Posted on: October 31, 2011 12:50 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:02 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
From Marcus Lattimore to John Brantley to Tyler Bray, the SEC East race has in many ways already become a battle of attrition. And last Saturday's action did nothing to change that, with both Tennessee and Georgia losing starters to injury for the remainder of the 2011 season.
The news is worse for Derek Dooley, who confirmed Monday that starting strong safety Brent Brewer tore his ACL against South Carolina and is done for the year. The sophomore had recently been moved into the starting lineup after injuries and poor play had already necessitated a reshuffling of the Vol secondary, and responded with 24 tackles and three tackles-for-loss.
Brewer will likely be replaced by freshman Brian Randolph, sliding over from free safety. That hole will by filled by experienced junior Prentiss Waggner, who's already moved from safety to corner this season is moving back again. There are few places where the Vols could less afford to sustain an injury like Brewer's -- struggling corner Marsalis Teague is likely to draw back into the starting lineup -- but that's the way the season has gone for Dooley, unfortunately.
"We've got to move some guys back in at corner and they need to play better," the Vols' embattled head coach said.
Meanwhile, the Vols' rivals in Athens will have to play the rest of the regular season, at least, without starting redshirt sophomore guard Dallas Lee. Lee broke his ankle against Florida and will not be able to help the Dawgs' push for a division title, but could be able to return for the postseason.
“I would think he’d have a very good opportunity to play in the bowl, would be my guess," Mark Richt said.
Fortunately for the Dawgs, Lee has a highly-experienced backup in Kenarious Gates, who began the season in the starting lineup before an injury dropped him to the second-string. Gates replaced Lee during the win over the Gators and is expected to get the start Saturday when the Dawgs host New Mexico State.
Posted on: October 30, 2011 1:20 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
It's that in many ways, this victory belonged to Richt. It was Richt who was able to keep his struggling team mentally afloat when the Gators took a 17-3 lead and the Dawg half of the stadium couldn't help but think "here we go again." It was Richt who made the calls to go for it on 4th-and-long inside the red zone once Blair Walsh showed himself unreliable, calls that resulted in two of the Dawgs' three scores in a game where points came as easily as pulled teeth. And it was Richt who showed enough faith in the flailing Aaron Murray -- who'd missed nine straight attempts -- to endorse a throw on 2nd-and-9 as the Dawgs tried to run out the clock.
That decision worked, as did nearly every move Richt made Saturday. That's what it was, and why Georgia won.
LOSER: Charlie Weis. We don't want to be too hard on Mr. Decided Schematic Advantage, since the quarterbacks he's worked with the past few weeks have been 1. true freshmen 2. still kind of hurt 3. more inherited than hand-picked. But still: between weapons like Chris Rainey, Jordan Reed, Trey Burton, Deonte Thompson and even a half-speed Jeff Demps, we're not sure there's excuses enough to explain 10 second-half points across four games, one first down in the second half against Georgia, or 175 total rushing yards in this four-game losing streak on all of 1.5 yards a carry. Weis arrived at Florida with a reputation for expertly handling quarterbacks and passing games but perhaps not having a good idea of how to operate a rushing attack with smaller backs like Rainey and Demps ... and with Brantley's downfield accuracy gone and the field shrunk, Weis has lived up to every bit of that reputation.
WINNER: Vanderbilt. We know, we know, they lost. But they also outgained the nation's No. 8 team (and one of its most explosive offenses) by 74 yards. Their years of wandering the wilderness at the quarterback position appears over, thanks to Jordan Rodgers' outstanding 15-of-27, 240 yard, 66 rushing yards, 3 touchdown, zero turnovers performance. They took over down 3 at their own 9 with 3 minutes remaining, a situation in which Vandy has accomplished nothing since the days of Jay Cutler, and promptly drove 80 yards for what should have been the game-tying field goal. Top-to-bottom, Vanderbilt was a better team than Arkansas Saturday.
