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SEC Game Previews – 8/30/13

mrsec game previewTwo games down, 111 left to play until an SEC champion is crowned.  Today, we bring you the rest of our Game Preview capsules, a feature we’ll be bringing you each week throughout the season…


Toledo (0-0) at #10 Florida (0-0)

TV:  SEC Networwk, 12:21pm ET

Opening Line:  UF -21

Current Line:  UF -23.5

One To Watch:  He should have a strong defense and a tailback by committee to back him up, but the man to watch is Gator QB Jeff Driskel.  He says he’ll do less running this year which means his passing will need to improve.

This And That:

1.  Speaking of throwing the ball… the Gators finished dead last in the 14-team SEC in passing offense last year.  If UF hopes to compete for championships this fall, they’ll need average more than 146 yards per game through the air.

2.  Toledo will be a good early-season test for Will Muschamp’s defense.  The Rockets piled up more than 57-hundred yards of offense last season.  Against BCS foes, they lost at Arizona by seven and they upset Cincinnati by six.  Anyone forgotten the scare Louisiana-Lafayette gave Florida last year?

3.  With starter Matt Jones out, UF will likely stick behind the first running back to find a rhythm.  Mack Brown, Mark Herndon and Valdez Showers should all get some carries.

Prediction:  Florida 33, Toledo 17


Rice (0-0) at #7 Texas A&M (0-0)

TV:  ESPN, 1:00pm ET

Opening Line:  A&M -28

Current Line:  A&M -27

One To Watch:  Uh, who do you think?

This And That:

1.  Johnny Manziel will ride the pine in the first half due to an NCAA suspension.  This makes for two interesting angles to watch.  First, just how well will Kevin Sumlin’s offense operate without #2 on the field…

2.  And second, how will a fresh and rested Manziel look against a Rice defense that could already by tuckered out by halftime?  We’ve heard more about Johnny Football’s off-field exploits than his pass game this summer, but the QB has worked to improve himself as a pocket passer.  Will that show against the Fighting Pilafs?  I mean Owls.

3.  Texas A&M was minus-five in turnover margin for 2012.  Yet, thanks to the magic of a certain Heisman-winner, they still defied the odds to win 11 games.  Just to be safe, the Aggies need to break the turnover habit in 2013, starting tomorrow.

Prediction:  Texas A&M 44, Rice 20


Mississippi State (0-0) vs #13 Oklahoma State (0-0) at Houston

TV:  ABC/ESPN2, 3:30pm ET

Opening Line:  OSU -13

Current Line:  OSU -13

One To Watch:  Keep an eye on MSU corner Jamerson Love, the only DB in State’s top four cornerbacks to have started a game for the Bulldogs (and he’s started just two).  The entire secondary is really the one to watch, but if we’re narrowing things down, we’ll go with the, ahem, veteran.

This And That:

1.  Since arriving in Starkville, Dan Mullen record against non-conference BCS-level foes is 2-2 and two of those games were bowls.  The Dogs have avoided big-time foes while Mullen laid the groundwork for his program.  Now comes a “prove it” game against a ranked opponent to start the season.  This could be a very big one for Mullen.

2.  After a 7-0 start last season, MSU lost five of its last six games with four losses coming against ranked foes.  In four seasons under Mullen the Bulldogs are just 2-16 against ranked opponents, 0-8 the last two years.  Did we mention that this one could be a big game for Mullen?

3.  Oklahoma State’s pass offense ranked #7 in the nation last year and tomorrow they’ll face an MSU cornerback quartet that features a junior with two starts, a sophomore, a juco transfer and a redshirt freshman.  States new DBs are in for a baptism by fire.

Prediction:  Oklahoma State 37, Mississippi State 20

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SEC Game Previews – 8/29/13

mrsec game previewWeek One is here and the college football season kicks off tonight with a pair of primetime SEC affairs.  Throughout the season we’ll provide you Game Preview capsules just as we did last year.  Typically, they’ll arrive on Fridays, but with two Thursday kickoffs, well, here ya go…


North Carolina (0-0) at #6 South Carolina (0-0)

TV:  ESPN, 6pm ET

Opening Line:  USC -11.5

Current Line:  USC -12

One To Watch:  South Carolina RB Mike Davis.  Davis is the man to replace Marcus Lattimore and if he can get the ground game going, it will take a lot of pressure off the Cocks’ passing attack.

