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The Joker

The Joker

Member Since 21 Jul 2004
Offline Last Active Today, 07:33 AM

Steve Spurrier: ‘Our guys are anxious to show the country we can play ball’

25 August 2014 - 06:18 AM

Steve Spurrier: ‘Our guys are anxious to show the country we can play ball’

By Josh Kendall  August 24, 2014

Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Football are gone, but South Carolina and Texas A&M remain ready to open the 2014 college football season just the same.

“They are probably a little bit like us that they haven’t had a bunch of superstars to talk about this preseason, and their players are anxious to earn their way, just like our guys,” Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said. “Our guys are anxious to show the country we can play ball, and we have a lot of good players also.”

The No. 9 Gamecocks and No. 21 Aggies will meet for the first time in their histories on Thursday at 6 p.m. in Williams-Brice Stadium in the first game of the season for both teams and the first major college football game of the season. The game will serve as the inaugural football broadcast for the new SEC Network.

The fact that Clowney and former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel each decided to leave school early following the 2013 season has done little to dampen the enthusiasm for the game in Columbia, where the Gamecocks are the favorites to win the SEC East and are favored by 10.5 points over the Aggies.

“I think it’s nice to be picked a little bit,” Spurrier said of the expectations surrounding his team. “People think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good, maybe that tells our players, ‘Hey, we got a chance to be pretty good.’ But we also know that we can get beat, just like almost anybody can get beat these days. We have to go coach and play well if we’re going to give ourselves a good chance.”
Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson will make the fourth start of his career but the first as the full-time starter. He is 3-0 in his previous three starts.

“Obviously, Connor Shaw I think we all agree was the best (quarterback) in school history, but we really believe Dylan has an opportunity to really play well this year,” Spurrier said. “He has prepared I think as well as he can possibly do it, and the players have confidence that he can take us a long way.”

South Carolina’s FBS-best, 18-game home winning streak will be going up against an impressive streak by the Aggies, who are 10-2 on the road under Kevin Sumlin.

“Of course, that big win over Alabama (two years ago) was in Tuscaloosa, so they are a good road team,” Spurrier said. “They are not afraid to go in the other guy’s ball park.”

The Gamecocks have not lost at home since Oct. 1, 2011, against Auburn.

“We are certainly glad the game is at our place, at Williams-Brice, where we have had a good run the last two and a half years,” Spurrier said. “Hopefully, we can continue. I know our fans will be fired up and ready to do their part.”

The game will be South Carolina’s 12th Thursday night game under Spurrier, and the eighth time in Spurrier’s 10 seasons that the Gamecocks have opened the season on a Thursday night. They have won the previous seven Thursday night openers, and have won 14 straight season-opening games overall. Spurrier is 23-1 in his career in season-opening games.

“We have been fortunate in the openers,” he said. “Haven’t always played extremely well, but the other team hasn’t played extremely well either. We coach them all the same, try to get the guys prepared the same, the opener, the last one, the bowl game and so forth.”

Muschamp's seat is on FIRE!!!!

23 August 2014 - 07:17 AM

After Season of Despair, All the Pressure Is on the Coach

By MARC TRACY   AUG. 23, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It is so hot at football practice here in August that even the referees wear shorts.

Partly because of the sweltering weather, Florida Coach Will Muschamp, who is facing enormous pressure to succeed, was persuaded to move most camp workouts to early morning or late afternoon.

After all, health is a top priority in Gainesville this season given the experience of the last, when more than two dozen Gators were injured. Most significant, the team’s starting quarterback, Jeff Driskel, broke his right leg in the third game, and Florida finished 4-8, ending the season on a seven-game skid that included losses at home to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern.

When Florida last had a record that poor — an 0-10-1 campaign in 1979 — Muschamp was an 8-year-old Gators die-hard living near Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, well before the future coach Steve Spurrier christened it the Swamp. For Muschamp, 43, this is his highest-stakes season yet. It is the fourth since he was hired to fix what his predecessor, Urban Meyer, who won two national championships with Florida, called a broken program.

