Posted on: August 10, 2011 11:49 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Running down everything you need to know from the day's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.
TENNESSEE: Derek Dooley was less-than-thrilled with the Volunteers' first scrimmage of fall camp, saying of the offense "they just weren't working together, they looked like 11 individuals out there." And though quarterback Tyler Bray had his moments, Dooley wanted more out of his sophomore signal-caller.
"He made some throws, made a couple of big plays," Dooley said. "But the consistency was nonexistent, it's enough to drive you crazy." For the scrimmage, Bray went 13-of-29 for 165 yards and two touchdowns. Former blue-chip receiver Da'Rick Rogers had a productive scrimmage, catching six balls for 77 yards and a touchdown.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs have named their three new starters on the offensive line, joining senior holdovers Cordy Glenn at tackle and Ben Jones at center: sophomore guards Kenarious Gates (left) and Chris Burnette (right), and senior left tackle Justin Anderson. Of thre three, only Gates made a start in 2010; Anderson was playing on the defensive line.
Two names impressing in the early going are converted linebacker Richard Samuel at running back -- at 6'2, 243 now a much more imposing physical presence than in his first stint at RB -- and wide receiver Marlon Brown. "“Coach (Mark) Richt asked me the other day if I could name one receiver that’s caught my eye," said quarterback Aaron Murray. "I said Marlon. He’s having a tremendous camp. He’s making plays, looks fluid and is real consistent.”
But the highlight of yesterday's practice? 6'4", 330-pound nose tackle Johnathan Jenkins taking an interception back for a score. Also, starting CB Brandon Boykin and potential starting S Jakar Hamilton continue to be held out of practice with hamstring inuries.
AUBURN: Gene Chizik confirmed yesterday that after offseason shoulder surgery, five-star linebacker signee Kris Frost will miss the entirety of the season. Frost likely would have began his Auburn career on the two-deep at outside linebacker. He becomes the second five-star Tiger recruit in as many seasons to miss his freshman year, following tackle Shon Coleman's leukemia diagnosis in 2010.
It doesn't sound like fan favorite fullback Ladarious Phillips will be a major contributor anytime soon for the Tigers; Chizik said he hasn't "bought any stock in his development yet" and that Phillips "has a long way to go."
ALABAMA: To hear wide receiver Brandon Gibson tell it, the rest of the Tide offense isn't taking sides in the QB battle between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims. " “They both come out with a great attitude, they help each other out, and they're both competitive," Gibson said. "So with either one of them, we're going to be fine.”
As for third quarterback Blake Sims, Nick Saban said he could see the field as the Tide's designated Wildcat quarterback, or even at tailback. After missing Monday's practice with a leg injury, backup offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio (brother of five-star Tide tackle signee Cyrus Kouandjio) participated in drills Tuesday.
AND ELSEWHERE: Starting senior guard Grant Cook was held out of Tuesday's Arkansas practice with a leg injury, but Bobby Petrino doesn't believe the injury is serious. True freshman Brey Cook (no relation, we think) is filling in with aplomb ... At South Carolina, No. 1 overall recruit Jadeveon Clowney returned to practice after a one-day absence due to a "personal matter." Clowney ran with the Gamecocks' first-team line in practice ... The Florida offensive line wants under-fire quarterback John Brantley to know they've got his back. And though we're not sure about the thoughts of speed-backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey on the switch, Gator powerback Mike Gillislee likes the move to a pro-style scheme ... Sixth-year defensive end Kentrell Lockett sat out Tuesday's practice as Rebel coaches exercised caution with their oft-injured star. Houston Nutt also praised JUCO quarterback transfer Zack Stoudt, saying that after his spring game suspension he had done what he needed to do over the summer.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arie Kouandjio, Arkansas, Auburn, Ben Jones, Blake Sims, Bobby Petrino, Brandon Boykin, Brandon Gibson, Brey Cook, Chris Burnette, Chris Rainey, Cordy Glenn, Cyrus Kouandjio, Da'Rick Rogers, Derek Dooley, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Grant Cook, Houston Nutt, Jadeveon Clowney, Jakar Hamilton, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Johnathan Jenkins, Justin Anderson, Kenarious Gates, Kentrell Lockett, Kris Frost, Ladarious Phillips, Mark Richt, Marlon Brown, Mike Gillislee, Nick Saban, Phillip Sims, Richard Samuel, SEC, Shon Coleman, South Carolina, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Zack Stoudt
Posted on: August 5, 2011 2:43 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
You know, in order to continue playing football at a school, a player is expected to perform to a certain level while in the classroom. Grades have to be maintained, or eligibility is taken away. I'm starting to wonder if the coaches and assistants at Georgia shouldn't be held to the same standards. I really think it would be to Georgia's benefit if coaches were forced to take a "How To Use A Phone 101" class.
