AUBURN: The offensive went forward, but the defense went backward in last Saturday’s 156-play scrimmage. Auburn’s first team offense scored on three of its first six series and scored touchdowns on all five of its situational series inside the 25-yard line. Former South Carolina transfer Kenny Irons gained 123 yards and three scores. Tre Smith had 96 yards and two scores. In all, the offense ran for 396 yards on 92 carries. The defense, which limited its blitzes, played without defensive ends Bret Eddins and his backup Doug Langenfeld. The cornerback position opposite Carlos Rogers is a trouble spot with sophomore Montavis Pitts struggling throughout the scrimmage. Junior college transfer David Irons has replaced Pitts. First team linebackers Travis Williams and Mayo Sowell had nine tackles each. Quarterback Jason Campbell was 13-of-25 passing for 175 yards and two scores. Brandon Cox was 9-of-21 for 93 yards. Courtney Taylor had 78 yards on three catches. The field goal kicking was only 7-of-11 against virtually no rush. Philip Yost (4-of-6) and John Vaughn (3-of-5) did not have a productive day. Sophomore Ben Grubbs has moved from defense tackle to left guard. He is currently holding down the starting spot for that position. In the past two scrimmages, the Tiger defense has allowed scores in seven of eight series. Junior linebacker Lemarcus Russell has left the team and is transferring to a yet-to-be determined school. He was third on the depth chart. He spent last summer and fall at a junior college after a run-in with the law. The spring game is Saturday at 1 p.m. central. (Auburnsports.com)
Tiger athletic director David Housel is stepping down from his position at the end of the year. He insists that his departure had nothing to do with the controversy involving he and school president William Walker traveling to see Louisville coach Bobby Petrino while Tommy Tuberville was still the Tiger head coach. Housel had been the AD for 10 years. He will leave the school with the athletic budget in the black and considerable improvement in the facilities. There is speculation that former Tiger baseball coach Hal Baird, who is now the associate AD, will replace him.
ALABAMA: Quarterback Marc Guillon was 22-of-37 for 272 yards with a touchdown and an interception during last Saturday’s 92-play scrimmage. He also bobbled four snaps and lost two. ‘Bama had practices Tuesday and Thursday before the annual A-Day game Saturday. Receiver Tyrone Prothro was the star with eight catches for 138 yards. He had catches of 44 and 47-yards. Brandon Brooks had two catches for 66 yards. The defense won the first part of the scrimmage and the offense rebounded in the second half. Le’Ron McClain had 38 yards on six carries, Ken Darby had nine carries for 32 yards and Tim Castille had 29 yards on nine carries. First team cornerback Ramzee Robinson had four tackles and a pick. Charlie Peprah had six tackles and a pass break-up. Quarterback Michael Machen has left the team after being told that he was not in the team’s long-range plans. The experiment to move Charlie Peprah from cornerback to safety is into the second week. Mike Shula said cornerback Ramzee Robinson has had one of the best spring of all the players. Kickoff for the A-Day game is 2:30 p.m. Cornelius Wortham is battling Freddie Roach for the starting middle linebacker position. Wortham is up to 243 pounds. He came to Alabama weighing 190 pounds in 2000. (Bamaonline.com)
OLE MISS: The Rebels started spring practice Thursday. Michael Spurlock is the potential replacement for Eli Manning. He has played in a limited amount of games, but he has a lot of practice time. David Cutcliffe compared him to former Tennessee quarterback Tee Martin. The Rebels have 30 returning players with experience from last season. Besides Manning, they have to replace receiver Chris Collins and several members of the defensive front seven. Most of the offensive line is back, but with little depth. Defensive lineman Chris Herring and offensive lineman James McCoy have returned to the team after leaving the team in 2002 and spending last season at a junior college. (RebelGrove.com)
FLORIDA: The Gator begin spring practice with immediate needs on defense including replacing four starters in the secondary, depth concerns at linebacker and defensive end. Gator coach Ron Zook is also breaking in new coaches such as Dan Disch and a new offensive coordinator in Larry Fedora. Receivers Andre Caldwell and Chad Jackson are expected to battling for starting positions. Another receiver Dallas Baker is expected to have a breakout year. Other issues are who replaces Shannon Snell and Max Starks on the offensive line and Bobby McCray and Darrell Lee on the defensive line. Travis Harris, who played defensive end last year, has moved to linebacker. (Gainesville Sun) Redshirt sophomore Brian Crum, who played little last year at linebacker, is moving to tight end, his position during his redshirt season. Florida’s only tight ends are junior college transfers David Kenner and Markell Thompson. Sophomore Joe Cohen is now a defensive end after playing fullback last season. Sophomore Skyler Thornton is now the third team running back after Jimtavis Walker decided to transfer. Thornton is behind Ciatrick Fason and DeShawn Wynn. Safety Tre Orr left the team after the Outback Bowl. He had only had six tackles in his career. Sophomore linebacker Howard Lingard did not show at practice Tuesday. He is back on the team, but failed to let the coaches know he had a legitimate excuse. Lingard will do extra conditioning because of his unexcused absence. Bill Miller is the new associate head coach. He joined the team as a linebacker coach in January of 2003. Ronald Dowdy has moved from defensive tackle to offensive guard for depth purposes. Offensive lineman Mo Mitchell is listed at 367 pounds on the spring roster, but coach Ron Zook says Mitchell’s weight is not a problem. Gator players are wearing the word “TEAM” on their jerseys this spring. (Gatorbait.net)
