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Report: Harvey-Clemons To Join Ex-UGA D-Coordinator Grantham At Louisville

Strong safety Josh Harvey-Clemons (25) (Photo by Perry McIntyre Jr.)This fall, defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons won’t be playing for the same team he did a year ago.  But he might be working for the same coach.

The grandfather of the former Georgia Bulldgo told InsideTheVille — the 247sports site covering Louisville athletics — that his grandson plans to transfer to Louisville where he will be reunited with former UGA defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.  Harvey-Clemons is on the market after being dismissed by Georgia.  The former five-star recruit had reportedly violated the school’s strict drug policy on more than one occasion, leading first to suspensions and then to his ouster in mid-February.

“He wants to stick with Coach Grantham and his defensive system,” said Woodrow Clemons.  ”That ‘star’ position that he’s able to play safety and outside linebacker and cover the back coming out or able to rush the quarterback.  We kind of like that.”

Harvey-Clemons will have to sit out this season before returning to the field in 2015 with two years of eligibility remaining.

The defensive back recorded one interception for Georgia last season and he recovered one fumble.  He was third on the Dawg defense with 65 tackles.

But he might best be remembered — by Georgia and Auburn fans alike — for being one of the guys who batted a last-second pass into the air which led to this…

 

Auburn Hail Mary Miracle TD Catch vs Georgia

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Saban Says Alabama Lost Its Identity Last Year

fake-id-mcLovinAlabama won BCS championships in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.  In 2013, the Crimson Tide came within one second — literally — of perhaps punching a ticket back to the SEC title game which could have propelled them back to another BCS title clash.  After Bama’s loss to Auburn, however, the team got scorched by Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.

Now at most schools a 12-2 season would be a pretty darn good year.  But that’s not the case at Alabama where Nick Saban says his program lost its identity last year and will have to struggle to get it back:

 

“Alabama football’s supposed to be a tough, physical team that nobody really like to play against.  That’s been our identity.  We’ve lost that identity a little bit, I think, the way we finished the year last year.  That’s something that we’ve got to get back, and it’s hard, and you really can’t make it easy…

You have to start all over to reestablish it.  It’s not easy.  It’s not easy.  It’s difficult.  It’s tough.  To have the psychological toughness to sustain the season to play the kind of football that we’ve won playing around here, you have to pound.  You have to pound your hand in the sand until it’s tough enough to go through it.

I don’t know that we every paid that price last year, and I think it’s important that our players understand why we do the things we do so they can make it through the season and play the kind of football that we want to play.”

 

Is that an overall mental state Saban’s referring to or an actual style of play?  Let’s look at some Alabama stats from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons:

 

  Year   Rush Offense   Rush Defense   Pass Offense   Pass Defense
  2011   2788 yds (508 carries)   938 yds allowed (2.43 ypca)   2797 yds (357 attempts)   1449 yds allowed (4.3 ypa)
  2012   3185 yds (570 carries)   1069 yds allowed (2.43 ypca)   3052 yds (328 attempts)   2431 yds allowed (6.1 ypa)
  2013   2673 yds (461 carries)   1381 yds allowed (3.32 ypca)   3230 yds (365 attempts)   2344 yds allowed (6.6 ypa)

 

Saban may be referring to an overall attitude with his team, but the numbers suggest that attitude is tied directly to being a “tough, physical team” that can control a game on the ground..

The Tide ran the ball fewer times last year for fewer yards than it had the two previous seasons.  Look at the passing offense numbers and it’s easy to see that senior quarterback AJ McCarron was called on to put the ball in the air more often, making good with more yards through the air.  But did that decision to throw the ball a bit more and run the ball a bit less contribute to Alabama’s late-season stumbles?  Saban seems to think so.

On defense there’s a more obvious trend — giving up more yards on the ground.  Bama allowed almost a full yard per carry more on the ground last year than it had the previous two seasons.  The Alabama secondary (and pass rush) allowed more yards per attempt than it had the previous two years as well, but the bigger decline is in the run game.

Saban’s comments and a quick look at the stat book suggest that new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be instructed to pound the ball more than his predecessor, Doug Nussmeier, did a season ago.  Breaking in a new quarterback that would be a smart tack anyway.  Also, it’s a probably a safe bet that Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are putting an added emphasis on stopping the run this spring.

Run the ball; stop the run.  That was the “identity” of Alabama’s football teams in 2011 and 2012.  The 2013 team slipped a hair in those areas last season.  It slipped enough, at least, to lose two whole ballgames.

