Five burning questions on a big spring weekend

 

 

Eight of the 12 SEC schools (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Tennessee) will have their spring games on Saturday. Here are five questions that may or may not get answered but inquiring minds want to know:

 

1. What will LSU do with Russell Shepard? The Houston native, who was considered to be the nation’s No. 1 high school quarterback in 2008, enrolled in school early and took part in spring practice. When the spring began Shepard did a number of things on offense. But during a conference call on Thursday LSU coach Les Miles said that Shepard will only play quarterback during the spring game.

“We’re looking to do what we can with Russell but for now keeping him at quarterback is probably the best,” Miles said.

Rising sophomore Jordan Jefferson, who came on late in his freshman year, is expected to be the starting quarterback when LSU opens the 2009 season at Washington on Sept. 5. Jarrett Lee, who started eight games last season and threw 16 interceptions (seven which were returned for touchdowns) is still in the mix.

Expect LSU to come up with a package of plays for Shepard because he is too good an athlete not to be on the field somewhere.

 

2. How much will Florida’s Tim Tebow work under center? Urban Meyer has made it pretty clear that he is going to do everything he can to help the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner get to the NFL. He hired a new quarterbacks coach (Scott Loeffler) to help Tebow and the other Florida QBs work on their throwing mechanics and footwork. Florida has put in an I-formation package with some play-action passes that will take advantage of the talents of backup quarterback John Brantley. It will also show the NFL scouts that Tebow is comfortable taking the snap from center.

“We continue to make adjustments to try and stay ahead of the curve with our offense,” Meyer said. “Teams are doing a much better job of defending what we do. So we do a lot of quality control on our offense. One of the things we want to do is put Tim under center.”

It will be interesting to see how much of that I-formation package Tebow runs in the spring game.

 

3. Is Jonathan Crompton REALLY going to be the quarterback at Tennessee? On Thursday, as he has for most of the spring, new head coach Lane Kiffin said that senior quarterback Jonathon Crompton is in the lead for the starting job over sophomore B.J. Coleman and junior Nick Stephens.

 “He (Crompton) has been very competitive in his approach to the position,” Kiffin said. “B.J. Coleman started a little slow but he’s much younger. He has done well over the last week and a half. Nick Stephens had a setback (broken wrist) so he hasn’t gotten as many reps.”

Crompton, a Parade All-American in high school (Waynesville, N.C.), took the brunt of the criticism for last season’s poor offensive performance at Tennessee. He was not a fan favorite but has persevered and played the best of the three quarterbacks this spring. He still has a lot to prove to win over the vast majority of the Volunteer Nation.

 

4. How will Alabama handle its quarterbacks? There is no doubt that Greg McElroy, the rising junior from Southlake, Texas, is going to be the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide this fall. He played sparingly behind John Parker Wilson last season but he did play. This is his fourth year at Alabama and his second year in Jim McElwain’s offensive system.

“McElroy has done a really good job all spring,” head coach Nick Saban said. “He’s smart and he makes good decisions.”

In short, the staff trusts McElroy to hold the fort while redshirt freshman Star Jackson and true freshman A.J. McCarron prove that they are ready to play.  I’m intrigued by Jackson’s athletic ability and want to see how McElwain will use him on Saturday and once the season starts.

 

5. Does Auburn HAVE a quarterback who can run this offense? New head coach Gene Chizik hired Gus Malzahn as offensive coordinator to put some juice back into the Auburn attack. But Malzhan, whose Tulsa team led the nation in total offense last season (569.86 ypg), is used to having a guy who can pull the trigger and make plays at quarterback. No one, not even Chizik, has any idea who that will be for Auburn in 2009.

Malzhan told me last week that he wanted to cut the quarterback list down to two and now that has been done.

Junior Kodi Burns was the starter during the second half of last season after OC Tony Franklin got the boot. Burns is a good athlete but completed only 52.5 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Junior Neil Caudle is No. 2 and has shared most of the reps with Burns in the final practice sessions. Redshirt freshman Barrett Trotter is now third and won’t get as many snaps. Senior Chris Todd was also a part time starter last season (five touchdowns, six interceptions) but has not been a factor this spring as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery last December.

