Friday, July 24, 2009

Jottings From Jon - Gamecock Edition

Gamecock football has officially started as of today! Head coach Steve Spurrier, LB Eric Norwood and WR Moe Brown will speak later today at the SEC media days about the upcoming 2009 season. If you want to check out Media Days, you can find all the coverage on ESPNU or at the SEC's website. Are you ready for some football?

I first need to show a little bit of SEC pride. Two years ago, the SEC was trying to decide what direction it wanted to go with a T.V. deal. The Big 10 at the time just started their own network and it seemed that the SEC was falling behind. With a little patience and lucky timing the SEC landed a deal that is bigger than could have ever been imagined. The SEC decided that starting their own network was too risky and then signed a $3 billion deal over the next 15 years with CBS and ESPN in September 2008 just before the economy's bottom fell out. Each team in the league will receive another $10 million in T.V. revenue to add to their caufers. The deal has now evolved into the SEC being shown on seven networks and will be broadcast to millions across the nation. This not only gives unreal exposure to the SEC but makes the SEC recession proof. Most SEC athletic programs have expanded the budgets and programs in a time where most programs are having to cut back their budgets. Can't you just hear the chants...SEC, SEC, SEC. I love it!

Now down to the Gamecocks. The spring and summer has been very quiet for the Gamecock team which is a good thing. Stephen Garcia has been a leader with the 7 0n 7's and has stayed out of trouble (YEAH!). Many of the much anticipated freshman have been acclimating themselves to the speed and toughness of an SEC program and Eric Norwood hasn't passed up the NFL for nothing. Our recruiting for next year has been amazing. We have 14 commits with 7 of those coming from OL prospects who are highly touted and much needed. We will only sign 20 guys this year so we will be able to be very selective through the rest of the recruiting process. The biggest guy on our board is 5* RB Marcus Lattimore from Byrnes High School and I have a feeling that he will dawn the garnet and black come signing day. Renovations to Williams Brice's facilities have come together as well. A state of the art trainer's facility has been completed along with a new entrance, players lounge and recruiting room. Take a look at this quick video of a few of the new additions. This is very impressive to not only assist in recruiting but also for the players who benefit from a place they can heal faster and hang out.

Fall football practice is only a few week away and I wanted to give you a few thoughts on the upcoming season. It will be nice to see how players have progressed over the off season and see if our play makers will step up. Before I have any fall info I will go over what we do know. To start, our schedule has been ranked the hardest in the country. This is because of brutal road games in the SEC including Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas and non-conference foes including N.C. State at Raleigh and Clemson. We also have big SEC opponents coming to Williams Brice including Ole Miss, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Florida. We have an unproven QB and are inexperienced at the RB, WR and DB positions. We have also had a major assistant coaching overhaul making several changes. I feel our team has become a more solid and disiplined team as the Spurrier era enters the 5th year. We obviously have under-achieved the last several years and I hope we can surprise a lot of people this year. We have lots of young talent, but I think talent is the key word there. We haven't had this much talent at Carolina for a long time. I also feel that our team has come together and will have less unanswered questions throughout the year. There are definitely unanswered questions right now but once the clock runs out in Raleigh against the Wolfpack, we will know for the most part how our team will perform for the rest of the year. I look for a unique offense with a Spurrier pass attack and a spread running attack. It is something that has not been done before. I also look for a more rested Ellis Johnson defense to step up again and make big plays. We have the ability and potential for a great season as I feel Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky are down this year. I think we take care of Vanderbilt like we are supposed to and beat an over-hyped Ole Miss team that we beat last year in Oxford and an N.C. State team that is good but we are better. Second in the East behind Florida would be amazing.

My Prediction: 8-4

I think we go 6-0 to start with national televised wins over N.C. State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Kentucky. We will then suffer our first loss at the hands of Nick Saben in Birmingham against the Tide. We will bounce back and beat Vandy and then go to Tennessee and show Kiffin how to pump gas and shove it bringing us to 8-1. I am afraid that the winning will stop there though. I think we will rack up our second loss to an under-rated Arkansas. Our third loss will be at the hands of Tim Tebow and the ridiculously loaded Gators. Finally, I hate to say it but we have had a horrible time beating the Tigers at Williams Brice. This game is going to be a toss up and I have no evidence to tell me that we will win that game. I think 8-4 would be a great season just with another disappointing stretch at the end. I think this would get us back to the Outback Bowl to avenge our loss to Iowa.

What is your prediction for the team this fall? Leave a comment and let me know what you think of my prediction.

I can't wait to keep you updated on Gamecock football throughout the fall. I will leave you with a quote that came from the SEC media days that I recently read in The State newspaper.

Kentucky offensive linemen Zipp Duncan, when asked the toughest place to play in the SEC, answered Florida or South Carolina, because the fans are "close to you, out of control" and "a little boozed up." Pressed, he chose USC as the toughest. "When we went there on that Thursday night, they were out of control," Duncan said. "I don't know how they kiss their moms with mouths like that."

Man, I can't wait till game day. Are you getting goose bumps yet? GO COCKS!

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