Archive for August, 2013

Can The Tigers Roar? 2013 LSU Preview

It seems that any time that LSU does not win a National Title or is not in the conversation for a National Title, that Les Miles is the worst coach in the world, and should pay the penalty for his loss by not only getting fired, but spending the rest of his life carrying a 300lb millstone around his neck to remind him of the hurt that he impounded on the LSU faithful.

Seriously.

Well, last year, LSU not only wasn’t in the National Title conversation after losing to Florida 14-6 in a defensive battle/awful game in The Swamp, but they were waaaaay out of it after losing at home to Alabama in the Game Of The Century in Death Valley. Oh, and they lost to Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Then, the talent left for the NFL. Tough 2013, Les Miles…. or not?

LAST YEAR

If you’re a LSU fan, 2012 was a helluva letdown. Sorry, but it was. First of all, Les Miles had to boot Tyrann Mathieu for constant bad behavior. Then during the season, the Tigers were the Lords of the close game. Against anyone, it seemed. Auburn, Arkansas and Ole Miss gave them unexpectedly hard games, they beat two SEC Gods in Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, and lost heartbreakers against Florida (the offense didn’t show up), Alabama (blame Nick Saban) and Clemson (blame Les Miles and the offense). Zach Mettenberger, the potential NFL QB, was a massive letdown. Maybe it was karma for not letting female kicker Mo Isom on the team.

And now?

OFFENSE

This was the probably the biggest disappointment in the SEC last year – and perhaps all of college football. Talk to any LSU fan, and they’ll tell you: “Zach Mettenberger was infuriating last season. A lot of the time he’d look awful, but then there were those sparks that would make you scald yourself for hatin’ on him”. We agree. Mettenberger had 2,600 yards passing last year with 12 TDs, and was bailed out at times by LSU’s as-usual excellent running game, led by Jeremy Hill, Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford. His receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry will be required to learn from the mistakes of 2012, but Tigers fans will be hoping that their experience will bolster Mettenberger, who had a QB rating of 128.3 – the third-lowest in the SEC.

The good thing about 2013 is the Mettenberger’s offensive line is (generally) intact, and Hill avoided jail. He’ll lead the way with Hilliard and Alfred Blue at running back. But in games where we project LSU might be behind a lot next year, will Mettenberger show us the talent that made him the potential No.1 QB at Georgia all those years ago? Tigers fans will be geauxing to church to pray so.

DEFENSE

Heard the one about the LSU Tigers losing all but three defensive starters, including Barkevious Mingo, Sam Montgomery, Bennie Logan, junior star Kevin Minter and safety Eric Reid? Well, it’s no joke. It seemed as if if you were a LSU junior last year, you walked to the NFL (and got drafted, too!). So, there will be a lot on the shoulders of DTs Anthony Johnson and Ego Ferguson, linebacker Lamin Barrow, and safety Craig Loston. We have confidence in defensive co-ordinator John Chavis, who’s the best in the land, but can the young defense cope?

SCHEDULE

Aug. 31 TCU (Arlington)
Sept. 7 UAB
Sept. 14 Kent State
Sept. 21 Auburn
Sept. 28 at Georgia
Oct. 5 at Mississippi State
Oct. 12 Florida
Oct. 19 at Ole Miss
Oct. 26 Furman
Nov. 9 at Alabama
Nov. 23 Texas A&M
Nov. 30 Arkansas

Casey Pachall, the TCU quarterback, is going to test the young LSU Tigers team first out, but then we feel it’s smooth sailing until the Tigers rock into Georgia for what is always a fired-up game between the two. The relative ease of Mississippi State will be combated with a home game against one of the SEC’s best defenses in Florida, while LSU’s going to be tested by Bo Wallace and Ole Miss…we promise. Furman should pose no problem, while we project Alabama and Texas A&M to be bruising encounters. The end-of-season clash at home with Arkansas should give some ‘Geaux’ back to Tigertown.

BOTTOM LINE: LSU has a hellishly young defense, which makes us believe that they could struggle early – particularly against talented QBs Pachall and Murray. We would not be surprised if the Tigers finished 10-2 this season with losses to Georgia and Alabama, but we wouldn’t be surprised – bearing in mind that we don’t rate Mettenberger and the Tigers’ young defense – if the Tigers finished 8-4….or worse. But they should get in a bowl game…even if it’s not a good one.

