SEC Football Information Thread
Four teams in the Top 5. Seven in the Top 10.
The SEC is having a field day within the national team rankings. With South Carolina’s barrage of new commitments in the past two weeks, Florida’s three decommitments, Auburn’s flurry of additions and Mississippi State’s tanker-truck worth of pledges last weekend, the rankings have a whole different look than they did even two weeks ago.
Here’s a look at the 14 SEC schools and how they stack up against each other and the rest of the country for the class of 2015:
EDITOR’S NOTE: All rankings, team or individual, are based on composite rankings from 247Sports.com.
SEC: No. 1
Nationally: No. 1
Top committed prospect: WR Calvin Ridley (No. 12 prospect in the nation);
Headlined by: QB Blake Barnett (No. 19); DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (No. 34 in nation).
The skinny: The Crimson Tide are miles ahead of the rest of the SEC at this point, and it’ll take a huge effort to knock them from the pedestal.
Related: Alabama lands three top 100 players for 2016–all in one week
SEC: No. 2
Nationally: No. 2
Top committed prospect: DT Daylon Mack (No. 16 ranked overall individual prospect in the nation)
Headlined by: QB Kyler Murray (No. 29); WR Damarkus Lodge (No. 37).
The skinny: The Aggies have three big-time targets remaining out there in Malik Jefferson, Kendall Sheffield and Christian Kirk. Four-star DE James Lockhart just came aboard this weekend, also.
Related: Nation’s No. 1 prospect for 2016, Gregory Little, is a huge Aggies target–and he likes their offense
SEC: No. 3
Nationally: No. 3
Top committed prospect: DE Marquavius Lewis (No. 2 JUCO prospect in country).
Headlined by: DE Shameik Blackshear (No. 60 in nation); DB Mark Fields (No. 105).
The skinny: No SEC school has been hotter in recruiting than the Gamecocks in June and July. They have the best recruiting ranking in school history, so far.
Related: Saturday Down South goes in-depth with South Carolina assistant coach and ace recruiter G.A. Mangus
SEC: No. 4
Nationally: No. 5
Top committed prospect: RB Jovon Robinson (No. 1 JUCO player in nation).
Headlined by: ATH Kerryon Johnson (No. 39 in nation); DB Jordan Colbert (No. 184)
The skinny: It certainly never hurts when you have the single-season record holding for junior college rushing in your class (Robinson)–and he still has one fall to go. The Tigers have two recent pickups.
Related: Five-star QB Torrance Gibson, an Auburn and Tennessee target, knows when he’ll announce his college decision
SEC: No. 5
Nationally: No. 7
Top committed prospect: WR Preston Williams (No. 24 in nation)
Headlined by: DT Kahlil McKenzie (No. 26 ); RB Alvin Kamara (No. 3 JUCO prospect in nation).
The skinny: At least one individual recruiting service (Scout.com) believes McKenzie is the No. 1 overall prospect in America. Not too shabby, Vols. The Vols have had two additions the past two weeks.
Related: Five-star QB Torrance Gibson, a kid Tennessee really wants, knows when he’ll announce his college decision
SEC: No. 6
Nationally: No. 8
Top committed prospect: ATH Terry Godwin (No. 18 prospect in nation).
Headlined by: DE Natrez Patrick (No. 80); DE Chauncey Rivers (No. 131).
The skinny: The Bulldogs have been relatively quiet over the past couple of months–but landed three in the past two weeks, including swiping a Gator commitment.
SEC: No. 7
Nationally: No. 10
Top committed prospect: DB Jamal Peters (No. 43 overall prospect in nation)
Headlined by: ATH Malik Dear (No. 135); WR Donald Gray (No. 6 JUCO prospect in country).
The skinny: The Bulldogs had just about the craziest recruiting weekend anyone has ever had when it added 7 commitments in one weekend. They now have the nation’s biggest class.
Related: Bulldogs get their quarterback, hold steady with nation’s No. 10 class
SEC: No. 8
Nationally: No. 14
Top committed prospect: DB Kevin Toliver (No. 5 in nation).
Headlined by: OL Maea Teuhema (No. 31); RB Derrius Guice (No. 94).
The skinny: The Tigers haven’t been bumped down for negative reasons, just that other classes have grown faster.
Related: LSU gets a four-star commitment and a Louisiana native wins the SPARQ combine at The Opening
SEC: No. 9
Nationally: No. 22
Top committed prospect: LB Eli Brown (No. 203 in nation).
Headlined by: TE C.J. Conrad (No. 227); WR Alex Stump (No. 308)
The skinny: Ohio, Ohio, Ohio–that’s been the key to Kentucky’s stellar recruiting classes under Mark Stoops. Ohio native Kei Beckham came aboard just a few days ago.
Related: The Ohio pipeline just keeps on giving for Kentucky
SEC: No. 10
Nationally: No. 29
Top committed prospect: DT Hjalte Froholdt (No. 96 in nation).
Headlined by: DE Jamario Bell (No. 192); QB Ty Storey (No. 223)
The skinny: The only reason Arkansas continues to be shuffled down is just because other programs have added so many kids of late. This is still a rock solid group.
Related: Arkansas has the SEC’s most unique recruit, and he lives in Scandanavia–introducing Hjalte Froholdt
SEC: No. 11
Nationally: No. 37
Top committed prospect: RB Eric Swinney (No. 103 in nation).
Headlined by: ATH Willie Hibbler (No. 291); DB Ugo Amadi (No. 287).
The skinny: It truly is just a matter of time before Ole Miss hits the recruiting streak that Mississippi State has enjoyed during the year.