“I don’t anticipate naming a starter after spring,” Chizik said Thursday. “Kodi has done really well. It has been a three-man race since the beginning of spring practice. I wouldn’t rate them right now. It’s a good neck and neck race.”

Translation: Nobody has blown our socks off.

 

 

 

128 comments Add your comment

JB

April 17th, 2009
7:59 am

Urban does not care about Tebow’s short comings under center. Tebow will be a third round pick if he agrees to be a tight end.

Where have you gone jim Bob Cooter ?

April 17th, 2009
8:03 am

Tony ,

1) No problemo for LSU…In their opener.They could put their long snapper in at QB and beat Washington (winless a year ago), After that, it gets tougher.

2) This “getting Tebow ready for the NFL” stuff is becoming a distraction. e plays for Florida. The NFL will do its thing in good time. If UM is worrying about Tebow’s draft stock,he is wasting time and energy on something that will take care of itself.

3) Lane Kiffin is bluffing,juking and biding his time. he knows that he doesn’t have an SEC caliber QB at Rocky Top. That’s one reason for the late push for Bryce Brown (mr. all Everyting) from Kansas.Even the three stiffs that he has behind center can hand the ball off occaisionally without mishap. he will get HIS quarterback next year,when the pickins are better.

4) Greg McElroy must have set the world on fire in the spring at UAT.Nick Saban is sparing with praise,so if he thinks that McElroy is the guy,then mark him down.

5) Auburn has the same situation behind center as Tennessee (see above). None of the incumbents would be a tp drawer Souther Conference quarterback.ut you have to play the team you have…Not the team you wish you had. Gus Malzahn will earn his pay for sure if he can make a silk purse out of AU’s three sow’s ears.

AUtiger

April 17th, 2009
8:03 am

Yikes. The QB race this year is bringing back painful memories of last year. Maybe Auburn will get lucky with Tyrik Rollison coming in. It’s a long shot, but I’m just trying to stay positive.

Kid Ray

April 17th, 2009
8:29 am

An outsider’s perspective…Why is UM so worried about TT in the NFL? He is a college coach. He is paid to win college games. UF’s offense has been good enough to win twice in three years. Why change?

LSWho?

April 17th, 2009
8:33 am

Mitch Mustain is now 3rd string at USC. Maybe he can transfer to old Alabama Poly and play for Gunnin’ Gus again.

bull-gator

April 17th, 2009
8:36 am

Tebow will go early in the 2nd round next year and will be that team’s starter at qb within 3 years once the coaching staff figures out how to use his multiple skills. The guy is a great leader and football player, pure and simple.

Atlanta Gator

April 17th, 2009
8:37 am

Comments in response to Tony—-

(1) By all accounts, Russell Shepard was a great high school quarterback and will be a fine college quarterback when his time comes. This season, his job is to learn Coach Miles’ system, and be ready if and when the starter comes out. If he wants playing time other than 4th-quarter mop-up, he may consider a “good hands” part-time job like tight end, receiver or special teams. Given LSU’s recent quarterback problems, it’s ironic that the Tigers suddenly seem to have more talent at the position than they can use.

(2) Tebow will be under center enough to show that he can do it and do it well. Other than that, it will be Florida’s usual offense, with the new “up tempo” modifications. Urban Meyer liked some of the things he saw Bob Stoops’ offense do in the BCS title game, and the Gators are moving to incorporate those no-huddle elements into their scheme. As a fan, I think it’s great that these coaches are refusing to rest on their laurels.

(3) Crompton got no help last year, from his teammates or his coaches, so it’s tough to say whether he is a big-time Division I quarterback or not. He is a senior, but the system has changed. Any way you slice it, Crompton is going to have to step it up to be successful, and the Volunteers need to out-perform expectations to maintain their recruiting in 2010. Tall order. Reality meets hope.