Can The Dawgs Make Another Championship Game? 2013 Georgia Bulldogs Preview

Some people blame the play on Aaron Murray. Some blame it on Mark Richt. Some people just blame it on God. Because God, that loss in the SEC Championship Game stung Georgia fans so much more than losing to Georgia Tech, because this could have been the time when the Dawgs talked about being a National Championship team (we think they would have beaten Notre Dame as easily as Alabama).

But the Dawgs are back. They are Jarvis Jones-less. They are Rambo-less. They go to Clemson and South Carolina at home on the second game – against another hated foe, Steve Spurrier. That’s the nation’s hardest first two games by an absolute mile. Something thinks they might win a National Title.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be interesting….

LAST YEAR

Despite losing – and being blown out by – South Carolina (again), the ease of Georgia’s schedule (apart from the Cocktail Party – which was a battle royale) and the difficulty of South Carolina’s ensured that the Bulldogs would go to the SEC Championship Game. They lost 32-28 in one of the greatest games college football has ever seen (Chris Fowler of ESPN College Gameday fame told our buddy Alex Ferguson that the game was one of the “five greatest he’d ever seen”), and if it wasn’t for one throw that didn’t make it, they could have beaten Alabama and gone to the National Championship Game.

OFFENSE

When Aaron Murray faced off against Alabama QB AJ McCarron, Murray outperformed McCarron 265 yards – 162. Problem for Murray was that McCarron won the game – mainly thanks to a superior running game.

Listen crappy quarterbacks don’t throw for 3,893 yards and 36 Touchdowns in 2012. True, Murray still needs to work on his game management. No, we haven’t forgotten about spiking the ball in the SEC Championship Game. He was also eaten alive by South Carolina’s defense in a 105-yard, 1 interception performance at Williams-Brice early on in the season.

Offensive-wise, we could see some worse numbers from Murray, especially if the Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall combo continue their incredible efforts of 2012 (2,144 yards and 25 TDs), but the good news for him is that he’s got his best receiver back in the underrated Michael Bennett, and Malcolm Mitchell’s going to recover from surgery in time for the season-start. Mssrs Terry, Wooten and Rumph aren’t bad back-ups, either.

DEFENSE

Against the rush, let’s face it…Jarvis Jones really wasn’t that great. But against the pass, he was one of the best pass rushers in the SEC. His play against Florida that caused Jordan Reed to fumble was downright magical. His way of dealing with quarterbacks was fantastic. Well, he’s gone. And Georgia now returns just three starters. Three.

Georgia fans are confident about DE Garrison Smith, linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Amarlo Herrera and CB Damian Swann, but the Dawgs are facing some huge holes  – particularly in the secondary,  which isn’t going to feature Jordan Harvey-Clemons for a while after the player was suspended – and most of the secondary seems to be nursing injuries. Any of that bode well against a top offense like Clemson and South Carolina’s?

A lot of people are really excited about sophomore LB James DeLoach, too. We’ll see in the first two games.

SCHEDULE

Aug 31  at Clemson

Sept 7  South Carolina 

Sept 21  North Texas       

Sept 28  LSU     

Oct 5  at Tennessee

Oct 12  Missouri  

Oct 19  at Vanderbilt  

Nov 2 Florida  

Nov 9 Appalachian State  

Nov 16 at Auburn

Nov 23 Kentucky

Nov 30 2013 at Georgia Tech

The first two games of the schedule — at Clemson and at home to South Carolina are the toughest in the country. Please…name us a team who has a harder first games. The Dawgs could well go 0-2 to start the year. After, they’ll whoop North Texas before they play LSU in one of the country’s more unpredictable features. The Dawgs should then beat Tennessee on the road, Missouri at home, and Vandy on the road (although this fixture’s gonna be close!), and the Cocktail Party’s going to be a toss-up. The Dawgs will then beat Appy State, win on the road at Auburn, hammer Kentucky and win on the road at Georgia Tech.

