Georgia Archives

Question: Will anyone be able to keep up with the SEC?

A week after Alabama won the title, I was able to give myself a bit of a rest and reflect on what has been another successful National Championship Year for our conference. Or more’s the case, for Alabama.

The conference put the critics to bed for another straight year as Alabama destroyed Notre Dame to lift the Crystal Football, cementing Alabama’s dynasty with their third win in four years. Barratt Jones can’t possibly achieve what he did in college in the NFL, can he (unless he’s drafted by the Patriots!)?

But if we’re honest, it wasn’t a wonderful bowl season for the SEC, by any stretch of the imagination.

  • Florida (on paper) should have pounded Louisville. Instead, they were pounded back. Use the excuse of “We didn’t make any effort” as much as you like, Gators, but you were an embarrassment. The number of fans that showed up to the Sugar Dome didn’t do them any favors, either.
  • LSU should have beaten Clemson. If it wasn’t for some awful playcalling by Les Miles & Co (three straight Zach Mettenberger throws instead of using a criminally underused running back in Jeremy Hill), they would have done.
  • Mississippi State embarrassed the conference by getting blown away by Northwestern.
  • South Carolina was lucky to survive against Michigan. What would have happened if Jadeveon Clowney hadn’t played, folks?
  • Georgia‘s first half performance against Nebraska – a team that gave up 70 points in its last outing – was defensively dreadful.
Only Alabama, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt came out with any great credit from bowl season, folks. And they were favored in all of those games.
And although people would like to say that the SEC’s easily going to run the table in the 2013-4 season, here’s my argument: That’s not exactly going to happen. With all the money that’s getting poured into each conference, the gap is tightening between teams as they can suddenly afford better facilities and better recruitment.
Oh, and there’s also going to be a problem with the NCAA. The SEC’s been getting some bad press for oversigning lately, and yes, we know it goes on at almost all of our schools. If they decide to limit ‘grayshirting’ and really harshly limit scholarships and who can go where and for what reason, the SEC is going to have to cut down on the players they recruit. That can only mean more talent for other schools.

Georgia fans, celebrate: Aaron Murray’s coming back

Aaron Murray’s coming back to Georgia, it seems.

The UGA quarterback tweeted: “Blessed to be the QB for the Dawgs, not ready to leave just yet. Time to get back to work & help lead this team to a championship #GoDawgs

Murray threw for 3,893 yards and 36 TDs last season for a Georgia team that was five yards from making the National Championship and eventually beat Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, thanks to Murray’s 500-odd yards of throwing.

A lot of people had repeatedly said that Murray needed to stay another year – he was simply to interception-prone in his last year, and with his offense coming back in the shape that it’s going to be in, Georgia is suddenly a SEC East contender again.

SEC teams dominate Forbes’ “Most Valuable Team” List

SEC domination continues up to Christmas – including Forbes’ ‘Most Valuable Team’ List.

In the magazine’s ‘Business of College Football’ issue, LSU was the top team in the SEC – although the Tigers were still behind Texas, Michigan and Notre Dame.

Forbes estimated that the Tigers had a value of $102m, with football revenues a cool $69 and total profit $45m. That’s a pretty good return on the investment.

Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas were also on the list. Texas A&M slipped out of the Top 10, but is expected to return next year after a bowl game, and someone called Johnny.

The Top 10 list in full (with valuations):

1) Texas – Total Valuation $133m

2) Michigan – $120m

3) Notre Dame – $103m

4) LSU – $102m

5) Georgia – $99m

6) Alabama – $95m

7) Florida – $93m

8) Auburn – $85m

9) Tennessee – $84m

10) Arkansas – $83m

Also on the lists were Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier and Les Miles on the ‘College Football’s Most Powerful Coaches’ list. We think Les Miles will be a little up the food chain after his recent raise!

 

 

Sometimes, it was that good: SEC Top 10 moments

But sometimes, the SEC really was that good.

Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel enlivened our souls, Alabama and Georgia played the best SEC Championship Game in recent memory, the SEC got another National Championship entrant (and favorite!), there were crazy atmospheres in Death Valley, Williams-Brice and The Swamp, and Will Muschamp did wonders at Florida. And Les Miles offered to kiss you on the lips. Which is pretty awesome.

The song: Nelly’s “The Champ”…

10. College Gameday, College Gameday, College Gameday

Talk about a recruitment tool. ESPN College Gameday could have just lived on our campuses after the amount of exposure it gave to the conference with the best preview show in sports. Not only was there Alabama-Michigan, but also Chris Fowler and friends went to South Carolina, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Florida, LSU, and the SEC Championship Game. That’s pretty amazing, if you think about it. And all the crowds not only behaved brilliantly, but were raucous throughout. Moment of the year? Brian Kelly getting booed by the SEC Championship Crowd!! Free Boosie!!!

