SEC Week 3 Rankings: Bama rules, Mizzou doesn’t

The SEC Football Blog went to wonderful California for the witness two things: 1) Hippies and 2) Tons of Ole Miss fans going to a Pac-12 team. There were indeed tons of hippies, and there were a ton of Ole Miss fans who went to see the Ole Miss vs Cal game. Regardless of how some people felt it was a snoozefest, no-one can argue about how close it was…..until Shea Patterson’s Pick-6.

Oh, and we’ll take SEC sundresses and bowties over bro-tastic T-Shirts, vests and girls looking like, ahem, ladies of the San Francisco night.

Anyway, here are the rankings after a quarter of the season (yes, we’re there already!). It’s pretty easy to do No.1 and No.14, but it’s really difficult to work out 2-13. That’s because – and I hate to say it – there’s an awful lot of mediocrity at the moment. 

  1. Alabama: The Crimson Tide are the best team in the country, and despite starting slowly, it’s showing it. You can’t outthink Nick Saban and his team of thousands for 60 minutes.
  2. Mississippi State: Smashing LSU at home proved that the Bulldogs ARE for real. We like Nick Fitzgerald and Aenis Williams, and last week, we couldn’t believe what a wrecking the D put on LSU. Oh, and the Bulldogs are winning the SEC West at the moment, bearing in mind its got a 1-0 conference record to Alabama’s 0-0. Nick Saban will use that to fire up his team.
  3. Georgia: The way Jake Fromm is playing, Jacob Eason might not have a job. The match-up between MSU and the Dawgs in Athens on Saturday night could well change the No.2 and No.3 ranking, but Georgia’s got momentum, and it’s looking scary.
  4. Auburn: A lot of people criticized me when I said that Auburn would give Alabama a run in the SEC West this season because of the Tigers’ poor offensive line. I didn’t believe them. I was wrong. Jarrett Stidham will come alive this year, but the question is is: Can he be kept alive long enough to do so? We love Auburn’s ‘D’ though. It’s for real.
  5. LSU: A beat-down by Mississippi State was an embarrassment. Plain and simple. The Tigers shot themselves in the foot by committing needless penalties (including two which would have cost them TDs). Danny Etling is an ordinary QB when he plays ordinary teams, which leaves defenses time to dial in on Derrius Guice. If the offense doesn’t pick up, LSU could be one very ordinary team, and people will start asking the “Is Ed Orgeron a better replacement coach than an actual head coach?” question.
  6. Florida: Again, we’ll see when Florida plays LSU, but an incredible Hail Mary/long pass from Feleipe Franks doesn’t particularly cover up just how bad Florida’s offense has looked over the last two games. The D’s excellent, though.
  7. Tennessee: Beaten by a Hail Mary/long pass by Franks, but really they should have won in The Swamp. This team’s not going to be bad, but with injuries suddenly mounting up (LB Cortez McDowell, WR Juan Jennings (rest of season) and S Todd Kelly (indefinitely)), UT’s depth could be hurt long-term.
  8. Vanderbilt: The good news? Vanderbilt’s 3-0 and scoring points. The bad news? The celebration from beating No.18 Kansas State will be slightly dulled down after they play Alabama on Saturday as the 3.30 game on CBS.
  9. Kentucky: A huge win at South Carolina was helped by the Gamecocks’ inadequacies in the red zone, as well as an injury to their incredible WR Deebo Samuel. We will see if Kentucky’s any good when they play Florida, who they’ve lost to for 30 games straight. Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium is going to be sold out and LOUD for the visit of the Gators.
  10. Ole Miss: Ole Miss was disappointing against Cal, but we still love Shea Patterson. Even on that Saturday night, we could see a lot that makes him one of the most fun prospects in college football – let alone the SEC.
  11. Texas A&M: The Aggies have been bad all season long, on both sides of the ball. They will really struggle in interdivisional play – to a point that the Arkansas game becomes important for bowl implications.
  12. South Carolina: The loss of Deebo Samuel could kill the bright start that was the Gamecocks’ season.
  13. Arkansas: We don’t have a lot of positive things to say about Arkansas, bearing in mind they were crushed in the only big game they played. We will see what happens against A&M – who they’ve lost the last five straight to.
  14. Missouri: Can’t play offense, can’t play defense, can’t play special teams. This Missouri team might end up with one win all season, and fire Barry Odom come-season end. And be right to.

Georgia wins in South Bend, and Week 2 in the SEC

It was a hell of a week in the SEC, where Georgia actually didn’t give their fans heartbreak in a close game (finally), Auburn lost a defensive brawl to Clemson, and Texas A&M showed why they still have problems.

But here are our quick takes on every team in the SEC after Week 2.

