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

Bulldawg Billy

March 28th, 2009
8:57 am

Martinez will get another year as we all know,I think he knows he is on the choping block though.If the dawgs are not really good on D this year,Martinez will resign to save face for his buddy Richt.The boosters and the AD will insure this happens.


March 28th, 2009
10:35 am

Thank God Vince was not pressured to fire Erk in 1979. No National Championship in 1980 and no subesequent National Titles at Georgia Southern.

Clueless mutts

March 28th, 2009
10:50 am

Do you guys even have a clue or just enjoy making stuff up?

The Gators only lost 2 Offensive Linemen 2 of the SEC’s best OL in the Pouncey twins and the league’s best TE in Aaron Hernandez.

Besides even after losing Murphy & Harvin the Gators return enough fire power in Demps, Rainey, Hernandez, Thompson, Cooper, Nelson and Moody with Tebow to score enough points considering the Gators return the entire TWO-DEEP defense that held opponents under 13 points a game last year.

What’s UGA returning that looks that good?


March 28th, 2009
12:17 pm

I have to agree with many of the posters….the Gators nonconference schedule is pretty enemic and the Gators will be out of the running in the BCS with one loss to anybody. I wish they’d go back to scheduling some west coast teams like they did for a while in the early 2000’s. Two wuss nonconference games is enough!



March 28th, 2009
1:02 pm

UGA VII is returning and he looks pretty good.


March 28th, 2009
1:57 pm

Would you please ask Coach Richt if Georgia has a kicker that can kick off into the other team’s end zone this year?

I am so tired of seeing it bounce out of bounds around thier 5 – 10 yard line and the other team’s offense start at their 40 yard line putting added pressure on our defense.

When I think about all of the great kickers we have had in Athens, the current special teams play makes me sick.


March 28th, 2009
2:49 pm

I have zero use for Spurrier. However, to suggest he was not a really good coach overlooks the obvious – he not only transformed Florida but look what he did at Duke while he was coaching there. Unbelievable. Having said that however, I do not feel sorry in the least for him now. His ego drove him to a losing program and he is not going to be able to change that direction for USC. And some of us love it!!

Bo Williams

March 28th, 2009
3:24 pm

SEC is missing a lot by not playing lacrosse. This game combines the toughness and movement of both basketball and football. I just witnessed UVA and MD play 7 overtimes. I guess you dont have enough students from MD, VA, NJ and NY. I’m from NC and I love the game. Unlike soccer, there is plenty of scoring.


March 28th, 2009
5:41 pm

Kenny Powers, ever see the pen!s of a burmese python? can’t imagine it being THAT impressive… ;0)


March 29th, 2009
10:30 am

Those that write Spurrier off are wishful thinkers. He can ruin Georgia’s year any given year with half the talent. He wears out as the season wears on but those early games are where he is dangerous. Georgia has at least two teams the play next year that can take left overs and give them fits. The second wishful thinking is that Tennessee is all hot air. The best schemed NFL defense the Falcon’s saw all last year was Tampa. So now they have Alabama, Florida that can just outright beat them, Tennessee who got rid of the pumpkin, South Carolina who catches them reading their press clippings and Georgia Tech that actually starting to be a little of a pest in recruiting Georgia type players in the state, and has a left handed offense they don’t see but once a year. Auburn may be the only give me on the schedule and they have a way of surprising people. I will be curious to see what things go at Mississippi State with that new coach, which will probably take several years to get results Ole Miss has maybe the best quarterback in the conference, .LSU is back, and as much as we hate Arkansas the lunatics seem to make the best coaches. The ACC is the exact opposite, wide open to whomever develops a top 20 caliber football team. Miami is under coached and will be, Wake has the best coach in the country who won’t leave for the crazy SEC on a bet, Clemson can’t get over itself but would have the best program in the country it it hired Wake or even Tech’s athletic board to run it’s place for a while. Va. Tech has tapped into that criminal element around Virginia Beach which makes for great defenses with little heart and offense with little I.Q. but great talent. Special teams can only take you so far. Boston College looks like the old all white NFL teams playing in black and white on television in the snow. North Carolina may get there. Virginia looks like a bunch of Clint Eastwoods duded up with high collars and bolder hats. Duke is Duke.


March 29th, 2009
7:05 pm

Spurrier is also pretty darn good with a wedge around the greens.


July 12th, 2009
3:08 pm


April 29th, 2010
6:40 pm