Posted on: April 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: April 19, 2011 4:55 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With all six spring games completed, we wrap up spring practice in the SEC West, team by team. In alphabetical order:
ALABAMA: The two big headlines for Tide fans this spring were the quarterback battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims (pictured), and the unveiling of the new Nick Saban statue added to those of the school's first three national title-winning head coaches. As our own Dennis Dodd reported (and as you can hear for yourself in the reverent tone of this student news broadcast), the statue left the Tide faithful plenty satisfied; the quarterback battle, not so much, as neither McCarron nor Sims was able to create any real separation from the other. (How close were they? At A-Day, McCarron went 21-of-38 for 222 yards and one interception, Sims 19-of-38 for 229 yards and an interception.)
But as we pointed out in our Tide spring primer, who's at the reins of the offense isn't nearly as important as whether the offense can remain productive without Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, et al. With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower each looking like terrors this spring in the linebacking unit and All-American safety Mark Barron showing few ill effects of his postseason pectoral muscle surgery (he returned a fumble 96 yards for a score at A-Day), the defense looks poised to live up the "best in the nation, or damn close" expectations. All the offense has to do is not screw things up, and the running game -- behind Trent Richardson, a dynamo on A-Day with 167 all-purpose yards, and a loaded line with former five-star right tackle D.J. Fluker beginning to fulfill his vast potential -- appeared ready to do the job nearly by itself.
The Tide still haven't found what looks like a go-to receiver in the wake of Jones' departure (Richardson led both sides in receptions and yards at A-Day), and the McCarron/Sims derby could be a distraction lasting well into the fall. But given the help either one will receive from the running game (and line) on display Saturday, none of that might matter.
ARKANSAS: The big question before spring started was simply "can the Hogs handle losing Ryan Mallett?" And though the Red-White game certainly isn't a guarantee, it's definitely an arrow pointed in the direction of "goodness, yes." Likely new quarterback Tyler Wilson averaged 9.7 yards per his 25 attempts, with three touchdowns and no interceptions. His receiving corps -- on paper, the SEC's best, hands-down -- lived up to its billing, with Jarius Wright hauling in five balls for 157 yards and two scores. The White team defense had its moments, too, holding All-SEC candidate Knile Davis to just 44 yards on 16 carries.
The Hogs' spring wasn't perfect -- backup tailback Broderick Green went down for the year with an ACL tear -- and Bobby Petrino hasn't even officially named Wilson the starter yet. But with the quarterback position looking solid and the defense boasting its best spring in years, the loss of Mallett sure hasn't put much of a dent in the Hogs' new position as West challengers just yet.
AUBURN: The Tigers entered the spring looking for playmakers to fill at least part of the colossal void left by Cam Newton's and Nick Fairley's departures. And at defensive end, they may have found some; sophomores Corey Lemonier and Nosa Eguae both drew positive reviews throughout the spring, and previously little-used junior Dee Ford burst into the rotation with a big camp and a pair of sacks at Auburn's A-Day game. New line coach Mike Pelton said he was impressed by -- and would use -- all three this fall.
The rest of the defense didn't have a shabby A-Day, either, as they defeated the offense 63-32 in Gene Chizik's unique scrimmage scoring system. But most of the offense's efforts went towards polishing up the passing attack (tailbacks Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combined for just seven carries), and those efforts didn't yield much in terms in terms of finding big-play potential. Tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen (pictured) won MVP honors for his 65 yards receiving and catching the lone touchdown of the scrimmage, and DeAngelo Benton added one 48-yard reception. But otherwise, offensive excitement was hard to come by, and Chizik afterwards called the quarterbacking from Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley "inconsistent." (The two will compete for the starting job into the fall.)
Under Chizik, Auburn hasn't made much of an effort to put on a show in their spring game -- the reviews on Newton's debut in the 2010 version were universally ho-hum -- but there still seems little doubt Gus Malzahn will look for much more explosiveness out of his attack come fall camp.
LSU: It's the same old story on the bayou. The Tigers entered spring hoping to finally put their quarterbacking issues to rest behind someone, be it incumbent starter Jordan Jefferson or someone else ... and left it with Jefferson still the starter and still on less-than-firm ground after an ugly 4-of-14, no touchdowns, one interception performance.