  1. Georgia: UGA fans turned out in their tens of thousands to South Bend to witness the Bulldogs beat the Fighting Irish 17-16. It wasn’t so much a barnburner of a game as a really ugly one, with UGA’s ‘D’ playing lights out. Jake Fromm was pretty good as a QB, which means that Jacob Eason will be worrying about his place. One worry though: The Bulldogs offensive line will face better teams’ defense than Notre Dame. We’re not sure how they’ll cope. Vegas is also kicking its heels after making Notre Dame the favorite, and so are ESPN, with 4 out of 5 of the experts picking the Leprechaun boys.
  2. Auburn: The Tigers were stifled in Death Valley by Clemson. Jarrett Stidham seemed to spend most of the game running for his life. Gamblers who had Clemson winning by more 6.5 were also happy. Auburn will be fine, but they didn’t look great.
  3. Texas A&M: In a week sadly highlighted by a racist letter to his wife and people questioning his job security, Kevin Sumlin could have done with a massive win over Nicholls State. Winning by 10 didn’t quite cut it for us. We’re writing this from Texas after seeing Texas beat San Jose State, and we can truly say this: If Texas vs Texas A&M had played their year-end game this year, then God would have to help us all. Both teams are awful.
  4. Arkansas: Is Bret Bielema really that good a coach? Are Hogs fans beginning to get impatient. A 28-7 beating at home by TCU certainly won’t make them happy. And they’ll play better Ds than that one. Suddenly the Texas A&M game in Jerryworld becomes all-important for bowl reasons….
  5. South Carolina: The Gamecocks are a sneaky pick for the SEC East. Will Muschamp’s got the offense moving in the right way….
  6. Mississippi State: Many thought that MSU would struggle at Louisiana Tech, but they didn’t, putting up 57 points by the fourth quarter. Talk about some optimism coming into the match-up against LSU…
  7. Missouri: On the other hand, we’d like to apologize to anyone who actually bet on Missouri winning 8 games after my SEC East preview earlier this year. They are awful. They lost with bad defense, bad offense, and comedy special teams moments.
  8. Alabama: Coasted to a win over Fresno State, and they are still No.1. No great revelations there. Again, if you took Fresno State to lose by less than 44 in Tuscaloosa, you would have been ecstatic by what happened. Alabama called off the Dogs at halftime effectively, and ‘only’ won by 31.
  9. LSU: Won 45-10 against Chattanooga and sacked their QB five times. Danny Etling again looked serviceable and Derrius Guice looked like Derrius Guice. They’ve got playmakers on both sides of the ball, but we’ll see how it all pans out in SEC play, particularly with a potential barnburner next week against Mississippi State and QB Nick Fitzgerald.
  10. Kentucky: We said that the Wildcats would “have it pretty easy” against Eastern Kentucky. Down 13-10 at halftime, they recovered to a 27-16 victory. But still, it was hardly a revelation for Mark Stoops.
  11.  Vanderbilt: Not a lot to say about the Commodores after the 42-0 win over Alabama A&M. Apart from the fact that it was Alabama A&M and they face Alabama on September 23rd.
  12. Ole Miss: After seeing Ole Miss look like they have lots of offense but no defense against UT-Martin, and watching Cal have a lot of offense but no defense against Weber State, we can truly say this: The Ole Miss-Cal game scheduled for next week? Could be first to 70!

Thoughts and prayers to the people for Florida in the middle of Hurricane Irma. We hope you are safely. We think particularly to the University of Florida and Gainseville, and all the students who know people in the Tampa area. We hope everyone’s safe. 

Will Alabama beat Florida State? Week 1 Predictions

OK, so it’s the start of the College Football Season proper (despite Stanford and, er, Oregon State starting things off last week) on Thursday, and to say we’re excited would be an understatement. Mostly, it’s to do with the monster battle between Alabama and Florida State, although the Michigan vs Florida game is going to be pretty awesome too.

So here’s how we think SEC teams will get on this weekend. We’ve also including some spread action if you’re into that, even if we’re not.

