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SEC Headlines – 8/15/11 Part One

1.  Alabama running back Eddie Lacy is called “Feets” and “Circle Button” by the teammates because he has “the nastiest spin move ever.”

2.  Bama is still paying ex-coaches Mark Gottfried and Mike Shula.

3.  There are still plenty of wide open spots on Auburn’s depth chart.

4.  Ronnie Wingo and Dennis Johnson are ready to step up and try to replace Knile Davis at Arkansas.

5.  This writer says Zach Mettenberger’s presence at LSU could make starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson play better.

6.  The SEC has hit the expansion pause button.

7.  This writer says expansion is delayed, not dead…

8.  But this columnist believes Texas A&M has been scorned and they’ll be looking for vengeance when they face Arkansas this year.

9.  Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com says superconferences would be bad for college basketball.

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McElwain Says He Feels Good About Bama QB Situation; We Say UA Needs To Find A Clear-Cut Starter

Alabama is a consensus preseason Top 5 team.  In many circles, they’re viewed as a potential national champ, too.

Nevermind the fact that the Crimson Tide still has no official starting quarterback.  And you can count Bama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain among those who aren’t worried by the lack of a sure-fire starter:


“We’re very excited about what we have happening at that position.  A lot of people will through and have a quarterback situation where they’re wondering who to play simply because they don’t really have a capable player at that position.  I think we’re fortunate here — and we’ll identify when the bullets fly — but we’re very fortunate about having some quality players at the position.  Phillip Sims, AJ McCarron, Blake Sims, have done a fantastic job at the position, and have learned and really done a good job of studying.”


As any Tide fan can point out, Bama didn’t know what it was getting in 2009 with Greg McElroy, either.  And that campaign turned out pretty well (if you like crystal footballs).

But at least McElroy grabbed the job and became the clear leader of Alabama’s offense.  This season, the Tide isn’t just dealing with a lack of experience, it’s dealing with a potential rift on the football team.

For their part, Sims and McCarron are laughing off — literally, they say — the idea that the two QBs are so competitive that they’re not friendly to one another.  We’ll take them at their word.

That doesn’t mean, however, that if Sims and McCarron both do some good and some bad early in the season, there might not develop a debate between all those offensive players around them.  The longer the two players split playing time, the more likely it becomes that two camps will develop.  That’s only natural.

Having two quarterbacks isn’t always a curse.  Last year LSU finished 11-2 with Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee sharing some duties.  But in a perfect world, a team will have a clear-cut, most-talented, starter and leader at signal-caller.  Alabama doesn’t have that in August.  The quicker it finds one in September or October, the better its title chances will become.

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LSU’s Kragthorpe Says It’s Tough To Groom Multiple QBs

New offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe met with some LSU fans yesterday and he let it be known that he’s not a big fan of playing multiple quarterbacks.

Last year, Jordan Jefferson was sometimes relieved by Jarrett Lee.  Both return this year along with newcomer — and fan favorite — Zach Mettenberger.  But it sounds like Kragthorpe wants to have one man pulling the trigger, not two or three:


“I’m not opposed to a multiple-quarterback system.  But it’s hard to get more than one or two quarterbacks ready every week with this 20-hour rule.  If we had a 20-hour rule when I was playing, we would have played the games on Wednesday.”


The coach had nothing but praise for Jefferson, the incumbent who head coach Les Miles has been so very high on this offseason.

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MrSEC.com’s 2011 SEC Predictions

When you sit down to make predictions for an upcoming football season, you tell yourself repeatedly, “all things being equal.”  What we know, however, from past experience in the SEC is that rarely are all things equal.

Great teams don’t play like great teams every week.  Bad teams don’t play like bad teams every week.  A rain storm, an early fumble, a sprained ankle or a hard-to-predict kick return for a touchdown can result in a win for a undermanned team and a loss for a superior squad.

In other words, it’s folly to make predictions.  We have no idea if there’s another Cam Newton lurking somewhere out there in the weeds.  (If there is, let’s hope there’s not another Cecil Newton to go with him.)  We have no way of projecting that a team like South Carolina might upend Alabama one week and then come crashing back to earth with a loss at Kentucky the next (which happened last year).

So with all those caveats and “don’t take this as gospel” warnings now on the record, here are our official MrSEC.com predictions for the 2011 SEC football season:


SEC East

Proj. Finish
School
Proj. SEC Record
1
S. Carolina
6-2
2t
Georgia
5-3
2t
Florida
5-3
4
Tennessee
3-5
5
Kentucky
2-6
6
Vanderbilt
1-7




We were thisclose to picking Georgia as the East Division favorite, but all those injuries, transfers and dismissals of the past six months kept leaping to mind.  UGA has little depth at running back and along the offensive line.  That means Aaron Murray will likely have to shoulder more than his fair share of the load.  This year, he’ll have to do that without AJ Green.  So we’ll go with the talent and experience of South Carolina.  And, yes, that means we’re going to ignore the enormous question mark that is Stephen Garcia.


SEC West

Proj. Finish
School
Proj. SEC Record
1
Alabama
7-1
2
LSU
6-2
3
Arkansas
5-3
4t
Miss. State
3-5
4t
Ole Miss
3-5
6
Auburn
2-6




In our view, LSU actually has the better team.  While no one — aside from Les Miles — has much praise for Jordan Jefferson, at least the Tigers know who their starting quarterback is.  Alabama does not.  And that could be huge problem.  Top to bottom, you could make a good case that Bama has more holes and question marks than LSU.  But Bama also has Nick Saban.  And while Les Miles got the better of him last year, if forced to pick between the two, the folks at this site will put our money on Saban, not The Hat.  Hard to imagine a whole year going by without one “how’d they lose that one?” game for Miles and his Tigers.