Muschamp and Meyer are not exactly on friendly terms, but even Meyer could sympathize with Muschamp’s predicament.
“I wish them well,” Meyer, now Ohio State’s coach, said last month. “I hope they stay healthy.”

Muschamp may have one of the most enviable jobs in football, but he is also at the top of most everyone’s list of coaches on the hot seat — those likely to be fired should the season not go well. A savant on defense, he has coached that side of the ball at Auburn; under Nick Saban at Louisiana State and with the Miami Dolphins; and at Texas, which announced that he would eventually succeed Mack Brown as head coach. (Muschamp left for Florida before Brown stepped down.) He has all the tools for success and few excuses for going 4-8 again.

“If this offense doesn’t take major strides in 2014, not only will Florida not compete for an SEC title, but Muschamp could find himself out of work,” Athlon Sports wrote in its season preview.

On message boards, fans share similar sentiments with less politesse. At the Swamp restaurant near campus, a digital clock counts down to kickoff — 25 days 20 hours 52 minutes 10.4 seconds, it read recently — also ticking away how much time Muschamp has left to get it right.

While last season seemed to end on a forgiving note, with major programs like Michigan (Brady Hoke) and Nebraska (Bo Pelini) choosing to retain their embattled coaches, that is definitely not the norm around college football.

“I don’t think there’s an un-hot seat,” said Robert Boland, a sports management professor at New York University.

Part of the problem is that fans can point to the nearly instant success that Saban and Gus Malzahn achieved as coaches at Alabama and Auburn and to Pete Carroll’s speedy resuscitation of Southern California a decade ago. Higher revenues also raised the temperature of coaching seats, Boland said, with universities more willing to buy out contracts. (Muschamp’s salary is nearly $3 million a year, but if he is fired without cause, his contract will net him $2 million for each year afterward through the 2017 season.)

If a coach does not immediately flourish, he encounters a nagging paradox: The things he might do to win the next game are not always the same things he would do to build a sustainable program. Does he install a new offense that will take a year to jell? Start a promising but raw quarterback over a milquetoast veteran?

Jeremy Foley, Florida’s athletic director, denied there was a “magic number” of victories Muschamp needed to reach to keep his job. Instead, the Gators’ 2014 campaign, which includes tough games against Alabama and Louisiana State, will be a fascinating test case in balancing the competing imperatives of winning now and cultivating a sustainable program.

“Sometimes you hire a coach, and you win the press conference — everyone says that’s the greatest hire ever,” Foley said. “We’re not in the business of worrying about the press conference. We’re in the business of worrying where we’re going to be five years from now.”
Pointing out his office window toward campus, he added, “Nobody wants to hear that five-year timetable.”

MUSCHAMP HAS HIS own history of injuries, including the one he sustained last year when he punched a chalkboard during halftime of a 19-14 loss to South Carolina.

While playing left field for Darlington School in Rome, Ga. — where his father, Larry, a former high school football coach, was the lower school principal — he collided with the shortstop on a pop-up, fracturing his tibia and fibula. As a freshman walk-on at Georgia — on the team’s first day in pads, no less — he broke his collarbone. Afterward, his parents found him lying in his dorm, forlorn. His father told him: “It’s O.K. Something good will come of this.”

Larry Muschamp was right. Being sidelined for the year because of his collarbone gave Will Muschamp time to allow his leg to heal further. By his senior year, he was a Georgia captain.

Now, Muschamp enters his first season during which he cannot consult with his father, who died in May.

“You’d have a hard time finding anyone who didn’t like him,” Muschamp said of his father, who played football at North Carolina. “He said what was on his mind, but he had a certain way of saying it. Most people like that — like me — rub a lot of people the wrong way.”
Muschamp is the youngest of three boys, five years younger than the middle brother, Mike, who played at Duke and is a high school football coach in Atlanta. Muschamp’s oldest brother, Pat, played at Army and has a son who is being recruited by several Division I programs.

Mike Muschamp said Will picked fights with his older brothers as though he were their size. That fiery demeanor later earned Will Muschamp the nickname Coach Boom; his sideline chest-bumps with players have been known to bloody his face. But several people described a calmer individual, with people skills reminiscent of his father’s.