Remember last week when Georgia was hit with some secondary violations for inadvertant text messages that Mark Richt sent to a recruit's father? Well, guess what? Georgia's inability to properly utilize a phone is going to bite it in the butt once more.
Inadvertent telephone communication once again has forced UGA to report secondary NCAA violations to the Southeastern Conference office.I generally find when people use the acronym SMH -- shaking my head -- on Twitter to be extremely annoying, but I can't help it, you guys, after reading that I am SMH so hard right now. It's an innocent mistake, yes, but you would think Georgia coaches would learn from their mistake the first time.
Make sure you know who you are calling and texting before you send the call or the text. It's simple. If you need help, seek out one of the players to guide you through the process.
Posted on: August 4, 2011 2:42 pm
Edited on: August 4, 2011 4:49 pm
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.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Bobby Petrino, Charlie Weis, Cotton Bowl, Dan Mullen, Florida, Gene Chizik, Georgia, Jeremy Beal, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Landry Jones, Les Miles, LSU, Mark Richt, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, Oklahoma, Quinton Carter, SEC, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Tyler Bray, Urban Meyer, Will Muschamp
Posted on: July 30, 2011 3:50 pm
Edited on: July 30, 2011 3:51 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Georgia was hit with a Level 1 secondary violation by the SEC following some inadvertant text messages that Mark Richt sent to a recruit's father in May. However, there isn't much for Georgia fans to worry about since it isn't likely Georgia will be punished severely considering that the texts Richt did sent contained no content.
In fact, when you read about how Richt ended up texting the father of Jordan Jenkins, Ron Jenkins, you get a nice glimpse of how silly some NCAA violations can be.
In [Georgia AD Greg] McGarity’s May 27 letter of explanation to [SEC Commissioner Mike] Slive, he reports that Richt accidentally sent two text messages from his Blackberry to the father of Harris County defensive end Jordan Jenkins on May 26th. Jenkins is considered by many the top prospect in Georgia. Text messages to prospects or their family members are impermissible per NCAA rules until one day after a prospect has signed a national letter of intent with the school.Such a scandal. Stay tuned next week for when Les Miles gets in trouble for sharing funny photos with a recruit on his Google reader.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 8:06 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 8:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Asked about five-star Georgia running back recruit Isaiah Crowell on Signing Day, Mark Richt said he "wouldn't be shocked to see him running that rock in the dome against Boise State on the opening play." But even after losing top two rushers Washaun Ealey and Caleb King during the offseason, Richt declined to name Crowell the Bulldog starter Thursday at SEC Media Days and seemed to be making a concerted effort to keep a lid on the Crowell hype.
How concerted? Away from the main Media Days podium, Richt told Dawgs247 reporter Gentry Estes that entering fall camp, the Bulldogs' No. 1 tailback would be positional journeyman Richard Samuel:
“If anybody needed to be soothed a little bit, that will do it,” Richt said of Samuel. “He’s very mature physically, and he’s a mature man in the way he goes about his business. He has two years of experience within our system to know what to do.
“He’ll be in that meeting room, and he’ll be a great example of how to prepare and how to play the position.”
While we certainly don't doubt that Samuel (pictured) will indeed be "a great example of how to prepare," we won't blame Bulldog fans if they're less-than-soothed about Samuel's chances of being as great on the field as he is in that meeting room. Samuel spent all of 2010 and this year's spring camp at linebacker after two mildly productive years at tailback in '08 and '09. If he really is the Bulldogs' best option for "running that rock," it seems unlikely the Georgia ground game will have the teeth necessary to get them back to Atlanta.