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SEC Headlines 4/9/2014

headlines-wedSEC Football

1. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on the team’s Sunday night opener against Utah State: “We’re very, very excited about that. It’s also a great opportunity to perform on the SEC Network.”

2. Tennessee quarterbacks Justin Worley and Riley Ferguson took first- and second-team reps, respectively, on Tuesday.

3. Georgia and Notre Dame reportedly working on a home-and-home series starting in 2018. A.D. Greg McGarity: “We talk with a lot of institutions about future scheduling and Notre Dame is one of them.”

4. Bulldogs turn to fans for playcalling help?

5. Judge says Auburn fan was guilty of disorderly conduct when he stormed the field following the Iron Bowl. His attorney asks why his behavior was any different than thousands of others.

6. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s message to his team: “The big thing is we needed to be more physical.”

7. Florida coach Will Muschamp on quarterback Jeff Driskel: “He’s throwing the ball very accurately.”

8. Over the weekend, Alabama coach Nick Saban mentioned three quarterbacks by name.  Yesterday, he left one of them out.

9. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason on Aaron Murray: “I think one of the great things is he kind of just passed the torch,”

10. Injuries taking their toll on spring practice at Missouri.  Coach Gary Pinkel: “We had to cut our reps back a little bit…”

11. South Carolina All-SEC freshman kicker Elliot Fry is now on scholarship. ”It’s awesome, obviously. Love it.”

12. Mississippi State’s Justin Cox is moving back to safety.  “I can see the field. Free safety was my first love.”

13. Arkansas linebacker Otha Peters is changing numbers.  “Five, I felt like, was a curse,”

14. Ole Miss had its spring game early in order to get a full month with the strength and conditioning coordinator.

15. The long-time PA announcer at Neyland Stadium has died.  Bobby Denton had been battling cancer.

16. Steve Spurrier and the advantages of living close to Augusta, Georgia.

SEC/NFL

17. Big turnout expected today at LSU’s pro day. Seventeen players on display with all 32 NFL teams expected in attendance.

SEC Basketball

18. Tim Sullivan on John Calipari rumors: “Was Rex Chapman wrong? Too soon to say.”

19. Regardless of how many players Kentucky loses to the NBA draft, expectations will still be high in Lexington next season. Wildcats at 12-1 to win it all in 2015.  Arizona the favorite at 6-1.

20. Arkansas guard Dee Wagner is transferring.

21. Missouri assistant coach Mark Phelps leaving for a job on the Marquette staff.

Extra

22. UMass guard Derrick Gordon says he’s gay.

23. Are you ready for the AJ McCarron/Katherine Webb reality television show?  

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SEC Commitment Comparator – 4/9/13

blue_poker_chipsYou know what today is?  It’s exactly 44 weeks from National Signing Day 2015.  So why the heck not compare the league recruiting classes to date?

As usual, we’ve used Rivals.com’s star rankings as our foundation.  For each star they award a prospect, we assign one point.  We also give a point to the 0-star recruits who’ve yet to be graded by Rivals.  Toward the right of the table below you’ll see the total points amassed by each SEC program up until now.  On the far right you’ll also see the average points per commit for each school.

It’s early — obviously — but as the recruiting process begins earlier and earlier each year, it’s not too early to begin to draw a few conclusions.  Over the past few years we’ve seen that those programs that can lasso a large number of commitments early create a momentum that’s hard to stop.  In the age of social media, committed prospects serve as additional recruiters.  And those players who’ve already committed will have the opportunity to woo other prospects at various camps and combines this summer.

In most cases it pays to get the ball rolling early.  The table below will give you an idea of who’s done just that…

 

  School   Commits   5-stars   4-stars   3-stars   2-stars   1- & 0-stars   Total Points   Avg. Pts/Commit
  Alabama   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Texas A&M   9   0   8   1   0   0   35   3.88
  Tennessee   10   0   5   4   1   0   34   3.40
  LSU   9   2   1   5   1   0   31   3.44
  Miss. State   9   0   2   5   0   2   25   2.77
  S. Carolina   7   1   3   2   0   1   24   3.42
  Arkansas   7   0   4   2   0   1   23   3.28
  Georgia   5   0   4   0   0   1   17   3.40
  Kentucky   6   0   0   5   0   1   16   2.66
  Ole Miss   4   0   1   3   0   0   13   3.25
  Auburn   5   0   1   2   0   2   12   2.40
  Missouri   4   0   2   1   0   1   12   3.00
  Florida   5   0   0   3   0   2   11   2.20
  Vanderbilt   2   0   1   0   0   1   5   2.50

 

As you can see, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M — as usual — are off to good starts.  Ditto Tennessee where Butch Jones is off to a hot start for the second year in a row.  Dan Mullen and Mississippi State are racking up commitments as well.  And while MSU’s point total isn’t quite as high as those mentioned ahead of them, there is reason for optimism in Starkville.