Related: Prep teammate of Ole Miss OL Laremy Tunsil now on board with the Rebels
SEC: No. 12
Nationally: No. 46
Top committed prospect: QB Drew Lock (No. 136 nationally)
Headlined by: RB Natereace Strong (No. 243); RB Chase Abbington (No. 8 JUCO prospect nationally).
The skinny: His name is Terry Beckner, and if he comes on board sometime soon, this class will have it’s big gem. Don’t be surprised when he does come aboard.
Related: Mizzou lands a gem in legacy QB Drew Lock
SEC: No. 13
Nationally: No. 50
Top committed prospect: ATH Jerome Baker (No. 41 in nation)
Headlined by: ATH Derrick Dillon (No. 156); QB Sheriron Jones (No. 190).
The skinny: The Gators are trending in the wrong direction because of three decommitments in the past 10 days. Plus, some of their top targets are looking around more than in the past.
SEC: No. 14
Nationally: No. 59
Top committed prospect: DB Donovan Sheffield (No. 268)
Headlined by: LB Josh Smith (No. 286)
The skinny: There has been a lot of momentum in recent weeks, and having a nationally televised live announcement for Vandy last week (with Josh Smith) … well, that was nice for the Commodores.
Related: Vandy raids Pac 12 territory for fifth commitment in the past month
Dirty, I'm way behind on my college football reading but I'm seeing some big SEC lines this week... Right off the bat I almost want to take 3 underdogs, thinking at least 2 will cover. Texas A&M +10 Clemson +7 and Arkansas +19.... Now I probably won't actually bet this being the first week but these lines seem a little high for opening SEC games... Well Clemson not SEC but..... What are your thoughts on these big lines?
gulfcoastplayer;781732 wrote: Dirty, I'm way behind on my college football reading but I'm seeing some big SEC lines this week... Right off the bat I almost want to take 3 underdogs, thinking at least 2 will cover. Texas A&M +10 Clemson +7 and Arkansas +19.... Now I probably won't actually bet this being the first week but these lines seem a little high for opening SEC games... Well Clemson not SEC but..... What are your thoughts on these big lines?
THERE HE IS! GULFFFFF
I love AM tonight. I got them at 10.5
This guy is a fucking train wreck
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Florida planned to suspend three players — receiver Demarcus Robinson and defensive linemen Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick — for its season opener against Idaho last Saturday. The Idaho game lasted one play. After a weather delay, the Gators returned the opening kickoff. Then came another weather delay, which became a postponement and ultimately a cancellation.
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced this week that the three suspended Gators would be available for this week’s game against Eastern Michigan, their penance apparently having been served by sitting out an opening kickoff. Asked about this odd decision on Wednesday’s SEC teleconference, Muschamp — “Coach Boom” to those in the know — went boom.
From Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel comes this Muschamp response:
It’s not just about suspending players for games. There’s a lot things that go into discipline. It’s about altering and changing behavior, which we’ve done. I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we’ve handled our football team, OK? If it was about suspension, you’d never have an issue. Right?
At the the end of the day, it’s more than that. There’s a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know. And it’s very frustrating for me as a coach … to have someone being critical and you don’t even have all the information. At the end of the day, I make the decisions in this program, I handle the discipline in this program and it’s been handled very well.
I have no idea what Muschamp meant when he said, “If it was about suspension, you’d never have an issue.” Then again, I’ve often had no idea what Muschamp is doing — and I’m not sure he does, either. He’s on his third offensive coordinator in four seasons at Florida. Last year’s Gators went 4-8, the worst Florida had done since 1979. Muschamp is 0-3 against Georgia, his alma mater. (Ron Zook, by way of contrast, was 2-1 against the Bulldogs.)
At the end of the day, to invoke a Muschamp line, he has been a terrible hire and was lucky not to be fired last year. He has definitely — another Boom-ism — altered and changed the way people look at Florida football.
We used to see the Gators as one of the nation’s mightiest programs, the hated opponent Georgia couldn’t beat. Under Muschamp, Florida is 0-3 against Georgia, his alma mater, and 0-1 against Georgia Southern. At the end of the day, he’s overmatched.
Oh, and one thing more: Students of SEC history will remember another one-play suspension, this one coming against the Gators in 1987. The NCAA was investigating Auburn quarterback Jeff Burger on the allegation that he’d accepted an extra benefit. (He’d flown on a private plane, owned by an Alabama county commissioner named Johnny Mack Weed, to go hunt doves. It had been quite a year for the Cedartown native, who’d also been charged with plagiarism and public intoxication.)
Burger didn’t play against Mississippi State while the investigation was ongoing. After he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA, Auburn appealed for his reinstatement. It was granted, but Auburn said it would impose an in-house penalty because Burger didn’t cooperate with the NCAA. (Fancy that.)
Both the Gators and the Tigers were ranked in the top 10 for a Saturday night affair at Jordan-Hare. Reggie Slack, Burger’s backup, took the field for the game’s first snap. He fumbled it. Burger sprinted out to take the next one. (Said one press-box wag: “If Burger had gotten out there any faster, he’d have recovered the fumble.”) Auburn won 29-6.
“I was in a no-win situation,” Auburn coach Pat Dye said afterward, and many folks laughed out loud. Much as we’re laughing at Coach Boom’s iron-fisted “discipline” now.
From last fall: Florida’s Muschamp should already be gone.
And also this: Georgia should be thankful for Will Muschamp.
Bulldogs expect ‘bloody fist fight’ of a game at South Carolina
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“I’ve got a feeling this game could get a little bloody,” Bulldogs coach Mark Richt says about this weekend's matchup against South Carolina.
