GameCocks - Articles
GameCocks - Articles
Quarterback?s ability to flee puts offense on the move
Faced with a weak line, Spurrier leans toward more starts for mobile Newton
By JOSEPH PERSON
While Steve Spurrier is responsible for picking USC?s starting quarterback, the Gamecocks? offensive line plays a role in Spurrier?s decision.
That is why Spurrier said Syvelle Newton probably will start for the second consecutive game Saturday against winless Florida Atlantic. Although Blake Mitchell is back from a one-game suspension, Spurrier said Newton?s scrambling ability makes him the better choice to play behind an offensive line that is worse than the USC coach predicted.
?It?s been difficult for Blake especially to play back there because he?s not a scrambler,? Spurrier said Sunday. ?At least Syvelle gives us a chance to run out of there and shake a guy off and make some plays. That?s sort of what convinces us that our best chance to win may be with Syvelle back there because he can get out of trouble.?
In his first start at quarterback in nearly two years, Newton completed 12 of 18 throws for 196 yards in a 27-20 victory against Wofford, It was the most by a Gamecocks? passer this season.
But it was Newton?s ability to make plays when the pocket collapsed that impressed Spurrier, who listed a second-quarter incompletion among Newton?s highlights.
On second-and-10 from the Gamecocks? 26, center Chris White snapped the ball over Newton?s head. The ball rolled to around the 5, where Newton scooped it up, ran a few steps and threw it away to avoid the lost yardage.
A week earlier after a bad snap against Georgia, Mitchell fell on the ball for a 15-yard loss. A play later, Ryan Succop?s 51-yard field-goal attempt hit the upright.
?Syvelle made a lot of plays out there on his own that enabled us to win the game,? Spurrier said. ?I don?t know if we win the game if he?s not playing quarterback because the pass protection was not all that good.?
Newton was sacked three times, but rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries. Plus, he breathed life into a stagnant offense that scored one touchdown in 23 possessions during the first two games.
Newton led the Gamecocks to scores on five of their first six drives against Wofford. The senior from Marlboro County was part of six of USC?s seven plays that went for 20 yards or longer, a total that matched the Gamecocks? big-play total from the first two games combined.
Newton was intercepted in the fourth quarter when he telegraphed a pass for Sidney Rice, and Spurrier said he left the pocket too quickly on a couple of plays. But Spurrier was pleased with the performance of a quarterback who has never played in an intricate passing offense.
?What we?re trying to do with him ? drop back and throw and look at some coverages and pick out guys ? it?s the first time he?s ever really done that as a quarterback,? Spurrier said. ?You can?t expect him to be really all that good at it. He?s never done it.?
That?s all Mitchell has ever done, including last season when he passed for 2,370 yards.
Spurrier said he might two play quarterbacks against Florida Atlantic. His offensive line might have a say in that, too.
More quarterback talk. On a key third down in the fourth quarter, Spurrier replaced Newton with Cade Thompson, who had not taken a snap this season. Thompson, who threw an incompletion on the play, was the star of the Gamecocks? spring game and was expected to challenge Mitchell for playing time this fall.
Instead, freshman Chris Smelley earned the backup role with a strong preseason. Smelley, who was 9-of-15 passing for 112 yards in the first two games, did not play against Wofford.
?He and Cade, there?s not a lot of difference in them at practice right now,? Spurrier said. ?If there was a lot of difference, we?d probably have one of them out there playing every now and then.?
Spurrier said Smelley has received treatment for a bruised heel.
Running out of options. With three new starters up front, Spurrier said none of the linemen ? with the possible exception of center Chris White ? graded out a winner against the Terriers.
The Gamecocks used six players up front Saturday; guard Web Brown was the only reserve to see action. Though Spurrier said USC has only eight linemen ?that are capable of playing,? he said he might experiment with different combinations this week.
Injury report. Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, hospitalized since the middle of last week with an infected forearm, was scheduled to be released Sunday night. Rover Emanuel Cook strained his left knee against Wofford and could miss a couple of weeks.
Tailback Cory Boyd (right ankle) and linebacker Rodney Paulk (knee) are expected to be available.
GameCocks - Articles
How in the he## did he make it growing up with a name like that as mean as kids can be sometimes. ??? whoa!