9. The Best SEC Championship Game. Ever.

At the end of the season when the naysayers are saying you’re overrated, sometimes you need to show ’em how damned good the conference is. Alabama and Georgia was the best college football game of the year, let alone in the SEC. After 60 minutes, Georgia was just five yards away from making it to Miami and redemption. This was incredible. And we also got to see Mark Richt get mad at the reporters – at last! If you haven’t seen the game, watch it. It’s worth DVRing for post-January, when there’s nothing to do and you hate basketball.

8. Jadeveon Clowney or Jarvis Jones: Take your pick.

Jadeveon Clowney and Jarvis Jones were HANDS-DOWN the best defenders in the SEC this year. If there was a pair of players more dominant in college football, then please let us know. Jones dominated the biggest game of Georgia’s game against Florida, while Clowney dominated….all season again. The crowning moment has to be Clowney’s game-saving sack of Tyler Bray and force fumble in the emotional end of the game against Tennessee. Although Jarvis Jones’ strip of Jordan Reed comes close.

7. Ole Miss, er, Rises Again.

Using words like ‘Rise Again’ around Oxford, MS is probably not the way to go, but we’re not talking about a bunch of racists, we’re talking about Ole Miss’ football team, which went from a no-win SEC season to a bowl season, which included beating the living Reb out of Mississippi State in the process. And you know what? Ole Miss could have been even better this year. They were beaten on THREE game-ending drives (LSU, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt), although they managed to get one back (game-ending field goal against Arkansas). With Bo Wallace as the QB, this could be fun!

6. The Boys From Ole Florida

Before the season, we thought Florida would be the third – or even maybe the fourth- best team in the SEC East. Yes, they’d make a bowl game, but that was about. And despite having an offense that was offensive to watch (and not in a good way), Florida’s defense was absolutely dominant (see South Carolina for details), and only a Jordan Reed fumble away from the SEC Championship Game. Jeff Driskel will assure us that UF’s offense is going to be a lot better in 2013, while Mike Gillislee is going to be fun to watch in the pros. Especially if he can be as heroic as he was in 2012 for the Gators. Enjoy the Sugar Bowl.

5. Texas A&M and Missouri, Welcome To The Show

2012 was the year that we welcomed the Tigers and the Aggies to the SEC with love in our hearts and two new places to go tailgating to in our minds. Although Missouri struggled, thanks to an undersized offensive line that couldn’t deal with SEC pass rushing, Texas A&M prospered, pulling off one of the coups of the year beating Alabama….on the road. And some guy called Johnny Manziel got the Heisman.

4. Alabama & The Crystal Ball

LSU should have beaten them. Georgia got five yards away from beating them. But it didn’t happen. Nick Saban’s team is fired up, and on the way to Miami to play Notre Dame for it all. Although it might be argued that Florida probably had a better resume as a one-loss team, Alabama won the title and so that’s that. Nick Saban’s program just keeps on getting better and better, and this can only be frightening for the rest of college football.

3. Les Miles Loves You!

He implores you to kiss someone on the mouth. And remember, Death Valley’s where dreams come home to die. Unless you’re, er, LSU against Alabama. Miles went through the season frustratingly, amusingly, and awesomely. Les Miles: We love you. Even if a lot of LSU fans don’t.

2. The Usual Incredible Atmosphere

Williams-Brice, South Carolina for the Georgia game. Neyland Stadium, Tennessee for the game against Florida. Death Valley, LSU for the Alabama game. The Swamp, Florida for the LSU game. The Cocktail Party. Every game at Texas A&M and it’s nutty 12th man and traditions. The SEC Championship Game. Incredible atmospheres. THIS is why we love the SEC.

1. Johnny Heisman

We would talk a lot about how wonderful Johnny Manziel is. We could talk about the mazy runs, the great arms, the leadership, the Heisman. We could talk about how he made every lineman he played against look stupid, and maybe even a little insecure. Instead, shut us up and play this link, will you?

Sometimes, it wasn’t that good: Bottom 10 SEC Moments

Don’t worry friends, we’ll get to our ‘Top SEC Moments’ this week, so you can remember fondly the great season that we’ve had a conference (unless you’re Auburn, Tennessee or Kentucky, who combined for 1 conference win between them).

But to go up, sometimes you have to start from the bottom. Here are our Bottom 10 SEC Moments (both off and on the field)….

Our song? Oh: Fun’s ‘Some Nights’….

10) The Fall of Auburn

There was nothing nice to say about Auburn football in 2012. They won no games in their conference. They came close at home to LSU, but that was about it. Otherwise, they completely and utterly stunk. Kiehl Frazier justified his ranking as the SEC’s worst quarterback, and the fans simply stopped coming along. It was tragic. Gene Chizik ran the table in the SEC in 2010-1, and then was run out of the SEC in 2012. Welcome back, Gus Malzahn.