Q&A: Georgia QB Hutson Mason to get his first taste of SEC road
UGA’s Rumph the latest receiver declared out for South Carolina game
Andrews, Gurley, Herrera, Thornton tabbed captains
Tailbacks Gurley, Davis hung out together
Bulldogs expect ‘bloody fist fight’ of a game at South Carolina
Change of plans for UGA football legacy
Oregon emerges as serious contender for DB who also likes UGA and Tennessee
Ten@10: Should Georgia run or pass against South Carolina?
Lifelong Bulldogs fan Taylor Maxey living the dream as fullback
Danny Ford Q&A
- http://www.kudzu.com/yellowpages/GA/Atlanta/heating-air-conditioning.html?so=ajc&med=display&con=textlin k">Fix your HV/AC for the chilly nights coming.
By Chip Towers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Asked what type of game he expected against South Carolina on Saturday, Georgia’s Mark Richt didn’t mince words.
“I’ve got a feeling this game could get a little bloody,” the Bulldogs’ coach said during Media Day on Tuesday. “I think both teams are tough physically and I think both teams have outstanding backs that can pound. I know both teams know how to throw and catch, there’s no doubt about that, but before it’s over it might get down to a little bit of a fist fight.”
If that’s the type of game that develops Saturday in Columbia, S.C., then it won’t be that unusual. Games in Williams-Brice Stadium have tended to be closely-fought, and low-scoring over the years. In fact, Georgia hasn’t scored more than 20 points there in 20 years, when it won there 24-21 in 1994.
In their six trips there under the offense-minded Richt, the Bulldogs have averaged 13 points per game. Excluding the 35-7 win by South Carolina in 2012, the average margin of victory has been 11 points.
Meanwhile, two of the best backs in the SEC will be featured on Saturday. Georgia’s Todd Gurley jumped to the front of the pack in the Heisman Trophy race with his 293-yard, four-touchdown performance against Clemson. South Carolina tailback Mike Davis has been slowed with a rib injury early this season but had 142 yards rushing against the Bulldogs last season and was among the SEC leaders with 1,183 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Asked what he thought of Richt’s characterization of Saturday’s game, senior linebacker Amarlo Herrera grinned widely.
“I like it,” he said. “It means it’s going to be a tough game. It means there’s going to be a lot of running the football. When people say bloody, that means there’s going to be a lot of running the ball, a lot of contact every play. That’s what I play football for.”
Said Georgia center David Andrews: “That’s what kind of game you like and expect as a lineman. That’s what you want, to go out there and fight. It’s an SEC game, an away game at that, so you know it’s going to be an intense game.”
UGA’s Rumph the latest receiver declared out for South Carolina game
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Georgia Bulldogs headlines
- Q&A: Georgia QB Hutson Mason to get his first taste of SEC road
- UGA’s Rumph the latest receiver declared out for South Carolina game
- Andrews, Gurley, Herrera, Thornton tabbed captains
- Tailbacks Gurley, Davis hung out together
- Bulldogs expect ‘bloody fist fight’ of a game at South Carolina
- Change of plans for UGA football legacy
- Oregon emerges as serious contender for DB who also likes UGA and Tennessee
- Ten@10: Should Georgia run or pass against South Carolina?
- Lifelong Bulldogs fan Taylor Maxey living the dream as fullback
- Danny Ford Q&A
- http://www.kudzu.com/yellowpages/GA/Atlanta/deck-patio-builders.html?so=ajc&med=display&con=textlin k">Take the party outside! Find top deck pros
By Chip Towers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Add another wide receiver’s name to the “out” list for the South Carolina game.
Georgia coach Mark Richt said that senior Jonathan Rumph will not play against the Gamecocks due to a hamstring injury.
“He won’t play,” Richt said.
The 6-foot-5, 218-pound Rumph did not play in the opener and played in only seven games last season due mainly to hamstring issues. The Cayce, S.C., native has just seven career catches for 121 yards since coming to Georgia from Holmes (Miss.) Community College in January of 2013.
The Bulldogs already know they’re going to be without junior receivers Malcolm Mitchell (knee) and Justin Scott-Wesley (ankle) for the South Carolina game due to injuries.
Georgia still has leading receivers Micheal Bennett and Chris Conley ready to go with Reggie Davis and Blake Tibbs waiting in the wings. Richt said walkons Kenneth Towns, Michael Erdman and Charlie Hegedus and freshman Shakenneth Williams will have to be ready to step up.
“It’s a little shaky right now,” Richt said of the Bulldogs’ depth at receiver. “We better keep recruiting, I can tell you that.”
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AN OPPOSING VIEW
Each week during the season we hook up with a beat writer who covers the opposing team Georgia is playing to get an idea of the perspective from the other sideline. This week we’ll be getting that view from Josh Kendall, who covers the South Carolina Gamecock for The State newspaper in Columbia. You can read his stories on their South Carolina-dedicated website, http://www.gogamecocks.com/ .
I’ve known Josh since he was a UGA undergrad covering sports for The Red & Black. Later, he would cover Georgia for the Athens Banner-Herald and Macon Telegraph before he and his lovely wife Janet and two young boys picked up and moved to Columbia a few years back. Josh and I have some great “road” stories we could share, like the snow storm we encountered while covering a Georgia basketball game at Villanova some years back, but we’ll save that for another day.
I sent Josh five questions via email about the Gamecocks and their nationally-televised matchup against Georgia Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium (3:39 p.m., CBS). Here, then, is what Josh had to say. …
1. Having covered both Georgia and South Carolina for a number of years, how would you say the Gamecocks and their fans view this rivalry from that side of the border? They seem to get awfully stoked for it.
