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SEC Headlines 4/30/2011

1. Ryan Mallett drops to the third round and is headed to New England. Will the Pats regret the decision? Don Banks: A “spectacular freefall.” The Mallett 6? Dropping to third round could be “blessing.”

2. He blames the weed.  Georgia linebacker Justin Houston drops to third round.

3. Roddy White to Julio Jones – I like doughnuts on Fridays and hamburgers on Wednesdays.

4. Alabama long-snapper Carson Tinker’s condition improves.

5. Auburn players pitch in to help on storm cleanup.

6.Florida’s Marcus Gilbert is reuniting with former teammate Maurkice Pouncey in Pittsburgh.

7. Kentucky’s Randall Cobb is drafted by the Green Bay Packers. More here.

8. First Texas and then Alabama – success can be humbling.

9. Four LSU players go in the third round of the draft.

10. Tennessee’s basketball team honors its seniors – privately.

Extras

11. Biggest first-round surprises in the NFL draft.

12. Top ten surprises of the first three rounds.

13. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit and his Ohio State tormentors.

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Report: UGA’s Houston Failed Drug Test At Combine

When it comes to dumb, there’s not much dumber than failing a drug test at the NFL scouting combine.  First, everyone knows they’ll be tested.  Second, this one-week gathering is the most important pre-draft step most players will take as they prepare for the NFL’s annual player selection meeting.

So what was Georgia linebacker/defensive end Justin Houston thinking?

According to FoxSports.com, “multiple sources” have revealed that Houston — along with Iowa defensive lineman Christian Ballard — tested positive for marijuana at the February combine.

At the very least, this has to have sent up some red flags for NFL executives.  Either Houston is so in love with the sticky-icky that he can’t stop smoking it — even in the run-up to the combine — or he’s so dumb he didn’t realize toking weed would show up on his test.

Houston has been viewed by most mock-draft gurus as a late-first or second-round pick in this week’s draft.  We’ll see if the report of the failed drug test changes those predictions.

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Dawgsports 2010 College Football Blogger Awards Ballot.

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

Tim Riordan over at SBNation’s Buffalo Bulls blog Bull Run recently challenged those of us on the network’s college football beat to vote for a series of awards analagous to college football’s cavalcade of postseason awards, including the Heisman, Bednarik, Doak Walker, etc. I thought it was a fabulous idea. I quickly and enthusiastically volunteered.

Having now completed my ballot, I am reminded of the sage wisdom imparted to me as a teenager by the father of a good friend. This gentleman had fought against the Viet Cong alongside U.S. servicemen only to see his country overrun just the same. He then fled to America with his family but brought along a saying which he learned under far, far more harrowing conditions than the casting of a blogger award ballot. It is this: “The brave ones always die first.”

This ballot was, indeed, a killer. Seriously, have you ever tried to figure out who the best linebacker in the country is? The best punter? What about tight ends?There are hundreds of the S.O.B.’s running around out there on the college football landscape. Depending on the system, they have wildly varied responsibilities. And then, once I figure out who I’m voting for I just know that I’m going to get hit with the statistics I didn’t consider, the clutch performances I didn’t see, and the human interest stories that should have tugged at my heart strings.

It’s a gargantuan task. So, rather than cast a half-assed ballot for every category, I’ve cast a ballot in those categories about which I feel pretty strongly. In no particular order, here are my 2010 College Football Blogger Award choices:

Blogger Biletnikoff (best wide receiver): A.J. Green, Georgia. I’m a self-avowed homer, but it feels particularly good to make a homer pick that I find incredibly easy to defend. Unlike A.J. Green. Green did not make the 1st Team SEC list according to either the coaches or the conference media, I would assume because many of the voters looked only at the receiving numbers and said (and I’m quoting here) “Derp, not as many yards as Jones and Jeffery, derp de derp!” By my count, I watched Julio Jones play 7 games this season. Ditto for Alshon Jeffery. Neither demonstrated the ability to be absolutely uncoverable quite like Green. In the 8 games he’s played this season he’s averaged north of 95 yards and 1 TD per game, all the while catching passes from a first year starting quarterback. Honorable mention: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State.

Blogger Butkus (best linebacker): Justin Houston, Georgia. Again, homer pick. But Justin Houston finds himself playing the linebacker position for the first time in his football career and has responded with 10 sacks and just single-handedly won a rivalry game to get his team to bowl eligibility. The primary job of the outside linebacker in Grantham’s 3-4 is to create havoc. Nobody does that better than Justin Houston, who will soon be doing just that on Sundays. Honorable mention: Kelvin Sheppard, LSU.

Blogger Coach Award (best coach): Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech. How could I select a coach who began the season by losing a close one to Boise State and then going 0-for-James Madison? Because he’s 10-0 since then, including getting over the hump against Florida State. Chip Kelly and Gene Chizik have obviously done great things to get their teams to the BCS title game. But to make an academic analogy, those guys have helped already bright kids become the valedictorian. Beamer tutored Charlie Sheen’s nephew from Two and a Half Men and got him admitted to Northwestern. He has no Cam Newton, no Lamichael James. He has an above average quarterback, a decent running game, some bailing wire and an ACC title. After the first two weeks of the season I never would have forecast that. The ACC is not the best conference in college football. But Beamer managed to take a team that could have packed it in after only two games to the Orange Bowl. Honorable mention: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State.

Blogger Bednarik (best defensive player): Patrick Peterson, LSU. I enjoy watching Peterson play football as much as any other player in college football. He’s fluid in coverage, willing to come up and play vicious run support, and is even a danger on special teams. Peterson is a really special player who hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves.

