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Just Six Players Ejected From Opening Week Games, But It’s Way Too Soon To Declare New Rule A Success

the-bootCollege football’s new targeting rule — and the ejection penalty that accompanies it — was enforced (it appears) just six times during the opening week of the college football season.  According to former SEC head of officials and current NCAA coordinator of officials Rogers Redding, that shows that there has been no year-to-year uptick in the number of targeting calls made.

So far so good.  But while some suggest that “it doesn’t look like the worries about the new rule are merited,” we feel it’s still a bit early for a victory dance.  Many schools spent Week One feasting on cupcakes.  Once the meat of the new season arrives and more in-conference battles commence, that’s when the rule will really be scrutinized.  When a player from one team is ejected, you can expect that team’s fanbase to pepper the media and messageboards with video clips and photos of plays for which they feel their opponent should have been flagged.

Of the six players tossed last week, only one came from the SEC — Texas A&M’s Deshazor Everett.  The cornerback was ejected and his team penalized 15 yards for this hit:


Texas A&M's Deshazor Everett ejected for targeting, new NCAA rule


The player who was hit on that play — Rice tight end Klein Kubiak — tweeted after the game that it was a “solid physical football hit.”  Some will view that hit as being clean (as Kubiak does).  Others will view it as straight-up targeting.  And that’s the problem with the rule.  Even when looking at a replay, the definition of the targeting rule is so broad that there’s really no way to tell if a play is or isn’t ejection-worthy.

Only six heave-hos in Week One is a good thing.  But we suspect this rule will still turn into a bad thing — despite the good intentions behind it — sooner rather than later.

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Auburn DE Ford Expected To Miss The Tigers’ Opener

Georgia v AuburnDon’t expect to see Auburn defensive end Dee Ford on the field for his team’s opening day track meet with Washington State.  The Tigers’ leading returning pass rusher could miss even more time after damaging ligaments in his left knee.

Asked about Ford’s availability in Week One, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson told that there’s “no question” the man with six sacks a year ago will not play.  He is also expected to miss an “extended” period of time.

Ford’s injury occurred back on August 10th during a scrimmage.  “Freak thing,” Johnson said.  “Someone’s leg swung around him and hit him in the side.  Not real, real bad.  No surgery required.”

Auburn’s pass rush a year ago left much to be desired.  The Tigers registered just 22 sacks on the year, good for 11th place in the 14-team SEC.  So the sooner Ford returns… the better.

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Bama’s Saban Doesn’t Want Your Hype, America

Nick Saban isn’t interested in the praise that’s now being heaped upon his Alabama football team following Saturday’s absolute annihilation of #8 Michigan, 41-14.  In fact, the coach claims he doesn’t even understand — yeah, right — why folks are making such a fuss:


“Everyone thought we were too young, too inexperienced, couldn’t handle success.  Everybody was saying all those things about our team.  Now, people are saying something different. But my question is what’s different?  Nothing.

We’re still young, we’re still inexperienced.  We’ve still got things to work on.  It’s going to be all about the maturity that the team has to be able to focus on what they need to do to correct the deficits that we have whether it’s individually, collectively as a unit in some part of our team, so that we improve as a team.”


Saban doesn’t want his team thinking it’s the bunch that won January’s BCS Championship.  He’s made that point all summer and he knows that a bit of complacency hurt the Tide in 2010 after his team won its 2009 crown.  Also, his points are valid — Bama is still young and inexperienced in many places.

But after whooping up on the Wolverines in Week One’s biggest game, come on, he’s knows what’s different.  His team’s now been seen and it looked every bit as good as last year’s unit.

Does that guarantee another title?  Nope.  In 2010, Alabama was awfully flying high after crushing #7 Florida at home, 31-6.  The next week the Tide lost to South Carolina 35-21.  His team went on to lose two more contests.

Football is a week to week venture and as Lou Holtz once said, coaches rarely see the same performance twice from their squads.  But Saban knows plenty well what’s changed between last week and this week.  The eye test.  And to a lot of sets of eyes — including mine — Alabama looks like the best team in the country.

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As Camp Begins, The Opening Lines Are Already Up

When it comes to the casino sportsbooks in Las Vegas and sports betting sites, it’s never too early to  post lines for games… or to adjust them.  It’s August 1st and fall camps are opening across the SEC this week.  Already, the opening lines for Week One action have gone up and — in some cases — been tweaked.

Just for kicks, here are some of the SEC’s opening lines as well as the current number (which is a composite of what most Vegas and web books are saying today).

SEC games against FCS opponents show no lines:


  Game   Opening Line   Current Composite Line
  Thursday, 8/30   S. Carolina -8 at Vanderbilt   S. Carolina -6.5, Vanderbilt +6.5
  Thursday, 8/30   Texas A&M -11 vs La. Tech (Shreveport)   Texas A&M -8
  Friday, 8/31   Tennessee -7 vs NC State (Atlanta)   Tennessee -3
  Saturday, 9/1   Buffalo +37 at Georgia   Georgia -37
  Saturday, 9/1   Bowling Green +23 at Florida   Florida -25
  Saturday, 9/1   Clemson -3.5 vs Auburn (Atlanta)   Auburn +3.5
  Saturday, 9/1   Alabama -11 vs Michigan (Arlington)   Alabama -11.5
  Saturday, 9/1   North Texas +48 at LSU   LSU -45
  Sunday, 9/2   Kentucky +13 at Louisville   Kentucky +13


As you can see, the only SEC underdogs in Week One are Vanderbilt (who is playing an SEC rival), Auburn and Kentucky.