Kendall: South Carolina fans view Georgia in much the way Georgia views Florida, the team that for a long time dashed their hopes of having a big year. Because this game has traditionally been played early in the year, it seemed for a while like Georgia was always the team that ruined all the ‘This is going to be the year’ talk for South Carolina. So wins over the Bulldogs are a big deal, and the three-game winning streak prior to last season was something the Gamecocks really valued. Where Georgia has four or five games that are considered big rivalries (and even the biggest rivalry depending on the fan’s geography), there’s no doubt among South Carolina fans that Georgia is No. 2 on the rivalry pecking order behind only Clemson.
2. Mike Davis looked a lot more like the back Georgia fans remember from last year against East Carolina than he did against Texas A&M. What was the deal? Was he really able to recover that much from bruised ribs in a week or was there some other issue at hand?
Kendall: I think Mike Davis is healthy, but it’s hard to say for sure because he is very coy about injuries. Georgia should expect a healthy Davis and a motivated Davis, and the motivation is a big part of it. He’s an emotional guy who is energized by big games and big runs. If he is able to get a big run early in the game, I expect him to have a big game. On the flip side, if Georgia can keep him bottled up early, he might get frustrated. Part of this answer involves an offensive line that hasn’t run blocked as well as expected. The line moved East Carolina late in the game, but it has to prove now he can do it against SEC personnel.
3. It would appear the Gamecocks are throwing the football A LOT more under Dylan Thompson than they did under Connor Shaw. Do you think that’s because of his unique skill set and the strategy for the season or has it simply been the nature of the first two games and falling behind to A&M?
Kendall: I think it’s a combination of those factors and one more, which is that a lot of plays that were called as pass plays the last two years ended up as Connor Shaw run because Shaw was so confident (and rightfully so usually) in his legs and sometimes not as patient as Spurrier would have liked going through his passing progressions. The Gamecocks might call the exact same ratio of pass vs. run plays this year and end up with 15 percent more passes just for that reason, but there’s also no doubt Dylan Thompson is a more traditional dropback passer than Shaw was. One of the things Spurrier has always liked about Thompson is that he “takes his steps and lets it go,” which is a big Spurrier mantra. As Dylan’s accuracy improves, South Carolina’s offense will improve.
4. If you’re Georgia, how do you go about attacking this South Carolina defense? Obviously those two spread offenses threw the ball all over the place. Should the Bulldogs adjust accordingly or keep feeding No. 3?
Kendall: I don’t see how you do anything other than feed No. 3 until South Carolina proves it can stop that. In addition to having assignment issues, the Gamecocks have had tackling issues. That’s a bad trend with Todd Gurley rolling in, so I’d start with the running game if I was Georgia, but you know South Carolina is going to make it awfully tempting for Georgia to throw the ball by loading the box with plenty of defenders. The Bulldogs don’t have a wide receiver who scares anybody as much as Gurley so that seems to be the obvious play.
5. I heard a lot of people in Birmingham pointing to South Carolina’s offensive line as one of the best in the SEC this year. What is your assessment of their play so far?
Kendall: Not as good as it should have been, but not terrible. Left guard A.J. Cann, their preseason All-SEC guy, described it this week as “average.” It needs to be better than average on this team because this team is looking for places where it has a clear advantage and can make plays. The offensive line/Mike Davis need to be that area. The right guard spot, where they lost their starter (Mike Matulis) to a camp knee injury, has been a sore spot so far, but it looks like they have settled into a regular rotation now so we’ll see if that helps.
So let’s hear a prediction. …
Kendall: There’s no reasonable explanation to be made for South Carolina winning this game, but that’s not to say it won’t happen. The Georgia offense just doesn’t play well in Williams-Brice, and Steve Spurrier still bedevils the Bulldogs on occasion so I don’t expect a blowout by any means. Overall, though, Georgia looks like the better team at the moment. Georgia 24, South Carolina 23
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You would think if your team hasn’t defeated another team since 1986, you’d mind your mouth.
Not Kentucky RB Jojo Kemp.
Kemp, who is from Deland, Fla., has flamed Florida’s ire by basically guaranteeing a victory on Saturday.
In The Swamp.
“A couple of my (high school) teammates actually went to Florida, so I’m familiar with a lot of those guys,” Kemp told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “It’s going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces.”
He probably doesn’t know Kentucky hasn’t defeated Florida since 1986 — that’s 27 years — and hasn’t defeated them in Gainesville since 1979. Florida, which defeated Eastern Michigan 65-0, also is coming off its biggest offensive game since 2008.
Kemp not only expects to win, he thinks he’ll have a huge game in front of many family members.
“I’m just going to show them what I came here for, the reason I came here, to show them what I’ve been working so hard for. I don’t usually go home during my breaks, so I want to actually show them why I haven’t been home.”
Kemp, a sophomore, led Kentucky with 482 yards rushing last year, averaging 4.8 yards a carry. He’s the third-leading rusher this season with 79 yards and one score.
He said he never considered going to Florida.
“I was actually a Miami (Hurricanes) fan growing up, so I never really liked the Gators.”
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By Tony Barnhart
Our Five Burning Questions as we head into Week 3 in the SEC:
1) South Carolina has the home field and the Head Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier). Is that enough to upset No. 6 Georgia? Before South Carolina lost to Texas A&M on Aug. 28, the Gamecocks had won 18 straight at Williams-Brice Stadium. So they traditionally play well at home. Steve Spurrier has a lifetime record of 15-6 against Georgia and has won three of the last four meetings. And we all know how much Spurrier likes to beat the Bulldogs. Georgia’s offense normally goes into hibernation as soon as it enters the city limits of Columbia, S.C. Georgia has scored 7, 6, 14, and 18 points in its last four visits to South Carolina and hasn’t scored more than 20 there since 1994. Georgia is the better team and odds maker Danny Sheridan has the Bulldogs as a 6 1/2-point favorite. I’m picking Georgia to win but if I’m a Georgia fan I’m feeling very, very nervous.
