Author Archives: Johnathan Barnes

South Carolina Fall Practice Updates


Twenty-one days until kick-off!  Until now, most of our claims and predictions have been based off of what we had returning, expectations, and the “what if’s” of the off-season.  All of our teams have been plagued by these vague projections.

“What if Manziel is suspended this season?”

“What will South Carolina do without Lattimore?”

“Can Aaron Murray beat Carolina, or will he be the only QB in Georgia history to never beat the Gamecocks?”

“Will Robert Nkemdiche be the next Clowney?” [No.]

We all know the drill.  Here we are though, grind time.  Fall practice is in session.  Obviously, I only really care to report on the Gamecocks, sorry Dawgs.  Of course, this could help you in week two, so pay attention anyways!

My information is limited due to Coach Spurrier closing practice to the public after three practices.  I will say this, though, I am VERY impressed with the team thus far.

Quarterbacks
Connor Shaw has returned, and in practice has been possessed by Peyton Manning.  Okay, that is a little stretch, but he has been hitting a very high percentage of his passes so far.  He has shown nice touch on deep passes, and has limited his mistakes.  He and Dylan Thompson have solidified themselves as the top two by a long shot.  Nosovitch had some nice passes but not nearly as impressive as Connor and Dylan.  Look for Connor to really show out this year.  I may be changing my statistical projections from Episode 3 of the Podcast!  Connor Mitch is definitely our Quarterback of the Future.  Look out for him to take over in 2015 after Dylan graduates.  He showed great arm strength & accuracy.  He’s in his first fall camp and looks like a quality back up that could challenge for first string.  Luckily, we won’t need him to do that yet.
Most Improved:  Connor Shaw

Runningbacks
This will be the Wilds & Davis show with occasional guest appearances of Shon Carson and Kendric Salley.  At the last open practice, Shon Caron showed he is a baller.  In the first couple, Kendric showed some great runs as well.  The starting spot is still between Brandon Wilds and Mike Davis, but if we do not use all of our backs like LSU has been doing, then I will be greatly disappointed.  By the looks of David Williams and Jamari Smith, I’d bank on them being redshirted.
Most Improved:  Shon Carson (Mainly because of returning from injuries and still being explosive.)

Wide Receivers
Bruce Ellington.  This guy is a beast.  He has an endless motor.

“The other day he ran 50 gassers. Who runs 50 gassers? Bruce ran his gassers and then there were a few people who were late and had to run so Bruce ran with those guys too. I’ve never heard of anyone doing something like that. Do you know how much that is? Fifty gassers, that’s crazy.”
-Jadeveon Clowney

Aside from Bruce asserting himself as a dominate force, he also clocked out with the second fasted 40 time at 4.34 seconds.  Damiere Byrd has shown improvement.  He had the fastest 40 time, but who didn’t expect that?  With that being said, Nick Jones has shown enough to lock up a starting spot.  Look for Bruce, Nick, and Damiere to be on the field most.  Shamier Jeffery is improving and should see plenty of playing time.  I’m hoping he turns into the receiver his brother was, but those are big shoes to fill.  Shaq Roland on the other hand, has been hugely disappointing to me in his brief college career.  He missed the first practice due to academic issues (likely missed classes).  Connor Shaw subliminally called him out in post practice interviews with a funny, “Yeah, Shaq had a great practice today.”  I’m paraphrasing, but for the most part it’s spot on.  To top off the maturity and motivation issues, he’s been dropping catches and can hardly field punts.  If he doesn’t straighten up, look for Shaq to be a huge bust in our recruiting efforts.
Most Improved:  Bruce Ellington/Nick Jones

Tight Ends
Busta Anderson is the clear cut #1 here.  The tight ends have been making great catches and really putting in work.  Jerrell Adams also missed one practice for the same reason as Roland, but when he returned he picked up where he left off.  He’s a hard worker on the field, hopefully it begins to translate to the classroom as well.
Most Improved:  Busta Anderson

