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Freeze Says UM’s O-Line Is Making Progress; Mackey Needs To “Get His Act Together”

Yesterday was the first day of two-a-days at Ole Miss and new coach Hugh Freeze had good things to say about his offensive line:


“I know (coach) Matt (Luke) is working extremely hard with them and they are studying a lot of film to find their mistakes and coming out and trying to work on those in individuals and carry that over into the team settings.  There is no doubt they got better, you see the results of us getting more positive yards running the football.”


One of those players doing the running yesterday was converted quarterback Randall Mackey.  Freeze told The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that Mackey could be a valuable asset at running back and at receiver.  “I’ve said from Day One with Randall that if he gets his act together off the field, he fits into what we do, and he can be a very valuable part,” Freeze said.  “Hopefully that will continue the way it’s going right now.”

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SEC Headlines – 11/4/11

Sorry to turn into a links fest for you today.  Between radio shows and the time needed to tally up our two “By The Numbers” pieces on turnovers (scroll down the page), we’re swamped.

Later this evening we’ll post our weekly Game Projections — with a in-depth look at the big stories to watch in tomorrow’s clash between Alabama and LSU.

Throughout the afternoon, we’ll be posting predictions on that game from a few media members across the SEC.

For now, here are some headlines from around the league to tide you over (no pun intended):

1.  Newly released NCAA documents show how it almost benched Cam Newton… and how Auburn kept playing him.  (The game of the century is on deck tomorrow and we’re still talking about Cam frickin’ Newton.  I’m sure Mike Slive is thrilled.)

2.  Tenarius Wright is out and Greg Childs is questionable for Arkansas’ game with South Carolina tomorrow.  (That’s the Top 10 showdown no one is talking about.)

3.  New hoops coach Mike Anderson is eager for the Hogs’ exhibition opener tonight.

4.  Randall Mackey has clearly established himself as Ole Miss’ #1 quarterback.

5.  The Rebels bested North Alabama in a hoops exhibition last night.

6.  When Mississippi State hosts UT-Martin, a former Bulldog player will be leading the Skyhawks’ program.

7.  MSU officials are “incredibly disappointed” that the NCAA has suspended basketball signee Kristers Zeidaks for a whopping 42 games.

8.  Chris Rainey has been limited in practice for Florida.

9.  Corner Marcus Roberson has accepted deferred prosecution on an underage drinking beef.

10.  Billy Donovan crushed his son’s team last night in an exhibition game.  (No word on whether he bounced a ball off Billy Jr.’s head like Robert Duvall in “The Great Santini.”)

11.  With four tailbacks out, New Mexico State might be the perfect opponent for Georgia.

12.  Then again, NMSU has a good kick return game and that points right at one of UGA’s biggest weaknesses.

13.  On paper, Kentucky and Ole Miss look pretty evenly matched.

14.  Rumors that Wildcats basketballer Stacey Poole has already left the team are incorrect according to his father.

15.  Tomorrow’s game between Carolina and Arkansas was supposed to feature Knile Davis and Marcus Lattimore.

16.  The Gamecocks knocked off Kentucky Wesleyan in an exhibition basketball game last night.

17.  Tennessee will try to put together a November to remember starting with MTSU tomorrow night.

18.  Cuonzo Martin’s Vols remain a work in progress after a win in their exhibition opener last night.

19.  A pair of first-year coaches — both 4-4 — will clash in Gainesville tomorrow, but Vandy folks are lot happier with their guy’s record.

20.  This Florida beatwriter believes the Gators are lucky to be playing the Commodores in The Swamp.

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SEC Headlines – 10/25/11 Part One

1.  More than 300 athletes — some from the University of Kentucky — have sent a petition to the NCAA asking to be paid.

2.  It’s time for Auburn’s offense to take it up a notch.  (So it’s go time.)

3.  The Tiger defense wants to rebound from a horrible day at Baton Rouge.

4.  Nick Saban is finally ready to talk about Alabama’s game with LSU.

5.  The hype for the November 5th showdown continues to grow… with advertising.

6.  Arkansas players say they’re worried about Vanderbilt, not the BCS rankings.

7.  Hog tailback Dennis Johnson says “there’s more to come” after his 160-yard day last Saturday.

8.  Against Alabama, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson will have to be at their very best.

9.  Running back Kenny Hilliard was ready when opportunity knocked last weekend.

10.  Mississippi State’s linebackers “had a chip on their shoulders going into the season.”

11.  Johnthan Banks (and that’s the correct spelling) is closing in on Walt Harris’ career interception mark of 16 at MSU.

