Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:25 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Tennessee freshman quarterback Justin Worley was supposed to redshirt this season, but after an injury to Tyler Bray and an ineffective performance from Matt Simms against Alabama on Saturday, Worley found himself on the field late in Tennessee's 37-6 loss. Worley didn't throw a pass while in the game, but I guess Derek Dooley has seen enough of Matt Simms.
When the new Tennessee depth chart was released on Monday, Worley's name was listed as QB1 with Simms backing him up.
"I know (QB) will be the main storyline. It's just something we have to do," said Dooley. The Tennessee head coach also went on to say that he doesn't "know what it will look like on Saturday."
Neither do we, but it won't be easy against a South Carolina defense allowing less than 20 points a game and gets after the quarterback.
Still, considering that Tennessee is now 0-4 in the SEC this season and Worley's redshirt has already been burned, Dooley and the Vols might as well see what they have in the freshman. He's already seen plenty of Matt Simms the last two years, and he hasn't been enough.
Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:52 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:17 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.
We'd like to think that even if Oklahoma had completed their failed comeback against Texas Tech, the Bayou Bengals' annihilation of a top-20 Auburn team (as opposed to a mighty struggle at home vs. an unranked team with two home losses) would finally resulted in their taking over as a consensus No. 1. But fortunately for clarity's sake, the Red Raiders finished the job. And even if Alabama wasn't on a bye themselves, that consensus wasn't going to change during LSU's off-week--the Tigers have a 49-10 advantage in first place votes in the AP, and a 41-18 edge in the Coaches.
The Crimson Tide should have passed the decisively less-impressive Sooners weeks back, but there's no doubt plenty of thanks being sent Lubbockward after the Red Raiders made the Tide's consensus move to No. 2 it official. (Then again, knowing the relationship between the Tide fanbase and Tommy Tuberville, maybe not.) What's interesting is that the Tide have enough support for a short fall in the event of a loss to LSU--the 122-point margin between the Tide and No. 3 Oklahoma State is wider than the margin between the Cowboys and No. 6 Clemson.
The Razorbacks move up two spots in both polls but find themselves in the same broad position as last week: the second-highest one-loss team behind Oregon. It's a strong show of support for the Hogs that even after an unimpressive win over Ole Miss -- one that required overcoming a 17-0 first-half deficit and a last-minute interception to preserve the victory -- Arkansas still moved past plummeting Oklahoma and Wisconsin. But as we said last week, if forced to pick between the Hogs and Ducks in a one-loss head-to-head, we think the Hogs deserve the nod.
14/14. SOUTH CAROLINA
Oh, Coaches poll. We wish there was a better explanation for jumping Kansas State past the Gamecocks on the basis of a win over Kansas and Carolina's bye week than "Oops, we kind of messed up by having that undefeated team so low last week, better fix it" ... but we know there isn't. At least Michigan State's leapfrog past the Gamecocks makes more sense. The Spartans jumped the Gamecocks in the AP, too, but Carolina stayed put thanks to West Virginia's freefall. Given that the Gamecocks' loss came to a now three-loss team at home and that their signature win is a three-point escape at Georgia, they can't have any complaints about sticking at 14th.
The Bulldogs didn't play this week, but still got a two-slot bump in the AP and leapt into the Coaches at No. 21. Guess it helps when so many bottom-rung top-25 teams -- Auburn, Illinois, Washington, Georiga Tech -- absorbed lopsided and/or embarrassing losses. But the Dawgs can't gripe about not being higher, not when their best win is still over 3-4 Tennessee.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2011 1:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Thursday is reportedly the day Missouri begins the process of applying for membership in the SEC, an application that virtually no one expects to be rejected--even if the last we heard from the Tigers' conference-of-choice, Mizzou didn't yet have the nine positive votes to join.
The major sticking point for alleged Mizzou-opponent Alabama? The Crimson Tide's cherished "Third Saturday in October" rivalry with Tennessee, which could become a non-annual game if Missouri is added to the (geographically sensible) West division. And with former Alabama athletic staffer Dave Hart now the AD in Knoxville, the Tigers won't get the Volunteers' support, either, if their admission puts the Third Saturday in jeopardy.
Though Hart doesn't spell that out specifically, it doesn't take a lot of reading between the lines in his Thursday interview with the Birmingham News to see that's the case:
By which Hart means returning the game to its rightful place on the calendar on the actual third Saturday in October; the game is currently played on that exact date occasionally (and falls on the fourth Saturday this season).
But first and foremost, the game has to be played at all. If Missouri is added to the West division, one current West team will have to move to the East--and the far-and-away most logical candidate is Auburn, whose president has already stated publicly his Tigers would be happy to make the switch. But that would put Alabama in the position of having both their major annual rivals in the opposite division, with only of those rivalries "protected" as an annual game.
