Kentucky Archives

The quick SEC preview: How they’ll finish

We have a job outside of the SEC Blog now, so we haven’t been able to write up a preview for each team. And going by how many of you read our previews, it’s probably a good idea we’re going to discontinue the practice.

HOWEVER, we’re going with a quick SEC preview. We’ll order the teams in the conference and tell you why they are in that order. Some might surprise you, while others you might agree with. Maybe.

SEC WEST

1. Alabama – Going to beat LSU in a super-close game, smash Ole Miss this time, and squeak by Tennessee. Go to the College Football Play-Off

2. LSU – Actually could go to the CFB Play-Off too, even without winning the division. The only loss? Alabama. Again. Which means Les Miles is back on the hot seat.

3. Texas A&M – Trevor Knight’s a steady quarterback, the defense – led by Myles Garrett – could be ‘under-the-radar’ good, and the wide receivers…oh, the wide receivers….

4. Ole Miss – Going to feel the losses of Laquon, Laremy and Robert. The off-the-field stuff doesn’t help morale either – despite the amount Hugh Freeze will rabbit on about controlling what you can control.

5. Arkansas – I’m not hugely in love with a team that’s having to replace its starting QB AND its best running back.

6. Auburn – News that Sean White taking the job as starting quarterback doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. There will be flying tomatoes if he sucks, folks.

7. Mississippi State – Dan Mullen wants to be somewhere else, and the team knows it. That won’t play through nicely, and this might be the year it shows. Plus, Dak Prescott’s not with the team anymore, which is going to hurt.

SEC EAST

  1. Tennessee – This was a toss-up between the Vols and Georgia, but I’m going UT because of the talent at wide receiver, and the fact that UGA has a first-time coach. Battles with Tennessee, Florida and Alabama don’t make the schedule pretty.
  2. Georgia – If Nick Chubb and Sony Michel can start and stay healthy, this could be a dangerous team. And if Jacob Eason’s good, a VERY dangerous team. The revenge game against Tennessee will be a blast.
  3. Florida – The SEC (on the top of it) is interchangeable, it seems, so we’ll see how it works out. Spurrier coming is a guru could make things exciting in The Swamp. The team just has to stay out of jail.
  4. Missouri – The defence is gonna be good, folks, and the offence can’t get any worse, can it?
  5. Kentucky – Because Mark Stoops is doing some good things with the Wildcats. This won’t be a great team, though.
  6. Vanderbilt – I really, really like this defence. The offense? Notsomuch.
  7. South Carolina – This team will be a trainwreck for at least a year. Look for the scorching by Clemson to get tongues wagging in the Palmetto State over whether Will Muschamp was the right man for the damned job in the first place.

SEC Championship Game

Alabama drills Tennessee because Nick Saban didn’t like the fact that the game was so close at Neyland Stadiun and Lane Kiffin’s tired of UT fans giving him shit, so he runs up the score a little. Bo Scarborough runs wild, and books himself into the Heisman conversation.

Texas A&M aren’t gonna be that bad, are they?

The preseason predictions for Texas A&M are dire. Already, Kevin Sumlin’s on the hotseat, and people are calling for a 6-6, 7-5 season.

But actually, things might not be that bad – and the Aggies could be the surprise team in the SEC West.

The SEC Blog previews the Aggies….

LAST SEASON 

The Aggies started the season 5-0 – including a crazy OT win over Arkansas in JerryWorld, but then lost 41-23 at home to Alabama….and it wasn’t that close. They followed that crippling loss by getting spanked by 20 at Ole Miss, just beating South Carolina and losing by 16 at home to world-beaters Auburn. Two wins over Western Carolina and Vanderbilt hardly kept the haters at bay, and then a season-ending loss to LSU on Les Miles Farewell Game and then a 27-21 loss to Louisville in the Music City Bowl finished the season with a 8-5 record….with the only wins of any note were the Arizona State game to start the season (ASU was ranked No.18 at the time – although by the end, the Sun Devils were pretty terrible) and the Arkansas win.

