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Oregon’s Helfrich Talks Up Tennessee Ahead Of Clash

gfx - they said itIf you listen to Oregon head football coach Mark Helfrich, it’s #2 Oregon that should be worried about a Saturday matchup with Tennessee, not the Volunteers.  The Ducks are one of the fastest teams in the country.  But Helfrich feels UT’s size is a reason for concern:


“(The offensive line) is huge.  They are athletic, they are well coached, and have a great scheme.  It’s a challenge.  Our defensive line had a tough challenge last week (in a 59-10 win over Virginia) and it gets tougher this week…

They have a great skillset right now — big guys, fast guys — so it’s an unbelievable challenge.  When you look at their special teams units, it’s where that (speed and athleticism) jumps out the most as being different from the first two opponents we’ve seen.”


The first-year head coach has obviously mastered the art of coachspeak.  He must’ve majored in “Holtzing” in college.

And about that span in which Western Kentucky turned the ball over five times in six plays against Tennessee last week?  “There was one of them that was kind of a lucky, drop thing, but all the rest of them they either forced or were earned.  We preach ball security and hammer home great decision-making by our quarterbacks, and it’s going to be tested this week.”

Oregon opened as a 20-point favorite and the current line at most casinos in Las Vegas is 27.5.

On the bright side — pun intended — for fans expecting a blowout (despite Helfrich’s comments), Tennessee’s flashy orange is expected to be matched by Oregon’s lightning yellow unis on Saturday.  If only the Vols could dress in head-to-toe orange, it would like a battle between 22 six-foot Hi-Liter pens.

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SEC Weekend Wrap – 9/9/13

weekend-wrapGood Monday afternoon to you.  As is the norm, here is our full around-the-SEC Weekend Wrap complete with game-by-game comments and several bonus observations on Alabama/Texas A&M, South Carolina feuding, Vanderbilt attendance, ex-SEC coach Lane Kiffin and more.

Here goes…


1.  Kentucky 41, Miami (OH) 7

Saturday marked the first home game and the first win for new Wildcat coach Mark Stoops.  But the big story in this one was the play of quarterback Max Smith.  Oh, UK continued to use both of their quarterbacks — in a bit of a surprise move — and both had good days throwing the football, but Smith is clearly his team’s best passer.  While Jalen Whitlow finished 10-of-12 for 103 yards and another 48 on the ground, Smith went 15-of-23 for 310 yards, three scores and no interceptions.  We’ll see home Smith does — and how the quarterback rotation works — when Louisville visits on Saturday.


2.  Miami (FL) 21, Florida 16

Many Gators fans weren’t thrilled with winning ugly a year ago.  One can imagine how losing ugly sits with the UF faithful.  First things first: A little credit to offensive coordinator Brent Pease for guiding his offense to a plus-400-yard day.  Unfortunately, five turnovers — four in the red zone — killed any hope of a Gator victory.  Quarterback Jeff Driskel’s passing line wasn’t that bad –  22-of-33 for 291, one TD and two picks — but he also fumbled for a third giveaway and his TD pass came a little too late.  From Urban Meyer’s last season through Charlie Weis’ failures right on through to Pease, Gators fans haven’t seen a consistent offense since Tim Tebow graduated.


3.  Tennessee 52, Western Kentucky 20

On Saturday morning, the feeling was that we’d all know more about Tennessee after its session with Bobby Petrino.  But seven WKU turnovers muddied the water quite a bit.  Butch Jones’ Vols were in the right place at the right time — a big improvement over last year’s defense — and they forced several of the Hilltoppers’ errors.  Credit must be given for that.  However, with Oregon and Florida coming up next, it’s doubtful UT will be on the receiving end of five turnovers in six plays as they were last Saturday.  Well, OK, maybe they can get those kinds of breaks against Florida.

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Tennessee Coach Butch Jones – Western Kentucky Postgame News Conference

Tennessee coach Butch Jones speaks to the media following the Vols 52-20 victory over Western Kentucky.

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Tennessee 52 – Western Kentucky 20

Video highlights of Tennessee’s 52-20 victory over Western Kentucky.

