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Tag:Gus Malzahn
Posted on: October 18, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 11:41 am
 

Clint Moseley named new Auburn starting QB

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For the third time in three games, LSU will be facing a quarterback making his first start of the year. But unlike the injury-forced situations at Florida and Tennessee, Auburn will be debuting a new signal-caller by choice.

Gene Chizik announced Tuesday that after leading the previously moribund Auburn offense to 10 second-half points against Florida, redshirt sophomore Cint Moseley would get the call Saturday against the Bayou Bengals. For the season, Moseley has completed 6 of 9 passes for 120 yards.

"We need a spark there," Chizik said of the quarterback position. "He made some throws in the [Florida] game that were good throws. They came at the right time. Putting it all together, giving us the spark we need, we feel he’s earned the opportunity," Chizik added.

Of course, that opportunity is coming on the road against one of the nation's best defenses--not the best way for a new quarterback to get his feet udnerneath him, as the Gators' Jacoby Brissett found out two weeks ago. Moseley at least didn't seem to have any illusions about the size of the task he was facing.

"Maybe it's the best defense I'll probably ever face in my first start. But that's why you come to Auburn, " he said. "I know they're probably going to come right for me. It couldn't get any better."

No doubt that Chizik and Gus Malzahn wish they had an easier opponent for Moseley to test himself against first. But they also must have felt like they didn't have much choice after Barrett Trotter's performance had steadily declined in recent weeks following a bright start. At halftime of the Tigers' Week 3 matchup against Clemson, Trotter was completing 68 percent of his passes for the season for 8.9 yards an attempt, with a 6-to-1 touchdown-to-interception. Since that point, the junior has completed just 45 percent of his passes for 5.3 yards an attempt and more interceptions (5) than touchdowns (4).

Moseley was a lightly-regarded recruit coming out of Leroy (Ala.) High School in 2009, but drew positive reviews as the Tigers' scout team QB that fall. He battled Trotter throughout spring and fall camp this year for the starting job, only for Chizik and Malzahn to settle on Trotter some two weeks before the start of the season.

Unfortunately for Moseley -- particularly given the opponent he's about to face -- his offensive line could be in better health. Chizik also announced Tuesday that starting senior guard Jared Cooper has had surgery on his injured ankle and will miss the remainder of the season. The surgery will end Cooper's Auburn career. He will be replaced in the starting lineup by redshirt freshman Chad Slade.



Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:42 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 7


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Trent Richardson. On a day when the SEC failed mightily to produce anything resembling a classic game -- of the league's five matchups, two were won in overpowering fashion by its resident pair of 500-pound gorillas, and the other three were all varying degrees of "slopfest" -- Richardson nonetheless delivered a classic performance. The career highs in yards (183 yards) and touchdowns (four) were nice, but lots of running backs can amass gaudy numbers. What made Richardson's night special was the fury with which he punished Ole Miss's defenders on his runs between the tackles, and then the startling elusiveness he flashed once he found the open field; this juke is going to be a staple of highlight reels for weeks to come. The statistic that best reflects Richardson's night? The 11.2 yards he averaged across his relatively meager 19 touches.

With Marcus Lattimore going down with an injury today (more on this in a moment) and Tyrann Mathieu having a quiet day by his standards despite the total domination shown by his LSU secondary (1 pass broken up, 1 tackle, nothing in special teams), Richardson is now the SEC's far-and-away most viable Heisman candidate. And if the Ole Miss game is any indication, his campaign might just be getting warmed up.

LOSER: the SEC East. Thanks to the decline of Mississippi State, the East's record vs. the West isn't quite as lopsided as it was last year. But that doesn't mean the top of the division is any stronger than it was last year; based on the evidence of Saturday, it's even worse. South Carolina scored a total of two touchdowns while wheezing their way to a four-point win over a State team in offensive disarray. Georgia collected four turnovers from Vanderbilt and outgained the 'Dores by nearly 100 yards and still came within one Hail Mary off a receiver's hands from losing in Nashville. And Florida gained all of 194 yards against the nation's 105th-ranked defense at Auburn. Sure, the East champion won't have a prayer against LSU or Alabama, but with two of its title contenders having already lost to Gene Chizik's team and the third barely any less convincing-looking, the East champion might not even be any better than fifth-place in the West. Still.