OFFSEASON

The offseason wasn’t helped by two of its star quarterbacks – Kyle Allen and Khyler Murray – taking the decision to leave College Station, alongside linesman Germain Ifeldi, who was drafted in the first round by the Seattle Seahawks. Elsewhere CB Brandon Williams was taken third round by the Cardinals, and Drew Kaser’s going to be the next best punter in the NFL (taken sixth round by the Chargers). Oh, and as undrafted free agents go, Tra Carson is a Cincinnati Bengal, OG Joseph Cheek and CB De’Vante Harris are Saints, and C Mike Matthews is a Cleveland Brown.

Recruiting-wise, Texas A&M was ranked 18th nationally but 8th in the SEC, which is already meaning the fires are burning in College Station, since winning the recruiting war – especially against Texas – is more important than life itself. Still, signing EIGHT four-star players ain’t bad, including DE Justin Madubuike, who’s going to be awesome for The Chief either this year or next.

The Aggies also brought in Trevor Knight from Oklahoma to play QB in January, which could be a steadying influence if he finds the excellence of his Sugar Bowl-winning performance against Alabama. He’s certainly going to have a very big cheerleader in the stands. Things aren’t highly expected of him, so he could well deliver. There’s also the arrival of RB Keith Ford from the same school- although everybody will be watching out for his off-the-field antics probably more than what they are like on the grass.

WHY IS EVERYONE SAYING TEXAS A&M’S GONNA BE TERRIBLE?

OK, so ‘terrible’ is a strong word, but people have already warmed up Kevin Sumlin’s seat going into 2016. The departure of the quarterbacks was definitely a big hit to Sumlin’s ego as well as his personnel, but the big issue for us isn’t even that – it’s the offensive line. Three starters are gone from a unit which sucked last year, and I’m sorry, but Brit right guard Jermaine Eluemunor doesn’t convince us either. This could be a horror show. A lot will be expected of the incredibly-named Kalvin Cline – who played in 23 games for Virginia Tech but none as a starter since 2016 – at tight end.

BUT CAN’T YOU LISTEN TO THE REASONS WHY THEY ARE GOING TO BE GOOD?

Listen haters, if Trevor Knight can get the ball out to his receiving corps, there’s gonna be hell to pay for defenses. Josh Reynolds, Christian Kirk and Ricky Seals-Jones are all ultra-talented gamebreakers. Speaking of gamebreakers, Kirk’s one of the best return men in the land, so he should set the Aggies up in good field position. Oh, and I’ve got more confidence in Trevor Knight than I did in either Allen or Murray. You should do.

Oh, and defensively, they might struggle at linebacker, but they’ve got a future first-rounder in Myles Garrett at defensive end, and nickel back Donovan Wilson’s pretty useful, too. And the defensive co-ordinator is exceptional in John Chavis.

THE SCHEDULE

This team could be 6-6, if you think they’ll lose to UCLA, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU and beat Auburn, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Prairie View, UTSA and New Mexico State. We think that they’ll beat UCLA and Arkansas and be a tidy 8-4. That’s pretty good.

Why did Mississippi State enroll a woman abuser?

I’m sorry if you don’t like harsh headlines, but this is a fact: Mississippi State today enrolled a person who abused a woman on its team.

Today, the school allowed defensive end Jeffrey Simmons onto campus despite Simmons’ arrest in March for striking a woman while she was on the ground during a fight.

Simmons made no effort to break up the woman-on-woman fight, but instead launched himself into it with both fists flying. He was arrested and booked for simple assault. Apparently in the land of Mississippi, that’s OK, because it was only a misdemeanour – despite Simmons’ obvious size advantage AND the woman was lying on the ground. He then ran away, which is neither here nor there. The damage was done. After he had finished, the woman was lying there, wondering what in the hell happened to her, and no-one was helping her up. Yes, we know that the woman was in a brawl with another woman, but Simmons could have split up the fight – easily. Instead, he took sides and went UFC on her.

WHY DID MULLEN ALLOWS SIMMONS TO COME TO CAMPUS?

The reason why Dan Mullen let Jeffrey Simmons come to Starkville was simple: Simmons is a five-star defensive end – the top player in the state – and Mississippi State wasn’t certain that other SEC schools (and he’d been recruited hard by Ole Miss and Alabama, and offered by Tennessee, Auburn, LSU and Vanderbilt) wouldn’t have snapped him up in a heartbeat. That’s because SEC head coaches – and it’s shown to be them particularly – really believe in second chances, especially for those guys who might really, really, help their program.

