Tag:SEC
Posted on: October 28, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2010 4:27 pm
 

SEC Title Hunt Preview -- Week 9

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As the regular season winds to a close, we'll break down the conference races and let you know what scenarios are needed for your favorite team to grasp that automatic BCS berth.  In the SEC, we'll shake down each division race first then make an insanely premature prediction.  Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below. For the ACC edition, click here .

West Division

Auburn (8-0) (5-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (6-2) (2-2)
Arkansas (5-2) (2-2)
Ole Miss (3-4) (1-3)

Week 9 Preview
With Auburn sitting a game up on their bitter Alabama rivals but a full two or more on the rest of the field -- thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers over LSU , Arkansas , and Mississippi State -- it looks like there's not much stopping an Iron Bowl meeting (Nov. 26, only on CBS!) for all the Western marbles. But we're not there yet. There are plenty of reasons a team calling itself the No. 1 team in the country has lost on the road each of the last three weeks, and an awful lot of those reasons are in play again this week as emotionally-drained Auburn travels to Ole Miss . Houston Nutt has enjoyed a ton of success against favored Auburn teams over the years, and with Jeremiah Masoli now in what appears to be firm command of Nutt's offense, the Rebels have the ability to take advantage of the Tigers' often-porous defense.

But the Rebels are also struggling to stop the run in SEC play, giving up 162 yards per game, and that's after playing Vanderbilt and before playing Auburn (who has rushed for more than 300 yards in their last four SEC outings). If the Tigers come out focused enough to execute in their punishing ground game, they should wear down a Rebel defense that has sagged in several second halves.

If Auburn does come away with the win, Arkansas and Mississippi State will be all but eliminated even with wins over Vanderbilt and Kentucky , respectively; they would need to run the table, see Auburn to lose to both Georgia and Alabama , and get enough other help to squeeze into a three-way tie that would avoid the head-to-head dilemma. Much more likely is that when the smoke clears, next week's critical game between LSU and Alabama (both of whom are on byes this week) will either help set up a winner-take-all Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa ... or, if LSU wins, bring Auburn within one win of clinching the West.

Week 9 West Winners -- Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State
West Favorite -- Auburn

East Division

South Carolina (5-2) (3-2)
Georgia (4-3) (3-3)
Florida (4-3) (2-3)
Vanderbilt (2-5) (1-4)
Kentucky (4-4) (1-4)
Tennessee (2-5) (0-4)

Week 9 Preview
The most muddled division in all of college football should gain some clarity this week when Georgia and Florida play a de facto elimination game in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party (3:30 ET this Saturday--only on CBS!). Assuming South Carolina holds serve at home against reeling, winless Tennessee , the loser will find themselves at least two games behind the Gamecocks with only two games remaining on Carolina's slate. Though either team could still hope for a three-team (or even four-team) tie at 4-4, there doesn't appear to be a way for this Saturday's loser to win that tiebreak.*

The Gators do have the advantage of controlling their own destiny, while Georgia will need help even with a win. But it's Mark Richt 's team that comes in as the Vegas favorite after destroying the Volunteers, Commodores, and Wildcats over the previous three weeks. The Dawg offense looks rejuvenated with A.J. Green back in uniform, changes along the offensive line leading to better holes for Washaun Ealey and the rest of the Dawg ground game, and Aaron Murray coming into his own as the trigger-man in charge. The Gators remain mired at 89th in the country in total offense, and unless Urban Meyer has worked some miracles during his team's bye week or the Gator return game reprises its magic from the LSU loss, it's difficult to see how Florida scores often enough to keep pace.

If Georgia does win, there's still a long road to the division title, though; they'd have to either defeat Auburn on the road in Week 11 or hope Carolina loses to Florida in Gainesville and Arkansas at home. But neither scenario is that far-fetched, meaning the East would stay muddled for at least a few more weeks.

One thing we can say: with Kentucky and Vanderbilt both major road underdogs this week (at Miss. St. and Arkansas, respectively), their brief run as legitimate players for the divisional title appears to be over.