2) Tennessee has looked pretty good in its first two games with Utah State and Arkansas State. So do the Vols have any kind of shot at No. 4 Oklahoma? The Volunteers have looked efficient and very well-coached in their first two wins. They have scored in 12 of 13 red zone trips. Quarterback Justin Worley has been very accurate. While the Volunteers are certainly better than a year ago, they are not ready to go on the road and win a game against a team like Oklahoma. Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma coach, is 87-5 at home. For Tennessee, this is about hanging in there and using this opportunity to grow up and get ready for the SEC schedule.
3) Florida has won 27 straight against Kentucky. Does that streak end Saturday? Nope. Like Tennessee, Kentucky is a much improved team because of the play of quarterback Patrick Towles and an overall upgrade in talent across the board. The Wildcats will compete very well down in the Swamp, where they haven’t won since 1979. But I liked what I saw in Florida’s 65-0 win over Eastern Michigan. The new offense looked sharp, rolling up 655 yards on 86 plays. Florida had five scoring drives of 1:18 or less. The Gators roll in the second half and start getting ready for a trip to Alabama next week.
4) Should anybody in the SEC be on Upset Alert? I like Mississippi State (2-0) a lot but the Bulldogs have an interesting trip to Mobile to play South Alabama (1-0). It will the first home sellout (40,000-plus) ever for the Jaguars, whose football program is only six years old. In fact, the largest South Alabama crowd to date was its inaugural game (26,783) in 2009. The Jaguars, coached by former Alabama player Joey Jones, won their opener at Kent State (23-13) and have won four straight dating back to last season. Mississippi State should win comfortably but…….
5) How good is Amari Cooper? Alabama’s junior wide receiver had over 1,000 yards as a freshman and then tailed off a little in his sophomore season due to injuries. I said before the season started that, barring injury, this would be his final season in college and would also be his best. In two games Cooper has 25 catches for 319 yards. His 13 catches against Florida Atlantic tied a school record for a single game. West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen, who saw him catch 12 balls against the Mountaineers on Aug. 30, said Cooper could be the first overall pick in next year’s draft. Cooper should have another big outing on Saturday against a bad, bad, team from Southern Mississippi.
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By Tony Barnhart
There was one overall message we learned from the third weekend in SEC football: After only three games the conference appears as balanced as it has been from top to bottom. Let me make the case:
No. 1, it’s time for all of us to start giving some love to Missouri: I didn’t think the Tigers could repeat as SEC East champs because they lost their quarterback (James Franklin), best running back (Henry Josey), top three wide receivers (including Dorial Green-Beckham), and two NFL draft choices from the defensive front (Michael Sam, Kony Ealy).
Well, Maty Mauk (12 touchdowns in three games) is an upgrade at quarterback. Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy give the Tigers a great one-two punch at running back. Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt and Darius White are on track to be just as productive at wide receiver. Marcus Golden and Shane Ray are as good as any rush ends in the conference.
Missouri has dominated two pretty good teams in Toledo and UCF. Still, we’ll find out soon if the Tigers are really contenders. After this week’s visit by Indiana, they play at South Carolina, host Georgia, and are at Florida in the span of four weeks.
No. 2, South Carolina 38, Georgia 35: Both teams put up a ton of yards in adverse conditions but neither team has a championship defense. Both teams are capable of winning the rest of their games. Both are capable of 2-3 losses. Both may be Top 15 teams but neither looks like a Top 10 team. Both teams have to play Auburn from the SEC West.
» Follow all the happenings in the Southeastern Conference
No. 3, Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3 OT): Florida was very fortunate to win and I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the resilience and athleticism of Kentucky. The Wildcats have had major improvement at quarterback (Patrick Towles), at running back (Braylon Heard, JoJo Kemp) and showed a toughness that simply hasn’t been at Kentucky since Rich Brooks retired as coach. I was surprised to see Florida’s secondary get torched like it did.
No. 4, Tennessee got beat by 24 at No. 4 Oklahoma but the Vols hung in there: Said coach Butch Jones: “The locker room is different…we didn’t blink.” The Vols get this week off and then go to Georgia. They are young on the lines of scrimmage but much better at the skill positions, especially at quarterback with Justin Worley. They are going to be a tough out for everybody.
No. 5, the strength of the SEC West: We already knew the SEC West would be brutal with Auburn, Alabama and LSU plus the two Mississippi schools, which both think they have their best teams in a long, long while. Now Texas A&M is playing like its hair is on fire with 163 points in three games, the most in school history since 1917.
No. 6, the Hogs make it even tougher: After watching Arkansas roll up 438 rushing yards and 40 minutes time of possession at Texas Tech, you have to say this: If Arkansas is the seventh best team in the SEC West — and the Hogs well could be — then it really is the toughest division in football.
Here is the point: I see a lot of really good teams in the SEC, but I’m not sure I see a great one.
We’ll find out. Auburn could be a great team but the Tigers have the most brutal road schedule on the planet, starting Thursday at Kansas State. Alabama could win all of its games with stability at quarterback and in the secondary. I think LSU is a year away from being really good. Texas A&M makes you hold your breath on offense “and” defense for very different reasons. I think everybody in the SEC East will have at least two conference losses.
What does this mean when the College Football Playoff selection committee sits down to do its work in late October? I can’t imagine a four-team playoff without the SEC champion in it. But is this conference so balanced that it will, as my friend Tim Brando suggests, cannibalize itself to the point where everybody has two losses? And does a two-loss SEC champion, if it happens, get in over a one-loss team from another Power Five conference?
