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SEC Headlines 11/12/2011 Part Two

Tennessee at Arkansas

1. Can a defense ranked last-in- sacks in the conference put any pressure on Tyler Wilson?

2. How much progress has the Vols defense made?  Facing the highest-scoring offense in the SEC, we’re about to find out.

3. The impact of the non-divisional schedule: “Two of UT’s five conference losses are to No. 1 LSU and No. 4 Alabama. Two of Georgia’s six conference victories came against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, who are a combined 1-10 in the SEC.”

Western Kentucky at LSU

4. LSU players like that it’s back to normal.  LSU fans like that it’s back to a night game.

5. This game will feature two coaches worthy of national coach of the year honors.

Louisiana Tech at Ole Miss

6. It’s the beginning of the end for Houston Nutt.  Search committee meets today in Oxford.

7. Full committee finalized.

8.  La. Tech a favorite against an SEC team – maybe for the first time ever.

Alabama at Mississippi State

9.  Will the Tide suffer from a “Game of the Century” hangover?

10. Only twice in its last 50 contests has Alabama lost back-to-back games.

11. Four running backs have rushed 100+ yards against the Bulldogs this year.  Trent Richardson, a Doak Walker semifinalist, could become the fifth.

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SEC Headlines – 11/10/11 Part Two

1.  Alabama’s defense is once again prepping for a two-quarterback system.

2.  If Mississippi State can upset Bama on Saturday, it would be the Crimson Tide’s first loss to an unranked foe since a 2007 loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

3.  The bowl possibilities for Auburn (and everyone else in the SEC) are wide open at the moment.

4.  The team that’s finished with the most rushing yards has won the last eight Auburn-Georgia games.

5.  Arkansas’ defense is feeling confident after allowing just 207 yards of offense to South Carolina on Saturday.

6.  Current Razorback — and former Tennessee — assistant coach Steve Caldwell isn’t talking to the press as he prepares to face his old employer for the first time.

7.  Les Miles says he hasn’t given a lot of thought to which of his two quarterbacks will play first on Saturday.

8.  Freshman punter Brad Wing has had a big impact for LSU.

9.  Alabama native and Mississippi State linebacker Brandon Wilson says he was “never a ‘Roll Tide, University of Alabama’ kind of guy.”

10.  Dan Mullen says the Tide “deserve all the hype they’ve gotten this  year.”

11.  Ole Miss offensive coordinator David Lee is impressed by Louisiana Tech’s defense.

12.  Houston Nutt’s biggest problem was getting his signees to campus and then keeping them there.

13.  This writer says Rebel fans don’t appear to want any part of this year’s Egg Bowl with MSU.

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MSU Recruiting Aide Resigns

Mississippi State assistant recruiting coordinator for football Mark Ouimet has resigned following his on-campus DUI arrest late last month.  Ouimet was arrested about 15 hours after State’s overtime win over Louisiana Tech.

Ouimet stated yesterday that his resignation “is strictly related 100 percent to a situation with my son and my family.”

He told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger that his son has a health issue.  His son and wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Mullen Heard The Boos On Saturday Night

With their team struggling late against Louisiana Tech and its 17-year-old quarterback, Mississippi State directed more than a few boos at the Bulldogs’ sideline.  Dan Mullen heard ‘em, too:

“I was pretty frustrated at times during the game, too.  So they probably were using more polite words than we were.  We’re working, trying to get better as a football team and as a program.  It’s good that our fans have high expectations.  They want to win football games, too.  And we did.”

Actually, Mullen has raised expectations high enough now that just winning is no longer good enough.  MSU fans want wins, sure, but they also want to win easily against non-BCS foes who they view as inferior.

Mullen had no problem creating a “we can do it” attitude at State.  But he may eventually have a problem dealing with the attitude he created.

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SEC Game Projections For Saturday 9/24/11

Below is a full rundown of this weekend’s SEC action, including television information (all times Eastern), the latest odds from Las Vegas, and our own predictions, prognostications and projections.  Have at it…


Georgia at Ole Miss

12:30pm on SEC Network

Why It Matters:  They’re not calling it the Hot Seat Bowl for nothing.  The loser will hear about it loud and dirty from his fanbase.  Mark Richt can probably save his job with an 8-win season and that’s still a possibility.  For that reason Houston Nutt might need this one more than Richt.  He finished 4-8 last year losing to Jacksonville State, Vandy and MSU.  He’s off to a 1-2 start this season with a blowout loss to Vandy already on the resume.  Not good.  Plus, Rebel fans are calling for the head of AD Pete Boone.  You know how ADs save their own necks?  By lopping off the heads of coaches beneath them and hiring flashy names — like Gus Malzahn or Mike Leach.  Richt’s seat is hot.  Nutt’s is on fire.

What Vegas Says:  Georgia by 10 (opened at -10)

What We Say:  Vandy’s big win over Ole Miss will either light a heckuva fire underneath the Rebels… or leave them emasculated.  We think they’ll show some fight.  And Georgia’s O-line grows more banged up by the week.  Still, the Dawgs appear to have the better team.