*Since South Carolina would be the first team eliminated from that tiebreak, thanks to their divisional loss to Kentucky. After that, it's Florida vs. Georgia head-to-head.
Week 9 East Winners -- South Carolina, Georgia
East Favorite -- South Carolina


Insanely Premature ACC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 35, South Carolina 31


Posted on: October 28, 2010 11:55 am
Edited on: October 28, 2010 12:02 pm
 

Hide ya kids, hide ya wife: Lattimore is 100%

Posted by Chip Patterson

Marcus Lattimore is a measty (man+beast) individual with very focused goals on demolishing anything that stands in his way.  His running style is a perfectly blissful combination of evasion and force, he can accelerate through closing gaps or bounce off defenders like a pinball.  He has been a crucial piece of the Gamecocks' success, but the health of the true freshman became a concern after missing South Carolina's 21-7 victory over Vanderbilt while nursing a sprained ankle he suffered in the loss to Kentucky.  South Carolina welcomes Tennessee to Columbia on Saturday, with the Volunteers still searching for their first conference win.  Unfortunately for Derek Dooley's squad, Lattimore appears to have the green light to unleash hell on earth.

Lattimore said after practice Wednesday that he feels "100 percent."  He is anxious after watching backup Brian Maddox rush for a career high 146 yards against the Commodores, a game that Lattimore feels he could have suited up for, but as starting quarterback Stephen Garcia pointed out Lattimore can be just as dangerous catching passes out of the backfield.  With so much attention on the wide receivers downfield, Lattimore can catch balls in open space and use his running ability to break a big play.  Against Kentucky, Lattimore racked up 133 yards receiving, including a 47 yard reception for a touchdown.

So Lattimore is healthy, and has all of his weapons fine tuned to help the Gamecocks make a run at the SEC Championship.  I suggest that the remaining opponents of the Gamecocks hide y-...well, you get the idea.   


Posted on: October 27, 2010 3:00 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2010 3:01 pm
 

Meyer Paraphrased: 'Time to play, Chris'

Posted by Chip Patterson

Florida wide receiver Chris Rainey's time away from the field appears to be coming to an end.  After being suspended indefinitely for his aggravated stalking arrest last month, Rainey has returned to practice this week and could see his first bit of playing time since Florida's 38-14 victory over South Florida on September 11.  As least that is the way it sounds from head coach Urban Meyer's comments on Wednesday.

"As of now, he’s done everything he’s supposed to do,” Meyer said on the SEC teleconference. “What is today? Wednesday? Tomorrow is the deadline that I set with him and myself, and I’ll just do a thorough check again tomorrow of everything we asked him to do."

Rainey has completed the required community service in his deferred prosecution agreement, and the junior from Lakeland, FL will likely be looked to for an immediate impact for a stagnant offense.  Rainey could fill in as the big-play threat that has been missing with speedy running back Jeff Demps being limited by a sprained foot for nearly five weeks.  That will come as welcome news for the Gators, losers lost three straight games.

After being reinstated to the team on October 10, Rainey was back on the sideline to witness the Gators' 10-7 loss to Mississippi State.  Now with a week of practice under his belt, Rainey will no doubt be looking to make up for lost time on the field against Georgia.  The Gators can still make a run at the SEC East Division title with a win over South Carolina on November 13, but cannot afford any more conference losses if they plan on being in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. 

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Posted on: October 27, 2010 2:39 pm
 

Ingram would vote for Cam Newton..or would he?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is far and away the leader in the Heisman race so far this season.  He has singlehandedly put the entire Auburn offense on his back this season and carried it to an 8-0 start and the top spot in the BCS polls.  Honestly, if you have a Heisman vote right now and you don't plan on giving it to Newton, you aren't doing it because you don't think he deserves it, you're only voting for somebody else to be different.

But what if you're the latest Heisman winner, and you happen to play for Auburn's biggest rival?  Is that reason enough not to vote for Newton to win the Heisman?  Possibly, but Mark Ingram went on The Dan Patrick Show on Wednesday and said he'd throw a vote Newton's way if he feels he deserves it.

"We'll see what happens," Ingram said. "We'll see how the rest of the season plays out and who keeps playing the best football. They're definitely playing the best football out of everybody right now.