As the News's Jon Solomon points out, the SEC has two options for preserving Vols-Tide: either assign Missouri to the East and keep Auburn in the West (keeping the Vols as the Tide's lone cross-divisional rival), or expand the SEC schedule to nine games and give each team an extra cross-division rival.
Since the latter means unbalanced home-away schedules and a maximum seven home games every other year, don't expect it to get much in the way of support (even if it works for the Pac-12, Big 12, etc.). At this point, the most sensible approach for including Mizzou seems to be to toss the Tigers in with Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, as little geographical sense as that makes.
Because as Hart's comments illustrate, adding the Tigers to the West means push would have to come to shove somewhere--and that somewhere might be Missouri not getting added to the SEC at all.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:50 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
In coordination with his midseason report, CBSSports.com's Dennis Dodd sits down with Adam Aizer to deliver his midseason superlatives. Best game, biggest surprise/disappointment, offensive AND defensive Heisman, and much more. Also, Adam explains why he thinks the Honeybadger Tyrann Mathieu is NOT the premiere defensive player in college football. Check out all that, plus the Top Five teams in the land and a Auburn-LSU preview on this week's Doddcast.
Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
You can listen to the Doddcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Tags: ACC, Adam Aizer, Andrew Luck, Auburn, Big 12, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Big Ten, CBSSports.com Podcast, Dennis Dodd, Doddcast, Doddcast, Doddcast, Heisman, Kentucky, LSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pac-12, Pac-12, Podcast, Red River Rivalry, Red River Shootout, Russell Wilson, SEC, South Carolina, Texas, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 18, 2011 12:51 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
AUBURN WILL WIN IF: they catch the kind of game-turning cavalcade of breaks that Les Miles's team is the one usually known for receiving ... and creating. With the visiting Tigers' offense firmly in milk-clock-don't-turn-it-over-play-field-position mode thanks to its first-time starter at quarterback, the chances are awfully, awfully slim that Auburn is going to go into Death Valley and beat LSU straight-up. But Auburn's underclassmen-laden defense has showed some legitimate spark in the previous few weeks, particularly against offenses similar to LSU's pro-style ground-pound attack (see: South Carolina and Florida). If Auburn has some success holding the line against Spencer Ware and Co. (and they should), a sudden reversion to Jarrett Lee's turnover-happy 2008 form or a series of uncharacteristic special teams gaffes could keep Gene Chizik's team competitive into the fourth quarter. And then ... who knows?
LSU WILL WIN IF: they do anything other than commit that catastrophic series of mistakes. The host Tigers are three-touchdown favorites for a reason, namely that Auburn's likely strategy of winning the field-position battle and capitalizing opponent mistakes is what LSU does--and how likely are the Bayoun Bengals to be beaten at their own game in their own house? As long as Lee continues to play error-free football, the defense continues to make up for its occasional lapses with twice as many big plays, and the special teams continues to pin opponents deep, LSU has precious little to worry about from any team that's not championship-caliber--and Auburn is far too young to have earned that label yet.
THE X-FACTOR: Lee. All LSU fans were hoping from their senior signal-caller this season was for him to -- to put it politely -- not screw things up for the running game and defense. But the former turnover machine has suddenly become a legitimate weapon, completing 71 percent of his passes the previous two weeks for an eye-popping 11.2 yards an attempt (a number which, stretched over the season, would have him second in the nation)--and against quality SEC competition in Florida and Tennessee at that. Lee hasn't thrown an interception since Week 3 and sports a 10-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio for the season. It's simple: if he even comes close to playing up to his recent standards, Auburn's not going to stand a chance.
Posted on: October 18, 2011 10:36 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 2:57 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
At the top, midseason 2011 remains the best of times for the SEC. Alabama and LSU have given the conference not one but two highly viable -- some might even say favored -- candidates for a sixth straight national title. It's not even such bad news that one seems all-but-destined to eliminate the other from the title race when they meet in Tuscaloosa Nov. 5; assuming both clear their final hurdles this week, that game should arrive with more hype, more anticipation, more coverage and more viewers than any regular season college football game since Ohio State and Michigan clashed as undefeateds the final week of 2006. From a national title perspective, the SEC has never mattered more.
But anywhere other than the top, these are the worst times for the SEC in a while. A plague of injuries, inexperience, and ineffective coaching has gutted much of the league's offensive bite and turned what used to be riveting battles amongst the league's wealthier-than-thou middle class into glorified slapfights. Take this past weekend: Auburn, Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina combined for a total of 49 points across two hideous games; lambs-to-the-slaughter Tennessee and Ole Miss lost to the league's top two by a combined 76 points; and Georgia and Vanderbilt played a game most notable for the screaming match between its coaches afterwards. It was ugliness all the way around--and that's with the conference's worst offense, Kentucky, on a bye.