  1. Alabama (-7) vs Florida State: This is the game of the week and maybe the game of the college football season. Alabama will have to show everybody what they are like with a retooled defense and a new offesnive co-ordinator, while Florida State will show us what life’s like without Dalvin Cook. The key man – in my view – is going to be Alabama RB Bo Scarborough. If FSU don’t get him under control, Alabama will control the game and win this one comfortably. And that’s what we think will happen. PREDICTION: Alabama by 10. 
  2. Michigan (-4.5) vs Florida: Again a massive game to start the season, and again this pisses me off about the fact that it’s in Jerryworld instead of being a home-and-home. It would be cool to see UF going into The Big House as well as the Wolverines walk into The Swamp the year later. Well, this year both teams – with the tragic events of Houston going on down the road – are going in fairly beaten up, with Florida finally working out their quarterback just days before the start (Feleipe Franks over Malik Zaire), while Michigan has so many parts to replace (including a massive one in Jabrill Peppers). What’s also hurt Florida is the news that it’s suspended its starting running back Jordan Scarlett alongside already-sidelined Antonio Callaway. Jim McElwain must be going crazy. This should be a fun, close game. PREDICTION: Florida by 3 in a tight, fun one.
  3. Texas A&M at UCLA (-4): The fact that Texas A&M is starting the season without Myles Garrett and they have an unproven QB in Jake Hubenak adds some eyebrows to the Aggies side. Don’t get us wrong, we still think Christian Kirk is an all-world athlete, but can the Ags defense stop Josh Rosen and his exciting bunch of receivers? We think not. PREDICTION: UCLA by 7 in an go-to-the-wire game
  4. Tennessee (-3) at Georgia Tech: It’s undeniable: Tennessee’s going to be missing a lot of talent. this year. Joshua Dobbs is gone, as is RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, and a lot of their defense. John Kelly will be a very exciting returning RB, but other than that, we’ve got no damned idea what to expect. With Georgia Tech, they’ve just recently booted their leading rusher Dedrick Mills for ‘breaking athletic department rules’. UT won’t find walking into Georgia Tech’s stadium particularly worrying: They’ll have plenty of their own fans comin’ to Atlanta to scream Rocky Top at the top of their voice in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. But Georgia Tech may well cause them problems. This is going to be fantastic. PREDICTION: Tennessee wins by 6
  5. Georgia (-14) vs Appalachian State: Vegas seems to think something exciting’s going to happen in Athens, because the Dawgs opened as a 35-1/2 favorite and they’ve bet it down to just 14. They obviously think another Michigan 2007 game might happen. Oh, and they saw the Nicholls State debacle and they decided that UGA’s offensive line might have the same problems. OK, well here’s our argument: Georgia has an excellent young QB in Jacob Eason, two battering rams in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and if the offensive line does its work against what will be a smaller defense, Georgia will have fun. PREDICTION: Georgia eases through, winning by 28.
  6. LSU (-16 1/2) vs BYU: We all know that this game was meant to be placed in Houston, and our thoughts are with the UH and the fans there. Sensibly, both schools didn’t argue and moved the game to New Orleans, where it’ll be essentially a home game for the Tigers. We don’t expect BYU to be able to stop any of LSU’s running posse – least of all Derrius Guice, and LSU’s defense will be far too good to let BYU have any sort of unstoppable other hand. You know, unless LSU shoot themselves in the foot – like they did against Wisconsin last year. PREDICTION: LSU wins by 21, and the Play-Off chat begins.
  7. South Carolina vs NC State (-5): Vegas has set the over/under at 52.5, which means that they think this’ll be an entertaining one. A lot of people love South Carolina’s QB Jake Bentley, and there’s a lot of hope going on with the program. The problem for NC State will be in the trenches: NC State’s got some fantastic soon-to-be NFL talent in the defensive line, featuring Bradley Chubb, Kentavius Street, B.J. Hill and Justin Jones, who had excellent seasons last year. But Carolina’s secondary better keep their eye out, because TE Jaylen Samuels is plain nasty. NC State will also have home field advantage bearing in mind this game’s being played in Dullsville (sorry Bank of America Stadium), Charlotte. PREDICTION: NC State wins by 10.
  8. Vanderbilt (-3) at Middle Tennessee: Vanderbilt finished the season pretty well with a victory over Tennessee, but we’re expected a brawl of a game in Murfreesboro, just 35 miles away. Vandy don’t bring much travelling support, so we’re expecting a full house of MTSU ready to make things difficult. If Vandy’s defense can continue to improve (head coach Derek Mason is a defensive guru), then things will be difficult for MTSU. This one will go to the wire. PREDICTION: Vandy by 3 in a classic.
  9. Kentucky (-1o) vs Southern Miss: Southern Miss is a dangerous team, and so scheduling them suddenly doesn’t look like a cupcake from the Wildcats’ point-of-view…particularly in Hattiesburg. A lot of things point to Kentucky having its hands full. PREDICTION: Kentucky wins by 4, but Southern Miss upsets Vegas. We also like the over of 57, people, as both teams don’t seem to enjoy playing much defense. 
  10. South Alabama vs Ole Miss (-23 1/2): Hugh Freeze blah blah blah…..We expect Ole Miss to blow the doors off South Alabama. If nothing else to make the point that they don’t care about no NCAA, homes. PREDICTION: Ole Miss by 42.
  11. (And onto boring game No.1:) Auburn’s a 34-1/2 point favorite against Georgia Southern. They’ll win by over 40, because Gus Malzahn will want to prove a point to the haters (blah blah blah).
  12. (Boring Game No.2): Missouri State’s visit to Missouri should see Missouri win comfortably. So much so that Vegas isn’t offering odds on the game. We think Mizzou wins by 50, and pleases our friends at the Mizzodcast, the excellent Tigers podcast.
  13. (Boring Game No.3): Mississippi State‘s 2016 opener was an embarrassment when they lost at home to South Alabama, but we don’t think it’s going to repeat itself against Charleston Southern, who is a useful FCS school (it has won the Big South twice in the last two years), but won’t keep up with the Cowbellers. Mississippi State by 38.
  14. (Boring Game No.4): We’d like to ask one massive question. Why in the Lord of Hogs’ name is Arkansas’ game against Florida A&M being played in Little Rock instead of Arkansas’ true home in Fayetteville? Arkansas will roast the Ratters by 40, and no-one’s going to care after the first quarter…

 

Can Florida win three SEC East titles in a row?

