Archive for August, 2012

SEC Predictions: Week 1

It’s the start of the season, which means that we get to see some College Football again! Yaaaaay!

Anyway, here are our predictions for every SEC team playing this [long] weekend, apart from Texas A&M, who have seen their game against Louisiana Tech postponed to Hurricane Isaac, which is dumping its load all over New Orleans as we speak…

Anyway, here goes….

THURSDAY

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Everyone’s talking about Vanderbilt’s potential to upset USC in Nashville on College Football Kick-Off Night on Thursday night, but if Steve Spurrier gets Marcus Lattimore rolling and Connor Shaw finds a wide receiver or two, then James Franklin’s got his work cut-out. Sure, people believe in Jordan Rodgers, but will Vandy’s offensive line really measure up against Devin Taylor and Jadeveon “Insane Posse” Clowney?

PREDICTION: Sorry, James. Clowney and Taylor too strong. South Carolina by 10

FRIDAY

NC State vs Tennessee (Atlanta)

Da’Rick Rogers really hurt Tennessee when he got kicked off the team. Tyler Bray is going to miss out on a fantastic receiver – which means everything of any value’s really going to go through Justin Hunter and potentially a rather weak running game. As for NC State? Suddenly they are being talked about as having one of the better secondaries in the ACC (ie Bray better watch out), and on the other side of the ball, Mike Glennon can cause UT problems.

PREDICTION: A monster upset in the ATL. NC State by 7.

SATURDAY

Michigan vs Alabama (Dallas)

How will Alabama’s new and inexperienced defense deal with Denard Robinson? How will Michigan’s defensive line deal with Alabama’s incredible offensive line? Will Ed Lacy be the next Trent Richardson? Will AJ McCarron continue the excellence of his National Championship Game?

PREDICTION: A close one until Alabama pulls away. Alabama by 10.

Clemson vs Auburn (Atlanta)

Clemson’s biggest Achilles Heel will be the fact that their No.1 receiver – and Heisman Trophy Candidate – Sammy Watkins is out due to his own stupidity. Auburn’s biggest Achilles Heel is the suspension of their best offensive linesman – and the transfer of their top running back, Michael Dyer (due to his own stupidity). But this game’s going to be fun, because we’ve got no trust whatsoever in both team’s defenses.

PREDICTION: Clemson in an exciting high-scorer, winning out by 3 on a last-minute field goal.

Bowling Green at Florida

We know Florida’s defense is going to be good if not great. But Florida fans will begging Will Muschamp for one thing: Score points please!

PREDICTION: Florida by 35 in a game that still raises some eyebrows about UF’s offense. Gulp.

Buffalo vs Georgia

Regardless of whether Isaiah Crowell’s no longer on the team, this one’s not going to be close. However, we can’t wait for the Keith Marshall/Todd Gurley combination and what it will do – especially as we only expect Aaron Murray to play 3 quarters of what will NOT be a close game.

PREDICTION: Georgia by 50. At least.

North Texas at LSU

The biggest question of the night – and the season – will be: How can LSU cope without Tyrann Mathieu? Well, here’s the answer: It won’t be answered against North Texas, folks!

PREDICTION: LSU by 50 in a game that’s over by half-time.

Jacksonville State vs Arkansas

The only thing that will be remotely interesting about this game will be the return of Knile Davis and how fit he is after his injury. And possibly if John L. Smith does anything to change his team’s philosophy after the ‘fun and gun’ that was Bobby Petrino’s.

PREDICTION: Smith smothers J-State. Arkansas by 60.

Jackson State vs Mississippi State

Dan Mullen’s program has been through its own share of problems recently, so we’ll be interested as to whether MSU’s secondary has changed for the better with Tim Brewster in charge now. Otherwise, we expect MSU to roll.

PREDICTION: Ring the Cowbell. MSU by 35.

Southeastern Louisiana vs Missouri

Here’s to hoping that the University of Missouri gives the game receipts from this game to the American Red Cross to support those affected by Hurricane Isaac. They probably won’t. On the other side, Mizzou will need a new RB after the loss of Henry Josey for the year, and James Franklin (the QB) will get a chance to full test out his shoulder.

PREDICTION: Some of Missouri’s fledgling SEC season will be tough. This game won’t be one of them. Missouri by 50.

