Times Are A’Changin.

By Jerold Wells Jr.
Updated: September 11, 2005

MINNESOTA—College Football wrapped up its second week this Saturday and two coaches new to the collegiate ranks this year are at opposite ends of the win-loss spectrum as a result.

Charlie Weis and Steve Spurrier each led their teams against big time programs and produced quality game plans; game plans that should have produced wins in both situations. The difference between a win for Weis and a loss for Spurrier was execution. The Irish offense played good ball control offense and let a good offensive line have a hand in a quality win over the Michigan Wolverines. The Gamecocks on the other hand committed two turnovers, missed an extra point and had 6 points taken off the board due to a penalty in a loss to the Georgia Bulldogs.

Charlie Weis is bringing back the glory to Notre Dame football and he is doing it quickly. His player friendly outlook on how football should be played, especially offense, is gaining fans nation wide. Notre Dame is a much more physical, punishing style team offensively than it was a year ago. This isn’t my father’s Notre Dame…..but it does have similarities.

Whereas Fighting Irish teams of old would pound the ball consistently and then look for big plays in the passing game occasionally, the Charlie Weis Fighting Irish are a more balanced team using various formations and personnel packages to confuse defenses. The key to both schemes, new and old, can be found in the play of the offensive line. Weis has been successful in getting his linemen to feel apart of team success and it shows in their inspired play. Notre Dame offensive linemen attack. They find someone to block, move them out of the play and then find someone else to block. As a result, Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn who at times looked confused and overwhelmed by complex defenses last year, is more comfortable in the pocket and better equipped to read defenses, make adjustments and make plays.

This Notre Dame team has the making of a special one. Quite frankly, their next big test may not come until the Trojans of USC. This offense is a potent one and against a USC team with defensive concerns an upset at the most and at the least one of the better games in college football this season awaits.

Steve Spurrier doesn’t want to bring the glory days back to the University of South Carolina Football program….he wants to start them. The school boasts some of the most loyal, and longsuffering, fans in the country but the on-field performance in regards to wins and losses does not correlate. South Carolina has long been a SEC doormat and the closest thing to a sure-fire victory (aside from Vanderbilt, who is also experiencing a mini resurgence) the conference has to offer. Enter the Ol’ Ballcoach. Equal parts swagger and genius, Steve Spurrier is pumping excitement into the entire state of South Carolina.

The first big test of the Spurrier Era came against the University of Georgia in Athens. Georgia is a conference powerhouse and was supposed to dominate South Carolina on both sides of the ball. Were these the geriatric Lou Holtz coached offense and the underachieving defense commonplace in SC the last few years such an outcome may have occurred. Instead, the Gamecocks dealt blow after surprising blow on offense and played well enough on defense, forcing turnovers and playing with surprising team speed, to keep the game close until the 4th quarter. Steve Spurrier will do a good job of pointing out the mistakes his offense made and getting them on track. He’s too good of a coach not to.

This South Carolina team is a sleeper team in the SEC. Look for them to build momentum and take the step up from being conference doormat to conference contender. Steve Spurrier owned the SEC at one time. Once his players realize that it can happen again, the Ol’ Ballcoach will reign again….from his throne in Columbia, South Carolina.