BOTTOM LINE: The optimist Bulldogs fan will tell you that Georgia’s offense is so great that they’ll run over Clemson, stop Clowney, and break Gators fans’ jaws en route to a SEC Championship Game and a 12-0 record, where they’ll then enact revenge (and a half!) on Alabama before going off to Pasadena to play in the Rose Bowl for all the winnings. HOWEVER, the pessimist will tell you that the Bulldogs’ secondary won’t be able to stop Boyd, Watkins and Clemson, and no-one on God’s green earth can stop Clowney. Plus they’re playing Spurrier…and the Dawgs never seem to beat Steve Spurrier. And by the way, have you SEEN Florida’s defense lately? The pessimist will tell you about a 9-3 record, and a third-placed finish in the SEC East, and gives you more reasons to fire Mark Richt (as if he needed any). For us? We just don’t know. We’ll go with 11-1, with the loss coming – you’ve guessed it – on the first game of the season (And yes, they go to the SEC Championship Game). God help us if Murray or ‘Gurshall’ get injured.

More Cowbell!! 2013 Mississippi State preview

Mississippi State fans find themselves in quite the quandry. They’ve to….you know…..EXPECT BETTER (we say that loudly, and with a bit of cowbell), thanks to the excellent recruiting job done by Dan Mullen. They didn’t expect the second-half collapse against Ole Miss. They didn’t expect to lose to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. They didn’t expect to five out of their last six going last season…especially The Egg Bowl.

If we’re honest, within the state of Mississippi there’s a lot of press, and there’s a lot of momentum. Unfortunately, the press and momentum is all going toward their most hated rival – Ole Miss. By damn, Hugh Freeze has put together an excellent recruiting class – and suddenly the boo boys – who obviously weren’t there for the awful years at MSU endured – are starting to talk at Coach Mullen. “Can we recruit? Can we win another Egg Bowl? Is there a God?”, they ask, fretting.

The truth is actually a little in the middle.

LAST YEAR

Mississippi State did what they did at the start of last season, winning seven straight games and guaranteeing them a spot in a bowl. But as soon as they came across competent opposition (no disrespect Kentucky, Tennessee and Auburn, but no-one in their right mind would have called you competent last year), they flapped, and lost four out of their last five regular season games, with the lone victory coming against an incompetent Arkansas. They capped their season off with a 34-20 loss to Northwestern, which managed to silence a few of the Big Ten haters. And nothing seems to annoy SEC fans like losing to a Big Ten team.

But now what?

OFFENSE

Despite Russell’s situation last year not being helped last year by the underperformance of his receivers and an inexperienced offensive line, he still managed to throw for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. The problem is is that his best targets – including Chad Bumphis – have all left Starkville, and he’s going to have to depend on running back LaDarius Perkins, who ran for 1,000 yards last year, and tight end Malcolm Johnson, who had 171 yards receiving in just 10 catches last year. He’s the top returning recognized receiver. A lot of fans will be hoping that incoming freshman Fred Ross will play – he lit up a practice on August 1, according to the Clarion-Ledger, catching “everything that was thrown to him”. We can’t wait, actually.

DEFENSE

A lot of good things have been spoken about defensive tackle Kaleb Eulls (and especially his life-saving skills), and linebacker Bernardrick McKinney, but the secondary is going to be where the problem is – especially trying to replace Johnthan Banks, who was one of the best defensive backs Starkville has ever seen. Nickoe Whitley, a free safety who performed well last season, will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders. We’re not going to expect a whole lot from a defense that returns five starters.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 31     vs. Oklahoma State   (Houston, Texas)
Sept. 7     ALCORN STATE
Sept.14     at Auburn
Sept.21     TROY
Oct.  5     LSU
Oct. 12     BOWLING GREEN
Oct. 26     KENTUCKY
Nov.  2     at South Carolina
Nov.  9     at Texas A&M
Nov. 16     ALABAMA
Nov. 23     at Arkansas
Nov. 30     OLE MISS

The schedule just isn’t that nice for the Cowbell Boys. With a young defense they face one of the most dangerous offenses in college football in Oklahoma State. And after going 1-1 against mighty Alcorn State, the travel to a revitalized Auburn side could well be a loss. Troy at home? Win. LSU at home? Depends which LSU – who have lost their fair share of talent – show up. Bowling Green and Kentucky at Davis-Wade? Win. South Carolina and Texas A&M on the road and home to Alabama? All three losses. Arkansas on the road? A toss-up….rather like the rivalry game on the last weekend of the season with Ole Miss.