Central Arkansas at Ole Miss

Last season could be charitably called a ‘learning exercise’ for Ole Miss, who were pretty dreadful last year and currently have a double-digit losing streak in the SEC. This is Hugh Freeze’s opening game of the season, and he’ll be on his knees before the game to ask for a good start to the season. Central Arkansas is just hoping this game will go to the fourth quarter.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss by damn! A 21-point victory in Hugh Freeze’s first game.

SUNDAY

Kentucky at Louisville

UK once again starts the season with Louisville, and once again, Kentucky’s expected to do absolutely nothing and Louisville’s expected to compete in the Big East. There aren’t many times that Big East talent outmatches SEC talent, but this time is one of them. Next year’s going to be a good one, though – especially with the talent UK has coming through at quarterback!

PREDICTION: Louisville by 14 in a closer game than many expect.

 

SEC Preseason Preview: Can Alabama reload and re-win?

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, Ready to reload Alabama?

It’s no secret that 2011-2012 National Champions Alabama lost a load of talent to the NFL, but this is Nick Saban. He’s recruiting brilliantly (again), he’s one of the best coaches in the game (name us someone better), and Alabama ought to be OK for the 2012-3 season – which is why they are again one of the favorites to go to the National Title game.

LAST SEASON

Y’all know what happened last season. Alabama won the National Championship, hammering LSU 21-0. Should they have actually been in the National Championship Game? Well, the argument is is that the Crimson Tide didn’t even get to their Conference Championship Game. The other argument is is that they were really the second best team in the nation, and deserved the spot. But the fact of the matter is this: Alabama are National Champions.

NFL-wise, Alabama lost a heap of talent. Trent Richardson, Mark Barron, Dre Kirkpatrick, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Josh Chapman, DeQuan Menzie and Brad Smelley were all drafted.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE DEFENSE?

The first question is simple: How on earth is Nick Saban going to replace all that talent?

Simple, really. Super-sized and larger-than-life nose tackle Jesse Williams (24 tackles, 3.5 Tackles for Loss) will anchor the center of the field, taking over the nose guard role from Josh Chapman, while defensive ends Damion Squire and Ed Stinson will be expected to shore up things up.

Nico Johnson (47 tackles, 1 sack, 5 1/2 Tackles for Loss and 1 INT), CJ Moseley (37 tackles)  and Adam Hubbard will try and replace the major loss of Hightower (85 tackles, 4 sacks, 7 Tackles for Loss).

Secondary-wise, things aren’t going to be as easy. Mark Barron (68 tackles, 2 INTs), Dre Kirkpatrick (30 tackles) and DeQuan McKenzie (41 tackles, 1 INT) are gone – which is a hell of a lot of talent to try and reload from. Sorry, Nick. SS Robert Lester (39 tackles, 2 INTs) will try and pick up some of the pieces, and we should all watch out for Dee Milliner, who’s getting some rave previews from writers about his potential. Will he be able to turn potential into brilliance in 2012. Auburn fans will be hoping not.

AND ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL….

Last year in the National Championship Game, AJ McCarron made LSU’s extremely good secondary look extremely ordinary, picking them apart seemingly at will.

This season he’s getting some Heisman talk – and we think he’ll throw the ball a lot more what with Trent Richardson going to the NFL (he hasn’t had the greatest of starts). Much-heralded wide receiver Duron Carter’s departure from Alabama in the off-season has left McCarron with an even less-experienced receiving corps than last year – although Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Christian Jones, DeAndrew White and tight end Michael Williams won’t be bad at all.

Running backs-wise, we’re all going to miss Trent Richardson, who was as good at making players miss as he was simply running over them. We’ll miss you, Trent. Anyway, Eddie Lacy (674 yards, 7 TDs) is going to be depended on to put up the big ground numbers for Saban’s offense – although Jalston Fowler’s versality will also help, journalists say. Still, how are you really going to replace Richardson’s 1,679 yards?

The great thing for Alabama’s is that they are going to very, very solid up-front, still. Barrett Jones could be playing in the NFL right now, but he enjoyed being a member of the Tide that he decided to stay in school for another year. He’s moved to center on an offensive line that is so, so experienced. Antony Steen, Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker, Cyrus Kouandjio have nearly 100 career starts between them – and all are over 6 ft 3 and 300 pounds. That’s a ‘solid’ proposition for defenses and Alabama’s offense alike.

