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SEC Headlines 3/20/2014

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Urban Meyer on Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin:  ”There has been a lot of publicity about Lane Kiffin and I having issues. There’s none. ”

2. Florida coach Will Muschamp on new offfensive coordinator Kurt Roper: “Just a really good teacher, very fundamental in his approach.”

3. What do Georgia players think of new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt? “I think he might be a little more meaner than Coach Grantham,”

4. Why is Georgia restricting media access to spring practice when other schools open up to media and fans alike?

5. 61-year old David Kotulski is Vanderbilt’s linebackers coach – and an expert in the 3-4 scheme.

6. Alabama center Ryan Kelly: “This is a big spring.”

7. Auburn offensive lineman Shane Callahan has gained 29 pounds – up to 304. Dead heat in the left tackle race between Patrick Miller and Shon Coleman.

8. Big focus for the Auburn offense - cutting down Nick Marshall’s fumbles in the pocket.

9. Texas A&M will have its first spring scrimmage on Saturday.  

10. Focus at LSU’s Saturday scrimmage will be third-and-long situations.

SEC/NCAA Tournament Basketball

11. Mike DeCourcy: “Those who wonder where these supposed “upsets” come from… it’s often because the 12 seeds have no business being 12 seeds.”

12. Why did Florida struggle to win Thursday?  Perhaps because Albany is not your average David.

13. SEC NIT schedule.  Georgia hosts Louisiana Tech Saturday, Southern Miss at Missouri Sunday, Arkansas and LSU play Monday.


14. In defense of Johnny Manziel: “He’s a tough, almost elastic dude, in fact the toughest guy I’ve covered…”

15. Could Jadeveon Clowney be reunited with safetey D.J. Swearinger in the NFL?

16. At Missouri’s pro day on Thursday, they came to watch defensive ends Kony Ealy and Michael Sam but a few others stood out.  Lineman Max Copeland has lost 50 pounds and wants to be a fullback.

17. Vanderbilt holding its pro day today.


18. NCAA recorded a nearly $61 million surplus for its 2013 fiscal year.

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The Best (And Worst) SEC Quarterback Situations Entering 2014

quarterback-silhouette-question-markUsing statistics from a previous season is not always the best way to predict which school will thrive at the quarterback position in an upcoming year.  There are injuries to consider.  Not just to the QB but to his offensive line or receivers.

There are always surprises, players who come from nowhere to become stars.  Two years ago there was a four-way battle for the signal-caller spot in Kevin Sumlin’s brand new Texas A&M offense.  The winner was a small fella who Texas had actually recruited to play safety.  But Johnny Manziel went on to win the Heisman in just his first season.

Last offseason, Auburn’s quarterback battle appeared to be a four-way battle as well.  But the two holdovers from 2012 were quickly chucked from the race.  A pair of newcomers — the runner Nick Marshall and the thrower Jeremy Johnson — wound up duking things out.  The former Georgia defensive back, Marshall, earned the starting gig and led the Tigers to the brink of a BCS championship.

Before we look at 2014, let’s take a quick look back at 2012 and 2013.  Below you’ll find the 2012 total offense numbers for each school’s top returning QB.  Farther to the right you’ll find the 2013 total offense numbers for each school’s top quarterback for comparison.  Again, be careful not to draw too many conclusions:


