Archive for August, 2015

Georgia names starting QB

Georgia has named Greyson Lambert as its starting quarterback for the season opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

Lambert, a graduate transfer from Virginia, threw for 1,632 yards for the Cavaliers, including 10 TDs and 11 INTs. He also completed 154 passes in 261 attempts.

Lambert beat out Brice Ramsey and Faton Bauta.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said: ““There may be other or others who get in the game. But right now the thing that I know that he’ll start the game. Very, very close competition. Still being contested in my mind. But at this point we felt it would be wise to name a starter and get him ready to play in this ballgame. …  We’ll start playing ball that way and see how it goes.”

THE BOTTOM LINE: If Greyson Lambert was certain of getting the starting quarterback’s job at Virginia, he probably would have stayed there. He didn’t. If I’m a UGA fan, I’m hardly brimming with confidence about Mark Richt’s decision. It’s a good job that they’ve got a stable of running backs that’s as good as any’s in the country, isn’t it?

 

Tennessee 2015 Preview: Joshua Dobbs The Savior?

If we hear that Tennessee is back one more time, we will scream. Seriously. Could they be great this year? We will see.

LAST YEAR

There was an awful lot of hype that the Vols would beat Florida (when, let’s face it, you couldn’t have had a better opportunity) and cause Missouri a hell of a lot of problems. They failed both tests. They abused Alabama offensive co-ordinator (and their turncoat former coach) Lane Kiffin, and failed there too. Yes, we know they won four out of their last five including spanking Iowa in their bowl game…but look at the opposition. The only ranked team the Vols beat was Chatanooga, who they spanked by 35. Chat-town was 13th in the FCS, by the way.

OFF-SEASON

Butch Jones pulled in one of the best recruiting classes in the nation, including five-star DT Kahlil McKenzie and a host of four-star talent, including RB Alvin Kamara, who was the No.1 player at his position in the nation on a JuCo level. You can probably expect both to play in 2015.

Jones also hired a new offensive co-ordinator in Mike DeBord, who was the former Central Michigan head coach. His old OC, Mike Bajakian left for the NFL to be QBs coach of Tampa Bay.

IN DOBBS WE TRUST

Jones did what a number of SEC head coaches have failed to do thus far by actually naming a starting QB in Joshua Dobbs. A lot of people are super-high on Dobbs going into his junior year, and it’s easy to see why. After a freshman year of a TD: INT ratio of 2:6, his sophomore year was much improved, going 9:6. His accuracy improved, and he gives the Vols a threat on the ground, too (he ran for 469 yards and 8 TDs last year).

AND WE LOVE HIS WEAPONS….IF THEY CAN STAY HEALTHY/OUT OF TROUBLE

Dobbs’ may be good on his own, but he’s going to need his weapons. That’s why we’re ultra-excited that WR Marquez North’s back, but is he going to be able to stay healthy? His knee injury in practice in mid-August — when he was already coming back from a serious leg injury in 2014 — indicates not. But if he IS healthy, North is one of the best wide receivers in college football.

Dobbs is going to need North to be healthy now that Pig Howard’s gotten himself suspended from the season opener for matters unknown, but there’s also love for Josh Malone, too. Watch out for 6-3 freshman receiver Preston Williams, too. He may well become Dobbs’ go-to receiver by the end of the season.

THE VOLS WILL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE….

I haven’t seen a running back duo this strong in Knoxville for years. Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara should torture defenses. Hurd had 889 yards and 8 TDs rushing last year, as well as 221 yards and 2 TDs receiving, too. Kamara will provide a lot of speed. Back-up RB Ralph Abernathy, who can do just about anything, will be fun too.

All of this performance from Dobbs and his RBs is on the proviso that Tennessee’s offensive line – which had to reload in 2014 after all the talent left in 2013 – continues its upwards trajectory. It’s returning EVERYBODY from last year’s endeavours.

DEFENSIVELY…..

McKenzie has dominated the headlines in practice, and could/will dominate offensive linemen. Frosh Kyle Phillips will start too. But there isn’t huge talent around him (yet) to make the Volunteers a great ‘D’, although our friends at Saturday Edge like Curt Maggitt and Derek Barnett. It really is an ‘eh’ situation. This ‘D’ is going to be great in 2016 – we predict- but might not be wonderful this year. And this could be their downfall.