WINNER: Ted Roof. After his Tiger defense was eviscerated for more than 1,150 yards in just two weeks by Mississippi State and Clemson, Roof was the most unpopular person on the Plains this side of Harvey Updyke. But thanks to the rapid maturation of players like sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier (three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four QB hurries vs. Florida) and sophomore cornerback Chris Davis (five tackles, one pass breakup), Roof's unit suddenly looks in much better shape than celebrated coordinating counterpart Gus Malzahn's--and was largely responsible for both Auburn's win in South Carolina and over Florida Saturday. The Gators' quarterbacking woes no doubt helped, but short, quick running backs like Chris Rainey have given Roof's defenses fits in the past. In the present, Rainey was bottled up to the tune of just 33 yards on 16 carries.

LOSER: South Carolina's offense. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: if Lattimore's injury keeps him out for any extended length of time, that's a massive, massive blow for the Gamecocks. Players of the big sophomore's ability simply aren't replaceable in midseason (if ever), and Carolina doesn't have much depth behind Lattimore to begin with; his substitute against the Bulldogs was true freshman Brandon Wilds, who entered the game with all of eight career carries. 

But there's even more worries for Steve Spurrier past his running back situation. Connor Shaw's explosive performance against Kentucky looked like a mirage after he threw for an average of just 5.5 yards on his 28 attempts, with two interceptions; his banged-up offensive line opened holes for just 2.6 yards a carry, two weeks after Lattimore averaged less than 4 vs. Auburn; and Alshon Jeffery continues to be nearly invisible, collecting the game-winning TD vs. State but just four other receptions for all of 20 yards. If Spurrier can't fix things -- and likely do it without Lattimore -- his team may not win again until the Citadel visits on Nov. 19.

WINNER: Rueben Randle. Is anyone happier about Jarrett Lee's late-career renaissance than LSU's No. 1 receiver? The former five-star struggled to make an impact his first two years in Baton Rouge, but with Lee at the controls Randle has become one of the league's biggest deep threats. After 5 more receptions for 86 yards and a score against Tennessee, Randle is averaging an even 19 yards per reception--the best mark in the SEC for any receiver with more than 20 catches for the year.

LOSERS: Anyone who tuned away from Georgia-Vanderbilt. Though it was too sloppy by half to qualify as a good game, the ending of Bulldogs-Commodores was as wild as any game in the SEC this season. Up 33-28, the Dawgs drove deep into Vandy territory and looked to have the game salted away before Aaron Murray was picked off by Casey Hayward at the Vandy 2 with 2:30 to play. But Jordan Rodgers was only able to drive the 'Dores to their own 25 before being picked off himself with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs weren't able to run out the entire clock, though, and had their punt blocked, almost returned for a game-winning touchdown, and eventually recovered by Vandy at the Bulldog 20 with 7 seconds left. Rodgers' Hail Mary hit a falling Chris Boyd in the hands, but Boyd was unable to bring it in, and one final desperation play fell short ... after which Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham nearly sparked a brawl by angrily yelling at each other at midfield. 

Not a bad bit of drama for a game the few people who were watching potentially turned off once Georgia went up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter.

LOSERS: Gamblers who took South Carolina to cover the 3.5 points against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' voluntary safety on the final play of the game -- reducing a four-point margin to two and flipping the result of the game against the spread -- cost worldwide bettors as much as $30 million, according to one report. We're skeptical the numbers for your run-of-the-mill SEC game run quite that high, but we'd still advise Spurrier not to walk down any dark alleys this week.

WINNERS: Hearts belonging to fans of Alabama and LSU. While fans in Columbia and Auburn and Athens and Starkville have all had their turns reaching for the blood pressure medication (Auburn's more than once), those in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge haven't had to worry. After winning their two games Saturday by a combined 90-14 score, the Tide and Tigers have now won their eight total SEC games by an average score of 37-8. The closest call? LSU's 19-6 "escape" at Mississippi State, which at the time was viewed as a disappointment for the Bulldogs.

Now, we're wondering if maybe they ought to put up a plaque to commemorate the achievement.


Posted on: October 15, 2011 11:07 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 24 Auburn 17, Florida 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

AUBURN WON: The high-flying, high-scoring fireworks of 2010 faded even further into the Tigers' collective memory after another stuttering offensive performance, but precious few on the Plains will care: Gene Chizik's Tiger cubs are 5-2 and 2-1 in the SEC. Backup quarterback Clint Moseley came off the bench to lead a key second-half touchdown drive, and thanks to a string of muffed punts the Tigers finished with a 3-0 advantage in turnover margin.