Which is why Richt's putting Samuel in the preseason top slot is most likely his way of shielding Crowell from the pressure of statements like, well, his own on Signing Day. When asked directly about Crowell Thursday, Richt sang something of a different tune:
“We don’t expect Isaiah to save the program,” Richt said. “We don’t expect Isaiah to put the team on his back. We expect Isaiah to learn what to do and to do things the Georgia way and to try to do anything he can to help the team win as a freshman. We’ll see how far that goes.
“I’ve got a sense of anticipation. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen when we put the pads on for the first time and go live and just see what he does, see how he handles getting hit real hard, see how he handles the speed of the Southeastern Conference. … We won’t treat him whole lot different than any other player who is talented but we’re wanting to make sure he has success.”
Of course, Richt's elevation of Samuel may not be motivation for Crowell alone; redshirt freshman Ken Malcome remains in the mix, and Carlton Thomas is expected to return following his suspension for the Boise game.
But despite Richt's assurances, he does need someone to put the rushing attack on his back (if not the entire team), and Crowell remains the most likely candidate to do that. Samuel may start the fall at No. 1, but we not only won't be shocked if Crowell takes the opening handoff against Boise; we'll be shocked if he doesn't.
Posted on: July 21, 2011 12:33 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2011 2:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
For a coach expected by many to be shown the door at the end of the 2011 season, Georgia's Mark Richt didn't exactly seem consigned to his fate during an upbeat appearance at SEC Media Days.
"If you go in to [athletic building] Butts-Mehre," he said, "there's not one sense of doom or gloom ... Expectations are just as high as they've ever been going into any season. Our goal is to win the Eastern division. That's just the way we think, every single season, and we believe we've got just as good a chance as anybody to do that."
The rest of the highlights from Richt's time at the podium, organized by topic:
The first two games. The Bulldogs start the year off with the most challenging of bangs, playing Boise State in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic and hosting SEC East favorite South Carolina in Week 2. About agreeing to play the Broncos, Richt said "What better way to send a surge of energy through our program than to schedule a game like that? There's risk in playing a team that can whip your tail. Because they might whip your tail. But to get back where we want to be -- highly ranked and highly thought of -- we need to play this game."
About the Broncos themselves, Richt called them "a special football team in the way they approach it ... I've probably never seen anyone play any harder than they do as a team, down after down."
As for Carolina, Richt said understanding the challenge the Gamecocks represent "energized the program in a big way ... everybody understands what it's going to take, preparation-wise."
Recruiting. The most animated Richt became was discussing the Bulldogs' efforts to recruit in-state, which he says was hampered by opponents willing to hand out scholarship offers they don't intend on honoring right away.
"That's our biggest problem at Georgia, is trying to make those evaluations properly," he said. "Because I'll say this: when we offer a kid at Georgia, we mean it. If we offer a kid and he wants to accept that offer, we're not gonna tell him 'Well, we offered you, but we don't want you to commit right now.' If we offer a guy and he commits, he's in ...
"Some out-of-state schools, they'll go blazing through the state offering everybody--not everybody, but a lot of guys. And so the high school coach is like 'Well so-and-so offered him, why didn't you offer him?' It does put pressure on us to offer a guy a little sooner than you'd like to."
Richt also criticized teams that would take an early commitment, and then sever ties with the recruit once they saw a prospect they liked better. "At Georgia, if he commits to us," he said, "we're not dumping him."
The 3-4. Richt expects a big step forward in his team's performance in second-year defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's system, for two reasons. One is the Bulldogs' familiarity with the defense. ""Our guys were spending a lot of time last year trying to figure out what to do, [asking] what's my assignment," he said, "and maybe not enough time on 'How do I do my job well.'"
But he also said the arrival of jumbo-sized JUCO nose guard Johnathan Jenkins would make a major impact, both in terms of Jenkins' ability and in motivating holdover Kwame Geathers into his spring MVP performance. "We think [Jenkins] can really do a great job of making the 3-4 go," Richt said. "If you don't have a nose guard that demands double-teams and maybe a triple team once in a while, you're not going to free up your linebackers to do the things that you want them to do."