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs began practice Saturday. Four Bulldogs are no longer with the team. Senior tailback Ronnie Powell has quit the team due to enduring shoulder problems. Last season, he had 276 yards on 51 carries. Junior guard Reggie Weeks, defensive end Preston Pannell, a Hargrave Military transfer, and offensive lineman Tommy Gainous, a redshirt freshman last season, have left the team after battling injuries for years. (UGASports.com)
MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Bulldogs start practice Monday, March 22. One of the primary priorities is finding a quarterback. Kyle York has the most experience, but he is recovering from shoulder surgery. Others in the mix for playing time are sophomore Aries Nelson, sophomore Omarr Conner, who played receiver last year and junior Brett Morgan. Junior Jerious Norwood is the returning starter at tailback Senior Fred Reid and redshirt freshman Jason Jude will push him for playing time. The top returning receiver in terms of receptions and yards is McKinley Scott. Other receivers who are battling to be in the rotation are Ray Ray Bivines, Tee Milons and Will Prosser and Conner. The unit with the most depth and experience on offense is the line. (Bulldogblitz.com)
SOUTH CAROLINA: The Gamecocks began practice Saturday. Practices are closed to the public. USC coaches must find a dependable quarterback. Dondrial Pinkins was the starter last year, but Lou Holtz has promised an open competition that involves sophomore Syvelle Newton and redshirt freshman Blake Mitchell. Newton was a receiver as a freshman. Mitchell is a drop-back passer. The running back position is in good shape with Daccus Turman, Cory Boyd and Demetrius Summers. Troy Williamson and Matthew Thomas will try to solidify starting positions at receiver. Sophomore Noah Whiteside could come emerge as a deep threat this spring. The offensive line has ten scholarship players and only seven of those are healthy enough to practice. On defense, the line returns all four starters—Moe Thompson, Darrell Shropshire, Freddy Saint-Preux and George Gause. The problem is this group rarely rushed the passer or stopped the run. Linebacker play needs to improve. Marcus Lawrence was consistent. Ricardo Hurley, Lance Laury and Orus Lambert should battle for the other spot in the new 4-2-5 defensive scheme. In the secondary, both cornerbacks have to be replaced. The safety spot, a disaster last year, has to improve. (GamecockCentral.com)
Skip Holtz is no longer the offensive coordinator. Lou Holtz has not listed an OC on the coaching list sent out by the SID. He did not have an OC at Notre Dame in 1990 and 91. In both years, Holtz called the plays for the Irish offense that finished in the top 20 in several offensive categories. Reserve running back Regis Edgerson is transferring. Edgerson, who weighs 217, said the coaches wanted him to be a fullback. (The State)
LSU: The Tigers open spring drills Saturday. Coach Nick Saban said senior Marcus Randall has the inside track on the starting quarterback job. However, redshirt freshmen JaMarcus Russell and Matt Flynn will get a shot at the job. Randall started six of LSU’s last seven games after Matt Mauck suffered a season-ending foot injury. The Tigers return 15 starters-six on offense, seven on defense and two specialists. A total of 41 lettermen return (23 on offense and 16 on defense). Saban must replace Mauck, receivers Michael Clayton and Devery Henderson, Chad Lavalais at defensive tackle, Jack Hunt at safety and Donnie Jones at punter. The Tigers will experiment with defensive backs Corey Webster and Ronnie Prude and Joseph Addai at receiver. (Tigerbait.com)
ARKANSAS: The Hogs have added Chad Dayton (6-2, 193), a quarterback from Tulsa Memorial. He has committed to walk-on. In his final two seasons of high school, he completed 225 of 335 passes for 29 touchdowns. Arkansas begins spring practice Monday, March 22. (Hawgsports.com)
NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels started practice this week. New defensive co-coordinators Marvin Sanders and John Gutekunst are working with the team for the first time. UNC welcomed two East Tennessee State senior transfers in Gerald Sensabaugh, a safety and Scott Brumett, a tight end. Three players--receiver Danny Rumley, quarterback Nick Cangelosi and linebacker Kory Gedin--have declared their intentions to transfer. (CarolinaBlue.com)
N. C. STATE: The Wolfpack started spring drills Tuesday. The Wolfpack have to replace quarterback Philip Rivers, receiver Jerricho Cotchery, offensive lineman Sean Locklear and both kickers. Defensively, the Wolfpack have five sophomores up front.
