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Three & Out returns to give you a periodic look at what's going on this spring in the SEC. In today's edition, we take a look at the the 'Ole Ball Coach, the quarterback battle in Knoxville and a message delivered by Urban Meyer.
BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN
The SEC East is full of question marks this off-season. The one exception is at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks return 19 of 22 players on both two-deeps. The question the Gamecocks should be asking themselves is, "if not now, when?"
It appears South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier sees the door open a bit, and is looking to strike while the iron is hot.
Last season, Spurrier called most plays, but allowed Steve Spurrier Jr., G.A. Mangus and Eric Wolford to give it a shot from time to time. That's not the case anymore. The 'Ole Ball Coach has announced that he will be calling all the plays in 2010.
Well, it's about time. After all, it IS Steve Spurrier. No offense to any of the South Carolina assistants, but I think it pretty much goes without saying that the Gamecocks are significantly better off with the Visor calling the shots.
What should scare the rest of the SEC East is that he actually has weapons. Stephen Garcia is vastly underrated as a quarterback. He finished last year third in the SEC in passing with 2,862 yards. Pretty impressive considering he couldn't get anyone to block or run for him. He also gets the luxury of super sophomore Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver and true freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, who should be taking over the No. 1 running back spot immediately upon stepping foot in Columbia.
The announcement that Spurrier is calling the plays tells me that the Gamecock staff realizes that this is the best chance they've had at Atlanta...well...ever. If he can get it to click, it may be a banner season at South Carolina.
WIDE OPEN QB RACE
Derek Dooley's first spring as Tennessee's head coach is providing one of the most intriguing quarterback battles in the SEC – and it appears that the battle has started to sort itself out a bit.
Junior college transfer Matt Simms and freshman Tyler Bray have taken over most of the first- and second-team snaps from senior Nick Stephens.
Simms – the son of former New York Giant Phil Simms – appears to have moved to the top of the three horse race, and is gaining some fans in the process, including wide receiver Gerald Jones. As a junior, Simms threw for 2,200 yards and 17 touchdowns in an injury-shortened 2009 at El Camino College in Torrance, Calif.
Bray, who enrolled at Tennessee this semester, will now receive snaps with the second team and some with the first. He has been impressive this spring, including an 8-for-13 performance in a full-squad scrimmage last week.
The odd man out is Stephens, who is the only quarterback on the Vols roster with any SEC experience. The senior threw for 840 yards and four touchdowns in seven games in 2008. But instead of waiting it out and trying to win back the No. 1 snaps, Stephens has decided to transfer.
Transferring before the end of spring practice? It was obviously a battle that Stephens didn't see himself winning. But being the only quarterback on the roster with SEC experience counts for something, and there still is plenty of time to win the job back. The timing is very odd, to say the least.
Contrary to the quarterback races at Auburn, Georgia and Kentucky, the battle in Tennessee should last beyond spring practice and into August. Sure, every coach would like to break spring camp with a No. 1 guy, but considering the upheaval that's gone on in Knoxville, taking it slow probably is the more responsible thing to do.
MEYER DELIVERS A MESSAGE
Urban Meyer's blood pressure was on the rise again Wednesday afternoon, and it had nothing to do with football.
His message to the Gators? "No stealing, no drugs, no weapons!"
Well, hello Captain Obvious.
The Gators have made regular appearances on the police blotter since Meyer took over the program before the 2005 season. At least 30 Florida players have been arrested over the last five years. Apparently, Meyer has had enough.
Gators wide receiver coach Zach Azzanni, who was with Meyer at Bowling Green in 2001, says that he's heard that speech before and that this was the Coach Meyer that he remembered.
Meyer's rising stress level is what caused the health problems that caused him to retire, un-retire and take a 10-day leave of absence four months ago. But let's be honest, those arrests contributed, at least in part, to that stress level. So before you criticize Meyer for his actions on Wednesday, keep in mind that cutting down on the shenanigans on his roster will go a long way to help his team AND his health.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2010 Spring Three & Out Archive
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 8, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – April 5, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 31, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 28, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 24, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 21, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 18, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 15, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 11, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 5, 2010
Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes – March 2, 2010
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