Tag:Mississippi State
Posted on: November 15, 2011 7:43 pm
 

Ole Miss suspends QB Mackey, RB Scott

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Two of the precious few bright spots for the Ole Miss offense aren't going to shine against LSU--and maybe not again this season.

Houston Nutt announced after the Rebels' Tuesday practice that starting quarterback Randall Mackey and leading rusher Jeff Scott would be suspended for at least Saturday's home game against the Bayou Bengals due to a violation of team rules. Also suspended was backup wide receiver Korvic Neat.

Though the trio's status was not confirmed for the Rebels' season finale against archrivals Mississippi State in the annual Egg Bowl, Nutt did say the length of the suspension "looks like two (games)."

Nutt declined to specify what rules the trio had broken, but said that his recent firing and the disappointing season was "tough for a lot of them. Especially when the season doesn’t go just right, it’s easy to let go.” 

The suspensions will do absolutely nothing to help the Rebels' already microscopically slim chances of victory against LSU. Scott was one of the Rebels' few dependable playmakers, having picked up 529 yards and six touchdowns rushing this season on a respectable (give nthe state of the offense as a whole) 4.6 yards per-carry average.

Mackey's numbers, meanwhile, aren't overwhelming -- a 50 percent completion rate, 7.2 yards per-attempt average, and a 7-to-5 TD-to-INT ratio -- but are far better than the ones posted by new starter Zack Stoudt, who in five apperances posted a 4.9 YPA and 2-to-7 TD-to-INT ratio. With Stoudt at the helm, the Rebels failed to top 315 yards of offense against any of four opponent,s including FCS Southern Illinois; with Mackey installed, the Rebels have topped that number in four of out of six tries.

The Rebels already had a huge mountain to climb ... something like, say, Kilimanjaro. Now? Beating LSU will be like going up K2 ... without oxygen ... in flippers.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 2:00 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 7:46 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Mississippi St. at Arkansas

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

MISSISSIPPI STATE WILL WIN IF: their secondary gets some help. The Bulldogs were hoping to be sitting prettier than 5-5 at this stage when the season began, but it hasn't been the defensive backfield's fault; led by a pair of senior safeties and junior corner Johnthan Banks's All-SEC caliber performance, State ranks 14th in the nation in pass defense and in the top 30 in opposing passer rating. Even on the road, even without injured safety Nickoe Whitley, the Bulldogs figure to cause Tyler Wilson as many headaches as any team he's faced since Alabama; it was just last week the Tide's AJ McCarron posted the second-lowest QB rating of his season in Starkville, lower even than his performance vs. LSU. But just keeping Wilson (relatively) in check won't be enough. The rapidly improving front seven has to prevent the boom-or-bust Dennis Johnson from getting rolling; the State running game has to move the chains and keep the low-fi Bulldog offense from getting in field position trouble; and of course the Bulldog special teams can't give up cheap to scores to Joe Adams on punt returns or Johnson on kickoffs.

Do all of those things, and the secondary should provide enough of a defensive foundation to build an upset win around.

ARKANSAS WILL WIN IF: they keep coming up with big plays. Mississippi State is a team simply not built to win a shootout on the road; since their Week 2 explosion vs. Auburn, they've averaged just 12.6 points per their five SEC games. Meanwhile, the Hogs have scored 49 and 44 points against their last two SEC opponents, many of them coming via the home run. Against Tennessee there was Adams' ridiculous punt return, a 70-yard Johnson sprint, and a 40-yard bomb, again, to Adams; against South Carolina the Hogs got a Johnson kickoff return for TD, a 68-yard strike to Jarius Wright, and the game-icing sack-and-strip from Jake Bequette that set the offense up at the 1. Big plays like those not only demoralize the opposition and put points on the board in a hurry, they represent quick possessions that pack more possessions and plays into a game and offer the Hog offense even more chances at pushing their total in the 30s or 40s. Do that against MSU, and the Bulldogs won't have a prayer of keeping up.