MAs much as everyone keeps on talking about Georgia, the brutal fact is this: Georgia hasn’t won a SEC title since 2005. Since Georgia’s last SEC title, Florida has won two of them. Georgia hasn’t been to Atlanta since 2012, while Florida have been to the last two.

Florida’s also won the last three Cocktail Parties against Georgia.

So who’s going to win the SEC East?

  1. Florida — Georgia might have the tailbacks, but Florida brings back a hell of a lot of experience on the receiving front, with Antonio Callaway leading the way. If Callaway can keep his nose (and lungs) clean, then the Gators have an excellent WR who had 721 yards and 3 TDs last year. If Dre Massey can also be 100%, then Florida’s really dangerous. And despite all the talk about Malik Zaire starting as quarterback, it seems as though Feleipe Franks has started in Jim McElwain’s good graces, kicking off the season’s practices with the first-team offense. And if the offensive line can play beyond expectations and keep Franks/Zaire alive, the Gators could be exciting. Oh, and while we’re mentioning exciting, things are going to be interesting with the Gators defense. New DC Randy Shannon is a fantastic hire by McElwain, and he should have some solid returnees in DE Cece Jefferson, safeties Nick Washington and  Marcell Harris. But will they be OK after losing 8 starters? Florida’s schedule sees the Gators play Tennessee, LSU, Texas A&M and Florida State at home, and Michigan and Georgia in neutral site venues. These Gators could shine. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to FSU and LSU)
  2. Georgia — It must be because Athens is pretty close to the SEC Network’s base in Atlanta, but everyone’s – again – drooling about the Bulldogs. OK, I GET that Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are one of the best running back combinations in the SEC. Although please name in a season where both players have managed to get through the whole season unimpeded by injury. Eljah Holyfield has been named as an exciting prospect if when one gets injured. Quarterbacks-wise, everyone with a red shirt will talk your ear off about Jacob Eason, and we know he has the skills. But get this: He’s still got a young offensive line, and his biggest piece of receiving talent has gone in Isaiah McKenzie, who at times lived up to his nickname as the ‘Human Joystick’. Terry Godwin and Riley Ridley will have a lot of slack to pick up. Defensively, Trenton Thompson (58 tackles, 5 sacks) and LB Davin Ballamy can be stars alongside a defensive line which is will be one the best in the nation. The biggest problem for UGA is a nasty schedule which sees them go to Notre Dame, Tennessee, Auburn and play a tricky Mississippi State team who has the kind of quarterback in Nick Fitzgerald to exploit their secondary. PREDICTION: 10-2 (losses to Auburn and Florida, meaning Florida goes to SEC Championship Game.
  3. Missouri — This could be a very good team, but then again, this also could be a very bad one. The returners are potential stars, with QB Drew Lock, RBs Damarea Crockett and Ish Witter and there’s a star in there in J’Mon Moore, who led all SEC receivers by averaging 84.4 per game. However, Moore dropped EIGHTEEN catches (that’s 22.5% of all balls thrown his way). He’s claimed a new focus, but we’ll have to see. Defensively, Missouri’s going to have to stop the rot. With Charles Harris now gone, the pressure’s going to be on former five-star prospect Terry Beckner Jr, who has struggled with injuries ever since he’s arrived in Columbia. He could be a frightening prospect for opposing offensive lines – especially if Marcell Frazier can get back to his best. Mizzou brings back an experienced linebacking corps who SHOULD improve from 2016. Schedule-wise, things aren’t easy with trips to Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas, and the home games to Auburn, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee are hardly gimmes either. PREDICTION: 8-4
  4. Tennessee —- If he doesn’t succeed, 2017 might be Butch Jones’ last at Rocky Top. Unfortunately for Jones, he’ll have to replace some studs to save his job. QB Joshua Dobbs, top RB Alvin Kamara, top WR Josh Malone, top CB Cam Sutton, top DEs Derek Barnett and Corey Vereen have all left Knoxville. That’s a lot of talent. And to make matters worse, QB Quinten Dormady – who’s seen as the potential starter – isn’t highly thought-of in the least, although WRs Jauan Jennings and Josh Smith and TE Ethan Wolf could cause problems. They’ll also be helped by an O-Line which is one of the most solid in the conference. However, the defensive losses are massive. Barnett and Vereen’s losses take 75% of last year’s sack production. The schedule is evil, with trips to Florida and Alabama as well as home games against Georgia and  LSU. They could well go 0-4 in those games. The trips to Kentucky and Missouri won’t be easy either.  PREDICTION: 6-6 (And Butch Jones gets fired after the season ends)
  5. South Carolina — People are actually pretty excited about Gamecocks football this season. After finishing 6-7, Carolina returns with a quarterback who came in under-the-radar for the second half of the year, starting seven games, going 4-3, and throwing for 1,420 yards and 9 TDs and 4 INTs. That’s Jake Bentley. Deebo Samuel (WR) and Hayden Hurst (TE) are both receivers who cause trouble for anyone’s secondary. Speaking of secondaries, the Gamecocks return five out of their top six DBs, led by the CB trio of Jamarcus King, Chris Lammons and Rashad Fenton. The big issue for them is a nasty schedule, in which they go to Georgia, Tennessee, Texas A&M and Missouri. They’ve also got a local rival who may have won the National Championship at home. They’ll be happy to go 3-2 in that space. Which we don’t think they will. PREDICTION: 5-7.
  6. Kentucky — Everyone seems to be tipping Kentucky for magnificent things this season, but I’m not convinced. The defense – which was horrible against the rush last season (110th in the FBS, giving up 228.2 yards/game at 5.15 per rush) doesn’t really improve, and they are in a conference where rushing is a big component. Their schedule – they face Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Florida, Louisville, Ole Miss, Missouri and Arkansas (amongst others) will feature teams who will try and test them. If they can improve, good things will help. Stephen Johnson is an excellent QB and WRs Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker could cause defenses problems. But I’m sorry, I’m not sold. PREDICTION: 5-7 (Win over Ole Miss makes life better pulls people back on Mark Stoops bandwagon)
  7. Vanderbilt — I want to point this out: I really like Derek Mason, Vanderbilt’s head coach. He seems like the sort of head coach who would actually suspend a starter if they were arrested black-out drunk at the driver’s seat of his car, whatever the game they had to start the new season. You know, unlike another guys we could mention. But that doesn’t mean I think they are going to be great. Here’s why: They’ve lost a ton of talent on the offensive line and they aren’t bringing it back. The poor offensive line – against formidable defensive competition – is going to hurt Davis Webb, Vandy’s QB. If that doesn’t work, then it’s going to be a long old season. Defensively, saying goodbye to the excellent Zach Cunningham is going to be a big blow. The schedule is nasty with games against Alabama and Ole Miss, and they’ll have to go to The Swamp and to Tennessee. Otherwise, the Dores play UGA, Missouri and Kentucky at home. PREDICTION: 4-8 (Although they’ll score a stunning win over Kansas State).

Nick Saban signs extension but raises questions

Nick Saban has signed a contract extension this year that will pay him $11.1 million in 2017 as part of an eight-year deal that will pay the coach a total of $65 million – and that’s before bonuses that could pay him another $700,000 per year until 2024.

Also seeing their salaries bumped are new AD Greg Byrne (who only took the job in June), as well as his assistants, led by co-defensive co-ordinator Tosh Lupoi, who will earn $950,000, while new offensive co-ordinator Brian Dobell has re-signed until January 2020 in a $1.2 million salary deal.

Record

Saban’s record at Alabama is stunning – 119-19 over the last 10 years, with four of those years leading the Crimson Tide to a National Championship.

During his tenure at Alabama Saban has not been immune from the loss of co-ordinators, who have gone on to varying successes. Former OC Jim McElwain is the head coach of Florida, former DC Kirby Smart is the head coach of Georgia and most recently, OC Lane Kiffin in the head coach of Florida Atlantic University, while offensive line coach and recruiter supreme Mario Cristobal is now the co-offensive co-ordinator at Oregon.

The deal is great for Saban, his family, for Alabama fans still worrying he might leave for Texas, and of course, his agent Jimmy Sexton, who should be pocketing a tidy amount for the negotiation.

Alabama and other schools

In the time that Saban has been in charge of Alabama, the school has made more than $100m from football – which is absolutely stunning. And football’s success and the subsequent financial income has meant good news for the other non-revenue-making sports ‘on the Alabama roster’, which are being kept afloat by the thousands of fans buying tickets, shirts, hats and probably pets called ‘Crimson’ just for bathing in the light of the pigskin.

Oh, and rival schools – whether they like to say it or not – probably love Saban’s success, because every time the Crimson Tide come to town there is more fanfare than a Royal Wedding in Britain, leading to higher TV exposure. The SEC certainly loves Alabama’s success – Saban’s made the conference look better. ESPN and CBS have enjoyed the Crimson Tide for viewing figure purposes, and those charming people on the secondary market who concentrate on Tuscaloosa games are probably driving Mercs.

But what about the students?

The biggest annoyance we have with a deal like this for Saban is that Alabama players over the years of Saban’s multi-million dollar success have been paid exactly $0. Of course, there are stipends (and we suspect under-the-table ‘players’ donations’ given by boosters (it being the SEC), but that’s nothing if you consider what Alabama has made in terms of sports revenue.