"If he's the best and has been the best so far, I wouldn't have no problem. I'm a real person and I can't hate on the man."

That's right, Ingram "wouldn't have no problem" voting for Newton.  Could it be that Ingram is intentionally using the double-negative to throw off the scent, and that he has no intention of voting for Newton?  Now, as we've seen in the past, the proper usage of grammar and syntax can be a problem for members of the Alabama football team .  It's very possible that Nick Saban 's misuse of the english language has transferred to the rest of the team like some unstoppable virus, hell bent on creating run-on sentences and leaving participles dangling.

But, no, I believe Ingram is too smart for that.  He's obviously just trying to fool us all into thinking he supports Newton's campaign.  Well he hasn't fooled this blogger!

I'm on to you, Ingram.

Hat tip: CFT
Posted on: October 27, 2010 1:44 pm
 

Want better special teams? Try helmet stickers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you missed Georgia defeating Kentucky 44-31 last Saturday night, you missed a dominating special teams performance by the visiting Bulldogs. Brandon Boykin broke loose for a 100-yard kick return touchdown, a surprise Wildcat onsides kick was recovered by Georgia, and dangerous Kentucky punt returner Randall Cobb was held without a return yard on three Georgia punts.

The performance was all the more impressive considering that behind Cobb and players like excellent punter Ryan Tydlacka , Kentucky ranked -- and still ranks -- No. 1 in statistical guru Phil Steel 's cumulative special teams ratings . And after Saturday, the Bulldogs themselves have movd all the way up to sixth.

What's the secret of Georgia's success? According to interviews with players before the Kentucky game, it's as simple as the dog-bone pride stickers on the back of Georgia's helmets:

 

“Special teams isn’t emphasized enough as far as the fans go, but coach (Mark) Richt wants the best guys out there,” Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray said. “Those guys get rewarded. If you play special teams, you get more bones on your helmet and this and that. Now we’ve got starters wanting to get out there and play special teams.”

Front-line defensive players are among the most eager volunteers, and helmet stickers have a lot to do with it.

Standards for earning dog bones on defense are a little different than on special teams.

“If I didn’t play special teams, I wouldn’t have half the dog bones that I have now,” Georgia cornerback Sanders Commings said. “There’s more opportunities for dog bones. To get dog bones on defense, you have to make a tackle. But on special teams, you don’t have to make a tackle. You cover your responsibility, you get a bone.”

Seems a little over-simplified, right? Award helmet stickers, get better players for the special teams, have better special teams? If it was that easy, wouldn't every program in the country would be awarding pride stickers?

Maybe. But maybe not. According to a (100 percent accurate and comprehensive) list of sticker-employing programs on Wikipedia , 24 teams offer pride stickers for good play, or exactly 20 percent of the FBS. Of those 24, however, eight rank in Steele's special teams top 25, or 32 percent. If we take Steele's ratings at face value, it's true: teams with helmet stickers represent a greater share of teams excelling on special teams than we would expect from a random, equal distribution.

Admittedly, the correlation isn't that strong; it's likely the phenomenon examined here is simply coincidence. But unless keeping the team's helmet unspoiled is a top priority, isn't it evidence enough (along with Georgia's testimony) for programs to at least consider offering pride stickers? If one minor uniform tweak might be all it takes to get one minor upgrade at one special teams position, couldn't the benefit over the course of the season be worth the attempt?

HT: GTP .
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:36 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 11:38 am
 

Arkansas DT DeQuinta Jones arrested

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Two weeks ago, the Arkansas defense gave up 65 points to Auburn . Last week, the Arkansas defense gave up 512 yards to Ole Miss . Safe to say the Arkansas defense could use some help.

As of this morning, it's equally safe to say Razorback defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones is not the person offering that help :

Arkansas defensive tackle D.D. Jones has been arrested for possession of a controlled substance, according to the Washington County Jail Log ...

According to the arrest report, Jones was pulled over for a traffic stop by an officer at 12:37 in the morning ... The officer made a traffic stop and detected “an overwhelming odor of marijuana” coming from inside the vehicle ...