Prediction:  Georgia 27-17


Arkansas at Alabama

3:30pm on CBS

Why It Matters:  The Razorbacks want to make the SEC West a three-team race.  Alabama wants to keep its national title hopes on track.  In the mano y mano category, Bobby Petrino still hasn’t knocked off Nick Saban since joining the SEC… though there’s no shame in that.

What Vegas Says:  Alabama by 11 (opened at -12.5)

What We Say:  Before the season began, we’d have predicted a tight, tight game.  But after watching Arkansas’ struggles with Troy last week, Alabama — at home — just seems too tough a target for the Hogs to take down.

Prediction:  Alabama 30, Arkansas 21


Florida at Kentucky

7:00pm on ESPN

Why It Matters:  The Gators still haven’t put all of the pieces together yet.  In fact, 2011 Florida looks to depend on Chris Rainey as much as 2009 Florida depended upon Tim Tebow.  And that’s a too much.  As for Kentucky, if second-year coach Joker Phillips doesn’t get things headed in the right direction, he could enter his third season having already achieved hot seat status.

What Vegas Says:  Florida by 19.5 (opened at -17)

What We Say:  Charlie Weis is dynamite scripting the first 20 or so plays for UF.  Barring turnovers or a Rainey injury, the Gators will have already put this game away by the time Florida’s finished with those first 20 plays.

Prediction:  Florida 38, Kentucky 13


Vanderbilt at South Carolina

7:00pm on ESPN2

Why It Matters:  Carolina needs to play up to its hotshot ranking for once.  Vanderbilt wants to keep surprising the doubters.  Statistically, the Commodores should not be 3-0.  And we don’t expect Stephen Garcia to toss five picks as poor Zach Stoudt did last week.  But James Franklin’s built a scrappy team and the Dores have played the Cocks tough in four straight contests (including back-to-back wins in 2007 and 2008).

What Vegas Says:  South Carolina by 15.5 (opened at -15)

What We Say:  Carolina’s been hurt by the pass and that’s just not Vandy’s strong suit.  The Dores will need to have a big day on the ground — hoping that USC misses as many tackles as it did against Georgia — and they’ll need some turnovers.  Defensively Vandy’s been tough against the run, but Elon, UConn and Ole Miss don’t have Marcus Lattimore.

Prediction:  South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 17


Florida Atlantic at Auburn

7:00pm on FSN

Why It Matters:  The Tigers rank 117th out of 120 teams in the nation in total defense.  Auburn is allowing 534 yards per game and each opponent has put up more yardage than the one before it.  Just wondering where all those Tiger fans who screamed, complained and raged about a lack of respect from the media and pollsters have disappeared to.  As Guns N’ Roses once sang, “You don’t talk so loud and you don’t walk so proud anymore.”  Auburn will get better.  But this is what happens when everyone graduates.  A national title one year doesn’t mean bupkes the next.

What Vegas Says:  Auburn by 31.5 (opened at -32)

What We Say:  If you’re defense is ranked #117, you want to face the worst offense possible.  Allow us to introduce FAU — the 120th ranked offense in the nation.  Expect Ted Roof’s bunch can start building some confidence.

Prediction:  Auburn 45, FAU 10


Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State

7:00pm on ESPNU

Why It Matters:  Back-to-back conference losses can throw some pretty chilly water on a parade.  Dan Mullen’s team had been climbing steadily since his arrival in Starkville.  It wasn’t all going to be easy.  Now let’s see how the Bulldogs bounce back from a little adversity.

What Vegas Says:  Mississippi State by 19.5 (opened at -18)

What We Say:  Many MSU offensive lineman have spent their fall in the infirmary rather than on the field.  Louisiana Tech has a pretty good run defense, but they’re one of the nation’s worst against the pass.  For that reason, look for Chris Relf to hit some deep passes early and for the Dogs to pound the ball behind their banged up line once they’ve built a comfortable lead.

Prediction:  Mississippi State 38, Louisiana Tech 16


LSU at West Virginia

8:00pm on ABC

Why It Matters:  If LSU can add a road win at West Virginia to its neutral site win over Oregon, Les Miles’ club will have done some serious BCS resume-building in the season’s first month.  The Mountaineer crowd will be nuts as always, perhaps even more so thanks to the SEC’s shunning of WVU earlier this week on the conference realignment front.

What Vegas Says:  LSU by 6 (opened at -5)

What We Say:  WVU’s Geno Smith is a putting up impressive numbers (1,008 passing yards in three games) in Dana Holgorson’s new spread system, but LSU’s defense is wicked.  Wicked fast.  Wicked good.  (Not to mention wicked smaht.)  As long as Jarrett Lee keeps making sharp decisions, the Tigers should keep piling up wins.

Prediction:  LSU 28, WVU 17

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Former UM Guard Gaskins Transferring To La. Tech

Ole Miss guard Trevor Gaskins is following ex-Rebel assistant Michael White to Ruston, Louisiana.  Gaskins announced via Twitter yesterday that he will transfer to Louisiana Tech for his final season of basketball.