Offensive Line
Oh sweet baby Jesus, I have waited so long for this offensive line.  They have been showing the nastiness required in the trenches.  Freshman Na’Ty Rogers even got into a fight.  While I don’t approve of this, to quote Shaw, “It shows he has man parts.”  That nastiness is what has been missing.  Our line is the size of Bama’s, while not as skilled coming out of high school, they are battle tested.  Center Cody Waldrop should fill in nicely in the huge gap left by TJ Johnson.  For once, the offensive line looks to be a strength, not a weakness!
Most Improved:  Cody Waldrop

 

Linebackers
After fall practices, I am feeling much better about this group.  They were ball hawking everywhere.  If the ball got past the line of scrimmage, they were there.  Linebackers were getting deflections and interceptions.  It seems as though they are making up for inexperience with their athleticism and skills.  Ced Cooper injured himself, but looks to be available in the next 7-10 days.
Most Improved:  Due to the inexperience, I’ll name the unit as a whole.

Defensive Line/Secondary
Once again these will be the strengths of our team.  Clowney is being pushed hard to play every down like it’s his last.  He MAY actually win that Heisman if he does.  Victor Hampton is doing very well, he is the clear leader of the secondary.  Overall, the entire defense has been lights out, Chaz Sutton is going to make himself well known across the nation this year.  You heard it here first!
Most Improved:  Chaz Sutton

Over all, this team looks to be the best that Coach Spurrier has ever fielded while coaching the Garnet & Black.  I’m sticking to a 12-0 prediction now that fall camp is going on.  Besides me, who else is waiting for a Gurley v. Clowney head on collision?  I say start them 10 yards apart and go head on.  I give Clowney the edge, but that would be the hit heard ’round the world!  First off, we have to wipe the floor with Dabo’s Carolina.

It’s a great time to be a Gamecock!
Johnathan Barnes

Way too Early Predictions for the South Carolina, Georgia and the rest of the SEC


Gamecock Guru Johnathan Barnes drops some entertaining Over/Under Predictions.

Every off-season you get these random articles predicting things like the BCS Champs, Heisman Winner, Conference Standings, etc.  They are always months and months before the start of the season though.  Now, here we are…less than a month before USC v. UNC kick off to start the season.  And it is still too early for all of that.  I do, however have some other predictions and over/under’s for each team.

Alabama

  • Over/Under Targeting (Helmet-to-Helmet) Tackles on Manziel:  4.5
  • Over/Under Mentions of AJ’s girlfriend on DudeYouCrazy:  18.5

DudeYouCrazy officially scores Katherine Webb as a high 7 on a 10-point scale.  But Brent Musburger is praying for an over 18.5...just kidding, he doesn't read this site!

DudeYouCrazy officially scores Katherine Webb as a high 7 on a 10-point scale. But Brent Musburger is praying for over 18.5 mentions…just kidding, he doesn’t read this site!
  • How many games before AJ throws an Interception this year:  9
  • How many times will Saban speak on the “Process”:  30 (once before and after each game and twice during the bowl prep time frame)

Arkansas

  • Over/Under Points Allowed during the Season:  359.5
  • Number of times the QB is sacked before he realizes he should have gone to Bama:  15
  • Number of times Runningbacks have to chase their mother for their LOI:  5

Auburn:

  • Over/Under Points Allowed against Bama:  42.5
  • How many games before they realize they should buy another Cam Newton:  0

Florida:

  • Over/Under Average Passing Yards per Game:  80.5
  • Over/Under Driskel being sacked v. UGA & USC:  12.5
  • How many games before the rest of the nation realizes Muschamp is not Head Coach material:  0

Georgia:

  • Over/Under Touchdowns allowed in week 1:  5.5
  • Over/Under Touchdowns scored in week 1:  7.5
  • Over/Under Murray passing yards vs. USC:  200.5
  • Over/Under Murray sacked by Clowney:  3.5
  • How many times will Murray’s house be TP’d:  1 (After the USC game… Again.)

Kentucky:
Wait… Kentucky has a football team?