Well, less-than-firm ground with the LSU fanbase , anyway. Bayou Bengal supporters seem to have universally pinned their hopes on JUCO transfer Zach Mettenberger, despite Mettenberger being mired at third on the depth chart entering the spring game. But you can't blame them when Jefferson struggled the way he did, Jarrett Lee averaged all of 4.5 yards per-attempt (with a pick, of course) and Mettenberger did this:
None of that made any difference to Les Miles and the LSU staff, who gave Jefferson the team's "Jim Taylor Award" for his spring effort and leadership. And quarterback or no quarterback, LSU showed how formidable they'd be all the same: Spencer Ware followed up his breakout Cotton Bowl performance with a huge spring, the secondary looks as airtight as ever even without Patrick Peterson, and there's plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball.
But unless Jefferson lives up to his coaches' faith in him -- and that spring game performance did little to assure anyone he will -- LSU's still going to have some headaches.
MISSISSIPPI STATE, OLE MISS: Despite their wildly divergent 2010 seasons, the question for both Mississippi schools was the same entering the spring: how would their defenses fare after losing several major contributors from last year?
In Oxford, that question was all the more important for last year's defense having been such a disappointment in the first place. And it got even harder to answer mid-spring when potentially the unit's best player, linebacker D.J. Shackelford, was lost for the year with an ACL tear. The Rebel defense had a successful spring game all the same, holding the two offenses to just 27 total points and scoring seven of their own on an Ivan Nicholas interception return. But coming against a Rebel offense in flux after seeing former JUCO Randall Mackey ascend to the likely starter's job (and former favorite Nathan Stanley leave the program), the jury will remain out despite the positive signs.
Up the road in Starkville, the news seemed more unambiguously positive: Dan Mullen said his defensive line "dominated" the Marron-White Game, producing 11 tackles-for-loss. The Bulldogs already seemed happy with their new linebackers, and that was before redshirt freshman Ferlando Bohanna blew up for eight tackles and a pair of sacks in the spring game. The secondary may remain a work-in-progress (State quarterbacks, including backup Dylan "Yes, That" Favre, combined to average a healthy 7.8 yards per-attempt), but the front seven looks like it shouldn't take too big a step back.
We'll cover the SEC East next week once the slowpokes at Kentucky hold their spring game this weekend.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Alabama, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Barrett Trotter, Bobby Petrino, Broderick Green, Cam Newton, Clint Moseley, Corey Lemonier, Cotton Bowl, Courtney Upshaw, D.J. Fluker, D.J. Shackelford, Dan Mullen, DeAngelo Benton, Dee Ford, Dont'a Hightower, Dylan Favre, Ferlando Bohanna, Gene Chizik, Gus Malzahn, Ivan Nicholas, Jarius Wright, Jarrett Lee, Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Jefferson, Julio Jones, Kentucky, Knile Davis, Les Miles, LSU, Mark Barron, Mark Ingram, Michael Dyer, Mike Pelton, Mississippi State, Nathan Stanley, Nick Fairley, Nick Saban, Nick Saban state, Nosa Eguae, Ole Miss, Onterio McCalebb, Patrick Peterson, Phillip Lutzenkirchen, Phillip Sims, Randall Mackey, Ryan Mallett, SEC, Spencer Ware, spring practice, Trent Richardson, Tyler Wilson, What I Learned, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: April 15, 2011 5:34 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The injury bug snuck up and took a bite out of Arkansas on Friday, though if there's any silver lining, the Razorbacks did not lose a starter. Senior running back Broderick Green tore the ACL in his left knee and will miss the entire 2011 season.
“Broderick had been doing a great job this spring and had been working extremely hard,” Arkansas' Bobby Petrino said in a statement released on Friday. “Although this is unfortunate for him, I know Broderick will focus during the recovery process. Our trainers and medical staff are among the best in the country and will assist him in overcoming the injury.”
Green suffered the injury in practice on Wednesday as the team prepared for it's spring game this weekend.
Green came to Arkansas after transferring from USC in 2009, and started five games for the Razorbacks. Serving as a backup to Knile Davis in 2010, Green ran for 365 yards and 3 touchdowns on 104 carries. Still, while the presence of Knile Davis means that this injury won't be a devastating blow to the Arkansas offense, and it likely won't prove problematic for the team's depth at running back.
Ronnie Wingo Jr, who rushed for 253 yards and a touchdown last season will likely move up the depth chart to become Davis' backup, with Dennis Johnson picking up some carries as well. Johnson only had 9 carries in 2010, but the rising senior rushed for 562 yards during his first two seasons in Fayetteville.
