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WOW Headlines – 11/12/12

Auburn coach Gene Chizik says he believes he can still turn things around at Auburn next year if he returns
Tennessee coach Derek Dooley says AD Dave Hart has told him no decision on his future has been made
TCU coach Gary Patterson on rumors tying him to the Arkansas job: “I don’t think there’s anything to that.”
Ex-Ohio State coach Jim Tressel says there’s “no substance” to reports tying him to Kentucky’s job
Florida QB Jeff Driskel is doubtful for Saturday’s game with Jacksonville State due to a sprained ankle
Tennessee LB Curt Maggitt will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL
Six SEC teams are ranked between #4 and #9 in the latest BCS standings: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, Texas A&M and then South Carolina
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SEC Saturday Football – FCS Edition

Call this the “no line” rundown. Fans will be watching these games – Vegas won’t.

Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri

1. After surgery and rehab on his shoulder, Mizzou quarterback James Franklin is anxious to get into the swing of things: “Once I get that first hit, it will put some of that doubt, some of those worries to the side.”

2. Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel: ”They better be focused on Southeastern Louisiana. There’s not a damned thing they can do about it the week after…”

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss

3. Hugh Freeze makes his debut as the 37th football coach in Ole Miss history. ”I learned about the passion of the Ole Miss people when I came to the Grove as a child…”

4. What does Freeze expect of his Rebels team this year? “Your guess is probably as good as mine. I really don’t know. 

Jackson State at Mississippi State

5. Dan Mullen on his opponent:  ”I know they have an experienced team. They expect to win a championship this year.”

6. Mullen on different looks you might see from this year’s Bulldogs: “You might see more five wide receivers this year.”

Jacksonville State at Arkansas

7. The Razorbacks face a former Arkansas coach – Jack Crowe – and a former Georgia Bulldog running back – Washaun Ealy.

8. This will be John L. Smith’s first game as a head coach since 2006.  ”I”m fired up.”

 

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SEC Game Previews – 8/31/12

Here’s your rundown of the Week One SEC games scheduled for tonight, tomorrow and Sunday.  Everything from kickoff times, to odds, to our keys for each game are listed.

Good luck to your favorite school:

 

TONIGHT

Tennessee vs NC State at Atlanta

7:30pm ET on ESPNU

Opening Line:  UT -7

Current Line:  UT -3

Storylines:  Derek Dooley enters Year Three of his tenure squarely on the hot seat.  His team quit on him in its 2011 finale.  If the Volunteers can’t win in Atlanta tonight, will his team be ready to pack it in before the season really gets rolling?

Keys for Tennessee:  The Volunteers need an improved running game to help take the pressure off of quarterback Tyler Bray and D-Coordinator Sal Sunseri’s brand new 3-4 defense.  Facing a veteran NCSU secondary, Bray has to make good decisions in the passing game.

Pick:  NC State 28-27

 

For the rest of this weekend’s games, click below.

Read the rest of this entry »

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UK Hoping QB Smith Is Ready To Learn

At this time last year, Kentucky fans were worrying about the departures of Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke.  The exit of quarterback Mike Hartline?  Well, that was viewed as a positive by many.

But as Morgan Newton struggled mightily as the Cats’ signal-caller, Hartline’s work the previous year looked better and better by comparison.  Eventually, UK turned the ball over to true freshman Maxwell Smith.

Against Florida, LSU and South Carolina, Smith was just 7-of-18 passing for 50 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in get-your-feet-wet duty.

He didn’t play the following week against Jacksonville State the next week, but he did finish up his season — he missed the Tennessee finale with an injury — by completing 77-of-134 passes (57%) for 769 yards (192 per game) with four touchdowns and just two picks.

Clearly, offensive coordinator Randy Sanders finally someone under center who knew what he was doing.  Just don’t tell that to Sanders:


“Max didn’t know anything last year.  He knew just enough to survive for the most part…

The more he understands and the more he can anticipate, the more he can throw the ball accurately.  We’ve got to get to where he understands enough that he can make everyone else’s job easier instead of everyone else trying to make his job easier.”


As for the man Smith replaced, Sanders was brutally honest.  “Obviously, if you’re a quarterback and can’t throw in this offense, then you’re pretty limited.  He’s got to do the best he can do with the mental reps and what’s going on, being able to see it and learn from other people’s mistakes.”

Newton won’t do any throwing this spring after undergoing surgery this offseason.  So the #2 behind Smith will be Jacob Russell, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky.

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UK Going To Black Uniforms Vs MSU

Kentucky players have been asking for them since Rich Brooks’ days as head coach.  And on Saturday, they’ll get ‘em — black uniforms.

Now personally, I don’t see what’s “special” about “special” jerseys anymore.  Not with every school trotting out “special” jerseys, usually black ones.

But in Joker Phillips’ case, why not give the Wildcats what they want?