At the other end of the spectrum, Auburn, Georgia and Florida all have just five commitments to this point.  For Auburn and Georgia, there’s little reason to worry as those schools typically finish strong.  The same can typically be said for Florida, but the temperature of Will Muschamp’s seat leaves us wondering: Are the Gators just taking their time or are prospects leery of committing to a coach who might not be in Gainesville a year from now?  Time will tell.

Missouri, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt all have four or fewer commitments.  Derek Mason is just getting his feet beneath him at Vandy.  Hugh Freeze has shown that he can recruit, though his most successful class — a top five class two years ago — benefited from a hot start.  Missouri fans — as one pointed out via email today — can be pleased with the fact that Missouri has two four-star prospects out of its four-person class.  Last year the Tigers signed just two four-star prospects in their 28-man haul.

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SEC Headlines 4/8/2014

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has been indefinitely suspended ”for a violation of undisclosed team policies.”

2. What helped Amari Cooper have a big scrimmage on Saturday? The Alabama receiver credited Lane Kiffin’s offense.

3. Here’s a practice report from Alabama’s workout on Monday.

4. Auburn offensive tackle Avery Young is back after suffering a painful broken hand injury in the BCS title game.

5. Jonathan Mincy and Jermaine Whitehead are two leaders in Auburn’s secondary.

6. The LSU quarterback job is freshman Brandon Harris’ to lose, writes Barrett Sallee.

7. Here are five Ole Miss players who showed up as surprises this spring.

8. Kelvin Taylor appears to be “The Guy” at tailback for Florida.

9. Georgia has high hopes for linebacker Leonard Floyd as a pass rusher this fall.

10. Georgia’s coaches have challenged running back Todd Gurley to give it his all on the field.

NCAA Championship Game

11. UConn winning the national title proves the regular season doesn’t mean much, writes Pat Dooley.

12. UConn’s men drew inspiration from the women in their lives, writes Nicole Auerbach.

13. Kentucky fan Tyler Austin Black is keeping the “2014 Nati9nal Champions” tattoo he got before the tournament began.

14. Kentucky’s group of freshmen is already a thing of the past as several are expected to leave for the NBA.

SEC Basketball

15. Bruce Pearl says there have already been some “cultural changes” with Auburn’s approach to practice.

16. Auburn legend Chuck Person has joined Pearl’s staff. Pearl: “This is a pretty special day for Auburn basketball and the Auburn family.”

SEC/NFL Draft

17. Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and his former teammates are preparing for Tuesday’s Pro Day at Alabama.

18. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger will visit several NFL teams following LSU’s Pro Day.

19. Safety Craig Loston wants to show NFL teams he can cover as well as hit.

Extra

20. Former NFL linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo believes Nick Saban traded him from the Miami Dolphins because he took paternity leave.

21. An Ohio bill says college athletes aren’t employees under state law.

22. UConn star guard Shabazz Napier said “there are hungry nights that I go to bed and I’m starving.”

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Saban Liking His 2014 Alabama Team So Far

gfx-they-said-it4When you win a national championship, it’s only natural to become a bit complacent.  When you win two in a row, it’s even easier to take the foot off the accelerator.  ”We got this,” the mind assures.

So it was little wonder that Nick Saban’s 2013 team — a squad going for a third crown in a row — failed to improve after an emotional win over LSU.  ”We got this,” they must have thought.  Instead, Auburn got them on the weirdest final play this side of a Cal/Stanford game.  And then Oklahoma got all over the Crimson Tide in a Sugar Bowl rout.

This year’s Bama players have no reason to believe they can just roll their helmets out onto the turf scaring their foes into a pregame surrender.  And one scrimmage into spring practice, Nick Saban says he likes his team’s attitude:

 

“I thought that for the first scrimmage (on Saturday), I was really pleased with the effort and intensity that the players had.  I really like the attitude of this team, in terms of how they go about what they try to do, how they word and the effort they give, the mental and physical toughness they play with.  A lot of guys come out and be conscientious to do a good job, and I think it shows in the way we play and the way we compete.”

