Brandon Costner and Dennis Horner are sporting some new ink. Both players got new tattoos on their right arms over the summer, Horner honoring his hometown of Linwood, while Costner got a bunch of different sayings.
Kickoff happens in less than 24 hours, I'll be on my way to Columbia in less than 12, and you know, despite everything that has happened during fall camp, I can't help it--I'm excited. I think there's even some optimism in there somewhere. Not sure where that's coming from. Maybe it's the delirium fostered by a long off-season, maybe it's the gin and tonics I've been drinking all night.
I haven't had much success with road games; since the win in Austin I attended in 1999, I've gone to about a road game a year, and NC State has lost all of them. Some left permanent scars (Maryland '02, UNC '04), while most of the others made me wonder why I was wasting my time (Wake '03, '07; GT '01, '03 (I decided at the last second not to go to Atlanta in 2005, and we won there for the first time since like Taft was in office. Not a coincidence.)).
No matter--this is no time to consider such things rationally. Football's back! And for just a little while longer, anything is possible.
As you have no doubt heard, Tom O'Brien, who apparently spends his off-seasons flinging black cats at mirrors, announced that Jamelle Eugene will miss the season opener ... and Curtis Crouch won't be traveling with the team ... and some dudes transferred ... but other than that and all the other bad stuff that's happened, everything's great!
"If there is any justice in this world, to be a White Sox Wolfpack fan frees a man from any other form of penance." -- Bill Veeck
Talkin' South Carolina With Garnet And Black Attack
As promised, more Q&A action. This time: Gamecock Man from Garnet And Black Attack, who has more bar recommendations, among other things.
I know they've said it won't be a problem, but do you have any concerns that the size of Jasper Brinkley and Eric Norwood (good lord they're huge!) will be a liability in pass coverage?
Great question. On the one hand, Brinkley and Norwood are fast for their size, and at any rate the coaching staff seems to believe that our secondary will be effective without too much help from the linebackers. However, it's true that the big guys aren't considered elite in pass coverage. This is maybe more true of Norwood; we've seen that Brinkley can hold his own in coverage, but Norwood hasn't played linebacker since high school and has had to adjust to the position. So, I guess my answer would be that while this shouldn't be a major problem, it could be something of a liability if an opposing team figures out how to exploit it. I think our staff believes that moving Norwood to linebacker will be enough of a help in run defense to make it worth the risk of pass coverage problems.
If I can only visit one bar while I'm in Columbia, where am I going?
I would say Yesterday's, which is right off campus in the Five Points district. I went to this place almost every Thursday evening while I was at Carolina. Yesterday's serves up reasonably priced drinks and also has some pretty tasty Southern food. Uncle Louie's in the Vista area was also a personal favorite.
Do you think we'll see both Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley in the opener? From what I've read about South Carolina's fall scrimmages, it sounds like Smelley has maybe been a bit better; just how committed is Spurrier to Beecher?
Barring a total collapse on Beecher's part, I don't think that we'll see Chris Smelley in the opener. Spurrier has said over and over again that he wants to give Beecher a fighting chance to hold onto the starting job. Pulling the plug on Beecher in the opener would seem to go back on that claim. However, like I said, all bets are off if Beecher throws a couple of interceptions in the first quarter.
Is this going to be the breakthrough season (however you might define it) that you guys have been waiting for Spurrier to deliver?
Well, lots of us disagree about what constitutes a "breakthrough season"; some mean a New Year's Day Bowl and top 15 ranking in the final polls, while some mean an SEC championship and possible shot at the national title. I'm probably in the former category. I don't think we're going to win the SEC this year; while it wouldn't surprise me too much if we pulled off an upset against either Georgia or Florida, I just don't think we're good enough to hang with those two teams in the standings throughout the season. I do think that we could possibly win eight or nine regular season games, which I would consider a pretty successful season and maybe even a "breakthrough." That would get us into a decent bowl and would give us some momentum going into recruiting. We really need that momentum, because Clemson seriously killed us last year in recruiting. I would also like to see us beat Tennessee and supplant them for third in the SEC East. That would be a sign of progress.
Look into the future and tell me how Stephen Garcia's next drunken run-in with the police will play out.