AND THE X-FACTOR IS…

Nick Saban. The guy is hands-down the best coach in College Football (certainly defensively, anyway!). While Alabama might have lost a lot of talent, Saban’s good enough to make sure that the season doesn’t unravel and the Crimson Tide are there or thereabouts when it comes to battling it out for a SEC West title.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 MICHIGAN (AT Cowboys Stadium, Dallas)

September 8 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 15 at Arkansas

September 22 FLORIDA ATLANTIC

September 29 OLE MISS

October 13 at Missouri

October 20 at Tennessee

October 27 MISSISSIPPI STATE

November 3 at LSU

November 10 TEXAS A&M

November 17 WESTERN CAROLINA

November 24 AUBURN

THE BOTTOM LINE… Alabama has a monster match-up on the first game of the season when they play Michigan in JerryWorld, and it’s road trip to Arkansas ain’t gonna be easy either. Oh, and they also have to travel to LSU (as well as Tennessee and Missouri), too. Having said that, the favorable home schedule and the fact that there’s too much talent on this team means this: Alabama loses to LSU in Death Valley this year, but finishes the season a tidy 11-1, and is in the conversation (once again) for the National Championship.

SEC Preseason Preview: Can South Carolina dominate the SEC East?

In Steve Spurrier, South Carolina is coached by one of the greatest coaches the SEC (and College Football), has ever seen. And he’s great with doing something from nothing, because  South Carolina’s not historically Georgia, LSU or Alabama, and yet he can still pick up some immense recruits and sends some great ones to the pros.

This year, South Carolina goes into the season higher thought-of than ever. So can they win the SEC East title, which they missed out on last year?

Last year

Let’s get this straight: If they hadn’t have had such a sucky SEC conference, they would have won the SEC East. They went 4-0 against their division, but because Georgia managed to avoid playing anyone decent in the SEC West – and South Carolina had games at Auburn and Arkansas – Georgia (who they beat in an absolute classic last year) came out with a better SEC record and hence went to the SEC Championship Game.

Starting QB Stephen Garcia was dismissed in October for yet another bout of ‘overdoing it’,  and star running back Marcus Lattimore managed not to badly injure his knee at Mississippi State, and although the Gamecocks defense was still as good and reliable and usual, the offense never really recovered until the final game of the season when they put 34 on a suddenly-stumbling Clemson.

NFL-wise, Stephon Gilmore, Melvin Ingram, Alshon Jeffrey, Rokevious Watkins, Antonio Allen, and Travian Robertson were all drafted.

TWO BIG QUESTIONS ON OFFENSE

As far as we’re concerned, Connor Shaw’s going to do just fine this season for the Gamecocks. Although there are worries about Shaw’s back, Spurrier’s said he’s going to be fine for Thursday’s SEC opener at Vanderbilt.

The biggest question on everyone’s lips is about catching – who’s going to replace Alshon Jeffrey (762 yards, 8 TDs) as Shaw’s target man? Will it be Ace Sanders, or  Bruce Ellington or Rory Anderson or Nick Jones who will make the headlines? No-one knows? All we do know is that Jeffrey was a hell of a presence for the Gamecocks last year – something that will be needed.

And the other question – if we’re honest – is about Lattimore and his knee. The injury itself at Mississippi State was one to make any right-minded person feel nauseous, and it ruined his season there and then. Some reporters are confident that Lattimore’s back to the old self that made him a Heisman Trophy candidate, but Brandon Wilds and Kenny Miles will also be used to provide bigger support. This could answer a couple of worries.

AND THE DEFENSE?

Actually, the NFL Draft did a pretty good job itself, ridding the Gamecocks of CB Stephon Gilmore and DE Melvin Ingram and LB/SS ‘Spur’ Antonio Allen.

Having said that, there are still imposing figures to destroy offensive lines in giant sophomore DE Jadeveon Clowney (36 tackles, 8 sacks), and DE co-player Devin Taylor (42 tackles, 6 sacks) who are also very quick. This should be fun.

But as we mentioned, the loss of Allen and Gilmore is going to be a major loss for Spurrier’s defensive back unit – and they’ll need CB Akeem Auguste to be healthy and SS DJ Swearinger (USC’s second-highest tackler with 80 tackles, 3 INTs, 1.5 Tackles For Loss) to continue his good form of 2011.