Crowell? On Signing Day, Richt said that incoming five-star running back Isaiah Crowell might take the first handoff of the season against Boise. But Richt said little (if anything) specific about Crowell at Media Days, choosing instead to focus on running back-turned-linebacker-turned-runni
ng back Richard Samuel when asked about the Bulldogs' diminished running back depth.
"We're really only one guy shy of where we thought we'd be," Richt said. "[Samuel] knows the system, knows the plays, knows how to play the game. And he's a more mature man than he was a couple years ago ... I think we have plenty of depth at that position right now. Question is how productive will we be."
That Richt declined to discuss Crowell could be a signal that he's less confident in Crowell's abilities than he was at Signing Day ... or he could just be trying to keep a lid on the hype that's described Crowell as the next Knowshon Moreno.
Richt did add that the "starting lineup gives me a lot of confidence" and that he thinks center Ben Jones "is going to win the Rimington." He even got to reiterate that stance when Jones himself entered the media room to take the mic and ask if Richt "trusted" the offensive line. (Rich said he did.)
Jersey change. The Bulldogs already have a history with uniform experiments and will go to the well again against Boise, donning a set of Nike "Pro Combat" uniforms (as will the Broncos) the players saw for the first time this week.
"I think jersey change is a great idea if you win, and I think it's a bad idea if you lose," Richt said. "Our players are excited about it. A lot of energy in the room [on their debut] and a lot of excitement. They're going to enjoy wearing those jerseys .... Is that going to help us win the game? I promise it won't win the game for us. Boise's going to be wearing theirs too.
"But it's fun ... College football is a grind. A grind for the coaches, a grind for the players. We're not complaining. But any time you can have some fun with your guys, I think it's good to do that."
Muschamp. Richt drew a laugh with this reponse to a question about new Florida coach Will Muschamp, a Georgia graduate: "I'm sure he's going to tell everyone in Florida he's Florida through and through, but I guarantee there's a little bit of red and black in his veins."
Tenure. Asked about the difficulties of being at one SEC school for 11 years: "It's not difficult if you win."
Posted on: July 12, 2011 11:21 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:30 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
Former Georgia offensive lineman Brent Benedict has chosen a new home, announcing on Monday that he will transfer to Virginia Tech. Benedict selected Frank Beamer's squad over Florida, Clemson, and Marshall.
"[Virginia Tech is] a great program with a coaching staff that's been there awhile," Benedict told the Florida Times-Union. "They win games and do well in the ACC. I'm really excited to get up there."
Benedict redshirted his freshman year in Athens still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in is final high school season. He will have to sit out another year before finally being eligible to play for the Hokies in 2012. With four returning starters (all seniors), Virginia Tech will boast one of the better offensive lines in the ACC this fall. Their graduation may be a question mark for Hokies fans, but Benedict saw an opportunity to compete for playing time as soon as he is eligible.
The last time Benedict was on the field, he was considered one of the better offensive lineman in his class. But by the time he suits up for the Hokies, it will have been almost three years since the promising tackle has engaged in game situations. Sitting out this year, the onus will be on Benedict and the coaching staff to ready him for when his number is called next fall.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 10:54 am
Edited on: July 22, 2011 4:31 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
The pressure on highly touted freshman running back Isaiah Crowell this season at Georgia increased with the announcement that Caleb King would be academically ineligible to play in 2011. Recent reports would suggest that King does not plan on suiting up in a Bulldogs uniform again, and will be testing the (supplemental) draft waters.
Seth Emerson, of the Macon Telegraph, reported on Sunday that a source close to King has said the to-be senior has decided to enter the NFL supplemental draft. The date of the supplemental draft has not been announced yet due to the lockout, though league officials have confirmed the event will take place. King will join former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the group of players hoping to become a late addition to an NFL roster.
If a team selects a player in the supplemental draft, they will forfeit their selection in that round of the following year's draft. Instead of the usual draft order, teams are grouped by win total and a franchise may submit a bid on what round they would be willing to pick a certain player. NFL teams will have to decide first if they want to add Pryor or King, and then at what cost.