SCHEDULE 

The schedule is evil. Going to Florida, Alabama and Missouri? Yuck. Couple that with three tough home games against Oklahoma, Georgia and Arkansas. Yuck.

Sep. 5 – Bowling Green (In Nashville) 
Sep. 12 – Oklahoma
Sep. 19 – Western Carolina 
Sep. 26 – at Florida 
Oct. 3 – Arkansas 
Oct. 10 – Georgia
Oct. 24 – at Alabama 
Oct. 31 – at Kentucky
Nov. 7 – South Carolina 
Nov. 14 – North Texas 
Nov. 21 – at Missouri 
Nov. 28 – Vanderbilt 

We’re calling for an Opening Day win over Bowling Green, a loss in Neyland to Oklahoma in a great game, followed by back-to-back wins over Florida (at last) and Western Carolina before three straight losses to Arkansas, Georgia and Alabama. The Vols will rebound with three straight wins at Kentucky, in Neyland over South Carolina and North Texas. They’ll lose a close, close game at Missouri and smash Vanderbilt at home.

PREDICTED FINISH: 7-5

SEC Preview 2015: Can Connor Mitch solve Cocks Problems?

With Jadeveon Clowney moving off to the NFL, the South Carolina Gamecocks had a poor 2014, finishing 7-5 and 3-5 in the SEC, which including a blow-out losses to Texas A&M and Clemson, and getting outclassed by Kentucky. They beat Georgia in a rainstorm and squeaked by Florida, but overall, this wasn’t a great year for the Gamecocks.

WE NOW KNOW THE QB

Connor Mitch was named the quarterback of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Tuesday, much to the relief of many fans who we guess were beginning to question whether Steve Spurrier had decided to go for golf instead of a big decision.

Anyway, HBC named redshirt sophomore Mitch, who is seen as a pro-style quarterback, was a four-star recruit that Spurrier raided from North Carolina, ahead of Perry Orth, Michael Scarnecchia (thank God he wasn’t named QB – it would have been an editing nightmare!), and Lorenzo Nunez.

Losing AJ Cann and Corey Robinson to the NFL isn’t going to make his life easier, but the return of Brandon Shell and Mike Matulis and Cody Waldrop will help.

HANGING OUT WITH MR COOPER

South Carolina has the best WR in the SEC – and maybe college football – and his name’s Pharoh Cooper. Cooper had 1,136 yards receiving and 9 TDs, and ran for 200 yards and 2 TDs. That’s pretty good. Considering the SEC’s not stacked with great secondaries (apart from Florida’s, thanks to Vernon Hargreaves Jr), we could see an even bigger year from him.

NOW, ABOUT THE RUNNING GAME…

The SEC’s going to be based on strong runners this year, and it’s a good job South Carolina’s got a pretty pair running for them, too in Brandon Wilds and David Williams. Both are good RBs and should be good battering rams, following on from the careers of Marcus Lattimore and – more recently – Mike Davis. Wilds ran for a tidy 570 in ’14.

DEFENSIVELY….CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?

At times last year, the Gamecocks’ defense was shipping more water than the Titanic post-iceberg. It was embarrassing to watch – even for a neutral like us. Lorenzo Ward was so bad at running his own defense that Spurrier hired Jon Hoke as joint DC. Why Ward wasn’t fired outright after a year when South Carolina’s defense gave up 432.7 per game average – bad for 92nd in the country – we will never know.

Well, according to our friends at Saturday Edge, Kevin Sumlin and Steve Spurrier but a bet on who’s defensive unit will show bigger improvement (they were both sub-90th in yards given up). SE noted that they can see see Hoke’s unit showing “significant improvements” – helped by the unit returning eight starters. It had better. For both of their sakes.

SCHEDULE….

SOUTH CAROLINA 2015 SCHEDULE

This schedule is ****ing evil. Going to Georgia, Missouri, Texas A&M and a rising Tennessee and facing heavyweights LSU Clemson sends shivers down the spine of the Good Ship Spurrier, me hearties.