In short, in so many, many ways, James Franklin's Vanderbilt is not the same old Vanderbilt
LOSER: Vanderbilt. Of course, there were even more ways in which Vanderbilt was precisely the same Vanderbilt they've been for decades. Shall we count the ways? The four or five easy interceptions which Commodore defenders let slip through their hands ... the backbreaking 15-point fourth-quarter swing as their best offensive player, running back Zac Stacy, fumbles the ball at the opponent's 3-yard line (without being touched) for a touchdown fumble return the other way ... with a chance to go in at halftime up 21-7 and in firm control of the game, the touchdown allowed with five seconds remaining ... and, yes, the shanked 27-yard field goal at the bitter, bitter end.
Until further notice: same old Vandy.
WINNER: South Carolina offensive tackle Cody Gibson. Gibson is a big fella: 6'6", 285 pounds. And when Tennessee's Prentiss Wagner picked off a third-quarter pass from Connor Shaw and bolted clear for the Gamecock end zone 56 yards away, Gibson probably could have been forgiven for ... well, not quitting on the play, but only making a token effort; the odds of the tackle being made by a tackle among the Gamecocks' receivers and running backs and the quarterback was insanely low, right? But Gibson made much more of an effort than that, going all-out in pursuit of Waggner until the corner cut back towards the middle of the field, cut again, had to slow up one last time ... and Gibson caught him, flattening him at the Gamecock 2-yard line.
Against most offenses, that might not have mattered much. But vs. Tennessee's? It mattered a ton: only two plays later, Vol freshman QB Justin Worley threw an ugly interception, and Gibson's play had saved his team seven points in a game which only totaled 17. Instead of being down 10-7 with a wobbly Shaw in front of a fired-up Knoxville crowd, Carolina drove 98 yards for their own touchdown and (for all intents and purposes) the win. Gibson's play won't make him a star, but Saturday, there's no question it made him a winner.
LOSER: Barrett Trotter. This might a touch unfair to Trotter, who didn't even see the field Saturday. But whatever hope he had of reclaiming the starting quarterback job he lost at halftime of Auburn's win over Florida was extinguished for the foreseeable future by Clint Moseley's outing against Ole Miss. The redshirt sophomore (left)connected on 12 of his 15 attempts for 10.7 yards a pass and four touchdowns ... all without an interception. More importantly, the Auburn offense looked like the Auburn offense for the first time in weeks, rolling up 414 yards and 41 points on a Rebel defense that caused real problems for Arkansas last week. Remember those Snickers commercials? Where the Tiger pecking order under center is concerned, neither Trotter nor Moseley are going anywhere for a while.
WINNER: The Liberty Bowl. With LSU and Alabama surely off to the BCS and a pair of teams with precious little bowl eligibility hope in Kentucky and Ole Miss, the SEC was already in danger of not fulfilling all its bowl tie-ins ... and a Wildcat win against Mississippi State would have made things even more dire for the last couple of bowls at the end of the food chain, as that result would likely leave neither team in striking distance of the postseason. As is, the BBVA Compass Bowl is still likely out of luck, but the venerable Liberty can live in hope--the Bulldogs have both FCS patsy UT-Martin and the Rebels on the schedule.
LOSER: The rest of the SEC. It's now officially LSU-Alabama week. We'll see the other 10 of you next Sunday*.
Tags: Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Barrett Trotter, BBVA Compass Bowl, Blair Walsh, Charlie Weis, Chris Rainey, Clint Moseley, Cody Gibson, Connor Shaw, Deonte Thompson, Florida, Georgia, James Franklin, James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback, Jay Cutler, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Jordan Reed, Jordan Rodgers, Justin Worley, Kentucky, Liberty Bowl, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Prentiss Waggner, SEC Winners and Losers, South Carolina, Tennessee, Trey Burton, UT-Martin, Vanderbilt, Zac Stacy
Posted on: October 29, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 10:44 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: For the second straight week, the Gamecock offense sputtered in the kind of decisive fashion that would have spelled road game doom in the SEC most years. But this is 2011, so Carolina's gone 2-0 in those games. The Justin Worley experiment at quarterback was a miserable failure for Tennessee, as the true freshman hit just 10-of-26 passes for 4 yards an attempt and two interceptions--including a backbreaking pick at the Carolina 2 after a Prentiss Waggner interception had set up the Vols inside the Gamecock 5. Freshman Brandon Wilds picked up a solid 137 yards on just under 5 a carry in relief of Marcus Lattimore.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: It's pretty simple: in a game in which the two starting quarterbacks combined to average all of 4.4 yards an attempt and less than 200 yards total, the winner was always going to be the team that could run the ball. That team was the Gamecocks, who racked up 231 yards on 53 carries and -- in a stunning display of old school power -- put together a 20-play, 98 yard, 11 minute and 35 second touchdown drive in the third quarter. When you rush for 74 yards on one drive alone, you are (as the kids say) doing work.
The Vols? After a couple of small steps forward in their putresecent running game the last few weeks, tonight was a sizable step backward: 21 rushes, 35 yards, no scores. Ick.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Of course, maybe the Vol ground game would show some spark if the coaches seemed to trust it at all. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Carolina 27, down 14-3 and less than 7 minutes left in the game, the Vols put the ball in the hands of Matt Simms--the same quarterback, you may recall, who the staff just benched in favor of a true freshman. Wildly incomplete pass, turnover on downs, game well and truly over.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: The right to stay just a nose out in front of Georgia in the SEC East race with next week's trip to Arkansas looming large. Having Wilds prove he's a capable replacement isn't such a bad bonus, either.
WHAT TENNESSEE LOST: Despite Carolina's gaudy ranking, this was an offensively-hamstrung team coming to Neyland Stadium for a night game that helped the Vols with three turnovers ... and Derek Dooley's team couldn't even stay within 11 points of them as the Worley decision appeared to backfire badly. At 3-5 and with the Vols' own trip to Fayetteville forthcoming, Dooley is one upset away from seeing his team stay home for the holidays.
Posted on: September 14, 2011 6:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Running down everything you need to know from the week's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.
FLORIDA. Just in time for the Gators to face their first opponent of 2011 with a definable pulse -- and judging by their comprehensive smackdown of Cincinnati, Tennessee has more than just a pulse at the moment -- Will Muschamp will have his most complete roster to date. Defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd will officially be in uniform after serving his NCAA-mandated two-game suspension, and running back Jeff Demps will be able to go after missing most of the Gators' drubbing of UAB with a shoulder problem.
"He's fine," Muschamp said of Demps. "He's playing. He's been practicing." The one question mark is backup linebacker Dee Finley, arrested earlier this week on multiple misdemeanor charges; Muschamp would not say whether Finley had been suspended or not.
TENNESSEE. On the other side of the rivalry, Derek Dooley has several nicked-up players -- including pivotal defensive back Prentiss Waggner -- practicing in non-contact jerseys, but only as a "precautionary" measure. For senior starting defensive end Ben Martin, though, even a precautionary non-contact jersey would be an improvement; an ankle injury means Dooley would "like to get 15 plays from him" but may have to keep him on the sideline entirely.
In other Vol lineup news, struggling freshman Justin Coleman is holding off senior Art Evans at starting corner ... for now. On the scheduling front, Tennessee will play third-year FCS program Georgia State in 2012.
AUBURN. Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris, the offensive coordinator for Auburn Week 3 opponent Clemson, have something unusual in common besides their similar schemes: both came up through the high school coaching ranks. Malzahn hopes the matchup will help other teams look at high school coaches when filling out their staffs. "Hopefully, things like this will give more high school coaches opportunities that we've been fortunate enough to both have," Malzahn said.
The Tigers have been using as many as 12 defensive linemen and won't change those plans against Clemson, though redshirt freshman end Justin Delaine's season-ending knee injury may limit that number by one. True freshman kickoff returner Tre Mason is hoping Clemson kicks to him after Mississippi State began using squib kicks last week.
SOUTH CAROLINA. Despite the Gamecocks' 2-0 record, Steve Spurrier isn't thrilled with his team's defense. "We don’t look like we know what we are doing or we have some bad players, one or the other," he said. "I have been reading about all these great athletes we have on defense, but we don’t play great that’s for sure right now." He had similar comments for his wide receivers, who he said "are getting a lot of publicity, but need to start doing something." Wideouts other than Alshon Jeffery have combined for only five receptions so far this season.
Despite the Gamecocks' struggles in the passing game (on both sides of the ball), Spurrier said he won't be rotating Stephen Garcia with Connor Shaw. "The competition was over," Spurrier said. "[Garcia]’s got every opportunity to take us as far as he can because we firmly believe he’s our best quarterback on the team."
ELSEWHERE: Alabama senior wide receiver Darius Hanks will return for the Tide's meeting with North Texas after missing the first two weeks with a redshirting issue. "I don’t think his transition back will be a problem," Nick Saban said ... Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden is surprisingly already practicing again after his broken ankle was found to be only a hairline fracture. Bolden could see the field as early as this week ...
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen says his players have practiced "angry" this week after last week's loss to Auburn. "They felt we should have won that football game," he said ... As for the Bulldogs' Thursday night opponent, LSU head coach Les Miles would not rule out backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger making an apparance after a successful debut against Northwestern State. "I would anticipate playing Jarrett Lee really start to finish," Miles said, but added "You just never can tell when you may turn to him and see if we can get a hot hand and go." Lee is nursing an ankle injury but should be fine against MSU ...
Starting Georgia safety Shawn Williams could get a look at inside linebacker after the position has been hard-hit by injuries ... Vanderbilt's surprising recruiting renaissance has continued with the commitment of a top-25 wide receiver from Minnesota.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Art Evans, Auburn, Ben Martin, Brandon Bolden, Chad Morris, Cincinnati, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Dan Mullen, Derek Dooley, Georgia, Georgia State, Gus Malzahn, Jarrett Lee, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Justin Coleman, Justin Delaine, Les Miles, LSU, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, North Texas, Northwestern State, Northwestern State, Ole Miss, Prentiss Waggner, SEC, Sharrif Floyd, Shawn Williams, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tre Mason, UAB, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: August 29, 2011 1:35 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Tennessee's secondary likely can't take too many more hits. But they've kept on coming anyway.
Per our CBSSports.com RapidReporter Daniel Lewis, Derek Dooley announced Monday that true freshman safety Pat Martin has left the team. The decision was mutual, according to Dooley.
As blows to the Volunteer defensive backfield go, this is nothing like losing an All-SEC caliber player like Janzen Jackson. But Martin's departure remains far from meaningless, even within the context of the 2011 season alone; a four-star recruit and one of the top-20 safeties in the nation this past year according to Maxpreps, Martin was in line to compete for playing time (if not necessarily a starting role) and could have helped a still-thin Vol roster on special teams.
That won't happen, and with one injury or off-field incident, the Vol secondary could feel the sting of Martin's decision. Even after Jackson's dismissal, the Vols return a pair of starters at safety in Prentiss Waggner and Brent Brewer. But Waggner's move from corner has already thrust either true freshman Justin Coleman or JUCO transfer Izauea Lanier into the starting foursome at CB, and the current second-string at safety consists of little-used senior Rod Wilks and true freshman Brian Randolph. It hasn't helped that highly-regarded JUCO defensive back Byron Moore has had a disappointing first fall camp.
For his part, Dooley says he isn't worried about the depth issues at safety. “Those guys have really progressed," he said of Wilks and Randolph. "We wouldn’t bat an eye putting them in."
But it's easy to say that now, tougher if it actually comes to having Wilks or Randolph try to contain the likes of Alshon Jeffery or Orson Charles. And Dooley isn't hiding from the pain of losing Jackson; asked to assess his secondary in the wake of his dismissal, Dooley said "Well, we’re not as good."
And even if Martin was a true freshman, when all is said and done, we think you could say the same about him.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 12:24 pm
Edited on: August 29, 2011 2:42 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Running down everything you need to know from the weekend's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.