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By Tony Barnhart
What We Learned on weekend No. 4:
1. Mississippi State’s win over LSU was not an upset: Mississippi State beat LSU 34-29 in Baton Rouge and if you just looked at the score you’d think it must have been a nail-bitter. Yes, LSU did have a throw into the end zone at the end to win the game. But the fact is that the Bulldogs marched into Tiger Stadium, where they had not won since 1991, and basically kicked LSU’s butt for over 35 minutes. Give LSU credit for getting a couple of late scores (two TD in 28 seconds) after most of their fans had left. But that game can only be listed as an upset because we in the media looked past LSU’s youth and inexperience and had them rated too high. Mississippi State had the better quarterback (Dak Prescott) and started 19 juniors and seniors. They had the better team.
2. Speaking of Prescott. If you’re looking for role models, look at Dak Prescott and Blake Sims. While other quarterbacks who shall remain nameless are embarrassing their schools, Prescott and Sims have stood tall as players and as people. Prescott, from Haughton, La., committed to Mississippi State in the summer before his senior season in high school. LSU came in late and offered but Prescott would not go back on his word to Dan Mullen. He had the game of his life at LSU, with 268 yards passing and 105 rushing.
When Jake Coker transferred to Alabama from Florida State, the whole world thought he, not senior Blake Sims, would be the starting quarterback. But Sims kept working and he kept learning and kept ignoring his critics. Saturday he was magnificent, throwing for 445 yards, the second highest total in Alabama history, in a 42-21 win over Florida.
3. South Carolina is not a good team: I didn’t say it. Steve Spurrier, the Head Ball Coach, said it after watching the Gamecocks slop around before beating Vanderbilt 48-34 in Nashville. South Carolina, ranked in the Top 10 in a lot of preseason polls, played well last week in beating Georgia 38-35. But against Vanderbilt they fell behind 14-0. They gave up kickoff returns of 91 and 100 yards for touchdowns. “We’ve all seen good teams and we ain’t one,” an exasperated Spurrier said after the game. “Don’t say w’ere one right now. I’ts no fun for me watching us play tonight.” ESPN announced Sunday that “College Game Day” was coming to Columbia, S.C. for Saturday’s game with Missouri.
4. Auburn is a different team with the addition of Duke Williams: When you are the Thursday night road team, your goal has to be to find a way–any way–to win and then get on the bus and go home. That’s what Auburn did in beating Kansas State 20-14 last Thursday night in Little Manhattan. Yes, Kansas State and its Hall of Fame coach (Bill Snyder) could have beaten Auburn. But the Tigers got the plays they needed, including a clutch nine-yard catch for a first down by Williams when Auburn was trying to run out the clock. Williams, the junior college transfer, caught eight passes for 110 yards. He is a big-time talent and gives Auburn a dimension it did not have last season.
5.Speaking of receivers. Alabama’s Amari Cooper has to be in the Heisman Trophy discussion. In my meeting with Alabama coach Nick Saban last spring the subject of Lane Kiffin, the new offensive coordinator, came up. Saban made it clear that he hired Kiffin because he was looking for more creativity (and more points) and a big part of that would be finding a way to get the ball to Amari Cooper much more often. I was told by more than one person in the building that they were expecting a big year out of No. 9. Cooper added 10 more catches (for 201 yards) against Florida giving him 43 in just four games. The school record for catches in a season is held by Julio Jones (78 in 2011). He now has 20 career touchdown catches, which is the Alabama record.
Bulldogs will be 3 receivers down again
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- http://www.kudzu.com/yellowpages/GA/Atlanta/heating-air-conditioning.html?so=ajc&med=display&con=textlin k">Make sure you are energy efficient this fall.
By Chip Towers
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed Tuesday that the Bulldogs will be three receivers down again for the Tennessee game. But there is reason to believe most if not all of them will be back in the next week
Malcolm Mitchell (knee) and Jonathon Rumph (hamstring) will sit out their fourth consecutive game with injuries. Meanwhile, Justin Scott-Wesley will be sidelined for the fourth consecutive week as part of what’s thought to be a disciplinary suspension. However, neither coach Mark Richt or any of the Bulldogs will acknowledge that and Scott-Wesley is also coming off a knee injury that sidelined up for the second half of last season.
“You just keep hammering away at that, don’t you?” Richt, smiling, said to a reporter who asked for clarification on Scott-Wesley’s absence. “I’ll say this: He’s getting close to being ready to play. But I appreciate your persistence.”
Scott-Wesley, a junior from Camilla, was arrested for misdemeanor possession of marijuana in his dorm room last October. At the time, he was recovering from an ACL tear suffered against Tennessee. Scott-Wesley’s arrest counted as a violation of UGA’s marijuana-use policy. But it was not known at the time if it was a first or second infraction for Scott-Wesley. A first violation brings calls for a suspension of 10 percent of competition dates, or one game in football. A second calls for a 33 percent suspension, or four games. A third means dismissal.
Of course, it’s Mitchell, the junior flanker, who the Bulldogs miss most. Mitchell re-injured his surgically-repaired right knee four days before preseason camp opened and had arthroscopic surgery on July 30. Expected to be back by now, Mitchell did his first running on the practice field in weeks on Monday but has yet to run even a half-speed pass route.
“We were hopeful for sooner, but you’ve just got to go that he can go,” Richt said. “… It’s going to take a bit. We’re just trying to get him in as good of shape as he can be.”
Offensive firepower leading SEC's identity change
By The Associated Press
Georgia running back Todd Gurley will lead the Bulldogs into a noon showdown with Tennessee on Saturday in Athens.