LSU:

  • Over/Under How many times Les Miles loses a game because of poor clock management:  6.5
  • Over/Under Number of Trick Plays:  4.5
  • Over/Under Number of time Les Miles is called the “Mad Hatter”:  0… after the Clemson game he will now be referred to as “Idiot”.
  • Over/Under Number of times Zach Mettenberger “craps his pants”:  0… he doesn’t face Clowney this year

Mississippi State:

  • Will Russell advance as a QB?  Only in the easy games.
  • Will they really use the Pink uniforms?  Yes.  But only because they know the other team will be laughing too much to play.

Missouri:

  • Over/Under Number of times there will be a close of up James Franklin’s “deer in the headlights” face as he is getting sacked:  30.

Ole Miss:

  • Over/Under Number of five star recruits committed by week 6:  4.5
  • Number of recruiting scandal accusations by week 6:  47
  • Number of times Robert Nkemdiche laughs at the UGA/Clemson score because he almost attended Clemson:  10

South Carolina:

  • Over/Under Deaths via Clowney Comin':  1.5
  • Over/Under Number of passes overthrown or under thrown on the season:  10.5
  • Over/Under Number of times people outside of South Carolina will laugh at “Go Cocks!”:  Unknown
  • Over/Under How many times Connor Shaw will be on the field, but not at QB per game:  4.5

Tennessee:
Who cares?

Texas A&M:

  • Over/Under How many times will Johnny Manziel be caught doing something stupid:  2.5
  • Will Johnny Manziel win the Heisman?  No.  He will actually give last years Heisman to Clowney.

Vanderbilt:

  • Over/Under Number of times people say they hate James Franklin each week: 5.5
  • Over/Under Rushing yards this season without Zac Stacy:  500.. or 200. Maybe 50.
  • Who will Vanderbilt beat that they really shouldn’t have:  Tennessee

Johnathan Barnes

Replacing South Carolina’s “Ace-in-the-Hole”


At the end of the 2012 season, Ace Sanders broke the hearts of Gamecock Nation by forgoing his Senior season to enter the 2013 NFL Draft.  Now, Gamecock fans everywhere have been wondering, “Who will replace Ace?”  It’s a very logical question, but not entirely for his receiving yards.  On the season, he had 45 catches for 531 yards.  However, he led the team in receiving touchdowns (9).  Even with that, you can think, “Okay, that’s manageable.”  Then you look at his work as a Punt Returner.  That’s when you say, “Oh $%!t”  Ace brought life to the punt returns that had been absent for almost ten years (2003 vs. Florida was the last punt return touchdown prior to the 2011 season).  Last season, he lit up the field on punts, amassing a team record 429 yards on 28 returns with two touchdowns.

Now the question is on everyone’s mind.  Who will take his place?  The answer is not simple.  One person will not replace Ace Sanders.  Even if you try Bruce Ellington at punt returner, you still need someone to take his place in the offense.

Let’s start at the receiver position.  I predict Busta Anderson to fill in. (Dude’s Note: McEachern High School whassaaaaaaaaaaap?)  I know, I know.  He’s a tight end, but as Andrew and I discussed briefly on the DudeYouPodcast a few weeks ago, he is a great receiving tight end.  He will assert himself as one of the best tight ends in the nation and look to the Patriots to draft him to replace Aaron Hernandez in the 2014 or 2015 draft.

Now, to fill in as a punt returner.  This is much more difficult given our lackluster special teams play since the Holtz Era.  So, instead, I am going to give a short list of possible replacements that could at least manage the returns.  I don’t expect anyone to build the statistics that Ace did.

Nick Jones would be my first choice.  He has similar size and speed to Ace (Ace: 5’8″ 175 pounds; Nick: 5’7″ 174 pounds … These are their height/weight according to the South Carolina Athletics Site) and he has good moves to avoid the tackles.  Do I think he’ll bulldoze through Mizzou like Ace did?  Probably not, but I do think he would be a good returner.

Incoming freshman, Pharoh Cooper, is expected to get a look this fall.  His senior season in high school was electric.  He dominated as a returner.  He has elite quickness and moves.  My only concern is translating the high school skill into SEC skill.  Not many athletes can translate immediately to the SEC as a freshman with only fall camp under their belt.

