Spurrier Irked By Inconsistent QB Play
The coaches use a complex method for keeping score during scrimmages. On Saturday, the offense led the scoring for most of the scrimmage, but the defense made a late rally to draw even and preserve bragging rights for the summer.
"I told the defense that until they make a first down, we'll keep giving you a chance to tie it up," explained Coach Steve Spurrier. He went on to praise the defense, adding "I hope some of those guys get moved up to first team, because the first team defense didn't do much."
Although the defense did not have a stellar day, several players did gain notice with their effort. Defensive linemen Eric Norwood and Jonathan Williams led the charge up front. Norwood had an interception, and Williams scooped up a fumble and returned it 43 yards for a touchdown. Linebacker Damien Wright also scored a touchdown off an interception. Safety Emanuel Cook continued his hard-hitting play, making several bone-crunching tackles that the coaches undoubtedly wish he would save for the opponents.
Spurrier is famed for tossing his visor on the ground in disgust after a play goes wrong. However, he has toned down the tossing since arriving at Carolina, only to have his son, wide receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr., pick up the slack. At most practices, it is "Junior" who can be seen waving his visor around furiously. However, on Saturday the offense looked so bad that Spurrier reverted to his old habits and had to reach down a couple of times to pick up his headwear.
"Our quarterbacks did not play well at all," Spurrier announced after the scrimmage. "We threw careless interceptions, all three of them. Whoever coaches quarterbacks needs to do a better job." He then launched into a criticism of how he has coached quarterbacks Blake Mitchell, Tommy Beecher, and Chris Smelley, saying, "I've done a lousy job with those guys so far. Every time I called a pass play I said, ‘I'm a dummy.' We may be a hell of a running team this year because the quarterbacks are not good enough to throw 30 times a game."
When he was asked what sort of problems the quarterbacks were having, Spurrier shot back, "You watched ‘em." He then ran through a laundry list of problems he saw: "Decision making, decision making, quickness, accuracy, some lousy throws, too. Decisions though, they don't seem to know where everybody's going. That's bad coaching."
Spurrier added that he cannot understand why the quarterbacks struggle with their decision making. During the scrimmage he rotated the three quarterbacks, trying to give each one the best chance to understand the play he was being asked to run. "We've got quarterbacks that are 4.0 students, [Beecher] and Smelley, and you'd think they would know where to throw it," Spurrier said, "but I guess they haven't been coached well enough yet. They had a plan before every play [because of the rotating], so you'd think they could make a better decision than what they did."
When Spurrier was asked if he might rotate the quarterbacks in the fall, or even in the regular season, a tactic he once employed while at Florida, he first answered, "No." He then hesitated and said, "Well, if they're all the same I might. We'll find one that can play." Spurrier also noted that he would not call plays during a game the way he calls them during a scrimmage. "In a ball game I wouldn't call those plays. You can't put it in the hands of quarterbacks who can't make good decisions and throw accurately. We've got to see if they can do it, so that's why we practice."
Regardless of the question, Spurrier's answers almost always returned to the struggling quarterbacks. However, in between he did talk about a few other players. Mike West had one of his better practices, and along with Larry Freeman, looked like he could make it into the wide receiver rotation. Spurrier was pleased for the most part with how the pair performed, but stressed that they need to be more aggressive. "[They] need to get quicker. They always look like they are just barely jogging around. We've got to coach them. Human nature is just, ‘Well, I'll get there.'"
For the first time in perhaps his entire tenure, Spurrier praised the offensive line. He said the first team blocked "very well." Unfortunately, the line took a hit when starting left tackle Jamon Meredith had to be helped off the field with an injured left leg. At first it appeared to be a more serious injury, but it has been diagnosed as a sprained ankle.
Spurrier also liked the way his stable of running backs performed. Cory Boyd led a rushing attack that, even with Mike Davis still out with an injury, has Spurrier threatening to turn into a run-first offense. Boyd has also stepped up as the leader of the offense, a fact that has Spurrier excited. "He's our leader on offense, and he should be. He had a good scrimmage and Bobby Wallace did some good things. Taylor Rank always seems to gain yards if there's any hole at all. We've got some good running backs, and they hold onto the ball."
Spurrier was asked if the offensive play has him worried about the fall. "We don't play for about six months, he responded incredulously. Then he asked the reporter, "Were you here the first year?" However, Spurrier did send a message to his players. "They've got a long way to go, and we've got a lot of freshmen coming in, too. This is not our team, by the way, this is our spring practice team. We'll have a different team in the fall."
Blake Mitchell 18-11-1-79; Tommy Beecher 20-11-3-140; Chris Smelley 17-10-1-88
Cory Boyd 12-72; Bobby Wallace 8-56; Taylor Rank 11-46; Calvin Parks 4-43; Moe Brown 1-16; Bryan Kingrey 1-2; Ryan Brown 1-0; Tommy Beecher 1-(-6); Chris Smelley 5-(-12); Blake Mitchell 3-(-19).
Moe Brown 5-54; Jared Cook 4-51; Kenny McKinley 3-32; Mike West 3-32; Nick Prochak 3-31; Bobby Wallace 3-10; Taylor Rank 2-19; Larry Freeman 2-11; Alex McGrath 1-25; Cory Boyd 1-11; Bryan Kingrey 1-8; Marquise Brown 1-6; Scott Spurrier 1-7; Foxy Foxworth 1-5; Freddie Brown 1-5.
Jonathan Williams – 43-yard fumble return.
Cory Boyd – 2-yard run.
Jared Cook – 38-yard pass from Tommy Beecher.
Thomas Hooper – 31-yard field goal.
Damien Wright – 43-yard interception return.
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