Tag:SEC Championship Game
Posted on: December 3, 2010 2:30 pm
 

Gamecocks have the right idea about Cam this time

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

There are many things you could say about Cam Newton , and by now, nearly all of them have been said.

But even given that Newton ranks second in the country in passer rating, given that he's rushed more often than he's thrown in one of the country's strongest rushing attacks, you wouldn't expect "we fear him more as a passing threat than a running threat" to have been one of those things said. It turns out that's exactly what South Carolina was saying to themselves as they prepared to face Auburn the first time:
South Carolina's coaches saw a 6-6, 250-pound quarterback who wanted to throw first and run second. The new JaMarcus Russell, they called him. That's what film against Arkansas State, Mississippi State and Clemson had shown them.

But they were mistaken.

"The first time we played them, they did a good job and wore us out," Gamecocks defensive assistant Shane Beamer said Monday.

"We probably didn't have as much respect for him as a runner as we did a passer."

Newton solved that problem right quick, going for 176 of Auburn's 334 yards on the ground. Obviously, when the two teams meet again Saturday in the SEC Championship Game (exclusively on CBS!), the Gamecocks will be a little more focused on making sure Newton has to beat them through the air rather than on the ground alone. (Whether they can succeed is debatable given Carolina's struggles in their 100th-ranked pass defense and Newton's 12-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio since midseason, but when given two evils, one has to be the lesser.)

But the question has to be asked: what film of Mississippi State and Clemson were the Gamecock coaches watching? Against State , Newton threw 19 times and rushed the ball 18 times, with many of those rushes going for critical first downs and one of his passes an ugly interception into end-zone triple coverage. Against Clemson , Newton threw just 14 times (with two more interceptions) while carrying the ball 17 times.

Certainly, many of Newton's passes in both those games went for huge plays (he averaged a remarkable 29 yards per-completion in the comeback against Clemson) and both the Bulldogs and Tigers kept him largely bottled up in those 35 attempts on the ground. But if Carolina really expected Newton to be a Russell-like pocket passer, you have to ask what they thought they were seeing over the course of those games ... and whether the same staff is up the challenge of Gus Malzahn and Newton this time around.

 


Posted on: November 30, 2010 10:56 am
Edited on: November 30, 2010 1:22 pm
 

Garcia ailing ahead of SEC title tilt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Stephen Garcia left the first meeting between Auburn and South Carolina a little worse for wear, taking a knock to the head (though not one severe enough to be ruled a concussion) that helped prompt Steve Spurrier -- who said Garcia was "woozy" -- to turn to true freshman Connor Shaw for the game's final two drives. Shaw threw interceptions on both those possessions, ending any chance of a late Gamecock comback, so Carolina knows already it will have to have Garcia healthy and at his best to keep pace with the Tigers' SEC -best offense.

Unfortunately, Spurrier announced yesterday that may be a luxury they simply won't have:
Garcia hurt his right thumb in Saturday night's victory over Clemson when his hand struck a Clemson defender's helmet, an injury he addressed after the game. However, USC head coach Steve Spurrier revealed late Sunday afternoon that Garcia has a 'banged-up' left (non-throwing) shoulder as well.

As a a result, Garcia is not expected to practice early this week, but could join his teammates in workouts by the middle of the week.

"His right hand is very sore," Spurrier said Sunday during a teleconference with reporters to preview Saturday's SEC Championship game. "And his left shoulder got popped a little bit. He probably won't do too much the first couple of days this week, but hopefully by midweek or so he should be pretty close to full go. He's a little banged up right now, but he should be okay, we think."
If Spurrier's expecting him back at practice by midweek, Garcia remains likely to play in Atlanta. But if you're a Gamecock fan, "He should be OK, we think" can't sound encouraging, particularly given Auburn's penchant for knocking opposing quarterbacks (Ryan Mallett , Greg McElroy , Jarrett Lee , Garcia) out of the game. There's also been a credible report that Garcia's injury is severe enough to put his arm in a sling on Sunday. (For those of you interested in such things, Vegas has reportedly taken the game off the board in response to Garcia's status.)

When all is said and done, expect Garcia to suit up, take the field against the Tigers, and deliver the same kind of gutty effort that's always marked his tenure in Columbia. But if he's not 100 percent, Carolina's already long-seeming odds against the Tigers will get that much longer.


Posted on: September 27, 2010 5:53 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 5:57 pm
 

Breaking down the SEC division races

Posted by Chip Patterson

For the last four years, the winner of the SEC Championship game has gone on to compete and win the National Championship.  With the conference play heating up and a rematch of Florida-Alabama ahead in Week 5, here is a breakdown of the division races in the SEC. 

SEC EAST -- CONTENDERS

Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0)
So far...: The Gators got a slow start with a lot of questions after uninspiring victories over Miami and South Florida, but the last two games have shown a relentless defense and an offense that is beginning to find an identity.  That identity is looking like it includes the multi-talented freshman quarterback Trey Burton, who scored six times (5 times rushing, once receiving) against Kentucky.
  
