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….


  • 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.


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.


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.



Mississippi State gives Mullen monster extension

Mississippi State deserves a round of applause: They showed loyalty to a man who has shown absolutely no loyalty to them over the last few years….their head coach, Dan Mullen.

In the new deal, Mullen will receive $4.5 million per season for the next four years, starting this season.

Listen, we GET there are good things about Mullen. He started in 2009 and hasn’t left. During his tenure, his record has been nothing short of phenomenal – especially for a poor team, where he’s been bowl eligible for the last seven straight years and gone 5-2 in bowls. He has a 5-3 record in the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss, and took the Cowbellers to phenomenal heights in the 2014 season.

He’s proved to be a bit of a ‘quarterback whisperer’ at the highest level, with Dak Prescott and now Nick Fitzgerald doing great things. Prescott himself has gone on to drop jaws at NFL level, which can’t have done Mullen’s credibility any damage. And his response to press questions about Fitzgerald in the aftermath of the last Ole Miss win was hilarious.

But I’ve got a problem. Where there seems to be a big job on the loose,  Dan Mullen seems to have no loyalty to the Land of Cowbell in the least. He’s been continually rumored for other jobs since taking over in Starkville, and he actually interviewed for the Miami (FL) job in 2015 before it was given to Mark Richt. Florida (2013) and Oregon (2017) were also thoughts. And although Mullen’s said that he’s happy where he is, the hiring of Jimmy Sexton – who is also the agent of a certain Nick Saban, who hasn’t shown any loyalty of his own in the least to programs – in October – doesn’t seem to indicate that.

I just can’t help thinking that the cowbell will toll for Mississippi State in this relationship. Then again, I might be wrong.

Should Alabama fans be pleased with their new OC?

What a few months it’s been for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After coasting (most of the way) during the regular season, the Crimson Tide destroy Florida to win the SEC Championship. Then offensive coordinator/genius Lane Kiffin leaves for the bright lights of a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University. The Crimson Tide win their Play-Off semi-final against Washington convincingly to set up a monster clash with Clemson, who had hammered Ohio State 31-0 in its own semi-final. Lane Kiffin is told not to come to the National Championship Game. Steve Sarkasian is given the OC job for the National Championship Game. Clemson beats Alabama in the last second. Steve Sarkasian gets the OC job. Steve Sarkasian bolts for the Super Bowl-blowing Atlanta Falcons to be OC there, much to the annoyance to Bama Nation.

Nick Saban seemed to ignore all of that and still dominate the 2017 National Signing Day. We heard stories of kids that were offered scholarships by Alabama, but didn’t receive actual letters from the school, so went elsewhere. Such is the power of what’s happening down in Tuscaloosa.

Anyway, back to the offensive coordinator. There were rumors that he would join forces with offensive guru Chip Kelly, who did genius things at Oregon but not in the NFL. Instead, Saban went to his old friend Bill Belichick, and asked: “Who have you got on your coaching staff I can have?” So Belichick said to current tight ends coach Brian Daboll that he might want to go and have an interview down in the Southland. Daboll did, and now he’s the new offensive coordinator for the most demanding college football coach in the history of mankind (and that’s probably an understatement).

Daboll’s had 17 seasons in the NFL, which is fantastic longevity, and should be an excellent recruiting tool for Saban. Now he can bring someone to the party who can say to NFL players: “I know what NFL scouts are looking for! I spent 17 years in the NFL! If you come play for me, I can get you to the next level!”

For us, we can’t wait to see Daboll getting yelling at on the sideline.


Steve Sarkasian leaves Alabama for Falcons

Steve Sarkasian has left Alabama to be the new offensive coordinator at the Atlanta Falcons.

Sarkasian, who only took charge of Nick Saban’s offense just before the National Championship loss to Clemson, took over the Falcons role just after former OC Kyle Shanahan left to be the new head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

According to SB Nation, ‘the relationship between Saban and Sarkisian deteriorated amid disagreements in ‘system philosophy.’

It’s not unusual that Nick Saban should fall out with his offensive coordinators. His fall-outs with Lane Kiffin during his time at Bama are stuff of YouTube legend. What seems strange that Saban – who talks often about giving people ‘second chances’, didn’t seem too upset with Sarkasian’s decision to go to Atlanta.