WHY AUBURN WON: In a matchup where both offenses needed all the help they could get, Florida gave Auburn's far more than Auburn gave Florida. The Gators' first muffed punt -- one Will Muschamp hotly contended had been a result of catch interference on the tigers' part -- set up a 25-yard Barrett Trotter touchdown pass, the only TD for either team the entire first half. And with Auburn leading 14-6 late in the fourth quarter, another muff set up Cody Parkey's game-icing 42-yard field goal.

In-between those two poles, the Florida offense moved the ball at least as effectively as Auburn and maybe better. (Which is not to say either team moved it well; the teams combined for just 474 yards of offense and at one point had 12 total punts to 15 total first downs.) But two red-zone possessions for Florida ended in just 3 points -- one of them a turnover on downs in the fourth quarter when backup QB Jeff Driskel overthrew an open receiver on 4th-and-3 -- while Auburn's one ended in a 14-yard Onterio McCalebb touchdown to open the fourth quarter.

With the Gator offense never looking capable of mounting a large-scale comeback under either Driskel or Jacoby Brissett, that Auburn got both more opportunities and took better advantage of them was always going to result in one outcome.

WHEN AUBURN WON: Parkey had missed a pair of 40-plus-yard field goals already, but Chizik elected to let him try the game-clincher from 42 even after a false start penalty ... and with just 42 seconds left for the hapless Gators to work with after a hypothetical punt. But Parkey made that decision look good, hitting the kick and deciding the game.

WHAT AUBURN WON: The Tigers were projected to take a massive step backwards this season and have, in many ways; the defense has spent whole games getting shredded, the offense whole games going nowhere. But with Gus Malzahn's attack carrying the team early in the year and Ted Roof's defense doing so against South Carolina and Florida, the team has somehow emerged at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the SEC ... and both their losses have come at top-10 teams on the road. The Tigers aren't what they were, but they haven't gone away, either.

WHAT FLORIDA LOST: Muschamp wasn't happy with his team's efforts against Alabama or LSU, but there was only so much the Gators could realistically do with John Brantley out. Auburn, though, showed Florida a passing game scarcely any better than their own--only for the Gators' special teams, running game, and red zone defense to give their freshmen quarterbacks so little help that the aerial draw didn't matter. Now the Gators have all-but officially dropped out of the East race, and even a winning regular season isn't guaranteed. The shine on that 4-0 start is officially off.

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 11:42 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 11:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 10 Arkansas 38, No. 15 Auburn 14

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ARKANSAS WON: The Razorbacks spotted Auburn a 14-7 first-quarter lead but finished the game on a 31-0 run as the Tigers' passing attack continued to flail and the Hogs eventually caught up to Gus Malzahn's running game. While Auburn's quarterbacks combined for a 9-of-25, 4.2 yards-per-attempt, zero-touchdown, three-interception performance, Tyler Wilson was his usual steady self: 24-of-36, 262 yards, 7.3 YPA, two touchdowns, no picks. But the highlight reel play of the game belonged to wideout Joe Adams, who took a handoff and went 93 yards for a third-quarter touchdown, the second-longest run in Razorback history.

WHY ARKANSAS WON: It's not their run defense, that's for certain; a week after giving up 381 rushing yards to Texas A&M, the Hogs gave up 290 more to Auburn, with the Tigers' one-two punch of Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combining for more than 200 yards alone.

But even one terrific dimension isn't usually enough to make up for the lack of a second, as Auburn found out when their offense ground to a halt over the course of the final three quarters. Arkansas, meanwhile, kept moving in large part due to their excellent balance: 7.3 yards averaged over their 36 passes, 5.7 yards on their 31 runs. Sure, many of those rushing yards came on Adams' 93-yard lightning bolt -- the game's pivotal play, taking the Hogs from up 7 and backed up deep in their own territory to two a clear two-touchdown lead -- but Dennis Johnson and Broderick Green ground out plenty enough yards themselves (89 combined on 28 carries) to keep Auburn honest.

Combine that balance with a precision red zone attack that scored 31 points on its final five attempts, and Bobby Petrino's attack finished the night as a model of efficiency--a (relatively light) 438 yards, but 38 points. Auburn's defense had a better day against the Hogs than it did a year ago (or than it did earlier this year vs. Clemson or Utah State), but it hasn't caught up with the likes of Petrino and Co. yet.