BOTTOM LINE An optimist would see Mississippi State go 7-5….and if they can shock Oklahoma State, 8-4. A realist wouldn’t be shocked if they miss a bowl game and go 4-8, losing games on the road at Arkansas, the Egg Bowl and at Auburn in the process.

SEC 2014 schedule – Week-by-Week

Aug. 28
Texas A&M at South Carolina

Aug. 30
Arkansas at Auburn

Sept. 6
Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

Sept. 13
Kentucky at Florida
Georgia at South Carolina

Sept. 20
Florida at Alabama
Mississippi State at LSU
South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Sept. 27
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Dallas)
Tennessee at Georgia
Vanderbilt at Kentucky
Missouri at South Carolina

Oct. 4
Alabama at Ole Miss
LSU at Auburn
Florida at Tennessee
Vanderbilt at Georgia
South Carolina at Kentucky
Texas A&M at Mississippi State

Oct. 11
Alabama at Arkansas
Auburn at Mississippi State
LSU at Florida
Georgia at Missouri
Ole Miss at Texas A&M

Oct. 18
Texas A&M at Alabama
Georgia at Arkansas
Missouri at Florida
Kentucky at LSU
Tennessee at Ole Miss

Oct. 25
Alabama at Tennessee
South Carolina at Auburn
Mississippi State at Kentucky
Ole Miss at LSU
Vanderbilt at Missouri

Nov. 1
Arkansas at Mississippi State
Auburn at Ole Miss
Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Kentucky at Missouri
Tennessee at South Carolina

Nov. 8
Alabama at LSU
Texas A&M at Auburn
Florida at Vanderbilt
Georgia at Kentucky

Nov. 15
Mississippi State at Alabama
LSU at Arkansas
Auburn at Georgia
South Carolina at Florida
Kentucky at Tennessee
Missouri at Texas A&M

Nov. 22
Ole Miss at Arkansas
Vanderbilt at Mississippi State
Missouri at Tennessee

Nov. 27
LSU at Texas A&M

Nov. 29
Auburn at Alabama
Arkansas at Missouri
Mississippi State at Ole Miss
Tennessee at Vanderbilt

SEC 2014 schedule – Team By Team

Here is the 2014 SEC schedule team-by-team, as released by the SEC today. Florida’s looks a little tough. Georgia – if they can avoid defeat at South Carolina – notsomuch….

ALABAMA
Sept. 20 – FLORIDA
Oct. 4 – at Ole Miss
Oct. 11 – at Arkansas
Oct. 18 – TEXAS A&M
Oct. 25 – at Tennessee
Nov. 8 – at LSU
Nov. 15 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 29 – AUBURN

ARKANSAS
Aug. 30 – at Auburn
Sept. 27 – vs. Texas A&M (Dallas)
Oct. 11 – ALABAMA
Oct. 18 – GEORGIA
Nov. 1 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 15 – LSU
Nov. 22 – OLE MISS
Nov. 29 – at Missouri

AUBURN
Aug. 30 – ARKANSAS
Oct. 4 – LSU
Oct. 11 – at Mississippi State
Oct. 25 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Nov. 1 – at Ole Miss
Nov. 8 – TEXAS A&M
Nov. 15 – at Georgia
Nov. 29 – at Alabama

FLORIDA
Sept. 13 – KENTUCKY
Sept. 20 – at Alabama
Oct. 4 – at Tennessee
Oct. 11 – LSU
Oct. 18 – MISSOURI
Nov. 1 – vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
Nov. 8 – at Vanderbilt
Nov. 15 – SOUTH CAROLINA

GEORGIA
Sept. 13 – at South Carolina
Sept. 27 – TENNESSEE
Oct. 4 – VANDERBILT
Oct. 11 – at Missouri
Oct. 18 – at Arkansas
Nov. 1 – vs. Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 8 – at Kentucky
Nov. 15 – AUBURN

KENTUCKY
Sept. 13 – at Florida
Sept. 27 – VANDERBILT
Oct. 4 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Oct. 18 – at LSU
Oct. 25 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 1 – at Missouri
Nov. 8 – GEORGIA
Nov. 15 – at Tennessee