‘We appreciate all Coach Sarkisian did for our program during his time here,’ Saban said. ‘He is an outstanding coach, and we wish him the best in his new role as Atlanta’s offensive coordinator. As always, when we have an opening on our staff, we will use it as an opportunity to go out and hire the best coach available.’

What’s interesting is that last month Mike Locksley was named co-offensive coordinator. He was an offensive analyst for Alabama and before that worked at Maryland.

Alabama fansite BamaHammer is already saying that Locksley’s going to be the new OC. ‘Book it’, the site says.

It seems to us that whoever the new OC at Alabama is is that they are going to have to obedient to Saban. Saban doesn’t like anyone who disagrees with him.

This could be interesting.

If Locksley doesn’t get the job, names of recently fired Oregon coaches like Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich have had their names thrown around.

Suddenly, this is the most intriguing battle of the offseason – particularly with the weapons that Alabama is bringing in from National Signing Day to help the new OC (and Saban) out.

Why can’t Lane Kiffin get a head coaching job?

This year the rumors were hotter than ever that Lane Kiffin would get a prized coaching job. And even hotter that they would be in Houston, following Tom Herman’s decision to go to Texas to be the new head coach.

It looked a slam-dunk. The good people at USA Today reported so. And then suddenly, there was a U-Turn in the Houston ranks, who instead decided on former UH offensive coordinator Major Applewhite to be the head coach.

The school’s logic? Houston’s board of regents chairman Tilman Fertitta (great name, by the way sir) called into a radio station and said: ‘”Lane Kiffin did not show me anything that Major Applewhite did not show me. Sure, he’s been a head coach, and he’s been an OK head coach. But I can tell you this: It was not a safe hire.”

OK, so what did he mean by safe hire?

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about really being an ‘OK head coach’?  At Tennessee he moved the Vols from a 5-7 record to a 7-6 record, but his mouthing-off about Alabama and Florida didn’t help him when lost to them. And there seemed to be a bunch of hope. So when he left for SC, Kiffin was actually better than most people believe at USC – particularly after the postseason bans and loss of scholarship players in the 2010 season that dropped his would-be 85 scholarship players to just 71….and he came with an 8-5 record. The next season – with another bowl ban – USC had a 10-2 record. In 2012, he showed a lot of self-confidence — even voting the Trojans to No.1 in a preseason poll….and finished with an 8-5 record. In 2013, the most famous move for him was being fired at LAX after starting the season with a 4-7 record. And as an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too. But there is this fact: In two out of three of his head coaching jobs, Kiffin has been fired. And both of them have been unceremonious. Houston probably couldn’t face a controversy like that again.

….But he’s proved to be excellent offensive coordinator… As an offensive coordinator at Alabama, he’s seen nothing but success, helping Nick Saban to a National Championship in 2015 (and probably in 2016, since the Crimson Tide looks unstoppable under his offensive tutelage) and back-to-back-to-back SEC Championships. Oh, and there’s been a Heisman Trophy thrown in there for Derrick Henry, too.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about loyalty? The University of Houston probably looked at Kiffin’s one-stop ‘drop’ of Tennessee (and the way he did it) and thought to themselves: ‘As soon as ‘bigger job’ comes up, he’ll walk. And we don’t want to be seen as a ‘feeder school’ to big-time programs.

But remember this… Kiffin was fired at the Oakland Raiders. And he was fired at the Trojans. He didn’t leave them.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his mouth and actions? OK, so here’s the problem that Houston probably thought about Lane Kiffin. While every time you’ve seen Kiffin on the sidelines next to Nick Saban, Saban’s been the one giving out the abuse (Kiffin’s taken it…much to my admiration, if I’m honest). But that hasn’t always been the case. He was called a ‘flat-out liar’ by Oakland’s ownership in 2008 because the rumors were floating about his considering college football roles…and then he denied it. That probably didn’t score any points with the Houston guys. Then, there was his arrival in Tennessee, when not only did he say in an overly-confident arrival that he would beat Florida and Alabama (he didn’t), but a few weeks after said that Urban Meyer – then the Florida coach – of cheating and NCAA violations. That probably didn’t go down well. Then he was rude about other SEC competitors.

Was the term ‘safe hire’ about his actions? And speaking of actions, there have been a bunch of accusations  – that we won’t print – about Lane Kiffin’s off-the-field behavior that certain boards of regents might be unhappy with. But then again, Major Applewhite didn’t exactly do himself any favors in that department, either.