 

That’s about as effusive as Saban gets when it comes to praise.  Let’s see if Saban is still just as happy when the curtain falls on his team’s spring drills.

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SEC Headlines 4/6/2014

headlines-sun3-150x150SEC Football

1. South Carolina tight end Rory Anderson tears tricep muscle Saturday.  Recovery time depends on whether it’s partial or complete tear.

2. Missouri defensive lineman Matt Hoch  will undergo surgery for a broken bone in his ankle.

3. Freshman quarterback Brandon Harris the star of LSU’s spring game.

4. Ole Miss had its spring game Saturday.  Coach Hugh Freeze: “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt … that we’re a better football team than we were two years ago, than we were last year.”

5. No spring game for Texas A&M this year because of Kyle Field renovation.  Aggies wrap up spring drills on Saturday.

6. Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason on Saturday’s scrimmage: “We came out with a lot more passion and energy.”

7. Following Saturdays’ scrimmage, Alabama coach Nick Saban mentions three quarterbacks - Blake Sims, Cooper Batemen and Alec Morris.  ”So those three guys have sort of emerged as the three guys that look like they’re the most ready to play.”

8. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott only completed 13 passes Saturday but four of them were for touchdowns.

9. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen impressive in the Razorbacks Saturday scrimmage.

10. Coach Butch Jones on the performance of Tennessee’s quarterbacks.  “All four [QBs] did some good things, but there’s also a lot of things that need to be corrected in a hurry.”

11. Lou Holtz addressed the Auburn team Friday.  Coach Gus Malzahn: “I consider him a friend.”

12. Kentucky defensive end Alvin “Bud” Dupree:  ”I’m much more confident in myself than I was at this time last year.

SEC Basketball

13. Auburn football and Kentucky basketball - “some of the most memorable clutch performances in SEC history – all in the same academic year.”

14. No trip anytime soon to the barber for a Florida student.  Vows to not cut hair until Gators win national title.

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SEC Headlines 4/4/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Tennessee coach Butch Jones on Lane Kiffin’s return to Knoxville when Alabama comes to Tennessee: ”He’s a great football coach, but we’ll worry about that game.”

2. Tennessee freshman cornerback Emmanuel Moseley has been practicing with the first team for much of the spring.

3. Did Vanderbilt sacrifice home-field advantage by moving its game against Ole Miss to LP Field?

4. LSU’s spring game on Saturday expected to attract 20,000 to 25,000 fans.

5. Heading into the second scrimmage of the spring, Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen is not a happy man.  “There’s a lot of guys to me… have to understand how serious it is if they want to get on the field and go play.”

6. Georgia’s J.J. Green on learning to play the nickle back position: “Coach wants everybody to learn a different position just in case he has to throw somebody out there because of injuries.” Lot of spring injuries in the Georgia offense.

7. Anticipating the December day when the fifth-best team in the country is left out of the playoffs.  ”It’ll make college basketball’s Selection Sunday look like a garden party.”

8. An argument for why Bruce Pearl’s arrival as Auburn’s basketball coach is a good move – for Auburn football.

9. Is Auburn defensive back Josh’s Holsey’s recovery from a torn ACL nothing short of remarkable?

10. Auburn receiver Tony Stevens on quarterback Nick Marshall: “His leadership is very strong.”

11. Marshall one of just three SEC quarterbacks that started double-digit games last fall and returning this year.

12/ Defensive line depth a concern at Florida?

13. Big change upfront at Arkansas.  Center Luke Charpentier replacing departed four-year start Travis Swanson.  

14. Texas A&M renovating its football complex.

SEC/Final Four

15. One of the storylines for Saturdays semi-final games. Florida guard Scottie Wilbekin vs. UConn All-American guard Shabazz Napier.

16. Pete Thamel on Billy Donovan: “Donovan sits on the precipice of joining some of the most elite company in college basketball.”

17. Kentucky’s Willie Cauley-Stein walking without crutches - still unlikely to play Saturday.

18. If Kentucky wins it all -  ”the cumulative total of the seeds Kentucky defeated in this year’s NCAA Tournament would be 19.” Record is 20- set by Villanova in 1985.