(4) Even with all of the talent Nick Saban has recruited the last two years, Alabama has many holes to plug after last year’s surprising 12-2 run. For the Tide, it’s not a lack of talent, it will be a lack of game-time experience at key positions like quarterback and offensive line. How quickly that talent matures will determine whether Bama is a contender or pretender in 2009.

(5) Does Auburn have a quarterback who can run this offense? Or, more pointedly, does Auburn have a Division I caliber quaterback? Remains to be seen. I hate to dump on a 20 year-old, but I was not impressed with Burns last season. Granted, he didn’t get a lot of help from his coaches . . . .

Bill

April 17th, 2009
8:45 am

Looks like JB and Jim Bob can’t read.Typical UGA fans.If oyu could read the article said Urban was wanting to give other teams different looks than the spread shotgun.

You UGA fans never cease to amaze me.

JB

April 17th, 2009
8:45 am

Bull Gator……….We Dawg fans know about Tebow as a leader and a player….great at both….. He has a decent arm, but Stafford played in a NFL offense, threw a lot of passes, has maybe a better arm than most current NFL QB’s, played against SEC defenses and Still the national press has doubts about his NFL outlook…. Tebow will find that ra ra and speech’s is very different than pulling out from under center, reading the defense and throwing the ball on target, all within 21/2 to 3 seconds will be a different animal.

Mikey

April 17th, 2009
8:45 am

If Coarch Meyers is so worried about TT going to the NFL, go ahead and start Brantley and have TT line up at fullback, which is where he would play in the NFL anyway.

JB

April 17th, 2009
8:47 am

Bill, if you could spell…….

Nachos

April 17th, 2009
8:49 am

Gene Chizik?????? hahahahaahahahahahhahhahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

JB

April 17th, 2009
9:06 am

Bill…….. go back and read the first sentence that Tony wrote. not being a jerk, but just read it and tell what you think it says about Tebow and Urban ?

DLM

April 17th, 2009
9:11 am

Bill- go read it again. It’ about time for you to break out your jean shorts again.

JB

April 17th, 2009
9:15 am

Bill, you out there…..? Another oil change customer must have pulled in.

Kenny Powers

April 17th, 2009
9:20 am

Tebow will be sucessfull in the NFL as a QUARTERBACK! He has brains and a heart; too many 1st rounders with rocket arms and legs burn out because they have nothing in their head and chest. He leads and people follow, period.

Doug flutie was 5 foot nothing and had a great NFL career. Mark my words, he will do well but only if they give him the QB position; and if the Raiders don’t draft him, there is too much sin out west for Tebow.

Kenny Powers

April 17th, 2009
9:22 am

But also remember because I am a Dawg fan he is not nearly as awesome as myself and the bulldawg nation with our 101mph heaters in eyeholes and 26lb. front loving sticks; nor does he have a ford bronco like me.

JB

April 17th, 2009
9:24 am

Kenny Powers……HUH ?

Kenny Powers

April 17th, 2009
9:27 am

Get HBO JB and you will understand my awesomeness.

Mikey

April 17th, 2009
9:30 am

Kenny, when will your show be back?
It only ran about 6 episodes.
We miss you!

MonVol

April 17th, 2009
9:37 am

If Tebow isn’t drafted as a QB, even after an amazing college career, it will become almost impossible for Meyer to get an NFL caliber QB recruit to come in the future. This is why the addition of the I formation stuff.
Meyer still has to win games first, but he knows the talent will look elsewhere if even a Tebow can’t get selected and play at QB.
Crompton is one of the few QBs that a school’s fans are openly rooting against. Sad. I would imagine the situation is the same with Lee at LSU.