9) Et thou, Kentucky?

We put Kentucky just above Auburn in our celebration of SEC awfulness because they should have beaten Georgia and outplayed South Carolina for a half. Otherwise, they were terrible and Joker Phillips quite rightly lost his jobs. Welcome, Mark Stoops.

8) Arkansas awfulnesss

Once ranked in the Top Ten, the Arkansas Razorbacks were meant to make a run for the SEC West title, and  possible (just possibly) a BCS spot. Knile Davis was back. Tyler Wilson was the quarterback. Cobi Hamilton was the wide receiver. This offense was going to be a lot of fun under Bobby Petrino. Unfortunately for Hog Nation, this wasn’t the only thing under Bobby Petrino. In August, Petrino was involved in a motorcycle crash….and then lied about the student assistant who he was having an affair with. He was fired, and replaced by John L. Smith. Smith provided a lot of fun for the TV cameras, but not a lot of fun on the field. Sorry John, but we can’t smile about the Razorbacks season. Maybe Bret Bielema will be doing better.

7) Zach Mettenberger

If there’s been a bigger let-down quarterback that Zach Mettenberger in the SEC, then please let us know. This tall, strong-armed quarterback was meant to bring LSU to the promised land this year, but in the first half of this year, was absolutely awful. There wasn’t another QB who could overthrow his wide receivers quite like this LSU Tiger did. At Death Valley, we hear that they nearly put warning signs on the sidelines and end-zones when LSU was driving, just in case someone was hurt by the errant throw. Funnily enough, he came good against Alabama and has been pretty good ever since, but he was still a let-down.

6) Mississippi State’s fall from grace

Mississippi State was unbeaten going into Alabama, and everyone thought: “Maybe Dan Mullen’s team won’t be overrated this year”. They were. After a 7-0 start, the Cowbellers lost four out of their last five, including getting blown out by a born-again Ole Miss. But it wasn’t just that. MSU were terrible in the losing run. My only question: How in God’s name did they get their No.11 ranking in the first place? By playing nobody??

5) The let-down that was Dorial Green-Beckham

Dorial Green-Beckham came in at Missouri as the No.1 player in the country. He was athletically brilliant – a no miss, wide receiver. He ended up with 395 yards receiving and 5 TDs, and only 28 receptions. He didn’t have one game of over 7 receptions. Criminally underused? Oh, and he was suspended for the Vanderbilt game for – you guessed it – smoking weed near the school’s stadium. Anyway, we should get a big future out of him next year (early prediction), but this year, Gary Pinkel could have used him more and helped Missouri get a bowl game. Maybe.

4) No unbeatens

On one hand, this shows the strength of the SEC, but on the other hand, it shows that no-one was good enough to run the table this year. No team was particularly amazing in the conference, but we’re pleased to see that the conference’s track record has meant Alabama in the SEC Championship. Oh, and thanks to Stanford and Baylor, too!

3) Rocky Top, Tennessee

Everything was rocky about Tennessee this year. After beating NC State at the start of the year, people started thinking: “Maybe Tennessee could be a dark horse for the SEC title this year”. They weren’t. Truth be told, this wasn’t the worst Tennessee side in recent years that Derek Dooley has coached. They came close in a lot of games, losing two by three points, one by seven points, and they led Florida. Having said that, Tyler Bray continually made bad decisions despite having an excellent offensive line, his wide receivers dropped the ball waaaay to much, and the defense quite simply gave up at the end of the year (see Blowout at Vanderbilt for details). Derek Dooley, who was hated in Neyland by many going into the season, was summarily fired. Oh, and there was the small butt-chugging incident, too, which meant one of the most hilarious denials in the history of hilarious denials. Welcome, Butch Jones…don’t bring any boxed wine.

2)  Tyrann Mathieu Honey Badgers himself

12 months ago, we were cursing ourselves because Tyrann Mathieu didn’t get the Heisman Trophy. 12 months ago, we were replaying highlight reels of Tyrann Mathieu, using the words: “Game changer”, “NFL prospect”, “Incredible”, and asking ourselves questions like: “How on earth does he do that?” Now, we’re asking the question: “How could such an incredibly athletic, game-changing NFL prospect get himself in such trouble over and over again? How on earth does he do that?” Tyrann Mathieu destroyed his own legacy at LSU. And worst of all, he destroyed himself. Here’s to hoping we see you play again, Tyrann Mathieu. But here’s to praying you don’t end up in a very bad way.

 

1) Marcus Lattimore’s saddening exit

Lattimore’s career should not have ended like this. No athlete’s career should have ended like this, but least of all Lattimore, who was looking to rebound after a horrific injury in 2011 took him out. The image that still haunts us is the shocked look of Lattimore’s family, and the prayers of both the South Carolina and Tennessee players. God….