Sep. 3 – North Carolina (in Charlotte)
Sep. 12 – Kentucky
Sep. 19 – at Georgia
Sep. 26 – UCF
Oct. 3 – at Missouri
Oct. 10 – Louisiana State
Oct. 17 – Vanderbilt
Oct. 31 – at Texas A&M
Nov. 7 – at Tennessee
Nov. 14 – Florida
Nov. 21 – The Citadel
Nov. 28 – Clemson 

A quick prediction: The Gamecocks will start the season 2-0 with wins over North Carolina and Kentucky, before losing at Georgia. They’ll bounce back to beat UCF, then lose at Missouri in a close one, before hosting LSU. The LSU game will be quite the party, but they’ll lose because Les Miles is, er, Les Miles. The Cocks will cruise to victory against Vandy, before losing at Texas A&M in a great one. Spurrier will then be humbled by seeing his team lose at Tennessee in a rocking Neyland Stadium, full of hatred for, before rebounding to beat Florida. They’ll smash The Citadel before losing to Clemson at home in a classic.

SIX-WIN STEVE!!! Spurrier leads his team to 6-6, which is hardly surprising with an inexperienced QB and an evil schedule.

 

 

Alabama 2015 Preview: Crimson Tide Rollin’ To SEC Title?

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You know you’ve built a dynasty when every year, people are talking about the Alabama Crimson Tide and mentioning the words “National Title”. In fact, it’s a disappointment when they DON’T get to the final game. And when they were outplayed by Ohio State in the College Football Play-Off semi-final and didn’t get there, it was a disappointment, despite winning the SEC Title. 

LAST SEASON

As mentioned, Alabama lost the College Football Play-Off game to ‘The’ Ohio State University. They didn’t just lose, they were wildly outschemed and outplayed, with the secondary bullied throughout the game. Before that, Alabama went a tidy 11-1 and won both the SEC West and then the SEC Championship Game. Their only loss was in front of Katy Perry, College Gameday, and Ole Miss, who then invaded the field in some of the best scenes 2014 had to offer us.

‘Bama had seven players picked in the NFL Draft – noted as the lowest since 2011 – although one of their best went the way of professionalism – their great wide receiver, Amari Cooper. The Tide will still return 12 starters. And despite the usual coaching rumors, neither Lane Kiffin or Kirby Smart left for pastures news, and Nick Saban’s wife did not buy a house in Texas.

OFF-SEASON

Alabama has actually had a horrible off-season discipline wise, having to boot Jonathan Taylor – who they’d brought it after Taylor was actually booted from UGA for pretty much the same thing – for domestic violence. Also arrested were cornerback Cyrus Jones, safety Geno Smith for a DUI (idiot), and RB Tyren Jones for weed possession. Cyrus Jones’ charges were later dropped, while Tyren Jones was booted. It’s been a ‘off-season horribilis’ for the Nick Saban “family”, who’s life actually got even more expensive as he just got a new son-in-law.

NOW…..

POUND ‘EM ON THE FLOOR

It should be pretty easy to work out what Alabama’s strategy will be behind a massive offensive line: Pound ’em into the ground. At least, that’s what I would do. The Crimson Tide have got Derrick Henry, who will run you over, or run past you. He’s actually gone under-the-radar this off-season with all the talk about Mssrs. Fournette and Chubb. And there’s a healthy Kenyan Drake back, too.

WHO IN THE HELL’S GONNA BE THE QUARTERBACK?

Jake Coker injured his foot in training, but is apparently back and as good as ever. And by the word “good”, we don’t mean “outstanding”, because if he was “outstanding”, he wouldn’t be in a straight-up fight for the starting job with freshman Blake Barnett (who a lot of fans think should get the job) and David Cornwell. I don’t know who the starter’s going to be, and I don’t think Saban or Kiffin does yet. And they aren’t in a hurry to name one, though.

Receiving-wise, we expect T.E. OJ Howard to be a monster target for Kiffin’s offense, which is said to be speeding up in this new age of bullet-fast offenses. WR Robert Foster’s playing with a sprained MCL, and ADarius Stewart are expected to be strong targets too, but expect life after Cooper to be harder.

DEFENSIVELY….

THE DEFENSIVE LINE IS A FREAKIN’ MONSTER. I put this in facts because it’s a fact. A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Jonathan Allen, D.J. Pettway, Dalvin Tomlinson, Da’Shawn Hand and Darren Lake are all filthy. I expect to see a lot of offenses go backwards against these guys. How will they cope against speedier offenses? We will see. But against one-trick ponies, they’ll be fine.

BUT SECONDARY-WISE….

A lot of people are telling me how underrated Alabama’s secondary is, and they might be right. But it wasn’t Alabama’s lack of athletes that made their secondary so bad in 2014. It was the coaching. For some reason, the players had been told to go for the big hit instead of the ball, and more often their over-aggressiveness caught them out. We saw them being caught out against Ole Miss. Then against Auburn. And then against Missouri in the SEC Championship Game (seriously, if you watch the game see the big plays they gave up), and then Ohio State and Cardale Jones did the same. Statistically, they were mediocre (58th in pass yards allowed in the nation). And were found out for it. Will new secondary coach and former Chicago Bears defensive co-ordinator Mel Tucker Cyrus Jones turn the team into world beaters?

SCHEDULE

Sep. 5 – Wisconsin (at JerryWorld)
Sep. 12 – Middle Tennessee
Sep. 19 – Ole Miss
Sep. 26 – Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 3 – at Georgia
Oct. 10 – Arkansas
Oct. 17 – at Texas A&M
Oct. 24 – Tennessee
Nov. 7 – Louisiana State
Nov. 14 – at Mississippi State
Nov. 21 – Charleston Southern
Nov. 28 – at Auburn

 

The schedule’s evil, there’s no doubt about it, although it’s a little easier because they play a non-Melvin Gordon Wisconsin team in JerryWorld, which takes out any worry of going to the nasty away environment that is Camp Randall. We expect them to win. In fact, we expect Alabama to win all of their games until the Iron Bowl on November 28th. When they play Auburn for an unbeaten season, a SEC West title, a berth in the SEC Championship Game, and a possible trip to the play-offs. Where they lose.

Georgia 2015 Preview: Roaring Bulldogs?

 

 

 

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People laugh at Clemson for managing to choke the big games away, but let’s be honest, Georgia’s as bad as Clemson is. They lost to South Carolina and Florida despite being overwhelming favourites, and didn’t get to the SEC Championship Game, thanks to Missouri – a team they beat – managing to only lose to….(you guessed in) Georgia. 

Despite losing Todd Gurley to the NFL, hopes are high, thanks to Nick Chubb. But there are a lot of things for Mark Richt to do before that….

LAST SEASON

Georgia beat Clemson handsomely at the start of the season, and the sold-out Sanford Stadium swore that this was going to be their year – especially after seeing The Devil Spurrier get shellacked at home to Texas A&M. Well, they played badly in a quagmire. And lost. They then rebounded with wins over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, a shut-out win at Missouri and an impressive win at Arkansas – despite Todd Gurley getting suspended for four games over signing autographs. They walked into The Cocktail Party with the arrogance of a frat boy senior who knows everything, and left with their red pants round their ankles. After smashing Vanderbilt, Auburn and (gasp) Charleston, they then – in true Bulldogs fashion – lost inexplicably to Georgia Tech in a game uglier than One Of Them Heifers They Talk About Huntin’ On A Tuesday Night.

OFF-SEASON

Key NFL and graduation departures included running back Todd Gurley, WR Chris Conley, WR Michael Bennett, C David Andrews, DE Ray Drew, and LBs Armando Herrera and Ramik Wilson. In short, a pretty fair amount of talent.

Spurrier said that it was an advantage to play Georgia early because so many people were suspended. Well, we are stunned to tell you that with two weeks to go – no Georgia player has been arrested. Of course, that’ll probably change as soon as I put this out there, but that’s the pain of getting stuff like this out early.

Anyway, offensive co-ordinator Mike Bobo took over Florida-bound Jim McElwain’s position as head coach of Colorado State, and Brian Schottenheimer – formerly the St Louis Rams’ OC – came to Athens.