LSU
Sept. 20 – MISSISSIPPI STATE
Oct. 4 – at Auburn
Oct. 11 – at Florida
Oct. 18 – KENTUCKY
Oct. 25 – OLE MISS
Nov. 8 – ALABAMA
Nov. 15 – at Arkansas
Nov. 27 – at Texas A&M

OLE MISS
Sept. 6 – at Vanderbilt
Oct. 4 – ALABAMA
Oct. 11 – at Texas A&M
Oct. 18 – TENNESSEE
Oct. 25 – at LSU
Nov. 1 – AUBURN
Nov. 22 – at Arkansas
Nov. 29 – MISSISSIPPI STATE

MISSISSIPPI STATE
Sept. 20 – at LSU
Oct. 4 – TEXAS A&M
Oct. 11 – AUBURN
Oct. 25 – at Kentucky
Nov. 1 – ARKANSAS
Nov. 15 – at Alabama
Nov. 22 – VANDERBILT
Nov. 29 – at Ole Miss

MISSOURI
Sept. 27 – at South Carolina
Oct. 11 – GEORGIA
Oct. 18 – at Florida
Oct. 25 – VANDERBILT
Nov. 1 – KENTUCKY
Nov. 15 – at Texas A&M
Nov. 22 – at Tennessee
Nov. 29 – ARKANSAS

SOUTH CAROLINA
Aug. 28 – TEXAS A&M
Sept. 13 – GEORGIA
Sept. 20 – at Vanderbilt
Sept. 27 – MISSOURI
Oct. 4 – at Kentucky
Oct. 25 – at Auburn
Nov. 1 – TENNESSEE
Nov. 15 – at Florida

TENNESSEE
Sept. 27 – at Georgia
Oct. 4 – FLORIDA
Oct. 18 – at Ole Miss
Oct. 25 – ALABAMA
Nov. 1 – at South Carolina
Nov. 15 – KENTUCKY
Nov. 22 – MISSOURI
Nov. 29 – at Vanderbilt

TEXAS A&M
Aug. 28 – at South Carolina
Sept. 27 – vs. Arkansas (Dallas)
Oct. 4 – at Mississippi State
Oct. 11 – OLE MISS
Oct. 18 – at Alabama
Nov. 8 – at Auburn
Nov. 15 – MISSOURI
Nov. 27 – LSU

VANDERBILT
Sept. 6 – OLE MISS
Sept. 20 – SOUTH CAROLINA
Sept. 27 – at Kentucky
Oct. 4 – at Georgia
Oct. 25 – at Missouri
Nov. 8 – FLORIDA
Nov. 22 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 29 – TENNESSEE

The Top 10 Challengers To SEC Supremacy

Whether we like it or not, there are going to be challengers to the SEC’s bid for an eighth national championship. Some might be imagined. Others might be truthful.

Laugh at us all you want, but here’s our Top 10 teams — brought to you by our blogger Alex Ferguson (@viewfromamerica, he’d like to mention) — who could challenge the SEC for a National Championship.

We’ve promised not to laugh at him.

1)  Ohio State

Why:  Last season Ohio State went 12-0 and don’t really look like quietening the charge – especially with the return of excellent quarterback Braxton Miller, a deep running back set, and Urban Meyer’s record of winning. You might not like him (especially not Florida fans!) but he’s a good coach, yo.

BIGGEST TEST: At Michigan (Nov 30). No college football fan with any brain needs an introduction as to why.

2) Stanford

Why: A beast of a team, that’s so SEC-like that they could be a SEC team, if they weren’t in Northern California, playing football and doing equations and stuff. Anyway, this private school’s got a nasty offence – including a superb offensive line and steady quarterback in Kevin Hogan, a nasty defence (including eight starters), and a great coach in Coach Shaw.

BIGGEST TEST: Oregon (Nov.7). Second-biggest game in all of college football, after Texas A&M’s small match-up with Alabama in Week 3.

3) Oregon

Why: Because whether or not we SEC teams talk about our ‘superior speed’, Mark Helfrich’s offense won’t miss a beat under their new coach, and the Oregon Ducks have got A TON of flat-out speed. If you don’t believe me, watch D’Anthony Thomas. Of course, questions might be asked about Oregon’s defense (there usually is), but they return 7 starters. That ain’t bad.

BIGGEST TEST: At Stanford (Nov 7). This one’s gonna be a war, folks.