Alabama vs. LSU should be a classic. And Arkansas, still easily top-10 caliber and as exciting as ever, is blameless. But are the hobbled back-nine of the SEC capable of giving us anything else deserving of that label in 2011's second half?
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trent Richardson, running back, Alabama. It's easy to forget Richardson's 2011 season actually got off to a slow start, with only 148 yards on a 3.8 per-carry average through the Crimson Tide's first two games. Since then: five games, 764 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 8.2 yards-per-carry, the sort of per-attempt number starting tailbacks for national title contenders achieve only in video games. It's not just the production, either; Richardson has showed off the proverbial total package and then some, flashing breakaway speed, bone-rattling power, and startling elusiveness, sometimes -- as in his Heisman-reel tour de force against Ole Miss -- all on the same play.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tyrann Mathieu, cornerback, LSU. The only serious defensive candidate for the 2011 Heisman, the Honey Badger has stormed onto the national scene on the back of a wave of big plays: the strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Oregon, the dazzling interception-and-return-to-the-1 against West Virginia, the sack-strip-and-fumble-return for touchdown against Kentucky. But those game-changing efforts shouldn't obscure what Mathieu does on an every-down basis: namely, lead the nation's No. 4 defense in solo tackles and spearhead the nation's No. 6 secondary in opponent's passer rating.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Les Miles, LSU. Nick Saban obviously deserves commendation as well, but with the ridiculous stockpile of defensive talent in Tuscaloosa and the rock-steady stability of Saban's program, the Tide were never in any danger of not being really, really good. Miles, however, had to navigate a major offseason shakeup of his offensive coaching staff, the Jordan Jefferson barfight brouhaha on the eve of the season (amongst other distractions), and a handful of offensive line injuries to have his team where it is now--atop the AP poll and well on their way to bringing an 8-0 record to Bryant-Denny Stadium.
SURPRISE: Auburn. Few SEC teams have legitimately exceeded expectations in 2011 -- LSU and Vandy are the only other two, frankly -- but none has been as big a shock as the Tigers, who had been predicted by many to sink to fifth (or worse) in the West and general irrelevancy in Year One A.C. (i.e., after Cam). But despite being a Vegas underdog in all four of their SEC games (and scoring 20 points or fewer in their most recent three), a newly-energized defense and timely plays on offense and special teams have Auburn sitting at 3-1 in the league and 5-2 overall. If Miles's and Saban's teams hadn't run so far away from the pack, Gene Chizik would be a hot favorite for SEC Coach of the Year.
DISAPPOINTMENT: Mississippi State. The 0-4 SEC record isn't that bad, honestly; at Auburn, vs. LSU, at Georgia, and vs. South Carolina is a reasonably tough road to hoe. What is that bad is that Dan Mullen's veteran offense has looked so lost, scoring just one offensive touchdown over its last three conference games. This was supposed to be the season Mullen started winning games against the heavier hitters of the SEC, but thanks to his team's offensive struggles, the Bulldogs are now losing games (and in uglier fashion) to the same caliber of team they defeated in 2010.
GAME OF THE YEAR--SO FAR: South Carolina 45, Georgia 42, Sept. 10. Thanks to the lack of offensive fireworks and Alabama and LSU horse-whipping opponents on a weekly basis, candidates for this honor are few and far between, But back in Week 2 the Gamecocks and Bulldogs played a back-and-forth thriller that may still wind up deciding the SEC East. Marcus Lattimore powered for 176 bruising yards, but the player of the game was Gamecock defensive end Melvin Ingram, who scored touchdowns on both defense and special teams and capped his breakout performance by snaring the Dawgs' last-gasp onsides kick.
GAME OF THE YEAR TO COME: Alabama vs. LSU, Nov. 5. Do we even have to spell out why? Consider that the average score to-date between one of these two behemoths and an SEC opponent has been 37-8, and the only thing keeping either one from being heavy, heavy favorites to win the league title is the other. With the pair currently ranked No. 1 and 2 in the BCS standings, it's not an exaggeration to think of this as a BCS championship semifinal.