GEORGIA TECH: The Yellow Jackets began spring practice Friday. A priority is finding replacements for linebackers Darryl Smith, Keyaron Fox and Ather Brown. Every member of the secondary, except for cornerback Jonathan Cox, returns including starting safeties Dawan Landry, a junior, and James Butler, a senior. Another injury to backup quarterback Patrick Carter has forced Chan Gailey to move Mark Logan back to quarterback. Logan, a senior, was a receiver last year after coming to Tech as a quarterback in 2001. Reggie Ball returns as the starter. (Jacketsonline.com)
CLEMSON: Redshirt freshman Nick Watkins is making a run at the starting jack linebacker position. He could be a co-starter with sophomore Anthony Waters. Will Proctor has been impressive in his run to be the backup behind starting quarterback Charlie Whitehurst. After the defense struggled to stop the run last season, one of the priorities this spring is to show improvement along the interior of the line with juniors Trey Tate and Cory Groover and redshirt freshman Chris McDuffie. (TigerIllustrated.com)
FLORIDA STATE: Former FSU player James Colzie has returned to school as a grad assistant. He will coach cornerbacks and punt returners. He was a member of the 1993 recruiting class. Colzie spent the past two seasons as an assistant at Florida International. The Noles returned to practice this week after having last week off for spring break. Special teams were an emphasis this week. The Noles are looking for a long-snapper after the graduation of Brian Sawyer, a four-year starter at the position. Receiver Dominic Robinson is having a good spring. Redshirt freshman Jhermaine McAroy, who received a medical redshirt last year after injuring his shoulder, is back at practice. Freshman signee Tony Carter from Mandarin High in Jacksonville received good news on his standardized test scores. Carter has received an 890 on his SAT. His score plus his core grades should mean he qualifies easily. Carter and another signee Kenny O’Neal are battling over the right to wear jersey No. 4. In the team’s first scrimmage, the defense dominated the offense on the strength of five sacks. Willie Jones, Jr., had two sacks. Cornerback Bryant McFadden had the only pick. Chris Rix was 4-of-12 for 50 yards and Wyatt Sexton was 3-of-7 for 56 yards. Lorenzo Booker led the rushers with 55 yards on seven carries. Tight end Donnie Carter caught two passes for over 20 yards each. (Warchant.com)
VIRGINIA: Todd Nolen (6-3, 175), a receiver from Hampton (Va.) is looking at the Cavs. He has received scholarship offers from Virginia and Nebraska. He also has interest from Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Maryland and Ohio State. Nolen is considered the top receiver in the state. Victor “Macho” Harris (6-0, 186), a running back/cornerback from Highland Springs (Va.) is interested in Virginia. He has scholarship offers from Virginia, Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Michigan and Syracuse, just to name a few. Tom Hagan, who attempted nearly every punt for the Cavs the past two years, is leaving the program. He is going to concentrate on baseball. (TheWagonline.com)
MIAMI: The Canes are thin at linebacker this spring with only five scholarship players available. Coaches are hoping Tavares Gooden steps up as a leader. They also hope Leon Williams and Roger McIntosh are improved. McIntosh lost his starting job last year during the season. Providing depth is Glenn Cook and Jon Beason, who has moved from the secondary. The defensive line should be solid with tackles Santonio Thomas, Orien Harris, and Kareem Brown. Cane coaches are looking at a fourth defensive tackle for the rotation, possibly Dave Howell or Teraz McCray. At defensive end, Bryan Pata, Baraka Atkins and Thomas Carroll are back. Eric Moncur, Alton Wright and Vegas Franklin could have a breakout spring. Brian Monroe is working hard to improve his punting. Kicker Jon Peattie is healthy for the first time in his Cane career. He suffered with hamstring problems last year. The return game should be dangerous with Roscoe Parrish, Devin Hester and Antrel Rolle. Spring practice begins Tuesday, March 23. (Canesport.com)
NCAA RECRUITING: David Berst, the chairman of the NCAA task force reviewing recruiting rules, testified before Congress last week that the organization was considering a ban on school funded recruiting visits. More realistically, they are considering shortening visits from 48 to 24 hours, prohibit off-campus entertainment and limit spending on plane tickets, meals and hotels.
BRENT BEAIRD IS A SPORTS WRITER FOR THE CLAY COUNTY LINE IN ORANGE PARK, FL.
HE ALSO WRITES FOR RIVALS.COM AND SAMSPORTSLINE.COM. E-MAIL BRENT AT firstname.lastname@example.org