4) Louisville

Why: They’ve got the SEC-beating pedigree, after turning over Florida in the Sugar Bowl 33-23. They’ve got an excellent quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who could well be the first player taken in the 2014 Draft (if the Oakland Raiders need a quarterback….which they will). On top of bringing back their three wide receivers, they also return 8 starters on defense, which is pretty nasty, and they’ve got a schedule they should run through.

BIGGEST TEST: At Cincinnati (Dec 5). Because despite losing head coach Butch Jones to Tennessee, this Bearcats side is always ready to cause a team an upset. Just ask Virginia Tech last year.

5) Clemson

Why: Laugh all you want, but Clemson is loaded with offensive talent this year. We LOVE quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and their defense is actually improved. If you don’t believe us, ask LSU, who they beat in the Chick-fil-A Bowl last year. Under coach Dabo Swinney, they’re showing less and less chance of ‘Clemsoning’ – the art of managing to lose against teams you really shouldn’t do.

BIGGEST TEST: Georgia (Aug 31) . Georgia walks into the Orange Death Valley, and the atmosphere’s gonna be deafening. Georgia fans we know have told us that Clemson fans are “like SEC fans, just stuck in another conference”. South Carolina fans describe them as something else, but no quite as printable. Georgia’s got Aaron Murray, an incredible running back duo of Todd Gurley and Nick Marshall, and a stout defense. If the pass rush gets through Clemson’s O-Line, then Watkins could have problems getting a hold of the ball.

6) Notre Dame

Why: Although their season ended in embarrassment both at National Championship Game level and personal level (ED: Has anyone seen this Lennay Kekua girl? I heard she’s a hottie!), Brian Kelly’s football team is one thing, and that’s not a joke. Although Everett Golson’s no longer at the school (School vs Kelly = School wins), Tommy Rees is an experienced QB, and the team returns 14 starters, including four-year starting WR TJ Jones. Nose Guard Louis Nix and DE Stephon Tuitt could play in the SEC….easily. The Irish’s defence is nasty. And if they get another chance to face a SEC school….get ready.

BIGGEST TEST: At Michigan (Sept 7). Because Michigan hates Notre Dame. But there’s also Oklahoma (Sept. 28th), USC (Oct.19th).

7) Texas 

Why: There is no question that Mack Brown can recruit talent. There’s always a ton of it in Texas. But this year, Texas has a good QB in David Ash, two very good RBs in Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, and 19 returning starters. Mack Brown has proven to be a winner in Texas – and since he’s suddenly fighting against the hotseat, could this be the year where he puts the Eyes of Texas away from him? They’ve also got a pretty favorable schedule – which includes a Red River game that they might actually be favored in.

BIGGEST TEST: Baylor (Dec 7). We juggled as to whether it was Oklahoma (Oct 12), or Oklahoma State (Nov 16), but we’re going with the Bears, because the Bears can score a ton of points. If Texas can’t stop Lache Seastrunk, they are going to have problems against Art Briles’ offense, which can only be described as ‘fun’.

8) Southern Cal

Why: Because whether or not you like Lane Kiffin, the man can recruit talent. Silas Redd is going to cause problems at running back. Marqise Lee is a Heisman candidate at wide receiver. Max Wittek’s a pretty accomplished QB. Clancy Pendergast is a good defensive co-ordinator. And they return 14 starters. Oh, and one more X-Factor? EVERYONE HAS WRITTEN THEM OFF.

BIGGEST TEST: At Arizona State (Sept 28). Not an easy place to play, Sun Devil Stadium. If Wittek and the O-Line have got problems, then future NFLer Will Sutton’s going to be find them.

9) Oklahoma State

Why: Clint Chelf is a very talented young quarterback. He had over 1,500 yards of passing in just five games for the Pokes last season, and Mike ‘I am a man’ Gundy’s offense will be looking to rebound from the disappointment of a 8-5 year that included heartbreaking losses to Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor. If the new defensive co-ordinator Glenn Spencer can kick Okie State’s ‘D’ – and they return 7 defensive starters – into shape, then this team might well be the most dangerous team in the Big XII.