 

SEC Bowl Predictions: From National Championship Downwards

“Some of the SEC’s the best in the country, and some of the SEC’s The Sun Belt”, a SEC fan told us over cold beverages before the SEC Championship game.

Well, the Sun Belt’s out boys – right now it’s the bowl-making elite – which this year includes Ole Miss. Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama make up the rest of the spots. In other news: Could the SEC West be any stronger?

Anyways, here are your bowl predictions for the SEC teams – in order of the games we FIND THE MOST INTERESTING. Sorry if this gets you confused.

The song for the day’s “Funny The Way It Is” , by the Dave Matthews Band.

1) Alabama vs Notre Dame (National Championship Game) – Jan. 7 (Miami)

Alabama squeaked by Georgia and LSU to get in the National Championship Game, while Notre Dame squeaked by (deep breath) Purdue, Stanford and Pittsburgh to get their spot. The Irish actually won well on the road, beating Michigan State, Oklahoma and once-No.1 USC, and impressed with a solid defense, led by Manti Te’o. The question: Will it be any match for the Alabama offensive line, behind which Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon could do the same sort of damage that they did in the SEC Championship Game. If Notre Dame stop the run, then they are going to put the game into AJ McCarron’s hands. Amari Cooper will cause Brian Kelly fits. On the other side of the ball, Everett Golson could prove to be ‘Johnny Manziel-type’ QB that Nick Saban despises….if Notre Dame’s offensive line can deal with Alabama’s pressure. This one’s going to be intriguing.

BOTTOM LINE: Alabama wins their third of the decade…..by 10.

2) Texas A&M vs Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl, Dallas) – Jan 1

Johnny Manziel won the Heisman, Aggies fans. We get it. But now that Kliff Kingsbury’s bolted to be head coach at Texas Tech….will that hurt the Aggies? Bob Stoops and his quarterback Landry Jones sure hope so. Don’t get us wrong, Jones has got the arm to put A&M’s secondary under some trouble – and with Justin Brown and Kenny Stills as his wide receives, the Sooners are going to score some points through the air. They’d better do, because Damontre Moore and the Aggies ‘D’ is going to eat a poor Sooners running game alive. Oh, and as for the Aggies? We think they’ll be fine. This, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be fun.

BOTTOM LINE: Texas A&M wins by 3 in a shoot-out.

3) LSU vs Clemson (Chick-fil-A Bowl, Atlanta) – Dec 31

Soooo…..anyone for some chicken? Anyway, LSU and Clemson come into this game after having far loftier expectations. Both Clemson and LSU were thought of as being contenders for BCS spots, but both of them lost early and never really regained their composure. This doesn’t mean that this one’s not going to be fun, though. Clemson hasn’t got a great defense, and it’s going to get run over by LSU’s running back stable of Hill, Ware and Blue. Having said that, LSU’s secondary could get torched by Mssrs. Boyd, Hopkins and Watkins, who are some of the best receivers in college football. Silly as this sounds, Zach Mettenberger could get himself some early Heisman buzz if he has a good game in this one (he’d be insane to bolt for the NFL now), and against Clemson’s ‘D’, this could quite easily happen.

BOTTOM LINE: LSU’s brawn and ability to play some D catches up with the Tigers. LSU by 7 in another classic.

4) South Carolina vs Michigan (Outback Bowl, Tampa) – Jan 1

We can’t wait to see what manner of destruct Jadeveon Clowney reeks up Michigan’s offensive line. Clowney – who should have been a Heisman contender in our eyes – was frighteningly good this season against some of the best offensive lines in college football – and Michigan’s isn’t. Saying that, if Brady Hoke can take on board Clowney’s naked aggression, and throw small slants to Michigan’s receivers a la Mettenberger in the So.Carolina vs LSU game, then Steve Spurrier’s got some problems. On the other side of the ball, Connor Shaw’s ability to make things happen with his feet should give Gamecocks fans some comfort in the absence of Marcus Lattimore, but it’s going to be a massive hole.

BOTTOM LINE: South Carolina wins this one by 7. 

5) Georgia vs Nebraska (Capital One Bowl, Orlando) – Jan 1

Nebraska’s defense gave up 70 against a good rushing attack last time out (Wisconsin). Georgia (with Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall), has one would describe as a good rushing attack. It also has a good throwing attack – especially with Aaron Murray needing to prove that he can perform well against a ranked opponent (he hasn’t in recent memory (sorry folks, but we still think his performance against Alabama left much to be desired). The defence, led by Jarvis Jones, is pretty useful too. Georgia should be able to contain Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead. Having said that, did you see Martinez’ TD in the Big Ten Championship Game? Wow.

BOTTOM LINE: Georgia wins by 17 in a game over by the fourth quarter.

