Tag:James Franklin the Vanderbilt coach not the Missouri quarterback
Posted on: October 14, 2011 1:45 pm
  •  
 

SEC QB updates: Brissett to start for Florida

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Maybe Jeff Driskel is healthy and maybe he's not. But in any case, it hasn't changed the Florida Gators' outlook at quarterback.

For the second straight week, true freshman and early-season third-stringer Jacoby Brissett will get the start under center for the Gators. Fellow true freshman Driskel had been injured starter John Brantley's backup at the season's start, but an ankle injury ruled him out of last week's game against LSU, handing Brissett his first career start.

Driskel has since received a clean bill of health according to the Gator coaches, who declared this week an open competition between the two for the starting job. But it apparently wasn't enough to unseat Brissett, who entered the week as the favorite.

The Gators will be looking to avoid a three-game SEC losing streak when they visit Auburn Saturday. Brissett went an ineffective 8-of-14 with two interceptions against LSU, but may be able to make strides against a much softer Tiger defense than the one he faced last week.

The Gators are far from the only SEC team with questions to answer at quarterback this week. Running down the latest in the league's other QB controversies and decisions:

AUBURN: Barrett Trotter is the starter and Kiehl Frazier is the change-of-pace, but Gus Malzahn said in no uncertain terms this week that in the event of an injury to Trotter, Clint Moseley would take the reins of the offense rather than the true freshman Frazier. "Clint Moseley is No. 2," Malzahn said.

MISSISSIPPI STATE: Dan Mullen has not yet named a starter between Chris Relf and Tyler Russell and is unlikely to before the Bulldogs' meeting with South Carolina. Speaking of which ...

SOUTH CAROLINA: Following Stephen Garcia's dismissal, Connor Shaw is the Gamecocks' unquestioned starter. But there is still no word on which of several players would replace Shaw in the event of an injury, none of which have more than barest minimum of experience. Shaw will need to stay healthy.

VANDERBILT: Jordan Rodgers (yes, Aaron Rodgers' younger brother) has taken most of the first-team snaps in practice this week after relieving the injured Larry Smith against Alabama last week. But James Franklin would not commit to Rodgers getting the nod against Georgia, saying that if healthy and performing well, Smith would remain his first-choice QB. Rodgers reportedly looked sharp in his practice opportunities.

Posted on: October 12, 2011 2:14 pm
 

SEC RapidReport roundup: Trotter still Tiger QB

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).

AUBURN. Despite a miserable 6-for-19, 81-yard, 2-INT performance against Arkansas, Tiger quarterback Barrett Trotter will still be the starter in Saturday's showdown with Florida. "He's our quarterback today; he'll be our quarterback Saturday," Gene Chizik said. Many Tiger fans have been clamoring for a greater role for true freshman Kiehl Frazier, but Chizik reiterated that Frazier would remain a "changeup."

For their part, both offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Frazier himself agreed that the freshman isn't ready to take on the full-time quarterbacking responsibility. Auburn will have to face Florida without starting senior guard Jared Cooper, out with an ankle injury. He'll likely be replaced by redshirt freshman Chad Slade.

FLORIDA. Meanwhile, Auburn's Saturday opponents have their own worries at quarterback with John Brantley out. But freshman backup Jeff Driskel has returned from his ankle injury and split reps during Tuesday's practice with fellow freshman (and starter vs. LSU) Jacoby Brissett. Though the two are now locked in close competition to be the starter at Auburn, Will Muschamp said he doesn't plan on keeping his decision a secret once it's made ... though he has also hinted at leaning in either Brissett's or Driskel's direction.

Despite reports suggesting his Gator career was over, sophomore linebacker Dee Finley has not yet made a final decision on whether to transfer out of the program or not, Muschamp said.

