Is Schottenheimer here to stay?

The Georgia Bulldogs have had a disappointing year thus far in the 2015 season. A season that has included a span of three out of four games of scoring 10 points or less, blowout losses to both Florida and Alabama, inconsistency at quarterback, and losing the best offensive threat in the conference when star tailback Nick Chubb went down for the season with a knee injury. This is also the same season the UGA beat the Steve Spurrier lead South Carolina Gamecocks 52-20 and had playoff aspirations. So where does this leave UGA? They can still finish the regular season with 9 wins and have the possibility of a bowl win to eclipse 10 wins, that classic Georgia season.

The question starts getting asked, can UGA win it all with Mark Richt at the helm? Will they be able to overcome the curse that seems to follow? My answer is yes, but I do not believe that it will be with Brian Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator. At the conclusion of last season Mike Bobo, former offensive coordinator, was hired away as a head coach to Colorado State University. He led Georgia to record breaking offensive seasons in 2012, 2013, and 2014. He was handed the play-calling duties from head coach Mark Richt in the 2006 Chick-fil-a Bowl against Virginia Tech and never looked back. His development of quarterbacks was felt by the success of Aaron Murray becoming the first UGA QB to pass for 3,000 yards in three straight seasons, and the first SEC QB to do it in four straight. It also shows in how he made Hutson Mason a quality signal caller, you could see his fingerprints all over it. He finally got his running back he could rely on in Todd Gurley in 2012 and his offense could not be stopped after that.

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Schottenheimer, contrastly, has an NFL resume of being pretty average and seems to take a more business approach to coaching these young men. I believe that this has hurt the development of UGA’s quarterbacks as a unit. Understand that I am making this assessment after not even a full season with Schotty at the helm, but if you look at the offseason and how it was handled, you can’t help but wonder what could have been. There was a battle for the open QB spot in the spring and they had nothing definitive about who was leading, then bringing in a transfer QB and adding to the ambiguity of the position. It seems as though there has been no progression to the offense over the course of this season as well as at quarterback. The best that the offense has been since the Chubb injury has been when they have run the “Wild Dawg” formation with wide receiver Terry Godwin taking the snaps and deceiving the defense with the unconventional look. Is there really  no scholarship QB who can run the offense well enough to take the pressure off of the defense?

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I believe that there needs to be a change at the offensive coordinator position. I think a promotion from within would be the best outcome. They could promote current wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon, current running backs coach Thomas Brown, or current tight ends coach John Lilly to offensive coordinator. This would help recruiting since there would be continuity in the same offense and it would give Richt another opportunity to develop his next great assistant from the ground up while also finding a new QB coach to help develop the position and focus solely on that. All of those candidates I mentioned are qualified and have the resume to be considered for a position like this and if you look at last season’s bowl game in particular, John Lilly called the plays since Bobo had already left for Colorado State and the offense was explosive. This season just shows what a great loss Bobo was to the UGA program and offense.

Marcus Lattimore: Draft Prospect Preview

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South Carolina’s own Mr. Football in 2009, Marcus Lattimore, would then decide to play his college career for the South Carolina Gamecocks and when he was on the field, he was that feature back that you feared if you were an opposing team or even just an opposing fan.  Lattimore quickly burst onto the scene his freshman year against the rival Georgia Bulldogs, rushing for 182 yards on 37 carries and for 2 touchdowns.  He proved early on as an 18 year old, that Spurrier and any future coach for that matter could hook their wagon to him and ride him to victories.  Even though a concussion ended his Chick-Fil-A bowl game appearance early, he would still finish the season rushing for 1197 yards on 249 carries and 17 touchdowns.  Lattimore would be named the NCAA Freshman of the Year and an obvious selection to the All-Freshman Team.