6) Mississippi State vs Northwestern (Gator Bowl, Jacksonville) – Jan 1

There’s no way to describe Mississippi State’s fall from grace as any way other than goddawful. Dan Mullen’s side lost four of its last five games, and was obliterated against local rival Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Northwestern, on the other side, have beaten Vanderbilt from the SEC already this year, and will be looking for more. And while we believe Tyler Russell’s a better QB than people give him credit for, Northwestern’s got Venric Mark, who’s a fantastic return special (he was an All-American), running back, and quarterback who could give MSU even more fits.

BOTTOM LINE: We’re going with the upset. Northwestern by 3 in a fantastic lunchtime game.

7) Vanderbilt vs NC State (Music City Bowl, Nashville) – Dec 31

Vandy vs NC State’s never going to get anyone whetting their loins, but the good news for those Music City people is that we might just get a pretty good attendance. Nashville’s a pretty good place for New Year, and NC State fans won’t have too far away to travel. Nor will Vanderbilt fans – although being at a rich private school will mean that a lot of students won’t be there because they are busy at some posh country club do (Jeez…do I sound resentful??). Anyway, Vandy had a great season, coming from 0-2 to get their second straight bowl season – the first time this has happened in the school’s history. Although Vandy’s season was put completely into the dark by NC State’s remarkable takedown of Florida State, which was quite possibly the Upset Of The Season. A lot of people will be looking to see if Mike Glennon’s ‘got it’ as a future NFL quarterback, so Vanderbilt’s secondary can expect some work.

BOTTOM LINE: NC State with the upset! State wins by 3!

8) Florida vs Louisville (Sugar Bowl, New Orleans) – Jan 2

Sorry: We don’t find the match-up of Florida and Louisville that great to watch. The only way we would – and this is never the case in bowl games – if Louisville was at home. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville’s quarterback, is  great. There’s no denying it. But having said that, Teddy Bridgewater has never dealt with a defense like Florida’s, which has been brilliant this year. Louisville’s defense is pretty mediocre itself, which might mean that Florida scores more than, er, 10. The big question: Will anyone be awake watching it? We probably won’t be – particularly as we’re going for the Jack Daniel’s to get through this one.

BOTTOM LINE: Florida wins by 14 in an un-exciting game.

9) Ole Miss vs Pittsburgh (Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Alabama) – Jan 5

While the Compass Bowl organisers will be happy because Ole Miss has an incredible fanbase and should fill out their allocation in the  3-hour drive to Birmingham, Alabama, Pittsburgh will not sell out its allocation. In fact, we’re going to struggle to care about this, because a) We will be suffering from bowl exhaustion (and after our diet over the Christmas period, probably bowel exhaustion as well) b) Pittsburgh has been virtually unwatchable this year, and when we really needed them to make us happy (ie against Notre Dame), they didn’t and c) We think Ole Miss is going to roll. Don’t get us wrong, Hugh Freeze has put together a suddenly delightful program that had us kicking and screaming along the way (they lost some real heartbreakers this season, didn’t they?), and Bo Wallace is certainly looking like a SEC quarterback of the future.

BOTTOM LINE: Ole Miss wins by 17 in a game that gets out of hand midway through the fourth.

We predict that the SEC’s record will be 8-1. 

SEC Football Blog’s All-SEC team

Sorry we’ve been out of touch…..we’ve been at the SEC Championship Game (did we mention that?), and running around.

Anyway, since we’ve been gone a bit, we’d like to point out a few things:

1) We’re still on the fence about whether we’re rooting for Alabama, Notre Dame, or nobody at the National Championship Game.

2) Well done to Johnny Manziel for winning the Heisman. Great for Texas A&M, and great for SEC Football to have a Heisman winner (again). However, Collin Klein probably had a better body of work, but Manziel beat Alabama. And if anyone beats Alabama, they deserve plaudits. Speaking of that, how on earth does Manti Te’o get to New York but Jadeveon Clowney and Jarvis Jones NOT get a look-in? Come on, guys!!

3) Great hires by Arkansas to get Brett Bielema, and Tennessee to get Butch Jones. Both very competent coaches. What does it say about the SEC that they can get someone with the stature of Bielema to leave the Big Ten and come join an Arkansas team that has up to now been a poor relation of LSU and Alabama (and this season almost everybody else, too!). The Butch Jones hire might not have been Charlie Strong from Louisville, but Tennessee will rebuild under Jones – and he’s done wonders at Cincinnati

Anyway, here’s our All-SEC team on both sides of the ball. Enjoy!!