“Last year, when I was coming in as a freshman, he wasn’t yelling at me for stuff I was doing wrong; he was teaching me,” cornerback Vernon Hargreaves said. Now, Hargreaves added, “he knows I know the defense, so he can yell at me more.”

Dan Quinn, the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator, who worked under Muschamp for two seasons at Florida, said: “Will has a really unique ability to connect with coaches and players. There’s no doubt in my mind he’s going to have his team tight and close.”

THE CONSENSUS AUTOPSY of last season is that Florida lost many key players (above all, its quarterback) and that was the ballgame. Florida still had a top defense — eighth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in yards per game and 15th in points per game.

“Last year, I said the most important player in the SEC was Jeff Driskel,” said Gary Danielson, a lead college football analyst for CBS. “When he got hurt, you could see it being a disastrous season.”

But Muschamp had a slightly different take. “I think if you just blame it on injuries, you’re naïve,” he said.
The team, he added, “needed to be more desperate.”

In that context, it is hard not to notice that Florida actually won the game in which Driskel left or that the caliber of Florida’s offensive players has slipped during Muschamp’s tenure, with only four being picked in the last three N.F.L. drafts.
Whether the program used the time afforded by those injuries — the lost season, the off-season of reflection — to improve in a long-term manner, the way Muschamp did as a player at Georgia, will be seen in the coming weeks.
The biggest change Muschamp made was to his offense.

Looking around the Southeastern Conference, Muschamp saw more spread and fast-paced offenses. Dallas Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett, who was the quarterbacks coach for the Dolphins the year Muschamp was there, explained to Muschamp that it was advantageous for college quarterbacks to run more plays from the shotgun — that it let them see the plays and that it was what they were used to, from high school and endless summer seven-on-sevens.

Muschamp tapped Kurt Roper, previously Duke’s offensive coordinator, to install such a system.

“Speed and space,” Roper, who earned his stripes as a quarterback whisperer, his most famous charge being Eli Manning at Mississippi, told his passers at a recent meeting. “Speed and space.”

Roper’s goal is to get the ball into the hands of players who can make defenders miss in the open field. The outcome, it is hoped, will be explosive plays, defined as runs of 10 or more yards and passes of 16 or more. Perhaps the most-used word at the meeting was “bubble” — a type of screen play for a speedy receiver.

It helps that Roper’s offenses are relatively simple. A play designed to be a handoff, for example, will include one receiver running a route for a bubble screen and another running a hitch; if the quarterback sees a cornerback or a safety cheating toward the run, he will throw a pass to one of the receivers without even calling an audible. From there, it is speed and space.
THE DOOR TO Florida’s football office complex requires a key fob. A side door in Muschamp’s personal office, however, lacks such security and opens behind the desk of Foley, the athletic director.

Muschamp’s job may not be safe, but Foley’s is. He started as an intern in Florida’s athletics department in 1976 and became the A.D. in 1992. In addition to presiding over the football team’s three national titles, Foley has kept the accomplished basketball coach Billy Donovan in Gainesville while leading a department that excels in sports like volleyball, baseball and swimming.
Foley said he expected Muschamp to be Florida’s football coach for “a long, long time.”
“He’s a winner,” Foley said.

But Foley’s trigger finger has been prone to itchiness before: A decade ago, Ron Zook, who had been on Spurrier’s staff in the 1990s, was sent on his way after three underwhelming but winning seasons as head coach.

“I’ve been here long enough to know when things are totally going south,” Foley said. “You get a sense. You get a feel. I didn’t feel that a year ago, even though it wasn’t what we wanted, and I certainly don’t feel that way now.”

Muschamp said he valued the closeness of their relationship — the literal open-door policy, with Foley checking in every day.
“You’re graded on Saturday afternoon as a coach,” Muschamp said. “But when you see how far the program has come, from his standpoint, and then you also understand the circumstances we were under, that makes the decision he made make sense.”
Football has extremely small data sets for judging teams, though. Coaches might buy into Vince Lombardi’s dictum that teams make their own luck because to believe the alternative is too horrifying — admitting that they are substantially powerless. Still, wins remain the currency.

Those around Muschamp are aware of how precarious the situation could turn.