From there, Lattimore would be bitten by the injury bug over his next two seasons, ending them prematurely.  In his sophomore year, against Mississippi State, he would tear a knee ligament and leave the game, being done for the year.  His junior year would finish all the same, he started out having another great season after recovering from the knee injury before, to only have his year ended by another freak injury.  He would dislocate his knee, tearing knee ligaments, against the Tennessee Volunteers in a very gruesome injury.  His career would come to an end after announcing this year he would enter the NFL Draft.  He would finish with 2677 yards rushing on 555 carries and 38 touchdowns and 74 catches, 767 yards and 3 touchdowns in only 29 games.

These injuries in his career have garnered the main attention from the NFL Scouts and made them put his career in the back of their minds.  Although unfair it seems, you do have to question the durability issues, but look at guys like Adrian Peterson and Willis McGahee, these guys came back from bad knee injuries the next season to be very good/great backs.  That’s what Lattimore is very much focused on at this point, doing the best he can to rehab and get on the field for the next NFL season and I don’t see why he can’t do it.  If it’s one thing you can evaluate him on right now, it’s his work ethic and his character.  Whether you are a Gamecock or not, you have to pull for this guy and can’t help but want him to succeed in the NFL.

Lattimore has all the tools that you could ask for in any running back.  He stands at 6’0 and weighs 218 pounds, and is very much a power back, but do not under estimate his speed.  He does have to ability to break it once in the open field.  He has very good vision and ability to use his blockers to create more running lanes and bigger lanes for him to run through.  He is a very smart runner in between the tackles and naturally very tough to bring down in between the tackles and in the open field.  Although he is more of an upright runner, he knows how to lower his shoulder and run through potential tacklers.  His best quality though, is his dedication to be great and prove he can once again be an every down back.  A perfect teammate and a great locker room guy, no worries about him being a disruption, a very underrated quality in a player but nonetheless a very important one.  His one big red flag though, is his durability and brings his NFL potential into question.

Even with those injury concerns, he is a projected 3rd-4th round pick and could even be a 2nd round pick if the right team just can’t pass him up.  Lattimore would be a steal for any team that needs some running help.  If not for the injury concerns, he would be a top 5 or top 10 pick for sure.  If he can put these injury problems in the past, he has the potential to be one of the best in the game.

Spring Practice-South Carolina

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The hit heard around the world, do you ever think there will be one like it?

This spring the South Carolina Gamecocks will be working hard to replicate the way they finished the year in the Outback Bowl. This team had to come together after losing their leader, Marcus Lattimore, their all-everything running back, to a dislocated knee in their game against Tennessee. The quarterback situation coming into spring is one of their strengths, with starter Connor Shaw coming back. Shaw is a dual-threat quarterback who is very efficient and is not scared to live up to Head Coach Steve Spurrier’s lofty expectations of all of his players, but especially quarterback. The backup Dylan Thompson is among the best backup quarterbacks in the nation and  I believe that should garner playing time down the stretch of the season. Spurrier is notorious for playing multiple guys at that position until he finds a guy, I think he will keep doing that but he has already found two good ones. The gamecocks could win with either under center because of their talented offensive line and running game, not to mention the defense led by the guy pictured above.

The running game will fall on the shoulders of sophomore Mike Davis who has the right mix of power-speed-elusiveness to be an every down back. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson standout running back James Davis, adding that much more fuel to the rivalry. Redshirt sophomore Brandon Wilds looks to be the power running back that would spell Davis when winded, and redshirt sophomore Shon Carson looks to be the scat-back who will get very specific opportunities in Spurrier’s daunting offense. This three headed monster of sophomores at running back reminds me of the Danny Ware, Kreg Lumpkin, and Thomas Brown days of the UGA backfield, might they enjoy the same success?

The defense with be as tough as ever with the likes of Jadeveon Clowney returning to an already stout defensive line. He did just take out a $5 million insurance policy to protect him this next season in case he gets hurt before being drafted next April. If you haven’t seen the hit he put on Michigan‘s Vincent Smith, crawl out from under that rock you are under and look it up on youtube! This season South Carolina looks to compete for the eastern crown of the SEC with the likes of Georgia and Florida, should be an interesting ride.