Of course, the likes of Paul Finebaum and many Alabama fans will argue that Saban’s contract is worth it, and we’d agree – if you are thinking about the price paid by the university itself. There are a ton of players who have profited from Saban’s teaching, too. Especially the 22 first round picks who played for Saban in Tuscaloosa (65 in total have gone pro).

But there are a ton of players who have played for Saban and have come out with exactly nothing, while their coach has reaped the financial rewards.

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t seem right.

 

Can Georgia replace ‘The Human Joystick’?

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The Human Joystick. The guy that moved through opposition players like they were nothing, with the screams of joy emanating from the fans behind him. The human highlight reel. The one-of-a-kind for that season.

And now, Georgia fans, Isaiah McKenzie is gone. And with him will be his numbers.

Georgia fans will talk about reloading after McKenzie’s decision to opt for NFL riches after his junior year, but it’s going to be really, really difficult.

McKenzie not only brought a receiving threat to the table (663 yards, 7 TDs on 44 receptions, going for an average of 14.4 yards/ reception), but also brought a running threat too (134 yards, 2 TDs on just 19 carries, averaging 7.1 yards/play). He also returned 23 punts (for 245 yards and a touchdown).

If you want to take this as total, the hole that McKenzie will leave will be even bigger. He accounted for 26% of all total receiving yards, 20% of all receptions, and – this is the most galling – 43% of all total throwing touchdowns. Thanks to Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, his loss won’t be felt hugely in the Georgia backfield, but still.

For a moment, take away the fact that the Dawgs have a young offensive line, and this could be yet another season where red-clad fans see opposition linemen run through their line, and let’s just look at the talent coming back to Sanford….

WHO FROM THE RETURNERS REPLACES HIM?

  • Sony Michel (RB): We liked how he was used out of the backfield over the last couple of years. He’s a definite game-changer. Had 149 yards receiving on 22 receptions. The problem for Georgia will be whether they can keep Michel healthy. He’s had injury problems for the last two years. Which is unfortunate, for a man of his talent.
  • Terry Godwin (WR): Underimpressed in just about every game last year. He had 38 receptions for just 397 yards and no touchdowns. That’s hardly a massive return for the five-star recruit. His averages from 2015 to 2016 barely improved. But Godwin’s going to be the No.1 receiver in Athens next year – and will have to prove it.
  • Riley Ridley (WR): Ridley’s freshman season in Athens was a pretty productive one. He had 238 yards on just 12 receptions – although we’re a little worried that he was actually targetted 22 times. He’s also injured his foot, so he’ll definitely not play the Spring Game and probably be out until mid-summer.
  •  Jeb Blazevich/ Isaac Nauta (TE): Smart’s use of the TE is very Saban-like, and the increasing use of them continues bring a new dimension to the attacking game.
  • Javon Wims (WR): The former JUCO transfer started only 3 games but still had 190 yards on 17 receptions. And no fumbles.

WHAT ABOUT THE FRESHMEN?

There are things to be excited about for the Bulldogs. 6ft 2 incoming freshman (and four-star recruits) Jeremiah Holloman and redshirt freshman Mark Webb ought to bring in some size out wide for QB Jacob Eason, and both Matt Landers and Trey Blount are both considered to be a little raw.

SO IN OTHER WORDS….

McKenzie will be pretty much irreplacable in 2017 with what he brought to the offense. There aren’t a lot of players that were a three-headed hydra of offense like he was. We expect UGA to go more towards the run this year – despite having Eason’s cannon. The reason? The offensive line. We’re not sure if he’ll be as lucky in his second year to survive as he was in his first.

 

 

Georgia star RBs, LBs return for senior year

Georgia star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel will return for their senior years, giving second-year head coach Kirby Smart a massive boost going into the 2017 season.

Added to that is the news that Smart’s defense will be boosted by the announcement that offensive linebackers Lorenzo Smart and Davin Bellamy will also return.

Last year Chubb had 988 yards and 7 TDs on 207 carries, averaging at nearly 5 yards a carry. Michel had 753 yards on 137 carries with 3 TDs.

Carter had 37 total tackles including 17 solo tackles, while Bellamy had 49 tackles and 4 sacks and one pass defended.

Who wins The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party?

A buddy of ours said on Facebook: “Georgia-Florida is the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, which Florida-Georgia is a crappy country group”. We sniggered, slightly, bearing in mind our memory of that goddawful band  ‘highlighting’ plays on CBS was that how we could have put our foot through our TV whenever we heard them ****ing singing.

  1. No.14 Florida vs Georgia

If you’re a grad of Florida or Georgia, a student at Florida or Georgia, or a fan of Florida or Georgia, or merely want a fight on The Landing this weekend with a bunch of smashed-up ‘bros’ and their wives who are fighting each other too, you’ll probably be in Jacksonville. And if  you hate your life – because the game’s probably not going to be that great, if you consider how bad both offenses are – you’ll probably be watching the game alongside a lot of people dressed in red and blue on Saturday afternoon.