Gaskins’ last season of college ball will be White’s first season as Tech’s head coach.  White served as an assistant UM — his alma mater — for seven years and worked specifically with the guards.

Gaskins averaged 6.1 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.9 assists in about 20 minutes of play per game for the Rebels in 2010-11.  Had he stayed in Oxford, he could have helped a backcourt that lost Chris Warren and Zach Graham to graduation this spring.  Warren and Graham led Andy Kennedy’s team in scoring last season.

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Kennedy Shuffles Entire Staff

As the basketball season wound to a close, the subject of Andy Kennedy’s job security at Ole Miss became a hot topic.  On the one hand, Kennedy had won 20 or more games in four of this five seasons in Oxford.  On the other hand, Kennedy had failed to take the Rebels to the NCAA tourney during his tenure.

But when push came to shove, UM athletic director Pete Boone chose to stick with Kennedy and give him a sixth season.  Perhaps because Kennedy was willing to push and shove his assistant coaches overboard.

There has certainly been plenty of turnover in Mississippi this offseason:

* Owen Miller left to become a high school coach at his alma mater.  (Yeah, lots of SEC assistants leave their jobs to become high school coaches.)

* Torrey Ward left to “pursue other coaching opportunities,” but none have popped up yet.  (How many people leave a job before they’ve found a new one?)

* And Michael White departed to become the head coach at Louisiana Tech.  (That one’s, obviously, a solid move for White.)

Whether or not Kennedy was urged to purge his staff we’ll likely never know.  But there’s no debating the fact that UM’s coach will enter his sixth season in Oxford with a lot of new folks beside him on the sideline.

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In-State Athlete Chooses Mississippi State

Athlete Deonte Evans from McComb (Miss.) High School has committed to Mississippi State.

Evans committed to the Bulldogs after receiving a scholarship offer on Saturday.

“I was very excited,” Evans told “There are really no words to describe it and I am very excited. I got the offer today and then went and talked to Coach (Dan) Mullen and told him I wanted to commit. He got real excited and explained the importance of sticking with my word and I told him I was. I am very certain I want to be a Bulldog and I wanted to get it out of the way once I got the offer from Mississippi State. I am just focused on Mississippi State.”

Mississippi State is the first school from a major conference to offer Louisiana Tech and Arkansas State. He had also received interest from Ole Miss and LSU, according to

Evans is the second commitment for Mississippi State’s class of 2012.

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LSU O-Coordinator Search Rolls On

Here’s a quickie morning update on the names being tossed around in Les Miles’ search for a new offensive coordinator at LSU:

1.  Cam Cameron — As we told you yesterday, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said that Cameron will return to his staff as O-coordinator next year.  However, The Baton Rouge Advocate says Harbaugh’s decision “doesn’t eliminate the possibility that Miles could call the man he spent several years on the Michigan coaching staff with and gauge his interest.”

2.  Steve Kragthorpe — The former Tulsa and Louisville head coach will be in Baton Rouge today to meet with Miles.  Kragthorpe confirmed to The Advocate that he would be interviewing for the post.  He accepted the receivers coaching position at Texas A&M prior to last season but resigned due to his wife becoming ill.

3.  Mike Sanford — Sanford presents another tie to Louisville as he’s currently the offensive coordinator for Charlie Strong’s program. — the Rivals site covering LSU — says that Sanford “is reportedly the latest coach being considered” by Miles.  Sanford once served as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Utah for two seasons (where he worked with current LSU receivers coach Billy Gonzales).  Sanford was the head coach at UNLV for five seasons before moving to Louisville.

4.  Justin Fuente — The co-offensive coordinator at TCU was scheduled to have met with Miles over the weekend.

The Advocate also lists Frank Scelfo and Blake Anderson as potential candidates.  Scelfo is the current quarterbacks coach at Arizona and once served as the offensive coordinator at Louisiana Tech under Derek Dooley.  Anderson just finished his first season as offensive coordinator at Southern Miss.  It’s believed that he has already spoken with Miles about the LSU gig. lists former Florida quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler as a candidate as well.  Loeffler once served as the offensive coordinator at Michigan — Miles’ alma mater — before moving to Gainesville.

The smoke seems to be clearing around the names Paul Chryst (Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator) and Jim Chaney (Tennessee’s offensive coordinator).  For now at least it doesn’t appear that there’s much fire connected to either name.

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Ole Miss Picks Up Juco Quarterback

Quarterback Zack Stoudt from Iowa Western Community College has committed to Ole Miss.

Stoudt, who played two years at Louisville before transferring to Western, chose Ole Miss over offers from Akron, Louisiana Tech, Wyoming, UTEP and Toledo, according to

Stoudt is the 24th commitment for Ole Miss’ 2011 class and second quarterback to give his pledge to the Rebels. Ole Miss also has a commitment from quarterback Maikhail Miller from Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Miss.

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