The Southeastern Conference held to the notion that defense won championships as long as it could.
Like the rest of the country, however, college football's most dominant league has finally embraced an undeniable fact: Offense rules - and how.
With three of the top four scoring teams in the country this season, SEC teams lead all conferences with an average of 39.7 points per game. That's up from 31.7 points last season and falls in line with the national rise in scoring totals in recent years.
Yes, even the league once known for Bear Bryant and defense has begun to out-Pac 12 the offensive-renowned Pac-12 Conference.
"I think it's what football is right now," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. "The fans like it. It's exciting ... It's just kind of where we are right now. I don't know what else the defenses can do. Trust me; it's a chore to try to figure it out."
Nowhere will the uptick in the SEC's offensive prowess be on more display this weekend than when No. 6 Texas A&M and Arkansas meet in Arlington, Texas. The high-flying Aggies are second in the nation in scoring behind Baylor with an average of 55.3 points per game, while the resurgent Razorbacks are third at 48.8.
The two former Southwest Conference rivals arrive at their prolific scoring totals in vastly different ways - with Texas A&M primarily through the air and Arkansas on the ground - but they aren't alone in the SEC. Seven of the conference's schools are in the top 25 nationally in scoring, including Georgia at fourth with an average of 48.7 points per game.
Alabama coach Nick Saban, long known for coaching some of the best defenses in the country, said college football currently has an environment favorable for offenses.
Because of that, as well as rule changes such as ejections for targeting penalties, Saban said the Crimson Tide - which is allowing 14 points per game this season after allowing as few as 8.2 in 2011 - has adjusted its expectations on defense.
"I think you have to have a lot more patience on defense," Saban said. "I think the whole approach to how you prepare for a game has to be completely different than what it used to be."
Nationally, college football teams averaged 27.1 points per game nationally in 2009. It's a number that's steadily risen since, to 29.5 points per game last year and 31.6 so far this season.
Pac-12 teams led all conferences with an average of 33.4 points per game last season, and the conference has seen that number rise to 37.9 this season. Still, that's second to the SEC's offensive newfound prowess.
While points are up dramatically in the SEC this season, not everyone expects the scoring to continue at that rate once more conference games take place.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier called the rise "misleading" while pointing to overmatched nonconference opponents. Some of the blowouts have including Texas A&M's 73-3 win over Lamar and Arkansas' 73-7 victory over Nicholls State.
While SEC stalwarts such as Ole Miss and Auburn have transformed into up-tempo offensive teams in recent years, the league's two newcomers - Missouri and Texas A&M - brought their hurry-up approach from the Big 12 Conference when they joined in 2012.
Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Henson was the tight ends coach at LSU in 2008, when SEC teams averaged a relatively paltry 25.6 points per game, and he agreed the league is more "wide open" and "spread out" now.
"If you look at what we're doing, A&M's doing, Florida's doing, there's obviously being more points scored," Henson said. "The ball's moving up and down the field faster. It seems that way; the numbers would say that. If you look back to 2007, you would say it's a defensive league."
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema echoed Saban's comments about adjusting defensive expectations, saying he used to be a "17-point guy on defense." This season, Bielema couldn't have been happier with the Razorbacks after holding up-tempo Texas Tech to 353 total yards in a 49-28 win two weeks ago.
Bielema said, much to his chagrin, the days of 17-10 football games are likely finished for good.
"Yeah, those are," Bielema said. "You know, everybody gets bored. You guys get mad; that's so boring. To me, it's awesome ... I don't like high scoring, but it makes everybody happy, so it's probably good."
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When you’re charged with compiling a preseason Top 25, you’re always on the prowl for Surprise Teams — if for no other reason than to ward off compiler’s boredom. (Most such listings, as I’m sure you know, are but a roundup of the usual suspects, and what self-respecting pseudo seer wants to be predictable?) I really wanted to pick Tennessee to do something big, for two reasons:
1. The Volunteers just had a major recruiting haul, Rivals ranking the 2014 class No. 5 nationally.
2. With Florida doomed to Muschamp mediocrity until Jeremy Foley finally sees the light, there seemed space for some team to break upward in the SEC East.
Then I checked Tennessee’s schedule, and I thought, “So who else looks promising?”
The Vols play at Georgia on Saturday, and some folks were calling the Bulldogs the best team in the land not so long ago. Tennessee last played at Oklahoma, which some folks believe is now the best team in the land. Still upcoming for the Big Orange: Home dates against Florida, Alabama and Missouri, plus road dates with Ole Miss and South Carolina. The famous Phil Steele ranked Tennessee’s as the second-toughest schedule, trailing only Notre Dame, and who am I to argue with Big Phil?
At SEC Media days, the consensus among those who cover the Vols was that Tennessee would do well to go 6-6. The belief back then was that the opener against Utah State could easily be a loss. Turns out it wasn’t. The Vols won 38-7, and that caught some eyes. So, albeit to a lesser degree, did the 34-10 loss to Oklahoma in Norman, which some figured would be much worse. (Tennessee was driving to make it 27-17 in the fourth quarter when Justin Worley’s tipped pass became a 100-yard interception return.)
Which brings us to Saturday’s game between the ol’ hedges. Georgia fans live in fear of early kickoffs in Athens — last season’s crushing loss to Missouri had such a start time — and there’s reason to be wary of the Vols. They can move the ball. Worley had a rough night in Norman but was excellent against Utah State, and Tennessee always has good receivers. Lest we forget, the Bulldogs’ SEC debut under defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t a success: They yielded 447 yards and lost 38-35 at South Carolina.