THE X-FACTOR: Johnson. The junior has struggled the past two years with injuries and thanks in part to fumbling issues, didn't break into the Hog lineup immediately this season even after the loss of Knile Davis. But Johnson's combination of power and explosiveness offers the Arkansas running game a spark it just doesn't have otherwise, and Bobby Petrino has shown for years that if he can pair some kind of legitimate ground attack with his aerial fireworks ... watch out.
Posted on: November 13, 2011 8:59 pm
 

BCS Standings Top 10 Reactions, Week 11



Posted by Eye On College Football


On Sunday night the new BCS standings were released. Well, well, well. Look at Oregon, right back in the thick of things after Saturday's mammoth win in Palo Alto. LSU is still king of the mountain, though, and with the losses by Boise State and Stanford, all of a sudden there's a clear No. 2 in Oklahoma State. So now the real question becomes what happens if one of the two unbeaten major conference teams suffers an upset, and who deserves to be next in line at the end of the day.

You can check out a rundown of the Top 10 below, with some thoughts from our College Football Bloggers. For a full breakdown of the Top 25 teams in the BCS formula, you can check out the comprehensive standings.

1. LSU: It's somewhat en vogue to just assume that LSU is going to be playing somebody for a title this January, and given that the Tigers are #1 in every poll, that's understandable. Still, assumptions have a tendency to make us look stupid in this sport, and LSU still has to play Arkansas and probably a Georgia team that's playing its best football of the season if it gets by the Razorbacks. It's foolish to assume that LSU is going to coast through those games. - Tom Fornelli

2. Oklahoma State: The situation hasn't really changed for Oklahoma State this week. Yes, it gets a bit of a boost by having both Stanford and Boise State suffer a loss -- as far as less competition for the title goes -- but the formula remains the same for the Cowboys: win out and Oklahoma State is going to the BCS title game. If Brandon Weeden and company lose, we're probably looking at the Cotton Bowl instead. - TF

3. Alabama: With the two high-profile losses this week, all of a sudden there are really only two teams with a legitimate case to make for being ahead of Alabama, and it's those two undefeated squads up top. Among the one-loss teams, though, it has to be the Tide at the top of the list; 'Bama was deservedly favored against LSU (leading to the rare "No. 1 upsets No. 2" situation last week), and that juggernaut of a defense isn't going anywhere. No, a rematch of LSU-Alabama isn't ideal, but the BCS is supposed to be here to put the best two teams on the field for the championship (right?), and we're one OSU loss away from that meaning LSU-Alabama again. - Adam Jacobi 

4. Oregon: No doubt about it, the Ducks were the weekend's big winners on and off the field. A drubbing of Stanford on national television put the flashy offense and surprisingly good defense back in everyone's minds and helped the team jump from seventh to fourth in the BCS standings. With some outside help, they're ready to state their case why it should be them and LSU in a rematch for the national title. - Bryan Fischer

5. Oklahoma: Everything that Oklahoma has needed to start happening is happening. Stanford has fallen, Boise State has fallen, and now the only unbeatens in Oklahoma's way are LSU and Oklahoma State. If Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State at the end of the season, will it be a big enough boost to vault the Sooners into the top 2? It's still too early to tell, but after Oregon's victory on Saturday it's already jumped ahead of the Sooners. The question now becomes will a win over Oklahoma State be enough to jump over Oregon and Alabama? We'll have to wait and see. - TF

6. Arkansas: At No. 6, Arkansas is not out of the mix for the national title game just yet. The key for the Razorbacks will be winning the SEC West and getting a shot in the SEC Championship Game. The only way I see Arkansas getting enough help from the pollsters will be that extra week to add to their resume with some hardware in Atlanta. Of course, getting there requires victories on Saturday against Mississippi State and in the regular season finale at LSU. The Razorbacks could also use some help from Auburn in the Iron Bowl to jump Alabama if the division standings finish with multiple one-loss teams. - Chip Patterson

7. Clemson: After the Clemson Tigers fell from their position at No. 5 in the BCS Standings in the loss to Georgia Tech, head coach Dabo Swinney explained the new focus of the 2011 Tigers: A) Win the ACC Atlantic B) Win the state championship C) Win an ACC Championship.  Clemson rallied back from a 28-14 second half deficit to clinch the ACC Atlantic Division in a 31-28 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.  With the first goal scratched off the list, the Tigers eye their annual matchup with South Carolina on Nov. 26 for the next one. - CP

8. Virginia Tech: The Hokies move up after arguably their biggest win of the season on the road against division rival Georgia Tech.  The loss knocked the Yellow Jackets from contention for the Coastal Division title, and now Virginia Tech just needs to close out against North Carolina and Virginia to book their fifth trip to the ACC Championship Game in the last seven years.  David Wilson was a monster on the ground, picking up 175 yards on 23 carries.  His performances down the stretch are making a strong case for ACC Player of the Year.  Frank Beamer's squad is too far out to consider them even a longshot for the title game, so the focus for the Hokies is the automatic bid given to the ACC Champion in December. - CP

9. Stanford: The biggest game in Palo Alto in ages failed to live up to Cardinal fans' hopes as the speed vs. size match up fell decidedly in favor of the speedy Ducks. Though they're out of contention for a Pac-12 and national title (and Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign took a major blow), there's still a decent chance they find themselves in a BCS bowl as an at-large candidate at the end of the year. It's a little interesting to see them behind Virginia Tech, however. - BF

10. Boise State: Another missed field goal crushes the BCS busting dreams of the Broncos.  Saturday's first-ever (and possibly only) conference matchup against TCU was the last respectable hurdle for Boise State.  It was the last opportunity to really make a statement against an opponent with some national credibility. Casey Pachall shredded the Broncos' secondary and even Kellen Moore couldn't avoid the Horned Frog pass rush down the stretch.  Winning out will keep the Broncos in contention for a BCS bowl, but now Houston (at No. 11 in the BCS) threatens to steal one of those at-large bids from Boise's grasp. - CP
Posted on: November 13, 2011 1:58 am
Edited on: November 14, 2011 5:25 pm
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 11

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



WINNER: Atlanta ticket brokers. Not that there's ever any shortage of demand for the SEC championship game, but with the A-T-L's biggest college football team (sorry, Georgia Tech) officially on their way to the Georgia Dome, that hometown demand should drive prices clean through the roof.

Wait, whaddya mean, "not officially"? The only thing standing between Georgia and their trip to Atlanta is a home game against Kentucky, the same team that spent its Saturday getting drilled 38-8 by Vanderbilt. It's more likely some sort of bizarre last-minute eligibility scandal -- Bacarri Rambo busted for selling prime Sanford Stadium hedge clippings, or something -- keeps the Dawgs from the East crown than the Wildcats do. Arrange the days off, book the hotels, scalp the tickets--for the first time since 2005, Georgia's going to play for the SEC title. 

LOSER: The ghost of Willie Martinez. So why have the Dawgs made the leap? The friendliest possible league schedule has had a lot to do with it -- if Georgia goes to Arkansas and it's South Carolina who gets to visit Ole Miss, the Gamecocks are booking their tickets today -- but it's also true that as much hand-wringing as there's been over the Dawgs' struggles since 2005 at quarterback, the offensive line, running back, play-calling, etc, their biggest problem has always been on the defensive side of the ball. And in his second season after replacing the exiled, despised Willie Martinez as Georgia's defensive coordinator, Todd Grantham has those problems nearly solved. His unit ranks in the national top 10 in rush defense, pass defense, and total defense, and showed why vs. Auburn. Clint Moseley got no time to throw, Michael Dyer found precious little room to run, Rambo made the biggest play of the game with a pick-six, and the bottom line was that a Tiger offense that had scored 41 points two weeks earlier got none after their opening drive.

After that performance, it's safe to declare the specter of Mr. Martinez's failures fully exorcised.

WINNER: Hangovers. You play the Game of the Century one week, maybe it shouldn't be a surprise you don't quite play with your hair on fire the next. So even though they're LSU and Alabama, LSU and Alabama still took their leisurely time putting away outmatched opponents in Western Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively. (The Hilltoppers a little more outmatched than the Bulldogs, obviously.) No one's immune to the week-after effect, apparently.

LOSER: The Rematch Resistance. Hangovers or no hangovers, though, LSU-Alabama II: Rematch of the Century took a big step closer to reality Saturday with both Stanford and Boise State falling from the ranks of the unbeaten. With Oregon unlikely to be any more palatable a rematch opponent for the Tigers than the Tide is, the only hurdle for Alabama to clear appears to be whichever team wins Bedlam: Oklahoma State would be undefeated and home-free, of course, but Oklahoma might also stake a claim with plenty of computer power and the voters' aversion to a sequel. But with that Texas Tech loss looking less and less explicable by the day, the educated guess here is that a Sooner win would send the Tide on for a second crack at the Tigers.

WINNER: Joe Adams. Because seriously:

LOSERS: Ole Miss supporters. Facing a substantially less-talented Louisiana Tech squad at home Saturday, the Rebels had a terrific opportunity to 1. rally for their fired head coach Houston Nutt 2. snap their six-game losing streak 3. show some kind of pride in their program and themselves regardless of the off-field distractions and coaching turnover. Instead they lost to the visitors from Ruston by three full touchdowns in what has to go down as the worst, most embarrassing nonconference loss for an SEC team this season. The Rebels still have two games to play this season -- at home to LSU and at Mississippi State -- and we don't envy anyone from Oxford compelled to watch either one.

WINNER: Steve Spurrier. The Gamecocks won't be going back to Atlanta. They won't make any kind of dent in the national title race. They won't go down in history as some great team gone unrewarded, not having now won three SEC games in which they scored 17 points or fewer and having been the only SEC team to host Auburn and not blow the Tigers out of the water. Marcus Lattimore won't win the Heisman, Alshon Jeffery won't be named All-American or even All-SEC (today's tally: 2 receptions, 17 yards), and the less said about Stephen Garcia the better. 

So on many, many levels, this 2011 season is a disappointment ... and on the other, even for all of those struggles, the Gamecocks have just won 6 SEC games for the first time ever. As Spurrier noted, they've gone 6-0 the past two seasons vs. their main East rivals at Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida. And in players like Jadeveon Clowney, Brandon Wilds and tackle Cody Gibson, there's still plenty of young talent to groom. The specific goal was to win another East title, and Spurrier failed at that. But maybe the larger, more important goal was to prove that 2010 wasn't a fluke  --  that the old annual November swoon, perpetual also-ran Gamecocks were gone for good -- and on that count Spurrier has succeeded, without question. If he wasn't already the best coach in the Gamecocks' history, this 2011 season means he is now. 

LOSER: Derek Dooley. Any talk of removing the second-year head man at Tennessee is wildly premature; if Tyler Bray and Justin Hunter are still healthy, who knows what the Vols' record is? And Dooley of course had nothing to do with a schedule that handed his team LSU, Arkansas, and Alabama out of the west. But it's one thing to lose a lot of games -- even SEC games, even six such games in a row -- and another to look as hopeless as the Vols did in their drubbing at Arkansas. Dooley's already been more good than outstanding on the recruiting trail, and if he loses next week to James Franklin and Vandy, the knives are going to really come out among the Vol faithful ... and that recruiting job is only going to get harder. 

(Gene Chizik isn't in the same boat, but he deserves a mention here all the same. The 4-3 SEC record isn't bad, but in the non-Ole Miss portion of the schedule, those three wins have come by a total of 21 points and the three losses by 97. With a defense that Chizik has a major hand in the main culprit, those blowouts suggest last year's national champion has a lot of work to do between now and 2012.)


Posted on: November 12, 2011 11:36 pm
 

QUICK HITS: No. 4 Alabama 24, Mississippi St. 7

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



ALABAMA WON: It was in many ways the Tide's unprettiest win of the year, one marked by much of the same questionable quarterbacking, kicking woes, and missed opportunities that plagued them against LSU. But when you have the Trent Richardson-Eddie Lacy tag team at running back and a defense that holds your opponent to just 131 total yards, it takes a lot more unpretty than that to drop one against Mississippi State. Richardson and Lacy combined for 223 rushing yards and three touchdowns.

WHY ALABAMA WON: As good as Richardson and Lacy were, this win wasn't much about the Tide offense; by going an even-quieter-than-the-numbers-sugge
st 14-of-24 for 163 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception, AJ McCarron reduced the Tide offense to one dimension for much of the night. (One very, very good dimension, but still.) Two more missed field goals (one a makeable 31-yarder that Jeremy Shelley usually converts without much drama) put an even bigger onus on the Tide defense to come up big.

Which they did, of course. The numbers tell most of the tale -- those 131 total yards for the Bulldogs, the 12 rushing yards given up on 29 carries, the 4 yards allowed per Mississippi State passing attempt -- but they don't quite explain how well the Tide stiffened the few times the offense put them in a bad position ... for instance, when McCarron's inexplicable second-quarter interception set MSU up at the Tide 4. First down: blanketed receiver, incomplete. Second: Vick Ballard rush, loss of 3. Third: under-pressure incompletion. And then, just to make the Tide defense feel really good about itself, the missed chip shot field goal on fourth. Spread that kind of domination out over four quarters, and it seems somewhat strange State even got on the board.

WHEN ALABAMA WON: The Tide took over on their own 27 up 17-7 in the fourth quarter with 6:26 remaining, and we suppose weirder things have happened than teams -- even great teams like Alabama -- losing in that situation. Nothing weirder has ever happened, though, than a hypothetical State win once the Tide plowed downfield for an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive -- every inch of it coming on the ground via Richardson and Lacy -- that took up all but the final 78 seconds.

WHAT ALABAMA WON: Nothing where the SEC West is concerned, but thanks to Oregon (and TCU, to a lesser extent), the Tide finished the day in better shape for a second shot at LSU than ever. Ugly win in Starkville or not, they'll take it.

WHAT MISSISSIPPI STATE LOST: a shot at bowl eligibility, technically speaking, and we're not sure the Bulldogs are going to get it at Arkansas next week, either. But with Ole Miss coming in two weeks and apparently having given up on the season for good, a competitive loss to a potential national champion isn't the worst thing in the world.

Posted on: November 11, 2011 2:45 pm
 

The Saturday Meal Plan: Week 11

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.

It's been one of the longest weeks that I can remember in the world of college football because of what has been going in in State College this week, and I don't know about you, but I could really use a day to just immerse myself in football games and nothing else at this point.

So, thankfully, we've got a pretty decent slate of games on tap this weekend, though the schedule does get a bit thin toward the end of the day.

BREAKFAST

Texas Tech vs. #2 Oklahoma State - ABC, 12pm ET

Texas Tech has already spoiled the party for Oklahoma this season, and now it will be looking to finish off another Oklahoma school with BCS championship dreams. Of course, considering the way that Texas Tech has looked the last two weeks since that Oklahoma win, a victory against Oklahoma State in this one might be even more of a shocker. - Tom Fornelli

#13 South Carolina vs. Florida - CBS, 12pm ET

Steve Spurrier facing the program built by Steve Spurrier is always a headline-maker, but the bigger story is whether the Gamecocks can stay afloat in the SEC East title race. As in command as Georgia appears to be, a Carolina win over the Gators paired with an Auburn win over the Dawgs would have the East crown clinched for the Gamecocks by the end of the day. Florida may have something to say about that, though, after their previously moribund offense came to life with 410 total yards and 26 points vs. Vandy. - Jerry Hinnen

Iowa vs. #17 Michigan State - ESPN2, 12pm ET

There are approximately three games left (barring disastrous upsets) that will decide the Big Ten Legends Division race. This is one of them. Iowa, even with three losses, still controls its own destiny in the race, and has been undefeated at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State is the putative leader of the division, and a win here puts the Spartans in great shape to make it to Indianapolis in December. MSU hasn't been able to run on anybody, and Iowa hasn't been able to stop anybody on the ground. Something's gotta give. - Adam Jacobi

LUNCH

#5 Boise State vs. TCU - Versus, 3:30pm ET

Here it is, Boise State's Mountain West Super Bowl. With no conference championship, and a soft finish to the regular season schedule, this is the Broncos last chance to make a statement against an opponent with any national recognition.  The Horned Frogs aren't the power they have been the last two seasons, but they definitely present the most difficult challenge to Boise State in the conference.  Bad news for TCU though, the defense that is giving up 200+ yards per game through the air has to face Kellen Moore on the Smurf Turf.  I expect Moore and Co. to take the opportunity to make a statement to the nation, so get the scoreboard warmed up now. - Chip Patterson

#14 Kansas State vs. Texas A&M - ABC, 3:30pm ET

If last week was any indication, we were all a bit early in writing off Kansas State following it's loss to Oklahoma. The Wildcats nearly put an end to Oklahoma State's BCS hopes last weekend, and they will be looking to put another nail in the coffin of Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies have lost two in a row coming into this game, and lost running back Christine Michael for the season last week. Will the A&M offense be capable of making up for his absence? Also, will it even matter if Collin Klein has another amazing game for the Wildcats? - TF

#15 Georgia vs. #20 Auburn - CBS, 3:30pm ET

Can Mark Richt's team handle the pressure? Win this game, and the Bulldogs will be one home gimme over Kentucky from their first trip to the SEC Championship game since 2005--the sort of stakes under which Richt's team has repeatedly shriveled in those five preceding years. If Aaron Murray plays his game, the Dawg defense forces Clint Moseley to look like the sophomore making a third career start he is, and Isaiah Crowell can find a hole or two, Georgia should be home and dry. But if they don't? The Tigers showed against Carolina and Florida that they're perfectly happy dragging opposing pro-style offenses into a low-scoring slugfest where Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb dominate things ... and the Tigers win. - JH

Florida State vs. Miami - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET

The in-state rivalry enters a new chapter with both Miami and Florida State making coaching changes in the last two seasons.  With EJ Manuel healthy again, the Seminoles are on a four-game winning streak averaging 38.5 points per game.  They are likely out of the ACC Atlantic race, but there is still plenty to play for for these two Florida programs.  Players from both locker rooms have made a point to mention this game meaning a little more, as you can feel the intensity returning to the rivalry.  High profile recruits will be in the house, bragging rights will be on the line, and the Hurricanes are no doubt looking to get revenge after last season's embarrassing 45-17 loss at home. - CP

USC vs. Washington - FX, 3:45pm ET

Although USC can't play in a Pac-12 Championship game this season, it would still like to show the rest of the conference that it's the best team in the Pac-12 South this season, and if it continues to play like it has been the last few weeks, then Washington may be in for a long day. Of course, on the other side of the field is a Washington team that is improving but still doesn't have that signature win under Steve Sarkisian. Going to The Coliseum and handing USC a loss would be just that. - TF

Illinois vs. #24 Michigan - ABC/ESPN, 3:30pm ET


The last two times these teams squared off, the final score was a 67-65 3OT masterpiece in Michigan's favor. We might not see 132 total points scored (or even 100; quelle horreur!), as both defenses have been miles ahead of last year. That said, both teams' exciting quarterbacks are back and putting up solid numbers, and each squad should be extremely motivated to snap a losing streak with a big victory. Folks, it's Denard vs. Scheelhaase; why wouldn't you watch this game? - AJ

DINNER

Maryland vs. Notre Dame - NBC, 7:30pm ET

Do you ever think to yourself that you hate your eyes? Well, if so, then this will be the game for you. Maryland will be breaking out the infamous uniforms we saw in their season opener against Miami earlier this year, and they'll be combined with Notre Dame's Trapper Keeper helmets. By the time the third quarter begins you'll feel like you've been trapped inside a Jackson Pollock painting. - TF

Mississippi State vs. #3 Alabama - ESPN, 7:45pm ET

Oh, Bulldogs, you did not pick the right time to face Alabama. Not that it likely would have any difference--since back-to-back shockers over the Tide in 2006 and 2007, State has lost three straight to Nick Saban's team by a combined score of 93-20. But catching Alabama the week after the wicked sting of losing to LSU won't do much for their chances. Unless Chris Relf and Tyler Russell took some seriously ginormous strides during last week's clobbering of FCS UT-Martin, it's doubtful a Bulldog offense that's had its share of troubles this season will find many solutions against the angry Tide. - JH

#4 Stanford vs. #7 Oregon - ABC, 8pm ET

The Game of the Century may have been in Tuscaloosa this past weekend but the Game of the Century, Western edition will take place Saturday in Palo Alto as Oregon puts their 18 game conference streak against Stanford's nation-leading 17 game winning streak. This was a close game last season before the Ducks pulled away late, something Andrew Luck and company are intent on correcting in order to come out of the game with a win and their national title hopes alive. - Bryan Fischer

LATE NIGHT SNACK

Washington State vs. Arizona State - Versus, 10:30pm ET

Both teams are looking to make a statement and pick up a win but more is on the line for Arizona State after losing control of the Pac-12 South after last week's loss to UCLA. The Cougars are improved but will have to deal with Vontaze Burfict on defense and an offense with plenty of weapons to contain. - BF 
Posted on: November 11, 2011 1:07 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2011 1:09 pm
 

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Alshon Jeffery

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finished the 2010 season as the nation's fifth-leading receiver with 1,517 yards. He was consistent, finishing with 85 or more yards in 11 of his team's 14 games. He was explosive, averaging more yards per-reception (17.2) than any other receiver in the FBS with more than 70 catches, and Jeffery had 88 of them.

2011 has just a bit different. Jeffery is currently outside the nation's top 100 receivers with 487 yards. He has been inconsistent, finishing with 35 or fewer yards in five of his team's nine games and not once cracking the 100-yard barrier. He has not been explosive, averaging just over 13.5 yards per reception.

Things have been particularly dire for Jeffery over the past three games. Jeffery looked to be ready for a second-half resurgence after Connor Shaw took over as the Gamecocks' quarterback vs. Kentucky on Oct. 8, catching 6 balls for 95 yards and two touchdowns against the Wildcats.

But the stretch since then has instead been the most ineffectual of Jeffery's career--vs. Mississippi State, Tennessee and Arkansas Jeffery caught 11 passes for a total of 60 yards, or fewer yards than he had in all but two individual games last season. Not one of those 11 receptions covered so much as 10 yards. Jeffery's most productive game in that span -- 24 yards vs. MSU -- ranks as the ninth-most productive receiving game on his own team over those three games.

For a player of Jeffery's talents, this kind of lack of production is baffling at best and a seeming flat-out impossibility at worst. So it's no wonder he's expecting things to get better this week vs. Florida.

“He has not seen a lot of true bump-and-run, me-and-you,” Gamecock receivers coach Steve Spurrier Jr. said Thursday. “He thinks he’s going to have an opportunity.”

For the Gamecocks' sake, he'd better. It's no coincidence that during Jeffery's three-game downturn from what had already been a season-long downturn, Carolina has averaged all of 16 offensive points per-game* and 271 total yards--or one yard less than what the 118th-ranked Memphis offense averages a contest.

Of course, there's plenty going wrong with the Carolina offense that's not Jeffery's fault. Shaw has been wobbly at best, indecisive and erratic at worst. With no Marcus Lattimore, the running game has had all the explosiveness of a box of matches left out in the rain. Aside from the occasional burst from Bruce Ellington, no complementary playmaker has emerged to keep opposing defenses from sending regular over-the-top help Jeffery's way. And after reyling so heavily on Lattimore the past season-and-a-half, Steve Spurrier seems to have lost something of his old playcalling ingenuity and spark.

But since Carolina can't solve all those problems at once, they'll have to start with solving the biggest one of them all: finding a way to get their best offensive player and only legitimate big-play threat the ball somehow. If not, the noon kickoff (on CBS!) means the Gators will have the Gamecocks SEC East hopes done and dusted before Georgia even takes the field.


Posted on: November 10, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Phillips vs. Franklin a coaching landmark for SEC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It's not No. 1 vs. No. 2. But with virtually nothing in the way of fanfare, Vanderbilt and Kentucky will become just as big a part of SEC history when they meet in Nashville this Saturday.

Why? Because thanks to the Commodores' James Franklin and the Wildcats' Joker Phillips, the game will mark the first-ever SEC matchup between two African-American head coaches.

Sylvester Croom
famously became the league's first African-American head coach at Mississippi State in 2004, but resigned the position before any other minority hires were made in the conference--Phillips is the league's second, Franklin the third.

Speaking to SBNation's Steven Godfrey after practice Wednesday, Franklin said that with his team fighting for bowl eligibility, the historic nature of the game hasn't even occurred to him:
"Today is the first time I've heard or thought about it, honestly ... I hope we can get to the point real soon where it's not even a discussion point. But I also understand the signifigance of it, and I'm proud to be here with Vanderbilt, and proud that it's Joker. I've got a tremendous amount of respect for him. I've known him for a long time and I know who he is as a man."

"If this was 20 years ago, this game would be a bigger story, but that only means we're headed in the right direction."
This is true, but the fact that this particular bit of history is being made in a Vanderbilt-Kentucky game is a sign that there's still a long way to go; it's simply not a coincidence that the SEC's three African-American coaches to date have gotten their shot at the three universally acknowledged least-desirable jobs in the league. Still only 8 of 66 BCS conference head coaching positions (12 percent) are held by African-Americans.

But as Franklin points out, that it's taken until Thursday for anyone to notice that this substantial a milestone is being passed is a good indication that progress is being made. Given where the SEC was not so long ago, we think the league will take it.
 
 
 
 
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