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SEC Weekend Wrap – 9/9/13

weekend-wrapGood Monday afternoon to you.  As is the norm, here is our full around-the-SEC Weekend Wrap complete with game-by-game comments and several bonus observations on Alabama/Texas A&M, South Carolina feuding, Vanderbilt attendance, ex-SEC coach Lane Kiffin and more.

Here goes…

 

1.  Kentucky 41, Miami (OH) 7

Saturday marked the first home game and the first win for new Wildcat coach Mark Stoops.  But the big story in this one was the play of quarterback Max Smith.  Oh, UK continued to use both of their quarterbacks — in a bit of a surprise move — and both had good days throwing the football, but Smith is clearly his team’s best passer.  While Jalen Whitlow finished 10-of-12 for 103 yards and another 48 on the ground, Smith went 15-of-23 for 310 yards, three scores and no interceptions.  We’ll see home Smith does — and how the quarterback rotation works — when Louisville visits on Saturday.

 

2.  Miami (FL) 21, Florida 16

Many Gators fans weren’t thrilled with winning ugly a year ago.  One can imagine how losing ugly sits with the UF faithful.  First things first: A little credit to offensive coordinator Brent Pease for guiding his offense to a plus-400-yard day.  Unfortunately, five turnovers — four in the red zone — killed any hope of a Gator victory.  Quarterback Jeff Driskel’s passing line wasn’t that bad –  22-of-33 for 291, one TD and two picks — but he also fumbled for a third giveaway and his TD pass came a little too late.  From Urban Meyer’s last season through Charlie Weis’ failures right on through to Pease, Gators fans haven’t seen a consistent offense since Tim Tebow graduated.

 

3.  Tennessee 52, Western Kentucky 20

On Saturday morning, the feeling was that we’d all know more about Tennessee after its session with Bobby Petrino.  But seven WKU turnovers muddied the water quite a bit.  Butch Jones’ Vols were in the right place at the right time — a big improvement over last year’s defense — and they forced several of the Hilltoppers’ errors.  Credit must be given for that.  However, with Oregon and Florida coming up next, it’s doubtful UT will be on the receiving end of five turnovers in six plays as they were last Saturday.  Well, OK, maybe they can get those kinds of breaks against Florida.

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Manziel Leads Aggies, Auburn Goes To 2-0, Vanderbilt Gets Win

postgame-linksTexas A&M 65 – Sam Houston State 28. Video Highlights

1. Johnny Manziel gets his first start of the year, throws for 426 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. 462 total yards on the day. Speaks to media after the game for the first time since SEC Media Days.

2. Aggies defense gives up a 68-yard run and 75-yard pass. Suspended defensive players will return for Alabama game.

3. It’s finally Alabama week.  ESPN GameDay crew will be rolling into College Station.  Aggies 0-3 on previous visits from the four-letter network.

Auburn 38 – Arkansas State 9. Video Highlights

4. Auburn’s offense piles up 468 yards; running back Cameron Artis-Payne rushed for a game-high 102 yards.

5. Auburn’s defense keeps Arkansas State from a touchdown.  Defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown now since second quarter of Washington State game.

Vanderbilt 38 – Austin Peay 3. Video Highlights

6. 35-point second quarter gives Vanderbilt plenty of opportunities to play the backups.

7. Vanderbilt defense expected to be without senior captain Chase Garnham for several games. On the sideline on crutches Saturday.

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D-Coordinator Jancek Eager To See How Vols Respond To Adversity

vol-defense-run-throughIn 2012, the Tennessee defense broke school records for futility.  Finishing 14th in a 14-team SEC in total defense and scoring defense, the Volunteers surrendered 2,266 yards on the ground and 3,390 yards through the air.  They were battered for a grand total of 5,656 yards, a 6.13 yards-per-play average, and 428 points, including 53 touchdowns.

The basic math?  UT’s foes averaged 35.7 points and 471.3 yards per game.

