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Tag:Tennessee
Posted on: November 13, 2010 2:14 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 2:32 pm
 

Masoli passes injury test, Nutt wishes he hadn't

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Jeremiah Masoli was listed as an injury question mark all week after a head injury suffered in last week's win over UL-Lafayette , with the consensus wisdom being that the Rebels wouldn't have much of a chance on the road at Tennessee . So it appeared to be good news for the Rebels when Masoli was cleared to play and took the field in Knoxville.

In practice, though, the Rebels might have been better off simply going with backup Nathan Stanley . Masoli has suffered through a miserable first half, going 6-of-15 for just 72 yards (4.8 yards-per-attempt), rushing for just 15 yards on 6 attempts, and throwing one interception without a touchdown. That interception wasn't your garden-variety pick, either -- it was a horrific duck into the flat that Tennessee's Eric Gordon gratefully plucked with ease and returned 46 yards for a Vol score. Several other makeable quick throws have sailed on him in ugly fashion. A big first half for Rebel running back Branden Bolden (81 yards on 8 carries, two touchdowns) has kept Ole Miss from being run out of Neyland Stadium, but at this point he's the only thing the Ole Miss offense has going for it.

To be fair, Masoli hasn't been the Rebels' only problem; the eminently flammable Rebel secondary has been torched by Tyler Bray (yes, that Tyler Bray, the fencepost-thin true freshman) for 265 yards and three touchdowns. Giving up 24 offensive points in a half to the usually-low-fi Volunteer offense has to be a performance every bit as disappointing for Houston Nutt as his quarterbacks'.

But whether the greater share of blame falls on the defense or Masoli doesn't much matter: either way Tennessee has a 31-14 lead at halftime and barring a total collapse by the thin Volunteer defense, it's going to be the home team taking another critical step towards bowl eligibility.

UPDATE, 1:31 EST: And Masoli begins the second half by throwing another abomination of a pick-six, an easy lob well above his receiver's head and returned 10 yards for the Vol score. 38-14, and the Rebels now appear done.
Posted on: November 12, 2010 1:03 pm
 

Nutt hopes Masoli can play Saturday

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It may be firmly implanted in last place in the SEC West, but if Ole Miss can somehow manage to win two of its last three games, the Rebels will become bowl eligible this season.  Of course, considering that after this week's tilt against Tennessee that the Rebels have to travel to LSU before taking on Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, winning two games isn't going to be easy.

Which means that, realistically, if the Rebels don't beat Tennessee this weekend, they can forget about going to a bowl game.  So it would be nice if they had their starting quarterback available, though nobody is quite sure whether that will be the case. 

Jeremiah Masoli suffered a concussion last week against Louisiana-Lafayette, and is yet to be cleared to play against the Volunteers on Saturday.  Still, Houston Nutt is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I'm hoping (tonight, trainer Tim Mullins) can say he's going to be all right," Nutt told the Clarion-Ledger. "That's what I'm hoping."

Masoli has participated in practice this week, though he has been limited.  While Nutt is hoping that Mullins will clear Masoli to play on Friday night, he also said that it could come on Saturday morning, and that if that is the case, then Masoli will be prepared to play.  If Masoli can't go, Nathan Stanley will start in his place. 

Stanley replaced Masoli last week and completed only 6-of-14 passes for 108 yards.  Odds are that if Stanley does play, you can expect another heavy dose of Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis,  as both running backs rushed for over 100 yards last week.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 11:49 am
 

Kiffin says Newton never asked UT for money

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Remember the good old days of the SEC when the only "controversy" was what Lane Kiffin had done or said?  Then Kiffin left Knoxville for USC, which has had its own issues with the NCAA lately, but not before he made an attempt to recruit Cam Newton while Newton was at Blinn Junior College after leaving Florida.   So, naturally, now that the college football world is one of Newton, Newton, Newton and more Newton, it only makes sense that somebody would ask Kiffin if anything unseemly took place during Newton's recruitment.

When asked directly if Newton or anyone claiming to represent Newton ever asked for money during the recruitment, Kiffin said "no."  Though he also said that Tennessee wasn't that actively involved in recruiting him, because he wasn't a great fit for the Tennessee system.  Newton was never offered a scholarship by Tennessee, something Kiffin said "doesn't make me look very smart."

Kiffin also went on to say that his time spent in the SEC gave him a unique perspective on the situation, because "you hear so many things down there."

"I remember so many things said about me that weren't accurate," Kiffin said. "It was a good lesson learned. If something comes on the radio or in print, I don't think there are any facts to it at all until someone shows some proof. This is a perfect example."

Kiffin is the second head coach to recruit Newton, along with Bob Stoops, who has come out and said that money was never involved during the process.  Which is a good sign for all those Auburn fans hoping Newton is cleared of all this, but it doesn't prove anything.  All it means is that Newton is either innocent, or that Oklahoma and Tennessee were never really in the running for his services.
Posted on: November 7, 2010 12:31 am
 

What I learned from the SEC (Nov. 6)

Posted by Tom Fornelli

1. Les Miles loves the taste of grass and victory.   Seriously, he loves the taste of grass.  We have video to prove it and Russell Sheppard says he does it all the time because it's filled with protein.  But as any mad genius herbivore can tell you, the grass always tastes sweeter when you win, and that's what LSU did on Saturday to keep its SEC title hopes alive and end those of Alabama at the same time. Miles did it in his usual crazy manner, too.  Making sure his team looked horrible for the first 30 minutes before coming out firing in the second half.  I'm really starting to wonder if Miles is just so insane he's actually sane. Like, he's done the complete 360 degrees of insanity, and the rest of us just can't comprehend it.

2. The SEC West > The SEC East.  Okay, so the Mississippi State Bulldogs are 7-2 overall, and 3-2 in conference play.  This is good enough to earn them fifth place in the six team SEC West.  You know where this would put them in the East?  They'd be tied with Florida and South Carolina for the lead with one less loss -- but one less win as well -- and they'd have the best overall record in the division.  For further proof of the West's dominance, look what fourth place Arkansas did to South Carolina on Saturday night.

3. Cam Newton is not easily distracted.
  Here's what I know about Cam Newton after watching Saturday's game.  He either knows he's 100% innocent of any of the allegations about selling himself to the highest bidder, or he just doesn't give a poop.  Newton threw for 317 yards and 4 touchdowns on Saturday, and granted, it was against Tennessee-Chattanooga, but those are still very impressive numbers.  Now he has the Tigers only one win shy of the SEC West title, and a few more wins away from the title game.

4. Cupcakes are delicious.
  Listen, I don't like the annual sacrifices of FCS schools to BCS schools that we see every year, but the fact of the matter is that as long as the BCS reigns, we are stuck with them.  And, to be honest, I can't really blame SEC schools for wanting to schedule them in the middle of conference play and taking a break.  Georgia, Auburn, Kentucky and Florida -- I'M KIDDING, VANDERBILT* -- all feasted on them, while Ole Miss and Tennessee enjoyed some slightly heavier Sun Belt and Conference USA fare.

*No I'm not
Posted on: November 4, 2010 3:42 pm
 

SEC Title Hunt preview, Week 10

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 a mostly premature prediction.  Agree? Disagree? Got any good haikus? Leave 'em all in the comments section below.

West Division

Auburn (9-0) (6-0)
Alabama (7-1) (4-1)
LSU (7-1) (4-1)
Mississippi State (7-2) (3-2)
Arkansas (6-2) (3-2)
Ole Miss (3-5) (1-4)

Week 9 Preview
With their convincing victory over Ole Miss last weekend, Auburn has eliminated both Arkansas and Mississippi State from the West race. Thanks to a head-to-head loss to Auburn and a second loss for both the Razorbacks and Bulldogs within the division (where Auburn finishes 4-1 at worst), it appears that's it's impossible for either team to win a tiebreaker against the Tigers, whether it be two-way, three-way, or even four-way. Since the Tigers are already two games up in the loss column with only two to play, the Hogs and Dogs cannot do better than a tie and are done where Atlanta is concerned. A share of the West will be as good as it gets.

But that's not the case for either LSU or Alabama , who will play what will very likely amount to an elimination game Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Tide could still make Atlanta after a loss by winning out, having Auburn lose to Georgia , and watching LSU drop one of their final two SEC games; they'd win the three or four-way tie at 6-2. But that's a lot of breaks to catch. LSU, on the other hand, has no way back in the event of a loss, as they'd fall into the no-way-past-Auburn boat shared by Arkansas and MSU.

For the winner of LSU-Alabama, though hope remains very much alive. LSU would need a pair of Auburn losses, but if they got them they would control their own destiny for Atlanta. Things would be even rosier for the Tide, who control their own destiny already and would be only two home games away from the divisional title.

Which is why Auburn will be rooting hard for LSU (not, of course, that they wouldn't be anyway). A Bayou Bengal win would mean that after dispensing with FCS Chattanooga this week, Auburn would have the golden opportunity to clinch the division at home next week against Georgia. The opinion here is that they won't get it, however; unless Patrick Peterson can produce some game-changing plays in the return game, it's hard to see how LSU's feeble passing attack makes enough hay against the Tide's defense to put a game-winning number of points on the board.