  School   Top 2012 QB Returning   Total Off. 2012   Yds/Gm 2012   Top 2013 QB   Total Off. 2013   Yds/Gm 2013   SEC Rec.   Overall Rec.
  Texas A&M   J. Manziel   5116   393.5   J. Manziel   4873   374.8   4-4   9-4
  Georgia   A. Murray   3825   273.2   A. Murray   3261   296.5   5-3   8-5
  Ole Miss   B. Wallace   3384   260.3   B. Wallace   3701   284.7   3-5   8-5
  Alabama   AJ McCarron   2937   209.8   AJ McCarron   3041   233.9   7-1   11-2
  Miss. State   T. Russell   2892   222.5   D. Prescott   2769   251.7   3-5   7-6
  LSU   Z. Mettenberger   2401   184.7   Z. Mettenberger   2949   245.8   5-3   10-3
  S. Carolina   C. Shaw   2391   217.4   C. Shaw   3005   231.2   6-2   11-2
  Florida   J. Driskel   2054   171.2   T. Murphy   1277   141.8   3-5   4-8
  Missouri   J. Franklin   1684   187.1   J. Franklin   2939   267.1   7-1   12-2
  Kentucky   J. Whitlow   1007   100.7   J. Whitlow   1492   124.3   0-8   2-10
  Auburn   J. Wallace   872   96.9   N. Marshall   3044   234.2   7-1   12-2
  Vanderbilt   A. Carta-Samuels   225   37.5   A. Carta-Samuels   2382   238.3   4-4   9-4
  Arkansas   B. Allen   183   36.6   B. Allen   1581   143.7   0-8   3-9
  Tennessee   J. Worley   134   26.8   J. Worley   1295   161.8   2-6   5-7


As you can see, the numbers from one year don’t always mean very much heading into the next year.  So even though the list below of returning total offense leaders is stacked up by total yards gained, you’ll find that our grades don’t always mesh with those 2013 stats.  Here’s our quickie take on the best, worst, good and bad SEC quarterback situations rolling into 2014:


  School   Top 2013 QB Returning   Total Off. 2013   Yds/Gm 2013   Our View of Situation
  Ole Miss   B. Wallace   3701   284.7   Good, Just needs to keep cutting down on turnovers
  Auburn   N. Marshall   3044   234.2   Best, But Marshall still needs to improve as a passer
  Miss. State   D. Prescott   2769   251.7   Good, Prescott was a solid leader in ’12 when healthy
  Arkansas   B. Allen   1581   143.7   Worst, Injuries were an issue, but Allen needs work
  Kentucky   J. Whitlow   1492   124.3   Bad, Likely an open race as Whitlow’s health always a ?
  Missouri   M. Mauk   1300   100.0   Good, Mauk showed he’s a solid heir to the job
  Tennessee   J. Worley   1295   161.8   Bad, An open race once between up to 4 guys
  Georgia   H. Mason   960   240.0   Good, Mason wasn’t great, but he should be ready for ’14
  Vanderbilt   P. Robinette   856   85.6   Bad, If Franklin walks out how will new coach see/use him?
  S. Carolina   D. Thompson   810   101.2   Good, But not great… he’s not been a Shaw clone to date
  Florida   J. Driskel   515   171.6   Bad, New OC and likely an open competition
  Texas A&M   M. Joeckel   293   73.2   Good, Whoever gets the nod should excel in Sumlin’s system
  Alabama   B. Sims   228   28.5   Good, The people around Bama’s QB will help a lot
  LSU   A. Jennings   199   22.1   Good, Beat Arkansas and Iowa and run game will help


We’re not factoring in freshmen because we’ve yet to reach signing day and who knows which commitments might flip-flop between now and then?

One thing is clear looking at this SEC quarterback chart — the league should shift back to more of a defense-first conference next season.  In 2013, a combination of young defenses, veteran quarterbacks and the proliferation of hurry-up offenses inside the league conspired to “soften” the SEC in terms of defense.  In 2012, SEC defenses allowed 42,609 in conference-only games.  That number ballooned to 46,600 yards in 2013.  On average, SEC defenses allowed about 70 yards per game more in 2013 than they did in 2012.

With newcomers expected to take over at so many schools and with defenses that should be a bit more veteran in 2014, we suspect that total-yards-allowed number to drop a bit, even with all of the hurry-up offenses currently being utilized across Dixie.  That’s because only about half of the league’s teams — Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and LSU — have a pretty firm grasp on who’ll be taking their offense’s snaps in the season ahead.

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SEC Christmas Day Headlines 2013

Christmas stockingsSEC Football

1. Florida reportedly has a new offensive coordinator.  Duke’s Kurt Roper set to be announced later this week. Roper has been David Cutcliffe’s offensive coordinator at Duke for the past six years.

