Archive for September, 2015

How Alabama is screwing its season ticket holders

Alabama is screwing its season ticket holders.

The university isn’t screwing them out of victories – they have plenty. It isn’t screwing them out of SEC Championships – they have plenty. It isn’t screwing them out of great recruits – they have plenty. It isn’t screwing them out of National Championships – they have a plenty (400 at the last count).

The University of Alabama is screwing its season ticket holders out of good games.

Every year since 2012, Alabama has played the opening game of the season at neutral site venue. In 2012, it was at the spaceship called JerryWorld, in the middle of a massive parking lot in Arlington, Texas. In 2013 and 2014, they ‘kindly’ moved to kick off the season at the Home Depot Dome in Atlanta, GA. Then, induced by Jerry Jones’ money, they came back there to play Wisconsin in the spaceship in 2015. Alabama will play USC in 2016, Florida State in 2017, and Louisville in 2018. And you can’t just have an Alabama season ticket, either. You have to have a certain amount of points to guarantee a spot.

Arlington is a near-nine hour drive from Tuscaloosa. It’s a 9-1/2 hour drive from Birmingham, AL (Alabama’s biggest city). Atlanta’s a generous 3 hour drive. That’s still a pain-in-the-ass.

Does all this mean Alabama has reduced its season ticket prices in the view of the crappiness of the out-of-conference teams who come to Tuscaloosa for the slaughter? Nope.

If you’re an Alabama fan who actually lives in Alabama, you’d probably be killing to see a good team play under the lights of a rocking Bryant-Denny Stadium. And you KNOW that season tickets of USC, Florida State and Louisville would have loved a home-and-home, too.

But thanks to AD Bill Battle, Jerry Jones, ESPN and the other schedule setters, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

 

 

Ranking and Predicting Saturday’s SEC games – Week 2

With Tennessee playing Oklahoma, LSU visited Clangaville (Mississippi State), South Carolina playing Kentucky and Georgia playing Vanderbilt (as the CBS games – probably so CBS can say they’ve shown Vanderbilt this season), it’s going to be an interesting-but-not-that-interesting Week 2 of the 2015 College Football Season.

So here’s how we rank ’em….

  1. LSU at Mississippi State

Starkville’s going to be ROCKING on Saturday. The cowbells will be clanging, the screaming will be loud, and LSU will take a deep breath. The Tigers haven’t played 2015, thanks to a lightning storm/downpour ensuring that we didn’t see Brandon Harris/Leonard Fournette/Malachi Dupre/Les Miles/ The LSU student section beat McNeese State on Saturday night. Coming to Starkville won’t be an easy task for the Tigers, especially if Dak Prescott’s on form. MSU fans will be praying that their team don’t play as badly as they did at Southern Miss. This will be fun.

PREDICTION: We’re going to take LSU – a 2 point favorite in some books – by three points in a great game. 

2. Oklahoma at Tennessee

Neyland Stadium’s going to be rocking on Saturday, particularly with Oklahoma coming to town. A lot of Vols fans were smelling blood with a weak Oklahoma coming to Knoxville….until they saw their own defense give up 557 all-purpose yards against Bowling Green on Saturday. Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine had a relatively poor day out against Akron (33 yards and 1 TD on 11 carries), but OU threw the ball a lot. Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs is really, really good. We’re hoping Marquez North comes back. This game’s going to be fun.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma’s a one-point favorite in Neyland, and we’re going to take the Sooners by 7 in a classic. 

3. Kentucky at South Carolina

Williams-Brice should be loud on the Gamecocks’ first home outing of the season, and it’ll be interesting to see how they improve after a pretty awful Week 1 win against UNC, when they could quite easily have lost by double-digits. Spurrier’s got a lot to do with his offense – and he probably would have rather his AD scheduled a joke for Week 2 (see 91% of SEC Week Match-Ups (here’s to you, Tennessee). Mind you, Kentucky’s seven-point home win against Louisiana-Lafayette wasn’t anything to scream “Go! Cats!” either. This is not one for the neutrals.

PREDICTION: South Carolina’s a 7.5 point favorite. We’ll take the Gamecocks with the 10-point victory.

4. Georgia at Vanderbilt

Here’s how awful the Week 2 slate is…..Georgia’s visit to Vanderbilt’s the fourth-biggest game on the SEC schedule. Georgia showed what a three-headed hydra it can be at running back, and Grayson Lambert did OK against Louisana-Monroe without showing a huge amount. Vanderbilt lost against Western Kentucky and was really poor. We should expect RB Ralph Webb get the ball a lot. Although will he make much of a difference against this Georgia front?

PREDICTION: Georgia’s a 20-point favorite. We’ll take Georgia to win by 28. Our friends at Saturday Edge also have their opinion on whether they can beat the spread….

5. East Carolina at Florida

ECU are one of the more entertaining offensive teams in college football, which should make it interesting to see how overmatched they are against Vernon Hargreaves and a Florida defense bringing back 2 starters from suspension. Florida dropped more than 60 in Week 1, and we can expect a lot of points dropped by the Gators this week too.

PREDICTION: Florida’s a 20-point favorite. Florida to win by 42. 

6. Toledo at Arkansas

This will be interesting only for the betting fans/ESPN fans, with Arkansas 21-point favorite. Brandon Allen threw for 300 yards against UTEP, and Toledo’s going to struggle in its first game of the season. Watch out for Alex Collins to have a 100-yard, multiple touchdown game too. Watch to see if the Razorbacks can stop Toledo RB Kareem Hunt, who went under-the-radar last season despite a 1,600-yard season.

PREDICTION: Arkansas by 28. And that’s because they lift their feet off the gas mid-4th quarter.

 

7. Fresno State at Ole Miss

Can Ole Miss score 75? Probably not. Fresno State’s better than that. Can Robert Nkemdiche run for his second TD of the season? We hope so. Will this tell us anything about Ole Miss? Nope. If you play college football fantasy, putting in Laquon Treadwell for this game would be a pretty good idea.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is a 30-point favorite, which is generous. Ole Miss to cover, winning by 41.

8. Ball State at Texas A&M

In years past – and the ‘D’ getting co-ordinated by Mark Snyder, it would be interesting to see if Texas A&M had improved week-to-week against Ball State. But in 2015 – with John Chavis in charge – Texas A&M’s ‘D’ was fantastic against Arizona State, and no, we don’t think Ball State’s offensive line will be able to stop Myles Garrett and Daylon Mack. And the defense – which gave up 36 to VMI in Week 1 in the 48-36 shoot-out win – is going to struggle against A&M’s receivers – like Christian Kirk, too.

PREDICTION: Texas A&M’s a 30-point favorite. We think they win by 35. 

9. Middle Tennessee State at Alabama

The two good thing for MTSU fans looking at this Alabama game is that the Crimson Tide’s a 35 point favorite (they should look to take the Crimson Tide to cover), and their school is getting paid a lot of dough to come and get slaughtered. Alabama looked very impressive against Wisconsin on Saturday. This won’t be close.

PREDICTION: Alabama, led by Derrick Henry, wins by 42, covering the spread.

10. Missouri at Arkansas State

Maty Mauk took a horrible hit on Saturday, but was able to recover to have a 181-yard, 2 TD, 1 INT day. Drew Lock, his back-up, went 6-10 for 138 yards and a TD. Missouri is deep at QB, people. Arkansas State played USC pretty close at times, but then got blown out by the Trojans.

PREDICTION: Missouri’s an 11-point favourite on the road. They win by 21.

11. Jacksonville State at Auburn

Jeremy Johnson could have thrown five interceptions against Louisville. He was that bad last Saturday. Still, he’s a pretty good runner. He won’t need either against Jacksonville State.

PREDICTION: Auburn by 58. And Vegas isn’t even offering odds, they are so uninterested.

 

SEC Football Blog’s SEC Power Rankings

Here are our SEC Football Blog Power Rankings after Week 1 of the season.

  1. Alabama — They are going to be OK with Derrick Henry running behind that offensive line.
  2. Texas A&M  — Playing to a home crowd at Kyle Field Houston certainly helped. A lot. But this defense, led by Myles Garrett, was looking changed, talented and great.
  3. Georgia — If they stay healthy, Nick Chubb, Keith Marshall and Sony Michel will be a three-headed running back monster for SEC defenses to stop.
  4. Auburn — Fell to pieces at the end of the Louisville game. Was it tiredness or not giving a crap? Anyway, the Tigers are going to have to improve both in a loaded SEC West.
  5. Ole Miss — The defense is fantastic. So is the thought of Robert Nkemdiche as a running back.
  6. Arkansas — We’re not going to be giving out Heismans for Brandon Allen’s good showing against UTEP, but it was certainly a big positive.
  7. LSU — No game at Tiger Stadium, but I still think the Tigers are better than Mississippi State next week.
  8. Florida — At the moment, I trust Florida’s offense more than I trust Tennessee’s defense. Mind you, I trust Bernie Madoff’s defense more than I trust Tennessee’s defense.
  9. Missouri — The Tigers looked as fine as you can against a team that most people haven’t heard of.
  10. Mississippi State — Mississippi State survived Southern Miss. That’s not a positive thing.
  11. Tennessee — Offense is great. Defense is awful. It will be entertaining.
  12. Kentucky — 33 points given up against Louisiana-Lafayette shows how much they are missing Bud Dupree.
  13. South Carolina — A win’s a win, but gosh it was ugly against North Carolina.
  14. Vanderbilt — This is a very poor team.

Alabama moves to No.2 in AP Poll

Alabama has moved to No.2 in the AP Poll after being Wisconsin 35-17 on Saturday night, moving ahead of TCU who strugged at Minnesota. The Crimson Tide was still miles behind Ohio State, who was an almost-consensus No.1 after its after-halftime dismantling of Virginia Tech.

Texas A&M jumped into the AP Poll as the No.16 after it beat Arizona State. After that performance, we can seem them go higher in weeks to come.

Auburn is No.6 and Georgia is No.9 as the SEC took home three Top 10 teams. LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi State are all in the Top 25, although the jury’s probably still out there as to whether Mississippi State should be there after the poor showing at Southern Miss.

Saturday SEC round-up: Texas A&M impresses, Auburn does not

Saturday’s SEC games saw victories for all SEC schools playing – including resounding ones for Texas A&M, Auburn and Alabama in the three biggest games out there.

So here are our big thoughts about the SEC’s Saturday.

1. Texas A&M’s performance impresses

Great performance by the Aggies, who crushed Arizona State 38-17 and looked comfortable. A lot of credit has to go that the game wasn’t played in an actual ‘neutral’ venue (Houston’s in Texas, people), so ASU struggled with crowd noise…but they also struggled with Myles Garrett, who was sensational. On the other side of the ball, Christian Kirk was excellent (1 TD, 1 TD from a punt return) as the Aggies put up 247 yards. Great going, folks. But seriously, big hand for the Aggies’ defense, which looks 100% better under John Chavis than it ever did under Mark Snyder.

2. Auburn wasn’t wonderful

Auburn sped out to a 24-0 lead, with the highlight of the day Justin Garrett’s 82-yard fumble recovery for a TD and a INT. But the Tigers tired out, managing to only squeeze out a 31-24 victory. And Jeremy Johnson, the Heisman candidate? 3 interceptions were horrible.

3. Derrick Henry…was Derrick Henry

We expected a big performance from Alabama’s Derrick Henry against Wisconsin, and we got one. 147 yards and 3 touchdowns destroyed the Badgers, even on a day where neither Jacob Coker or Cooper Bateman had us jumping with joy at QB.

4. If you think Nick Chubb disappointed….

Listen, if you think Georgia’s Nick Chubb disappointed Heisman voters by only putting up 120 yards and 2 TDs in the Bulldogs’ waltz against ULM, then think again. Keith Marshall and Sony Michel had a combined 16 touches, over 100 yards and 3 TDs.

5. But Georgia’s secondary certainly did

You would have thought by only conceding 14 points that Georgia’s secondary had been pretty good against ULM, but after the Dawgs sped out 35-0, ULM put together its passing game and Georgia really struggled. The lightning break for about an hour managed to give UGA’s D a big kick-up-the-ass and they managed to stop them, but what happens when there is no lightning storm?

6. Tennessee’s defense was absolutely terrible

As much as Vols fans will talk about the ‘W’ and a 29-point ‘W’ (59-30), their defense was absolutely awful. And yes, we watched the game. Well, most of it until the rain/lightning delay, and UT’s D got a kick-in-the-ass from their will-get-fired-in-2016-unless-things-improve-quickly DC John Jancek. My worry – like Georgia’s – will be if there’s no lightning delay.

7. Welcome, Jim McElwain

Florida’s 61-13 win, in which they put up 606 yards – including 385 in the air – was tremendous. Sure, it was against New Mexico State, but it was good to see not only Treon Harris but also Will Grier having competent days, sharing 382 yards and 4 TDs.

8. Sorry, Brandon Harris

Lightning made sure LSU’s clash with McNeese State was cancelled, so that means that Brandon Harris’ first game will be on the road to the clanging cowbells of Mississippi State. And McNeese kept $500,000, will will doubtless annoy LSU’s administrators.

9. Robert Nkemdiche with the play of the day…

Offensively. For Ole Miss. It was wondrous. Click here.

10. Arkansas, Mississippi State, Missouri, Kentucky win too.

Well done.

 

Thursday SEC Round-up: South Carolina Bad, Vandy Worse

The biggest headline we could think of that epitomized South Carolina and Vanderbilt’s performances on the Opening Night of the College Football season was this: “South Carolina bad, Vanderbilt worse”.

Because it’s true.

SOUTH CAROLINA WOES

South Carolina wasn’t so much as a victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels as one fall-over drunk beating the other fall-over drunk to the finish line and collapsing in a stupored mess. ESPN should ban the Gamecocks from opening the season again – since every time they do they seem to absolutely suck.

When I saw that ESPN.com had a “highlights” part for the game, I guffawed a little….because really, there weren’t any offensively.

 

Defensively, Skai Moore had the game-ending interception with Carolina driving for the game-leading TD. Earlier Moore also had an INT, which suddenly makes him the second coming of Vernon Hargreaves (let’s not blame crappy UNC quarterbacking, shall we?). Jordan Diggs also had one too. Also impressive was South Carolina’s defense in the red zone, which kept turned TDs into field goals. If it hadn’t been that way, the Tar Heels would have won pretty impressively.

Connor Mitch, the new South Carolina QB, went 9/22 for 122 yards and 1 TD. Perry Orth, his back-up, went 2/2 for 24 yards. That was about for the passing game.

For the running game, South Carolina had 254 yards vs North Carolina’s 208, dominated by Shon Carson’s four-carry, 75 yard and a great TD performance. Brandon Wilds, who had 51 yards on 14 carries was ineffective, Connor Mitch’s 44 yards on 10 carries showed some effectiveness on the ground – but Carolina fans are really going to need a good arm.

And as for Pharoh Cooper? He went off the field with cramps….but he still led the team with 3 receptions for 45 yards and a TD.

And my last point? This game – regardless of the 51,000 attending – had the atmosphere of a shitty 12pm New Year’s Day bowl game when both sets of fans would rather be elsewhere. Can you imagine what this game would have been like at Chapel Hill? It would have been amazing. I tweeted my annoyance at ESPN showing Carolina students in front of TVs and in bars instead of being at the game, and I was told ticket prices were $100. A USC alumni told me HIS tickets were over $250. In other words, both sets of fans should feel pretty screwed by their own ADs. I hate NFL stadiums for college football games. And always will. That includes you, Jacksonville.

AND AS FOR VANDERBILT…

There’s a Vine out there with a Western Kentucky player saying to his colleague: “They meant to be SEC”. Grammar aside, you get the point. At the moment, Vanderbilt would struggle against bad B1G schools (we see you, Purdue and Syracuse). THAT is how bad they are. They lost 14-12 to Western Kentucky at home.

Tennessee fans laughed with glee at Vanderbilt’s loss, but the problem is is….it’s not that funny. It’s just so sad. The Vanderbilt fans who stand by their team and suffered through 2014 and this game, going to Nashville to see this turd should get some sort of rebate from the school. They really should. The school should say: “We’re sorry about the horrific loss to Western Kentucky. Here’s your money back for the game.” It would go a long way to make the fanbase smile a little through their bourbon-infused Friday hangovers and memories of a pair of missed two-point conversions.

Vanderbilt fans will point out to you that they had the chance to pull it out of the bag at the end with 33 seconds to go. But the bottom line is is that they were playing Western Kentucky. Not someone big-time.

Vandy had 3 turnovers, including two interceptions from starting QB Johnny McCrary (who also threw 18-34 for 217 yards and a TD). Ralph Webb’s 70 yards on 18 carries showed one thing: Vanderbilt’s got some problems on the offensive line now Joe Townsend’s left.

What must irritate – or will it be a small consolation – Derek Mason is that he had 13 minutes more time in possession, ‘won’ the yardage battle 385-246, and limited WKU’s sprightly offense to 11 first downs. And still lost.

AND AFTER ALL OF THIS…

The game between South Carolina and Vanderbilt on October 16 should be avoided at all costs. 

Ole Miss 2015 Preview: Great D, By Damn

Ole Miss’ 2014 was a weird one. The Rebs went to the heights of No.3 in the nation after winning their first seven games in a row, including an incredible field-invading, Katy Perry-attending, classic against Alabama. They looked solid. Bo Wallace looked ready to play. Everything was going their way. And then they walked into Tiger Stadium, LSU. There nothing went their way. They lost 10-7 that was classically bad, and then lost a home heartbreaker against Auburn 35-31, in which star WR Laquon Treadwell broke his leg and had us all reaching for the sick bucket. A 30-0 loss to Arkansas and a bowl schellacking by a pissed-off TCU – sandwiched with a gratifying 31-17 Egg Bowl victory over No.4 Mississippi State – made sure this was a season to smile about…but also think: “What if the luck had fallen for us?”

THE OFF-SEASON

Laremy Tunsil dominated the off-season, after getting arrested for domestic violence for getting in an altercation with his stepdad. Truly a horrible situation, Tunsil’s been accused of taking bribes by agents, coaches, and anyone but Wall Street bankers (actually, maybe them too!) to play at Ole Miss, but no-one actually knows what the hell is going on. It’s all pretty sad. The case was dismissed in early August, but it put a cloud over Hugh Freeze and the program. Mind you, the accusations of people taking money in the SEC aren’t exactly revelations, are they? The NCAA is still investigating.

Safety Trae Elston and WR Damore’ea Stringfellow were arrested for disorderly in January, with Elston charged with resisting arrest. Idiots. But it’s hardly the domestic violence charges that have haunted Alabama and LSU this season, is it?

Otherwise, Bo Wallace graduated, which is going to take a bit of fun out of Ole Miss’ offense this year, but recruiting went well, with four-star offensive linesman Javon Patterson, receivers DeMarkus Lodge and Van Jefferson and Juco DT DJ. ones providing the main highlights.

Anyway…

WE LOVE YOU, ROBERT NKEMDICHE AND THE DEFENSE

Seriously, we do. DT Robert Nkemdiche is absolutely filthy, and going to the NFL’s first round in 2016. If he chooses to leave. His stats of 27 tackles and 2 sacks would have been a lot more had he not been double-teamed a lot. If Nkemdiche’s tired, D.J. Jones – who also weighs in at 300lb – can provide ample back-up for him. Which isn’t bad going.

DE Fadol Brown is another part of a unit that returns seven starters. A lot of people are hugely excited the secondary.  Huskie Tony Conner is excellent in coverage, and seniors Mike Hilton and Trae Elston are going to roam the backfield. With two All-Americans departed from the unit, we will see.

AND THE OFFENSE?

The return of Tunsil to the offensive line and gamechanger Treadwell to the wide receiving corps is very exciting news for Hugh Freeze & Co, and will help junior QB Chad Kelly, who was great as a Juco after getting booted at Clemson. Freeze wasn’t exactly ecstatic-sounding naming Kelly as the Week 1 starter, but is that because Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade are as great too, or that QB isn’t a great spot for the Rebels? We don’t know at this stage. And we’re unlikely to know when Ole Miss drop 60 on Tennessee-Martin, either.

As well as Treadwell, we’re excited about Cody Core (558 yards, 6 TDs) and Quincy Adeboyejo, who could cause secondaries a lot of problems.

THE SCHEDULE

The schedule’s evil. That’s because Ole Miss plays in the SEC West.

Sep. 5 – UT-Martin
Sep. 12 – Fresno State
Sep. 19 – at Alabama
Sep. 26 – Vanderbilt
Oct. 3 – at Florida
Oct. 10 – New Mexico State
Oct. 17 – at Memphis
Oct. 24 – Texas A&M
Oct. 31 – at Auburn
Nov. 7 – Arkansas
Nov. 21 – Louisiana State
Nov. 28 – at Mississippi State

PREDICTION: Our friends at Saturday Edge think that Ole Miss goes under 8.5 wins this year. We think that Ole Miss goes a respectable 8-4 this year, taking a one-game back-step because of not only the loss of talent, but also the fact that they’ve got two evil road games at Alabama and Auburn, and that there’s always a surprise loss, which we think will be to Texas A&M at home in a shoot-out. 

Kentucky 2015 Preview: Better Second Half This Time?

For Kentucky, it was a tale of two seasons in one in 2014. The first half, the Wildcats went 5-1, with the only loss coming in triple overtime to Florida. In the second half of the season, the Big Blue Nation got the blues, losing six straight and failing to get in a bowl game. Some people thought “What a great season going 5-7 and just missing out on a bowl game! 5-7 used to be unimaginable!” and some people – who suddenly are expecting some more of the Kentucky Wildcats – thought “Well, that was a bit of a let-down.”

THE OFF-SEASON

Mark Stoops hired Shannon Dawson, West Virginia’s former OC and QB coach, to be their offensive co-ordinator after Neal Brown left to be Troy’s head coach. D.J. Eliot keeps his job after helping Bud Dupree go to the NFL.

No-one significant seems to have been arrested, while recruiting-wise, Stoops captured two four-star recruits, LB Eli Brown and TE CJ Conrad.

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THE OFFENSE?

Kentucky trusts in Patrick Towles and – ahead of most SEC schools – named him the starter ahead of Drew Barker in mid-August. Towles threw for 2,718 yards and 14 TDs and ran for another 300 and 6 TDs. Barker’s good enough to take Towles’ job if he screws up (like the situation in Missouri with Maty Mauk and Drew Lock). This bodes well for the program’s future.

His receiving corps remains intact, with Ryan Timmons ( 536 yards, 2 TDs last year), with Blake Bone and Garrett Johnson ready to take up some slack.

And if Towles chooses to be more conservative, Stoops is going to run the ball a lot. Boom Williams is a good running back and JoJo Kemp and Mikel Horton provide excellent back-ups if Williams isn’t healthy. There’s also going to be some love for frosh Sihiem King, who could turn some heads.

AND THE DEFENSE?

Bud Dupree and Za’Darius Smith are gone and that is a tragedy. The Wildcats’ defense are going to be a lot weaker without them.

A lot of people are going to depend on 342lb nose tackle Melvin Lewis and Stoops will pray that LB Ryan Flannigan’s back from a shoulder injury soon. DE Farrington Huguenin (let’s hope he doesn’t have a big season for editorial reasons!!! ) could also produce, and DT Matt Elam – who was recruited by Alabama – could be fun to watch. Freshman LB Eli Brown could be fun to watch.

The secondary – which was ranked about 7th in the SEC in most passing categories in 2014 and looks to be improved – will be led by safeties AJ Stamps – who had 4 INTs last season- and Marcus McWilson. Fred Tiller and Cody Quinn will be your starting corners. Watch out for newbie Marcus Walker, who people are hot on too.

THE SCHEDULE

Sept. 5 UL Lafayette
Sept. 12 at South Carolina
Sept. 19 Florida
Sept. 26 Missouri
Oct. 3 EKU Lexington, Ky
Oct. 15 Auburn
Oct. 24 at Mississippi State
Oct. 31 Tennessee
Nov. 7 at Georgia
Nov. 14 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 21 Charlotte
Nov. 28 Louisville

This season may well be a step back for Stoops & Co, simply because we can only think of Vanderbilt as the SEC game they’ll win. Outside the SEC, they’ll go a healthier 3-1, with the loss against Louisville in a great one.

PREDICTION: Kentucky goes 4-8. Saturday Edge believes in 5-1/2 wins. We’ll see. 

Florida 2015 Preview: In Defense We Trust

Will Muschamp pissed off a lot of Florida Gators fans in 2014, as the team stumbled to 7-5 and 4-4 in the SEC. It wasn’t really about the defense- they were great – it was about the goddawful offense. The goddawful offense was — you’ve got it — goddawful.

