Archive for August, 2009

Shaw’s injury could be huge blow for Georgia Tech



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 …

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Franklin happy Todd won QB job at Auburn


Our phone conversation took place in the early hours of Friday morning, but Tony Franklin could barely contain his happiness for Chris Todd, who was named the starting quarterback at Auburn on Thursday.

“There are very few people who really know how much that kid went through last year,” said Franklin, the former offensive coordinator at Auburn who now holds the same job at Middle Tennessee State. “We talked last night and I told him I was more proud of him than any other football player I’ve coached. A lot of people in his situation would have quit and moved on.”

It was one of the most difficult periods in Auburn football history. Head coach Tommy Tuberville, trying to juice up his offense and jump start recruiting, hired Franklin, a free-spirited guy who believed in the throwing version of the spread offense.

 Franklin had known Todd as a high school player and felt he was perfect to run the new offense. Todd started at Texas Tech, went to junior college, and eventually …

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Evans injury changes everything for Virginia Tech, Alabama


There have always been bad preseason injuries in college football. It is a physical sport and to get ready to play it at a high level, teams have to get physical in practice. It’s part of the game that teams and fans have to (reluctantly) accept.

But sometimes there are terrible, devastating, injuries that change the entire complexion of a season. The injury to Virginia Tech running back Darren Evans is one of those. Evans, who set the Hokie freshman rushing record with 1,265 yards last season, was the MVP of the Orange Bowl win over Cincinnati after rushing for 153 yards. He is clearly Virginia Tech’s best offensive weapon and his expected return was a big reason the Hokies were picked in just about everybody’s preseason Top 10.

But the sophomore from Indianapolis is now out for the season after tearing his ACL during practice this week.

Now Virginia Tech, as it should, is trying to put the best spin possible on this situation. The Hokies always have a lot of good running …

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The SEC’s top five “Trap Games”


Everybody can look at a team’s schedule and pick out the tough games. But can you recognize the “Trap Games?”  Those are games that may not look difficult on the surface, but when combined with travel, the opponent the previous week, or some other factors, it becomes a game where the favored teams could trip up.

After looking through the SEC schedules, here are my recommendations for the Top five “Trap Games” for 2009. If you have some you think are better, feel free to share them:


1. Arkansas at Florida, Oct. 17: The Gators will be coming off a monster game at LSU the week before. If Florida wins the Gators will be 5-0 and still ranked No. 1. But they will also be pretty beat up after a very physical football game. If the game was in Fayetteville it would be extremely dangerous for Florida. But who thought Ole Miss was going to win The Swamp last year?

2. Tennessee at Alabama, Oct. 24: Under normal circumstances this would probably be a comfortable win for the Crimson …

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Danielson: Georgia will be the surprise team of SEC


New York-I’m in the Big Apple today shooting a preseason college football show for CBS with Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman and Gary Danielson. The show will run at 1 p.m. on Saturday, just before coverage of the PGA Championship.

Danielson, the former Purdue and NFL quarterback, left ESPN in 2006 to become the analyst with play-by-play veteran Verne Lundquist on the SEC’s game of the week on CBS. It has been one of the best moves Danielson has made in a very successful broadcast career.

The SEC has won three straight BCS national championships (2006, Florida; 2007, LSU; 2008 , Florida) so Danielson has been busy. And with Florida a prohibitive preseason No. 1 and favored to repeat, and with four SEC teams (Florida, Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss) in the preseason Top 10, he is looking forward to another challenging season.

 We took a few minutes at dinner last night and I asked him to give me his top five story lines/questions in the SEC as we head into the 2009 season:


Can Florida …

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Breaking down the Coaches Poll


The USA Today Coaches Poll came out Friday. Of the 59 coaches who vote on the poll, 53 of them voted Florida No. 1. No, we don’t know (and we really don’t care) which six coaches didn’t vote Florida No. 1 because the voting is secret.

 In fact, we don’t even know if the coaches filled out their own ballots. Of course, we have reason to be skeptical about that and we wonder how much longer the Coaches poll will remain a viable part of the BCS process. But that’s another argument for another day

Here is a breakdown of the poll by conference with a little commentary to get your Monday started.  Feel free to add your own.