Nobody expects Georgia, which is favored by 17 points, to lose. But Tennessee is young enough and talented enough that it’s going to beat somebody good sometime soon. If this game were in November, the Bulldogs might be in for a long day. It still being September, I’d guess they’re in a for a long first half.
Georgia expects boost from added receiver depth
By The Associated Press
Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason (14) out runs Tennessee defensive end Derek Barnett (9) to the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday in Athens. / photo: Associated Press
ATHENS -- Help is on the way for Hutson Mason and Georgia's struggling passing game.
Receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley are expected to make their season debuts for No. 13 Georgia on Saturday against Vanderbilt. Another receiver, Jonathon Rumph, may need another week before returning from a hamstring injury.
Georgia has relied heavily on Todd Gurley and its running game through four games. That emphasis is not expected to change, but the Bulldogs' 111th-ranked passing game could use a boost.
Mason has completed 69 percent of his passes for the season, but he threw his first two interceptions of the year in last week's 35-32 win over Tennessee. Mason, a senior in his first year as the full-time starter, said he is pressing to make perfect throws, especially on deep routes.
The struggles seem to have affected Mason's self-confidence. Asked Tuesday if he was feeling better than after Saturday's narrow win over Tennessee, Mason's response was less than reassuring.
"I won't feel any better until we get this thing fixed and I start playing better, to tell you the truth," Mason said.
Mason said he hopes replenished depth at wide receiver will help.
Mitchell had been Georgia's top receiver before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in last year's opener at Clemson. He needed arthroscopic surgery after re-injuring the knee in August.
Michael Bennett and Chris Conley have been Mason's top targets. Mitchell and Scott-Wesley are the deep threats Georgia has lacked.
Gurley is the main reason Georgia ranks ninth in the nation in rushing. He ran for 208 yards and two touchdowns against Tennessee and is the biggest concern for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said Georgia "is going to take some shots down the field." Even so, Vanderbilt's focus is on containing Gurley.
"You have to hold up and still make sure you can find a way to get a hat in the box with the run game," Derek Mason said. "And really if (Hutson Mason) is going to beat you, he's going to beat you. You can't let Gurley beat you. You have to make the quarterback beat you, and he's good enough to beat you."
Hutson Mason has yet to reach 200 yards passing in a game this season. He has thrown for five touchdowns with the two interceptions.
Bennett said the downtown in production in the passing game is puzzling because Hutson Mason had more success when he took over following Aaron Murray's season-ending knee injury last season.
"We've done it last year," Bennett said. "We threw for 300 yards in two games where Hutson had the same receivers, the same players pretty much, and we were killing it. This year we've been struggling for whatever reason but we've just got to have confidence out there and know we can do it. We have done it. That's the mindset we've got to have."
One obvious answer is Gurley's success has changed Georgia's emphasis on striving for a more balanced attack. When Gurley is averaging 8.8 yards per carry, there's no urgency to force-feed the passing game.
Even so, coach Mark Richt said Georgia eventually will need to force defenses to respect the threat of a pass.
"We've got to do some things to help him," Richt said of his quarterback. "We've got to separate at the wide receiver position a little better. ... We've just got to connect on some of them."
Hutson Mason said he is working to change his mindset this week.
"You always want to be cautious and still make good decisions, but I think there's just got to be a new mindset this week where I just let it fly to the best of my ability and hopefully still make great decisions," he said. "I think some of my problem in the past has been putting too much pressure on myself as far as trying to get everything right. I think that kind of has slowed down my ability to play."
Mason said he has to trust himself to "see what I see and just throw it."
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By Chip Towers
ATHENS – I’m pretty sure Mark Richt and Mike Bobo talk. As head coach and offensive coordinator, I think they actually see each other face-to-face in meetings and at practice every day. But it would appear there’s a significant disconnect when it comes to the information they’re getting — and giving — on the availability of wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley for Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt.
You may have heard what Richt said on Tuesday during his weekly news conference. First, in answering a question about how Georgia’s passing game might improve, he said, “I do think having Justin and Malcolm is going to help.”
He wasn’t wishy-washy about them playing this week. He stated it as fact.
Later, he was asked specifically about Mitchell’s ability to perform after being out eight weeks with a knee injury. “He would have to have a setback not to play,” Richt said. “The same with Justin.”
That was during the lunch hour Tuesday. Later that night, pushing 8 o’clock after the Bulldogs’ practice, Bobo was asked about the same two players.
“I don’t even know if those two are going to play yet,” Bobo told reporters. “That’s yet to be determined. We haven’t said they’re going to play Saturday yet. Hopefully we’ll know by Thursday whether they’re going or not.”
Asked specifically about Mitchell, Bobo said: “He’s looked good, but he hasn’t really done a full practice. He’s spotted certain drills and certain periods.”
Bobo was also asked if stamina might be a concern with the two wideouts. “A little bit,” he said. “We’ve got to be smart with them and how many plays they can play — if they can play.”
Again, much uncertainty in Bobo’s comments.
I, for one, remain a little skeptical as to how much Mitchell can help the Bulldogs having practiced none before Monday and then not still not fully engaging in every drill throughout the whole day. Scott-Wesley, on the other hand, has been going pretty hard the last couple of weeks. He should be good to go just based on my observations.
Ultimately, only Mitchell and Scott-Wesley can say, and they’re not available for interviews this week. We’re told maybe after Saturday’s game. Again, if they play.
As for Mitchell, Bobo said a lot would depend on how much swelling he may have encountered after Tuesday’s practice. We’ll get a quick look at him again during our brief viewing period this afternoon.
In the meantime, here’s a little bit of what I saw of Mitchell and Scott-Wesley on Tuesday. Mitchell was doing all the pass-skeleton but none of the footwork and line-jam drills: