Archive for August, 2013

AP Presason Poll puts Alabama as No.1

The Associated Press preseason poll – like the Coaches’ Poll before it – has ranked Alabama as the preseason No.1 team in the country, to no-one’s great surprise.

The Tide had 58 of 60 possible first place votes, with the others going to Ohio State and Georgia.

No.2 is Ohio State, No.3 is Oregon, which climbs above Pac-12 neighbour Stanford, which is 4th. Georgia is 5th. South Carolina is 6th, and Texas A&M is 7th – with voters obviously worrying a little about whether Johnny Manziel might play for the Aggies after ‘Autographgate’. Georgia’s opponents on Opening Day, Clemson, is 8th, while Louisville and Florida round out the Top 10.

A rebuilding LSU comes in 12th behind Florida State – which shows that the AP really does seem to trust in Les Miles, Cam Cameron and John Chavis, while Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Texas complete the Top 15.

Oklahoma, Michigan, Nebraska, Boise State, TCU, UCLA, Northwestern, Wisconsin, USC and Oregon State complete the rest of the Top 25.

Here’s are the standings 1-25:

 

Auburn boots leading returning tackler, names starting QB

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn has dismissed his leading returning tackler Demetruce McNeal after the player was arrested for marijuana possession.

Safety McNeal, who had 90 tackles – including 53 solo ones – was caught alongside former players Jonathan Evans and Jawara White in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“After visiting with Demetruce, I made the decision to dismiss him from our team,” Malzahn said in a statement that was reported by the Montgomery Advertiser. “We have high expectations both on and off the field for our players.”

The player was charged with second degree possession of marijuana – which is only a misdemeanor in the eyes of the Auburn police.

In other news, Malzahn also said that Nick Marshall would be his starting quarterback, after fierce competition from Jeremy Johnson.

 

 

Vanderbilt starting WR indicted in rape case

Vanderbilt starting wide receiver Chris Boyd has been indicted in the rape case that has shaken the Vanderbilt football program, according to the Tennessean.

Boyd, who had 50 receptions for 774 yards and 5 TD in the 2014 season, has been suspended by head coach James Franklin, has been charged with trying to cover up the assault, which happened on June 23rd.

The release said: “Boyd, 21, is charged with one felony count of being an accessory after the fact. He is essentially accused of taking part in an attempted cover up of the sexual assault through his advice to certain defendants who were indicted last week. Boyd’s representatives have been made aware of the indictment. He is expected to surrender.

A report by CBS Sports.com said that this is a felony count.

The release added that Criminal Court Judge Steve Dozier set Boyd’s bond at $25,000.

Vanderbilt said: “Today the Davidson County District Attorney charged Chris Boyd, a member of the Vanderbilt football team, with accessory after the fact related to the incident that occurred in a Vanderbilt residence hall June 23. The charges follow those announced Aug. 9 stemming from the same incident. All of these allegations, including those brought today, are deeply troubling, and we take them very seriously.

Pursuant to the athletic department conduct policy, Mr. Boyd has been suspended from the football team, pending further review.

We continue to respect that at this point in the criminal justice process no determination of guilt has been made.  We continue to cooperate closely with the District Attorney’s office and Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.”

 

Another two defendants – Miles Joseph Finley, 19, of Bermuda Dunes, California, and Joseph Dominick Quinzio, 20, of Palm Desert, California – who were friends of Brandon Vandenburg – were also indicted for tampering with evidence.

Missouri names starting QB

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel has named James Franklin as his starting quarterback for the first game of the season against Murray State.

Franklin, who spent a lot of 2013 injured, still had 1,562 yards passing with 10 TDs and 7 INTS. He beat redshirt freshman Maty Mauk to the finish, although it has been reported that Mauk may well get some in-game play as experience for the SEC.

Pinkel said: “James has shown that he’s very capable of leading this team at a high level, and we fully expect him to do that….He’s really developed as a leader of this offense, and of this team, and we feel he’s ready to be the difference-maker he was before all of the health challenges he dealt with last season.

Missouri fans will hope so.