BIGGEST TEST: At Texas (Nov.16). We’ll make this clear. Coming into the Pokes game at Texas on Nov 16, Oklahoma State could well be unbeaten. It would be no fluke to see it happen – particularly with the receiving talent O-State brings back. But away at Texas is a really difficult proposition, and if Texas is also unbeaten, this game’s going to be a war.

10) Florida State

Why: Because if Jameis Winston’s mouth is anything to go by, Florida State’s winning a National Championship. Boy, can the boy talk. Seriously though, Winston’s a fantastic athlete that will be able to test any defense, and Florida State’s still got a stout offensive line. Of course, there are problems. Head coach Jimbo Fisher had to re-assemble his coaching staff after seemingly everybody left. The ‘Noles defense is young, and Mark Stoops isn’t there to point the finger – he’s gone to Kentucky to be the head coach. But you know what the ‘Noles have? A schedule and a half. They’ll be unbeaten going into October 19th’s showdown with Clemson.

BIGGEST TEST: At Clemson (Oct 19). Clemson will be looking for revenge after last year’s beatdown in Tallahassee, and the Tigers have the talent to be a National Championship contender.

Georgia secondary ripped apart by injuries

The best news for Clemson fans came from Athens, UGA on Tuesday, when it emerged that the entire Georgia secondary is nursing injuries at the moment, per a report from the Macon Telegraph, quoting Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt.

According to Richt, starting cornerback Damion Swann (hip flexor and groin strain) and cornerback Sheldon Dawson – who is thought of as being the starting cornerback (shoulder sprain) were both limited in practice.

Starting free safety Tray Matthews (strained hamstring), strong safety Corey Moore (sprained knee) and projected reserve corner Devin Bowman (strained hamstring) haven’t even started.

The news is awful for the Bulldogs, who face Clemson’s Heisman Trophy candidates Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins in ‘The Orange Death Valley’ on the first weekend of the season.

Mark Richt, according to the report, was his usual relaxed self: “Well, it’s not as healthy as I hoped it would be…There’s guys that are missing reps, obviously. We don’t have every guy who could be getting reps getting them. That hurts us. Some guys might be ready by the time the game starts. But how many reps are they gonna get between now and then to be as ready as they could have been if they had gotten those reps. It’s a problem, but it’s football, we all know that happens in football. And everybody’s got their problems, so we’ll be OK.

BOTTOM LINE: If Georgia’s players don’t get to the first game of the season 100% healthy, this could spell disaster for a team facing some fantastic offensive players in a nasty environment. Oh, and Week Two it’s South Carolina. Just what Mark Richt always wanted.

 

 

Alabama CB Smith suspended for Virginia Tech clash

Alabama sophmore cornerback Geno Smith has been suspended for Alabama’s opener with Virginia Tech after being  arrested for DUI in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said about the arrest: “We’ve never had an issue with Geno. He’s an excellent person…He’s never been in trouble here before, never been in my office for anything, but I think this is something that everybody should learn from that when you make a bad choice, sometimes the consequences of that choice can really have a negative effect.

Some of these guys don’t have enough foresight to understand cause and effect, but Geno has been a really good person in the program and just made a choice, bad decision. Made several of them, so now he’s got consequences for it.

Smith is still practising with the team.

The 6ft, 186 lb Smith had 9 tackles – including 4 solo – in his freshman season at Alabama, who the 2013 National Championship last season.

BOTTOM LINE: There is a feeling amongst the Alabama faithful that if there IS  a weakness on the Crimson Tide, it’s with an inexperienced secondary. Smith’s suspension won’t have done anything to lift the mood.

Anchor Up or Down? 2013 Vanderbilt preview

James Franklin has got the Vanderbilt program in something of a stir. After years in the SEC doldrums after doing nothing since the Jay Cutler years, James Franklin has brought in a new confidence into Nashville, and with it, they’ve reached a bowl in their last two seasons, and more’s the case, are laughing at Tennessee, who’s having a shameful time.

And although Vandy has definitely recruited well – an ESPN ranking of 22 for last year – there’s a dark cloud that’s been brought over the program, and that’s due to a rape that took place in late June this year that has ensared five Vanderbilt players – including four that have been booted off the team (and one who was indicted last week) – including No.2 wide receiver Chris Boyd.

But will the off-season distractions stop Vanderbilt from negotiating the schedule?