GameCocks - Articles
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 18, 2006 8:01 AM
Monday Morning Quarterback
REWIND: South Carolina needed a big defensive play late in the game to hold onto a 27-20 victory over Division 1- AA Wofford.
FAST FORWARD: South Carolina plays host to Florida Atlantic at 7 p. m. Saturday.
Wide receiver Sidney Rice finally had a breakout game for the Game?cocks, catching seven passes for 151 yards.
WHO'S NOT: South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell, who missed Saturday's game because of a suspension after starting the first two games, appears to have lost the starting job to Syvelle Newton.
LOCKER ROOM BUZZ: A medical redshirt year could be in the works for freshman backup quarterback Chris Smelley, if the Gamecocks can find a way to work it out. Redshirt Cade Thompson played ahead of Smelley Saturday night, and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Sunday that Smelley has been bothered by a bruised heel.
INJURY UPDATE: Spurrier said Sunday that safety Emanuel Cook (knee sprain) may be out a couple weeks.
Linebacker Rodney Paulk (knee sprain) should be ready to go, as should tailback Cory Boyd (ankle). Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who missed Saturday's game because of an infection in his arm, is expected to return to practice this week. Left tackle Gurminder Thind remains out with a sprained right foot.
HE SAID IT: "We were very fortunate to win the game. Our team did not play with tremendous effort again. As coaches, we're really frustrated that we just can't get our guys to play a little harder and a little smarter. Effort wise, we just don't do it the way that it has to be done to be winners. But we'll keep coaching these guys. These are our guys. We're going to try our best to try to get them to play with more effort. I'm talking about the whole team, offense, defense, special teams. No area was really all that good last night." ? South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: 5 ? number of times Wofford converted on third down when needing six or more yards.
247 ? number of yards Blake Mitchell has thrown for on 28 completions.
250 ? number of yards Syvelle Newton has thrown for on 13 completions.
REWIND: Clemson won 27-20 at Florida State on Saturday night, ending 17 years of futility at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Tigers drove 85 yards in the final 2:22 and scored the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left, securing their first win on the Seminoles' home field since 1989.
FAST FORWARD: Clemson plays host to North Carolina on Saturday at noon. The school will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Tigers' 1981 national championship.
WHO'S HOT: Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Forced to rely on a gaggle of inexperienced players after the loss of Anthony Waters, Tramaine Billie and Michael Hamlin, Koenning helped the Tigers hold Florida State's offense to just one touchdown and 204 yards. The Seminoles didn't reach Clemson territory until the second half.
WHO'S NOT: Jad Dean. Coach Tommy Bowden said the placekicker's job is in danger because Dean is taking too long to get off his kicks. Bowden said Dean's time on the two blocks Saturday were 1.4 seconds or longer, "which is extremely slow." Dean is a perfectionist, and Bowden thinks that mindset is contributing to his recent problems.
LOCKER ROOM BUZZ: Haydrian Lewis must be in the doghouse. The sophomore cornerback is far down the depth chart after committing a big bust in the loss at Boston College. Lewis was considered the team's third- best cornerback heading in to fall camp, but now less experienced players (redshirt freshman Chris Chancellor and freshman Crezdon Butler) are getting more playing time.
SIZING UP NORTH CAROLINA: The Tar Heels barely survived Saturday's visit from Furman, claiming their first victory of the season in the 45- 42 escape. North Carolina lost at home to Rutgers in its opener and was pounded by Virginia Tech a week later in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels can't expect it to get much better on the road.
INJURY UPDATE: No new injuries were reported Sunday. Cornerback C. J.
Gaddis saw action Saturday despite a sprained ankle. Hamlin (broken foot) could be back for the Oct. 21 game against Georgia Tech.
HE SAID IT: " He's not the most mental. I've had some wackos. But he's so bent on being the No. 1 kicker in the nation. A lack of success just kills him." ? Bowden, on Dean INSIDE THE NUMBERS: 1? Home losses by Florida State from 1990 to 2000.
7? Losses by the Seminoles in their past 32 home games.
0? Offensive touchdowns by the Seminoles in the first half this season.