One quick note about Auburn — when the defending national champs are picked to finish last in their division it says a lot about the conference.  It also says a lot about all the talent the Tigers lost this offseason.  Newton for one.  Nick Fairley for another.  And as angry as that 2-6 prediction will make Auburn fans, the Tigers finished just 3-5 and tied for last place in Gene Chizik’s only other year on The Plains without SuperCam.  The Tigers have recruited well and will be back, but we expect a Texas-like tumble for the new-look Plainsmen in 2011.

As for the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, we’ll take Alabama to get past South Carolina.  While we expect USC to play better in its second title game, we don’t think — on paper — that they’ll be able to knock off the Crimson Tide.  The three best teams in the West look to be the three best teams in the league.

So what does all this mean for Alabama?  Ever heard the term “kiss of death?”

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LSU’s Jefferson Likes Kragthorpe’s Aggressiveness

Let’s face facts: The majority of LSU football fans would probably like to hear that Zach Mettenberger will be the Tigers’ quarterback this fall.  After all, the ex-Georgia signal-caller is more of a traditional passer than the up-and-down Jordan Jefferson. 

But Jefferson’s 11-2 record last year will make him tough to unseat.  Indeed, Les Miles has spent the past six months talking up Jefferson at every turn.  And for his part, Jefferson sounds excited to be playing for new offensive coordinator Steve Kragthorpe:


“Coach Kragthorpe is very aggressive.  He brings an aggressiveness to the offense, which forces me to be aggressive toward my team.  When I get into the huddle, my team feels the vibe that I have, the desire and hunger of wanting to win.”


Whether its a good thing or a bad thing to make Jefferson more aggressive is anyone’s guess.  Check back at the end of September.

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SEC Headlines – 6/20/11 Part Three

1.  With Rotnei Clarke on the way out — most likely — Arkansas pulled an oh-fer in its 2008 signing class.

2.  Despite a “George Jefferson” gaffe, this writer thinks Jordan Jefferson held his own at ESPN last week.

3.  Former Mississippi State guard Ravern Johnson thinks he might be drafted by an NBA team.

4.  Despite all the complaining in the Magnolia State, Ole Miss has brought in a record level of donations for the second-straight year.

5.  And now… a ranking of the SECs defensive tackles.

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LSU’s Jefferson Confuses Thomas Jefferson With George Jefferson

LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson made the rounds at ESPN yesterday and — unfortunately — the network helped to make him a viral video sensation today.

During his stop over, the folks at ESPN decided to have some fun with the Tiger QB.  They would show a picture of another famous Jefferson and the player would have to identify him.

Shown a picture of Thomas Jefferson — one of the country’s Founding Fathers — LSU’s signal-caller said, “George.”  As in sitcom character George Jefferson.




Ha ha.  Now rival fans can make fun of the player and his school.

But having seen the video — because a lot of rival SEC fans have emailed it to me — I can’t help but feel sorry for the kid.  Put yourself in his shoes.  You’re probably nervous sitting there on SportsCenter in front of a national audience.  They spring a pop quiz on you and show you a picture of a historical figure.  You spit out the first thing that comes to mind.  Who knows, maybe he combined Thomas Jefferson and George Washington to arrive at George Jefferson.

Either way, if you’ve never done the national television thing while in your early 20s, it’s probably best to chalk this one up to a brain freeze, rather than throwing stones.  After all, it’s not like Jefferson is the first person to say something crazy on national television.


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SEC Headlines – 6/15/11 Part One

1.  The tornadoes in Alabama have brought some perspective to Auburn and Bama fans.

2.  Ex-Clemson linebacker Brandon Maye is just what the folks at Mississippi State needed.

3.  LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson will spend tomorrow going through the “carwash” at ESPN.

4.  Bodog.com says Auburn isn’t likely to win back-to-back Heismans… but South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas might grab this year’s.

5.  While most folks focus on the quarterback, this writer says the left tackle spot will be just as important in the SEC this fall.

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SEC Headlines – 4/20/11 Part Two

 

 

SEC Headlines – 4/13/11

1.  Something for college players contemplating a jump to the NBA to consider: The league has canceled this year’s summer league in Las Vegas.

2.  How the Nick Saban statue came to be at Alabama.

3.  Some Alabama practice notes.

4.  Some Auburn practice notes. 

5.  Some Arkansas practice notes… and Quinta Funderburk has returned.

6.  The Hogs’ new basketball aides will be well paid.

7.  This writer thinks Les Miles should switch from Jordan Jefferson to Zach Mettenberger at quarterback despite what supposedly went on at all those closed practices this spring.

8.  Some Ole Miss practice notes.

9.  Mississippi State’s offensive line won’t face lowered expectations because they’re young.

10.  MSU has signed another basketball player and one more could be on the way.

11.  New Billy Donovan assistant Norm Roberts shares New York roots with his boss.

12.  Trinton Sturdivant’s latest injury creates a big hold on Georgia’s offensive line.

13.  Some Georgia practice notes.

14.  With the NBA facing a lockout, UGA’s Travis Leslie now says he’ll stay in the NBA draft along with Trey Thompkins.

15.  Some Kentucky basketball notes.

16.  Point guard Wes Washpun has signed with Tennessee.

17.  Former Bruce Pearl assistant Steve Forbes has taken a head coaching job at a Florida junior college.

18.  New Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has now been added to a Wall of Fame mural in Nashville’s West End.

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