game with that weak schedule. 8 home games and 4 road games. Compare that schedule to Georgia’s Hey UF backers did u IPTAY for that schedule.


March 27th, 2009
9:24 pm

Tony – any truth to the rumor that Houston Nutt is on Jerry Jones’ radar to replace Wade Phiilips in Dallas in 2010… know Jones and Nutt have that Arkansas connnection. (I know it’s both NFL and College Ball, but the Ole Miss fans I know are a little concerned)

Gainesville Gator

March 27th, 2009
9:32 pm

Columbus Dawg:

$uck my Florida!

See you in Jax, beyotch!

Gainesville Gator

March 27th, 2009
9:34 pm


No worries, Mate!

We got this.

Gainesville Gator

March 27th, 2009
9:39 pm

Bukhed dawg:

LSU, UGA, MSU and USC, all away games.

And we play two of the top 20 preseason SEC teams AND FSU.

You call that easy?


March 27th, 2009
9:57 pm

the dawgs do not get it Their head coach does not have IT! They will not ever be NC as long as he is at Georgia. My opinion-time will tell. go vols


March 27th, 2009
10:39 pm

Gainesville, you may get hurt in the computer rankings with the strength of schedule. Personally, I would be amazed if UF scores less than a hundred points each with Charleston Southern, the other Trojans and Florida Int. Where the heck is Florida International anyway?

michael, haven’t you posted this same comment before? If Coach Richt does not have IT, then I don’t want IT!


March 27th, 2009
11:18 pm

Columbus dawg,
looks like you hit a sensitive nerve with the gators regarding their offensive line. I wonder how great Timmy would have been behind UGA’s line last year. We have the gators right where we want them. #1 in the nation, cupcake schedule, a week off before we play them(remember 07?). The only thing that could be better is for Timmy to be on the cover of SI (again)!! but let’s keep all this to ourselves, and enjoy Nov 1.


March 27th, 2009
11:37 pm

We’ll beat Miami like a yard dog. Just like we beat the Dawgs. Then we’ll have a BIG Tickle Pile just like the one we had after making the puppies squeal.


March 27th, 2009
11:46 pm

Whats wrong with these “Dawgs”??? Didn’t they finally learn their lesson from last year?? Last year we had to rub their noses in it because they were bad little pups the year before. Looks like we’re just gonna have to sent them right back to Obedience School! We promise not to do to them what we’re gonna do to Ole Smokey though…


March 28th, 2009
6:11 am



March 28th, 2009
8:26 am

Miami starts off 1-3 with a win over…..drumroll, please…..FSU!!!