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Tag:Jerry Hinnen
Posted on: August 8, 2011 9:48 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 1:27 pm
 

CBSSports.com Preseason All-SEC team

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

As part of CBSSports.com's season preview, we offer one blogger's choices for preseason All-SEC.
Our team includes 11 players on either side of the ball, because any more is cheating.

Offense

QUARTERBACK

Aaron Murray, rSoph., Georgia.
A 24-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio would be damn good for any quarterback. For a redshirt freshman in his first year on the job playing without the benefit of a strong running game, it was downright outstanding. (And, in fact, made him the most efficient underclassman quarterback in the country.) Murray should emerge as the conference's clearcut best passer as a sophomore.

Also watch for: Mississippi State's Chris Relf, the conference's best rushing quarterback and option operator; Arkansas's Tyler Wilson, like all Bobby Petrino pupils a 300-yard day waiting to happen; and South Carolina's Stephen Garcia, Murray's biggest competition for first-team honors if he can eliminate the backbreaking turnovers that have plagued his career.

RUNNING BACK

Trent Richardson, Jr., Alabama.
Boasting arguably the nation's best combination of power and speed at the position, Richardson should find himself carrying the lion's share of the load for a Tide offense that's never shied away from pounding out wins on the ground--and will shy away even less in 2011 with an unsettled passing game and ruthless defense.

Marcus Lattimore, Soph., South Carolina. The league's near-unquestioned leader in yards-after-contact, Lattimore's ruggedness and stamina sometimes overshadowed his other stunning gifts: his Mark Ingram-esque balance, surprising acceleration, and maybe the best pair of hands for a back in the SEC. Maybe the nation's best all-around back.

Also watch for: pretty much everyone, given even the SEC's least-heralded backs (like, say, Tennessee's overlooked Tauren Poole) have the potential for a 1,200- to 1,300-yard season. But we'll spotlight Arkansas workhorse Knile Davis, a good bet to finish as the league's top rusher despite the Heisman candidates above.

WIDE RECEIVER

Alshon Jeffery, Jr., South Carolina.
The league's leading receiver in 2010 by nearly 400 yards, there are sea urchins that could tell you Jeffery belongs here. A consensus preseason All-American and first-round lock, don't be surprised if he walks away with this year's Biletnikoff Award.

Greg Childs, Sr., Arkansas.
We're five selections in now and have yet to break ranks with preseason consensus, but we're not going to in this slot, either; at an NFL-ready 6'3", 215, Childs was step-for-statistical-step with Jeffery last season before an injury cut things short. Expect him to make up for lost time in 2011.

Also watch for: Childs' Razorback teammates Joe Adams and Jarius Wright, either of which could top 1,000 yards themselves; Tennessee sophomore home-run threat Justin Hunter; and junior Emory Blake, who could see a massive statistical bump as the No. 1 receiver in Auburn's more aerial-friendly offense.

OFFENSIVE LINE

C William Vlachos, Sr., Alabama.
The senior leader of what shapes up as the conference's best offensive line, Vlachos will have a shot at the Rimington Trophy.

OT Barrett Jones, Jr., Alabama.
After two years at guard, the All-SEC performer and All-American candidate moves to tackle for 2011.

OT Bobby Massie, Jr., Ole Miss.
Senior teammate Bradley Sowell could fit in this slot, but we like the immensely talented 6'6", 315-pound mauler to take another big step forward, especially in the run game.

OG Alvin Bailey, rSoph., Arkansas. Speaking of steps forward, Bailey started all 13 games in 2010, earned freshman All-American honors, and should be the focal point of an improved Hog ground game.

OG Larry Warford, Sr., Kentucky. The future pro was named second-team All-SEC a year ago and preseason All-SEC this year by both the media and coaches--not an easy thing to do at Kentucky.

Also watch for: Sowell, for one. But every SEC team has at least one player or two with all-conference potential. Perhaps the most likely candidates not listed above are at Georgia, where center Ben Jones and tackle Cordy Glenn could put an end to the Bulldogs' years of line underachievement in their senior seasons.

TIGHT END

Orson Charles, Jr. Georgia.
No other returning tight end in the league was close to his 26 receptions for 422 yards last year--and with A.J. Green and Kris Durham gone, Charles's role in the Bulldog offense should only expand from here.

Also watch for: Auburn's Phillip Lutzenkirchen, also due to see a numbers spike thanks to other receivers' departures. And if Florida jack-of-all-trades Jordan Reed sticks to TE, expect an impact from him as well.

Defense

DEFENSIVE LINE

DE Jake Bequette, Sr. Arkansas. In collecting seven sacks a year ago, Bequette emerged as the most explosive performer in the Hogs' highly-underrated front seven.

DE Devin Taylor, Jr., South Carolina. The Gamecocks finished a quiet third in the SEC last season in rush defense, due in large part to Taylor's 13 tackles-for-loss (tops among returning linemen) and 7.5 sacks.

DT Malik Jackson, Sr., Tennessee. It won't be easy for the talkative Jackson this season--he's the Vols' only returning starter in the front seven, and he's already missing two weeks of practice with a knee injury--but no returning SEC tackle was as disruptive in 2010.

DT Sharrif Floyd, Soph., Florida. Part of Urban Meyer's famous five-star haul in February 2010, Floyd collected 6.5 tackles-for-loss despite only starting two games and has reportedly been unblockable in recent Gator practices.

Also watch for: the nose tackles in either Alabama's or Georgia's 3-4 schemes--Josh Chapman in Tuscaloosa, and Kwame Geathers or Johnathan Jenkins in Athens. Ole Miss end Kentrell Lockett is in his sixth year and could lead the league in sacks if healthy. And the early reports are that megarecruits Jadeveon Clowney (at Carolina) and Anthony Johnson (at LSU) are as good as advertised.

LINEBACKERS

OLB Courtney Upshaw, Sr. Alabama.
Seven sacks and 14.5 tackles-for-loss a year ago, and those numbers should only improve as Nick Saban makes him the cornerstone of a more-dedicated Tide pass rush.

ILB Dont'a Hightower, Jr. Alabama. Hightower's rusty 2010 return from an ACL injury doesn't merit inclusion here, but his experience -- combined with the expected return of the athleticism he flashed a freshman All-American in 2008 -- certainly does.

MLB Danny Trevathan, Sr., Kentucky. We're fudging the formation a bit with two inside 'backers and just one OLB, but it's worth it to make room for the SEC's leading tackler from a year ago.

Also watch for: the excellent tandem of Jerico Nelson and Jerry Franklin at Arkansas, or Chris Marve at Vanderbilt, or LSU's underrated Ryan Baker.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

CB Tyrann Mathieu, Soph., LSU.
Teammate Morris Claiborne has received most of the preseason love, but Mathieu came on like gangbusters at the end of his freshman season -- culminating in an MVP performance at the Cotton Bowl -- and should be ready for an all-conference season.

CB Casey Hayward, Sr., Vanderbilt. The Commodores' disappointing 2010 wasn't Hayward's fault; his 17 passes defended led the SEC, and his six interceptions placed him second.

S Mark Barron, Sr., Alabama. His All-American status overrates him ever-so-slightly -- it's possible to get deep on Barron occasionally, if not frequently -- but no defensive back in the league (and maybe the country) has a better nose for the ball or knack for the game-changing play.

S Robert Lester, Jr., Alabama. Two Tide safeties might feel like overkill, but there's not really any arguing with numbers like these: an SEC-high eight interceptions, 12 passes defended, 52 tackles, and the Tide's league-best opposing passer rating of just 103.56.

Also watch for: Tennessee's Janzen Jackson, now that he's reportedly reported to camp in great shape after his layoff; Claiborne, obviously; Razorback safety Tramain Thomas; Georgia corner Brandon Boykin; and oh, fine, Stephon Gilmore. We don't think netting two pass breakups and three picks for a Gamecock pass defense ranked 97th in the country adds up to being an All-SEC player, but we're in the minority.

SPECIALISTS

P Drew Butler, Sr., Georgia; PK Blair Walsh, Sr., Georgia.
We wish the Bulldog specialists the best of luck in their 11th year in Athens. (No, we refuse to believe the pair of them have only had four years of eligibility each.)

Posted on: August 8, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 5:08 pm
 

PODCAST: Arizona State RB Cameron Marshall

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall collected 787 rushing yards and an All-Pac-10 honorable mention nod as a sophomore, but he and the Sun Devils each have much loftier goals in mind for their first season in the new Pac-12 South.

Marshall spoke to CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer about the Sun Devils' 2011 season, head coach Dennis Erickson, the height of projected starting quarterback Brock Osweiler, and the recent post-practice incident involving lightning-rod linebacker Vontaze Burfict. You can listen to the interview here:



Posted on: August 8, 2011 11:09 am
 

Report: Vontaze Burfict punched ASU teammate

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

When a news story proclaimed Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict the team's new defensive leader over the summer, we couldn't help but have a little fun with it, since "natural leadership qualities" haven't exactly been the most noticeable of the hotheaded All-American's abundant gifts.

But of course, there was always the hope -- there has always been the hope in Tempe -- that Burfict was on the verge of turning over a new self-controlled leaf and becoming the potential national Defensive Player of the Year his talent suggests he can be. Unfortunately, it appears Dennis Erickson is going to have to wait for that leaf to turn a little longer; the Arizona Republic has confirmed that Burfict threw a punch at teammate Kevin Ozier in a post-practice altercation last week.

According to the Republic, Burfict waited for Ozier in the Sun Devil locker room following an argument during practice, and each player exchanged punches (Burfict's coming first) before the fight was broken up.

Though the website Sports by Brooks implied Burfict could have been withheld from the program's recent media day and had seen a magazine photo shoot canceled because of the incident, ASU spokesman Mark Brand called many of the site's reports "completely false." Burfict has not missed any practice time and what punishment he's received, if any, is being handled in-house.

In fact, if this wasn't Burfict, this would likely be just another "boys will be boys" story that appeared in a local beat writer's notebook and was ignored everywhere outside of Tempe. But because the player in question is Burfict, with his towering talent and temperamental history, it's much more than that. It's common knowledge that if Burfict can just get his emotions under control on the field this fall, the Sun Devils stand an excellent chance of winning the inaugural Pac-12 South title and of turning around Erickson's stagnating program. So it's not surprising that every move Burfict makes in camp is going to be watched.

And unfortunately for the Sun Devils, this latest move does make it seem much less likely that Burfict will, in fact, keep his emotions in check. The question has to be asked: if he can't keep his temper when dealing with his own teammate, how is he supposed to do it with his opponents?

Posted on: August 5, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 5:09 pm
 

PODCAST: Alabama WR Marquis Maze

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Though highly experienced, Alabama's wide receivers are one of the few areas of the 2011 Crimson Tide that might be considered a question mark, thanks to the early NFL departure of Julio Jones. Making sure that question is answered this fall will fall largely on the shoulders of senior wideout Marquis Maze, the Tide's leading returning receiver.

Maze recently spoke to CBSSports.com's Adam Aizer about filling Jones's shoes, expectations for the nation's newly-minted No. 2 team, and much more. Listen below:





Posted on: August 5, 2011 12:39 pm
 

Texas loses another WR as Williams leaves

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Garrett Gilbert's reliability still a matter of debate and Texas's running game a work-in-progress (as always), the last thing Mack Brown needed was for his receiving corps to turn into a question mark, too. But that's just what's happened over the course of the offseason.

That became more true than ever Thursday as Brown announced that senior wide receiver Malcolm Williams would forgo his senior season to focus on "academics and family issues," as reported by CBSSports.com RapidReporter Steve Habel. A former blue-chip recruit, Williams was a projected 2011 starter after appearing in 39 games and collecting 1,188 receiving yards his first three seasons.

Brown admitted that Williams's departure (along with that of reserve receiver Brock Fitzhenry) "puts us in a tough spot with numbers." Williams and Fitzhenry give the Longhorns four departures at receiver this summer alone, with Greg Timmons's transfer and particularly the decision by Marquise Goodwin to skip the season to focus on the track World Championships already depleting the unit.

Result? The Longhorns return just two wideouts who caught more than one pass a year ago: sophomore Mike Davis (47 receptions, 478 yards) and junior DeSean Hales (10, 75). When Brown says freshmen Jaxon Shipley and Miles Onyegblue "will get a quicker look," he's not lying.

If Davis stays healthy, Gilbert cuts down on his interceptions, and five-star freshman Malcolm Brown invigorates the ground game, the Longhorns still might not notice the sudden depth issues at receiver. But that's a lot of "if"s for a 5-7 offense, and it seems increasingly likely that if one of them doesn't work out the way Brown would like, the receiving corps isn't going to be able to come to the rescue.


Posted on: August 5, 2011 10:35 am
 

Colorado, Syracuse players arrested after robbery

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not often two college football players from FBS programs on different sides of the country join up to do anything noteworthy, much less commit a robbery. But that's allegedly the case for two high school teammates from Colorado and Syracuse.

Now former Buffalo offensive lineman Bryce Givens and Orange sophomore quarterback Jonathan Miller were arrested by Boulder police early Wednesday morning and charged with robbery. Miller was also charged with third-degree assault. The two knew each other as teammates at Denver's Mullen High School.

According to police, the victim reported being confronted by two men at 3:30 a.m. in Boulder. Miller is believed by police to have punched the victim in the face before the pair took his cell phone and cash and fled. Givens and Miller were later arrested and eventually freed on bond.

While there's been no official word yet from Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone, Buffs first-year head coach Jon Embree -- having already suspended Givens in the spring following a vandalism arrest -- wasted no time in dismissing his former tackle from the team. "That ship has sailed," Embree said Thursday morning.

Though neither were major contributors in 2010, Miller has been touted by many as the Orange's quarterback of the future--an honor that is surely in doubt after Wednesday's events.


Posted on: August 4, 2011 4:54 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 2:07 pm
 

PODCAST: 2011's top 5 wide receivers

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Wednesday our Adam Aizer and J. Darin Darst ran down their choices for the top five running backs in college football, and now they're back to cover the top five wideouts in the FBS. Give a listen here:



No surprises at the top (why yes, Justin Blackmon and Alshon Jeffery do feature heavily), but you'll want to listen for who slips in at the 4 and 5 slots. (Me, I think Damaris Johnson is being robbed here, man. It's not like he's the NCAA's all-time career leader in all-purpose yardage or anything, guys.)





Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:49 pm
 

Preseason Coaches Poll Reactions: SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Whatever you think about preseason polls -- such as the USA Today Coaches version, released earlier today -- the one thing you cannot argue is that they don't matter. For Oklahoma and Alabama, the news became official today that if they win all their games this 2011 season, they will be in the BCS national championship game--no ifs, ands, or buts. And though they'll start the season No. 4, the same can now be said of LSU, since they'll face two of the three teams ranked ahead of them.

So with that fact about their importance in mind, it's time to break down where each of the SEC's 12 teams landed in (or outside of) the first Coaches Poll of the year, and decide whether the pollsters placed them too high, or too low, or just right:

ALABAMA (No. 2): So much for defense winning championships, apparently. The Tide allowed a full half-yard less per-play than the Sooners did in 2011 (ranking seventh in the FBS to Oklahoma's 33rd) and return 10 defensive starters, while Oklahoma has said good-bye to All-American safety Quinton Carter and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Beal. There's also the little matter of Nick Saban's recent defensive pedigree over the much, much iffier Sooners'.

Given that Saban is still deciding between two inexperienced quarterbacks while the Sooners return Heisman candidate Landry Jones, we can understand the coaches' thinking here. But we don't agree with it.

Verdict? Even at No. 2, too low.

LSU (No. 4): It's not often you see the nation's 86th-ranked offense rewarded with the No. 4 ranking the following season, but such is the buzz surrounding the Tigers after their bludgeoning of Texas A&M in last year's Cotton Bowl.

But until Jordan Jefferson proves he's as improved as he appeared to be that night in Dallas and the new (and, unfortunately, newly reshuffled) offensive staff prove they're genuinely capable of putting all the Bayou Bengals' weapons to use, we're still foreseeing a lot of tight, competitive, coin-flip-style ball games. And as excellent as Les Miles is in those kinds of contests, that's still not the recipe for the one-loss season required to finish in the final top-five.

Verdict? Top 10 makes sense, but top 5 is too high.

SOUTH CAROLINA  (No. 12): There's no question that with Stephen Garcia back in the fold, the Gamecocks have the talent to live up to this lofty billing. And the schedule, while difficult, isn't that difficult; no LSU or Alabama means trips to Georgia and Arkansas are the trickiest dates on the slate. If Carolina can survive the week 2 trip to Athens, a 10- or even 11-win season beckons.

Of course, the Gamecocks have also been the kind of program that traditionally loses trap games like their roadies at Mississippi State or Tennessee, so it's also possible they drop three or four regular-season games and wind up nowhere near No. 12. Splitting the difference seems reasonable.

Verdict? About right.

ARKANSAS (No. 14): We'll make this simple: a talented, veteran defense opposite a Bobby Petrino offense featuring his long sought-after plowhorse running back and the nation's best wide receiving corps? They're going to be really, really good. 10-2 good, second straight BCS bowl berth good, we're thinking.

Verdict? Too low.

AUBURN (No. 19): As we mentioned earlier today, the old adage that you shouldn't drop the previous No. 1 until they lose might suggest the Tigers have been slapped in the face being as low as No. 19. And indeed, no defending national champion has been ranked this low to start the season since Minnesota went unranked in the 1961 preseason top 20.

But almost none of those defending national champions have faced either the kind of talent exodus the Tigers do or the savage slate that sees Auburn face all seven of the other SEC teams in the poll. If Gene Chizik can win the nine games that are likely necessary to finish the season in the top 20, he'll have done nearly as good a job as he did in 2010.

Verdict? It's a nice gesture towards the defending champs. But performance-wise? Too high.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (No. 20): Dan Mullen's Bulldogs will be good enough (and will have enough opportunity, with home dates against Alabama, LSU, and South Carolina) to impact the SEC race and make the top 25. They don't seem to have enough horses (particularly in a graduation-damaged front seven) to actually challenge for a title in a division as completely stacked as the West. 20 is jus tabout where we'd have them, too.

Verdict? About right.

GEORGIA (No. 22): Mark Richt's Bulldogs, on the other hand, are the SEC's biggest 2011 wild card. They might start 0-2 and collapse in an under-.500, Richt-finishing heap. They might start 2-0 and ride the league's cushiest schedule all the way to an undefeated regular season. (Seriously. Look at their slate and tell me which game after the Carolina tilt they won't be favored in if they can get past the Gamecocks.)

That would suggest a cautious 22 might be about right, but we're betting Richt has turned the tide with this spring's "Dream Team" recruiting class and the focus that comes with a make-or-break season.

Verdict? Too low. We think. Maybe.

FLORIDA (No. 24): It's easy to forget that for all of the disappointment and frustration of Urban Meyer's final season in Gainesville, the Gators still won eight games--and could have even snagged a few more if not for some unfortunate bounces against teams like LSU and Mississippi State. So even though we're firmly in wait-and-see mode where the John Brantley-Charlie Weis shotgun marriage is concerned, having the SEC's second-best defense from a year ago getting the added boost of Will Muschamp's arrival seems like reason enough to take a flyer on the Gators at the bottom of the ballot.

Verdict? About right.

THE OTHER FOUR (n/a): Tennessee pulled seven voting points to land in the "Others receiving votes" category at "No. 41" overall, with none of the other three SEC teams receiving even a token vote. We're surprised the Volunteers didn't get a little more love -- after their late-season surge in 2010, there was some measure of buzz pegging them as 2011 sleepers -- but after Tyler Bray's up-and-down spring, we don't blame the pollsters for their skepticism.

Verdict? About right.


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