Week 10 West winners: Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss
West Favorite: Auburn

East Division

South Carolina (6-2) (4-2)
Florida (5-3) (3-3)
Georgia (4-5) (3-4)
Vanderbilt (2-6) (1-5)
Kentucky (4-5) (1-5)
Tennessee (2-6) (0-5)

Week 9 Preview
Thanks to form holding in the South Carolina vs. Tennessee , Vanderbilt vs. Arkansas, and Kentucky vs. Mississippi State games, what once appeared to be an incomprehensible mess will almost certainly come down to one game: South Carolina at Florida, Nov. 13, for all the division's marbles.

It's "almost" because there's one remaining possible fly in the ointment: Vanderbilt, who hosts the Gators at noon Eastern this Saturday. If the Commodores can pull off the shocker, Carolina will go into their evening game against Arkansas knowing that a win will send them to Atlanta for the first time in the program's history.

Much more likely, of course, is that the Gators take care of business and render the tilt between the Gamecocks and Razorbacks completely meaningless where the East title is concerned. Even in the event of a Gator win and Carolina loss -- a likelihood, given the downtrodden state of the Carolina secondary and the skills of Ryan Mallett -- the Gamecocks will still have the tiebreaking upper hand if they can win in the Swamp, and Florida will have no way past that tiebreak after that fourth loss. It will be 100 percent winner-take-all.

(Note that Georgia has been eliminated; even the Vandy-over-Florida / Arkansas-and-Florida-over-Carolina / Georgia-over-Auburn series of events that leads to a three-way tie at 4-4 doesn't help them, since Florida would take it on the strength of head-to-head wins over both the Dawgs and Gamecocks.)

Week 10 East winners: Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee
East Favorite: Florida


Mostly Premature SEC Championship Game Prediction - Auburn 34, Florida 28

Posted on: November 4, 2010 2:26 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2010 6:06 pm
 

Fulmer not interested in Minnesota job

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Since firing Tim Brewster , just about every college football coach who has experienced any kind of success in the last 20 years running a program has had his name pop up as a possible candidate to take the head coaching job at Minnesota .  Names like Mike Leach , Tony Dungy , Chris Petersen , Gary Patterson and even Lou Holtz have been tossed out as candidates.  All coaches who probably wouldn't leave their current gigs for the Gophers without a gun pointed to their heads.

Another coach who had been named, and is actually out of work and looking to get back in the game, is former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer .  Fulmer would be a much more viable candidate than somebody like Petersen or Patterson, but there's one small problem for Minnesota.  According to a radio report, he doesn't want the job.

Jimmy Hyams , a radio host at Knoxville's WNML-AM/FM, said on his show Thursday that he contacted Fulmer about his interest in the Minnesota job and that Fulmer said it "was not a good fit" for him.  Which isn't all that surprising.  Odds are that at the age of 60, if Fulmer wants to get back in to coaching he's going to want to do so at a program that won't provide such a sizable challenge as Minnesota does.

The Gophers aren't built to compete in the Big Ten right now, and it would take years before any coach was able to get the program on par with schools like Ohio State , Wisconsin , Iowa , Nebraska and even Michigan .
Posted on: November 3, 2010 4:16 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2010 4:21 pm
 

SEC in danger of failing to fulfill bowl tie-ins

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Though it's been described in some quarters as a "down year" for the SEC , the polls would beg to differ; the league still hogs a third of the BCS top six and more than a quarter of the BCS top 20. A year after Alabama and Florida staged a de facto play-in game for the right to play for the BCS national championship, most bowl projections --- including CBSSports.com's -- currently see this year's meeting between a potentially undefeated Auburn and a potentially one-loss Alabama to be just as critical. Charges that the league's lack of depth was being masked by the Tide's and Gators' dominance have been answered this season as up-and-comers like Auburn, South Carolina , Arkansas , and Mississippi State have more than filled the vacuum left by the decline of Florida and Georgia .

In short, at the top of the standings, it's as good to be the SEC as ever. Too bad the story is a different one in the league's other half, where several teams will have to scratch and claw their way to bowl eligiblity. While fewer bowl teams would be something of a black mark for the league's record, it would be even worse news for the bowls on the back end of the SEC's 9-game bowl tie-in pecking order.

With the league all but guaranteed a second spot in the BCS (likely to go to either the Auburn-Alabama loser or LSU in the event the Bayou Bengals knock off Alabama at home this weekend), the SEC will need 10 bowl-eligible teams to fulfill all of those tie-ins. If they fall short, the struggling Birmingham Bowl -- having already lost its papajohns.com title sponsor and sitting on the ninth and final choice from the SEC pool -- could be forced to invite a Sun Belt also-ran that would almost certainly lead to diminished attendance and TV ratings. The bowls with the SEC's No. 7 and No. 8 choices, the Liberty Bowl and Music City Bowl , are more stable but would no doubt take some form of hit from being forced to choose a lower-rung Big East team or non-AQ at-large squad.