2. Nick Marshall’s fumbles have Auburn coaches worried - he’s lost the ball 14 times in 12 games.

3. Stewart Mandel’s favorite stories from the 2013 college football season.  Gus Malzahn and the Miracles are No. 1.

4. With Austyn Carta-Samuels out, the job of quarterback at Vanderbilt belongs to Patton Robinette. “He knows it’s not one of those deals where, ‘If I make a mistake I get pulled.’ ”

5. Alabama defensive back Landon Collins is a New Orleans native.  Sugar Bowl will be his first opportunity to play in the Superdome.

6. Ever heard of the “U Dub Step”?  It’s a dance South Carolina doesn’t want to see.

7. One of the top plays of the year for LSU? Wide receiver Odell Beckham’s 100-yard return of a missed field goal.

8. When it comes to making a decision about leaving early for the NFL, Georgia linebacker Ramik Wilson trusts inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti: “He’s been in the NFL for a long time and scouted guys, so he knows.”

9. An 11-win season has draft experts paying more attention to Missouri prospects, including wide receiver L’Damian Washington. Todd McShay: “I’ve got a fourth-/fifth-round grade on him right now and have him in the top 20 wide receivers.”

SEC Basketball

10. How many Kentucky basketball players will announce they’re leaving to go pro after the season?

11. Is coaching at Kentucky one of the “6 hardest coaching jobs in sports”?


12. Who are the best NFL alumni from each college?

13. One of the prices paid for realignment/expansion – colleges are chopping smaller sports.

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Auburn’s Marshall Motivated By “One-Dimensional” Tag

nick-marshall-passingDon’t call Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall “one-dimensional.”  The dual-threat star who made more plays with his legs than his arm says he’s plenty capable of throwing the football:


“When plays break down, I’m just able to make plays with my legs.  But I keep my eyes down the field…

(The one-dimensional talk) motivates me a lot.  A lot of teams don’t think we can throw the ball.”


The one-dimensional label can be traced back to two things.  First, Gus Malzahn calls a helluva lot of run plays.  Marshall only attempted 212 passes on the season.  (For comparison, Johnny Manziel and Bo Wallace both through 390+ passes.)  Marshall ran the ball a whopping 156 times for 1,023 yards.

Second, the judo-transfer admits that he’s improved as he’s learned the offense.  ”The first part of the season, I was jittery, it wasn’t something I was used to on this stage.  As I got more into the offense, playing in the games, I got more confident.”

Sure enough, Marshall completed more than 60% of his passes just once in Auburn’s first four games (coming through when needed in a 24-20 win over Mississippi State).  Against Arkansas (eight) and Tennessee (seven), Marshall threw just 15 passes total.  He ran the ball 23 times in those two Tiger wins.

But down the stretch against Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, Marshall completed 35-of-53 passes (66.0%) for 458 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.  He’s also shown a penchant for being clutch.  Marshall’s passer rating in games’ first halves was 128.4.  In second halves he improved to 159.3.

Marshall still can’t be called a passer first by any means.  But if Florida State is expecting to see a one-dimensional QB in the BCS Championship Game, they need to think again.  Auburn’s junior quarterback has gotten better as the year has gone on.  When called upon to sling it, he’s been able to do so effectively enough to land the Tigers in Pasadena.


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SEC Headlines 12/6/2013

headlines-friSEC Championship Game

1. Auburn A.D. Jay Jacobs again presses the case for a one-loss SEC team in BCS title game: “I just think whoever wins the game Saturday belongs in Pasadena. If Missouri knocks off No. 3 and they’re No. 5, look at their strength of schedule.”

2. This is Auburn’s second trip to SEC Championship Game in four years.  ”That’s one more than Alabama and one more than LSU…”

3. In the year of the quarterback in the SEC, an unlikely pair makes it to Atlanta.Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall completed 63.2% of his passes in the month of November.

4. If you want to make Gus Malzhan bristle, call his offense “The Spread.”

5. Malzahn on Missouri’s receivers: “They’re playmakers. They definitely present challenges.”

6. Bryan Burwell on the changes at Missouri:  ”If they remained in the Big 12, Mizzou’s offense would still be heavy on finesse and light on muscle.”