War Gus? 2013 Auburn Tigers College Football Preview

There is hope on the plains. After an eventful few years of Gene Chizik (which included a National Championship in 2010-1, but a winless SEC year in 2012, which cost Chizik his job), the offensive co-ordinator/mastermind/God who brought you THAT National Championship in 2011 is back – and his name’s Gus Malzahn.

LAST SEASON

Where do we start about how goddawful Auburn was last season? Well, their wins came against University of Louisiana-Monroe (in overtime), New Mexico State and Alabama A&M. ULM had an 8-5 record last year, and this win was about as quality as you get, considering there were just three of them.

Last season we had the quarterbacking exploits of Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace and Clint Moseley. We’ll be polite and say that none of them were exactly brilliant in their seasons, with Frazier’s something that could be described as being as close to ‘fecal’ as a quarterback’s season could be.

And because of this awful offense, Auburn lost to Clemson by 7, Vanderbilt by 4 and LSU by 2. And when the defense wasn’t good enough, they lost by Alabama by 49, Georgia by 38 and Texas A&M by 42.

And all the way during the season, the poisoned Toomer’s Oaks shrivelled and died, until on April 23rd, 2013, they travelled up to heaven, with over 84,000 people in attendance – who also came along to Auburn’s Spring Game.

Gone but not forgotten – rather like Gene Chizik, actually.

OFFENSE

While we’ve said some horrible things about the offense, let’s not forget that somehow the Tigers still managed to put forward a 1,000 yard rusher – Tre Mason. This year he should be joined by top juco Cameron Artis-Payne, and that should give the Tigers a powerful 1-2 punch.

On the quarterbacking side, we know that there’s going to be no Kiehl Frazier in 2013 as the quarterback, after Frazier took himself out of the running and voluntarily moved to safety, which means that the battle’s going to be between freshman Nick Marshall and juco Jeremy Johnson. It may well be that Wallace is outside looking in.

Receiving-wise, Auburn loses top receivers Emory Blake, tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen (the latter’s going to be a freak in the pros, yo!), and Travante Stallworth, so a lot will be expected (read: Hoped for) of Sammie Coates, Jaylon Denson and Trovon Reed. Reed will also partner with Quan Bray in the punt/kick return game, which could become a strength for the Tigers

Oh, and the offensive line should be improved, too, led by center Reese Dismukes, and tackles Patrick Miller and Greg Robinson – both sophomores – have been talked about as having “NFL potential if they continue to develop”.

DEFENSE

Defense-wise, co-ordinator Ellis Johnson is shifting things from a 4-3 to a 4-2-5, and he’s already calling out the defenders for making “too many mental mistakes”. Linebacker Justin Garrett’s going to be one to watch – especially after his performance in the Spring, and we LOVE sophomore linebacker Cassanova McKinzy – but mainly (and solely, actually), because of his awesome name.

The place of strength for the Tigers will have to be the secondary – particularly when they are up against Johnny Manziel, Aaron Murray, AJ McCarron and Tyler Russell (as well as Mike Leach’s Washington State offense). We’ve talked about Frazier moving in (we think he’ll be a part-time player there), but starters Chris Davis, Jonathan Mincy, Joshua Holsey and Jonathan Jones are back, and they HAVE to improve on their interception count of 1, scored last year against Alabama A&M.

THE SCHEDULE

Aug. 31: Washington State
Sept. 7: Arkansas State
Sept. 14: Mississippi State
Sept. 21: at LSU
Oct. 5: Ole Miss
Oct. 12: Western Carolina (HC)
Oct. 19: at Texas A&M
Oct. 26: Florida Atlantic
Nov. 2: at Arkansas
Nov. 9: at Tennessee
Nov. 16: Georgia
Nov. 30: Alabama