VANDERBILT. More QB drama: for the first time this season, the Commodore depth chart at quarterback has an "or" between starter Larry Smith and backup Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of Aaron Rodgers. Head coach James Franklin said the team would "kind of have a competition" at the position and whichever quarterback performs better in practice this week would get the nod against Georgia. Rodgers came on in relief of Smith vs. Alabama and completed 11 of 18 passes, but with two interceptions.

LSU.
The No. 1 Bayou Bengals' Nov. 5 trip to Alabama is already being marked on many college football fans' calendars as the Game of the Year--including LSU's, who chanted "We Want 'Bama" at the end of their team's beatdown of Florida. But don't tell that to Les Miles. "I hear the talk," he said. "But I promise you that talk doesn't exist in our building. That's fan chat or a media buzz. That buzz doesn't take place in our building."

With Miles stressing ball security, LSU has now gone three games without a turnover. At +11, the Tigers rank fourth in the nation in turnover margin. With the Auburn game a week from Saturday set for a 2:30 CT kickoff (on CBS), LSU will go an entire season without playing an SEC night game for the first time since 1935.

ELSEWHERE: The already-struggling Tennessee running game could be without starting tailback Tauren Poole, day-to-day with a hamstring injury ... new/old starting quarterback Matt Simms is happy to return to the starter's role against LSU, the team he nearly defeated last season ... Arkansas's bye week comes at a good time for quarterback Tyler Wilson, who needs the extra time to recover his lost voice ...

Don't expect to beat Alabama on the Tide's mistakes: they're committing the second-fewest penalties in the nation and AJ McCarron hasn't thrown an interception in 127 pass attempts ... Good news and bad news on the injury front for Georgia, who should see inside linebacker Alec Ogletree back on the field as scheduled come the Bulldogs' Oct. 29 meeting with Florida, but will miss receiver Malcolm Mitchell for this week's trip to Vanderbilt ...

Amidst the higher-profile stories breaking in Columbia Tuesday, Andrew Clifford and Dylan Thompson are battling to be this week's backup quarterback against Mississippi State. Steve Spurrier said picking one or the other could be a game-time decision ... Ole Miss will stick with Randall Mackey as the starter at quarterback against Alabama Saturday, but there's no set backup there, either ... But at least the Gamecocks and Rebels have a starter. Dan Mullen has said he won't name Mississippi State's until kickoff, if then. Chris Relf is attempting to fend off a challenge from Tyler Russell, who sparked the offense to three second-half touchdowns against UAB.

Posted on: October 8, 2011 10:34 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 10:36 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 2 Alabama 34, Vanderbilt 0

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WON: Congratulations to Vanderbilt for their two long first-half drives, possessions that at one point gave them an almost-unthinkable 142-116 yardage advantage over the co-national title favorites. But once both those drives ended in missed field goals, there was only one final outcome. (Actually, there was only one outcome even if they'd been made, but things would have been somewhat more interesting.) Trent Richardson overcame a slow start to finish with 107 yards and a touchdown.

WHY ALABAMA WON: That it was Alabama playing Vanderbilt in Tuscaloosa is, really, all the analysis you need. But the game might have amounted to more of a competitive contest if AJ McCarron didn't have his best day yet throwing the ball for the Crimson Tide. The Vanderbilt secondary is legitimately one of the best in the SEC, if not the country -- corner Casey Hayward deserves some All-American consideration, if we're any judge -- and McCarron still finished his night completing 23-of-30 for 237 yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. 

That last fact is no doubt what Nick Saban will come away happiest about (especially against an overmatched opponent like the 'Dores), but the rest of us can applaud the third of those touchdowns, a pretty 39-yarder to DeAndrew White. 

WHEN ALABAMA WON: Since "when the team bus successfully navigated its way to the stadium" isn't a fair answer, we'll say when Carey Spear missed the second of those two aforementioned field goals, a 38-yarder with 4:18 to play in the second quarter and the 'Dores still trailing just 7-0. The Commodore sideline visibly wilted seeing 7 plays and 59 yards' worth of work come to nothing, and the Tide's touchdown just before the half was the proverbial nail in the coffin.