There’s a ‘serious misconduct’ rule that stops one player within the SEC transferring to another, but when the kid hasn’t stepped foot on campus, that rule becomes open to interpretation. And you KNOW SEC schools – and a bunch of other schools away the conference – would have found a way to try and get round it (although we can safely say not Miami, Penn State or Baylor).

The amusing thing was Mullen telling Simmons that he would be suspended for Mississippi State’s MASSIVE SET YOUR ESPN NOW BECAUSE THIS ONE’S BIGGER THAN ANY GAME YOU’LL SEE ON TV THAT WEEKEND game against mighty, mighty FCS South Alabama, who finished 5-7 last year. What then amused us was the school admitting Simmons “under conditions”, which include counselling, anger management classes, and a “No second chances” rule. With the final one, we expect that’ll happen unless he turns out to be really, really good.

WHAT WE THINK HAPPENED?

What we think happened is that there was some serious lobbying from Simmons’ family, church and high school all saying the same thing: “That was sooooo out of character. I can’t believe he did that.” We know nothing about Simmons, or his past history, so we’re inclined to believe that unless facts come out about his high school days that are different. Mississippi State then realized that Simmons really was a special kid and offered him the chance to play for the team.

WHAT SHOULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Apart from Mississippi Police charging him with serious assault and slinging him in jail (which really should have happened), Mullen should have taken the higher ground and decided not to take Simmons. And then the SEC should have stepped in and stopped Simmons coming to any other SEC school’s campus. And maybe he would have had to play in a community college for a year or two, or maybe he would have had to play for a much-lower rung team, but at least he would have learned that beating the crap out of women IS NOT THE WAY TO GO.

Because as it stands now, Mississippi State’s just sending the message: “We don’t give two craps whether you beat the crap out of  a woman. If you’re a five-star recruit, we got a cowbell waitin’ for ya!”

 

 

Was Ole Miss 2013 recruiting class worth the money?

If Ole Miss is found out more guilty than imposing losses of double-digit football scholarships between 2015-18 (inclusive), then let’s be honest: This team has certainly been worth the money.

Under Hugh Freeze’s tutelage, which started in 2012 (although 2013 was the first class), Ole Miss brought in one of the greatest recruiting classes ever assembled in Rebs’ history in 2013, including DT Robert Nkemdiche, O-Lineman Laremy Tunsil, WR Laquon Treadwell, and S Tony Conner. 3 out of 4 of those assembled players went in the NFL first round, and Conner’s still in school after suffering injuries.

Saw three players not only go to the NFL, but go in the first. Treadwell grabbed the headlines for the right reasons (coming back from injury etc etc etc), while Tunsil’s gasmask and the thoughts that Nkemdiche might be out of mind were also slightly “unusual”. OK, they weren’t great.

On the field, the recruiting class that Freeze put together:

  • Owns a two-game winning stream over Alabama (the longest current winning streak over Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide).
  • Has beaten Mississippi State in back-to-back Egg Bowls.
  • Has beaten LSU 2 out of the last three games.
  • The only team they never solved in the SEC was Auburn, who has beaten them 2 out of the last 3 years (but not in 2015).
  • Finished with an continually-improving 27-12, The record improved incrementally year-on-year. And in the SEC over the course of that time, they went 14-12. The last Ole Miss coach finished with a winnning SEC record was David Cutcliffe.

And it’s not over yet. But Tunsil, Treadwell and Nkemdiche leaving are going to be massive, massive losses.

But we can say this for certain: Ole Miss definitely got what it paid for.

Roll Tide Out? Top Alabama Player Arrested

Top Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson was arrested on felony weapons charges alongside teammate Laurence “Hootie” Jones” – a safety in the early hours of Tuesday morning, adding another name to what has been a horrible offseason for Nick Saban and his Alabama program.

6-6, 325lb junior Robinson and Jones were charged with possession of a stolen firearm, as well as misdemeanour drug possession and carrying a weapon in the presence of narcotics.

The incident happened after an officer approached a car containing Robinson and Jones. There was a smell of marijuana in the car and a handgun was spotted, and after a search of the car and other gun was found, ESPN reported.