IN CHUBBSTER WE TRUST

Georgia girls are now proud of saying that they are “Chubby Girls” and Georgia boys are proud of saying that they are “Chubby Boys”. Yes, that’s what this kid Nick Chubb’s done to a campus after a 1,547 yard, 14 TD season where he took over from Todd Gurley and did quite well, thanks. People are using him in the same word as ‘Heisman’.

But it’s the running game that’s going to make Georgia dangerous, because if Chubb comes off the field, then he’ll be replaced Keith Marshall (who, if he stays healthy, is pretty damned good) and Sony Michel, who’s had his own injury problems, but if he stays healthy, is a human joystick.

SO WHO’S GOING TO WIN THE QB BATTLE?

God only knows. Brian Schottenheimer’s keeping it under his hat as to who’s going to be the QB – or doesn’t know. It’s a pretty straight fight between Brice Ramsey, UVA transfer Greyson Lambert or Fauton Bata. I think it’ll be Ramsey, because he knows the UGA system better than the other two, but everyone’s new in a new system.

The problem for UGA will be playing teams that are really good at shoring it up against the run (like Alabama or Florida), because Malcolm Mitchell and freshman Terry Godwin are the Dawgs’ only WRs of note at the moment, what with Isaiah McKenzie’s not-particularly-great hamstring and Justin Scott-Wesley’s screwed knee. Scott-Wesley’s not going to need surgery, but he’s not going to be 100%, is he?

DEFENSIVELY….

Jeremy Pruitt did a pretty good job, with Georgia 17th in the country in yards/game and 16th in points/game. If you take out the blow-out against Florida, they actually were better than that. Still, how did they ****-up against Florida?

Anyway, Georgia returns just five defensive starters – and a lot will be expected of LBs Leonard Floyd (6 sacks 55 tackles in 2014), Jordan Jenkins and Lorenzo Carter, who are freaks. Trent Thompson will help to shore up the D-Line, and the secondary – as is always the case with Georgia – is going to enrage at times. Step up, Dominik Sanders, Quincy Mauger and freshman Reggie Wilkerson.

THE SCHEDULE

Sep. 5 – Louisiana-Monroe
Sep. 12 – at Vanderbilt
Sep. 19 – South Carolina
Sep. 26 – Southern
Oct. 3 – Alabama
Oct. 10 – at Tennessee
Oct. 17 – Missouri
Oct. 31 – Florida (In Jacksonville, FL)
Nov. 7 – Kentucky
Nov. 14 – at Auburn
Nov. 21 – Georgia Southern
Nov. 28 – at Georgia Tech

Otherwise, they should be 4-0 to start the season, with their only SEC games a rebuilding South Carolina (at home) and a still-poor Vanderbilt team.

Then there’s a small game at home to Alabama on Oct 3 that no doubt we’ll be hearing through the dulcet tones of Verne Lundqvist and Mr. Irritating Gary Danielson on CBS. We think they’ll lose in a thriller. 

Georgia will then slide through at Tennessee, beat Missouri, get revenge against Florida, beat Kentucky and then lose to the super-speed of Auburn in a heart-breaker, because that’s how Georgia loses games to Auburn. They then rebound to smack Georgia Southern and beat Georgia Tech in another wild game in a full town of nerds (their words, not mine).

In other words, Georgia ends up 10-2 and winning the SEC East.

 

 

 

Arkansas 2015 Preview: Hoggin’ With The Hogs

This weekend wasn’t the greatest for the Arkansas Razorbacks, after their top running back, Jonathan Williams, broke his foot in fall camp and is out for the rest of the season.

Now, a lot rests on some other players. How is this going to have an affect on the Hogs – who some believe could be battling it out for a SEC West title (or at least be much improved?)

LAST YEAR

This was the best 7-6 (2-6 in the SEC) team in the nation. Had Arkansas’ kickers actually been able to do their job properly and their defense not choked up a late lead, the Razorbacks would have beaten Alabama and Texas A&M and been a far nicer 4-4 in the SEC and 9-4 overall. Williams and stablemate Alex Collins were hosses for the Razorbacks, running for over 1,000 yards each behind a monster offensive line. QB Brandon Allen was actually more solid than people believe, throwing for 2,200 yards and 20 TDs and only 5 INTs. Thanks to Williams and Collins, he didn’t need to have huge numbers….and never threw for above 300 yards.

