SEC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK
Hoover, Ala. – Steve Spurrier has been criticized for his handling of quarterback Stephen Garcia, who currently is “kind of on probation” after being suspended five times in his career for alcohol-related problems.
Garcia was cleared to resume team activities this summer. It’s generally thought that the senior will assume his duties as the starting quarterback when preseason camp starts next month. But Spurrier said Wednesday that’s not necessarily the case.
“People assume that be him and Connor Shaw will battle it out pretty good,” Spurrier said. “Stephen may be our best quarterback but we’ll have some good competition.”
Shaw is a sophomore from Flowery Branch who played in nine games last season and completed 70 percent of his passes for 223 yards and a touchdown and two interceptions as Garcia’s backup.Garcia is the leading returning passer in the SEC with 3,059 yards with 20 TDs and 14 interceptions.
Spurrier was asked if he thought he’d treated Garcia differently than he would, say, a backup tight end.
“No, I think I’d treat a backup tight end the same way,” he said. “Basicially he’s a good kid and a good person. And he’s really made some lifestyle changes to try to deal with this. We feel like he deserves another chance.”
Muschamp shows poise at podium
Will Muschamp, a Georgia graduate and football letterman, did a decent job volleying with the press during his first stint on the podium as an SEC head coach. The former Texas defensive coordinator and head-coach-in-waiting was hired to succeed Urban Meyer as Florida’s head coach in December.
Following were some of Muschamp’s notable quotes from Wednedsay.
There was a testy moment when a Florida beat writer was pressing Muschamp on whether running back/receiver Jeff Demps was going to return to play his senior season or continue as a track professional.
Said Muschamp: “Based on our conversations he’ll be playing for us this fall. I like to deal with these kinds of things eyeball to eyeball. He’s in Italy right now and I ain’t ever been to Italy.”
Neiron Ball out for Gators
Speaking of Florida, it appears the football career of defensive end Neiron Ball of Jackson may be over. At the very least he won’t be playing this fall. Ball suffered a sort of stroke before last season and has been diagnosed with a vascular condition.
“As of Monday, he’s on a spiritual retreat in Colorado and will not physically be a part of our football team this fall,” Muschamp said. “We’ll revisit that January. But that’s OK. The No. 1 priority for Neiron is his health and we’re just happy he’s doing well.”
Petrino likes Hogs’ depth at TB
Georgia’s depth issues at tailback heading into the season are well documented. Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino touched on why that’s problem in the SEC.
The Razorbacks appear well set at the league’s glamour position. They sport the SEC’s leading returning rusher in Knile Davis, get back fleet-footed Dennis Johnson from a medical redshirt season and believe they have a budding star in rising junior Ronnie Wingo Jr.
“I’ve always believed you have to have depth at tailback,” said Petrino, who has also coach the Atlanta Falcons. “As the year goes on your running backs are the ones who take all the big hits and that wears on them. You have to be able to go to somebody without missing a beat. . . . I also try to get Knile to the fourth quarter where he’s fresh and strong.”
Georgia also is heading into the season with three tailbacks, but they’re a considerably less proven group. Richard Samuel, who played tailback in 2009 and ‘10, was moved to the position from linebacker last week. He’ll lead a group into the first game that includes freshmen Isaiah Crowell and Ken Malcome.
Richt confirms Thomas suspension
Georgia coach Mark Richt still hasn’t talked to local media about the Carlton Thomas suspension reported by the AJC on Monday (he’ll meet the press here Thursday morning). But he confirmed it in an interview with an Idaho radio station on Tuesday.
“Carlton Thomas will not be able to play in this ballgame for a suspenstion,” he told 93.1 The Ticket while explaining why the Bulldogs’ had just three tailbacks remaining. “We might have to teach one of our fullbacks some tailback just in case somebody gets hurt.”
Less contact in practices?
The Ivy League on Wednesday announced that it is reducing the number of full-contact practices teams it teams will be permitted to hold in an effort to minimize head injuries and recurring concussions among its football players.
The SEC has not adopted such a policy, not yet anyway.
“We have not had that discussion, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t talked a lot about concussions and head injuries,” SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said. “But player safety is a matter of great importance to everybody in conference.”
Richt has greatly reduced the amount of contact in the Bulldogs’ the last few years and even eliminated two-a-day practices last year. No word yet on what his plans are this season.
Meanwhile, Spurrier, for one, is all for it. He said he favors little to no full contact in the Gamecocks’ practices.
“To me it doesn’t make sense to get your own players injured in practice,” he said. “you have to be smart enough to know that when the game comes it’s real football. When the Army practices they don’t use live bullets, do they?”
THIS AND THAT
A documentary on Georgia’s Herschel Walker will be the first episode on a new series called “Storied” that ESPN has developed on the SEC. It’s the first of four shows that will air this fall and will debut on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. There are preliminary discussions of a premiere in Atlanta on that date. . . .
Georgia is putting on sale on Monday morning “several hundred” $55 tickets for the Chick-fil-A Game against Boise State . . . . UGA announced a 1 p.m. kickoff for its Sept. 17 game against Coastal Carolina. . . . FOX Sports Net (FSN) announced its games for the first three weeks of the season: Sept. 3, 7 p.m. — East Carolina vs. South Carolina (in Charlotte); Sept. 10, 7 p.m. — UAB at Florida; Sept. 17, 7:30 p.m. — North Texas at Alabama. . . .
Funny tweet from Wes Rucker of 247Sports.com during viewing of video clips from the Walker documentary.: “Watching video clips of Herschel Walker. This is something my South Georgia relatives do every week.”
Spurrier on Slive’s proposal to make scholarships multi-year agreements: “No, that’s a terrible idea, Commissioner. . . . The Commissioner and I agree on a lot of things but that’s not one there.”
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen on Spurrier pointing out that Mullen flies around in a jet: “But I haven’t played Augusta National.”