The great defense simply couldn’t do anything about it.

And now Jim McElwain’s been hired away from Colorado State, and Florida Gators fans are already furious at McElwain for his failure to choose between Treon Harris and Will Grier as to who will be the starting QB on Saturday. His line: “Treon Harris will start but Will Grier will play some” didn’t exactly sit well with a Gator faithful destroyed by back-to-back Muschamp futility on the attacking side of the ball.

THE OFF-SEASON

We mentioned Muschamp had been ‘canned. We mentioned Jim McElwain had replaced him. OK.

Recruiting-wise, it was pretty successful. OT Martez Ivey and DE CeCe Jefferson came on board, as did four-star RB Jordan Scarlett and QB Jordan Cronkite.

BASICALLY, VERNON HARGREAVES IS GOD

There isn’t a college football player we love more than CB Vernon Hargreaves. The guy’s more shut down than Lehman Brothers. Combined with Jalen Tabor and Brian Poole, Joe Montana HIMSELF would struggle to throw on this unit. We love them, and they should be even better than before. You know, unless teams simply break themselves with their running game. Which would be annoying when the Gators play Tennessee, because Hargreaves vs Marquez North would be a jaw-dropper in its awesomeness.

Safety-wise, fall in love with Keanu “Matrix” Neal and Marcus Maye, because you’ll hear their names a lot if Hargreaves is being avoided….which may very well happen.

As for the running game, LBs Antonio Morrison and Jarrad Davis are back from serious knee injuries – a huge boost for the team. Alex Anzalone (don’t say that name wrongly), and Daniel McMillan are pretty useful too. On the defensive line, Gators must be thanking God than Jonathan Bullard’s back for his senior season, but CeCe Jefferson has apparently impressed coaches in training so much that he’ll definitely start, according to the Miami Herald.

SO WHAT’S HAPPENING AT QB?

Again, we don’t really know what McElwain’s saying. Has Will Grier REALLY impressed? Has Treon Harris REALLY impressed? What does impress coaches is Harris’ athletic ability. That’s going to help if the offensive line doesn’t do its job properly.

 

AND THE OFFENSIVE LINE…

And in big offensive line news, Ivey’s had arthoscopic surgery on his knee. What great news for Gators fans #sarcasm (And although McElwain’s not completely ruling out Ivey for Week 1’s game against New Mexico State, I would rest him because – and let’s face – New Mexico State was scheduled for a reason….they suck). Otherwise, McElwain’s going to have to scratch around for some good offensive linesman. Bill Connelly on his Gators preview remarked that the most experienced Gators offensive linesman “started at Fordham last year”. A lot will be hoped and prayed for for Trip Thurman.

KELVIN TAYLOR WE HOPE

As running backs go, Kelvin Taylor had one great game against Georgia but was pretty ordinary for the rest of the season after a good 2013, and Gators fans are suddenly expecting a lot from four-starrer Jordan Scarlett. If the love he had in his high school days is anything to go by, he’ll could be something special. If.

THE SCHEDULE

Sep. 5 – New Mexico State
Sep. 12 – East Carolina
Sep. 19 – at Kentucky
Sep. 26 – Tennessee
Oct. 3 – Ole Miss
Oct. 10 – at Missouri
Oct. 17 – at Louisiana State
Oct. 31 – Georgia @Jacksonville, FL
Nov. 7 – Vanderbilt
Nov. 14 – at South Carolina
Nov. 21 – Florida Atlantic
Nov. 28 – Florida State

This is going to be a step back for Florida. We can see them going 3-0 early against NMSU, ECU and Kentucky, but then going on a six-game losing streak to Tennessee, Ole Miss, Missouri, LSU and Georgia before recovering to beat Vanderbilt. They’ll also lose a close one to South Carolina before beating FAU and losing on Thanksgiving Weekend to Florida State.

PREDICTION: I LOVE the defense, but have no love for the offense. Gators finish 5-7.

Texas A&M Preview: Will ‘The Chief’ Change The D?