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

August 30 at Vanderbilt

September 8 EAST CAROLINA

September 15 UAB

September 22 MISSOURI

September 29 at Kentucky

October 6 GEORGIA

October 13 at LSU

October 20 at Florida

October 27 TENNESSEE

November 10 ARKANSAS

November 17 WOFFORD

November 24 at Clemson

USC’s first game of the season at Vandy on Thursday isn’t exactly an easy one to start with, and if they get through that game, then we expect them to run the table until they have the ‘triple whammy’ of Georgia and road games at LSU and Florida. Then it’s Tennessee, Arkansas, Wofford and a trip to ancient rivals Clemson.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Spurrier’s lost too much talent not to suffer this year, but the return of Marcus Lattimore, the fact that Connor Shaw’s a better QB than Stephen Garcia and the Clowney/Taylor combo is going to be fantastic on the defensive line is going to make life a little bit easier. Having said that, we think USC will go 10-2 – and miss out once again on a SEC Championship Game spot (despite beating Georgia)

Texas A&M opener postponed due to Hurricane Isaac

Hurricane Isaac has already taken with it one SEC casualty – Texas A&M’s first game as a SEC school – on the road at Louisiana Tech on Thursday night.

The game has been rescheduled for October 13th.

And while this gives Texas A&M another week to prepare for the visit of the Florida Gators to Kyle Field, it also means that Kevin Sumlin’s first game as the Aggies’ head coach is against one of the best defenses in the SEC and possibly in college football.  Usually ‘big-time’ schools will schedule a smaller program to give themselves match fitness before the all-important conference season.

Louisiana Tech said that this was due to fan safety rather than a worry about weather conditions, according to news outlets.

 

SEC Preseason Preview: Can LSU overcome the loss of Tyrann Mathieu?

Tyrann Mathieu really screwed up this time. In fact, he screwed up so much that he’s now in rehab, and he’s off the LSU team. Last year he was suspended for drug use, while in the off-season he entertained everybody by wanting to change his ‘Honey Badger’ nickname for ‘King’. Wow, there’s nothing like a bit of humility, is there? We can only hope that a reformed, drug-free Tyrann Mathieu is back in FBS Football and his bravado is pitch only.

But will Mathieu’s expulsion from the team cost the LSU Tigers a shot at the National Championship?

LAST SEASON

As you all know, LSU was not only shut out of the National Championship by Alabama, but they were embarrassed, too. Their offense was lousy, and their defense wasn’t a lot better in the 21-0 defeat.

It’s funny, because LSU got to the National Championship the right way last year. They played Oregon and West Virginia outside the confines of Death Valley. And won both games. They won the toughest road game of them all in Tuscaloosa 9-6, and made frat boys cry in the process. And they beat Georgia comfortably in the SEC Championship Game. They destroyed teams with an excellent defense, and some even better special teams play. And guess made most of the standout plays?

LSU – loaded with NFL-worthy talent – sent Morris Claiborne, Michael Brockers, Rueben Randle, Brandon Taylor and Ron Brooks to the NFL.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITHOUT TYRANN MATHIEU?

As angry Les Miles must be with Tyrann Mathieu, he must be also thanking the Good Lord that Eric Reid – who tied Mathieu for tackles and interceptions has stayed out of trouble. The secondary – with the loss of two of its star players – now returns just one of its starters (Reid), but Tharold Simon, Craig Loston Jr and Dwayne Collins, Dwayne Thomas and Jalen Mills could also be exciting options.

Having said that, defensive co-ordinator supreme John Chavis knows what he’s doing, and the Tigers should be fine – if a little less exciting than last year!

OH, AND LSU STILL HAS THE BEST DEFENSIVE LINE IN THE COUNTRY

Defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo (what a great name, by the way) are two of the best defensive ends in the country. Between them, they had 17 sacks last year. And although Brockers is gone, DTs Bennie Logan(57 tackles, 3 sacks) and Antony Johnson will also scare offensive lines across the country.

And that’s going to help the linebacking corps, which lacks experience apart from Kevin Minter, who had 61 tackles last year. Lamin Barrow and Tahj Jones are projected to start to0 – this could be pretty exciting.

And did we mention that John Chavis knew what he was doing?

AND THE OFFENSE?

We’ve been quite defense-focused in our LSU preview (mainly because of Mathieu), but the good news for LSU fans is that Les Miles finally has a strong-armed, good quarterback in Zach Mettenberger, who was named starting QB almost immediately to avoid a situation like Florida or Texas. LSU fans had better pray that Mettenberger stays healthy – and out of trouble – because PSU transfer Rob Bolden really wasn’t anything special in State College. But for some consolation, here’s freshman highlight reel, by the way. Things didn’t improve from there.

Mettenberger’s weapons are going to be Odell Beckham, Russell Shepard and TE Chase Clement. There’s not a lot of experience in the team on that line – both Shepard and Beckham only caught 55 passes and 6 TDs last year – but this was mainly due to Les Miles using his powerful offensive line to grind out the yards rather than throw it up in the air (and the fact that with Jarrett Lee / Jordan Jefferson at QB, they were hardly reliable, were they?). And with Mettenberger’s arm, opposition secondaries had better be careful.

Also, Michael Ford, Spencer Ware, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard all come back into a rushing game that, giving LSU a very legitimate run threat too.

And we think the offense is going to need to be more sparky than they were in 2011, because the defense is definitely a little weaker. Especially in the secondary (if we hadn’t mentioned it before).

In the SEC West, where field position in all-important, One of Les Miles’ biggest weapons is going to be a rather good-looking Australian kid called Brad Wing, who’s an absolute freak at doing that.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 NORTH TEXAS

September 8 WASHINGTON

September 15 IDAHO

September 22 at Auburn

September 29 TOWSON

October 6 at Florida

October 13 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 20 at Texas A&M

November 3 ALABAMA

November 10 MISSISSIPPI STATE

November 17 OLE MISS

November 23 at Arkansas

LSU’s schedule isn’t an easy one…particularly on the road. Going to Florida, Arkansas and Auburn will be tough, and the atmosphere at Kyle Field (Texas A&M) is one of the most deafening in the country. Home-wise, Alabama and South Carolina at home are the key games.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Regardless of how magical John Chavis is or how good LSU’s defense is, the logic is this: LSU is a worse team without Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu is a threat on defense AND special teams – something that LSU will struggle with without their Heisman Candidate in the team. But we still think LSU is good enough to run the table – squeezing past Alabama to maintain a 12-0 record and a SEC Championship Game spot. It won’t be easy, though.

SEC Preseason Preview: Can Florida return to old glories?

The Florida Gators are a National Power. Sure, they may have sucked pre-Spurrier, but in the last three decades, they’ve been almost always extremely competitive (if you ignore the Ron Zook years). Since 1991, Florida has won eight SEC titles, and three National Titles. They also haven’t missed a bowl game since 1991, either. That’s a pretty great record.

But 2011, after Urban Meyer’s decision to leave the Florida family and go to ESPN (for the year, as it turned out, because he managed to recover sufficiently to take up a role at Ohio State), the Muschamp era started with a sputter. Sure, the Gators got into a bowl game, but they ended the season without a National Ranking….and losing to their hated cross-state rival, Florida State.

LAST SEASON

As we’ve mentioned before, the Florida Gators sputtered last year to a 6-6 regular season record. And their offense didn’t just sputter, they were goddawful. John Brantley missed almost all of Florida’s losses against Alabama, LSU and Auburn (which didn’t help matters), and Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel didn’t nothing to inspire confidence. On the ground, Chris Rainey & Co. couldn’t get anything done on the floor, and the Gators ended up ranked 71st in points scoring.

Results-wise, Florida ran to 4-0 to start the season, but then sputtered, losing four straight to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia before beating Vanderbilt and losing 17-12 to South Carolina in a game that we can only say wasn’t one for the purists. The season ended with Florida State snapped jaws in The Swamp 21-7 in another drab game. Oh, and somewhere in there, Florida also beat Furman.

NFL-wise, Jaye Howard and Chris Rainey were the only two Gators picked in the 2012 Draft, and Jeff Demps ran for the US Olympic 4 x 100m relay team, where he received a medal after running a leg of the preliminary heats. Demps subsequently signed a contract with the New England Patriots.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN AT QUARTERBACK?

The Florida Gators quarterback scenario is one of the more entertaining of the season. Will Muschamp can’t seem make up his mind as to who will start for his team – both Brissett and Driskel are still duking it out for the starting spot. Both will play the opening game against Bowling Green. Both Brissett (206 yds, 2 TDs, 4 INTs) and Driskel (148 yards, 2 INTs) were uninspiring last year, and in the Spring Game equally so.

AND THE RUNNING AND RECEIVING GAME?

No doubt about it: Losing Rainey and Demps are going to be massive losses. Mike Gillislee, Trey Burton, Hunter Joyer will be required to pick up the pieces. One thing’s for certain: The unit certainly won’t be as quick!