This article was printed via the web on 9/18/2006 5:41:24 PM . This article appeared in The Post and Courier and updated online at Charleston.net on Monday, September 18, 2006.
GameCocks - Articles
BY CHARLES BENNETT
The Post and Courier
COLUMBIA - South Carolina's Syvelle Newton didn't play great in his first start at quarterback in nearly two years, but his performance in the Gamecocks' 27-20 victory over Wofford Saturday night was good enough to keep him in the starting lineup.
"In all likelihood, Syvelle is going to start because he can make plays with the pass protection we've got," said South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. "I think he's got a chance this week when he takes his steps and lets it go sooner. He's capable. He can make the throws. I just wish he could have thrown 40 passes tonight, but we couldn't get Wofford off the field."
Newton, a senior from Wallace, was moved from wide receiver to quarterback for Saturday's game. He replaced junior Blake Mitchell, who was suspended for Saturday's game for his part in an altercation in a bar last week, but was reinstated to the team after simple assault charges were dropped. He will be eligible for next week's game with Florida Atlantic.
Newton completed 12 of 18 passes for 196 yards, with one interception and no touchdowns and rushed 13 times for 67 yards.
"I mean, I've never been like a pocket passer in my life, but that's what the system is," Newton said. "This is the type offense we run. If I'm going to play quarterback, I'm going to have to get used to doing that every play. It's going to be a big adjustment."
Meanwhile, Spurrier was less pleased with the offensive line, which featured three new starters.
"I don't know if they looked any better than the guys last week, to tell you the truth," Spurrier said.
"We had pressure on Syvelle throughout the first half. He'd run around and make something happen. I would have hoped that they could block those Wofford kids, but we struggled blocking. They played tough. Wofford played well enough to win."
Making the firsts
Wofford drove 68 yards in 15 plays during a first-quarter drive that saw the Terriers convert first downs when facing third-and-9 and fourth-and-2.
On the third-and-9 play, Josh Collier passed to Dane Romero for a 36-yard gain.
Tailback Cory Boyd suffered a sprained right ankle in the third quarter. Linebacker Rodney Paulk suffered a right knee sprain while safety Emanuel Cook suffered a left knee sprain.
Left tackle Gurminder Thind, who missed Saturday's game with strained ligaments in his right foot, was on the sideline with his foot in a cast.
Thind will be out for at least one more game.
Freshman wide receiver Mo Brown played for the Gamecocks for the first time this season.
Brown's first career catch came in the second quarter when he hauled in a pass for a 15-yard gain.
Coach in pain
Wofford coach Mike Ayers coached despite back pains Saturday night. Ayers strained his back while working in his yard Saturday morning.
Who: Fla. Atlantic vs. South Carolina
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Radio: WTMA 1250-AM; WNKT 107.5-FM
GameCocks - Articles
COLUMBIA, S.C. - First a shutout. Then a near loss to a Division I-AA team of about 1,200 students.
South Carolina's problems have worsened since the season began. And coach Steve Spurrier didn't see anything in Saturday night's 27-20 win over Wofford to think things will get any easier.
The mental errors. The lazy play. The Gamecocks displayed them all against the Terriers, to Spurrier's utter bemusement.
Take Carlos Thomas, the Gamecocks' defensive back, who fumbled a fourth-quarter punt return, then told Spurrier that he was only trying to make a play. "Carlos," the coach told him, "we're trying to win the game."
And while the Gamecocks did, Spurrier thought his team took a significant step backward with the victory.
"Somehow or another, we haven't got the message how to win games," Spurrier said.
The Gamecocks (2-1) had already endured a turbulent week of regrouping. Spurrier was angry after his team's 18-0 loss to Georgia on Sept. 9 and put seven new starters on offense. In the middle of everything, starting quarterback Blake Mitchell was arrested and suspended for allegedly fighting a bar bouncer at 1:45 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Even though the accuser later withdrew his charge in municipal court, the sideshow was a distraction for South Carolina.
For a while, Spurrier's on-the-field changes worked against the supposedly easy opponent. With Syvelle Newton starting at quarterback for the first time in two years, the Gamecocks scored on five of their first six possessions to lead 27-10.