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK  

Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M): I’d sit there and put up a crap load about Johnny Football’s stats, tell you how he’s almost singlehandedly put A&M in the limelight, or he took the Aggies from SEC wannabe to SEC contender or I’ll just give you two words: Johnny. Heisman. No-one can argue that one QB has done more for his program this year in the SEC – and maybe in college football. Oh, and Florida’s Jeff Driskel, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Georgia’s Aaron Murray? Y’all had good seasons too. Auburn’s Kiehl Frazier? Not so much.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall (Georgia) – ‘Gurshall’ meant one thing: Isaiah Crowell who??
  • Eddie Lacy/TJ Yeldon (Alabama) – One guy said on Twitter: “You’ve got TJ Yeldon for two years. Good luck!” I agree. Lacy’s performance in the SEC Championship Game was something special, too.
  • Also: LSU RB pairing of Jeremy Hill/Spencer Ware, Florida’s Mike Gillislee, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, and Johnny Manziel were up for consideration, too. And what happened to Arkansas’ Knile Davis this season?

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • Cobi Hamilton was something special all season long. He was the bright spot in an otherwise goddawful Razorbacks season.
  • Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews was a real difference-maker for Vanderbilt too in their bowl run….
  • Also: Alabama’s Amari Cooper is going to be frightening in the future (he’s already pretty great now!), Ryan Swope at Texas A&M’s good enough to go to the NFL and be a success, and Chad Bumphis (Mississippi State) and Donte Moncrief (Ole Miss) were stand-outs in the State of Mississippi. Catch of the year still goes to LSU’s Jarvis Landry at Arkansas, though…
TIGHT END
  • Jordan Reed (Florida) has been outstanding for the Florida Gators in their one-loss, Sugar Bowl-making season. The best TE in the SEC.
OFFENSIVE LINESMEN
Here, we’re going to go with the best units rather than the best players. That’s because we don’t really identify one person and go “hey, he’s really amazing!!!” , when it’s the unit that gives a team success. 
  • A lot of people are going to talk up Alabama and Texas A&M‘s offensive lines, which is quite right. They were immense. But guess which offensive line gave away the least sacks in the SEC? Tennessee’s. Even though the Vols played a tough schedule, the offensive line stood firm. Which means we can blame it all on Erik Ainge and his wide receivers that couldn’t catch a darned ball!
DEFENSE
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
  • DAMONTRE Moore (Texas A&M) – Second in the SEC in sacks (7), and a frightening proposal for any offensive linesman.
  • She Richardson (Missouri) – The SEC’s best defensive tackle. Had the practise, too – since Missouri rarely put a good drive together (unless they were playing Tennessee!)
DEFENSIVE ENDS
  • Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) – This man destroyed offensive lines all season long and should have been in the conversation for a Heisman. There you go.
  • Sam Montgomery (LSU) – Big Sam can take over games, and when he’s not being held (see the Alabama game for details, because it happened a lot), he’s a destructive influence. An intelligent pass-rusher, he’s got a bright NFL future.
LINEBACKERS
  • Jarvis Jones (Georgia) – Playmaker? Tick. Sack Machine? Tick. Team leader? Tick. Tackling maestro? Tick. Should have been a Heisman Candidate but wasn’t? Tick. Going to make a lot of money in the NFL? Tick.
  • A.J. Johnson (Tennessee) – A lot of people would love to rule this kid out, but he led the SEC in tackles this year. By 16. In a horrible season for the Vols, Johnson stood out mightily.
  • Kevin Minter (LSU) – Minter had great game after great game for LSU, and took over the Florida game before he was hurt. And although he played on, he wasn’t the same person – and the Tigers lost in Gainesville. He might well go to the NFL this year, but  if he’s bright, he’ll wait a year and pick up some big time money in the first round of 2014.
  • We also considered Alec Ogletree (Georgia) (Let’s think about his numbers if he hadn’t been banned for four games, shall we?), Alabama’s CJ Moseley Kentucky’s Avery Williamson. Williamson lastly had a tremendously productive year for UK, despite being on a team that was permanently uncared for.
CORNERBACK
  • Dee Milliner (Alabama) – Will Milliner stay in college or will he go pro? SEC quarterbacks are hoping (and praying) for the latter.
  • Andre Hal (Vanderbilt) – A lot has been made of Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, and we agree, he’s a great player. But Hal had 11 pass break-ups and 2 INTs this year for the Commodores. And Banks this season may have won the Jim Thorpe award for the country’s best defensive back, but as this site said, he disappeared a bit during MSU’s horrible late-season run. Hal did not. Therefore, we’re giving an All-SEC award to Hal this season, although him and Banks are pretty much interchangeable.
SAFETIES
  • Matt Elam (Florida)  – Elam was one of the reasons why Will Muschamp was jumping so much on the sideline. He was sensational all season long. Was there a better safety in college football? Nope. Deservedly named in an AP All-American.
  • Eric Reid (LSU) – Reid is exceptionally talented. There’s no argument about that. His 62 tackles rank at the top of the SEC and he was a floating danger for any quarterback out there. Which made it so irritating when he was penalized for stupid personal foul penalties, or missed his man completely. Which rarely happened.
  • We would have put Bacarri Rambo (Georgia) in Eric Reid’s place, if he hadn’t been suspended for the first four games of the season for pot brownies. Ramob – like Reid – is going to make a lot of money in the pros.