UK defeated Jacksonville State 38-14 on Saturday.  The performance gave the Cats something — finally — to feel good about.  This weekend they’ll host a struggling Mississippi State team.  Win on Saturday and suddenly Kentucky’s season might be salvageable.  Here’s the remainder of UK’s schedule:


Mississippi State
Ole Miss
at Vanderbilt
at Georgia
Tennessee


At 3-4, a bowl trip isn’t out of the question.  Especially if the Wildcats gain some confidence and get on a bit of a roll.  As bad as UK has looked this season, a bowl bid would be a remarkable accomplishment.

For that reason, Joker Phillips appears to be going “all in” on Saturday.  The black unis could create a buzz amongst his players and that could lead to a season-turning victory.

But if the Cats lose in their slick, new duds, what motivational ploys will Phillips have left at his disposal moving forward?

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SEC Headlines 10/22/2011 Part One

1. Jon Solomon: Missouri will have at least the necessary nine presidential votes to be admitted into the SEC provided there are no legal or financial entanglements for the SEC and Missouri plays in the Eastern division, two sources familiar with the SEC’s discussions told The Birmingham News.

Jacksonville State at Kentucky

2. In 2009, JSU barely lost to Florida State.  In 2010, they beat Ole Miss in double-overtime.  2011?

3. Kentucky has been outscored 137-20 in its last three games.

4. When it comes to offense, Jacksonville State has several advantages.

5. Will the fans show up?

Arkansas at Ole Miss

6. Ole Miss needs to put a  pass rush on Tyler Wilson.

7. “Black Out Boone” today in Oxford.

8. Razorbacks are convinced their offense still has another gear.

Auburn at LSU

9. For the third straight week, LSU plays a team with a quarterback making his first start of the season.

10. Auburn QB Clint Moseley: “I know they’re probably going to be coming straight for me.” 

11, “Team Distraction” tries to stay focused. The keys to victory.

12, Tiger Tales - five memorable Auburn-LSU games.

13, Three suspended LSU players may return in time for Alabama.

14, Stat of the week: All five teams in this week’s AP top five have won all their games by double digits.

Army at Vanderbilt

15,  Want to win or need to win? For Vandy, this one is the latter.

16, A loss to Army in 2009 derailed the Commodores season.

Tennessee at Alabama

17, “Welcome to life in the Nick Saban era.”

18, With a focus on anything but the Vols this week,  Saban is agitated.

19. UT linebacker Austin Johnson: “When [alumni] come and talk to us, all they say is, ‘Did you beat Bama?’ If they have a reunion, ‘Everyone in the room, if you beat Bama, stand up.’ That just kind of shows that this is a huge rivalry.”

20. When it comes to Tennessee under Derek Dooley, the halftime score tells you everything you need to know.

21. One interception in six games for the Vols.

Extra

22. Can you find SEC passion in Missouri? Sure – at a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game.  ”It’s like a Georgia football game,” Jane (Boggs) said of the St. Louis crowds at Busch Stadium. “Everybody’s in red. Everybody’s so nice. They’re the best baseball fans.”

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SEC Game Projections For 10/22/11

Below is a condensed version of our usual rundown of SEC action, including television information (all times Eastern), the latest odds from Las Vegas, and our own predictions and projections.  Have at it…


Jacksonville State at Kentucky
12:00pm on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  A loss to the FCS Gamecocks would be devastating for Joker Phillips’ struggling program.

What Vegas Says:  No Line, FCS Opponent

What We Say:  The Cats are 2-4 on the season and their two wins over Western Kentucky (14-3) and Central Michigan (27-13) were struggles.  Jacksonville State — now featuring ex-Georgia tailback Washaun Ealey — won at Ole Miss last season.  An upset at the hands of 5-1 JSU would not shock us… and that tells you all you need to know about UK’s inability to move the football.

Prediction:  Kentucky 27, Jacksonville State 17


Arkansas at Ole Miss
12:21pm on SEC Network

Why It Matters:  Houston Nutt might be coaching to save his job and no one on Earth would like to deliver the death blow like Arkansas fans.

What Vegas Says:  Arkansas by 15.5 (opened at -16.5)

What We Say:  Ole Miss is decimated on defense and the Rebels weren’t particularly strong in that area before the injuries.  Upsets happen in the SEC and Nutt is usually a guy who can pull one, but UM’s banged up secondary matched against the Razorbacks’ top-ranked passing attack… well… we don’t smell an upset brewing this time around.

Prediction:  Arkansas 41, Ole Miss 20


Auburn at LSU
3:30pm on CBS

Why It Matters:  LSU is trying to stay unbeaten and #1 in the BCS rankings.  Auburn is trying to build on a surprising 5-2 start.

What Vegas Says:  LSU by 20.5 (opened at -22.5)

What We Say:  Well, first, we’d say someone should smack Spencer Ware, Tyrann Mathieu and Tharold Simon upside their heads for getting suspended right as LSU enters its home stretch.  Incredibly stupid, selfish behavior on their part.  Even for 20-year-olds.  How many trials and tribulations can one team fight through before cracking?  At some point, even Tigers run out of lives.  As for the Tigers on the other side of the field, “gunslinger” Clint Moseley should find passing a little easier without Mathieu on the field.  But this is still his first start and there’s no telling how he’ll hold up. 