LSU: Not that it took anyone by surprise, but Les Miles officially named senior Jarrett Lee the starter for Saturday's season opener against Oregon. For his part, Ducks head coach Chip Kelly doesn't expect the Tigers to be any less formidable for Lee getting the nod. (Per our Oregon RapidReporter Chris Hansen, Kelly also called LSU "“the most talented team we play all season.”)
Interestingly, Miles said he suspended the arrested Jordan Jefferson not as a disciplinary measure, but so Jefferson could tend to his legal troubles. "It's absolutely correct for him to be free at this point to tend to his personal business," Miles said. "If he were playing on this football team, it would be too much." Jefferson has changed his legal representation in the wake of his arrest.
ARKANSAS: In an announcement even less surprising than Lee's, Bobby Petrino finally named Tyler Wilson the Hogs' starting quarterback for their season debut against Missouri State, ending the non-suspense. Petrino said sophomore Brandon Mitchell will see playing time, possibly as early as the second quarter. (If Mitchell still sees time against opponents more dangerous than the Bears, that will be a development worth watching.)
Injured running back Knile Davis has promised he'll do everything he can to help his team from the sideline. As for replacing him, senior DeAnthony Curtis may get a shot after looking impressive following his move from cornerback.
ALABAMA: Still no sign of JUCO wideout Duron Carter at practice, with Nick Saban telling reporters he "has information" on Carter's status but that he'll believe his arrival "when he sees it." Saban also seemed to confirm that the Tide will begin the year with a rotation between quarterbacks Phillip Sims and A.J. McCarron. "“I don't want either guy … to think that if they go in the game and make a mistake, that's when the other guy gets to go in," he said. "That's not how it's going to get managed."
In positive news, long snapper Carson Tinker is close to fully recovered from injuries suffered in the spring tornado that killed his girlfriend, Ashley Harrison.
GEORGIA: Mark Richt announced a surprising change to his defensive starting lineup, confirming that safety Bacarri Rambo (the team's leading tackler in 2010) would start the year second-string behind Sanders Commings and Shawn Williams. Even with corner Branden Smith "day-to-day" with a foot injury, Richt said former corner Commings would not switch positions to cover for Smith.
The Dawgs are banged-up elsewhere as well, with JUCO nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins struggling with a hamstring injury and tailback Richard Samuel not yet at full speed despite practicing Saturday.
SOUTH CAROLINA: He's still Steve Spurrier: the Ol' Ball Coach said that both Stephen Garcia and Connor Shaw would play in the Gamecocks' opener against East Carolina, and added that neither has won the starting job yet. Giving the understudy Shaw meaningful playing time could be a dangerous move against the Pirates, whose pass-heavy attack could exploit a Gamecock secondary that struggled in 2010 and could be without starting corner Akeem Auguste; Auguste has a foot injury and missed practice at the end of last week.
Could CBSSports.com second-team All-American Devin Taylor see time on offense? Garcia told reporters the Gamecocks have been working on a package including the 6'7" defensive end.
ELSEWHERE: At Auburn, star sophomore running back Michael Dyer says he's 100 percent healthy after a nick earlier in fall camp. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said the Tigers' depth will result in them playing more than their typical 18-to-20 players ... Florida running back Jeff Demps admitted his track obligations put him behind the curve when it came to learning the Gators' new offense ... Tennessee has moved corner Prentiss Waggner to safety to cover for the dismissal of Janzen Jackson, who will transfer to FCS McNeese State, that school announced.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Akeem Auguste, Alabama, Ashley Harrison, Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Mitchaell, Carson Tinker, Chip Kelly, Connor Shaw, DeAnthony Curtis, Devin Taylor, Duron Carter, East Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Janzen Jackson, Jarrett Lee, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Johnathan Jenkins, Jordan Jefferson, Les Miles, LSU, Mark Richt, McNeese State, Michael Dyer, Missouri State, Nick Saban, Oregon, Phillip Sims, Prentiss Waggner, Richard Samuel, Sanders Commings, Shawn Williams, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Ted Roof, Tennessee, Tyler Wilson