PREDICTION: Florida’s a 7-1/2 point favorite. I’m going for Florida to win 20-13 in an ugly game where only the thing keeping us watching is that it’s going to be Uncle Verne’s last Cocktail Party game. Sadly, it’s not going to be Gary Danielson’s.

2. No.15 Auburn at Ole Miss

Get this: This is Auburn’s first real away game this season (we don’t count Mississippi State, folks!), and it comes against an Ole Miss side who seems to always take the lead and then blow it. The biggest problem for Ole Miss – as dynamic as the offense can be at times – is their horror show of a running defense, which took a battering against LSU. This week, they face an Auburn side which has run for 2120 yards and 21 TDs. Kamryn Pettway could go crazy. He’s put up back-to-back 150+ rushing efforts, and he could do the same today. Auburn’s also got a pretty solid defense. You know, it’s a pretty solid team.

PREDICTION: This could be the most entertaining game on the SEC’s schedule this week (not very hard, we know bearing in mind what else is there). Auburn’s a 4-1/2 point favorite, but we think Auburn’s going to win this by 10 in a secretly great game until halfway through the fourth quarter.

3. No.18 Tennessee at South Carolina

The Gamecocks might be the worst team in the SEC right now – although it’s a real battle between them, Missouri and Mississippi State right now (Vanderbilt’s a solid fourth-worst after showing defensive backbone). Will Muschamp’s guys struggled to beat UMass last week, and now they get Tennessee – which is still a pretty good team despite back-to-back losses coming into town. Expect Josh Dobbs to have fun. And all this will be despite the injury to star running back Alvin Kamara.

PREDICTION: Tennesee’s a 13-1/2 point favorite, but we think they win by 21. And they swear at themselves for the game not being as close as that.

4. Kentucky vs Missouri

Kentucky are SECOND in the SEC East. Yes, SECOND. And they are really aren’t great. We know they are awful because they gave up 38 to Mississippi State and won by a field goal. Sure, it was entertaining if you like shoot-outs, but UK isn’t very good, are they? Anyway, Missouri played Middle Tennessee State last week……and lost. The errors killed them, and but it’s a shock that they are 5-1/2 point home favorites for the Wildcats. Must be the scary Farot Field.

PREDICTION: We’re going with Missouri to win by 7 in a high-scoring game, because we want some happiness for our friends at the Mizzodcast, one of the best college football podcasts you’ll listen to. 

5 A+B We’re calling for Mississippi State to beat Samford and Texas A&M to hammer New Mexico State by 50 (they are 43-point favs). No surprises here.

 

 

 

 

 

Week 7 SEC standings: Alabama smoking the opposition

People kept telling us how Tennessee could roll Alabama to stop the decade of pain on the Third Saturday of October, and we said (basically): “Are you ****ing joking? Tennesee hasn’t put together a whole game this year/ They’ve got a ton of injuries/ They turn the ball over too much/ They are going to get beaten by double digits”. We were right….Except we thought it MIGHT be closer than 35.

Elsewhere, some Georgia fans are suddenly regretting the Kirby Smart hire after LOSING TO VANDERBILT, while Missouri fans are hating life. Mississippi State lost in overtime at BYU (anyone convert to Mormonism on the road trip?), while Arkansas stunned Ole Miss. This is a strange conference indeed….

So here are your rankings:

  • Alabama (7-0): The Tide are rollin’ faster than Alabama players roll joints. Too soon?
  • Texas A&M (6-0): Apparently, Texas A&M is feeling confident about beating Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You know, that Texas A&M team who couldn’t put away an injured Tennessee team who gave up seven turnovers until double-overtime. Yeah…so…
  • Arkansas (5-2): Beat Ole Miss in a shoot-out. The offense can be borderline erotic. Or borderline.
  • Auburn (4-2): A hefty defensive line and an offense that’s just beginning to click. This could be a dangerous Tigers team.
  • LSU (4-2): The first test of LSU will be the game against Ole Miss, when we’ll fully be able to understand whether the Tigers are any good. But right now, things are going the right way.
  • Tennessee (5-2): Riding a two-game losing streak and they were beaten to a pulp by Alabama. We don’t see any losses for the Vols from now on, though…
  • Ole Miss (3-3): Great offense, terrible defense. But they sure are exciting, aren’t they?
  • Florida (5-1): So far the one TEAM the Gators played they lost to. And joking apart, they could still sneak into the SEC Championship Game. Dear God…
  • Georgia (4-3): Starting to regret firing Mark Richt? After the decision on the final play against Vanderbilt….maybe…
  • Kentucky (3-3): Here’s some funny news. Kentucky’s second in the SEC East.
  • Mississippi State (2-4): So Mississippi State isn’t any good….But they still beat South Carolina
  • Missouri (2-4): They were underdogs against LSU and Florida, but lost both games so convincingly that it’s made me believe that this is the worst team in the SEC East.
  • Vanderbilt (3-4): Yes, we know Vanderbilt beat Georgia and lost to South Carolina, but Vandy’s not a great team.
  • South Carolina (2-4): Lost to Mississippi State. And Kentucky. And Georgia. The Gamecocks have actually got worse since the Vanderbilt win at the start of the year.