Posted on: April 7, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 2:43 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Tags: ACC, ACC recruiting, Al Golden, Alabama, Arizona State, Arkansas, Aziz Shittu, Big 12, Big 12 recruiting, Big Ten, Charlie Strong, Cincinnati, David Shaw, Dorial Green-Beckham, Florida, Georgia, Jim Harbaugh, Joker Phillips, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Malcolm Brown, Malcom Brown, Miami, Nathan Holmes, Non-BCS, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oshay Dunsmore, Pac-12, Pac-12 recruiting, Penn State, Recruiting Review, SEC, SEC recruiting, Stanford, Texas, Tom Lemming, USC, Vanderbillt, Zach Banner
Posted on: April 5, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 7:55 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
The end of March Madness is always a bittersweet occasion. On one hand, it'll be five long months for fans of major college athletics before the football season kicks off, and seven months before the ball is tipped and there you are again. Sure, there are pro sports going on, but seven-game playoff rounds? Who's got time for that?
On the other hand, the end of the NCAA Tournament means the beginning of a different, wonderful tourney: the Name of the Year competition. Every year, 64 actual, documented names are put up for round-by-round voting, with one name to reign supreme. Why yes, there is a bracket.
As you can see, college football has contributed some of these names. Superstar South Carolina recruit Jadeveon Clowney is a 7-seed in the Chrotchtangle region, squaring off against the always dangerous Charlie Soap. There's also LSU defensive lineman A'Trey-U Jones, plus a number of recruits: Arkansas commit Quinta Funderburk, Ole Miss recruit Philander Jones, and uncommitted 2012 cornerback recruit Leviticus Payne. Also, LSU defensive end Barkevious Mingo rode a wave of support from Every Day Should Be Saturday to take the 2009 NOTY title. So this is totally relevant to college football, you see.
Sadly, though, we don't think that kind of popular support will be there for Clowney this year. While his name is cool and he is an absolutely terrifying propsect, it's not nearly silly enough to muscle past the likes of La'Peaches Pitts, Solo Alone, or the utterly preposterous Taco B.M. Monster. We're sure Clowney will settle for the consolation prize of demolishing the SEC and getting drafted in the first round of the NFL. Which he will.
Past that, we have a few observations.
So... who's your winner?
Tags: 2011 Name of the Year, 2011 Name of the Year Bracket, A'Trey-U Jones, Arkansas, Barkevious Mingo, Charlie Soap, Dr. Loveday Conquest, Jadeveon Clowney, Jihad Larry, Jihad Larry, La'Peaches Pitts, Leviticus Payne, LSU, Monsterville Horton IV, Name of the Year, Name of the Year Bracket, Ole Miss, Philander Jones, Quardrophenia Taylor, Quinta Funderburk, Reverend Demon Sox, SEC, Shaka Smart, Solo Alone, Solo Alone, South Carolina, Taco B.M. Monster, Taco B.M. Monster, VCU, Yolanda Supersad
Posted on: March 23, 2011 12:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SEC fans, it's time to get out your calendars, open your datebooks, fire up your scheduling apps ... whatever you need to do to make sure your fall Saturdays are clear. Because the final SEC 2011 football schedule has been released -- you can view it in PDF grid form here -- and as expected, it's got more than its fair share of mouth-watering dates. Our choices for the highlights:
Sept. 3: South Carolina has sadly abdicated their semi-traditional opening Thursday night throne, so Western Kentucky's expected throttling at Kentucky is the only SEC action on the season's first night. But that's more than made up for by the matchups waiting on Saturday: Boise State traveling to Georgia, Oregon and LSU meeting at Jerry Jones's Dallas space palace, newly independent BYU visiting Oxford to take on Ole Miss ... even East Carolina's matchup against the Gamecocks in Charlotte could prove interesting. In this cupcake-sodden day and age, you can't ask for anything more from an opening weekend.
Sept. 17: LSU starts the weekend with a sneakily-difficult Thursday night trip to Starkville to take on Mississippi State , the same situation in which the Bulldogs nearly upset the eventual national champions last season. From there we get the first real test of the Will Muschamp era as Tennessee visits Florida for the week's headliner. But there's still plenty of quality nonconference goodness after that: Auburn visiting Clemson, Kentucky hosting Louisville, Carolina taking on Navy's triple option.
Oct. 8: Though this doesn't apply to Alabama -- which will have already battled both Arkansas and Florida by this point -- this is the week the divisional races really get going, with three critical rivalry showdowns: Auburn at Arkansas, Florida at LSU, and Georgia at Tennessee. We'll know which teams are the true league favorites by this point.