The four SEC vs FCS schools that are represented are:  Jacksonville State at Arkansas, Southeastern Louisiana at Missouri, Central Arkansas at Ole Miss, and Jackson State at Mississippi State.

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SEC Headlines – 9/6/11 Part Two

1.  Wide receiver Duron Carter could make his presence felt Saturday at Penn State.

2.  Good thing, ’cause Nick Saban didn’t like the play from his wideouts last Saturday.

3.  Bama and Penn State both have questions at quarterback.

4.  Auburn will be looking for “hard nosed, old school” defense against Mississippi State.

5.  Getting linebacker Eltoro Freeman back should help.

6. Arkansas’ O-line wasn’t perfect, but it has “a lot to build on” after a blowout win over Missouri State.

7.  Running back Dennis Johnson is doubtful for this weekend’s game with New Mexico.

8.  The Razorbacks need to improve to reach a championship level.

9.  LSU’s lineup is taking shape after a Week One win over Oregon.

10.  The Tigers bested the Ducks with defense and a power running game.

11.  Ole Miss players are expressing confidence in new starting quarterback Zach Stoudt.

12.  Despite injuries at running back, the Rebels will be looking to run against Southern Illinois.

13.  Facing Auburn on Saturday, Dan Mullen says the Cam Newton situation is old news.

14.  Bulldog receiver Jameon Lewis is electrifying… when he makes good decisions.

15.  It’s unclear whether D-lineman Fletcher Cox will return from suspension this week.

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Power Rankings: Worst SEC Coaching Jobs, Week One

During the football season, we’ll be bringing you some Top 5 lists each week on a variety of topics.  First up this week, we’ll look at the five worst coaching jobs from across the SEC on opening weekend:


5.  Mark Richt, Georgia — Georgia went up against a Top 5 team that might wind up playing for the national title.  But Boise State is known for its offense, not its defense.  And the Dawgs couldn’t produce consistently on the ground or through the air.  Granted, UGA has had massive attrition on the O-line and at the tailback position, but Georgia just wasn’t as competitive as expected in Saturday’s 35-21 loss.  Oh, and one more thing — enough with the gimmicky uniforms.

4.  Gene Chizik, Auburn — The Tigers were breaking in what amounted to a whole new team against Utah State on Saturday.  Still, all the emotion in the world should have been on Auburn’s side.  The “disrespected” card.  The home opener.  Etc, etc.  In the end, AU had to fight for survival against a team it was expected to annihilate.  The Aggies pushed Auburn’s defense all over the field.  The Tigers didn’t look ready for Opening Day.

3.  Joker Phillips — Like the coaches above, Phillips was having to use a lot of green players in key positions against Western Kentucky.  But WKU is expected to be one of the worst teams on the FBS level this season.  To have 75 yards of offense through three quarters?  By hook or by crook an SEC team needs to do better than that.

2.  Steve Spurrier — The Gamecocks whipped East Carolina 56-37 in their opener… but not before digging themselves a 17-0 hole first.  Spurrier gets credit for fixing the problem and igniting his team by putting quarterback Stephen Garcia into the game.  However, it was Spurrier’s ridiculous decision to bench team-favorite Garcia and start Connor Shaw that led to the 17-point deficit in the first place.  In other words, Carolina’s biggest problem in Week One was a problem manufactured by the Ol’ Ball Coach.

1.  Houston Nutt — Ole Miss almost upset BYU on Saturday.  If it had hung on, Nutt would’ve been credited for a fine coaching job.  So why was his work considered the worst of the week?  Because UM had the game won.  Who knows if BYU would have driven the length of the field for a game-winning 4th-quarter touchdown, but the Rebels should have played things safe, protected their lead and punted the Cougars deep with 5:30 to play.  After all, BYU had managed just 7 points through nearly 55 minutes of action.  But instead, facing a 3rd-and-27, Nutt and offensive coordinator David Lee asked new quarterback Zach Stoudt to drop back and try to complete a pass for the first down.  There aren’t a lot of 3rd-and-27 plays in most teams’ playbooks.  Waiting for receivers to come open, Stoudt was strip-sacked and BYU returned the fumble for the game-winning score.  Not good.  Bad enough in fact, for Nutt’s work to be ranked as the SEC’s worst of the week.

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SEC Headlines – Labor Day Edition 9/5/11

1.  The SEC has named its Players of the Week for Week One.

2.  Auburn will be looking for lots of improvement over its opener.

3.  The Tigers need to start work in the trenches.

4.  Alabama will be looking to fine-tune itself in preparation for a trip to Penn State.

5.  AJ McCarron looked better than Phillip Sims on Saturday, but no one’s saying the Bama quarterback race has been decided.