It’s not inconceivable that Auburn could beat Washington State, Arkansas State and Mississippi State to go 3-0 to start the season, and it’s not inconceivable that after losing in Death Valley on September 21st, they beat Ole Miss and Western Carolina to be a healthy 5-1 before losing at Texas A&M. Then, it’s not conceivable that they beat Florida Atlantic, win at Arkansas and Tennessee to be bowl-eligible even before they play Georgia and Alabama at home….which they lose heavily. Still, a 8-4 record would probably give Gus a plinth. Heck, they might even name an eagle after him. But then again, it’s not inconceivable that Ellis Johnson defense isn’t in shape to deal with Mike Leach’s offense in Week 1, fails to cope with Arkansas State coach’s Bryan Harsin’s offense in Week 2, gets eaten alive by Tyler Russell, Zach Mettenberger  and Bo Wallace and then embarrassing itself against Western Carolina. After getting smoked against Johnny Manziel, Auburn finds a will to be Florida Atlantic, but further losses at Arkansas and Tennessee aren’t anything compared to home battering the Tigers get against Georgia and Alabama, leaving the Tigers to finish 1-11. We just don’t know.

BOTTOM LINE: Frankly, it’s going to be something in the middle. We’re going for 6-6, with bowl eligibility, and a SEC win (or two). That’s a lot better than 2012.

 

 

The Top Ten SEC Non-Conference Games of the 2013 Season

I was thinking about whether to put this out NOW or put this out after my raft of previews, but as there’s still 11 previews to go, I thought it might be good to break it up with a ‘Top Ten SEC Non-Conference Games Of The 2013 Season’.

So here they are (P.S. Rice’s visit to Texas A&M on Opening Saturday gets the No.4 vote if Johnny Football isn’t playing. If he is, the Aggies win by 30-40, depending on how Kevin Sumlin’s feeling)

1) Georgia at Clemson (Opening Saturday)

College Gameday’s going to be there. The most SEC-like crowd of a non-SEC team is going to be there (Clemson). They’ve even got a Death Valley! Anyway, Georgia – with a defense that’s going to really miss Jarvis Jones – goes to Clemson that’s got Sammy Watkins, Tajh Boyd, and a massive point to prove. This is going to be a battle for the ages. And the crowd’s going to be LOUD, dudes.

2) Florida State at Florida (Nov. 30)

A hated rivalry – expect this time with National Championship contentions – particularly if both FSU and Florida run the table in their respective conferences, which they could quite easily do. This game could be GARGANTUAN come Thanksgiving-time. Expect jorts aplenty in Gainseville, folks!

3) Clemson at South Carolina (Nov. 30) 

I’m going to make this clear. If Clemson don’t lose at home to Georgia in Week 1, they could still be unbeaten by the time they come to Columbia on November 30th. In fact, both teams could well be unbeaten before they meet in Columbia on November 30th, and this game could be BIGGER THAN JESUS. But not bigger than JADEVEON.

4) Mississippi State vs Oklahoma State (Opening Saturday)

Why is this so high? Easy. Dan Mullen’s got a point to prove after The Kings of Clang Clanged against Northwestern (and a poor second half of the season), and so’s Tyler Russell – especially to the NFL Scouts. Oklahoma State is seen by many as a dark horse for the Big XII, and these Cowboys can score a ton of points. We could see a SEC loss on Opening Saturday. It’s going to be fun.

 5) Ole Miss at Texas (September 14th)

The Longhorns have to prove to the general public/ the haters/ those that want Mac Brown out/ the kids that might select their school/pollsters that they aren’t just another ‘also-ran’, and beating a SEC school might be a way to go. Might. It also might be a way for Mack Brown to help to alleviate the roars for his head. There will be a lot of alcohol consumed at the tailgate, I’ve been assured by my buddies in Austin. Oh, and Ole Miss have the embarrassment of last year as well as some new kid called Robert to talk about, too.

6) Washington State at Auburn (Opening Saturday)

Gus Malzahn’s first game back. A team that needs a lift. No Kiehl Frazier. A defense playing the fun and games of a Mike Leach offense – in its second year. This is going to be quite the roller-coaster, folks.

7) Tennessee at Oregon (Sept. 14th)

God, this is the week not to actually go to a game, but sit in front of a TV (Alabama vs Texas A&M’s on that day, too)…like we’re going to do. Anyways, we find this compelling because Oregon is a bona fide National Championship contender – with a new coach – , Tennessee’s got a new coach in Butch Jones, and we can’t wait to see how Tennessee’s going to cope with the breakneck speed of the Ducks. Oh, and we also get to check out the Oregon Cheerleaders, who are stunning and SEC-esque in their talent.