Nov. 5: The rest of the slate's not particularly eye-catching -- though South Carolina's visit to Arkansas could be intriguing -- but it doesn't much matter when the presumptive SEC Game of the Year, co-league favorite LSU at co-league favorite Alabama, falls on this afternoon.
Nov. 26: Rivalry week in the SEC, and it promises to be as good as it's ever been: Muschamp's Gators trying to reassert themselves as the dominant Sunshine State program against Jimbo Fisher's resurgent Florida State; the always-competitive Battle for the Golden Boot between LSU and Arkansas, with a division title potentially on the line; the Gamecocks trying to build on last year's throttling of Clemson with another win in the Palmetto State bloodfeud; the usual hatefest between Georgia and Georgia Tech, with both teams trying to prove once and for all 2010 was a fluke; Kentucky tries once again to break the longest one-team-to-another losing streak in the country against Tennessee; the Egg Bowl , still underrated in terms of the animosity generated; and, oh yeah, an Iron Bowl meeting between the past two national champions that could very well carry national title implications again.
Inbetween these peaks, even the valleys will feature games like Auburn-Florida, Alabama-Penn State, Florida-South Carolina, Arkansas-Texas A&M, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ... it's going to be the same brutally intense SEC season it always is. If there's any problem with finally getting our grubby paws on the conference's schedule, it's that it also reminds us of how long we have to wait to have the goodies it promises are delivered.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Battle for the Golden Boot, Boise State, Clemson, East Carolina, Egg Bowl, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Iron Bowl, Jimbo Fisher, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Mississippi State, Navy, Oregon, Penn State, SEC, SEC schedule, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Western Kentucky, Will Muschamp, World's Largest Outdoor Coctail Party
Posted on: March 15, 2011 11:52 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Nebraska , who opened spring camp on Saturday.
Spring Practice Question: There's no Ryan Mallett. So what is there, exactly?
We'll go ahead and spoil what we expect to be answer this spring: a whole heck of a lot.
But first, let's look at what the Razorbacks are missing without college football's most famous modified razor scooter -user. First and foremost, they'll be missing -- as Mallett himself said when asked how he'd respond to questions about his college career -- "seven thousand-plus yards and 60 touchdowns in two seasons." Those kind of numbers, and the attendant fear they (and Mallett's gatling-gun arm) put into the shell-shocked defenses he faced aren't easily replaced ... if they're replaced at all.
But it's possible that if the numbers and the arm strength aren't coming back, in ascendant junior Tyler Wilson the Hogs will welcome a few new things that even Mallett couldn't offer them. For all his intimidating talent, it's telling that Mallett summed up his resume for the pros with statistics rather than wins-and-losses or championships; while his two years were immensely successful both personally and from a team standpoint (the program's first-ever BCS bowl berth is nothing to sneeze at, to say the least), Mallett never did shake the nagging feeling from many observers he could have been even better than he was. In 2009, he pulverized the Eastern Michigans on the Hog schedule but too often tried to make the spectacular throw rather than the sensible one, resulting in a 39 percent combined completion rate in Arkansas's four games against ranked opponents (all losses). Mallett was much more consistent in 2010, but Hog fans still have to wonder: what if he hadn't had that three-interception meltdown at home against Alabama? What if the final throw of his college career hadn't been another game-ending boneheaded pick in the Sugar Bowl?
So what could Wilson offer that Mallett didn't? A little more poise down the stretch of big games, and maybe even a little more within-the-offense conservatism when necessary against deep coverage. It's worth remembering three other things in Wilson's favor here, too:
1. Bobby Petrino no doubt helped make Mallett the star he was, but he doesn't need an tree-sized, cannon-armed quarterback to be successful, as he proved with players like Stefan LeFors and Brian Brohm at Louisville;
2. Wilson looked outstanding in his one relief performance of Mallett last season, hitting 25-of-34 against Auburn for 332 yards and four touchdowns, nearly leading the Hogs out of a sizable deficit for what would have been a season-defining victory;
3. He won't have to carry the offense himself, and in fact won't have to carry much of it at all.
Per point No. 3, why not? Because in emerging workhorse running back Knile Davis (who topped 1,000 yards in the last nine games alone) and the senior wide receiving trio of Joe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs, no quarterback in the SEC (and maybe the country) should receive more support from his fellow skill position players that Wilson. He doesn't have to be Mallett to replace him.