This And That:

1.  Last season, South Carolina averaged 38 carries and 131 yards per game rushing against 10 BCS-level foes.  North Carolina allowed 164 yards per game and 20 rushing touchdowns in nine games against BCS-level opponents.

2.  The Obvious… how many big plays can Gamecock DE Jadeveon Clowney make?  In a tight game, all he needs is one big sack or one forced fumble to tilt things in USC’s favor.

3.  Larry Fedora’s offense finished second in the ACC last year behind Clemson with a 485 yards-per-game clip.  Will Steve Spurrier be lured into a shootout?  His team’s strength has been its run game and its defense, so keep an eye on whether or not the Ol’ Ball Coach gives into temptation and starts airing things out.

Prediction:  South Carolina 28, North Carolina 17


Ole Miss (0-0) at Vanderbilt (0-0)

TV:  ESPN, 9:15pm ET

Opening Line:  VU -1.5

Current Line:  UM -3

One To Watch:  Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace.  When Wallace is good, he’s very good.  And when he’s bad, he turns the ball over enough to drive Hugh Freeze crazy.  If Wallace doesn’t protect the football tonight it will be interesting to see how Freeze responds.

This and That:

1.  Will the offseason rape case surrounding the Vanderbilt football team serve as a rallying point, allowing the team to take on an us-against-the-world demeanor.  Or will we see a distracted football team tonight.

2.  New Commodore starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has a career 18-13 TD-to-interception ratio at Wyoming and Vanderbilt.  Like UM’s Wallace, he’ll need to protect the football.  But he’ll be without one of his best targets in suspended WR Chris Boyd.

3.  How fast can the Rebels’ offense move?  Vandy’s Franklin will be in the officials’ ears all night trying to make sure they allow everyone on the field — his guys, Freeze’s guys, and the refs — to get set before allowing UM to snap the ball.

Prediction:  Ole Miss 27, Vanderbilt 21


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Missouri Vs Arkansas 2014: A Friday Or Saturday Affair?

Well, here’s an interesting little twist to today’s 2014 SEC schedule release — Arkansas and Missouri don’t seem to agree on when their season-ending game will actually be played.

On Mizzou’s official website, the Arkansas game in Columbia will be played on Friday, November 28th:

mu schedule


But on the Razorbacks’ official site, the game is scheduled for Saturday, November 29th:


ua schedule


So what does the SEC have to say about this one?  They list it as a Saturday, November 29th game:


sec schedule


Missouri clearly wants the added exposure that a day-after-Thanksgiving game can bring.  Recruits are at home watching television on that day.  Arkansas officials know this, too, as they’ve enjoyed the Black Friday publicity they’ve received on numerous occasions by playing LSU on that date.

While the SEC has confirmed that their date is correct, we’ll go ahead and guess that the Arkansas/Missouri game will eventually wind up being played on Friday the 28th rather than on Saturday the 29th.  Unless CBS decides it would rather move another SEC game to Black Friday.  Auburn/Alabama, Mississippi State/Ole Miss and Tennessee/Vanderbilt are the other choices.  CBS did carry the Iron Bowl on Black Friday in 2009 and 2010 before switching back to Arkansas/LSU in 2011.

But we see no reason why Arkansas or Missouri would not want to separate their game from the rest of the pack that will be played on the following day.  If the SEC’s television partners will allow it.

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Texas QB Talks Texas A&M’s Manziel, But The Coverage Doesn’t Match His Comments

gfx - they said itTexas quarterback David Ash is apparently the polar opposite of his counterpart at Texas A&M, Johnny Manziel.  According to The Houston Chronicle, Ash was “raised in a strict religious household, he grew up without TV, he claims to have never had a sip of an alcoholic beverage, he doesn’t tweet, and he doesn’t even go to the movies, much less party with rap stars.”