So how will it play out? We don’t know. Kiffin’s obviously an offensive genius but he’s got the hirers really, really worried about his mouth, his history with ownership, leadership, and SEC and NCAA administrators when a head coach. Nick Saban has openly supported Lane Kiffin finding a head coaching job, and has said that he’s ‘ready again’ to take the job. That’s an excellent reference if you ask us. Florida Atlantic are said to be going for Kiffin, but the talks have stalled. How does this blog think things will go? Kiffin will stay for another year as OC of Alabama. And God Help Us All. 

Tennessee D-Lineman in assault charge

Tennessee defensive lineman Alexis Johnson was arrested for domestic assault on Wednesday night and has been suspended by the team.

According to The Tennesseean, Johnson was charged with “one count of aggravated assault and one count of false imprisonment after authorities say he attacked a woman he’d been dating”.

The Knoxville News-Sentinel said, quoting a warrant: “The victim, who previously dated Johnson on two occasions, told police she was “play fighting” with him in the living room and the bedroom of his apartment sometime between 3-5 a.m. Sunday when the horseplay turned violent, according to arrest warrants. The episode escalated when the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Johnson placed his hand around the victim’s throat, repeatedly choking her to the point that she could not fight back and felt she was going to pass out, warrants state. A witness said Johnson “appeared to be really punching her,” and that the victim’s lip was “busted.”

The warrant added: “The defendant attempted to repetitively touch and kiss her and she repeatedly stated that she did not want to have sex with him,” the warrants state. “(The) victim attempted to leave the bedroom and said the defendant blocked the door prohibiting her exit. While doing so, the defendant stated, ‘You think I won’t (expletive) you up?

Johnson- a former four-star recruit- hasn’t actually played a down for Tennessee, after spending the last two years in a community college.


The SEC to the NFL: Who are the best in their positions?

Now that we’ve got some downtime on the SEC Football Blog, we got thinking about which player made the best transfer from the SEC to the NFL throughout the years. If you’re a Cam Newton fan, then we’re sorry: This is about HISTORY, not in the last 12 months. So chill. Note: Former Florida QBs Wuerffel and Tebow won’t be on the list.


Peyton Manning (Tennessee). He’s beaten every team he’s played in college football and the NFL – apart from one. And that’s Florida. Some people argue for Green Bay’s Bart Starr (Alabama), who was awesome too..and won two Super Bowls (and had two Super Bowl MVPs, too). As for Peyton, he’s blown away touchdown and passing yards records, and he’s won two Super Bowls. If you want to just go for Super Bowls, then his brother Eli (Ole Miss) would be on the list. Joe Namath (Alabama) would bring the beers and guarantee victories.


Emmitt Smith (Florida). We STILL don’t get why he was only the 17th pick in the NFL Draft, but heck, Dallas got their money’s worth. Not only did he play on three Super Bowl teams alongside Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, but he’s still got the NFL Career rushing yards record (18, 355) and the career rushing touchdowns record (164).

BACK-UPS: We’re going to let two-time Super Bowl winner Terrell Davis (Georgia), Fred Taylor (Florida) and Jamal Lewis (Tennessee) share rushes behind Smith. Should make for one hell of a practice.


Julio Jones (Alabama). He’s probably the greatest wide receiver in the modern game right now. Hines Ward (Georgia) was a four-time Pro Bowler, had 1000 career receptions and 12,083 yards (23rd all-time in yards – that’s the first SEC WR on the list) and was central to Steelers Super Bowl victories. Expect AJ Green (Georgia), Alshon Jeffrey (South Carolina) and Odell Beckham (LSU) to make a lot of lists if they carry on their current trajectory.


Kellen Winslow (Missouri) This a bit of steal bearing in mind Winslow was playing at Missouri when Mizzou wasn’t in the SEC, but hey, I don’t care. If you want a REAL SEC player, then Hall of Famers Jason Witten (Tennessee) and Ozzie Newsome (Alabama) makes the list.



Philadelphia Eagles tackle Jason Peters (Arkansas) is a Pro Bowl regular. If anyone’s got any ideas of any other tackles, let us know. Michael Oher (Ole Miss) isn’t going to make the list after an up-and-down NFL career, although he’s had a great 2015.