LAST SEASON

Vanderbilt had an astonishing season in 2012, going 9-4 – which included a 38-24 Music City Bowl beat-down of NC State and a six-match unbeaten run to end the year. There’s no question that this was a back-loaded schedule, which saw Vanderbilt loses the games it was meant to lose and win the ones it was meant to win – and a lot of them in very convincing fashion. From Vandy fans’ point-of-view, the game of the season had to be the game against Ole Miss, which the Commodores won 27-26 in a stormer of a game.

The heroes last season on the offense were quarterback Jordan Rodgers (2,539 yards, 15 TDs, 5 INTs), running back Zac Stacy (1,141 yards, 10 TDs), wide receiver Jordan Matthews (1,323 yards, 8 TDs).

OFFENSE

Goodbye and thank you for a great career to Jordan Rodgers and Zac Stacy. Rodgers is currently a free agent in the NFL and Stacy is playing for the St Louis Rams. Austyn Carter-Samuels will take on the role of starting QB (he had 208 yards and 1 TD last year), while Matthews and Boyd both return as receivers. Vanderbilt’s rushing game will depend on the partnership of Wesley Tate and Brian Kimbrow, who had nearly 800 yards of rushing work between them.

The biggest problem for Vanderbilt (apart from the obvious replacement of talent), is: Who’s going to replace Matthews if he gets injured and Boyd is suspended or thrown off the team for the event in June? Also, can Carta-Samuels really step up to SEC play, after spending years plying his trade with Wyoming?

DEFENSE

Defense was a real strength for Vandy last year, who ranked 5th in the SEC in yards per game (333.9) and 19th nationally. They kept the scoring down to under 19 points per game, good for 5th in the SEC and 15th. In other words, this was an above-average defense that James Franklin put together. This year they return six starters.

The group’s defensive line is ferocious, with DEs Walker May, Kyle Woestmann and Caleb Azubike, who contributed 13 sacks and 10 tackles for loss between them. And at linebacker, starters Chase Gardham and Karl Butler return, and in the secondary, Andre Hal also comes back to the corner, as do free safety and leading tackler Kenny Ladler and strong safety Javon Marshall.

SCHEDULE

Aug 29 – Ole Miss 
Sept 7 – Austin Peay
Sept 14 – @ South Carolina
Sept 21 – @ UMass (in Gillette Stadium)
Sept 28 – UAB
Oct 5 – Missouri
Oct 19 – Georgia
Oct 26 – @ TAMU
Nov 9 @ Florida
Nov 16 – Kentucky
Nov 23 – @ Tennessee
Nov 30 – Wake Forest

Vandy goes into Opening Night of the college football season against Ole Miss, in a rivalry game that hasn’t had a break since 1945. And although the result is a bit of a toss-up, Vandy should roll Austin Peay, get rolled at South Carolina, and roll UMass and UAB at home and beat Missouri – if Missouri can’t solve their problems at offensive line. We expect Vanderbilt to give Georgia the same sort of test as they did in 2011 (without the fight, hopefully), but to struggle at Kyle Field against Texas A&M, as well as in The Swamp – although in the The Swamp they’ll keep it close because Florida’s offense is so, well, offensive. They should comfortably beat Kentucky and win a close one at Tennessee, before rounding out the season by winning the Battle Of The Rich Private Schools  against Wake Forest.

BOTTOM LINE: We expect them to go 7-5, but this will be very dependent on what happens to Boyd, the development of Carter-Samuels, and if Jordan Matthews can continue the same incredible season as he had in 2012. So in other words, a lot of moving parts. But that’s a bowl game for Vanderbilt fans, and that’ll suit them nicely.

Alabama CB arrested for DUI

Alabama sophmore cornerback Geno Smith was arrested for DUI in Tuscaloosa on Saturday night, it has been reported.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said about the arrest: “This is obviously not the kind of behavior that we expect from our players. I don’t have all of the details at this point and will handle it appropriately once I’ve had the chance to review the information“.

Smith was released on bail on Sunday morning.

The 6ft, 186 lb Smith had 9 tackles – including 4 solo – in his freshman season at Alabama, who the 2013 National Championship last season.

BOTTOM LINE: There is a feeling amongst the Alabama faithful that if there IS  a weakness on the Crimson Tide, it’s with an inexperienced secondary. Smith’s arrest won’t have done anything to lift the mood.

 

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