THIS OFF-SEASON

Arkansas lost offensive co-ordinator Jim Chaney to Pat Narduzzi’s new shop at Pittsburgh, where he’ll govern the same position. Denny’s in Fayetteville is said to be mourning the loss of their best customer. Arkansas hired Central Michigan’s head coach Dan Enos to be the new offensive co-ordinator. Central Michigan finished 81st in points scored in 2014. The team also hired Vernon Hargreaves as the linebackers coach, who has a pretty great history. And also in the off-season, Jonathan Williams got a football injury that puts him out for the year. Have we mentioned that?

QUARTERBACKS/WIDE RECEIVERS

Brandon Allen will be starting on the first game of the season, but no-one’s really in love with him at the position. “With Allen at quarterback, the Razorbacks have blown fourth quarter leads five times. Arkansas failed to score in the fourth quarter or overtime five times last season,” WholeHogSports.com has complained. And this was with an all-star offensive line. This is almost Romo-esque!

Allen’s going to have get in gear if the Razorbacks get over the hump this year, particularly with Williams being out. If you didn’t already know.

Receiving-wise, Keon Hatcher and TE Hunter Henry are both solid targets, and Jared Cornelius could be OK, but otherwise, no-one’s a world-beater in this unit.

RUNNING BACK

With that big dude done for the year, a lot of pressure’s going to be on Alex Collins to perform. Collins had a strong 2014 with some eye-catching moments (he reminds us a  little of former Georgia great Todd Gurley), but the pressure’s going to be piled on him, now that he’s running back A of Bielema’s operation. Freshman Rawleigh Williams III – a three-star recruit from Dallas – is said to have wowed practice fans with his speed, and could pick up the pieces. Kody Walker, Connor McPherson, Denzell Evans and Juan Day are your other RBs.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Bret Bielema’s always prided himself on having a big offensive line, and it’ll be BIG this year too. Should smash up some holes for Collins and A.N. Other.

DEFENSE

Fun fact: If you google “Arkansas Defense”, it comes up with “Arkansas Defense Force Militia”. Which is nice.

Now, the team was all guns blazing at the end of the 2014 season, posting back-to-back shut-outs against Ole Miss and LSU, and limiting six straight teams to 17 points or under. Oh, and they also limited Alabama to 13, too. Robb Smith is doing a great job as DC of this unit, and we can’t wait for it to continue in 2015. Unfortunately for the Hogs, Trey Flowers and five others have gone to the NFL or graduated, with Flowers a monster loss. Although the ‘D’ should be flooded with seniors and juniors, there are still worries at linebacker.

SCHEDULE

Sep. 5  UTEP
Sep. 12 Toledo
Sep. 19  Texas Tech
Sep. 26 Texas A&M (at JerryWorld)
Oct. 3 at Tennessee
Oct. 10  at Alabama
Oct. 24 Auburn
Oct. 31 UT-Martin
Nov. 7 at Ole Miss
Nov. 14 at Louisiana State
Nov. 21  Mississippi State
Nov. 28  Missouri 

OUR PREDICTION

Arkansas will start the season 3-0, thanks to a joke of a non-conference schedule. Hogs fans would probably be ecstatic if they could split the quadruple-whammy of Texas A&M, Tennessee, Alabama and Auburn (we think they win the first two and lost to Alabama and Auburn), then beat UT-Martin. They then go 1-1 in two monster match-ups, losing at Ole Miss but go to Tiger Stadium and beating LSU in a very fun game. They then beat Mississippi State and Missouri at home, leaving them with a pleasing 9-3 record, but only good for third in the SEC West. 

 

Georgia WR goes down in practice

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Georgia wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley has gone down in practice with what appears to be a knee injury.

According to Macon.com, Scott-Wesley – who had knee surgery in the off-season – injured his right knee while appearing to run a normal route in practice.

The video can be seen here.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this latest injury will see Scott-Wesley retire from football. There’s only so much punishment a knee can take, after all.

Scott-Wesley only had 52 yards receiving and a TD last year, previously injured his knee in 2013. He was also suspended for a game by Georgia head coach Mark Richt in 2014 for being caught in possession of marijuana.