WHAT ALABAMA WON: There isn't really anything to win in a home game against the Commodores, but the Tide likely avoided losing any momentum in the polls (such as theirs is as they bump up against the LSU-Oklahoma ceiling), didn't suffer any major injuries, and saw their quarterback play his best game of the year. We doubt anyone in T-Town is complaining.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: Starting quarterback Larry Smith left the game with an injury, but even that doesn't seem so bad after backup Jordan Rodgers performed admirably given the circumstances (11-of-18 and that 59-yard drive). Certainly James Franklin would have liked to have kept things more competitive, but this just isn't the kind of game by which his team's improvement should be measured.


Posted on: September 24, 2011 10:33 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 12 South Carolina 21, Vandy 3

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite a first half from Stephen Garcia that even a half-completed Jenga tower would describe as "oh, way too damn shaky," the Gamecock defense showed that it still knows how to put the clamps on -- and that Vandy, for all its progress, still has a long way to go -- by holding the visiting 'Dores to 71 total yards, 5 first downs, and no scoring drive longer than ... wait for it ... six yards. That Marcus Lattimore kid continued proving he might be an all-right player, too--he collected 151 yards from scrimmage (78 rushing, 73 receiving) and two touchdowns, doing nothing to hurt his budding Heisman campaign.

WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Because if it's Vanderbilt and Jay Cutler isn't under center, it doesn't matter how energetic or shrewd the Commodore coaching staff might be: the offense is not going to do a whole lot.

Oh, James Franklin might change that eventually, but he hasn't been able to yet. Even against a questionable Gamecock secondary, Larry Smith was his usual inefficient, wobbly self, completing 13-of-17 but for a nonexistent 2.8 yards an attempt. The offensive line struggled all night against Melvin Ingram, Jadeveon Clowney and Co., yielding six sacks and rushing for negative-1 yards for the night. And turnovers were, unsurprisingly, a major problem. Clowney stripped Smith twice -- once of those fumbles returned by a combination of Antonio Allen and Ingram for Ingram's third touchdown of the season -- and a Smith interception ended one of the 'Dores few forays across midfield.

Full credit goes to Ellis Johnson for his ever-consistent defensive coaching and the Gamecocks as a unit for a dominant display. But Vandy got a dream performance from Garcia -- an awful four-interception night that got him pulled for Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and repeatedly set the 'Dores up in great field position -- and still couldn't even stay competitive. Until Franklin can find something to hang his offense's hat on, Vandy might move out of the East cellar (and we won't say that's not an accomplishment), but opponents like the Gamecocks are going to remain well, well out of reach.

WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Despite their offensive struggles, Garcia's generosity had the visitors poised to regroup at halftime only down 7-3. But with less than 30 seconds remaining and the ball still on the Gamecock side of the 50, Garcia flipped a screen pass to Lattimore ... and he was gone, slaloming through defenders for a Heisman-quality 52-yard score. The way the Carolina defense was locked in, that 11-point deficit might as well have been 30 or 40.

WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: A comfortable victory after a few weeks of drama, and a reminder that when their defensive line is on its game, they can cause enough havoc to win games nearly singlehandedly. Good thing, too, since Garcia did his best to lose it the same way.

WHAT VANDERBILT LOST: A little of the shine off their 3-0 start -- they won't be pulling any votes in next week's polls -- but not many were expecting them to pull this one out.


Posted on: September 11, 2011 2:16 am
Edited on: September 11, 2011 2:20 am
 

What I Learned in the SEC, Week 2

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. Mark Richt is in deep, deep trouble. But he's not finished. It would be different if the Dawgs had lost Saturday the way they lost against Boise State, getting overwhelmed in the trenches and wilting in the second half. It would be different if Richt's team hadn't shown such drastic improvement from Week 1 to Week 2--not just on the scoreboard, but in everything from run blocking to tackling to special teams work. It would be different if Georgia hadn't had every opportunity to win the game Saturday. And most importantly, it would be different if the Dawgs were facing a different schedule.

