There have been a bunch of significant scrimmages and developments since last we met. Nobody asked me, but:
The injury to Jaybo Shaw is a huge blow for Georgia Tech: While you can’t say it will have the impact of Virginia Tech losing running back Darren Evans, the broken collarbone by Jaybo Shaw, Georgia Tech’s backup quarterback, could very well be a factor in the ACC Coastal race. Shaw, the sophomore from Flowery Branch, isn’t as athletic as starter Josh Nesbitt, but he was very reliable. He could come in for a series or two if Nesbitt got dinged up. And if Nesbitt couldn’t go at all, Coach Paul Johnson felt confident that Shaw was probably not going to make the big mistake that could cost Georgia Tech a football game. When you run this offense, you have to have confidence in your backup quarterback because he is going to play meaningful possessions. Could Tevin Washington or David Sims ultimately be just as effective as Shaw? Absolutely. But it isn’t a given. Tech knew what they had in Jaybo Shaw.
The Alabama offensive line is going to be fine: Coach Nick Saban, as he likes to do from time to time, shook things up after Saturday’s scrimmage by saying: “We don’t have any starters on the offensive line-not one.”
The fact is that Alabama’s offensive line is going through a transition. Three starters from last season are gone, including Outland Trophy winner Andre Smith, and Antoine Caldwell, an underrated center. A year ago a lot of Alabama’s offense ran through Smith. The offensive line was so powerful and so good that most of the time the Crimson Tide could just steamroll people and wear them down during the course of the game. This offensive line won’t be able to do that, but Alabama has recruited well and there is plenty of talent. It may take a few games but Alabama will have a good offensive line. But it will be different.
Clemson QB? My money is on Kyle Parker: Head coach Dabo Swinney was not ready to name a starting quarterback after Saturday’s scrimmage but I believe it will be Kyle Parker, the redshirt freshman from Jacksonville. Parker, who is also an outstanding baseball player, has an incredible arm. He also has a presence about him when he’s on the field. One of the things that Swinney wants to do as Clemson’s head coach is improve the overall athleticism and play making ability on both sides of the ball. Willie Korn was a highly recruited quarterback coming out of high school. He’s solid. Parker is a better athlete and can make more plays. There is another Clemson scrimmage on Tuesday. Look for an announcement to probably come this week.
Haden could be one more headache for Florida opponents: When I was in Gainesville this spring there was a lot of talk about who would fill the role of Percy Harvin, the talented all-purpose player who drove opposing defenses crazy. Everyone assumed it would be one of the many speedsters on the offensive side of the ball like Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Brandon James, or maybe even a freshman. But word came last week that junior Joe Haden, one of the best cornerbacks in the country, has been taking some snaps out of the shotgun, or “Wildcat” formation. Haden, from Fort Washington, Md., set a state high school record when he threw for 7,371 yards and 80 touchdowns in his career.
This is yet another interesting tweak of the Florida offense. Haden won’t get many snaps back there but when he lines up, there will be both a run and pass threat. It is yet another thing defensive coordinators in the SEC will have to think about when putting together a game plan.
Mitch Mustain looks like he’ll be a victim of bad timing: When highly-recruited quarterback Mitch Mustain left Arkansas after the 2006 season, it was suggested that Southern Cal would probably not be the best place to go if he wanted playing time. Now it appears that the former Gatorade Player of the Year from Springdale, Ark., is going to be a victim of very bad timing in his college football career. Mustain started eight games as a true freshman at Arkansas and won them all. But he lost the starting job and never regained it. The reasons behind it could fill several books. We won’t rehash all that history here.
Mustain sat out the 2007 season. In 2008 he could not beat out Mark Sanchez, who led the Trojans to the Rose Bowl. When Sanchez passed up his senior season to turn pro, it looked like Mustain would get another shot last spring as he competed with sophomore Aaron Corp. But true freshman Matt Barkley, one of the nation’s best high school quarterbacks, enrolled early and finished No. 2 behind Corp with Mustain third.
Corp suffered a cracked bone in his left leg last week and Barkley immediately moved into the No. 1 job. Corp is getting X-rays today to see if he can get back on the field this week. If not, it appears Barkley will become the first true freshman in USC history to start an opener at quarterback. He is clearly the Trojans’ quarterback of the future.
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