Kenny Powers

April 17th, 2009
9:41 am

I am not sure when i am coming back because the end of my 6th episode really sucked back and made it look like I will not be coming back. We need to slap will ferrell’s USC loving a$$.

gatorman770

April 17th, 2009
9:44 am

Urban Meyer is doing the right thing to have more “under center” plays this year to help his NFL stock and take advantage John Brantley skills, who by the way, appears to have all the fine quarterback qualities that Chris Leak had in a NFL size body and with a arm like Stafford.
Tim Tebow will go down as one of the greatest college football players ever (along with Hershal and Bo) and if you can’t appreciate him for the great person and player he is and don’t wish he’d played at your favorite school…..well as Neil Boortz says, your full of horse-squeeze!
Go GATORS!

Huh?

April 17th, 2009
9:47 am

Has Meyer said he is intent on boosting Tebow’s draft stock or is this just the imagination of the media at work? I have yet to see a quote from Meyer that explicitly says that is what he’s trying to do. If he is I think its a bit of a gamble at a time when there is no need for Florida to take gambles. Just my two cents.

DawginLex

April 17th, 2009
9:47 am

Other than Tebow, the best QB in the league is snead at Ole Miss. He will give Bama and LSU plenty of reason to worry. I don’t get Auburn at all. Maybe the OC can overcome Chizik but they are probably doomed this year. UT will live and die with defense and a running game. Crompton is horrible and I don’t think Kiffin can take his shirt off enough times or flash pictures of his wife enough to overcome it.

LSU and Bama will be fine even though they lack a lot of game experience. The talent level around them is tremendous, especially on defense.

As for UGA, I am excited about Joe cox getting his chance and about the fact that the hype is gone. No preseason #1 rankings, no talk of Heismans, just go play football and hopefully with somewhat of a chip on the shoulder.

Fred

April 17th, 2009
10:04 am

Auburn’s bigger question is do they have a coach?? Hasn’t won in his last 10 games but hey let’s give him a raise.

JB

April 17th, 2009
10:09 am

You are correct about the Ole Miss QB…….THE best arm in the SEC. That guy is scary good.

jarvis

April 17th, 2009
10:16 am

Die-hard Dawgs fan here. Classy move by Urban Meyer. Nice sense of loyalty to a man that has helped bring a lot of success to UF.

I despise Florida, but you have to give credit where it is due.

Big B CH 99

April 17th, 2009
10:16 am

On the Stafford NFL thing:
He does have a Rocket arm, which is nice, but does he have the:
Accuracy
Decision making
Smarts
to be a really good NFL QB. I’m not saying he’s dumb by any means, he’s a bright kid, but how much responsibility did Bobo & CMR give him last yr? Did they let him audible at the line, or did they do it from the sidelines.

Christy

April 17th, 2009
10:17 am

Why does Barnhart have a picture that tried to make him look like a badass? What a loser.

Big B CH 99

April 17th, 2009
10:18 am

Tebow reminds me a little of a less physically gifted Vick & Vince Young, but w/ several things they don’t have:
Smarts
Accuracy
Leadership
Team player,

I know he doesn’t read D’s much in College, but I think they he has the brains to be able to learn how to do it, where as either Vick or VY don’t have the brains or are too lazy to learn to read D’s.

WEGL WEGL

April 17th, 2009
10:22 am

Auburn’s problem at quarterback is that both Kodi and Neil have stepped up their game. Either one will thrive in Malzahn’s offense. Both stud quarterbacks in highschool waiting for their chance with a real offensive coordinator. I would take either one before Joe Cox. Cox will be benched by week 5 for one of their freshman QBs. Not to mention Auburn will just need an average quarterback while McFadden and McCalleb run all over the place. As for Chizik, he got the job because he had the best vision for Auburn’s future…He took less money for himself and dished it out so he could get the best assistants/recruiters in college football. Chizik’s last record at Auburn..13-0.

Jethro Tull

April 17th, 2009
10:24 am

How’s it been for you mutts to watch one of your most hated rivals with the MNC 2 out the last 3 years? That must really suck…

Bob

April 17th, 2009
10:27 am

It was well documented that Stafford had a large amount of decision making responsibilities at Georgia, including audibles. He’s been doing it since late in his true freshmen season. Go watch the game winning touchdown drive against Georgia Tech in 2006. Bobo said after the game that it was ALL Stafford. It is amazing what little people know about this guy. There is so much misinformation out there.