Well, I hope I'm looking into my imagination here more so than into the future, but here we go: Garcia will be arrested after police find him drunkenly passed out on the lawn of the USC Horseshoe. While being questioned regarding why he continues to screw himself and his team over, Garcia will reveal that Ron Morris, noted for the anti-Gamecock vitriol he spews in The State, has been paying him to make a fool of himself as part of Morris's effort to sabotage USC sports. Garcia will be kicked off the team and will eventually enroll at South Florida, where he will lead the Bulls to a surprise appearance in the national title game in 2011, although the Bulls will lose to Ohio State, who will be happy to finally avoid playing an SEC team in the postseason. Morris, to the chagrin and perplexity of Gamecock fans everywhere, will weather the scandal and will continue to be employed by The State.
Game week is here, finally, and we are oh so close to kicking off the season. I mean, I'm actually glad it's Monday. In preparation for Thursday, I exchanged some questions with a gentleman from Barnyardian. His answers to my questions are below; my answers to his are over at his place.
And stay tuned! More exciting Q-and-A action is coming.
With so many guys back, South Carolina figures to improve on its glaring defensive weakness from a year ago--an inability to stop the run. How much defensive improvement do you expect, and which guys are going to make the difference? Any concern that switching to the 4-2-5 scheme will cause problems?
You had to bring up last year didn't you? Ass. I dropped about 10 grand on therapy and 15 grand on new HDTVS... I threw a kid through two of them. I do not advocate child abuse but when the Gamecocks are losing they should know it is not smart to stand with in arm's reach.
Here is a big misconception about last year... we had the players (Brinkley going down hurt) but the scheme sucked. Tell me this, if you are facing Heisman Candidate (and eventual winner) Tim Tebow who is known for running, would you think that using three down line man (3 yards off the ball) is a smart move? I didn't. Tyrone Nix did. Spurrier fired his ass. Now we have Ellis who is known for stopping the run.
I think the adjustment to the 4-2-5 will equate to shaking the rust off in the first game. No big deal.
The guy to watch is Norwood. We all know about Brinkley but Norwood was a beat on the defensive line last year and he has been moved to linebacker. That creates the biggest line backing corps. in the NCAA. I know what you are thinking... big equals slow. Not so with these two. Both are extremely quick.
This coupled with the returning #1 pass defense in the nation should equal the following statement.
I expect South Carolina to finish up 2nd or 3rd in total defense in the SEC. Do you think we'll see both Tommy Beecher and Chris Smelley in the opener? From what I've read about South Carolina's fall scrimmages, it sounds like Smelley has maybe been a bit better; just how committed is Spurrier to Beecher?
If God isn't still mad at me, you should only see Beecher. If you see Smelley, something is wrong. In regards to Spurrier, I have never heard him talk up a QB the way he has talked up Beecher. I think he heard the complaints about dueling QBs last year.
If I can only visit one bar while I'm in Columbia, where am I going?
Why would you only be able to visit just one? Light weight. Little know fact: Columbia has two massive bar districts: the Vista and the infamous 5 Points. 5 points is to scantily clad coeds and drunken frat boys throwing up like the Vista is to scantily clad cougars and drunken yuppies throwing up. There is one bar that manages to melt the two and it is slightly off the beaten path. It is called Kelly's. Loud music, coeds, cougars, yuppies, frat boys, bar top dancing, CHEAP DAMN BEER, CHEAP DAMN LIQUOR, occasional nudity from said drunken coeds and cougars (if you are in to that sort of thing) and rap battles that would make Vanilla Ice proud = hilarious goodness.
Look into the future and tell me how Stephen Garcia's next drunken run-in with the police will play out.
That is an easy one. He will be arrested for keying Mark Richt's car... then he will pull the fire alarm in Williams Brice forcing the evacuation of 90 thousand people. He will be found two weeks later trying to steal Tim Tebow's Heisman.
I don't know much about South Carolina's receivers and running backs, so tell me a little about those guys.
How do you not know who Kenny McKinley is? The top returning wide receiver in the SEC? The guy who will break all of Sterling Sharpe's records this year? Of course you know who Kenny is. But really, the success of the receiving corps in 2008 rests with the tight ends and Dion Lecorn. Dion came on at the end of the year last year and looks to be a Sidney Rice knock off.