7. If you’re looking for a player that symbolizes Mizzou’s comeback this year, hard to find a better representative that running back Henry Josey.

8. Former Missouri player Lorenzo Williams on the difference between this year’s team and the one that won the Big 12 North in 2007.  ”They’re a much better team than we were.”

9. Missouri will make its 2013 CBS debut Saturday.  First time in 13 seasons that network didn’t televise a team that made it to championship game.

10. You know it when you hear it.  The CBS theme song for college football (never named) has opened every college football broadcast on the network since 1987.

SEC Football

11. Would Texas A&M co-offensive coordinator Jake Spavital be the answer for Florida’s offensive woes?

12. LSU Freshman tailback/defensive back Jeryl Brazil has been kicked out of the LSU football program.

13. Cotton or Outback Bowl likely for LSU but Gator Bowl also a possibility.

14. Does Georgia’s Aaron Murray deserve Heisman consideration? (One site now projects Florida State QB Jameis Winston in a landslide).

15. Out with an ACL injury and his college career over, Murray will travel to Georgia’s bowl game – but on his own accord.

16. Former Georgia running back Tim Worley on Todd Gurley: “I put him right there with Herschel. Not quite as fast, but I put him right there with Herschel Walker.”

17. Here are 15 projected first-round NFL draft picks from the SEC.  

18. Happy 21st birthday, Johnny Manziel.

SEC Basketball

19. Confirmed - Vanderbilt’s Josh Henderson has torn ACL and MCL in his left knee. Our roundup of Thursday night SEC Hoops.

20. With Kentucky playing Baylor tonight at AT&T Stadium tonight, Julius Randle gets to play in front of family and friends.

21. Freshman Bobby Portis has emerged as a key weapon for Arkansas.

22. Florida plays Kansas Tuesday – neither Scottie Wilbekin nor Kasey Hill have been ruled out.

23. Tennessee averaging just 9.9 turnovers a game this year.

24. West Virginia was a good test for Missouri – UCLA on Saturday will be a better one.

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SEC Headlines 11/18/2013

headlines-monSEC Football

1. Alabama turned the ball over four times against Mississippi State. Here’s a look at the Crimson Tide’s turnover issue.

2. Nick Saban (unhappily) explained why he didn’t challenge an interception thrown by AJ McCarron on Saturday night.

3. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall’s miracle throw against Georgia wasn’t the first of his career.

4. Auburn’s offense has made a big leap since its first bye week.

5. It hasn’t been the lead story, but Johnny Manziel keeps making spectacular plays.

6. Georgia coach Mark Richt didn’t second guess the Bulldogs’ call on Auburn’s miracle touchdown play.

7. Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has stepped up for Florida during a disappointing season for the Gators.

8. Steve Spurrier promises South Carolina won’t overlook Coastal Carolina. “This is a huge game” Spurrier said.

9. Tennessee once again needs to win out against Vanderbilt and Kentucky to become bowl eligible.

10. Vanderbilt will need to keep forcing turnovers to give itself a chance to win at Tennessee.

11. Barrett Sallee takes a look back at what we learned in the SEC in week 12.

12. Gary Pinkel is doing what he does as Missouri is back to winning again, writes Bernie Miklasz.

13. There will be plenty on the line when Alabama and Auburn play in two weeks.

14. South Carolina fans were quite excited on Saturday when they saw Auburn’s last-minute touchdown to beat Georgia.

SEC Basketball

15. Former LSU basketball star Joe Dean died Sunday at age 83.

16. Kentucky dominated Robert Morris on Sunday, winning 87-49 at Rupp Arena.

17. Here are some news and notes from Kentucky’s win over Robert Morris.

18. Clemson handled South Carolina on Sunday with a 71-57 win at home over the Gamecocks.

19. Forward Casey Prather has provided an early spark for Florida.

20. Arkansas expects to be tested as it prepares to host Larry Brown’s Southern Methodist on Monday night.


21. The race for No. 3 in the BCS standings should be a good one between Baylor and Ohio State.

22. The Denver Broncos confirmed defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio interviewed last week for the Southern California job.

23. Here’s a look at Jerry Palm’s latest bowl projections. The Sugar Bowl: Auburn vs. Central Florida.

24. The attorney of Jameis Winston was critical of the state attorney for his public comments regarding the ongoing investigation.

25. A final-minute three-pointer helped Belmont pull off the upset of North Carolina.

UPDATE — Meet the SEC’s football Players of the Week.

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SEC Headlines 11/12/2013

headlines-tueSEC Football

1. Alabama AD Bill Battle wrote that the Nick Saban-Texas speculation has shown the Alabama job is the “gold standard of college football.”

2. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is letting the sack given up to LSU slide.

3. Freshman defensive end Elijah Daniel has helped Auburn as an interior pass rusher.

4. Auburn’s defense has plenty of respect for Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who’s played well against the Tigers in his career.

5. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall has come a long way since he was dismissed from the Georgia football team.

6. Georgia CB Damian Swann is happy to see former teammate Nick Marshall have success. “I’m proud of all his accomplishments,” Swann said.

7. Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief’s “time has come” after a slow start to the season.

8. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace: “We’re trying to go to a bowl game with nine wins.”

9. Tony Barnhart writes that Will Muschamp has “earned the right to fix” Florida’s problems.

10. It’s time to celebrate Johnny Manziel as his college career likely comes to a close, writes Dennis Dodd.

11. LASIK eye surgery during the offseason has helped South Carolina receiver Damiere Byrd on the field.

12. Missouri QB James Franklin is “still the more advanced passer and the more accurate passer” compared to Maty Mauk.

13. Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews on RB Jerron Seymour: “He’s (Maurice) Jones-Drew, man.

Injuries/Practice Reports

14. Alabama RB Alvin Kamara returned to practice after being away for “behavioral reasons” while CB Bradley Sylve returned from injury.

15. Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott is “questionable” to play against Alabama, according to MSU coach Dan Mullen.

16. Georgia hopes to have WR Chris Conley and TE Arthur Lynch this weekend. TE Jay Rome will likely be out.

SEC Basketball

17. Texas A&M improved its record to 2-0 with a 91-67 win over Mississippi Valley State.

18. Kentucky will be tested tonight when the Wildcats face Michigan State in Chicago.

19. Freshman Julius Randle is excited for the high-profile matchup. “Bring it on,” he said.

20. Florida coach Billy Donovan hopes to see his team is improving when the Gators play Wisconsin.

21. South Carolina’s new look team will be tested tonight when it plays at Baylor.

22. Tennessee will be tested in its opener tonight against Xavier in Cincinnati.


23. Nathan Rush provides 10 reasons Nick Saban will leave Alabama for Texas.

24. AJ McCarron has risen to No. 2 in the Heisman Watch.

25. Ohio State WR Evan Spencer believes the Buckeyes would “wipe the field” with Alabama and Florida State. He admitted he’s “a little biased.”

26. The college football selection committee has promised transparency when it comes to selecting the four teams.

27. Taylor Martinez’s foot injury could keep him from returning for Nebraska this season. The quarterback is a senior.

28.  Alabama has replaced Oregon as The University of Nike.

29.  The Top 10 college football coaching jobs in the country: #2 Florida, #4 Alabama, #6 LSU and #10 Georgia.

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SEC Headlines 11/1/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Weather could play a role in the Florida-Georgia game.  Who benefits from rainy,wet conditions?

2. What about Florida running back Kelvin Taylor? Georgia allows the most yards per carry outside the tackles in the SEC

3. Only six people have both played and coached in the Florida-Georgia game.

4. Georgia receiver Justin Scott-Wesley – out for the year with a knee injury - arrested on a marijuana charge.

5. Auburn-Arkansas and Gus Malzahn’s return to his home state.  ”He’s coming into town to do a job. It’s not a welcome home party, it’s not a social event.”

6. Arkansas coach Bret Bielema on what he and Malzahn will talk about before the game.  ”I have no idea.”

7. Will the Razorbacks defense be up to the challenge?  Defensive coordinator Chris Ash: “I like our plan.”

8. An appreciation for South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw: “All he does is grit his teeth and play understated, yet almost perfect, football…”

9. South Carolina kicker Elliott Fry checks his blood sugar about eight times a day - has Type 1 diabetes.

10. Mississippi State’s offense has scored 10 second-half points in the last three games.

11. One view of Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk: “Mauk is a kind of high-risk, high-reward proposition at quarterback.”