WHEN ARKANSAS WON: Auburn actually responded well to the Adams run, using an exchange of punts to flip field position and then driving to the Arkansas 23. But then Malzahn elected to let run-first true freshman Kiehl Frazier make a rare passing attempt ... which was promptly picked off by the Hogs' Eric Bennett. Auburn wouldn't come close to threatening again.

WHAT ARKANSAS WON: Technically speaking, The Hogs remained only a game back in the SEC West race. But more realistically, they reasserted themselves as the SEC's third-best team, stayed in the mix for a top-10 poll position in the near future, and remain cleanly in line for a Capital One Bowl berth. As ugly as that loss to Alabama might have been, Arkansas remains well on track for another superb season.

WHAT AUBURN LOST: A 5-1 start with two massive SEC road wins would have silenced Auburn's doubters for good; as it stands, the Tigers still have work to do if they want to come out of their brutal October slate any better than 4-4. Next week's home date with Florida could be a make-or-break game for both teams.



Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:38 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2011 2:41 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 6

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet.  Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom. 

This is a bit of a bizarro week in your college football diet, as most of the big games on Saturday will be taking place earlier in the day while our nighttime offerings lack some of those bolder flavors we all love. But that's fine, because with some of the entrees you'll be served during the day, you might not have enough room for that 32-ounce steak once dinner comes around.

Though hopefully you have room for one of those steaks at breakfast.

BREAKFAST

#3 Oklahoma vs. #11 Texas - ABC 12pm ET

This is a pretty wonderful way to start the day, isn't it? There are a lot of great rivalries in the world of college football, and this one has to be considered one of the best. For years the winner of this game basically helped decide who was going to win the Big 12, and it will go a long way in deciding the conference champion again this year. Also, Texas finds itself ranked near the top ten once again after a terrible 2010 season, and while things seemed to have turned around in Austin, this game will be the first real indication of how far the Longhorns have come. - Tom Fornelli 

#13 Georgia Tech vs. Maryland - ESPNU 12pm ET

The Yellow Jackets keep scoring in bunches and riding their offense to methodical wins, while Maryland desperately is trying to put the pieces back together following a pair of home losses.  The Terps offense finally got back in a groove against Towson, particularly getting a boost from the return of wide receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler.  Maryland's high-tempo offense must keep drives alive in order to give their defense time to rest on the sideline.  Additionally, the defense must get stops on third down or Georgia Tech will slowly wear down Maryland on both sides of the ball.  Let's casually call this one "The Friedgen Bowl" since former Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said he "could care less about Maryland" and "is flying a Georgia Tech flag now." - Chip Patterson

North Carolina vs. Louisville - ESPN2 12pm ET

Louisville's offense is struggling, averaging less than 20 points per game and ranking dead last in the Big East.  The matchup against North Carolina's talented front seven will provide plenty of work for the Cardinals inexperienced offensive line.  Louisville's greatest strength on defense might be their secondary, but this Tar Heels team has become uncharacteristically run-heavy.  The emergence of Gio Bernard has changed the face of the offense, as the redshirt freshman will look to continue his streak of 100+ yard games to four.  Something that hasn't been done by a North Carolina running back since Ethan Horton in 1984. - CP

LUNCH

#1 LSU vs. #17 Florida - CBS 3:30pm ET

What happens when a Honey Badger smells blood? We may find out when Tyrann Mathieu and the rest of the LSU defense hosts a Gator attack missing John Brantley and still licking the wounds from its strangling at the hands of Alabama. Whatever hope Florida has will rest in their defense shutting down the Bayou Bengals' power-running game, but the return of the bruising Spencer Ware from a hamstring problem won't help them. - Jerry Hinnen [Video Preview]

#20 Kansas State vs. Missouri - ABC 3:30pm ET

Raise your hand if you thought before the season started that Kansas State and Missouri would be pegged as a game appearing on a national network during the middle of the season. Okay, now put your hand down, liar. Missouri has been a bit up and down this season as James Franklin has grown accustomed to filling Blaine Gabbert's shoes, and he doesn't have the easiest defense to go against this week. Then there's Kansas State which has caught just about all of us by surprise so far this year, as Bill Snyder has once again lifted this program back into Big 12 contention. - TF