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SEC Gameday Links: Afternoon Football Action

gameday-linksMiami (OH) at Kentucky

1. What would beating Miami (Ohio) mean for Kentucky?  Linebacker Avery Williamson:  ”A huge, huge victory for us.”

2. Kentucky looks to quarterback Max Smith to spark the offense.  Coach Mark Stoops:  ”We’re trying to do whatever we have to do to win games…”

Florida at Miami

3. Florida and Miami have played each other only five times in the past five years.  So is this still a rivalry game?

4. Expect a sell-out crowd and a hot, muggy day.

5. With the weather, how much will running back Matt Jones be able to play?

6. Did you know these two teams used to battle for a hand-carved Seminole war canoe?

Western Kentucky at Tennessee

7. Why Tennessee true freshman cornerback Cameron Sutton will be in the crosshairs today.

8. This second game of the year will be the first real test for Butch Jones’ Volunteers team.

9. Western Kentucky is a double-digit underdog but don’t tell that to WKU safety Jonathan Dowling: ”We don’t look at it as being underdogs. We ain’t the underdogs.”

Toledo at Missouri

10. Missouri defense will face a fast-paced no-huddle attack.  Are they up to the challenge?

11. When the Toledo job came open in 1991 Gary Pinkel got it, boosted by an endorsement of an old college teammate, Nick Saban.

Alcorn State at Mississippi State

12. With Tyler Russell out with a concussion, all eyes on Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott.

13. Mississippi State was 7-0 heading into last year’s game with Alabama.  1-7 since.

South Carolina at Georgia

14. No South Carolina player has ever finished a four-year career undefeated against Georgia.  But a victory today would change that.

15. What does Georgia need to do to stop the streak?  For one thing, an almost perfect game from quarterback Aaron Murray.

16. The battle between South Carolina’s defensive line and Georgia’s offensive line will be one to watch.

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Tennessee Offensive Coordinator Mike Bajakian Talks Western Kentucky: “They Won’t Be Intimidated”

Tennessee offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian meets the media to discuss the outlook for the Western Kentucky game.

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SEC Headlines 9/4/2013

headlines-wedSEC Football Player Injuries/Suspensions

1. With Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell doubtful with a concussion, it will be up to Dak Prescott to try to lead the Bulldogs to their first victory this Saturday against Alcorn State.

2. What’s the status of LSU running back Jeremy Hill? Coach Les Miles: We’ll put him on the field…when we’re ready.”

3. Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews denies he had any concussion symptoms – says he vomited because he got hit in the stomach.

4. Georgia running back Todd Gurley has a strained quadricep.   ”I’ll be ready for Saturday.”

5. Suspended for the opener, Georgia will get safety Josh Harvey-Clemons back this week for the South Carolina game.

6. Status of South Carolina starting center  Cody Waldrop is “wait and see” – suffered a sprained foot against North Carolina.

7. Florida running back Matt Jones makes his 2013 debut this weekend and should see plenty of action: “I’d say 20-25 (carries) because that’s on the basis of what he’s capable of.”

8. Alabama receiver Kenny Bell expected back at practice today.  Had a “personal day” on Tuesday.

10. Various reports say Tennessee receiver kick/punt returner Devrin Young has an injured wrist.

11. Tennessee linebacker Curt Maggitt returns to practice, likely to play Saturday against Western Kentucky.  Coach Butch Jones: ”It was great to have him back in full pads.”

12. Status for injured Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker not clear.  May or may not return to the field this season.

SEC Football

13. The one thing missing from South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw’s resume?  A big win on the road.

14. What are South Carolina players are listening to this week?  Coach Steve Spurrier: “We had Willie Nelson’s “Georgia on My Mind” blaring (Monday). Our players thought it was Ray Charles.”

15. Mark Bradley: “The South Carolina game will be to Georgia what the Georgia game was to Clemson — a chance to prove a point.”

16. The combination of LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is drawing praise:  ”I believe Cameron’s system and tutelage has already made a difference…”

17. Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney estimates quarterback Brandon Allen called audibles about 20 percent of the time Saturday.

18. Growing pains at Texas A&M.  Aggies had 11 true freshman play on defense against Rice.

19. Alabama center Ryan Kelly on the victory over Virginia Tech: “We should have played a lot better than that.”

20. Sports Illustrated asks: “Can Anyone Roll The Tide?”

21. Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams on playing Samford this week.  ”They are a good team. We can’t take anybody lightly after the season we had last year.”

22. Tennessee wants to play a faster tempo against Western Kentucky.

23. What did Auburn coach Gus Malzahan think of quarterback Nick Marshall’s debut?  “Pretty average.”

24. Don’t expect to see Auburn quarterback-turned-safety Kiehl Frazier in action just yet.  He’s “leveled off on the learning curve.”

25. Kentucky’s defense is in need of repair.  Coach Mark Stoops knows how to do it and a track record to prove it.

26. 11 different receivers caught passes for Missouri on Saturday. Two of the receptions were made by Texas transfer Darius White. Receiver Jaleel Clark had five catches.  “He was very, very solid.”