Mike Davis has lived in Cory Boyd's shadow for a minute now. He has always had the potential to be one of those 100 yard game running backs but has not achieved. There are good things coming out of the camp. They say he is bigger, stronger, faster and a better rapper than Kanye West. I made that Kanye West thing up.
If the league apologized, would you think about coming back to the ACC? Because we would totally break up with that bitch Boston College to accommodate you.
Boston College is a bitch! I have been telling everyone that! We have a connection here. Will it go anywhere? I don't know. Do you believe Jedi are real? Everything hinges on that question. Alas, we can't come back to the ACC. Until the team starts winning more than 6 games a year, the only bragging point we have is that we are in the SEC. Example: Everyone: "You can't spell suck with out USC!" US: "Yeah well... you would suck too if you were in the SEC."
Brinkley is an All-SEC linebacker who missed 2007 with a knee injury and has been dealing with an ankle/heel problem throughout fall practice. That ankle may keep him out of next week's game, at least if this Spurrier radio show report is accurate:
The word from SOS last night at his call in show from wild Wings in the Vista is that Brinkley will be out for at least the NC State game. I heard Scott Hood of GamecockCentral.com say today that Brinkley will probably sit out Vandy as well. Spurrier seems to be confident that Sapp can fill his shoes.
Brinkley doesn't seem to have any doubts he'll play, however:
Brinkley estimates he is about 95 percent recovered from his sprained left ankle, which includes a strained ligament in his heel. Brinkley, whose 107 tackles in 2006 were twice as many as the Gamecocks’ next-leading tackler, said he would definitely play against North Carolina State next week.
Norwood has no doubts about it.
“Right now he’s just not pushing anything. It’s not bothering him,” Norwood said. “He’s just waiting ‘til the game, really.”
But a couple of days ago, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson suggested Brinkley's status was up in the air, and I kind of doubt that's changed.
Johnson also expressed some doubt that All-SEC linebacker Jasper Brinkley would be ready for the season opener, saying how healthy the ankle is all week will determine that.
“Jasper’s starting to get more and more work. If he can practice a good week of practice before the first game, he’ll be ready to go. If he can’t, Marvin Sapp has had a great camp and is ready to go.”
Based on how the scrimmages have unfolded, you can expect the Gamecocks to play the new-fangled defense a lot. Ellis Johnson has been coaching for a long time and he understands that speed wins in the SEC. The defense essentially puts another safety on the field. In USC’s case, that would be Chris Culliver once Darian Stewart returns from his heel injury. The 4-2-5 defense is also the best option for defending the spread option offense, which is becoming more and more popular across the country. When Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville hires a spread option guru to become his new offensive coordinator, you have to sit up and take notice.
Don't know how much we'll see it, though, considering we don't run the spread option. More on the defense here.
O'Brien said true freshman Mike Glennon will redshirt and that Harrison Beck will be the third quarterback. Justin Boyle's decision to transfer to Louisville, revealed on Monday, thinned the herd slightly, but the process isn't complete.
When Omar Epps's character in The Program fumbled during practice, he was required to carry a football to class every day, and if he was ever caught without it, ooh snap, son, there was gonna be big trouble. I think TOB should demand the same of Mike Glennon, except he has to be holding a protein shake rather than a football.
GoPack.com: Courtney seems excited about playing more of a wing forward position, as opposed to shooting guard. Lowe: That is something that we are going to look at doing, especially on this trip. It certainly should give us an advantage, because of his quickness in that position. He will sometimes be playing against some taller guys. He is very active on the boards from that position. He can crash the boards, especially on offense. That will free him up, as opposed to being in the backcourt trying to defend against the fast break. I think it will be great for our team and for Courtney.
"We're generally pretty slow at this time," Spurrier said Tuesday, just after USC's final preseason scrimmage. "We're always slow against our defense, no matter how good or how bad our defense is. I don't know the answer. We look better on the practice field than we do in (Williams-Brice Stadium). I don't know why. It's not a good omen.
"We've got a lot of work to do. Sometimes it's good not to be overconfident going into the year. We need to get some first downs. The offense is struggling. But we'll get it figured out."