8) North Carolina at South Carolina (Opening Thursday)

Two words: Jadeveon. Clowney. Oh, and we love Larry Fedora’s fedora.

9) Alabama vs Virginia Tech (Opening Saturday)

Virginia Tech’s announced that despite being the home team, they’ll be wearing white, which means Alabama will be in their home crimson. Of course, it won’t matter if Virginia Tech’s wearing Armor from Under Armor, they’re still getting beaten by 30. Still, it’s an opportunity to see how good Nick Saban’s team is out of the traps – and get some pointers to their showdown with Texas A&M/The World on September 14th.

10) LSU vs TCU (Opening Saturday)

Because after Gary Patterson said rude things about Les Miles’ management of Jeremy Hill , suddenly this game became fun. It’s also going to be interesting to see how Patterson’s TCU deals with Hill and the rest of the LSU running backs (personally, we don’t think Hill’s going to be playing, so it’ll be the ‘rest of the LSU running backs’), particularly as TCU are without precocious talent DE Devonte Fields, who couldn’t behave himself during the off-season. Mind you, nor could Jeremy Hill…..Also, this game’s interesting because of the madness that is Les Miles, and LSU’s ability to cope with most of last year’s team going to the NFL.

 

Big Game Mark? Kentucky Wildcats 2013 College Football Preview

Well, it wasn’t fun under the Joker, was it? Things went backwards. In 2010 the Wildcats went from 6-7 to 5-7 in 2011 to 2-10 in 2010. In fact, REALLY backwards. So much backwards that Kentucky are eating $4.5m over the next 2 years NOT to have him as the head coach. They replace him with Mark Stoops, the former defensive co-ordinator at Florida State and brother of Oklahoma coach Bob, who’s re-ignited the passions of a fanbase with some bold talk, some good recruiting (29th in the country in 2013), and some exciting co-ordinators.

Last year, it wasn’t funny. After blown out by their most hated rival Louisville on opening weekend, the Cats then beat Kent State, before then becoming the embarrassment of the SEC by losing to Western Kentucky. But it got worse. Joker’s team lost easily against Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, at struggling Arkansas, and in heartbreaking fashion at home to Georgia, before losing by 13 at a very poor Missouri team, and 40-0 at Vanderbilt. They beat Samford comfortably, before losing by 20 to Tennessee. Phillips was fired before the Tennessee game.

So what happens this year?

AIR RAID! AIR RAID!

Offensively, Kentucky’s offense looks to be much more exciting that in previous years. New co-ordinator Neal Brown, who had fun at Texas Tech for three years with his empowered offences, is back at his alma mater to frighten the hell out of SEC defenses. It’s great that he’s saying all of this.

A lot of love came out for Whitlow in Kentucky’s Spring Game, where he proved to be a useful dual threat QB. He’s widely expected to take the QB reins ahead of Towles and Smith. It’s interesting, because all three of them are pretty useful quarterbacks – which should please new coach Mark Stoops. UK’s offensive line has taken a beating with the leaving of Matt Smith and Larry Worford, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see UK’s QBs struggling against a tough schedule.

A lot will be expected of RBs Raymond Sanders and Jonathan George this year, who will be asked to share some of the offensive load, as will wide receiver Demarco Robinson.

If Neal Brown’s offense can score some points – and it seems likely that it can if the years at Texas Tech are anything to go by – the Wildcats – on one side of the ball – are going to frighten some people. And it all starts in earnest on the first day of the season against Western Kentucky in Nashville.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BALL?

Much pressure will be on DJ Eliot in his first job as a defensive co-ordinator after coming to Lexington with Stoops, where he was defensive line coach. The ‘Noles were frightening defensively in 2011 and 2012, and Wildcats fans will be hoping for more of the same – albeit without Bjorn Werner and all of the other talent that chose to play in Tallahassee.

Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith tore it up as pass rushers in the Spring – but can they do the same against ‘proper’ SEC offenses? Linebacker Avery Williamson can also cause damage, and there’s talk of Khalid Williamson being a potential star. Secondary-wise, Ashley Lowery has recovered from a May car wreck (he’s since been cited for DUI, so there goes OUR sympathy), and the ‘Cats will be hoping that he leads a very young unit.

This will be Kentucky’s achilles heel – this year at least.

SCHEDULE

Aug. 31: vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville)
Sept. 7: MIAMI (OHIO)
Sept. 14: LOUISVILLE
Sept. 28: FLORIDA
Oct. 5: at South Carolina
Oct. 12: ALABAMA
Oct. 26: at Mississippi State
Nov. 2: ALABAMA STATE
Nov. 9: MISSOURI
Nov. 16: at Vanderbilt
Nov. 23: at Georgia
Nov. 30: TENNESSEE

A lot of SEC teams would see two opening games against WKU and Miami (Ohio) and immediately pencil in victories, but we’re a little more conservative. Kentucky’s weak secondary will face one of the top receivers in the nation in Miami’s Nick Harwell in Week 2, and we already know what happened in Week 1 the last time these two played, don’t we? Wildcats fans would be overjoyed if they come through unscathed. Well, we don’t predict that Kentucky will come out with any victories from their games against Louisville, Florida or on the road against South Carolina, and the Alabama home game’s not even going to close, either. They could spring a surprise at Mississippi State depending on what’s happening to Tyler Russell and that offense, and we predict they’ll win the Alabama State game comfortably, and get their first SEC victory of the year at home to Missouri. They’ll then lose at Vanderbilt and Georgia, before coming close – but again not getting a cigar – against Tennessee.

BOTTOM LINE: I think Kentucky goes 4-8 this year, but shows great improvement. Mark Stoops will be happy to get a SEC victory under his belt, and the games against Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Mississippi State could really go either way.

 

Alabama indefinitely suspends starting LB

Alabama has suspended its starting linebacker, Trey DePriest, for a violation of team rules.

The news was announced by Alabama coach Nick Saban on Tuesday.

Nick Saban said that in a press conference that DePriest could be back in “as soon as a week“, and added that suspended tight end Malcolm Faciane’s 30-day suspension was over, and the player was back with the team.

According to a tweet from Alabama beat writer Marquavius Burnett, Saban said: “There has to be consequences sometimes when you don’t do the right things.

Last season DePriest had 56 tackles – including 29 solo ones in 2012.

There is speculation that DePriest’s suspension could help the development of freshman Ruben Foster. Alabama fans will be hoping so.

Kiehl Frazier not going to be Auburn’s 2013 quarterback

Hey, Auburn fans: Kiehl Frazier is definitely NOT going to be your quarterback for the 2013 season.

The terrible 2012 quarterback has been moved to safety by coach Gus Malzahn, the new Auburn coach said Monday, and the battle’s going to be between Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson.

Marshall, a juco transfer and Johnson, a freshman, means that it’s likely Jonathan Wallace won’t get the nod. But there’s still time.

According to Yahoo! Sports, Frazier voluntarily moved to safety.

Malzahn said in a press conference: “We told them all that, ‘Hey these two new guys, we feel have earned the right to compete for the job and they’re going to get the majority of the reps with our ones this week….That’s not to say that Jonathan Wallace will not be the starter come Day 1, but we are going to give those two new guys a real chance to compete for the job and really show what they can do.

He added: “We’ve seen them both improve each practice and both of them have extremely live arms…They both can run, and both of them are athletic. It’s just a matter of how quick they can get acclimated. We’re still looking for a couple of other situations to see how they react and see how their teammates react. With Jonathan Wallace, we know exactly what we have with Jonathan and we have a lot of respect for Jonathan.

Wallace threw for 720 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs for the Tigers last season.

By Damn! 2013 Ole Miss Rebels College Football Preview

2012 was an incredible season for Ole Miss, in the fact that they beat Mississippi State, won their bowl game, and they had a great recruiting class. Basically, that’s what you really need for Ole Miss fans, right?