JB

April 17th, 2009
10:29 am

Big B Ch 99…….Yes, I would say Stafford called 75% of his plays from a menu based on his read at the line. He scored 38 on the wonderlic, which is off the charts. He is a smart kid…..but, he did make a lot of bad throwing decisions. other than our D having a melt down in the Third Quarter in the Tech game, he cost us that game by throwing a short pass into the gut of a Tech player for a easy TD.

DawgGirl32

April 17th, 2009
10:31 am

Big B- To answer your question about Stafford: yes. Stafford called all the audibles and rarely ever looked to the sidelines for calls. Mark Richt put a lot of repsonsibility on him in that respect and I definitely think it will pay off dividends for him in the NFL. He’s an NFL offensive coordinator’s dream when it comes to reading defenses. Now when it comes to accuracy and decision making, it’s obvious that Stafford has some work to do in those areas but I think with the right training he can do that. We’ll see soon enough I guess.

Miles

April 17th, 2009
10:34 am

LSU’s Jefferson should do really well this year…Tebow is the best college football player in the country…hopefully UT’s offense is more creative under Kiffin…if so, Crompton will have a better year this year than his pevious years…it’s pretty tough to say what McElroy will do at Alabama…why neither Tuberville was nor Chizik is willing to accept Burns as Auburn’s QB is a mystery to me…though he’s not much of a passer, he’s certainly an excellent athlete with “play action” ability…not choosing him as their QB may dig a deeper hole for them than they’re already in right now…Chizik and Malzahn are in way over their heads right now…sad, but true!

johnny reb

April 17th, 2009
10:34 am

Tebow under center against Ole Miss in the title game. Big mistake.

Miles

April 17th, 2009
10:36 am

One more thing…Mr. Barnhart, the comments about preparing Tebow for the NFL by changing Florida’s offense: DEAD ON TARGET!

Pago Flyer

April 17th, 2009
10:37 am

Sure not looking forward to playing against Tebow again!

Sanford Drive

April 17th, 2009
10:40 am

Tebow under center? Maybe we do have a legitimate shot to beat them….

Kiffinisatosser

April 17th, 2009
10:42 am

Speaking of Chris Leak, just saw his Wonderlic score on a website dedicated to these things. I believe he got a 6. A 10 is a score for someone who is functionally illiterate. It would seem that Leak is only marginally smarter than a turnip.

Then there is United States Representative Heath (Go Vol) Shuler who clocked in at a 16…that is Corrine (Go Gator) Brown range on the dumbometer.

Jim Donnan

April 17th, 2009
10:43 am

Stafford will be a bust, especially if he ends up with Detroit.

Kiffinisatosser

April 17th, 2009
10:44 am

Johnny Reb…please have your Zanax prescription reviewed. Ole Miss will know how to resume its position in 2009.

Kiffinisatosser

April 17th, 2009
10:46 am

Stafford had a pretty high Wonderlic as I recall. It will not prevent him from fulfilling Jim’s prophecy however.

Sanford Drive

April 17th, 2009
10:47 am

I wish Stafford the best, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to blow in the NFL.

Chan Gailey

April 17th, 2009
10:48 am

Thank God and Greyhound Jim Donnan is gone.

The Law

April 17th, 2009
10:50 am

Isn’t today bama appears before the NCAA Infractions Committe?
Of course, no news outlet in Alabama has said anything about it, so as to protect their precious tide.

Here’s to bama getting Hammered and Slammed!

Go VOLS!

Chan Gailey

April 17th, 2009
10:50 am

Who is Stafford going to blow in the NFL?

BamaDog

April 17th, 2009
10:52 am

Again, nothing said about Petrino and the Hogs! I can guarantee, you will be talking alot about them about midway through the season.