Toughest challenges ahead: October 2 - at Alabama; October 9 - vs. LSU; November 13 - vs. South Carolina
   
Outlook: The biggest game of the season for the Gators will be their visit to Tuscaloosa on Saturday.  The rematch of the last two SEC Championship games has huge implications for both division races.  If the Gators fall to the Tide, they will likely need to win the rest of their division games to ensure a trip back to Atlanta for the title game.  An upset win over Alabama puts the Gators in the drivers seat for the title game, and likely would bring the Gators back into the national title discussion. 

South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 1-1)
So far...: The Gamecocks burst on the scene with impressive victories and an improved offense that had Ol' Ball Coach running his mouth around the conference once again.  Freshman running back Marcus Lattimore has proven to be a game-changing back already, and until the 35-27 loss to Auburn, quarterback Stephen Garcia finally looked ready for a true breakout season.  Now the Gamecocks have a quarterback controversy on their hands, and their toughest challenges of the year left on the schedule.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 9 - vs. Alabama; November 6 - vs. Arkansas; November 13 - at Florida

Outlook: If they had been able to knock off Auburn on Saturday night, South Carolina would have been a frontrunner to knock Florida off its throne atop the SEC East.  Unfortunately, the loss has put them in a can't-lose scenario if they want to get reach their first SEC Championship Game in school history.  Looming dates against Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida in the Swamp will make it difficult to keep the loss column thin.  If they can get pull off an upset or two and get some help from, they could enter the Florida game with a chance to steal the division.

Pretenders: Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia 

SEC WEST -- CONTENDERS

Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0)
So far...:  Alabama left very little doubt on Saturday who is the best team in the nation.  Being pushed up against the ropes on the road by a very talented Arkansas team, the defending champs battled back into the game and escaped Fayetteville with a victory.  After being down 17-7 at halftime, the Alabama defense (which had not allowed a TD all season until that game) tormented Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas offense in the second half.  Mallet was picked off three times and the Tide defense only allowed three points after halftime while Mark Ingram led the charge for Alabama to reclaim the lead and a win.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 2 - vs. Florida; October 9 - at South Carolina; November 6 - at LSU; November 26 - vs. Auburn

Outlook:  The tests are far from done for Alabama, but thankfully the two most threatening opponents remaining on the schedule (Florida and Auburn) both have to travel to Tuscaloosa.  After watching their performance on Saturday, it is hard to imagine many situations that don't involve Alabama back in the SEC Championship game.  However, South Carolina and LSU are both talented teams playing in hostile territory and those games should not be taken lightly.  If Auburn and Alabama don't slip, they could enter the Iron Bowl with the division title on the line.   

Auburn Tigers (4-0, 2-0)
So far...:  The Tigers are quickly becoming one of the darlings of the SEC.  For the third week in a row, Auburn has been locked in a nationally televised nail-biter and emerged victorious.  The 17-14 win over Mississippi State was not impressive by any means, but the overtime victory against Clemson and Saturday's upset of South Carolina have bumped the Tigers to No. 10 in the nation and now a relevant part of the SEC Championship discussion. 

Toughest challenges ahead: October 16 - vs. Arkansas; October 23 - vs. LSU; November 26 - at Alabama

Outlook:  Cam Newton has officially arrived as one of the premiere quarterbacks in college football this season, and as long as the 6-6 250 pound signal-caller is scoring five total touchdowns like he did against South Carolina, Auburn will always have a chance.  The Tigers have the benefit of getting Arkansas and LSU at home, but this team cannot afford another performance like Mississippi State and expect to win.  If they play to their potential, Auburn could find themselves heading into the Iron Bowl with a shot to return to the SEC title game for the first time since 2004.

LSU Tigers (4-0, 2-0)
So far...:  LSU's defense has proven to be one of the best units in the nation.  Their offense, on the other hand, is about as productive as a late Friday afternoon.  With no good option at quarterback (Jarrett Lee is not a "good" option, just not as a bad) the Tigers have relied on their defense and return game to spring them out to an early No. 12 national ranking.

Toughest challenges ahead: October 9 - at Florida; October 23 - at Auburn; November 6 - vs. Alabama; November 27 - at Arkansas

Outlook:  If the Bayou Bengals are for real, they will get a chance to prove it in October in their road games against Florida and Auburn.  If LSU can take care of business away from Death Valley, they will make the November 6 show down with with Alabama a lot more interesting.  It is hard to support a team with no offense as a conference title contender, but they have at least earned the right to be in the discussion.

Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1, 1-1)
So far...:  Until halftime of Saturday's game against Alabama, Ryan Mallet looked like the best pro quarterback in college football, and the Razorbacks looked ready to have one of the most successful seasons in the programs history.  Unfortunately, the second half unraveling has temporarily overshadowed Arkansas' impressive start.
  
Toughest challenges ahead: October 16 - at Auburn; November 6 - at South Carolina; November 27 - vs. LSU

Outlook: Arkansas had not played a truly challenging team before Alabama, so there is a lot left for this team to prove.  The defense looked fired up and strong in the first half against the Tide, but it is unknown if they will be able to repeat the same performance on the road against a team like Auburn or South Carolina.  The Razorbacks made for a good story, but it is hard to believe that Alabama's comeback did not break their spirits a little.  Difficult to imagine that they will be able to reach that level of energy the rest of the season.

Pretenders: Mississippi State, Ole Miss

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