On the receiving wise, Andre DuBose provided us with one of the highlights (and crowd noises) of the season when he caught the opening play of the Alabama contest and took it to the house, and he, Frankie Hammond and Quinton Dunbar will be relied on to provide big yards – although Jordan Reed’s an excellent tight end.

THE LINE, THE LINE, THE LINE

The Florida Gators have an excellent line, with their five projected starters owning nearly 70 starts between them – talk about experienced. Jon Halipo Jr and James Wilson Sr. are both giants at their respective guard positions. That (hopefully) should keep the QB game for getting any more injuries and befalling the same fate as it did in ’10!

AND HOW ABOUT THE ‘D’?

If there is one thing EVERYONE is raving about, it’s the Florida Gators defense, which could be one of the best not only in the SEC, but in all of college football. While LSU has lost its best defensive player through his own stupidity and Alabama has lost most of their best defense in years due to that nasty thing called the NFL Draft, the Gators bring back practically EVERYBODY. That automatically makes them a contender.

While Ronald Powell, who plays in Muschamp’s hybrid linebacker/ defensive end position is still recovering from his ACL injury, watch out for freshman Dante Fowler to turn some heads at that position – as he has been in training. And speaking of linebackers, the Gators are absolutely loaded at the actual position, which is going to be headed  up by Jon Bostic (94 tackles ) and Jelani Jenkins (75 tackles) – both of whom have NFL talent. Shariff Floyd returns to defensive tackle alongside the excellent Dominique Easley.

In the secondary, strong safety Matt Elam, who was second on the team in tackles (and top in tackles for loss) will be someone to watch this year, although CB Jeremy Brown was injured yet again in August (though Muschamp is hoping for a return by opening day). The good things for Florida is that everyone coming back started is experienced – which will be needed in a conference that relies on that.

THE SCHEDULE

September 1 BOWLING GREEN

September 8 at Texas A&M

September 15 at Tennessee

September 22 KENTUCKY

October 6 LSU

October 13 at Vanderbilt

October 20 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 27 GEORGIA (Cocktail Party at Jacksonville)

November 3 MISSOURI

November 10 LOUISIANA

November 17 JACKSONVILLE STATE

November 24 at Florida State

The Gators are going to definitely benefit from the fact that two of their biggest games of the year – LSU and South Carolina are going to be played in the home comforts of The Swamp, while the Cocktail Party they are at ‘home’ too in Jacksonville. We expect the Gators to finish the year 10-3 with losses coming from Georgia, LSU and at Florida State.

 

SEC Season Preview: Can The Joker take Kentucky from the SEC basement?

Joker Phillips’ job at Kentucky can’t be easy. After all, they seem to always live in the shadow of their band of basketball brothers, and never seem to come out. Even when they posted relatively successful numbers in 2006 – 2009, no-one particularly appreciated them, and even now it’s as though Randall Cobb went straight from high school to Green Bay without playing for Big Blue in between.

Well, Joker wants to make right on all of that, and have a team that can not only own hated rival Louisville, but do some damage in the SEC East. Can this be his year?

LAST SEASON

Last season the Kentucky Wildcats were pretty awful, finishing the year 5-7. That might not seem bad at all, but when your wins are against Western Kentucky (where they looked awful), Central Michigan, Jacksonville State and even-worse Ole Miss and ‘What In God’s Name Is Happening At That School?’ Tennessee, it’s hardly a season to look back on and say: ‘Gosh, I loved being a Wildcats fan back then’.

Still, the NFL’s teams drafted defensive back Winston Guy and linebacker Danny Trevathan – the only two players to go this year from the school.

WHO’S GOING TO REPLACE TREVATHAN AND GUY?

Right, so Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy leave the University of Kentucky with heads held him, taking with them 263 tackles, 4 1/2 sacks and 6 INTs, plus being on-the-field leaders. That’s a lot that goes – if you consider that Ronnie Sneed (71) and Ridge Wilson (47) are also gone from the linebacking corps. The holes are going to be immense.

The Wildcats are going to depend a lot on defensive end Martavius Neloms and safety Mike Benton (seven pass break-ups) to cause some problems, as well as Avery Williamson (LB) and Alvin Dupree. Having said that, it’s going to be quite the task to replace St. Danny and St. Winston.