“We are aware of the situation involving Hootie Jones and Cam Robinson and are in the process of gathering facts to determine what internal action needs to be taken,” said Saban in a statement.

Shockingly for an arrest involving handguns and ‘narcotics’, the bail bond was only set at $750.

SO WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?

First of all: We don’t know what the handgun was. If it was a BB Gun, then it’s better than a Magnum .44. Was that the reason why the bond was so low at $750?

Secondly: How stupid do you want to be? You’re one year for playing for many, many millions in the NFL because you’re probably the best at your position. All you had to do one off-season was sit there and play FIFA or Madden. And do nothing else. No gasmasks, no visits from girls that you no idea what age they are, nothing. Hey, maybe you could get ahead on your studies and learn to, you know, read.

Thirdly: It will be an indictment of Saban – who only recently kicked off O-Lineman Charles Baldwin – if he keeps Robinson on the program. Guns and drugs are the sort of thing that would get ANY player booted off a team, right? Listen, he’s probably NOT going to get booted, but Alabama may well be without a starting tackle for 6 games. We’re sure Saban’s language wasn’t pretty when he heard about the incident. This will affect Alabama at the start of the season. Thank God they don’t start with an evil schedule.

Fourthly (And whisper this): Better weed than a crack pipe.

 

Saban tops CBS Top 25 College Football Coaches Poll

This isn’t the most surprising news in the world, but Nick Saban’s just topped the CBS Sports Top 25 College Football Coaches Poll.

The Alabama coach beat Ohio State’s Urban Meyer to the No.1 spot, with TCU’s Gary Patterson, Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops and Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio rounding out the Top 5.

Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, LSU’s Les Miles, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney, Stanford’s David Shaw and Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh rounded out the Top 10.

 

Other SEC coaches include Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (13), Hugh Freeze (Ole Miss) (21), and Bret Bielema (Arkansas) (22).

The whole poll is here.

Alabama defensive line coach and top recruiter expected to leave

Alabama defensive line coach Bo Davis is expected to leave or resign due to possible recruiting violations, the Tuscaloosa News has reported. 

Apparently Davis was being looked into not only internally but also by the NCAA into the possible transgressions. It is not known which players he was recruiting at the time that the possible transgressions took place.

If Davis left, it wouldn’t be his first departure from Alabama. Davis was hired in 2007 then left after the 2010 season for Texas, stayed 3 years in Austin and then came back in 2014, where he has been ever since.

Both Nick Saban and players have been nothing but complimentary about their coach.

When Davis departs, it could set off a college football-wide domino effect – especially as Alabama is the biggest name in college football and would be a top spot for any top recruiter or defensive line coach.

Ed Orgeron, anybody?

 

Knoxville Police called Jones about rape investigations

A report from The Tennessean seems to show that police informed Tennessee coach Butch Jones that two of his players – AJ Johnson and Michael Williams – were being investigated for the rape of a female student.

Both Johnson and Williams were later charged.

The paper said: “The players first heard the news from their Tennessee football coaches — in Johnson’s case, four hours before police showed up at the scene of the alleged crime to question him“, quoting sources.

According to the report, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and another detective called Jones out of professional courtesy. Rausch has said that such a call in commonplace at Tennessee when there has been a potential crime involving an athlete, but has denied that such a call would tarnish an investigation — even though there are several ways in which it could do.

In this case, it gave the accused players the time to make a series of calls to each other, to potential witnesses, and to obtain lawyers, according to sources,” the paper said, adding that a representative of Knoxville Police Department called Jones at 8.40 am to alert him of the Johnson investigation. Two minutes later  – and five hours before the police arrived – Jones called Johnson.

The Tennessean added: “Rausch called Jones at 8:38 a.m. — the first of four calls between the Knoxville police chief and the head UT football coach that day. Law enforcement experts not associated with the investigation called the calls “unusual” and said they were cause for concern.”

 

Spring Game Round-Up: Florida, Auburn, South Carolina

The round-up from the first two Spring Games in the SEC are this: Florida and South Carolina seem to have their starting quarterbacks in place, and Auburn doesn’t.