Needless to say, new defensive coordinator John Jancek wonders how his players will react when the breaks go against them:

 

“That’s really my concern with this group in a first ball game.  Hey, if something bad happens, maybe they get a big pass, or there’s a turnover, or they get a long run, or there’s something that happens to change the momentum on special teams — how are we going to respond as a defense.  That’s what I’m probably paying most attention to.”

 

Tennessee’s new defense is reportedly much simpler than the complex/confusing/confounding scheme drawn up by one-and-done coordinator Sal Sunseri a year ago.  At the very least, the Vols shouldn’t set any new lows when it comes to school history.

The Volunteers open against Austin Peay on Saturday.  That needs to be a confidence-builder for a group that will face Bobby Petrino’s Western Kentucky squad and then travel to Oregon and Florida before the end of September.

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WOW Headlines – 8/28/13

LSU intends to continue to use its power running game even with a new emphasis on the pass being made this season
Ole Miss defensive coordinator Dave Wommack on freshman DE Robert Nkemdiche: “He’s so big and strong and fast that you can’t single block him.”
There is still no word from Texas A&M on whether or not QB Johnny Manziel will play on Saturday while under NCAA investigation
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says he will slow down his hurry-up offense against Washington State if necessary
Florida will likely be using a running-back-by-committee approach on Saturday against Toledo
Georgia coach Mark Richt says he’s “more curious than concerned” about the Bulldogs’ young defense
Tennessee could start as many as three freshmen against Austin Peay this week
Want to know what’s up in the SEC?  Go to MrSEC.com every single day

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Worley To Land Tennessee Starting QB Job

justin-worley-playingIn a move that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Tennessee is set to name junior Justin Worley as its new starting quarterback.  Worley is the only one of four competitors for the job with actual game experience.

The Volunteers open the season against Austin Peay on Saturday.

The bigger question for UT at this point is who’ll be redshirted at that quarterback position.  Nathan Peterman is already a redshirt freshman.  He and Worley have been battling true freshmen Josh Dobbs and Riley Ferguson.  If all three of those QBs see the field this year (in addition to Worley), Tennessee will have three sophomores in the pipeline next year.  So it’s likely one of the two true freshman — Dobbs or Ferguson — will be redshirted in order to create some separation between the Vols’ signal-callers.

 

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SEC Releases Kickoff Times For First 3 Weeks Of 2013 Football Season

scheduleThe SEC has posted today the kickoff times and television ties for the first three weeks of the 2013 football season.

Keep in mind that the “SEC Network” is currently the league’s syndicated package.  All times are Eastern:

 

Thursday 8/29

North Carolina vs South Carolina — ESPN, 6:00

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt — ESPN, 9:15 pm

 

Saturday 8/31

Toledo at Florida — SEC Network, 12:21pm

Rice at Texas A&M — ESPN, 1:00pm

Miss. State vs Oklahoma State — ABC or ESPN2, 3:30pm

La-Lafayette at Arkansas — FSN, 4:00pm

Virginia Tech vs Alabama — ESPN, 5:30pm

Austin Peay at Tennessee — Pay-per-view, 6:00pm

Washington State at Auburn — ESPNU, 7:00pm

Kentucky vs Western Kentucky — ESPNews, 7:00pm

Georgia at Clemson — ABC, 8:00pm

TCU vs LSU — ESPN, 9:00pm

Murray State at Missouri — Pay-per-view, TBA

 

Saturday 9/7

Florida at Miami (FL) — ESPN, 12:00pm

Miami (OH) at Kentucky — FSN, 12:00pm

Western Kentucky at Tennessee — SEC Network, 12:21pm

Toledo at Missouri — ESPNU, 3:30pm

Alcorn State at Miss. State — CSS, 3:30pm

South Carolina at Georgia — ESPN, 4:30pm

Samford at Arkansas — Pay-per-view, 7:00pm

UAB at LSU — ESPNU, 7:00pm

SE Missouri at Ole Miss — Pay-per-view, 7:00pm

Sam Houston State at Texas A&M — Pay-per-view, 7:00pm

Arkansas State at Auburn — FSN, 7:30pm

Austin Peay at Vanderbilt — CSS, 7:30pm

 