The Scott-Wesley news is another injury to Georgia’s wide receiving corps. Isaiah McKenzie has had two hamstring injuries, and whether Mark Richt says it or not – there’s got to be worries about the health of Malcolm Mitchell, too.

Arkansas RB out for the season

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Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams is out for the season after requiring surgery on his left foot.

Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema said today: “Jonathan Williams won’t be with us for the regular season” – updating the media on an earlier announcement that the running back would miss “an extended period of time”.

He said at the time of the injury announcement: “I have no doubt that Jonathan will come back stronger than ever. Anyone that knows Jonathan Williams knows this is just another opportunity for him to prove the man of character and substance that he really is…It’s an unfortunate injury to a great young man, but we are in the process of gathering as much information as possible. There are short and long term impacts of how he proceeds and we want to make sure he does what’s best for him and his family, and his career beyond Arkansas.

Williams ran for 900 yards and 4 TDs in 2013, and then blew everyone’s minds with a 1,190 yard, 12 TD season in 2014.

He – with cohort Alex Collins – was ranked No.4 on the SEC Football Blog‘s Top 10 RBs in the SEC list.

Alabama QB injures foot

Alabama QB Jake Coker has injured his foot, which will put him out for several days, it has been announced.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban said in a statement: “Jake Coker has a minor foot injury that we think will keep him out of practice for several days. Our physicians anticipate full recovery.

Thanks to the secretive nature of Alabama’s team plans, no-one really knows who was in front during the QB battle – although it was presumed that Coker, who came to Alabama from Florida State last season as a graduate season. He had previously battled Jameis Winston for the Seminoles starting job, but he (obviously) didn’t win. Coker came to Alabama, but lost out on the starting QB job to Blake Sims, and now – with him battling freshman Blake Barnett and redshirt freshman QB David Cornwell – the luck doesn’t look to be on his side again.

Sporting News noted that Saban is getting very grumpy about the starting quarterback situation. “Somebody’s gotta make it happen. I can’t make it happen…As bad as I’d like to make it happen, I can’t make it happen,” he is quoted as saying. “If it doesn’t get decided, like it didn’t when AJ (McCarron) and Phillip Sims were here, they both played a quarter, a quarter, a quarter, a quarter in the first game, and that’s how we figured it out.

Alabama’s first game of the season is against Wisconsin at JerryWorld…so that should be some baptism.

Expect Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake to be licking their lips….as well as the two running backs’ fantasy owners!

In terms of the Alabama QB race, a lot of people still expect Jacob Coker to be named to be Alabama’s starting quarterback for the Wisconsin. Frankly, we think Blake Barnett’s got more upside, but Barnett’s still a freshman. 

 

 

Ranking The Top 10 running backs in the SEC

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If it’s quarterbacks the SEC lacks, it’s running backs we are overflowing with. Leonard Fournette, Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb….the list runs on. It’s probably the hardest list we’ll have to do all season (that and the “Who’s going to win the SEC West” poll).

Anyway, here’s our Top 10….

1. Leonard Fournette (LSU)

6-1, 250lbs and very, very fast, Fournette ran for 1,034 yards and 10 TDs, and also had seven receptions for 127 yards. His season was highlighted by his running over a Texas A&M defender, and since then, he’s been a Heisman favorite.  Some might think this is a little strong, bearing in mind he’s got a year to go in his Tigers career, but then again, they’ve obviously not seen Leonard Fournette properly. We also like Fournette’s willingness to share the pigskin – we expect Darrel Williams and freshman Derrius Guice – who came in as a the No.5-rated RB in the country to share some of the payload.

2. Nick Chubb (Georgia)

Chubb came in as a relative unknown with the suspension of Todd Gurley, and arrived in style, taking Georgia’s offense on his back while scoring 14 TDs and putting up 1,547 yards, which included two 200+ yard games including a season-high 266 on Bobby Petrino and Louisville in the Belk Bowl. Chubb didn’t just have the power that drove Georgia on – he also had the speed, putting his track and field skills to good use. As with Fournette and Henry, he can also catch – 18 receptions for 213 yards. Chubb may see less numbers than Henry and Fournette this year, especially with the arrival (again) of Keith Marshall, and Sony Michel’s return. Georgia’s stacked at RB, and Chubb’s going to lead it.