But what about 2013? Well, the ‘recruiting class of the ages’ – replete with defensive end Robert Nkemdiche (who – if you believe the reviews – is the second coming of Jadeveon Clowney) – has now touched down in Oxford, and will be strapping pads on and hitting people this September. Hugh Freeze’s team will be out to beat Dan Mullen’s Mississippi State again, and maybe score an upset victory over an LSU or Texas – both of whom are on a pretty difficult schedule this year.

Anyway, it’s going to be fun.

LAST SEASON: What a season! Hugh Freeze’s side may have been owned by Texas (those who bet the ‘under’ on the Longhorns as a 13-point favorite got roasted), and Alabama and Georgia, but it was ultra-competitive in the others. The Rebels could well have come away from the season with victories against LSU, Vanderbilt and they even took Texas A&M to within 3 points. This was a pretty good side, y’all! Anyway, the 41-24 hammering of Mississippi State ensured that happy times were going to be in Oxford, and the Rebels won the Compass Bowl comfortably, smashing Pitt 41-24.

THIS YEAR: The Rebels can’t  wait until the 2013 season – especially with the fact that they seem to be returning 16 starters – 8 from the offense, 8 from the defense. And as we might have mentioned before, their freshmen might be quite talented…

WHAT HAPPENS ON OFFENSE? Quarterback Bo Wallace should be completely back from shoulder surgery for the rough-and-tough opener at Vanderbilt to kick off the first game of the season. They’ll need him, since Wallace threw for 2,294 yards, and 22 TDs, and rushed for 390 more (and 8 TDs). A lot of people are very excited about WR Donte Moncrief (979 yards, 10 TDs), and running back Jeff Scott’s gone from 429 to 529 to 849 yards in consecutive seasons – and Ole Miss will be hoping for more of the same. Vince Sanders, Ja-Mes Logan and new recruit Laquon Treadwell make up a very useless receiving corps. This team’s going to score points.

AND ON DEFENSE? Ole Miss’ first big test comes early when they play Vanderbilt at Vanderbilt on the first Thursday night of the season, in a game which I’m sure none of you can wait for you (and no, I’m not being sarcastic!). But for us, the biggest test of this new Rebels defense (or merely a test in how far they’ve come!), is when they travel down to Austin on Week 3 to face the Texas Longhorns, who themselves have a point to prove. Texas are athletically one of the best in country, and if Ole Miss can keep up with them, this could be an Ole Miss team that’ll cause some frights. Me? I’m pretty excited about Robert Nkemdiche, the No.1 recruit in the country, and there’s talk of a promising pairing-up between CJ Johnson (who had 6 1/2 sacks last year) and him. Frankly, it’s going to be pretty awesome to see Robert AND his brother Denzel on the same team (Denzel’s was an incredible LB in his redshirt freshman year, by the way). We think the Rebels are going to be a lot better defensively, improving from giving up 27.6 points per game, good enough for just 60th in college football.

THE SCHEDULE

Aug. 31                 at Vanderbilt

Sept. 7           SOUTHEAST MISSOURI

Sept. 14                at Texas

Sept. 28                at Alabama

Oct. 5                    at Auburn

Oct. 12           TEXAS A&M

Oct. 19           LSU

Oct. 26          IDAHO

Nov. 9           ARKANSAS

Nov. 16          TROY

Nov. 23          MISSOURI

Nov. 30                 at Mississippi State

There’s no denying that the Ole Miss’ opening schedule is going to be really difficult. Take out the automatic win over Southeast Missouri at home, and it’s rough, with an opening trip to Vandy, then Texas (Week 3), Alabama (Week 4) and Auburn (Week 5). We could quite easily see the Rebs go 0-4 on this trip, but Auburn being great is a big ‘if’. After that, Ole Miss don’t leave Oxford for the next six straight games, although the visits of Texas A&M and LSU are both toughies. They’d be overjoyed if they got a split out of those games. Then, the Rebs should beat Idaho, Arkansas, Troy and Missouri, and the Egg Bowl – in CLANGA country – is going to be a war.
BOTTOM LINE: This team might be bring back a lot of talent, but this isn’t an easy schedule. We’re going for 6-6, but wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 5-7. Remember: A lot of the kids still need a year to blend in.  

 

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