GATORS CHOMPING WITH DEL RIO

Florida fans are suddenly excited that in the post-Grier and (thankfully) post-Harris world, they suddenly looked as they have a starter for 2017: Luke Del Rio. And while Del Rio is hardly a new face in college football – he walked on at Alabama, transferred to Oregon State, then transferred to Florida in 2014, where he sat out a year. He’s now a graduate, and suddenly the face of Gators football. Del Rio went 10-11 for 176 yards and 2 TDs. Sure, the defense wasn’t exactly vintage Florida, but it still made the fans in The Swamp smile.

Also making fans smile is that the Gators seem to have a good ‘un in Kyle Trask, too. The three-star freshman threw for 74 yards and looked comfortable.

NOT making fans smile was Feliepe Franks, who was much-heralded after his decision to spurn LSU to come to Gainseville. Now, it’s a bit early to start discussing transfer papers with the kid, but the fanbase was hardly in adoration of his three interception effort. That puts him at the back of the line.

AUBURN NEEDS AN OFFENSE

Listen, we know that Auburn’s got talent….on the defensive side of the ball. Bruce Feldman on the Fox Sports College Football Podcast (which is awesome, by the way), said that Auburn’s defensive front three –  led by Carl Lawson – is among the best in the nation.

But offensively, they are a struggle.

At Auburn’s A-Day it was pointed out that neither Jeremy Johnson, Sean White or new arrival Jonathan Franklin separated themselves in the scrimmage. “I’m not concerned about nobody separating themselves on a day like this,” Malzahn said in a press conference. Which might be good for Gus, but not good for Tigers fans, who – the Montgomery Advertiser noted – saw the offense have NINE three-and-outs.

Some of that was blamed at the fact that quarterbacks couldn’t be tackled, meaning that Franklin couldn’t show his considerable speed outside of the pocket. The non-tackle rule on quarterbacks also annoyed many at Oklahoma, who watched former Texas A&M QB Kyler Murray drop jaws during the Spring Game. We also think that they were disgruntled because Murray’s not going to be eligible to play until 2017, either.

SOUTH CAROLINA’S EXCITED ABOUT THEIR FRESHMEN

South Carolina fans are pretty excited about their freshmen offensive players. Quarterback Brandon McIlwain lit up the Garnet and Black Game in Columbia, throwing for 169 yards and 2 TDs. What’s also got to excite new coach Will Muschamp and Carolina fans about McIlwain – who recruited as the second-best dual-threat quarterback, according to 24-7Sports, is the fact that there were no interceptions. Devin Dingle had over 70 yards receiving on just two receptions. Bryan Edwards had two touchdowns. Suddenly, Carolina’s looking good on that side of the ball, right?

Defensively, we don’t know much about this team. We know that they were awful in 2015 at stopping people – and was the offensive contribution due to that? The writers think not. David at Garnet & Black Attack said the Defensive Line actually gives him hope for the first time in years.

The one thing we missed was Steve Spurrier, who was probably watching golf at Augusta.

 

Georgia players arrested and jailed for firing gun

Two freshmen Georgia players have been arrested and jailed for firing a BB gun on school property, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Defensive tackle Julian Rochester and Chad Clay were arrested and jailed for having the gun on school property, and second degree damage. They were still in jail at the time of writing, the AJC said, as there is no bond for possessing a weapon – albeit a BB gun.

Kirby Smart, Georgia’s new head coach, said in a statement: “I’m disappointed with the poor judgment of Julian and Chad. We expect full compliance with the policies of the University and of our football program from all our student-athletes. Information is still being gathered but they will be disciplined in an appropriate manner.

The charges came after there was an incident in a dorm room – which is where there was second degree damage, the Washington Post reported, noting that Atlanta TV station Fox 5 came with the news first. The TV station also tweeted that the charges could be reduced to misdemeanours.

He also told a radio show that Clay and Rochester’s idiotic moves were “poor decisions”, although did not expand as to whether they would be booted from the team.

Rochester was a four-star recruit (according to 24-7Sports) from Powder Springs, GA, and was considered the 10th-best DT in the country. He was expected to start. Cornerback Clay was a three-star recruit and considered the 31st-best player in Georgia.

The arrests come just days before Georgia’s Spring Game, which the school hopes attract over 90,000 people. By the looks of it, it won’t attract Rochester and Clay, who may well be learning the old Mark Richt saying about consequences and actions.

 

 

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