Guard John Hannah (Alabama) was one of the greats, making NINE straight Pro Bowls. If you want good centers, then former Pittsburgh Steelers center Dermontti Dawson (Kentucky) made seven Pro Bowls and went to the Hall of Fame in 2012, and center Frank Gatski (Auburn)- who also fought in a war before going to The Plains – is also a Hall of Famer.


Shane Lechler (Texas A&M) has 1,280 career punts, and that’s good for fifth on the all-time list. He’s second on the all-time punts list with 60,746. As for kickers, we’re taking George Blanda (Kentucky), who has the record for extra points made with 943.


Dante Hall (Texas A&M) has one of the greatest names in football – the Human Joystick. Had 426 returns for 10,136 yards in just 8 years. We’ll take him. Patrick Peterson (LSU) will be a fun back-up.


Defensive End

Two sack machines will play on our team: Reggie White (Tennessee) was God, taking home 198 sacks, second on the all-times sacks list, and Kevin Greene (Auburn) who’s third on the all-time sack list with 160 sacks. We expect to add Von Miller (Texas A&M) to this list soon enough.


We’re using Greene as a defensive end (although he’ll drop back as a linebacker if needed), and we’re also going to bring in the late, great Derrick Thomas (Alabama) to help.


Hall of Famer Yale Lary (Texas A&M) will lead the way with Johnny Robinson (LSU) – 13th on the All-Time interceptions list with 57 after a tidy career with Dallas and Kansas City – and fellow ballhawk Jimmy Patton (Ole Miss), who had 52 INTs – good for 26th all-time- will make quarterbacks want to throw. Tyrann Mathieu (LSU) will learn from them.


Playing alongside 12-time Pro Bowler and 15-year NFL veteran Champ Bailey (Georgia) will be Lester Hayes (Texas A&M) was a five-time Pro Bowler and shut-down corner with Oakland.

The sad part about this team is that some of the players – particularly on the defensive side (we see you Reggie White, Derrick Thomas, Jimmy Patton) aren’t with us anymore.







Saban blames NFL for Sugar Bowl defeat

Nick Saban, the Alabama head coach, isn’t blaming players for their lack of preparedness going into the 2014 College Football Play-Off semi-final loss to Ohio State.

He’s not blaming himself. Or his coaching staff. Nope. He’s blaming the NFL.

“I just felt like, in our experience last year, our team chemistry from the SEC Championship game to the playoff game was affected by something,” he said. “I think that to have a December 15th deadline from when a junior can submit for a draft grade and then you get that assessment back sometime right before or right after Christmas, and then you have a playoff game coming up on January 1st or 2nd, and I think it’s my obligation as a coach to inform that young man when I get that information because it’s his information, it’s not my information, to make him aware of that. And we’re talking about a young person who has to deal with a lot now. We had six guys in this situation this past year and 11 the year before. So we’re trying to get ready for a game, and all of a sudden, a guy finds out he’s a first round draft pick or a guy that thought he was a first round draft pick finds out he’s not a first round draft pick, and we’re trying to get ready to play a playoff game. I think that it would be better not to submit that information to a player until he was finished competing in college.”

In other words: If it wasn’t for the NFL we wouldn’t have lost the game against Ohio State.

Now, Saban’s probably got a point. The NFL might want to look at extending its deadline past January 15th. But then again, here’s my argument: Isn’t it a head coach’s job to get players’ minds in the game, and use the fact that they are going to the NFL as something to be excited about? Isn’t it a head coach’s job – in the same way as he’s used the fact that Alabama sends people to the NFL like crazy as a recruiting tool – to make sure his team’s playing at 100%. Just my thought.

Speaking of players, he added that Jay Coker – who’s a favorite to start when the season opens against Wisconsin – had been “outstanding” and “made a tremendous amount of improvement.” He added: “I think that a better understanding, better knowledge of the system, better knowledge of what we expect, what’s expected of him in our offense are all things that have contributed to his confidence and his performance level.”