6.  For the most part, Arkansas accomplished its goals in a 51-7 win over Missouri State.

7.  Here’s a postgame report card for the Hogs.

8.  LSU coaches and quarterback Jarrett Lee had to really cram for Saturday’s “exam” with Oregon…

9.  And while Lee and LSU passed that test, this writer says the Tigers still need Jordan Jefferson at quarterback.

10.  MSU’s Dan Mullen isn’t buying that Auburn is that bad…

11.  ”They scored 42 points against a really, really good football team in Utah State.”

12.  With MRIs on the docket for today, Ole Miss’ backfield remains a complete mystery for now.

13.  Southern Illinois is on deck next, but here’s a quick review of the Rebels’ loss to BYU.

14.  Will Muschamp was pleased with Florida’s opener… but now he wants to see improvement.

15.  Quarterback John Brantley is getting praise for his command on Saturday.

16.  Florida’s decision to declare defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd ineligible could tie to his recruitment by other schools.

17.  Saturday’s game with South Carolina could “swing future status” for Mark Richt.

18.  The Carolina game will be a lot bigger than Saturday’s game with Boise State, that’s for sure.

19.  Richt plans to continue rotating his tailbacks, but linebacker Alec Ogletree will be out four to six weeks with a broken foot.  Big loss.

20.  Only four FBS schools had worse offensive performances than Kentucky last week.

21.  No surprise then that UK is at the bottom of the SEC in total offense… despite playing what figures to be a horrible Western Kentucky team.

22.  Steve Spurrier isn’t happy with South Carolina’s passing game.

23.  Here’s a report card from the Cocks’ win over East Carolina.

24.  Tennessee’s Tyler Bray put up good numbers and played with poise on Saturday night.

25.  The Vols will now try to fix their run game before this week’s matchup with Cincinnati.

26.  Vanderbilt’s Chris Boyd dreamed that his first catch would go for a touchdown… and it did.

27.  Talk about aggressive, Vandy went for it on fourth down three times and converted each time.

28.  And finally, the Rice marching band took a shot at Texas A&M and the “$EC” on Saturday.

29.  When it comes to ticket sales, even SEC schools are having to battle HDTV.

30.  There continue to be rumblings that some Texas politicians want to slow down the rush to realign and expand.

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SEC Headlines – 8/29/11 Part Two

1.  Dan Mullen has a lot of respect for Memphis coach Larry Porter.

2.  On Thursday, State will visit a Memphis squad that absolutely horrible on offense last season.

3.  Several new faces dot the Week One depth chart as Ole Miss readies for BYU.

4.  The “story behind the story” on Saturday will be which set of new assistant coaches can best get a read on what the other team is doing.

5.  New Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis is viewed as a “genius” by his players.

6.  Here’s a list of “five potential disasters awaiting the Gators in 2011.”

7.  Two Gators escaped injury in minor one-car accident yesterday.

8.  Here are five things for Georgia fans to worry about in Fall 2011.

9.  With the goal of getting things back to normal in Athens, Saturday’s game with Boise State is a season opener UGA needed.

10.  Boise State’s play-by-play man is a Georgia alum.

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Vegas’ View Of The SEC: Week One

The Week One odds have been set by the boys out in Las Vegas and — as usual — SEC schools are getting a whole lot of love.  Below you’ll find the lines from:

* The Las Vegas Sports Consultants
* The Las Vegas Hilton
* The MGM/Mirage Casinos
* The Caesars/Harrah’s Casinos

Tennessee-Montana, Arkansas-Missouri State and Vanderbilt-Elon do not have lines as the Grizzlies, Bears and Phoenix are all FCS squads.

The favorites are in italics.

MSU at Memphis
WKU vs Kentucky
Utah St. at Auburn
Kent St. at Alabama
BYU at Ole Miss
S. Carolina vs E. Carolina
Boise St. vs Georgia
LSU vs Oregon
Fla. Atlantic at Florida

There are only two SEC underdogs to start the week: Ole Miss (hosting BYU) and Georgia (in Atlanta against #5 Boise State). 

You’ll also notice that two groups have pulled the LSU-Oregon-Willie-Lyles-Distraction Bowl from their boards altogether.

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UGA Will Be Without Another RB Versus Boise State

To say Georgia is counting on true freshman running back Isaiah Crowell is an understatement.  By the time the season kicks off, Crowell might be the only tailback on the Dawgs’ roster.

Over the summer, Washaun Ealey transferred out and Caleb King failed to qualify academically.  With UGA’s top two backs from 2010 and 2009 gone, the coaching staff moved tailback-turned-linebacker Richard Samuel back to tailback.  In the press, backup rusher Carlton Thomas began to get more mentions as a possible sidekick to Crowell as well.

But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported yesterday that Thomas has been suspended for the first game of the season.  Thomas “violated team rules back in the spring,” according to the AJC.

With Thomas now out of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game with Boise State, the Bulldogs will have Crowell, redshirt freshman Ken Malcome and Samuel as scholarship running backs on opening night. 

In other words, Crowell had better be all he’s cracked up to be.  And he better not sprain an ankle or stub a toe between now and the final whistle of Week One.

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