AND YOUR SEC CHAMPIONS ARE: Alabama out of the West, purely on the basis of getting to host the Game of the Century of the Year, and Georgia out of the East--the Bulldogs have far fewer offensive question marks than the Gamecocks and the easier schedule down the stretch. And as for the SEC Championship Game, well, when the best of this year's West meets the best of this year's East, there's only one outcome worth predicting. We like Alabama to win this year's SEC title and advance to the BCS national championship.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Dan Mullen, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, Les Miles, LSU, Marcus Lattimore, Melvin Ingram, Michigan, Midseason Report, Midseason Reports, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, SEC, South Carolina, Tennessee, Trent Richardson, Tyrann Mathieu, Vanderbilt, West Virginia
Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:34 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The latest college football polls are out and now it's time to rip them to shreds. Senior college basketball writer Gary Parrish has been calling out voters in the major hoops polls for thinking a little bit too far outside of the box when it comes to their AP ballots every week.
With the football season starting, I thought I'd steal take the baton on the idea from my colleague and keep all of the writers across the country who vote honest. I've come to know a good number of these people through time and twitter but relationships do not matter, bad votes do.
AP Poll Coaches Poll Harris Poll BCS
(Details of AP ballots courtesy of PollSpeak.com)
Poll reactions: ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC
Rodney Dangerfield "No respect" team of the week: Michigan State
Smash-mouth, hard-hitting defense and a solid (but certainly not spectacular) offense but Sparty just can't get much respect. They beat Michigan and held Denard Robinson and his explosive offense to just 250 total yards and 14 points. Edwin Baker, the touchdown maker, ran for 167 yards against an improved Wolverines defense too. We'll really see what they're made of this week but they should be higher than 15th in the AP and Harris Polls after their performance last week. They've proven more than Nebraska or South Carolina and probably should be in the 11-13 range.
Overrated: South Carolina
The Gamecocks are ranked 14th in the AP, 12th in the Coaches and 13th in the Harris Poll. First off, let's say that they lost their quarterback, top offensive player and running back Marcus Lattimore and struggled to beat Mississippi State 14-12. They really haven't beaten anybody convincingly outside of Kentucky before the injuries so it's safe to assume they're probably going to struggle in the near future. Is this a one-loss top 25 team? Sure. Top 15? Ehh...
A trio of voters from California (CSN Bay Area/CBSSports.com's Ray Ratto, San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner, LA Daily News' Scott Wolf) are an interesting voting block. Some would call them progressive, others would call them extreme and just about everybody else will call them crazy given their fluctuations in their ballots each week. All three are consistently in Pollspeak's group of "extreme voters" so we'll highlight the most baffling decision(s) out of each.
Welcome back Jon, it's been a while since you found yourself in this space. We've got several issues with the ballot you turned in, starting with putting Clemson 3rd. In case you didn't watch (and you probably didn't), the Tigers needed a late 4th quarter rally from 18 down to beat Maryland. The Terps also rolled up 468 yards and 45 points on the defense, not exactly top three caliber. It's also concerning to see Stanford ranked behind Oregon and Arkansas at 10th, two spots ahead of a way to highly ranked Auburn team. Wilner doesn't respect Kansas State much either, putting them 20th behind 11 teams with at least one loss. Oh yeah, Texas is still ranked too, as is USC.
What were you thinking? Craig James
Is there a more maligned broadcaster than James? Judging by Twitter, I'd say no. Either way, he's also an AP voter despite the issue of having an active lawsuit against him by a former coach. Perhaps that was what was weighing on his mind when he turned in his AP ballot this week. It's not terrible but there are a few interesting choices. Of course he has SMU ranked 25th but that looks good considering he put Wake Forest 23rd overall. Yes, the Demon Deacons have had a nice season but they lost to Virginia Tech 38-17 this weekend and their other loss is to Syracuse. Not a top 25 resume at all. James also has Oregon 7th, higher than anybody and higher than undefeated Wisconsin.
Tags: ACC, AP Poll, Arkansas, Auburn, BCS, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bryan Fischer, Clemson, Coaches Poll, Craig James, Denard Robinson, Edwin Baker, Harris Poll, Jon Wilner, Kansas State, Kentucky, Marcus Lattimore, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oregon, Pac-12, Poll Attacks, Poll Reactions, Ray Ratto, Scott Wolf, SEC, SMU, South Carolina, Stanford, Syracuse, Texas, The Poll Attacks, USC, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Wisconsin
Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:11 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:51 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
Michigan, Georgia Tech and Illinois go down, but Kansas State just keeps on winning. We try to make sense of it all. How much will Marcus Lattimore's injury impact the Gamecocks? How much blame does Will Muschamp deserve? How good are those Oregon backups? We answer these questions and break down every big game from Week Seven. Our thoughts on incredible performances from Sammy Watkins, Trent Richardson, the Michigan State defense and more.
Here's a direct link to the podcast if you're on a device without Java, and here's a link to a popout player if you're inclined to listen in a different window. Otherwise, just hit play below and you're all set.
If you'd lke to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes and you haven't yet, what's keeping you? Click here for the CBSSports.com College Football Podcast's iTunes page.