12.  Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey says he loves it when his wideouts get one-on-one coverage down the sideline.

13.  Houston Nutt is beating the idea of finishing into his players’ heads following Saturday’s come-from-ahead loss to Arkansas.

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SEC Headlines – 10/11/11 Part One

1.  First-year starting quarterback AJ McCarron has thrown just two interceptions in 150 pass attempts for Alabama this season.

2.  Bama’s focus is now completely on Ole Miss.  (Randall Mackey’s “they can be beat” comment probably helped in that area.)

3.  The success of Auburn’s season could ride on Saturday’s game with Florida.

4.  Linebacker Eltoro Freeman wants to be more consistent for the Tigers.

5.  This writer says Arkansas needs to enter the LSU game at season’s end with a 10-1 record and a shot at a BCS bowl bid.

6.  Mike Anderson says forward Michael Sanchez won’t be ready to start practicing until November due to recent back surgery.

7.  Since last year’s Tennessee game to this one, Les Miles has gone from being the butt of jokes to being the target of NFL rumors.  Yesterday, the loose as a goose coach talked about how that’s happened.

8.  This writer says a study of the film shows that LSU “physically manhandled” Florida last weekend.

9.  Ole Miss opened as a 24.5 point underdog to Alabama…

10.  But the Rebels say they’re used to being the underdog by now.

11.  The question of the week in Starkville: Tyler Russell or Chris Relf?

12.  For the first time since the spring, the two quarterbacks are listed together atop MSU’s depth chart.

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UM’s Mackey Says Alabama “Can Be Beat”

It’s the equivalent of walking up the steps, facing the axeman and saying, “That blade doesn’t look too sharp.”

Ole Miss quarterback Randall Mackey — fresh off his first career start in a win over Fresno State — told reporters yesterday that the Rebels’ next opponent isn’t perfect:

“Alabama is just Alabama.  They’ve got a real good defense from the D-line to the secondary.  There are still, I’m not going to say weaknesses, you know, they ain’t Superman.  So they can be beat.”

Yes.  The Baltimore Ravens might take ‘em.  But the odds of Ole Miss getting the job done are pretty slim.  And when this quote hits the bulletin board in Tuscaloosa, those odds will get even slimmer.

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SEC Headlines – 10/5/11 Part Three

I was going to expound on some of the following topics, but I’m having to run out the door.  So instead, here’s another wave of headlines for you:

1.  Auburn’s defense showed improvement on Saturday, but Arkansas will be a tougher test.

2.  Nick Saban says emotional teams “have severe ups and downs.”

3.  Houston Nutt says Randall Mackey is Ole Miss’ quarterback for “right now.”

4.  Mississippi State is 0-8 under Dan Mullen when the Dogs fail to rush for at least 150 yards.

5.  Georgia legend Vince Dooley will watch the Georgia-Tennessee game at Derek’s house — away from prying eyes — this weekend.

6.  The elder Dooley, Gene Stallings and Pat Dye all believe Alabama is the best team in the country.

7.  Mark Richt will be going for win #100 on Saturday.   (Link Fixed)

8.  Mark Bradley of The AJC suggests the SEC needs Missouri more for its image than for football.  (Good stuff, check it out.)

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SEC Headlines – 9/7/11 Part One

In order to dig deeper into expansion today, we’re going to keep things short on the “daily news” front with headline-driven day:

1.  Gene Chizik is impressed with MSU’s Vick Ballard and Chris Relf.

2.  Auburn is ready to simplify their defensive playbook.

3.  Alabama’s receivers look to improve.

4.  ESPN’s Mark Schlabach believes expansion could reduce fans’ passion.

5.  Mark Richt is in a battle for his survival at Georgia.

6.  Arkansas backup quarterback Brandon Mitchell made the most of his opportunities last week.

7.  The New Mexico Lobos have nothing to lose against the Hogs on Saturday.  (Hopefully the Lobos take to the field to this theme.)