Saturday 9/14

Louisville at Kentucky — ESPN, 12:00pm

Southern Miss at Arkansas — SEC Network, 12:21pm

Alabama at Texas A&M — CBS, 3:30pm

Tennessee at Oregon — ABC or ESPN or ESPN2, 3:30pm

Miss. State at Auburn — ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU, 7:00pm

Vanderbilt at South Carolina — ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU, 7:00pm

Kent State at LSU — ESPN or ESPN2 or ESPNU

Ole Miss at Texas — Longhorn Network, 8:00pm

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Expect A Coach Of The Year Split In The SEC Between Calipari And Martin

John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats yesterday became just the third SEC squad since 1956 to go through their league schedule unbeaten.  His team is currently #1 in the nation and he has done a masterful job of not only bringing in ridiculously talented players, but of getting them to put team ahead of self.  Also, is there anyone else in the country who does a better job of convincing freshmen to stress defense first?

For those reasons, expect the media to award Calipari with the SEC’s Coach of the Year trophy.

Cuonzo Martin’s Tennessee Vols have defied preseason projections of an 11th place finish and earned not only a bye in the SEC Tournament, but a #2 seed.  Taking over a program in the middle of an NCAA scandal, he led his team back from a 3-6 start to the season — including a home loss to Austin Peay — and engineered an SEC finish that included eight wins in UT’s last nine games.  The Vols have allowed 70 points in a game just once since December 20th.

For those reasons, expect the SEC’s coaches to award Martin at least a share of the SEC’s Coach of the Year vote.

The media tend to vote for the guy with the best record.  That’s Calipari.  The coaches’ vote is based a bit more on popularity and “good stories.”  There’s no better story than Martin’s.  And he’s a lot more popular in the coaching ranks than Calipari.

At this point, we would be surprised if the SEC doesn’t have two Coaches of the Year for 2011-12.  And while the two coaches’ fans might bicker that their guy deserves the accolades outright, the truth is both Calipari and Martin have done remarkable work this past season.

Remarkable work.

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Martin Can See UT In NCAA Tourney

After a hard fought win over Tennessee on Saturday, Kentucky’s John Calipari said the Vols are an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.  With his team’s defense improving and the recent addition of freshman hotshot Jarnell Stokes, Cuonzo Martin doesn’t disagree:


“Like I told our guys from Florida (an upset win) up until now, you say (we’re) one of the 65 or 68 teams, I would say, yes.  But you have to put a lot of work to cover some ground.  I would definitely say from teh time we started league play up until now, when you pick 65 or 33, 35 (at-large) teams, I would say, yes.”


Unfortunately, Martin’s team took some time to gel and to start believing in the coach’s defense-first mantra.  The Vols are just 8-9 overall with some pretty bad losses on the ol’ resume (Austin Peay at home, for example).

To reach the NCAA tourney, UT would likely need to upset Connecticut this week and then grab 11 SEC wins to reach the 20-win plateau.  Good defense or not, that seems like too much ground for Martin’s squad to make up.

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SEC Headlines 12/12/11

1.  After dropping back-to-back games, Alabama got back in the win column with a 63-54 victory over Detroit yesterday.

2.  With Mike Dyer suspended, Auburn has but only two scholarship backs with carries this season.

3.  Bobby Petrino has restocked the coaching cupboard at Arkansas.

4.  LSU is exploring an expansion of Tiger Stadium (and the plans look mighty slick).

5.  It’s looking more and more like Duke O-line coach Matt Luke will join the staff at Ole Miss.

6.  MSU is using the early part of bowl practice to work with the Bulldogs’ younger players.

7.  Florida, meanwhile, its using bowl practices to get tougher… by holding another training camp in December.

8.  The Georgia football has handed out its awards for 2011.

9.  Kentucky is 8-1 and the one loss came on a buzzer-beating shot by undefeated Indiana on Saturday… but the Cats “problems” are fixable.  (Oh, what team wouldn’t trade for UK’s problems?)