At the quarterbacks meeting, Roper spoke about his graduate assistant Matthew Symmes, who had come with him from Duke.
“Symmes has done more for me than I’ll ever be able to do for him,” Roper said.

There was an awkward pause and some laughter because Symmes, sitting at the end of the table, quietly compiling notes, clearly needs Roper to help him climb the coaching ladder.

But Roper quickly reminded those in attendance that they were all on the hot seat — not just Muschamp.
“Everyone in this room’s got to play good, or Symmes and I will be packing our bags and going down the road,” Roper said. “Wouldn’t be the first time, would it, Symmes?”

Even with that in mind, Muschamp is striving to balance the counter-motives: winning now versus winning in the future, doing everything you can while acknowledging there is only so much you can do.

“I’m really worried about pleasing Jeremy Foley, Bernie Machen”— Florida’s president — “my wife, my mom and my family,” Muschamp said, adding, “I spend zero time worrying about anything other than what I can control.”


A Trip Down Memory Lane....

22 August 2014 - 06:04 AM

South Carolina begins its quest for a fourth consecutive 11-win season next week. Take a walk down memory lane as we recall the 10 days that led South Carolina to it's golden age of football.


Former USC QB Connor Shaw blows Manziel out of the water....

19 August 2014 - 06:48 AM

Shaw 8 for 9, 123 yards, 1TD, no INTs, 2 rushes for 9 yards.

QB rating: 155.8

Posted Image

Manziel who?

Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S has 'more than its share of problems'

13 August 2014 - 04:12 AM

If these are the only two issues that Consumer Reports could find, then that's great. How many automakers deal with much more serious repairs upon delivery to a customer?? Tesla's problems are minute and pale in comparison.

I can't help but think that this may be a smear job on Tesla though. It's like they made the cars too good so we have to find some weakness or fault in them.

   Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S has 'more than its share of problems'

Reuters with

Consumer Reports, which last year gave top marks to electric carmaker Tesla Motors Inc's Model S sedan, now says the car it owns has had "more than its share of problems."

While the car has impressed staff at the influential U.S. consumer magazine with its "smoothness, effortless glide and cleaver, elegant simplicity," there have been many quirks that might dampen consumers' experiences, Consumer Reports said in a statement on Monday.
Consumer Reports, which anonymously buys the vehicles it tests from auto dealerships, said the Model S it owns now has traveled nearly 16,000 miles. Its 2013 Model S was purchased for $89,650 in January of that year.

"We've seen all different types of issues. Probably the most serious is that really large screen that's in the car, that's like the giant iPad, it went blank on us completely," which eliminated access to almost every function of the car, Consumer Reports' Jake Fisher said in an interview with CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Tesla fixed the issues on the magazine's Model S under warranty. These included a "hard reset" to restore the car's functions after its center screen went blank and problems with the automatic retracting door handles, which were occasionally reluctant to emerge.
Last November, Consumer Reports ranked the Model S best among all cars on the market in its annual survey of vehicles on U.S. roads. And in May 2013, the magazine awarded the Tesla sedan 99 out of a possible 100, one of the best ratings it has ever given an automobile.

The base version of the Model S starts at around $70,000.

"The truth is that this is a new car, this is a new car company and there are some issues going on with it," Fisher said.
In a statement to CNBC, Tesla said, "Tesla considers service a top priority, and we err on the side of being proactive to ensure the best driving experience possible. That means we are particularly attentive in addressing potential issues, even if those appear to be very minor or have a low likelihood of causing any future problems."

Quirky issues aside, Fisher said the Tesla Model S was "one of the most phenomenal cars we've ever tested. The car, it drives, it performs very well, it's fast, it's fuel efficient, it's roomy. In terms of the way it's performed it's been very impressive."

Tesla has been one of the hottest U.S. stocks this year, more than doubling its value. It closed on Monday at $259.32 per share, up 4.5 percent.

Tesla's only production model is the Model S, but next spring it plans to introduce a crossover electric car, the Model X.
Fisher noted that the magazine plans on releasing a new survey in the fall after the cars have more miles on them, "and we'll see how they hold up."