Cory Boyd tied a school record with three rushing touchdowns and star Sidney Rice broke out for the first time this season, collecting 110 of his 151 receiving yards in the opening half.
Suddenly, South Carolina's sharpness vanished and the Terriers scratched back.
Linebacker Justin Franklin intercepted Newton, leading to Nick Robinson's 28-yard field goal that cut it to 27-13. On South Carolina's next drive, Ryan Succop tried to punt but was chased toward the end zone by Wofford's defenders before flinging the ball incomplete.
It didn't take Wofford long to draw closer, with Josh Collier hitting Andy Strickland for a 25-yard touchdown that brought them to seven points down.
The Terriers got the ball one last time, driving to South Carolina's 10. On fourth down, Collier's pitch attempt was knocked in the air by lineman Dakota Walker and caught by linebacker Cody Wells. The Gamecocks had escaped.
Spurrier, hoarse and frustrated after the Georgia loss, took a more "what can you do" approach after this one.
"It was a typical game for us," he said. "We had a chance to blow someone out and didn't. … We couldn't block their guys and we just made some really stupid plays. I don't know how to explain.
"Maybe we just aren't that good. We just can't win one by three or four touchdowns around here."
GameCocks - Articles
With the returning players struggling, USC will have to make do with freshmen
By JOSEPH PERSON
Long after the rest of his USC teammates had cleared out Monday night, freshman offensive lineman Garrett Anderson walked off the Bluff Road practice fields with a stopwatch and a public apology.
Two days after a disappointing showing in first career start against Wofford, the graduate of Dutch Fork High took steps Monday to prevent a repeat performance. Borrowing a stopwatch from strength coach Mark Smith, Anderson timed himself as he did extra conditioning runs.
Minutes later as he tried to catch his breath, Anderson took the unusual step of apologizing to the Gamecocks? faithful.
?I just wanted to say I?m really sorry for all the fans. I really was upset with how I played,? said Anderson, the right guard. ?I know growing up around here, I want this program to be great. I got tired and that?s all my fault.
?And I?m sorry for anything I messed up during the game, and I know I?m going to be better next week.?
The good news for Anderson and left tackle Hutch Eckerson, another freshman starter, is that they have nine games and three more seasons to improve.
With few other options at his disposal, USC coach Steve Spurrier indicated that he would stick with the two freshmen up front.
?They struggled, but so did the older guys,? Spurrier said. ?They weren?t any worse than the senior and the senior and the sophomore.?
While not exactly a ringing endorsement, the fact that Spurrier is starting a pair of 18-year-olds along the line is a testament to their potential and an indictment of the Gamecocks? returning linemen.
?I guess I?m a little over-optimistic at times. I thought this line would play just as well as last year?s,? Spurrier said. ?Last year?s wasn?t all that great most of the time. But so far this one has struggled a little bit more than last year?s. So I was wrong.?
After signing no offensive linemen in his first USC recruiting class, Spurrier brought in six this year. Offensive line coach John Hunt had hoped to bring Anderson and Eckerson along slowly, but that has not been the case.
The 6-foot-5 Anderson weighed about 260 pounds when he signed with the Gamecocks. He remembers seeing 6-7, 321-pound tackle Justin Sorensen during one of his visits to campus and thinking how helpful a redshirt season would be to add strength.
So much for that.
?As I got up here, they threw me in with ones (first-teamers) that first day and I sort of realized that I could hang with these guys,? said Anderson, who has bulked up to 295. ?I could at least make an impact this year. I didn?t think I would start. I never saw that coming.?
Eckerson, a 6-6, 286-pound native of Lumberton, N.C., said he never considered redshirting.
?Obviously, there?s a big jump with the speed and the strength,? he said. ?But I?ve trained hard over the summer before I got here and I think I?m going to do just fine.?
GameCocks - Articles
By Chris Dearing
Published: September 18, 2006
South Carolina began preparations for Florida Atlantic Monday with the return of a couple of suspended players as well injuries to a few starters.
Running back Cory Boyd didn?t practice and had his right ankle in a boot. He?s questionable for Saturday?s game. Linebacker Cody Wells injured his right ankle during practice and didn?t return. Fullback Lanard Stafford also sat out practice with an ankle injury.