Texas A&M’s 2014 was an interesting one. After slaughtering South Carolina on the road, their QB Kenny Hill trademarked his nickname to “Kenny Trill”, and subsequently sucked. So much so he had to be replaced by Kyle Allen. The Aggies could have easily gone 7-6 instead of 8-5 — with a two SEC wins — if Arkansas hadn’t choked at JerryWorld. This was a pretty ugly season, so head coach Kevin Sumlin (possibly to deflect anger from pissed-off Aggies fans) had to make some changes….

OFF-SEASON

Mark Snyder, as we’d be saying for a good couple of seasons, finally got the boot. Texas A&M – in true Texas fashion – had to go big, so they did, getting LSU defensive co-ordinator John Chavis, who promptly took his previous and new employer to court over contract issues. Nothing’s been settled yet, but the more it goes on, the more Chavis looks like the greedy, moustached pig.

He also hired Dave Christensen, the former OC at Utah, to improve the running game, which was awful in 2014.

Anyway, Sumlin was also quick to tell everybody Kyle Allen was going to be the starting QB, and as usual, the Aggies recruited exceptionally, picking up 5-stars DT Daylon Mack, WR Christian Kirk, and dual-threat QB Kyler Murray. The team was re-loaded on both sides of the ball, and now came the question: “What can we do with the talent with assembled?”

Oh, and WR Frank Iheanacho was arrested for shoplifting, and Texas A&M was cited for having the third-most arrests in the last five years (22), trailing Florida (24) and Washington State (31).

Sooooo…..

WHAT’S THE CHIEF GOING TO DO DIFFERENTLY?

If John Chavis can do one thing better than Mark Snyder, then A&M will be changed to the good. And that’s teaching them how to tackle. The amount of missed tackles by these Aggies was just staggering.

Look, Chavis had a poor couple of years with LSU. That was a factor of almost all of his ‘D’ running off to the NFL in back-to-back years, but not talent. Some of them are still starters in the pros. Upon his arrival, he’s got a future superstar in Myles Garrett, who can do just about anything. He tied the freshman SEC sacks record with 11 last year, and had 49 tackles – including 12.5 for a loss. He also defended a pass. This is the new J.J. Watt, people.

But seriously, we expect Mack to start immediately. He’ll make a big splash. There will be pressure on LBs Otaro Alaka and Juco Claude George to show up, and the pass defense – which was woeful in 2014 – should be improved with Armani Watts and Justin Evans at safety. Should.

AND OFFENSIVELY….

There hasn’t been a lot to hate about A&M’s offense under Sumlin, and 2015 will be a continuation of that threat. Expect Kyle Allen – armed with great WRs in incumbents Speedy Noil and Josh Reynolds. Christian Kirk will provide a helluva 1-2-3, won’t it?

And on the floor, the running back system has to improve. The Dallas Morning News noted that the Aggies were 82nd nationally in running, adding that things should be better with Christensen’s hire. Tra Carson and James White have been described as “thunder and more thunder”, while Brandon Williams’ speed may provide lightning, unless he goes to DB (He’s a good each-way player). Could Kendall Bussey play?

THE SCHEDULE: YUCK

The Aggies play in the SEC West, so the schedule was always going to be brutal. Throw in a game against a flying Arizona State, and it’s even more so.

Sep. 5 – Arizona State (@Houston)
Sep. 12 – Ball State
Sep. 19 – Nevada
Sep. 26 – Arkansas (@JerryWorld)
Oct. 3 – Mississippi State
Oct. 17 – Alabama
Oct. 24 – at Ole Miss
Oct. 31 – South Carolina
Nov. 7 – Auburn
Nov. 14 – Western Carolina
Nov. 21 – at Vanderbilt
Nov. 28 – at Louisiana State

We think the Aggies open the season with a really exciting LOSS against Arizona State before crushing Ball State and Nevada. They lose at JerryWorld to a revenge-fuelled Arkansas before beating Mississippi State, losing to Alabama at home, and going to Ole Miss and wining that one too. South Carolina’s visit to Kyle Field sends them home winless, but Auburn wins in front of a packed afternoon crowd wanted blood. The Aggies beat Western Carolina and Vanderbilt before losing at Tiger Stadium to LSU.

PREDICTION

A&M finishes 7-5, and it’s not particularly pretty. But this is Chavis’ first year, and with Mack and Garrett working fully together in Year 2, watch out for this team in 2016.

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