3. Derrick Henry (Alabama)

We saw Derrick Henry in person in Atlanta in the SEC Championship Game, and the size and speed of the running took our breath away. Defensive players simply seemed to bounce off him. It was only because of Alabama’s deep running back stable that Henry did not get to the 1,000 yard mark last season – he had 990 yards and 11 TDs. He also caught 5 balls for 133 yards. We expect him to be Lane Kiffin’s biggest weapon of 2015. That’s not good news for SEC defenses.

4. Alex Collins (Arkansas)

Now that his teammate Jonathan Williams is done for the year (foot injury), all the pressure’s going to be on Collins to perform. Thankfully for Hogs fans, Collins isn’t a great step-down, having had 1,100 yards and 204 touches lst season. Collins also has a great deal for speed, and with the dreadlocks flowing behind him, he’s a helluva lot of fun to watch. Oh, and he’s playing behind a mammoth offensive line – a trademark of Bret Bielema’s teams. He’ll be OK.

5. Russell Hansborough (Missouri)

Hansborough was a difficult man to stop in 2014. His 1,084, 10 TD numbers would indicate that. There are some worries in the Missouri camp that with the loss of Marcus Murphy to the NFL (He’s now at the New Orleans Saints, where he’s an unsigned draft pick), that the Tigers will step back at a notch. Don’t worry folks: With Hansborough, Mizzou will be just fine….especially if Ish Witter and Morgan Steward can stay healthy. And Maty Mauk does his job properly at QB.

6. Roc Thomas (Auburn)

A lot of people are talking up Javon Robinson, the Tigers’ monster juco signing, but I haven’t seen anything of him, so I can’t really comment. Yes, he did well at Juco level in Georgia, but is that really the SEC? Thomas, however, has has flashes of one of the SEC’s most exciting young prospects. His thrilling Spring Game (say of that what you will) excited a lot of people, although we loved the fact that he was running at an average of 5 yards a carry last year, despite struggling a little with injuries. If he can stay healthy, opposite defenses and fans alike should be scared.

7. Jalen Hurd (Tennessee)

The fact that Hurd’s not higher just shows how damned good our conference is at running back, doesn’t it? Hurd is going to have his jersey retired by his high school (Beech) in Hendersonville, TN, but he’ll have to remain healthy for a couple of seasons for it to happen at Knoxville, people. Listen, Hurd’s freshman season of 899 yards and 5 TDs – as well as 35 receptions and 221 yards (and 2 TDs) was excellent, but he’s going to have to get healthier to move up my list.

8. Kelvin Taylor (Florida)

It must be difficult when your father’s a future Hall of Famer. That’s the problem for Kelvin Taylor, who must be battling the football ghosts of Christmas past every time he goes on the field. Anyway, Florida’s awful offense had a couple of bright spots – and one of these was Taylor, who ran for 565 yards and 6 TDs for the Gators. This included a monster game against Georgia (197 yards, 2 TDs), and sharing the load with Matt Jones, who decided to go to the NFL (he was drafted in the 3rd round by Washington). If he can share some load with Jordan Scarlett or other players, this sleeper Heisman pick (by friend of the program Barrett Sallee, not me!) could have quite the year.

9. Kenyan Drake (Alabama)

If Drake’s at full speed, he’ll be a lot higher up this list mid-way through the season, we can promise you. A victim of a sickening leg break against Ole Miss, Drake has been running and cutting just fine, according to reports. If he truly is up to full speed, then the combination with Derrick Henry in Lane Kiffin’s new speeded-up offense could be frightening. He’s also been starring in movies with sorority girls (no, not like that!), which is nice.

10. Tra Carson (Texas A&M)

Carson has seen his carries and yards numbers at a career-level record (124 carries for 581 yards) , and he’s a heck of a speed option to have for Texas A&M’s high-octane offense. If Kevin Sumlin decides to focus a little more on the running game instead of giving it to Kyle Allen to throw 400 times a game, Carson’s going to cause some trouble.