Lastly, another incoming freshman I am extremely high on, Jamari Smith.  I have a feeling if he gets a shot, he’ll prosper.  He ran away from defenses for 2800 yards in Florida 8A Ball.

Altogether, I think the Gamecocks will be okay if, and only if, someone steps up as a punt returner.  I hope they don’t make Ellington the punt returner for the sole reason he already returns kickoffs and is a huge part of the offense.  I’m eager to see who fields the punts this year, August 29th is closing in Gamecocks!

It’s great to be a Gamecock!
JB Signing out!

‘Cocks of the Future: South Carolina Recruiting Update


You can tell it is the off-season.

News is fairly scarce, unless you are Aaron Hernandez.  Research is slow, unless you’re a Georgia Mutt awaiting the next suspended player or arrest of a Clemson player.  So, I figured with a recent commitment to the Gamecocks, I would do a quick recruiting update.  Ready, Set, Go!

All star ratings are based on Rivals.com.

So far, the Cocks have eight committed players:

  • Joe Blue   3*   FB
  • Bryson Allen-Williams  4*  LB
  • Kalan Ritchie  4*  TE
  • Malik Young  2*  OL
  • Kevin Crosby  4*  TE
  • Wesley Green  4*  CB
  • Darin Smalls  3*  CB
  • Jhaustin Thomas  3*  DE

 

Jhaustin is a big fan of Muscle Milk - the official sports drink of big ears and angry scowls.  Photo via.

Jhaustin is a big fan of Muscle Milk – the official sports drink of big ears and angry scowls. Photo via.

 

Out of these eight players, I am most impressed with Bryson Allen-Williams.  Not just for his abilities on the field, but for his seemingly limitless commitment to the University of South Carolina.  He’s already acknowledged that most think he is undersized, and has already bulked up to 228 pounds.  Outside of his efforts to be college ready, he is a great recruiter.  Seriously, Coach, we need to get this guy a job as a recruiter after his playing days are over.  He is always talking to prospects, and helped us land a 2015 recruit from his school.  He’s very intelligent, and has a high football IQ, he will be a great player for the Garnet & Black.

Underrated Player Award goes to Malik Young, from what I hear he hasn’t really camped much, which is what has lead him to be ranked so low.

Most disappointing loss this recruiting season so far would have to be Drew Barker to Kentucky.  We led all the way until iJoker got iFired.  Once he was out, the new coaching staff started pursuing and that was it.  Kentucky was his favorite school, he’s from Kentucky, once they offered then it was over.  Can’t blame him for wanting to play for his home state school.  I still want us to register 20 sacks on him over his career.  Sorry, Drew.

Joe Blue is a fullback, I’ve heard rumors about him converting to Linebacker, not entirely sure right now.

Two four star tight ends make me feel very good about the future at that position.  Maybe more two tight end sets?

Who is left on our board that I feel is a MUST GET…  I have to go with Derrell Scott, a speed back that can hit the edge and blow by.  MUST GET.  See this, Coach?

Shout out to Bryson Allen-Williams for the commitment to the University, and helping draw in some other big time players!

As Always, It’s great to be a Gamecock,

JB Signing Off.

100 Days of SEC Dominance: Day 74 – BCS At Large Giants


The SEC is the only conference where you can go 10-2 and not even get an at large BCS bid, let alone a trip to the championship game.

BUT!  Let’s shoot out some fun facts about the ACC!

1.)  Last season, the ACC championship was between Florida State and the SUN BOWL CHAMPIONS Georgia Tech. Seriously? Sure, sure, NCAA sanctions, blah blah.

2.)  In 2011, it was between 11-1 Virginia Tech, and 10-2 Clemson.  Clemson won only to be completely DESTROYED in the Orange Bowl, 70-33.

3.)  In 2010, it was between 9-3 Florida State, and 10-2 Virginia Tech.

Are we seeing a trend here?

The last SEC team to be 9-3 and go to the SEC Championship was 2010 when South Carolina went 5-3 in the East.  Down year, yes, forgivable, not really.

In nine of fourteen BCS Championship games since it’s induction in 1998, the SEC Champion has played in and WON the game.

It’s great to be a Gamecock,
JB Signing off!

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