Saban also addressed Alabama’s recent slew of domestic violence arrests, especially the one concerning defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor, who had been booted from Georgia for – you guessed it – domestic violence. “I do not regret giving players opportunities,” he said. “This is an opportunity that we gave a player that didn’t work, but in fairness to the player, he didn’t really get the kind of due process before he was judged as maybe he — as any person should. But it is what it is. We’ve all moved on. He was in zero tolerance, and therefore, we’ve moved on. We do not condone that kind of behavior in our program.” He added that because of the fact that domestic violence was such an “emotional issue” that the NCAA should be “creating as many opportunities to try to solve this problem and use this as an opportunity to try to solve this problem with young people, male and female alike, because this is an issue across the board with any emotional relationship. And I would be very supportive if, as a league or as an institution, we did some of those types of things so that we could better manage this in the future.”





Ole Miss star arrested

Ole Miss offensive line star Laremy Tunsil has been arrested on domestic violence charges.

Tunsil was arrested for allegedly punching his stepfather after he pushed his mother. Apparently Tunsil turned himself into police after he threw the punch, Coach Hugh Freeze told the press.

Freeze seems to be taking Tunsil’s side on the affair. “Laremy realizes he could have handled it differently,” the Ole Miss coach said. “I am proud of him for standing up for his mother and protecting his family.”

Freeze added that charges against the stepfather, Lindsey Miller, has been filed by Tunsil and his mother, Desiree Tunsil. It is not known as to whether Miller has filed charges against Tunsil.

Miller has accused Tunsil of driving around Oxford with football agents. He also said that he put out his hand to shake Tunsil’s hand, and was pushed against a wall.

The 6-5, 305lb player is thought to be a certain first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft – if he chooses to leave after his junior year. His 2014 season was curtailed by injury in The Peach Bowl game against TCU.

These SEC Draftees Will Make An Impact In 2015

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After another highly-successful NFL Draft, SEC draftees from 2015 are GOING to make an impact in 2015. Sadly, after his ACL tear on Friday in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ first minicamp, one of them’s not going to be the SEC’s No.1 pick, Dante Fowler (went  No.3 in the draft).


The former Alabama wide receiver was taken as the best player at that position on the board, despite others seeming to love Kevin White. If his quarterback can throw properly to him, Cooper’s going to cause havoc.


Look, we know he probably won’t start the first few games for the Rams because of his bust ankle, but Todd Gurley (TGIII ANYONE?) is going get the Gurley Girls going from Athens to St Louis with rampaging play. He’ll hurdle defenders or blow past them with his breakout speed. Here’s to him staying healthy, too.


Undrafted because the New Orleans Police Department took their time in talking to him with regards to his murdered ex-girlfriend and NFL Scouts thought he might have ‘character issues’ , the Cowboys snapped one of the top offensive linesmen in the draft. He could well start on Opening Day. Which will give Romo and his running backs even more protection.


A lot of people don’t like his upright position or the fact that he fell away in his junior year, but we’d like to note that Nick Saban loves to run two or three running backs, and Yeldon’s going to be a difference-maker in Jacksonville. He’s speedy enough to cause problems in droves.


Anyone who’s read my tweets or copy will know that I don’t like Dorial Green-Beckham. It’s not because of his football talent- the guy was shaping up to be one of the best wide receivers in the SEC, but because he failed to properly explain himself about what actually happened the night he was accused of domestic violence. Having said that, DG-B will be an excellent weapon for Mariota, and could well be his team’s No.1 receiver sooner rather than later.


Ole Miss alumnus Golson might be short, but the cornerback’s got the speed and skills to cause some immense disruption for AFC North offenses this year. Plus, the Steelers are pretty desperate for secondary players, so Golson will start Week One. We think.


I really like Coates, and was pretty stunned when he went as low as Round 3. He’s great in the air, and can beat a secondary with his speed. We love him. Expect Coates to get quite a bit of playing time with the Steelers this year, as Ben Roethlisberger continues to throw the ball around – especially with his running back and chief attack weapon Le’Veon Bell suspended for the first three games.


Am I the only person who thinks that Carolina got a huge bargain with the fifth-round pick of Artis-Payne? He was great as an out-and-out running back (1,608 yards, 13 TDs) and good as a receiver (147 yards on 13 passes). He’ll be a weapon for Cam Newton this year.


The linebacker from Missouri was immense last season, which had 10 sacks and three forced fumbles. He’s a fantastic pass-rusher, and we expect him to win the training camp battle


Tackling machine that’ll cause offensive co-ordinators headaches. If he’s effective in camp, DeMarcus Ware could be sharing time with Rey sooner rather than later.


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