10.  South Carolina assistants Steve Spurrier Jr. and Shawn Elliott are rumored to be head coaching candidates at Coastal Carolina.

11.  Cuonzo Martin is planning to use Tennessee’s loss to Austin Peay as a painful lesson to his team.

12.  Bob Shoop turned down overtures regarding Richmond’s head coaching job to remain in Nashville as Vanderbilt’s defensive coordinator.

13.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week in basketball.

14.  Kentucky falls to #3 in the latest polls, which include four other SEC teams in the Top 25… six if you count soon-to-be-members Missouri and Texas A&M.

15.  The Sports Business Journal has listed Mike Slive as the 35th most influential person in sports.


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SEC Headlines 12/11/2011

Update:  Michael Dyer reportedly suspended. Multiple sources confirm.

1. For the first time in three years, the Heisman Trophy will reside outside the state of Alabama.

2. Alabama’s Trent Richardson finishes third in the Heisman balloting.  ”If not for LSU, Richardson would’ve been the best player on the best team in the country.”

3. LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu finishes fifth. Sophomore faced long odds – only three of them have won the award in 75 years.

4. Twelfth time the SEC has had two of the top five.

5. The voting totals.

6. Heisman winner Robert Griffin III on the comparisons to Tim Tebow: ”One kid asked me to Tebow with him a couple of weeks ago,” Griffin said.

7. Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain pulls out of consideration for the Fresno State job.

8. What does new Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze talk about in his pre-game chats? “He’ll tell a lot of Old Testament stories out of the Bible.”

9. Mississippi State quarterback Dylan Favre is transferring.

10. Mark Richt: “I’ve said many times Georgia is the place I want to be as long as Georgia will have me.”

11. Georgia AD Greg McGarity on the SEC 2012 football schedule:  ”Well, we meet in Birmingham (this) week.” On going to a 9-game conference schedule:  ”That has not even been discussed, and I don’t think it will even be brought back up.”

12. New assistants at Florida won’t be hired until after the bowl game.

13. Kentucky seniors stand behind Joker Phillips.

14. Ten SEC players on the Football Writers All-American team.

15. 3,500 attend memorial service for Larry Munson.

16. Austin Peay 74 – Tennessee 70. The Governors rally late to beat the Vols in Knoxville – hit last seven shots. Tennessee turns the ball over 18 times.

17. Mike Strange: “I imagine coach Cuonzo Martin’s honeymoon is over among a fair portion of Tennessee fans.”

18. Oklahoma 78 – Arkansas 63.  Razorbacks miss first 14 of 15 shots. Mike Anderson: “We kind of get rattled pretty easy.”

19. Ole Miss 80 – Mississippi Valley State 56.  Freshman LaDarius White makes his debut – scores 16.

20. Mississippi State 106 – Troy 68. Bulldogs tie a school record for 3-pointers. Make 16-of-31 on the night.

21. LSU 64 – Boise 45.  Once again, the Tigers win by holding an opponent to less than 60 points.

22. Indiana 73 – Kentucky 72. 3-point buzzer beater for the Hoosiers sends the Wildcats home with their first loss of the season.

23. Career lows in shots, points and rebounds for Terrance Jones.  ”He absolutely gave us a zero today,” said John Calipari.

24. With Detroit coming to town, Alabama’s JaMychel Green gets to see a Team USA teammate. Tide look to break two-game losing streak.

Extra

25. Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M make it official.

26. Refs cut short Xavier-Cincinnati basketball game after bench-clearing brawl.

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