But they are facing the schedule they're facing, which includes one tricky true road date (at Tennessee), the annual Cocktail Party showdown against Florida, two challenging home games against Auburn and Mississippi State ... and six other winnable games. Saving Richt's job won't be easy; we projected earlier it would take nine wins to do it, meaning Richt would have to go 3-1 in the games above and sweep the remaining six. 

But it's certainly possible. His team hasn't thrown in the towel. He has a star on his hands in Isaiah Crowell, who in the Dawgs' next big game we'll wager won't carry only 16 times. He has a quarterback who remains one of the SEC's best, despite his serious mistakes against the Gamecocks. He has a defense that only really gave up 27 points and should be even better against anyone who's not Marcus Lattimore. He's not dead yet.

2. Alabama is a national title contender. This is something we've had confirmed, rather than outright "learned," but there's no other way to look at the Tide's strangle job on the Nittany Lions. AJ McCarron wasn't impressive statistically (just 5.3 yards per attempt), but that "zero" in the interceptions column is really the only statistic that matters. Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy combined for 196 yards on the ground. And after generously allowing Penn State a first-quarter field goal, the Tide defense barely let the Lions breathe again until the game was entirely out of reach. 

Considering all of that was on the road against a quality Big Ten team, yes, the Tide deserve to be in the same breath with LSU and Oklahoma at the top of the polls until proven otherwise.

(A random aside: is it time for Lacy to start borrowing a few more of Richardson's carries? He's gotten only 19 attempts in two games to Richardson's 37, but boasts a per-carry average of 7.5 yards to Richardson's 3.8. Food for thought.)

3. Whatever else they are, Auburn is dangerous. Given that they share a division with the Tide, LSU and Arkansas, it's hard to see a team that's given up 979 yards in two games (one of them against Utah State) go on to win a division title. But focusing entirely on Auburn's defensive problems means missing the fact the Tigers have started the year with 83 points in those two games--42 in the first, 41 in the second. And that's before Gus Malzahn's attack has really put it all together, too. The run game sputtered in Week 1; the passing game was inconsistent in Week 2. 

Combine a potentially even more lethal offense with a much-improved special teams (led by freshman kickoff return weapon Tre Mason and redshirt frosh kicker Cody Parkey), and there may not be any single game on Auburn's schedule where they couldn't erupt for 40-45 points and win.

4. Speaking of dangerous: Tyler Bray is, too. That 5-of-30 performance in the Vols' spring game is far, far behind the sophomore now. Bray tore the visiting Cincinnati defense to pieces, completing 34 of his 41 passes for 405 yards, 4 touchdowns, and -- perhaps most importantly for a player whose coaches have occasionally accused of being too loose with his decision-making -- zero interceptions. Like Auburn, the Vol defense may not be strong enough to insert Bray's team alongside the Gamecocks and Gators in the SEC East race (the Bearcats ran for a whopping 6.4 yards on their 26 carries) ... but they might make things awfully interesting all the same.

5. Florida and Arkansas need to play someone. Full credit to the Gators and Hogs for dispatching lightweights UAB and New Mexico by a combined 88 points Saturday. But it's tough to know exactly how seriously to take either team playing cream-puff opponents like these or respective week 1 fodder FAU and Missouri State. (At least the Gators get serious next week against the Vols; the Hogs have to wait until a Week 4 showdown with the Tide.)

6. Vandy won't be an embarrassment. It remains to be seen how much headway they can make in the win column against their SEC slate, but that doesn't mean we should overlook that James Franklin's 'Dores already have as many wins in 2011 as they had in either 2009 or 2010. Thanks to a legitimately stingy defense that held UConn to fewer than 200 total yards, Vandy should be far more competitive than the 2010 squad that was outgained by 245 yards per SEC game.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com