#21 Virginia Tech vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

Both of these teams need a win if they plan to contend with Georgia Tech for the Coastal Division title, but neither team has put together a truly impressive performance that makes me think they could.  It will be a chance for both teams to prove (to themselves, really) that they belong at the top of the ACC.  Miami has been wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball this season, but get a huge boost with preseason all-conference safety Ray-Ray Armstrong returning from suspension.  The Hokies' offense will need more than David Wilson to beat the Canes, and that responsibility falls on quarterback Logan Thomas.  Thomas' development has taken longer than some expected, but this would be a great time for him to grow up and lead VT to a huge home win over their longtime rivals. - CP

Penn State vs. Iowa - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET

This has been a rather one-sided affair over the last decade or so, but give Iowa-PSU credit: the games are generally exciting, with six of the last 10 meetings featuring either single-score margins or a 4th quarter lead change. Expect more of the same this week, with Iowa bringing the conference's most prolific passing game (seriously) to town and Penn State hoping to turn their offensive fortunes around against a surprisingly green Hawkeye defense. - Adam Jacobi

DINNER

#10 Arkansas vs. #15 Auburn - ESPN 7pm ET

Last year's meeting produced an SEC regulation-time record 108 points, and judging by Tyler Wilson's 500-yard passing day last week (and Texas A&M's 381 yards rushing), Arkansas looks ready to do their part for a repeat performance. But this time, the Tigers have to hope their improving defense can keep them out of a shootout--a struggling passing game has Gus Malzahn's unit leaning heavily on Michael Dyer and ground-out first downs. - JH

Northwestern vs. #12 Michigan - Big Ten Network 7pm ET

If it weren't for that Russell Wilson fellow over in Madison, this game might feature the best two QBs in the conference, as Dan Persa leads the Northwestern charge against visiting Denard Robinson and the Wolverines. Persa shined in his first week back from that Achilles injury last year, but missed the last few minutes for precautionary reasons after an awkward tackle. Can Northwestern make headway against a newly re-energized Michigan defense, or will the Wolverines keep rolling along? - AJ

#7 Stanford vs. Colorado - Versus 7:30pm ET

Colorado isn't terribly good this season but the Buffaloes are rebuilding their program under new head coach Jon Embree and do have several weapons Stanford has to contain. The Buffs are 36th in passing offense and sophomore Paul Richardson is averaging 95 yards receiving a game. As always though, the reason to tune into this game is Heisman candidate Andrew Luck and a balanced attack that can beat you through the air or on the ground. Plus, you never know when something like this is going to happen and make you say wow. - Bryan Fischer

#14 Nebraska vs. Ohio State - ABC 8pm ET

Before this season, this game looked like the second half of a brutal conference opening for Nebraska. Wisconsin held up its end of the bargain last week by beating the Huskers 48-17, but Ohio State is hardly the challenge it used to be without Terrelle Pryor and a host of other stars. If Nebraska's going to show it belongs among the Big Ten elite, it has to bring the pain against a reeling OSU ballclub this week. - AJ

LATE NIGHT SNACK

BYU vs. San Jose State - ESPNU 10:15pm ET

Not exactly a marquee matchup, I know, but it's football and it's on your television. Plus, aside from getting pasted by Utah a few weeks ago, BYU hasn't played a game this season that didn't come down to the final minutes, so the possibility of some midnight HAM is totally in play here. - TF
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:33 pm
 

SEC Interrogation, Week 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

In which we demand the SEC give us answers to its most pressing questions. Here those are:



Florida's running game: can you give your quarterback(s) any breathing room?
Any team that can start Chris Rainey or Jeff Demps at tailback and then substitute the other in for the first is going to be a threat on the ground, regardless of who their team faces; when the tiniest sliver of a crease could equal an 80-yard touchdown before the coaches have their headsets correctly adjusted, the Gator ground game is where a defense's focus is going to start ... and probably finish.

That probably goes double for LSU this Saturday, since with John Brantley out and some combination of true freshman Jeff Driskel and other true freshman Jacoby Brissett taking over at quarterback, the Gators' passing game is the most glaring of question marks. But it doesn't matter how badly the Tigers stack the box, how fearsome LSU's defensive front is, how well John Chavis has his charges prepared--Florida must find a way to get Demps, Rainey, and possibly Trey Burton moving forward on the ground. Even with Brantley looking as sharp as he ever has in the first half, the Gators still couldn't rush the ball at all vs. Alabama; Rainey, Demps, and Mike Gillislee carried 17 times for 13 yards, and the end result was zero points over Florida's final 10 drives.