BUT AT LEAST JOKER HAS A QUARTERBACK…

This week Joker Phillips announced that Maxwell Smith would become the school’s starting quarterback. And while he can’t do a great interview (check out the opening remarks), he’s got a good arm, but frankly, the choice between him (819 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs) and injured Morgan Newton (793, 8 TDs, 7 INTs), isn’t exactly a beautiful one. We can’t wait until Patrick Towles – the No.1 QB in the State of Kentucky – takes over the reins (which we think he will – maybe as soon as the middle of the season).

Smith will be helped by the receiving talents of La’ Rod King (598 yards, 7 TDs), who’d better not get injured – because he’s the standout in the unit….by a mile. Could he be the next Randall Cobb?

AND SOME RUNNING BACKS

One of the problem places on this Kentucky team is NOT going to be running the ball, with Josh Clemsons, CoShik Williams, and Jonathan George. Although, as Lindy’s remarked: “They’ll have to make plays behind a relatively inexperienced line, which lost three starters and has very little depth”. That’s encouraging reading, bearing in mind Kentucky’s schedule!

THE 2012 SCHEDULE

September 2 at Louisville

September 8 KENT STATE

September 15 WESTERN KENTUCKY

September 22 at Florida

September 29 SOUTH CAROLINA

October 6 MISSISSIPPI STATE

October 13 at Arkansas

October 20 GEORGIA

October 27 at Missouri

November 3 VANDERBILT

November 17 SAMFORD

November 24 at Tennessee

The Bottom Line: Joker Phillips is going to win some games this year – although we don’t think it’ll be ANY in the SEC (sorry, UK fans!). The team’s inexperienced all over the field on both directions, and against better teams (which they all are this year, it seems), the Wildcats will struggle. We think the Wildcats will end up with a 4-8 record, including a winless SEC record.

MSU receivers coach resigns over NCAA investigation

Mississippi State wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando has walked out – allegedly over an ongoing NCAA investigation into recruiting violations in Starkville, a number of news sources have reported – and a former Big Ten head coach has been hired to take his place!

The wide receivers coach is being investigated into the recruitment of defensive back Will Redmond and possible other players, the report from ESPN said.

Mirando – who stressed that he was leaving due to ‘unforeseen personal issues’ said in a statement: “I have enjoyed my time at Mississippi State as a graduate assistant and as an assistant coach. I have made friends that will last a lifetime; however, due to unforeseen personal issues, I believe it is in my best interest to resign from Mississippi State. I want to stress that these issues are personal. I look forward to pursuing other opportunities in the future. Finally, I want to thank my friend and mentor Dan Mullen for giving me this chance.

Dan Mullen, the school’s head coach said: “We appreciate Angelo and the work he did, and wish him the best in wherever the future takes him,” MSU coach Dan Mullen said in a statement. “We’ll take some time to evaluate what our next steps will be with that staff position, but I’m confident in our veteran group of wide receivers and know they’ll be focused and ready to go Sept. 1.

The move to replace him was pretty quick – the school announced Thursday that it had hired former Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster as receivers coach.

Mullen said in a statement: “Tim is a veteran football coach and his football knowledge and ability to teach made him the perfect choice to join our staff at this time…He’ll hit the ground running as we get ready for Jackson State.

Auburn names Kiehl Frazier starting QB

Auburn has named Kiehl Frazier as its starting quarterback.

The sophomore QB threw for just 41 yards and two interceptions last year. But Gene Chizik, Auburn’s head coach, said in a statement: “After a complete and thorough evaluation during spring practice and through the first three-plus weeks of camp, Kiehl Frazier has earned the starting job at quarterback. We expect Kiehl to be a leader for this team and to continue to work hard every day. I am confident in his ability and leadership skills and look forward to watching him progress in both areas.

Frazier beat Clint Moseley and Jonathan Wallace to the starting job – although Moseley’s progress was somewhat hurt by a shoulder injury.

Auburn suspends WR indefinitely

Auburn has suspended wide receiver DeAngelo Benton indefinitely, Gene Chizik said.

In a statement he said: “We have standards and expectations that our football team is expected to uphold and when they do not abide by those, there are consequences. As a result, I have suspended DeAngelo Benton.”

He had a list of off-the-field problems. Al.com said that he ‘testified in the robbery trial of former AU player Antonio Goodwin, saying that he bought synthetic marijuana‘, and the website also noted that he was present at the pool party shooting of three Auburn players – and may have been involved in an argument with alleged shooter Desmonte Leonard – although witnesses said that he was not involved.

Benton had seven receptions for 136 yards last season.

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