27. Matt Hayes has a message for the Tigers: “Want to win in the SEC, Missouri? (Bobby Petrino) is your next coach.”

SEC/College News

28. The New York Times on the thankless job of the video coordinator.  “You work for Type A guys who are under a lot of pressure to win,” Tennessee video coordinator Joe Harrington tells the paper.

29. Study.  Many college football trainers feel pressure to return injured players to the field.

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Jones’ Tennessee Debut A Success, Auburn Gets Malzahn First Win, Stoops & Kentucky Derailed By Western

postgame-linksTennessee 45 – Austin Peay 0.  Video Highlights

1. Volunteers score touchdowns on all six first-half possessions. Coach Butch Jones: ”I thought we were efficient.”

2. Quarterback Justin Worley had three touchdowns while completing 11-of-13 passes.

3. Watch video of postgame comments from Jones.

Auburn 31 – Washington State 24. Video Highlights.

4. Auburn gets a touchdown and three field goals from its special teams, defense forces three turnovers in Gus Malzahn’s Auburn coaching debut.

5. Two interceptions for junior safety Robenson Therezie, second one in the end zone with less than five minutes to go in the game.

6. Watch video of postgame comments from Malzahn.

Western Kentucky 35 – Kentucky 26 (Highlights Not Available)

7. Bobby Petrino gets his first win at Western – Mark Stoops’ era at Kentucky opens with loss.  ”Not very pleased with the way we played.”

8. Hilltoppers had 487 yards of offense against the Kentucky defense. “They controlled us at the line of scrimmage.”

9. Jalen Whitlow gets the start at quarterback.  Throws for just 78 yards in first three quarters before being replaced by Maxwell Smith.

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WOW Headlines – 8/27/13

Multiple reports state that Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel had a six-hour meeting with NCAA investigators on Sunday…
It has been reported that Manziel denied allegations that he accepted payment in exchange for signing thousands of items for autograph brokers…
Texas A&M has allowed Manziel to practice through the controversy and it’s expected he will play on Saturday
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops has decided on a starting for his team’s opener against Western Kentucky but he will not name the starter before the game
Florida OL Chaz Green has been lost for the season due to a torn labrum suffered in practice
Les Miles on RB Jeremy Hill who was arrested this summer and might be suspended from LSU’s opener vs TCU: “Jeremy Hill is going to sustain discipline.”
Tennessee QB Justin Worley says he was told by his coaches to “Take control of this team – it’s your team – and take this opportunity and run with it.”
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SEC Bubble Teams Don’t Need An Upset-Winner In Nashville (Or In Other Conference Tourneys)

fingers-crossedDepending on the source you study, the SEC still has as many as four teams on the NCAA Tournament bubble (we believe there are really only two, but we’ll explain that in greater detail later today.)  Fans of bubble hopefuls Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tennessee should be pulling for a couple of different things to happen at the SEC tourney in Nashville this week — either for their own team to cut down the nets or for Florida or Missouri to capture the title.

A championship for UA, UK, UM, or UT will give that winning team the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and prevent any Selection Sunday sweating they might have to endure otherwise.  A win by Florida or Missouri would give the auto-bid to a team that’s already earned its ticket to the Big Dance.

What the SEC’s bubble teams don’t need is some underdog squad making a surprise run to capture the tournament crown.

Just as upsets in other league tourneys can take away at-large berths, so too can an upset-winner in Nashville.  If a Georgia, Arkansas, LSU, or some other team works its way onto the SEC’s trophy-presentation podium on Sunday, there will be one less NCAA at-large bid available to the Crimson Tide, Rebels, Volunteers, and Wildcats.

That’s just the state of things in Nashville.  The SEC’s bubble teams also need to be keeping an eye on the following key conference tournaments across the country this week:


Conference USA – SEC bubble hopefuls should be pulling for Memphis to win its league tournament.  The Tigers were regular-season champs and are currently 27-4 with an RPI of 16.  Southern Miss is 21-8 with an RPI of 35 and a seat squarely on the bubble.  It’s possible C-USA might just be a one-bid league if Memphis wins the title.  The Tigers went 16-0 in conference play and fans in Knoxville, Lexington, Oxford, and Tuscaloosa should be rooting for them to be just as successful in their league tourney this week.

Horizon League – It’s doubtful that regular-season champ Valparaiso (24-7, RPI 60) would earn an at-large bid if it’s upset in its league tournament, but better safe than sorry.  Fans of SEC bubble teams should be pulling for Valpo when they play Wright State in the finals on Tuesday.

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