Tight end Andy Boyd returned to action after missing the first three games with a shoulder injury. Boyd will likely start this week because coach Steve Spurrier has decided to move last week?s starter, Jared Cook back to wide receiver. He said Cook wasn?t much help with the running game.
?He?s (Cook) not a blocker so he wasn?t of any help trying to block last game,? Spurrier said. ?If Andy can play, he?ll give us a chance to run the ball much better.?
Also returning to action was suspended wide receiver Noah Whiteside and safety Ty Erving. The two had to sit out the first three games for breaking unspecified team rules but will be available this week.
?It?ll be up to the coaches on how much we use them,? Spurrier said.
Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, who spent the latter part of last week in the hospital with an infected forearm, returned to practice but wasn?t in pads.
Spurrier also speculated on the status of freshman quarterback Chris Smelley. Smelley hasn?t played in the past two games after playing two series in each of the first two games. He has a heel injury and Spurrier didn?t know when or if Smelley will return this year.
?I guess Smelley didn?t do much, he?s got a little bit of a bad heel,? Spurrier said. ?I don?t know what we?re going to do with him. He hasn?t played since the second game so I don?t know, he may be held out or not.?
Spurrier also said the freshmen offensive linemen didn?t perform any better or worse than the other guys. Spurrier expects to give converted defensive lineman Matt Raysor a chance this week.
?They struggled but so did the older guys. They weren?t any worse than the senior and two sophomores,? Spurrier said. ?We need to give Raysor a chance. Look for him to play some, hopefully a lot this week.?
GameCocks - Articles
Faceoff: Who should start at QB for USC?
BY KEN BURGER
South Carolina fans should be thankful they have Syvelle Newton.
This multitalented athlete from the tiny town of Wallace has already earned a special place in the hearts of Gamecocks fans because he always comes through when they need him.
In 2004, he came in at quarterback when Dondrial Pinkins was injured. Using his strong arm, versatile legs and amazing field of vision, Newton started five games that year and gave the Gamecocks some semblance of an offense.
In 2005, he ruptured an Achilles' tendon and had to sit out the rest of that season rehabilitating an injury that would have ended most athletes' careers. But not Newton.
He came back this year, eager to play wide receiver for coach Steve Spurrier, only to be called back into action at quarterback last week because Blake Mitchell was suspended for getting into a bar fight.
Mitchell is available this week, but still in Spurrier's doghouse.
Naturally, some USC fans would like to see youngsters Chris Smelley or Cade Thompson get more playing time to prepare for the future.
But they simply aren't ready.
For USC to win this year, it's Syvelle to the rescue.
GameCocks - Articles
Faceoff: Who should start at QB for USC?
BY GENE SAPAKOFF
No question, Syvelle Newton is The Man, the most unpredictable weapon in the South Carolina offense. That's why Steve Spurrier's arsenal, such as it is, will work best when Newton and Blake Mitchell are on the field together, with Mitchell as the veteran quarterback and Newton in his receiver/slotback/surprise passer hybrid position taking pressure off wideout Sidney Rice.
True, Mitchell didn't exactly mount a Heisman campaign against Mississippi State and Georgia.
But his problems mainly were due to poor blocking. Offensive line coach John Hunt may have the toughest job in the state.
I believe Spurrier when he says freshman Chris Smelley "isn't ready," so this is a two-man heat (for now). Statistically, Mitchell has a big edge. His completion percentage and touchdown pass-to-interception ratio are better.
Most importantly, he wins: 8-5 as a starter vs. Newton's 3-3.
Newton as a goal-line QB? Great idea. But crunch the overall numbers with the advantages Newton offers when on the field at the same time as Mitchell and you get the subtle differences that might decide which team wins the Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Arkansas games.
In other words, the difference between a decent bowl game and an unacceptable losing season.
GameCocks - Articles
Posted on Wed, Sep. 20, 2006
Newton may not fit the mold for a quarterback in Spurrier?s system, but is still the starter
By JOSEPH PERSON
Syvelle Newton makes no apologies for what he is and what he is not.
The USC senior is a quarterback. Not the polished passer with textbook form and elite training, but a whirling, spinning quarterback with a strong, inexact arm and a penchant for big plays.