So there's more at stake in the race for bowl eligiblity for the SEC's bottom half than just gift bags and extra practices. CBS projects nine of the conference's teams to make it across the line to the postseason, but this assumes a few results break the SEC's way. Taking a look at the league's eligibility picture ...

Team-by-Team

Auburn, Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas : Each of these teams has already earned postseason eligibility.

Florida : The Gators need only more one win, and if the exceedingly unlikely event they don't get it this week against Vanderbilt , they will Nov. 20 against FCS Appalachian State .

Kentucky : This is where things start getting at least a little dicey. The Wildcats have used the four-mediocre-nonconference-wins plus-two-SEC-victories blueprint to eligibility before and, with only four wins to date, could need it again. Charleston Southern will get them to five, but if the 'Cats botch their Nov. 13 home date with Vandy, they'll have to end their 25-game losing streak to Tennessee (the NCAA's longest between two teams) in Knoxville to make the postseason.

Georgia : With Idaho State on tap this week but a trip to Auburn the following Saturday, the 4-5 Bulldogs are likely to be at 5-6 and in need a win at home over Georgia Tech in the season's final week to go bowling. The 5-3 Yellow Jackets have taken a step back this season but won their last trip to Athens.

Ole Miss: This is where the shots at eligibilty get legitimately long. The 3-5 Rebels will need three wins out of a slate that includes a home dates against Louisiana-Lafayette and Mississippi State and trips to Tennessee and LSU. The Ragin' Cajuns are a gimme, but the Rebels will likely be underdogs in the other three and will need a pair of upsets to make up for their season-opening stunner against FCS Jacksonville State .

Tennessee: At 2-6, the Vols must win out to grab a bowl berth. But they have the schedule to make it happen, at least: vs. Memphis , Ole Miss, and Kentucky at home with only Vandy on the road. But at 0-5 in the SEC and dealing with a quarterback controversy, it's hard to see the Vols running the table even against that soft slate.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores also sit at 2-6, but with Florida up this week, they will very likely be the first SEC team officially eliminated from postseason consideration.

Best-Case Scenario

Kentucky beats Vandy, Georgia beats either Auburn or Tech, Tennessee wins out, and Ole Miss shocks both LSU and Mississippi State to send every SEC team but Vandy into the postseason (four of them at 6-6).

Worst-Case Scenario

Kentucky loses to Vandy and Tennessee. Tennessee loses to Ole Miss. Ole Miss loses to LSU and Mississippi State. Georgia loses to Auburn and Georgia Tech. And only seven SEC teams go bowling.

A Prediction

We'll stick with the CBS line for now: the Dawgs and 'Cats do enough to keep the Music City and Liberty happy, but neither the Rebels nor Vols make it and the Birmingham Bowl scrambles. But should Kentucky lose to Vanderbilt or Georgia to their in-state rivals from Atlanta, there's going to be some very unhappy bowl executives in either Memphis or Nashville.

Posted on: November 2, 2010 12:31 pm
 

Tyler Bray to start for Vols vs. Memphis

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Yesterday on "As the World of the Tennessee Volunteers Turns," quarterback Matt Simms essentially called out both his coaches for replacing him in the second half of a loss to South Carolina and his backup, freshman Tyler Bray , for a pivotal Gamecock pick-six.

But with Bray recovering nicely from that play to lead a second-half charge and the coaches no doubt none too pleased with Simms' outburst, it's no surprise that today's development is that Bray is now your starting Volunteer quarterback :
“We’re going to start Tyler Bray this week, and I just feel like that’s the best thing for our team right now,” [head coach Derek] Dooley said during his weekly press conference. “The plan is going to be exactly how I went into the South Carolina game, which was, let’s see how he’s doing. If he needs to take a few series to kind of catch his breath a little bit, we’ll put Matt in and see how Matt does.
If that sounds on the charitable side for Simms given his statements to the press, rest assured that Dooley was certainly paying attention (emphasis added):

“Until a quarterback says, ‘Coach, you’re an idiot for not playing me all four quarters,’ by his play and not his words , then we’ll just keep sorting through it. Neither has had actions that say, ‘Play me for four quarters.’ There’s enough in both of their play to say maybe you should put the other guy in a little bit.
If you're Bray, there's never been a better opportunity to make those "actions" on the field; this Saturday's opponent is rock-bottom Conference USA outfit Memphis , the 119th-ranked (out of 120, recall) defense in the FBS. Dooley may be giving Simms the benefit of the doubt for now, but by giving Bray the opportunity to grab the kind of momentum that the hapless Tigers can offer, he's also likely betraying which of his two quarterbacks he'd prefer to see carry the baton the rest of the way.

At right: Bray's tattoo.

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