19. Kentucky coach John Calipari on ending one-and-done: ”What I propose isn’t that radical, nor should it be difficult.”

20. X-factors on Saturday.  Does Final Four success hinge on the performance of these guys?

21. The no-booze rule at NCAA events has been around for 40 years.

SEC Basketball

22. Missouri basketball player Zach Price arrested a second time for assault - accused of ramming alleged victims’ car from first incident.

23. If Jabari Brown follows through and enters NBA draft, Missouri will have a returning roster that averaged 18.1 points per game last season.

24. The Wall Street Journal on the not-so-shining NCAA Tournament moments.  ”The Missouri Tigers have the dubious distinction of turning up five times in our 10-year sample.”

25. Rupp Arena - the best in college basketball?

26. Georgia working on ways to improve attendance.

Extras

27. Florida State under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education in connection with case involving Jameis Winston.

28. Texas paid a search firm almost $267,000 to find Charlie Strong. Or as College Football Talk notes, “It cost Texas $266,900 to not get Nick Saban.”

29. Johnny Manziel trademark filing - “The House That Johnny Built”

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Lineman Harris Chooses Missouri

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxMissouri received a commitment Tuesday from offensive lineman A.J. Harris from Blue Valley High School in Stilwell, Kan.

Harris gave the commitment to Missouri coach Gary Pinkel and his staff during a trip to Columbia.

“There are a lot of good things about Mizzou, but some of them are that I have a former teammates that played there, Clay Rhodes,” Harris told PowerMizzou.com.  ”When I talked to him about it he told me it would be the best decision I ever made.

“Also, none of the coaches BS about the recruiting process. Coach Pinkel got the extension to 2020, so that added a lot of stability to the decision, too. Plus, all the faculties and my dorm are all within a square mile.”

Harris’ home is less than three hours away from Missouri’s campus. That proximity and Harris’ familiarity with the program helped the Tigers stand out early in the recruiting process.

“I’ve known it would be Missouri for about a month, but me and my dad wanted to wait to make sure the feeling stuck and to make sure nothing would change my mind on such a big decision,” Harris said. “I also wanted to do it in person, so we waited until I came (Tuesday) and I told the coaches in person.”

Harris, who considered offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio State and Oklahoma State, is the third prospect and first offensive lineman to commit to Missouri’s 2015 class. The other two commitments are from running backs Chase Abbington and Ryan Williams.

Missouri’s coaching staff will likely pitch the early offensive commitments to quarterback Drew Lock. The Lee’s Summit (Mo.) High School standout is a high priority for Missouri’s 2015 class.

Lock told 247Sports last month he’s torn between the options of playing for the in-state school or leaving the state to experience something new.

“Missouri is up there for me as far as being the hometown school and my dad went there,” Lock said. “Then again there is a side of me that wants to get away and a side of me that wants to stay home. It is 50/50 and how anyone would feel.”

 

Harris releases top 10

Running back Damien Harris from Madison Southern High School in Berea, Ky., recently released a list of the top 10 schools he’s considering.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Alabama’s Sims Says Battle For Starting QB Gig Is “A Once In A Lifetime Opportunity”

gfx-they-said-it4Senior-to-be Blake Sims has a leg up on departed Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in one area.  He’s already met with Tuscaloosa reporters.  McCarron wasn’t given his media baptism until he’d won the starter’s gig in August of his sophomore year.

Sims will compete for the Crimson Tide’s starting spot with incoming transfer Jacob Coker.  Coker will arrive this summer after leaving defending national champ Florida State.

So what’s Sims’ view of the quarterback opportunity and spring practice as a whole:

 

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  I’m having fun out there.  Everybody’s smiling.  Everybody’s having fun.  Just trying to do what we’ve got to do to be the best…

I think (the QB/receivers rapport is) very good, just communication and building a relationship so we know where we’re going to be with our body language.  Just if we try to say that if I was here, where would this person be, and try to be in the other person’s mind at all times.”

 

That should prove to be an advantage for Sims when his battle with Coker fires up this summer.  Many Tide fans are hoping Coker will step in and snag the starting reins.  But even on the competition front, Sims is saying all the right things:

 

“I’m ready for him to get here and make Bama even (that) much better as a team and bring his personality and make everybody smile and take in with open arms.”

 

For his career, Sims is 23-of-39 for 144 yards and two touchdowns in mop-up duty.  Coker was 21-of-41 for 295 yards one touchdown and one interception during his FSU career.

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