The officer asked Jones if he could look in his pockets and Jones, according to the report, asked why. The officer felt a soft bundle in his right front pocket and asked Jones how much marijuana he had. Jones said he had “about a quarter.”

The plastic bag, which the report said contained 8.7 grams of marijuana, was removed from his pocket and Jones was placed under arrest.

The Hogs will probably be fine without Jones's services this week as they not only take on toothless Vanderbilt , they take on toothless Vanderbilt in toothless Vanderbilt's first week under new offensive coordinator Des Kitchings .

But if the arrest costs Jones any more time, it'll hurt. The following week brings a trip to South Carolina , and Jones to date has been one of Arkansas's most productive defensive linemn, starting all seven games and ranking ninth on the defense in tackles from his defensive tackle spot. After bring gashed with Jones by Cameron Newton and Jeremiah Masoli , leaving him at home is not how the Hogs want to face Marcus Lattimore and Co. on their visit to Columbia.
Posted on: October 27, 2010 11:04 am
Edited on: October 27, 2010 11:07 am
 

UGA RB Ealey will play on Saturday

Posted by Chip Patterson

The Georgia Bulldogs have turned their season around since a 1-4 start that had fans in Athens calling for Mark Richt's head and scratching their own.  But after rattling off three straight wins that have all included 40+ point performances by Georgia's offense, the Bulldogs are preparing to make an improbable run at an SEC East Division title.  The improvement has been visible on both sides of the ball, but the offensive production can be credited as arguably one of the most pivotal factors in Georgia's turnaround.

Which is why the thought of not having leading rusher Washaun Ealey for Saturday's annual battle with Florida in Jacksonville evokes concern from Athens.  Ealey suffered what was called an MCL sprain during the middle of the fourth quarter of Geogia's 44-31 victory over Kentucky.  Fear not Dawgs fans, Ealey will play against the Gators.  He said so himself.

"It's really nothing," Ealey said Tuesday night. "It's basically just a bruise."

Ealey went on to refer to his knee as "100 percent," and deflected any concern that being held out of some drills on Tuesday has anything to do with his playing status for Saturday.  Of course, having a sore knee is not surprising after his 28 carry, 157 yard performance that included a school-record five rushing touchdowns.  After sputtering a few weeks ago, Ealey bounced back with 123 yards against Vanderbilt before his career day against the Wildcats.  The sophomore entered the season with high expectations, and Saturday will provide the opportunity to write himself into the hearts of Georgia fans with a victory in Jacksonville.
 

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Posted on: October 26, 2010 1:37 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2010 1:43 pm
 

SEC joins helmet-to-helmet crusade

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The biggest story in the NFL over the past couple of weeks -- and as many would argue as the health risks become clearer and clearer, the league's biggest story for the coming decade -- has been the sudden rash of vicious helmet-to-helmet hits and Roger Goodell 's subsequent crackdown on the perpetrators via suspension.

As connected at the hip as major college football and the NFL have been for years, it's no wonder that it's only taken a matter of days for the anti-helmet-to-helmet crusade to trickle down to the college ranks. First conference up is the SEC , and the first (Second, rather; see below--ed. ) player suspended is ... drumroll please ... courtesy of the Clarion-Ledger 's Brandon Marcello ...



Mississippi State 's Chris Hughes ! It's not exactly a blow to the Bulldogs' chances against Kentucky this weekend (Hughes is a freshman backup who ranks 26th on State's roster in tackles this season) but that the SEC stepped in this quickly, and following a game where State's opponent came from outside the conference, shows that the league is making some level of commitment to cleaning up any wayward headhunting.

Of course, it's also easy to make that commitment in the wake of the NFL's high-profile decisions, and even easier to pick out an obscure backup linebacker at Mississippi State for punishment. When the SEC suspends one if its all-conference performers for a game with a divisonal title on the line, that's when we'll know their statement on player safety is serious.

UPDATE: Hughes is actually the second player suspended by the SEC in the past four days; South Carolina 's Rodney Paulk missed the first half of the Gamecocks' win over Vanderbilt after a last-minute decision from the league office.


 
 
 
 
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