August 13, 2009
• Sam the Man. One of the lingering questions of the offseason has been, Who plays tailback for Georgia? The smart money prior to the spring was on once-hyped recruit Caleb King, the top backup last year behind Knowshon Moreno, but the consensus all summer has tended toward a committee approach after no one stood out in April. At last, sophomore Richard Samuel, who sat out the spring, may have gone a long way Wednesday toward busting that assumption with a sizzling performance in the Bulldogs' first scrimmage:
Samuel entered the closed-to-the-media Sanford Stadium scrimmage listed No. 2 on the tailback depth chart behind No. 1 Caleb King, but Samuel’s performance — five carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns, plus a 70-yard touchdown reception — far exceeded King’s five carries for 18 yards.
"No doubt, [Samuel] was impressive," Richt said. ... "It’s as live as we can get, as real as we can get, so scrimmages mean a lot."
Richt poured some cold water on the disparity between Samuel and King by citing a fumble by the former and a minor hamstring injury for the latter, but still conceded coaches will "probably re-rack them," presumably with Samuel on top for the time being. If he holds on to the ball, it sounds like he's a favorite until King -- or incoming freshman Washaun Ealey -- makes a similar move over the next couple weeks.
• Everything's coming up Barkley. The initial timeline for USC quarterback Aaron Corp to return from a cracked fibula was one to two weeks, which was bad enough for the third-year sophomore's bid to fend off freshman Matt Barkley's run at the most coveted, scrutinized position in the country. But news broke late Wednesday that Corp could miss as much as three weeks, potentially pushing his rehab right up to the opening kickoff against San Jose State and leading the L.A. Times to put Barkley in "the frontrunner's position" to start on Sept. 5. Even Pete Carroll, while remaining necessarily noncommittal about his plans for the position, admitted Barkley is in much better position than Corp and Mitch Mustain were last year when a knee injury threatened to sideline Mark Sanchez for the opener at Virginia:
"I felt more that way, that [Sanchez] was securely the No. 1 guy," Carroll said. "This competition is obvious here."
"If Matt is able to work his way to the No. 1 spot and hold onto that, we have an unusually gifted guy."
Where is Mustain in this? The former five-star, golden boy prospect and 8-0 SEC starter took a smaller share of the first team snaps Wednesday, behind Barkley, and is not mentioned in any of the speculation about the opening day starter. Just keep reminding yourself, Mitch: "Matt Cassell ... Matt Cassell ... Matt Cassell ..."
Besides Corp, Wednesday's biggest injury news was probably at Iowa, where starting cornerback Jordan Bernstine, one of the top-rated incoming DBs in the class of 2007, will probably require surgery to repair a broken ankle, more than likely ending his season. Elsewhere, Texas Tech running back Baron Batch, maybe as good a runner as Mike Leach has had there since Ricky Williams, left Wednesday's practice with an arm injury of unknown severity.
• And welcome to the world where people eat machines. Believe it or not, the contraption at right -- containing a battery, "communication coils," a lightweight wireless data recorder and data-graphing software wrapped in silicone coating -- was actually swallowed by North Carolina players as part of a study to monitor body temperatures over the course of a season:
The CorTemp pill -- a white, silicone-coated capsule big enough "that it feels like you're swallowing a gummy bear," according to offensive lineman Alan Pelc -- was originally developed by NASA to measure astronauts' body temperature in space. But over the last six years, scores of football teams -- including those at Duke, Virginia Tech, Texas, the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles -- have used the $40-per-pop doses to better learn how to beat the heat on the field.
For football purposes, the point is to monitor body temperatures to identify and ward off dehydration and other heat-related maladies, which over the past few years have led to a string of player deaths during offseason workouts. A worthy goal, as long as heat stroke isn't replaced by the insidious grey goo in players' stomachs.
(And for my grandchildren, laughing at my naivete via the 2075 version of Google: No matter what you think, yes, it is weird that human beings ingest software. And it will always be weird and wrong and the world is going to hell and cut your hair. ... You don't have hair?!)
Quickly ... Maryland makes major cuts to its football budget, mainly through travel. .... Justin Feagin may have been just a bad apple at Michigan, but his previous arrests -- which Rich Rodriguez apparently didn't know about -- have the Wolverines thinking twice about how they look into recruits' pasts. ... And a pair of backup defensive linemen may be looking to leave Ann Arbor. ... Auburn's quarterback derby remains a total mystery, especially to the participants. ... Kansas offensive linemen Ben Luekens, who suffered head injuries when struck he was either hit by or rolled off a car in a dorm parking lot in April, is leaving the Jayhawks to "pursue other opportunities," according to coach Mark Mangino. Running back Jocques Crawford, who was apparently involved the mysterious incident, left the team last month. ... Backup Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg is out for the season with a dislocated ankle. ... Tennessee quarterback Nick Stephens had a solid second practice Wednesday afternoon, and the Vols plan to use their tight ends more liberally than in the Fulmer days, when (other than Jason Witten) they were glorified linemen. ... Nebraska backup quarterback Kody Spano will miss his second straight season with a tear to the same ACL that kept him out in 2008. ... Alabama may be slightly more pass-oriented than in the past, but only slightly, if at all. ... Miami's defense is actually forcing a few turnovers for a change. But what does that say about the Miami offense? ... Stanford has at least half a dozen players going both ways in the first week of practice. ... Texas' helmets will feature a yellow ribbon to honor overseas troops. ... Someone should tell Florida freshman Andre Debose that the players on NCAA Football 10 are just random guys. The freshman WR No. 4 with his height and weight and approximate skills isn't supposed to be him. ... And Rich Rodriguez on why he didn't rank Michigan in his top 25. (Gee, I wonder.)