He is everything Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier never looked for in a quarterback when he was training Heisman Trophy candidates at Florida. Yet, Newton is Spurrier?s starter for the second consecutive week.
While receptive to becoming a more complete quarterback under Spurrier, Newton is who he is: an athletic quarterback; a running quarterback.
Whatever. Just give him the ball.
?It don?t matter to me what they call me,? Newton said Tuesday. ?In high school, I never took steps. I just ran around and threw the ball up, just like I?m going to do now.
?That basically, to me, is what gets the job done. Vince Young, he won a national championship last year (at Texas). He wasn?t a pocket passer. That?s what wins games these days in college football.?
Before he suspended Blake Mitchell last week following a Five Points bar fight, Spurrier had decided to go with Newton instead of backups Chris Smelley and Cade Thompson, dropback passers in the mold of Mitchell and those Spurrier tutored in Gainesville.
It was partly out of necessity. Spurrier knew he needed a fleet-footed quarterback to dart out of harm?s way behind a young, inexperienced offensive line.
Spurrier, who drew up plays as a Florida quarterback in the 1960s, likes the sandlot enthusiasm Newton brings to the huddle. While Spurrier expects Newton and Mitchell to play Saturday against Florida Atlantic, he is not resigned to using Newton exclusively in short-yardage or running situations.
?Syvelle is a very smart, young man. He?s very capable of doing this. He just hasn?t been trained,? Spurrier said. ?Last week, we tossed him in there and said, ?Come on, let?s play.? In practice every now and then, he?d drop back, throw and look pretty good doing it.?
Newton ran an option offense at Marlboro County, where he rushed for 1,029 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior. Though Newton attempted 143 passes in his final high school season, it was not a sophisticated passing attack.
Nor was Newton asked to do anything too intricate in Lou Holtz?s offense in 2004, when he had five starts at quarterback and played in all 11 games.
To be successful in Spurrier?s timing-based system, Newton has to improve the accuracy and touch on his passes, and become more confident reading defenses and going through his route progressions.
In the third quarter against Wofford, Spurrier called a pass play on third-and-goal from the 13-yard line. With a receiver cutting over the middle between the Terriers? safeties, Newton kept the ball and ran it to the 5, and the Gamecocks settled for a field goal.
As he came off the field, Newton told Spurrier he did not feel comfortable making the throw for fear of an interception.
?You got to trust it,? Spurrier recalled telling him. ?You got to look in an area and then throw it in another area and then let it go.?
But those types of passing-game nuances are new to Newton, a receiver in 2003 under Holtz and last season in Spurrier?s first year. Splitting time at quarterback with Dondrial Pinkins in 2004, Newton completed 53 percent of his passes for 1,093 yards, with six touchdowns and six interceptions.
?I?m getting used to (being) under the center, dropping back, taking steps and throw the ball,? Newton said. ?I can?t go by what I used to do because we don?t have the same staff here anymore.?
While trying to develop Newton?s passing skills, Spurrier does not want to take away what Newton does best. In fact, Spurrier second-guessed his play calling in the latter stages of the 27-20 victory against Wofford.
?We should have had him running more in the fourth quarter than whatever we were trying to do,? he said. ?He?s an excellent runner, and we?ve got to use that part to help us win.?
Marlboro County?s Dean Boyd said his former quarterback is all about winning.
?The thing that Syvelle gives you is he wants to win in the worst kind of way, and he?s going to do whatever he can to help the team,? Boyd said. ?And he?s not going to complain about it.?
Refreshingly candid in his media dealings, Newton did not complain when he was moved to receiver when Spurrier arrived. Despite coming off a 196-yard passing game against Wofford, the most by a USC quarterback this season, Newton did not question Spurrier?s plan to platoon Mitchell and Newton this week.
It was suggested that Newton might be too unselfish.
?Most seniors who think they?ve got a future in going to play at the next level, they don?t even think twice about risking themselves playing quarterback or risking themselves making moves, because it could hurt them,? Newton said. ?But basically right now I just want to win. So I?m doing whatever it is to help the team win.?
In this case, that means learning new techniques without losing himself.
Reach Person at (803) 771-8496.