If Driskel and Brissett have any prayer of completing passes consistently against the carnival of athletic freaks that make up LSU's secondary -- in Baton Rouge, no less -- that secondary is going to have to be not just concerned but downright obsessed with the Florida running game. That won't happen if that running game doesn't pick up some good early gains, maybe break a 20-to-30-yarder somewhere, and keep the Gators out of anything but the occasional third-and-long. Otherwise, Chavis's Tigers will spend all afternoon teeing off on the newbies under center and generally choking the life out of Charlie Weis's attack. Weis failed miserably in his first attempt at finding a way to run the ball against an elite SEC defense; a second failure will equal a potentially even-more-miserable defeat.



Barrett Trotter: are you up to giving Auburn a passing attack again? The Tigers' 4-1 record and road upset of South Carolina has helped mask a major, major flaw in the Tiger offense, and a surprising one given Gus Malzahn's track record: Auburn's vertical passing game has all but vanished. In the five quarters since the start of the second half against Clemson, junior QB Trotter has completed just 52 percent of his passes, for only 5.9 yards an attempt, while throwing 4 (often ugly) interceptions to just 3 touchdowns. That's not to mention the eight sacks taken by Trotter the last two games or that neither FAU nor the Gamecocks are going to be mistaken for having world-class secondaries any time soon.

Judging by Arkansas's efforts to stop the run against Texas A&M (or lack thereof), Trotter should get plenty of help from Michael Dyer and the Auburn running game. But that alone won't be enough for the Tigers to keep pace with the Hogs, not given the way Bobby Petrino's quarterbacks have shredded the Auburn defense the past two seasons (702 combined yards, 7 touchdowns) and the kind of form Tyler Wilson and Jarius Wright are in right now. With the Tiger secondary as flammable as ever (provided your quarterback isn't Stephen Garcia), Arkansas is going to score a boatload of points.

Which is why the injuries to receivers to Trovon Reed and Emory Blake couldn't have come at a worse time for Auburn. Trotter already needed to take a substantial step forward to keep the Tigers within striking distance on the road; now he'll have to do it without two of his top three receivers. If there was ever a week for Malzahn to earn his substantial assistant's salary, this looks to be it.



Georgia secondary: are you for real? When Kellen Moore gouged the Bulldogs for 28-of-34 passing and 3 touchdowns Week 1, it looked like the Bulldog defensive backs had regressed back to their dark Wille Martinez-led days. But with safety Bacarri Rambo returning from suspension, the Dawgs have held their last four opponents to team QB ratings under 86 and rank 11th in the country in opponent's pass efficiency despite the Moore carpet-bombing.

Those past results are no guarantee of future performance, since facing Tyler Bray in Neyland Stadium represents a vast step up in competition from the likes of Garcia, Zack Stoudt, the slumping Chris Relf and whoever it was Coastal Carolina trotted out. But it's worth remembering that the Vols still have next-to-nothing going on the ground; even after totaling 199 yards against Buffalo, the Vols rank a horrid 109th in the country in yards per-carry. If the Dawg defensive backs can slow down Bray at all, the Vol offense could grind to a halt ... and barring another turnover-fest from Aaron Murray, Georgia should be able to walk out of Neyland with the victory.

So: can those Dawg DBs slow down Bray or not? The evidence to date is encouraging, but with the memory of Moore's night at the Georgia Dome still lingering, it's not compelling just yet.

Other SEC questions worth asking: How does AJ McCarron look against the Vanderbilt secondary? (Don't laugh; this is the best set of defensive backs McCarron has faced yet. A strong showing would further cement the belief that the Tide have no Achilles heels.) Can Marcus Lattimore keep pace in the Heisman race? (Sure, most of the attention on Carolina is focused on new quarterback starter Connor Shaw. But a second straight subpar outing against a Kentucky defense that kept LSU's ground game bottled up for a half would put the sophomore badly behind at the midseason mark.) Does Mississippi State have any fight left? (The Bulldogs have looked utterly listless and deflated ever since losing to LSU. Is there any indication that could change down the road vs. UAB?)

Posted on: September 30, 2011 4:20 pm
 

SEC RapidReport Roundup: It's all on Lattimore

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).