Blogger Maxwell (best offensive player): Kellen Moore, Boise State. Moore’s numbers this season throwing the ball were video game quality:  3405 yards passing, a 71.5% completion percentage, and 33 touchdowns versus only 5 interceptions. Perhaps most  impressive was Moore’s consistency. He never complted less than 60% of his passes in a game this season, and his low number (60.5%) came in the first game of the season against Virginia Tech, a game in which he threw 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. There’s simply better passer in college football right now, and I have trouble envisioning any secondary containing him next season as a senior. Here’s hoping I’m proven wrong about Moore’s abilities next year in the Georgia Dome, but I somehow doubt that will happen.

Blogger Heisman (self-explanatory): Not Cam Newton. I don’t know how to say this other than to say it: I find the notion that Cecil Newton would require $180,000 for his son to attend Mississippi State but allow him to attend Auburn for free laughable, to the point that anyone who believes this to have been the case is either deluding himself (as I would if these kind of allegations were levelled against Aaron Murray, for example) or simply not very bright. Cameron Newton’s services were bought and paid for. Not by anyone employed by Auburn, but by someone willing to spend a lot of money to get a very good football player to attend Auburn.

Spare me the “Cam didn’t know” spiel. As an attorney I’m a big believer in the principle of “agency.” That is, when you choose to allow someone to represent you in an enterprise with the hope that you’ll benefit from it, you must also accept the responsibility when your agent acts to your detriment. Cam Newton was an adult during his second round of recruiting. He chose to allow his father input in that process. His father pimped out his services. I have no doubt that Cameron Newton will win the Heisman Trophy. I also have no doubt that he will eventually have to give that award back. Other than that, I abstain.

Your thoughts on these and Bull Run’s other postseason awards are, as always, appreciated in the comments.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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A.J. Green and Justin Houston as good as they seem, UGA beat writer says

Florida
Content provided by Swamp Things – Gators Blog.

Swamp Things’ blog exchange continues with the second of two Georgia beat writers. Our Bulldogs insight comes from Tim Tucker, who covers UGA for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Be sure to read his blog and follow him on Twitter.

1. How unhappy are Bulldogs fans with Mark Richt? Are they focused on the team’s poor start or its three-game win streak?
Not as unhappy as they were three weeks ago … and not as happy as they were three years ago. Opinions run from one extreme to the other, but my sense at the moment is that most Georgia fans still want to believe that Richt can and will do what is necessary to get the program back where he had it in, say, 2002 or 2005 or 2007. Of course,  the hot-seat gauge, or at least the public perception of it, probably will move sharply in one direction or another depending on what happens Saturday in Jacksonville.

2. What impact has A.J. Green had since returning from suspension?
He’s not the only factor, but he’s definitely the biggest factor in the offense’s improvement. Georgia has scored 40-plus points in its past three games — the first time in program history the Bulldogs have scored 40-plus in three consecutive SEC games. Green is obviously Georgia’s most dangerous playmaker, and the defensive attention he draws has  opened up other parts of the offense, particularly the running game.

3. Is LB Justin Houston, the league leader in sacks and second in tackles for a loss, as dominant as he seems on paper?
He certainly has been at times. And he seems to be getting better as the season goes along and he gains confidence in the 3-4 defense. He had  his best game last week at Kentucky (two sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one pass breakup, seven “quarterback hurries.”) Georgia has won the turnover battle by a combined 9-1 in its three-game winning streak, and Houston has played a big part in that.

4. How much concern does Georgia have about Florida’s struggling offense?
Players and coaches figure last week’s open date helped Florida get healthier on offense, and they also wonder what type of changes have been made offensively. Also, Richt points out that Florida’s past three games have been against what he insists are  three of the 10 best defenses in the nation (Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State). And from the experience of its own season, Georgia knows that offenses can turn things around quickly, particularly when key players return from injury or suspension. Georgia went through a stretch earlier this season where it averaged 14 points per game in three consecutive SEC losses, and now it has averaged 43 points per game in three consecutive SEC victories.

5. Do the Bulldogs sense this is two teams heading in different directions?
I think they actually see it as two teams that, despite both having had three-game SEC losing streaks, have reached this point of the season in similar situations – both needing a win Saturday to keep alive hopes of playing in the SEC title game.


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SEC Headlines – 10/28/10 Part Two

1.  Florida continues to get healthier as gameday with Georgia approaches.

2.  UF’s play-calling isn’t as predictable as many fans make it out to be.  Naturally.

3.  Here’s a breakdown of the Gators’ play calls this season.  (Kudos to The Orlando Sentinel.)

4.  Basketball season is here… the Gators open their exhibition season against Florida Tech tonight.

5.  New AD Greg McGarity is back on the Georgia side of the Georgia-Florida rivalry.

6.  With his draft stock rising, could this be Justin Houston’s last year at UGA?

7.  Bulldog basketballer Travis Leslie says he’s glad to be back in Athens.

8.  Chick-fil-A Bowl reps will be in attendance for Kentucky’s game at Mississippi State on Saturday.

9.  John Calipari’s team is going through the “growing process.”

10.  Part of that might include Josh Harrellson’s Twitter ban… which he earned by posting tweets critical of how Calipari praised him following a scrimmage.  (I’m tellin’ ya, ban ‘em all.  Every coach should ban every player from using social media.)

11.  South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore is ready to get back to work… against one of his old high school teammates who’s now at Tennessee.

12.  Steve Spurrier and his players are talking up the 2-5 Volunteers.

13.  Brent Brewer — a 22-year-old ex-baseball-playing freshman — is making a move at safety for Tennessee. 

14.  Tennessee’s basketball team is in the AP’s preseason Top 25 poll for the fifth straight year… which is a first for the school.  (If you’re wondering how Bruce Pearl survived, here’s Exhibit A.)

15.  Vandy’s offense will hope to sustain some longer drives at Arkansas on Saturday.

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