Asked earlier this week if he was happy he didn’t have to worry about off-field troubles — like the NCAA’s investigation into Manziel’s proclivity for signing autographs for brokers – the Longhorn quarterback had this to say:


“That a tough question.  But, you know, my answer is ‘By the grace of God.’  I don’t know Johnny Manziel personally, but I do know that college football players are regular people, and they have their problems, just like everbody else.  And Johnny Manziel, he seems to be a nice guy.  There’s a lot of pressure, a lot of things that can go wrong in your life.  And probably not very many people are interested to know what that is, or what’s going on.  Johnny, I just wish him the best.  He’s a great football player.

For me, it’s only by the grace of God I haven’t taken that path.  I’ve been blessed with great parents.  I’ve been blessed with a great community in Austin.  I have my problems, just like Johnny Manziel.  Somehow, I keep them from you guys.”


Well, for starters, he doesn’t share his every move and every thought on Twitter which is a pretty good way to keep one’s problems to one’s self.

That said, the headline to The Chronicle’s piece regarding Ash’s comment is “UT’s Ash on Manziel: ‘It’s only be the grace of God I haven’t taken that path.”  The writer of the brief story then opened the article by pointing out that Ash “has never even come close to winning a Heisman Trophy” and he’s never quarterbacked a top 10 team or beaten a top-ranked team.  Then came the quotes from Ash.

Sorry, but I think the young man was trying to be gracious when asked about Manziel, a fellow athlete.  He explained that the spotlight can be difficult, wished the Aggie star the best, complemented him, and then said, basically, that he’s glad he hasn’t found himself in the same boat.

So for the headline writer to seize on the only portion of the quote that could possibly be taken out of context is a bit of a low blow.  That one line might not have been Ash’s best choice of words, but it obviously didn’t capture the spirit of what he was attempting to say, either.

Aggies and Longhorns hate one another.  We all know that.  But there’s no reason for A&M fans to get upset over this one.  No matter how much The Chronicle headline attempts to rile them up.


CORRECTION – We initially listed Chris Ash as David Ash.  Hopefully correcting this error will put the Earth back on its axis.

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Johnny Manziel’s Lawyer: “It’s Not Going To Be A Short Process”

gfx - they said itOne day after being hired by the family, Johnny Manziel’s attorney says the NCAA investigation into whether the Texas A&M quarterback took money for signing autographs is” not going to be a short process.”

Referring to an alleged transfer of money between autograph brokers, attorney Jim Darnell says  “I haven’t seen anything” to support specific allegations reported by ESPN over the weekend.


“You’ve seen a lot of the same stuff on TV that I have and that seems to be the big thing everybody’s talking about. (But) they’ve got an awful lot of pictures out there, not to have taken a picture of that.”


Darnell predicted again he expects Manziel to take the field when the Aggies open against Rice.  “That’s what we’re figuring.”

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Richt Doesn’t Believe Up-Tempo Offenses Are More Dangerous

GEORGIA MEDIA DAYSHit with the go-to question of this year’s SEC Media Days, Mark Richt said he’s not worried about up-tempo offenses from a health and safety perspective:


“I think the part of hurrying-up, I don’t worry about that as a health issue.  First of all, we all play on national TV.  Our TV timeouts are — I don’t know how many minutes — three or four minutes.  Seems that there’s plenty of time to rest between series.

I think the one thing we need to be careful of when we are going fast — and I’m talking offenses in general — and the officials are trying to spot the ball, I think that official spotting the ball needs to get out of the way far enough so when the ball’s snapped he’s in position.  For his safety and for anyone else’s safety who might run into him.”


Richt also said that officials should allow defensive teams to get their substitutes onto the field and give them a “reasonable amount of time” to get set up.

Georgia uses a hurry-up attack on occasion.

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Richt Likes To Watch TV Tape As Well As Coaches’ Tape

GEORGIA MEDIA DAYSAsked how much time he’s spent watching tape of last year’s narrow loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game, Mark Richt acknowledged that looking at that tape was “a gut-wrenching thing to see.”  More interesting is the fact that Richt says he not only watches coaches’ tape of every game but also the TV broadcasts of each UGA game.

According to Richt, the television broadcasts allow him to pick out different things than the coaches’ tape does.  Also, it allows him to feel the emotion of the game which provides a different perspective.

You don’t often hear coaches say that they watch the traditional coaches’ film but also tape network broadcasts.