-- As part of his punishment for being busted for underage drinking, Ty Lawson will have to write an essay. I feel his pain; I had to write a two-page essay when an RA caught me with alcohol. Still have that essay, in fact. Word count: 530. BS percentage: 89.7. (There were some words I meant sincerely, like I, has, if, and ... plus I always punctuate with a purpose.) Here's an excerpt: "Fuck this dumb ass shit. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders. Screw Flanders."
According to WRAL, Lawson's paper has to be four pages long. If I were him, I'd set the font size to one million so that the entire thing reads "I'M REALLY SOR."
-- The Technician outlines a few fall story lines--depressing ones, mostly:
Let's let the numbers speak for themselves: 56-game ACC losing streak. 3-143 against ACC competition this millennium. Needless to say things haven't gone as third-year coach Charita Stubbs planned when she took the job in 2006. The three-year mark usually is the point when a coach should have plenty of his or her players in a program and can be more fairly judged. It will be interesting to see if any improvements can be made this year.
Three-and-143. During my four years in the Student Wolfpack Club, I saw at least part of about 30 of those losses. God, the things I did for football and basketball tickets.
RALEIGH, N.C. – On the heels of a horrifying two hand touch incident that left 8 football players sidelined indefinitely, NC State head football coach Tom O'Brien has decided it prudent to err on the side of caution and altogether halt his team's physical activities.
"Full contact was a disaster, two hand touch, same thing ... we just felt like this was a step we had to take," O'Brien explained.
In a related development, the University of North Carolina laid off its entire staff of trainers after Butch Davis received, as he put it, "certain assurances from the man upstairs, if you catch my drift."
Senior Courtney Fells will get a feel for a different position in these early practices. After playing his first three seasons at the two-guard, Fells will be worked in at small forward while still seeing time at shooting guard.
Folks have been speculating about this move for a while, but this is the first official confirmation I've seen.
And look, we're going to see some old pals:
The Pack will hold practices over the next couple of weeks before setting off for Toronto on August 29. NC State will then face York University on August 30 and then University of Guelph on August 31 before heading back to Raleigh on September 1.
“Bowens is out – he's done," O'Brien said. "He's got a fractured spine... well not a fractured spine I said that wrong. He has a hairline fracture. So he's out for the year.”
O'Brien said he's not sure when the injury occurred.
“We don't know," O'Brien said. "He never really got going. He went out and tried it one or two or three days and then couldn't practice anymore. He had a series of tests done that came back yesterday.”
He also said he wasn't sure if the injury could be considered career-threatening.
“I don't know that. They are going to recheck him in three months or something. It's gotta heal. Once it heals I would think.... I would hope. I dunno.”
Lee Fowler Joins Blogosphere; Lunatic Fringe Membership Pending
Among the new features at GoPack.com is a blogs section, although the blogs aren't very bloggy. Lee Fowler is going to be a weekly contributor with what promises to be a no-holds-barred look at the athletics department. Let's see how that's going so far:
In another week, we will start being rewarded for all the off-season planning. Students start returning to campus. Parking spaces are harder to find. For me, having spent my entire career on a college campus, that time is so special.
Seeing our upperclassmen and how much they have grown and matured is satisfying. You can always see a different hunger for the seniors who know they only have one more chance to fulfill their collegiate dreams. And meeting the newly arriving freshmen and transfers, their eyes full of hope and potential, means just as much.
Developing these talented young people and seeing them compete is the great reward of our profession. This time of year, you can see that on the faces of every member of our staff.
Beecher struggled for much of the rest of the night, completing 15-of-30 passes overall for 123 yards. His only touchdown pass came on the game's final play when he hooked up with Jason Barnes on a 15-yard scoring strike. Beecher was also intercepted once by Chris Hail, who stepped in front of the intended receiver and rambled 45 yards to the endzone.
"I thought we would move the ball better, but we didn't, so we have a lot of coaching to do," said Coach Spurrier. "Tommy hasn't played much at all and I guess it was evident tonight. He got hung up and scrambled around and you can't do that in our conference. You have to get rid of it. He knows where (his receivers) all are, but his decision-making - he hasn't done a lot, he hasn't played a lot. That's why we left him out there and let him struggle. We'll see if he can learn from it and go from there. It was probably good for Tommy. He needs to understand that he hasn't done much yet."