And while most of the attention from Razorback fans this spring will likely center on whether the offense keeps humming, the Arkansas defense could be preparing for its best season yet under Petrino. Linebackers Jerry Franklin and Jerico Nelson both return for their senior seasons after finishing 1-2 on the team in tackles and 1-3 in tackles-for-loss a year ago; end Jake Bequette dominated in flashes last year, totaled a team-leading seven sacks, and could be poised for an All-SEC season; and the safety-corner combo of Tramain Thomas and Darius Winston look ready to pick up where last year's tag-team of Ramon Broadway and Rudell Crim left off.
So: the defense should be better. The running game and the receivers are in place. Which will turn all eyes towards Wilson this spring to see if he can deliver on the promise he showed against Auburn. If he can, even the loss of a wunderkind like Mallett might not be the kind of blow his reputation the past two seasons suggested it would be.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Brian Brohm, Darius Winston, Eastern Michigan, Greg Childs, Jake Bequette, Jarius Wright, Jerico Nelson, Jerry Franklin, Joe Adams, Knile Davis, Louisville, Ramoin Broadway, Rudell Crim, SEC, Spring Practice, Spring Practice Primer, Stefan LeFors, Sugar Bowl, Tramain Thomas, Tyler Wilson
Posted on: March 7, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 8:05 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Remember last December when there was all the hullabaloo about five Ohio State Buckeyes selling memorabilia to Edward Rife, the owner of a tattoo parlor in Columbus? Remember how everyone was all up in arms about those five Buckeyes all being allowed to play against Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, and not having to begin serving their suspensions until next season?
Man, those were some crazy times. Thank goodness we don't have to deal with any of that mess anymore. Oh, wait. Yes, it appears we do. According to a Yahoo! sports report, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel knew what his players were up to in April of last year. A good eight months before Ohio State told the NCAA it knew of the situation.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was informed that several Buckeyes players were selling memorabilia more than eight months before the school claims it was made aware of the scheme, a two-month Yahoo! Sports investigation has found.
Tressel received information that players were selling items to Edward Rife – the owner of Fine Line Ink Tattoos in Columbus – as early as April 2010, according to a source. However, neither Ohio State nor the NCAA investigated the transactions or the players’ relationship with Rife until December 2010, when the school claims it was informed of the situation by the local United States Attorney’s office.
Ohio State director of compliance Doug Archie declined immediate comment when reached Monday by Yahoo! Sports. Tressel and athletic director Gene Smith were unavailable for comment. The NCAA declined comment.If this is true, then both Tressel and Ohio State could be in a lot more trouble. Tressel could be charged with all sorts of violations, including unethical conduct and failure to monitor and promote an atmosphere of compliance. Just imagine the fun Michigan fans would have with that following the beating they took with the whole Rich Rodriguez investigation.
In fact, things could be so bad for Tressel if this is true, that failing to report what he knew right away could result in his termination. As is detailed in section 5.1 of his contract which says that failure to report "any violations" could lead to "termination by Ohio State for cause." There's no way to know if things will go that far.
Still, if this report turns out to be true, and the NCAA comes down hard on Ohio State -- though with the decisions the NCAA has made lately, who knows where they'll come down on this -- it's not entirely out of the question. It's going to be an interesting spring for Tressel and the Buckeyes, that's for sure.
Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:30 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner returning, Josh Huff making his late-season surge, Lache Seastrunk coming off of his redshirt season, and mega-recruit De'Anthony Thomas set to arrive soon, the Oregon running back position looks as crowded as any in the country. This is likely why one Duck has decided it might be time to find a backfield that offers a little more breathing space.
Oregon confirmed today that Duck redshirt freshman Dontae Williams has requested and received a release from his scholarship . Like Seastrunk, Williams came to Eugene as a highly-regarded running back prospect out of Texas -- he attended the same Aldine (Tx.) high school as Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas -- but spent 2010 on the bench as James (yet another Texas native) and Barber hogged the carries.
With Williams reportedly behind Seastrunk entering the Ducks' upcoming spring camp, he decided it was time to look elsewhere for playing time. Possible landing spots include his old recruiting suitors much closer to home: Texas A&M, TCU, or Arkansas. The No. 22 "big back" in the class of 2010 according to Maxpreps' Tom Lemming, it seems likely Williams has the talent to make an impact wherever he lands once his transfer year is spent.
As for Oregon, it's one fewer option for Chip Kelly to turn to when it comes to distributing carries this fall ... but even after Williams' departure, no one will have more options to turn to all the same.