SOUTH CAROLINA. It doesn't seem possible that Marcus Lattimore could take on even more of a burden for the Gamecock offense, but that's how things look as his team prepares for Saturday's visit from Auburn. Lattimore's top two backups are both doubtful for the game with injuries; Kenny Miles is struggling with a sprained wrist, third-stringer Eric Baker might miss the game as well, and freshman Shon Carson tore his ACL in mid-September. Freshman Brandon Wilds could be the only scholarship running back available for Steve Spurrier other than Lattimore, but even if Baker is healthy, the junior has just five carries combined the previous three seasons.

Lattimore already leads the nation in rushing attempts with a whopping 26.75 per game. But given the problems Carolina must deal with when either anyone other then Lattimore rushes the ball or Stephen Garcia drops back to pass, that workload doesn't seem likely at all to decrease this week.

In other Gamecock news, true freshman receiver Damiere Byrd will make his long-awaited debut this week after all. His four-game NCAA suspension has been served, but in midweek Spurrier said he hadn't been "cleared" just yet. Now he has.

AUBURN. If the Gamecocks start to feel sorry for themselves, though, all they'll have to do is look to the opposite sideline this week. After already losing receiver Trovon Reed to a shoulder injury for this week and possibly longer, the Tigers also confirmed this week that defensive end Dee Ford will miss the remainder of the season with a herniated disk. Though technically a backup, Ford was the only junior in the entire Tiger defensive line's two-deep; his spot in the rotation will be filled by two players with a combined 23 career snaps.

It's those kinds of defensive issues that have forced Gene Chizik and Gus Malzahn to slow down Malzahn's preferred up-tempo style during his Auburn tenure; the Tigers have averaged only one more play per-game under Malzahn than they did in the 12 seasons before his arrival.

OLE MISS. Things in Oxford are ugly off the field, with the Ole Miss chancellor himself writing open letters in response to anonymous "threats" and the Rebel community seemingly divided over the status of athletic director Pete Boone and coach Houston Nutt. But they might be even uglier on it right now, which is why Randall Mackey seems set to become the Rebels' third starter under center in five games as the Rebels travel to take on Fresno State.

And speaking of ugly, more than a few wags on Twitter had something to say about Nutt's decision to wear a flat-brimmed blue baseball cap during his team's loss to Georgia. He explained himself in straightforward fashion this week: he wanted to protect his face from the sun, and he couldn't wear both his preferred straw hat and a headset at the same time. Works for us.



ARKANSAS. Even after losing Tenarius Wright for 4-to-6 weeks, there is some good news for the Hogs on the injury front. Senior corner Isaac Madison is expected to play against Texas A&M after leaving the Alabama game with an injury, and running back Broderick Green has made startling progress from the ACL tear suffered during spring practice--so much progress that Green is already practicing and is now expected before the season's end, possibly as soon as this week.

On the downside, defensive coordinator Willy Robinson is less-than-thrilled with the performance of senior safety Tramain Thomas at the moment. "I'm not going to sit down there and allow what was going on during the course of the game to continue, so I made a switch there," Robinson said of pulling Thomas against Alabama. "This week he knows he's under fire, and he'd better give us better effort."

ELSEWHERE: Nick Saban said five-star running back recruit Dee Hart has made substantial progress since preseason ACL surgery, but remains highly likely to redshirt ... Vanderbilt starting linebacker Tristan Strong will miss the rest of the 2011 season after tearing an ACL against South Carolina. He was third on the team in tackles ...

Georgia
linebacker Christian Robinson is expecting to play "15-20 plays" in his return from injury. His partner in rehab? None other than Barbara Dooley, who Robinson promised he'd wear Derek Dooley-style orange pants if his Dawgs beat Derek's Vols later this season ... After initially asking to leave the team, Bulldog backup running back Ken Malcome changed his mind and rejoined the squad on Thursday ...

Tennessee freshman running back and returner Devrin Young is set to make his season debut after missing the Volunteers' first three games with a broken collarbone ... Fans at the Vols' game against Buffalo will be able to wave pink shakers in exhcnage for a donation to breast cancer research ... Mississippi State isn't unhappy with defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Josh Boyd, but would like to see more production from them all the same ... Why, yes, Kentucky offensive coordinator Randy Sanders is "frustrated" with his team's offensive struggles. We doubt you're surprised.

 
 
 
 
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