*hurls visor at sportswriters*
We could be in for one ugly game in two weeks. And I'm okay with that, because I figure that's the only kind of game we can win in Columbia. The other day I had a dream where I was at the USC game and we looked incompetent offensively but blocked three punts en route to a 23-20 win. Or maybe I was just watching my copy of the '99 Texas game again. Best road trip ever.
I'd complain here, but frankly, I'm just thankful we managed to dodge "Don't Stop Believin'." That's something of a minor miracle. My roommate is a bit of a Journey enthusiast (come to think of it, I know a lot of Journey fans. I need some new friends), and I don't think I could stomach any additional exposure.
According to the idiot, he will become incensed at the quality and sentiment of the comments already posted below the video—which will include such replies as "not great, nice try tho," "FIRSTIES!!!" and "wtf?? lol so random." At this point, Mylenek said, he will feel a deep, unwavering desire to offer a dissenting opinion, which he has hinted will include the words "gay" and "reatrd" [sic].
"It is my moral obligation to alert the Internet community to the fact that this video is totally gay, and furthermore, that the individual who made it is a fag," Mylenek said.
GoPack: What has your workout regimen been during the summer?
McCauley: I have been here in Raleigh all summer, getting my body right. I have lost 10 to 12 pounds. Last year, I started the season a little heavy. So now I feel good. I had an ankle problem from something that happened in the Clemson game, but it is 100 percent now. I am really looking forward to the season.
Encouraging news that makes me hopeful we'll get most of the old Ben back; he's probably not going to shoot 58.4% again, but the lost pounds should go a long way towards making him an efficient low post scorer once again.
I couldn't have guessed it when I was planning the trip, but it turns out that this is a pretty good weekend to head to Chicago for some baseball. Both teams are playing at home, and both are in first place (in August!). First time this has happened since like 1906, according to Sportscenter. So, should be quite the atmosphere.
I'll be at Wrigley on Saturday and Sunday, The Cell on Monday. Probably won't be anything in this space until Wednesday.
Daniel Evans 4 of 7 for 40 yards Russell Wilson 3 of 6 for 20 yards and one interception Harrison Beck 5 of 6 for 111 yards Mike Glennon 9 of 13 for 101 yards and one interception Justin Burke 3 of 6 for 52 yards
Stephen Garcia, a highly-touted freshman QB at South Carolina, was reinstated two weeks early, just in time for the start of practice:
South Carolina’s suspended quarterback will be on the field Friday for the Gamecocks’ first preseason practice after university officials on Wednesday approved Garcia’s request for early reinstatement, according to sources close to the situation.
Garcia was suspended in March following his third arrest or citation in a 15-month span. The suspension was to have lasted until Aug. 15 — the day students return to campus — and include a number of requirements ranging from drug and alcohol tests to personal counseling.
Those citations include: drunkenness and failure to stop for a police officer (his attempts to hide in an alley were surprisingly unsuccessful); keying a professor's car; more underage drinking, as well as the admission that he discharged a fire extinguisher in a dormitory. (Which, I mean, who hasn't done that? "Will that fire extinguisher propel my office chair down the hall?" is the sort of question you ask yourself after 12 Bud Ice Lights. Also: "Would using the sink as a urinal provide me with the additional testicular support I've longed for all these years?")
[You can't make this stuff up: according to the USC media guide (pdf), Garcia's hobbies include "watching ancient war movies and collecting swords."]
Glennon is listed at 6-foot-6, an inch shorter than offensive tackle Jeraill McCuller. But Glennon obviously was the tallest player on the field Thursday as N.C. State started practice.
It seems likely that Glennon will redshirt. His footwork isn’t as polished as that of his teammates yet, and it’s difficult to imagine him learning the offense quickly enough to be ready to start in the Aug. 28 opener at South Carolina.
Nonetheless, he seems to have a strong arm, and he certainly won’t have trouble seeing over his linemen when he is in the pocket.
But judging by pure physique, wide receiver Geron James is impressive. He is listed at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds after earning his way back on the team. James, a junior, was not enrolled in school last fall but returned in the spring with a renewed desire to be part of the team.
More than some of the other receivers, James appears capable of catching a pass and steamrolling over a clinging cornerback to break into the open field.