 

Is the SEC really the country’s greatest conference?

I saw this article by Saturday Down South about the SEC Championship Game and how the gap between the SEC and rest of college football was widening.

I’d like to point out – even as a SEC homer – that there are some corrections to be made:

1) If you watched the ACC game, you saw tarps covering large sections of the upper deck coupled with plenty of Carolina Panther-blue empty seats throughout the stands. Most estimates put the crowd size in the 30,000-40,000 range. The Big Ten Championship attendance was reported to be around the 41,000 mark. The Pac-12 Championship Game was hosted on-campus at Stanford on a Friday night and pulled around 31,000 fans. At least the Pac-12 recognizes it can’t support a neutral site venue at this point and maintains an on-campus venue each year. – If you’d seen the weather at Stanford, you would have respected Stanford fans – not the best at going to games – for at least coming out. It was horrific. UCLA fans aren’t great travellers anyway, especially with Friday night California traffic. Why did they have the game on a Friday, anyway. Charlotte for a ACC game is a great spot – although it’s a long way to go for FSU and GT fans – especially when GT is at best weak this year and FSU’s interest in a National Title’s gone. The SEC Championship Game is in Atlanta, which is 3 hours for Bama fans and is a local game for the UGA faithful – and students. Plus, it’s in a Dome so the weather’s perfect! And the fact that it was a big-time game helped matters, too! The point about the Pac-12 and the fact that it ‘can’t support a neutral site at the moment’ is true…. Apart from USC, Pac-12 fans aren’t great travellers – although the distances are far bigger than our beloved SEC!

2) A successful conference championship game requires teams worthy of winning a championship. This is true – but 6-6 Georgia Tech and 7-5 Wisconsin WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN IN THE GAME if Miami and Ohio State hadn’t had ‘issues’ with the NCAA. And note that SDS doesn’t mention Florida State or Nebraska, who were worthy winners of their respective divisions. What does SDS expect? Not having the conference championship??

3) My buddy, a die-hard UGA and SEC fan, says this: ‘At the top, the SEC is the best conference in college football, but at the bottom, we’re Sun Belt’. Having seen Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Auburn and Tennessee prodigiously this seen, it’s hard not to agree. All four are awful. Mississippi State proved to be hugely overrated. Ole Miss might be competitive, but they might have also benefitted from a poor conference. Vanderbilt lost to Northwestern (Heeeeeey! They’re a bowl team!!). And Missouri’s so bad, it just beat Tennessee in overtime.

4) But there are parts of the article we agree on: The SEC simply has more of these elite programs than any other conference. And that’s why the SEC is the best. The SEC isn’t the best because the best team in the SEC can beat any other team in the country by 40. The SEC is the best because they have 5 or 6 teams that can handily beat or compete against every team in the country. South Carolina vs Notre Dame? Yeah, it’d probably be a good game. Florida vs Oregon? I’d love to see it. Alabama vs Kansas State? Done. You me both, SDS!!

5) And as for the bowl match-ups, I’m sorry bowl people, but we agree with ‘Saturday Down South’ – I’m not going to be watching Florida/Louisville unless I’m dating Ms Kentucky and she’s a Louisville fan… Why are fans upset about the bowl matchups? Because instead of seeing Florida take on a team like Oregon, we have to watch them take on Louisville. Instead of seeing Florida State take on a team like LSU, we have to watch them play Northern Illinois. We want powerhouse vs powerhouse. Having said that, we’re pretty happy about Alabama/Notre Dame, South Carolina/Michigan and Nebraska/Georgia. These are all going to be a lot of fun.

SEC Championship Game: A new respect for Richt

It took a couple of days for the fog to clear after quite the weekend in Atlanta for the SEC Football Blog and best friend Alex Ferguson, who’s a writer for Sky Sports.com in the UK.

To cut a long story short, we met in Athens, Ga. for a Bulldogs game, drank shots together, and have been corresponding ever since. Anyway, we’ve put together this blog, and he sometimes corresponds. When he’s not, you know, being a journalist.

Anyway, you all know what happened in the SEC Championship Game: It was one of the best games we’ve ever seen. The sad thing about classics like this – and there are always classics in the SEC season – is that someone had to lose. Unfortunately – as it always seems to be when there’s something big on the line and it’s a heartbreaker – it was the Georgia Bulldogs.

But Mark Richt’s conversation during the after-game press conference gave us new respect for Mark Richt, who’s often attacked for not being passionate enough.