12. Tennessee tackle Ja’Wuan James on freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs:  ”I don’t want to say perfect, but there’s nothing really bad about the kid.”

12A. Update: NCAA declares Maurice Coach permanently ineligible.  UT will appeal.

13. Kentucky running back Raymond Sanders keeps thinking about the potential game-winning touchdown he almost broke against Mississippi State.  ”It’s been a chip on my shoulder.”

14. Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladlar leads the SEC in solo tackles and forced fumbles.

15. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on scheduling in the SEC: “I think the thing that’s different about the SEC that people aren’t used to is nonconference opponents late in the year.”

16. Criticized earlier in the year, the Alabama offensive line is starting to click.  Nick Saban: ”We have improved. ”

17. Recalling the 2011 Alabama-LSU regular season game. “It was a festival all week.”

Practice/Injury Reports

18. Don’t expect a decision on Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall until right before kickoff.

19. Good news for Missouri.  Cornerback E.J. Gaines expected to return to the lineup Saturday against Tennessee.

SEC Basketball

20. Ole Miss gets a chance to see its lineup without suspended guard Marshall Henderson - Rebels play an exhibition game against USC-Aiken.

21. Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork: “There are a lot of things in place to monitor him, and as he goes through this he’s getting better every single day.”

22. Arkansas coach Mike Anderson: “The biggest question mark as we move past the Red-White game is will we be able to stop somebody?”

23. Kentucky coach John Calipari on a less-physical approach this year: “It’s not football. And I’m glad it’s not football with us having to be in the SEC playing football.”

24. Missouri needs production from its newcomers in the front court this year.


25. Are Florida State Jameis Winston and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel polar opposites?

26. Storm clouds for Major League Baseball?  Average viewer of the World Series this year is 54.4 years old.

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Marshall To Start At QB For Auburn Vs Texas A&M

nick-marshallAny Auburn fans wowed by Jeremy Johnson’s performance against Western Carolina and hoping he would take over the Tigers’ starting job can forget it.  At least for now.

Nick Marshall will be the starter on Saturday at Texas A&M, back from the knee injury that kept him out of action last week and opened the door for Johnson to show off his running and throwing abilities.  To date, Marshall’s own running abilities have surpassed his passing skills.  Johnson — in completing 17-of-21 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns — matched Marshall’s passing TD total from five games in one.

Though that one was against the less-than-formidable Catamounts.

As for Marshall, Gus Malzahn said he looked “pretty good” at practice on Sunday and that with another day’s rest yesterday, he’ll hopefully “be looking good today” at practice.

The Tigers are 5-1 on the season and are currently ranked #24 in the nation heading into Saturday’s tussle with Johnny Manziel and A&M.



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South Carolina Cruises Past Arkansas; Freshman Johnson Leads Auburn

postgame-links-150x1501South Carolina 52 – Arkansas 7

1. South Carolina’s score at the end of the first half might have been what put Arkansas away.

2. Coach Steve Spurrier said he felt bad for Arkansas. “It’s no fun getting your butt beat like this at home,” he said.

3. Jadeveon Clowney return for South Carolina on Saturday. Watch his postgame press conference along with running back Mike Davis.

4. ESPN College GameDay reported before the game Clowney didn’t ride the team bus to the game. That was incorrect. He did.

5. Saturday’s performance was “just unacceptable,” according to coach Bret Bielema.

6. Saturday’s loss by the Razorbacks was among the worst defeats Arkansas has endured.

Auburn 62 – Western Carolina 3

7. True freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson shined in his debut for Auburn. Nick Marshall will start at QB when he returns from injury.

8. Johnson’s performance provided a nice look at the future. He finished 17-of-21 for 201 yards with four touchdowns and one interception.

9. Here’s a look at what else went well for Auburn, which tallied 712 yards of total offense.

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