The number of teams each conference placed in the Top 25 is in parentheses in bold. The other numbers are where those teams were ranked. I’m not ranking the conferences today. That will come later.

SEC (5): Florida (1), Alabama (5), LSU (9), Ole Miss (10), Georgia (13). It’s not surprising to have five SEC teams ranked. It’s not totally surprising to have four …

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Corso determined to be ready for Sept. 5 opener



Today is Lee Corso’s 74th birthday. For Corso and his family, it just might be the happiest birthday ever.

“I’m the oldest guy on television,” Corso said when I reached him on Thursday in Orlando. “I’m glad to have the title.”

Back on May 16 Corso wasn’t sure if there would be a 74th birthday or if he would be returning for another season of ESPN’s award-winning College Game Day show. He suffered what he now calls a “minor” stroke. He admits that it didn’t seem minor at the time.

“It was scary,” said Corso. “You can’t believe that it is happening to you.”

But it was. Since then Corso has been recovering nicely. He went through a round of physical therapy. “I graduated from that,” said Corso, who still works out every day.  ”I’m in pretty good physical shape.”

The “occupational” therapy continues. Even though his voice is now sharp and clear again, he gets speech therapy on a daily basis to fine tune the voice and work on particular patterns of speech. He also is working to …

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Five Burning Questions about the ACC Coastal


Preseason practice is now in full swing and so we present Five Burning Questions about the ACC Coastal:


1. We know that Georgia Tech is going to run the ball most of the time.  And most of the time the Yellow Jackets are going to run it very well. So why do I get the feeling that “Bay-Bay” Thomas is going to have a really good year? Coach Paul Johnson told me last week that he’s not real big on balance when it comes to offense. “If you have to run it 60 times to win, that’s fine. If you have to throw it 60 times to win, that’s fine, too,” said Johnson. “I think the whole balance idea is overrated.” Needless to say, some teams are not going to let Georgia Tech run for 400 yards again–at least not if they can help it. So I just get the feeling that there are going to be some more opportunities for wide receiver Demaryius “Bay-Bay” Thomas this season. Thomas, who caught 39 passes in 2008 (nobody else on the Georgia Tech team caught more than eight), showed that he could make …

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Five burning questions about the ACC Atlantic


Five burning questions as preseason practice begins in the ACC Atlantic:


1. Can C.J. Spiller be the main man in Clemson’s offense? Clemson has launched a Heisman Trophy campaign for running back/return specialist C.J. Spiller. Spiller, the senior from Lake Butler, Fla., led the ACC in all-purpose yards (1,770) last season and is a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball.  He carried the ball 116 times last season behind James Davis, who had 171 carries. How does Spiller react to being the main man in the Clemson offense? There are other weapons. WR Jacoby Ford can be a big play machine if he stays healthy.  Sophomore RB Jamie Harper of Jacksonville was thought to be one of the nation’s  best running backs coming out of high school. But this is Spiller’s team. Can he handle it?


2. Is this the year that Florida State’s offensive line finally grows up? The Florida State offense has had had all kinds of issues since Mark Richt left as OC before the 2001 …

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Five burning questions about the SEC East

Yesterday we looked at the SEC West and identified five burning questions that need to be answered heading into the start of practice this week. Today let’s look at the SEC East.


1. Is Georgia REALLY going to get after it in the preseason? Here is what I mean by that. A year ago when the injuries started piling up the Georgia coaches had to back off contact work in practice. They really had no choice. But the downside to that is that players lose their edge, particularly the when it comes to tackling on defense. Coach Mark Richt has stated on more than one occasion that he won’t make that mistake again. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez is candid that his group must practice at a high level, and that means hitting, in order to play like an SEC defense. But what happens if Georgia suffers a couple of significant injuries early like it did with DT Jeff Owens and LT Trinton Sturdivant? Will Georgia be able to stick to its guns and keep getting after it in practice?


2. Is …

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