Here’s the alteraction with the journalist:

Q: There are some people whether it’s fans, media or whomever else that will maybe want to make further conclusions about you or your quarterback, specifically, in big games.  Would you have any response to those people?

COACH RICHT:  I don’t know what you’re saying.  Why don’t you just say it straight up what you’re trying to say.

Q.  People will say that you and Aaron Murray specifically come up short on the biggest stage against the biggest opponents?

COACH RICHT:  Is that what you’re saying or everybody else ‑‑ if that’s what you’re saying ‑‑ are you saying that.

Q.  No, I’m saying I hear that every day ‑‑

COACH RICHT:  Well, that’s for you to worry about then.  If that’s what you say, then I’ll answer the question.  If you think other people are saying that, I’m not worried about that.

He then leaves the press conference…..And then comes back, taking off the Nick Saban sign….

I want to say something else, if anybody thinks our guys didn’t play their tail off and Aaron Murray didn’t play his tail off, they are crazy.  That’s unbelievable somebody would even bring that up.

Stir Up The Echoes, Because We’re Facing Notre Dame: SEC Final Power Rankings

Wow. It’s all come so quickly.

After only three months, the college football season is effectively over. Yes, there’s the SEC Championship Game, bowl games and the small thing called the National Championship Game is over, but there are no more SEC night games. There are no more big stadiums with parking lots filled with people cooking gumbo, drinking bourbon, and generally having a damned good time. The pageantry is over.

We do know one thing: We are not going to see an all-SEC National Championship Game. Notre Dame saw to that, but taking care of Lane Kiffin’s USC in Los Angeles.

But the question is is: Who’s going to play the Irish – Alabama or Georgia?

Stir up the echoes, folks, because Saturday’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Anyways, here are your SEC Rankings to end the season:

1) Alabama – Because the Crimson Tide destroyed Auburn, and they are second in the country. Let’s not talk about the resume too loudly, for fear that someone from the BCS might look at their computer again (whisper).

2) Georgia – No-one’s playing better football in the country than Georgia at the moment, who thumped Georgia Tech in Good Ole Fashioned Hate on Saturday afternoon. If Georgia can work at up-tempo offense, they could have Alabama struggling on Saturday.

3) Florida – We didn’t see the Gators’ victory at Florida State coming. If opposite QBs keep giving a defense like the Gators gifts (and let’s face it, they have been doing all season long!), then expect Mike Gillislee & Co to snap it right up. Florida could also have a case for going to the National Championship ahead of Alabama or Georgia – particularly with their body of work. If Georgia loses.

4) LSU – Struggled to a win over Arkansas in the best SEC game of the week. Jarvis Landry’s catch was the highlights of the day, week, month and year. Florida not losing also assured the Tigers that they aren’t going to a BCS game this year. No Sugar, Baton Rouge.

5) Texas A&M- Is anyone flying higher than the Aggies and Johnny Manziel at the moment? Nope, didn’t think so. The biggest thing for the 12th Man could still happen…. Manziel wins a Heisman. The next thing already happened at Thanksgiving – Texas lost to TCU at home!

6)  South Carolina – The Gamecocks had a hard-fought victory over Clemson, completing a 4-0 SEC rout over the ACC. The Gamecocks weren’t brilliant, but their defense absolutely stifled the Tigers. Jadeveon Clowney made an All-American appearance, sacking Tajh Boyd four times in an incredible performance.

7) Vanderbilt – Went to Wake Forest and happily thumped the Demon Deacons. James Franklin is building a good program, but when will they beat one of the SEC big boys (we don’t count Tennessee in that equation anymore!)?

8) Ole Miss – Some people on Twitter got a little annoyed when Ole Miss fans invaded the field to celebrate the Rebels win over Mississippi State, but for us, this was great. When you beat your hated rival, you need to be able to jump on the field. Oh, and Hugh Freeze can forget about worshipping Jesus: The man IS Jesus this weekend. He’s helped to resurrect a program that this time last year, was a national joke.

9) Mississippi State – Hard to quantify how bad Dan Mullen’s side looked last night… Let’s just say that they were cowbell’d and leave it at that, shall we? But all in all, a disappointing season for State, who looked more ‘Fail’ than ‘Hail’ in this Egg Bowl match-up. Tyler Russell needs a better offensive line.

10) Missouri – They are only here because they beat Tennessee in overtime. The Tigers were slaughtered at Texas A&M on Saturday, looking as though they stopped trying during the game. Gary Pinkel’s seat may have become a little warmer.

11) Tennessee – Because they thumped Kentucky.

12) Arkansas – A hard-fought LSU loss means one thing for us: Why didn’t the Razorback team – and its defense – play like this for John L. Smith all season long?

13) Auburn – Gene Chizik should go. ‘Nuff said.

14) Kentucky – Joker Phillips has already gone. ‘Nuff said.

 

 

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