NFL | NCAA Football

NCAA College Football Primer: Alabama’s Smart to South Carolina and Other News

With Southern Cal, South Carolina and Maryland all looking for head coaches for the 2016 season, and the potential for other programs to fire coaches at the end of the year, it looks like the Gamecocks may have locked into hiring their next leader in Columbia.

While the Alabama Crimson Tide have a date with Tennessee this weekend, the news out of Tuscaloosa is defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is the front runner to replace Steve Spurrier as the next South Carolina coach.

Nothing is confirmed as of yet, but ESPN senior writer Mark Schlabach predicts that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will be the Gamecocks’ next head coach.

The news can be read on thestate.com.

Schlabach said Smart “is exactly what the Gamecocks need in a new head coach. Smart, 39, knows the SEC inside and out after playing and coaching at Georgia, his alma mater, before coaching at LSU and Alabama” and that “few assistants have recruited the Southeast as well as Smart during the past nine seasons.”

Steve Spurrier resigned as USC coach on Oct. 12, with Shawn Elliott being named interim head coach. USC is in the middle of its open week this week, with a road trip to Texas A&M coming up on Oct. 31.

Other names have been mentioned, including Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, Memphis head coach Justin Fuente and Houston’s head coach Tom Herman. I do not expect an announcement to be made until after the football season.

Alabama’s main focus is on the Volunteers this weekend, and the fact Tennessee might be the best 3-3 team on the college football landscape. Tennessee is currently a 15-point underdog to the Crimson Tide, who have one loss on the season, but are looking to get right back into the SEC and national title picture.

PRE FLORIDA-GEORGIA WEEK

Both the Georgia Bulldogs and the Florida Gators have the week off prior to their annual matchup here in Jacksonville. The extended practice will help both teams, given Florida lost to LSU last week and Georgia could not score a touchdown in a 9-6 win over Missouri.

The edge in play right now has to go the Gators, who will give quarterback Treon Harris another week to work with the first offensive unit under first-year head coach Jim McElwain.

Harris replaced starter Will Greer, who was suspended two weeks ago for the season for violating NCAA rules of use of a performance enhancing drug.

This game means something this year, as we will discuss further next week. The winner should claim the SEC East and would play either Alabama or LSU in the SEC Title Game.

FOURNETTE IN THE HEISMAN LEAD, BUT…

The Florida Gators did something no other team in college football has been able to do this year – it held Leonard Fournette under 200 yards rushing.

The sophomore tailback still managed 180 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-28 win last week in Baton Rouge and helped the LSU Tigers to another key win in the SEC, but now he might have some company at tailback in the voting. Derrick Henry of Alabama has been amongst the players talked about as a potential Heisman candidate. Henry could take votes away from Fournette should LSU lose a game late or he stumbles and has a poor outing in the next few weeks.

There is on name that has popped up on the radar of late – that being FSU’s Dalvin Cook – who continues to carry the Seminoles offense on his back.

According to Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. Cook is another sophomore who could make a late-season charge.

Cook has a chance to showcase his talents in a big way against Georgia Tech this weekend.

Murschel explains that Dalvin Cook could be one of the biggest challengers to Fournette’s run at the Heisman if his hamstring holds up. Cook’s 955 yards rushing ranks No. 5 in the country, but he’s averaging more than 41 yards per touchdown run – better than both Fournette (27) and Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott (28) – making him one of the best big-play athletes in college football right now. His challenge this week – besides staying healthy – is facing a Georgia Tech defense that ranks next to last against the run.

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