SEC Preview – Week 7: Will Tennessee beat Alabama?

GSo now they’ve beaten Florida, Tennessee fans must be feeling the magic for the visit of their second-most hated rival, Alabama. If we’re honest, Alabama has OWNED Tennessee (results-wise, anyway), beating them in every game since 2007. The only game that reasonably close was last year, when Josh Dobbs’ heroics nearly beat the Crimson Tide.

Prior to that, Mississippi State travel up to Mormon country to play BYU on Friday, Ole Miss travel to Arkansas in what could be a shoot-out for the ages (bearing in mind both lack any defense), Missouri go to Florida, Vanderbilt travel to Georgia, and Southern Miss to LSU.

So here are our previews:

  1. No.1 Alabama at No.9 Tennessee

Nick Saban said that the Tennesee game was the biggest game on the Crimson Tide’s schedule, which should enrage a lot of Auburn fans, who are feeling butthurt enough what with Germans burning down their oaks and Alabama winning all those National Championships. Tennessee’s a 12-1/2 point home underdog, which might feel kind of right, if you consider that Alabama’s defense was pretty poor for three quarters against Arkansas (they gave up 30 points). But Tennesee only plays for one half, and they are injured to hilt. The crowd could well be a factor, though.

PREDICTION: We’re calling Alabama to win by more than 12-1/2 for this reason: The Crimson Tide is more capable of putting together a full game than the Volunteers. And the offense is much better. 

2. No. 12 Ole Miss at No. 22 Arkansas

The biggest mystery for this season so far is: How in the heck is Arkansas still ranked? They’ve been one of this season’s biggest letdowns, with an awful, awful offensive line – formerly one of their strengths. The ‘D’ can’t stop anybody. You know? It’s going to be fun, because Ole Miss can’t really play any defense either. We know that because Ole Miss is 80th in the country in yards/game, and Arkansas is 68th. This WILL be fun, folks.

PREDICTION: Ole Miss is a 7-1/2 point favorite. I like Ole Miss to win by 10, but I also LOVE the over for 67-1/2. 

3. Mississippi State at BYU

Listen, we’re putting this up beyond other games because the crowd is going to be WILD in Utah for the BYU game for the visit of Mississippi State. We’re not saying MSU is any good (it really isn’t), but BYU’s ‘D’ is pretty mediocre, too. Expect lots of blondes. Lots, and lots of blondes (of both sexes). We don’t know every guy in the place has a wife but he shouldn’t have two, because apparently polygamy’s illegal in Utah.

PREDICTION: BYU’s a 7-point favorite. Can’t believe people don’t have more faith in BYU. If you feel like betting on the non-drinkers, take BYU in the over.

4. Missouri at No.18 Florida

Missouri looked like a great, speedy offense against lower opposition, and then fell to pieces about LSU. But Florida’s offense is pretty horrible too, only scoring a smidgeon over 28 points/game. Florida’s defense is excellent, though – and better than Missouri’s. The Vanderbilt/Florida game was horrible, and we’re praying that it won’t continue this week.

PREDICTION: Florida’s a 13-1/2 game favorite, but actually, we like the ‘under’ for 48-1/2. That’s how miserable we believe the game will be.

5. Vanderbilt at Georgia

Georgia’s running back duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel looked awesome against South Carolina, but Jacob Eason – to coin a Bret Bielema phrase – looked borderline erratic. Vandy’s 79th-ranked rush defense (176.8 yard/game) will do well to stop them. Especially if Georgia’s offensive line is looking as improved as it did against South Carolina.

PREDICTION: Georgia’s only a 14-point favorite. Is the reason why is that they should have walked away with the South Carolina but kept letting the Gamecocks back into the game? We think UGA win by 21 or more. 

6. Southern Miss at LSU

Southern Miss is going to walk into Baton Rouge with a bad-ass offense FORTY POINTS PER GAME (yes, you read that properly), but properly won’t walk out with the win, bearing in mind that LSU is mourning not only the loss of Les Miles but more important, Mike The Tiger who passed away earlier this week. Southern Miss gives up a not-great 159 yards/game of rushing a week, so good luck against LSU’s offense, folks.

PREDICTION: LSU’s a 25-point favorite. The Tigers looked so damned good against Florida but they’ve had a week off and the momentum may have come down. We’ll take the Tigers to win by more than that, because Southern Miss had 55 dropped on them last time out against UTSA.

 

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