8.  Former LSU assistant Bradley Dale Peveto will lead Northwestern State up against his old school on Saturday.

9.  The Tigers are now a bigger target for foes after their win over Oregon.

10.  Zach Stoudt will start at quarterback for Ole Miss this weekend, but Randall Mackey might play, too.

11.  Five MSU players suspended last week have yet to hit the practice field this week.

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UM’s Stoudt To Start; Bolden Not As Badly Hurt As Feared

The Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that Houston Nutt has decided to make a quarterback change in Week Two.  Zach Stoudt — son of former NFL quarterback Cliff Stoudt — will get the nod when the Rebels host Southern Illinois on Saturday.  Barry Brunetti got the start last week against BYU but was lifted and did not play in the second half.  Stoudt took over and went 13-of-25 for 140 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions (though he did have a beautiful deep ball dropped in the end zone).

How much Brunetti or third-stringer Randall Mackey will play on Saturday is anyone’s guess.

The Rebels also got some good news on this Labor Day — tailback Brandon Bolden does have a fractured ankle, but the injury is not as serious as was initially feared.  He could return in time for Ole Miss’ game with Georgia on September 24th.

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Brunetti Named Starter At Ole Miss

In the end, Ole Miss’ quarterback battle — at least for the season opener — was settled by one player’s off-field decision-making. 

Houston Nutt announced yesterday that Barry Brunetti will get the start against BYU in the Rebels’ opener next week.  Zach Stoudt will also play in the game.

UM’s third quarterback candidate, Randall Mackey, blew his shot at the job with an arrest for disorderly conduct on Monday night.  Allegedly, Mackey got involved in a large bar fight at an Oxford music venue called The Lyric.  During the scrum, Mackey allegedly struck a police officer who was trying to play peacemaker.  He was given a lesser charge because it’s not believed he took a swing at the officer on purpose.

“I am still looking into everything, but the bottom line is that he got into a fight,” Nutt told The Jackson Clarion-Ledger.  “The bottom line, as I tell them, even though there may be 50 other arrests, your arrest is headlines.  Walk away.  Turn the other cheek.”

Mackey violated his team’s curfew by being out after 11:30pm.

“I wish I had known there was a Monday night school party downtown,” Nutt said.  “I really wish I’d known that.  Because had I known that it wouldn’t have happened.”

Credit Nutt for acting quickly on this one and suspending Mackey for a game.  At LSU, senior starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson also broke his team’s curfew and also found himself in embroiled in the aftermath of a bar fight.  But Jefferson has continued to take first-team snaps in Les Miles’ practice sessions.

Brunetti transferred from West Virginia to Ole Miss this past offseason.  He has been the favorite to win the Rebels’ quarterback job, but he’s still been splitting reps in practice.  Now he has the opening day start nailed down and he obviously has a leg up in the ongoing competition for everyday starter.  His performance against a good BYU team will obviously help determine if he can keep said leg up.

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UM’s Mackey, Mosley Arrested In Separate Incidents

Rule #1 on how not to win a quarterback battle: Don’t get arrested on charges of disorderly conduct.

Alas, that’s exactly what Mississippi quarterback candidate Randall Mackey did last night.  He was picked up by police following a fight at an Oxford music venue.

Here’s the school’s official statement:

“We are currently gathering information on the incident involving Randall.  Once we have all of the facts, we will determine the appropriate course of action.”

But Houston Nutt told WHBQ-AM in Memphis today that Mackey “threw away” a chance at starting.  While the coach says Mackey was not drinking, he did break the team’s 11:30pm curfew.  That and he got arrested.

Mackey wasn’t the only Rebel arrested in the last few days.  Tight end Jamal Mosley was reportedly picked up Saturday night on charges of public intoxication.

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