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A Week-By-Week Guide To SEC Football In October 2013

tv-remotesEarlier this month we took a glance at the SEC’s best and worst non-conference schedulers.  You can find that article on cupcakes right here.  But today we want to look at the SEC’s football schedule for 2013 in depth.  As in week-by-week and month-by-month.

In other words, which Saturdays look great for TV viewing and which, well, leave us wanting a bit more.  In this entry, we’ll examine October.

Please keep in mind that these rankings are based on overall interest level for an outside observer.  They do not reflect how close we believe a particular game might be.  Also, we list games by the week, so a Thursday game will be assigned to the following Saturday’s weekend.


October 5th

Great Games:  None

Intriguing Games:  Arkansas at Florida, Ole Miss at Auburn, Georgia at Tennessee, Kentucky at South Carolina, LSU at Mississippi State, Missouri at Vanderbilt

Yawners:  Georgia State at Alabama


October 12th

Great Games:  Florida at LSU

Intriguing Games:  Alabama at Kentucky, South Carolina at Arkansas, Missouri at Georgia, Texas A&M at Ole Miss, Bowling Green at Mississippi State (The Falcons went 8-5 last season)

Yawners:  Western Carolina at Auburn


October 19th

Great Games:  None

Intriguing Games:  Arkansas at Alabama, Auburn at Texas A&M (Hurry-up versus hurry-up), Florida at Missouri, Georgia at Vanderbilt, LSU at Ole Miss, South Carolina at Tennessee

Yawners:  None

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Missouri Coach Haith On SEC Network: “Huge, Huge Plus For Us”

gfx - they said itSEC football coaches aren’t the only ones looking forward to using the SEC Network as a recruiting tool.  SEC basketball coaches are also anxiously awaiting the August 2014 debut of the network.  In a wide-ranging interview at the Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith sounded euphoric about the partnership between the SEC and ESPN.


“It’s huge. We’re going to still get on our national TV stuff, but I think the fact that you’ve got ESPN tied to the network … I mean, there’s other networks out there, but none of them have ESPN tied into it, and I think from a recruiting standpoint, we recruit nationally anyway, but now you’ve got this extra piece saying, “Hey, regardless of where we go recruit your kid, you’re going to see them play on TV. You’re going to see pretty much every one of their games.” I think that’s a huge, huge thing. I’m always thinking recruiting. I think it’s a huge, huge plus for us.”


Haith also opened up on a variety of other topics:

* Is he preparing for his June meeting with the NCAA?


I’m not preparing for that. There’s nothing to prepare for.”


* Earlier start to practice in the fall.


I applaud the NCAA. They’ve made some really good (changes).”


* The number of transfers and the culture of college basketball today.


“We live in a microwave society in general. Everybody wants things quick. But in college basketball it’s at another level, and you see kids moving all the time”


* Difference in style of play between Big 12 and SEC


“Our league was way more physical than our league was in the Big 12. Way more physical.”


Asked about a disappointing second season in Columbia after a thirty-win first year at Mizzou, Haith said, “This team personnel-wise could have been better.”  He said it wasn’t though, citing things like inconsistent play, injuries, toughness, chemistry and defense.  ”That’s a challenge for us as a coaching staff, holding guys accountable. It all starts out front. If we don’t have great consistency guarding the ball out front, we’re going to get broken down in the paint. And that’s what happened with this team. We weren’t consistent in guarding the ball out front, and that really hurt our defense.”

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USC To Face UNC In Charlotte As Neutral Site Games Continue To Boom (Something Our Futurists Predicted Years Ago)

bank-of-america-stadiumThis fall, South Carolina will open the 2013 football season against North Carolina in Columbia.  The two teams will also meet to open up the 2015 season, but that game will take on a more special feel.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the Gamecocks and Tar Heels will butt heads in Charlotte at the NFL Panthers’ Bank of America Stadium.  An official announcement is expected to come tomorrow.

The explosion in the number of neutral site games across the college football landscape is something we discussed way back in July of 2009.  In a piece focusing on the future of the SEC, we sat down with a sports marketing expert and tried to imagine what might come next in the world of college sports.  “Keeping The SEC On Top: What’s The Next Big Thing” provides a snapshot into a world when the SEC’s twin TV deals were still wowing folks and the overall US economy was still frightening them.

Now four years on, it’s a pretty interesting read.

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