Prediction:  LSU 24, Auburn 13


Army at Vanderbilt
7:00pm on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  If the Commodores can snap a three-game losing streak, they’ll sit at 4-3 with Kentucky, Tennessee and Wake Forest still to come on the schedule.  That’s right, Vandy is in bowl contention in late-October.

What Vegas Says:  Vanderbilt by 11 (opened at -9.5)

What We Say:  The triple-option offense can be tricky to defend.  But Army is 2-4 with losses to Ball State and Miami (OH).  Vanderbilt — now with Jordan Rodgers at quarterback — should take care of business at home.

Prediction:  Vanderbilt 27, Army 16


Tennessee at Alabama
7:15pm on ESPN2

Why It Matters:  Alabama is trying to stay unbeaten heading into their November 5th showdown with LSU.  Tennessee needs to give its disappointed fans some reason to believe in Derek Dooley.

What Vegas Says:  Alabama by 29.5 (opened at -28)

What We Say:  Considering what Dooley inherited, it’s ridiculous for anyone to be upset with him at this juncture.  But many Vol fans are.  And once they see arguably the most talented team in the country pound UT just as LSU did a week ago, they’ll be even angrier.  Yet another SEC “scrimmage” for the strengthening Tide.

Prediction:  Alabama 41, Tennessee 10

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SEC Headlines – 10/18/11 Part One

1.  It’s probably not a good thing that this Gainesville columnist is having to tell Florida fans that Will Muschamp wasn’t a hire for one season.

2.  Gator coaches are hoping quarterback John Brantley can return from his ankle injury for the Georgia game.

3.  Billy Donovan says learning how to win will be key for his young team.

4.  This writer believes Georgia should sit defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for the Florida game.

5.  The Bulldogs haven’t been perfect, but they’re in good shape in the SEC East.

6.  Kentucky is feeling the pressure to beat Jacksonville State this weekend.  (Remember, the Gamecocks won at Ole Miss last season.)

7.  The worst state for college football this year?  It’s between the Bluegrass State and the Land of Enchantment.

8.  This writer says there are five reasons why South Carolina can repeat as SEC East champs without Marcus Lattimore.

9.  Bruce Ellington is becoming a jack-of-all-trades for the Gamecock football team.  (No wonder Steve Spurrier poached him.  Kidding.)

10.  Alabama is not “just another game” to Tennessee’s players.

11.  Who helped UT find its running game against LSU?  Quarterback Matt Simms.

12.  Vanderbilt’s James Franklin would like to get to the point where he has just one quarterback and not two.

13.  Vandy’s basketball team is hoping to reach the school’s first Final Four.

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Bolden: There’s No Drama At Ole Miss This Year

Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden feels Ole Miss is in a better spot heading into the 2011 season than they were at this time last year.  Why?  The Rebels were still waiting for word on quarterback Jeremiah Masoli’s eligibility in late-August 2010.  This year, the Rebels know their quarterbacks and they know the system:


“No drama.  It’s straight to football.  We don’t have to get a quarterback adjusted to our offense and try to adjust our whole offense to fit the quarterback.  We have a system.  It’s not how it was last year.  It’s more focused right now.”


But will the lack of drama add up to a season-opening win rather than a season-opening loss?  Brigham Young is a bit tougher foe than Jacksonville State.

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SEC Headlines – 8/30/11 Part Two

1.  Onterio McCalebb is listed ahead of Mike Dyer on Auburn’s Week One depth chart.

2.  The Tigers have 27 underclassmen listed in their two-deep.  Yeah, 27.

3.  Gene Chizik is talking up big, bad Utah State.

4.  Nick Saban doesn’t want his dueling quarterbacks to be looking over their shoulders on Saturday.

5.  Bama receiver Duron Carter declared “FINALLY! COMING TO A STADIUM NEAR U” on Twitter following his admittance to school.

6.  The head coach likes the attitude of his new Crimson Tide team.

7.  Arkansas won’t have to rely on as many freshman as it did in 2010.

8.  Overall, there weren’t many surprises on the Hogs’ depth chart.

9.  After a good preseason camp, new quarterback Tyler Wilson’s true test begins on Saturday.

10.  LSU will lean on experienced backups to replace injured O-lineman Josh Dworaczyk.

11.  Backup quarterback Jarrett Lee will once again be pulling the trigger for the Tigers.

12.  That’s a good thing, because this writer doesn’t believe now is the time for Jordan Jefferson to return.

13.  As bad as things have been in Baton Rouge in recent weeks, there are some bright spots.

14.  Ole Miss will be looking for a little better start than last year’s loss to FCS-level Jacksonville State.

15.  Houston Nutt wonders how much can the Rebels get out of defensive end Kentrell Lockett on Saturday.

16.  UM’s coach also believes his squad can improve on last year’s turnover margin.

17.  MSU quarterback Chris Relf appears primed for a breakout season.

18.  But Dan Mullen says his signal-caller has “still got a ways to go.”

19.  Just because D-coordinator Manny Diaz has gone to Texas, don’t expect the Dogs to change their blitz-happy ways.

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