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.

 

 

Ole Miss star Tunsil to return against Texas A&M

Ole Miss star offensive linesman Laremy Tunsil will return against Texas A&M, giving the Rebels a monster boost going into the final games of their SEC West run.

Tunsil was given a seven game suspension by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits, which meant the Memphis game will be his last game.

Ole Miss said: “During the course of the process, it was determined by the NCAA that Tunsil received impermissible extra benefits that included the use of three separate loaner vehicles over a sixth-month period without payment, a four-month interest-free promissory note on a $3,000 down payment for purchasing a used vehicle, two nights of lodging at a local home, an airline ticket purchased by a friend of a teammate, and one day use of a rental vehicle.  In addition, it was determined that Tunsil was not completely forthcoming when initially questioned by NCAA investigators regarding the loaner vehicles.  He later corrected his account and since apologized.

Tunsil will also have to make the vehicle payments, pay the value of the extra benefits to charity, and perform community service.

In the release, Tunsil said: “I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made and want to thank everyone for their continued support. I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and the entire Ole Miss family for how my choices affected our program.  This was a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to being back on the field with my team and redeeming myself.  The last 10 months have been a physical and mental battle for me, but I love playing this game more than anything else.  I want to be here for my teammates who are depending on me to finish what we started together.

Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss’ coach said: “We have been supportive of Laremy throughout this process, and we are thankful he can return to competition starting with the Texas A&M game.  More important than his football ability is his character, and I am confident that Laremy will grow from this experience and continue to be a positive member of the University and our football team.

 

Tunsil is widely thought of being a first round NFL draft pick in the 2016 draft.

 

How good is Ole Miss? Week 4 SEC rankings

Ole Miss was expected to smash Vanderbilt at home and didn’t, instead grinding out an 11-point win over the Commodores and never totally looking in control. Yes, we know that they were coming off a monster win at Alabama, but that’s hardly College Football Play-Off form. Ohio State, by the way, has been ‘grinding’ since it won at Virginia Tech – although it found some signs of life on Saturday.

The fact is this: Ole Miss is still the toast of the SEC West, but we don’t have a clue how good the SEC West actually is. Last year, it was so much easier….

Elsewhere, Arkansas choked against Texas A&M at Jerryworld and lost in overtime, Tennessee choked away the first win in a decade against Florida, and Kentucky got its first win against a ranked side- Missouri – in a 21-13 victory. Leonard Fournette continued to be “Mr Unstoppable” at Syracuse – although LSU was awful up there, Auburn remained a trainwreck in losing at home to Mississippi State, while the SEC East’s favorite trainwreck – South Carolina – beat all-FBS trainwreck UCF (and was actually losing at halftime). And Georgia got outplayed by Southern’s band at half-time (#FIREMARKRICHT), but won the four quarters. Oh, and that little-known or cared about SEC team Alabama? They m’ehed their way to smashing ULM and taking a 2-1 series lead in that mighty rivalry.

So here are our rankings after Week 4:

  1. Ole Miss (Last week: 1) : The fact that Robert Nkemdiche scored his third touchdown of the season was the highlight – not the exclamation point – on a poor night offensively for Chad Kelly, who was picked off twice. Look, we know that Ole Miss was against defensive co-ordinators in the SEC in Derek Mason (he is, folks), but getting rescued by your special teams and an inability of a Vandy kicker to nail a fourth-straight field goal hardly has you saying: “This is the best team in college football”. But they still are the best team in the SEC. Maybe.
  2. Alabama (1) : This is not so much about Alabama’s defense turning it on against ULM (they only gave up 92 yards all day), but about the Crimson Tide’s offense. This offense isn’t great, but it pretty darned good. And all-round, I believe the Tide is better than Texas A&M.
  3. Texas A&M (3) : Why is Alabama a better team than Texas A&M? Because at JerryWorld, Texas A&M couldn’t stop Arkansas running backs Alex Collins and Damian Williams down the middle all day long. Alabama’s got a better offensive line and a better running back duo and will run the ball down their throat. Mind you, Alabama’s O-Line had better be ready for Mr Everything Myles Garrett, Alabama’s secondary better be ready for Christian Kirk, though. He’s something else, people!
  4. Georgia (4) : They got their ass whipped by Southern’s band at half-time, but won the actually football comfortably. Our prayers are with Southern WR Devon Gales, who suffered a spinal injury in the third quarter. These sort of injuries make you nauseous.
  5. LSU (5) : Every time you think the Tigers on a roll, Les Miles provides a piss-poor, sleepwalking, crappy effort against a far-inferior opponent. It happened against Saturday. LSU may have won 34-24, and Leonard Fournette got over 200 yards and 2 TDs, but my God, the penalties. The Tigers gave up ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YARDS IN PENALTIES (14 of them). That’s terrible. The Fournette factor keeps them this high, though.
  6. Florida (6): The Gators got through this win by the skin of their teeth, and that’s OK. At least for Gators fans. Jim McElwain was an inches-wide field goal from losing being the first Florida coach since Ron Zook to lose to Tennessee. The Gators struggled to deal with the run, and at times the INCREDIBLE SECONDARY didn’t look so incredible. I’m still on-the-fence about the Gators. Sorry.
  7. Mississippi State (8): Heartily took advantage of the wreckery in Auburn to take home a 17-9 victory. Manny Diaz’ defense ensured Auburn’s offense went without a touchdown since 2011. Dak Prescott’s probably the best QB in the SEC right now. If there’s a side trending upwards in this league, it’s the Bulldogs.
  8. Tennessee (7): I saw this over Twitter yesterday: Three teams have given up double-digit leads in the fourth quarter this season. Two of them are Tennessee. The game’s match-up with Arkansas may get called off because Neyland’s flooded with both fanbases’ tears.
  9. Kentucky (9): I’m becoming a genuine believer in Mark Stoops, and the trouble he might cause Georgia and other teams when they come against the Wildcats in future games. Well, Mark Stoops’ defense. And Patrick Towles. Kentucky beat Missouri and had its first victory over a ranked opponent in 19 attempts.
  10. Arkansas (12) : Arkansas should have beaten Texas A&M in JerryWorld. They played really, really well. You know, until Bret Bielema decided to go conservative on the final drive, and the team murdered themselves with penalty flags. The referees didn’t exactly help them either, too. But this Arkansas team – if it gets some fire in its belly – might not be the tire fire we all thought it was post-Texas Tech.
  11. Missouri (11) : The Tigers have no offense. Simple.
  12. South Carolina (13): Before the game, a Gamecocks fans tweeted me a badge that said: “For the love of God, please beat UCF”. They did – 31-10 – and Lorenzo Nunez has a bit of confidence in him. Pharoh Cooper doesn’t need any confidence, thanks.
  13. Auburn (9) : Formally an offensive juggernaut, the Tigers simply don’t look that dangerous when they get the ball. And considering that defense is a major issue for them…..Safe to say Tammy from Auburn is not going to be very happy on Monday.
  14. Vanderbilt (14) : A great defensive performance against one of the best offensive teams in college football. Derek Mason is a defensive genius. Our problem? There’s no offense (at least against the ‘bigger’ teams). But a hell of an effort in Oxford, folks.

 

 

Kentucky 2015 Preview: Better Second Half This Time?

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

THE OFF-SEASON

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

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

WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN WITH THE OFFENSE?

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

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

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

AND THE DEFENSE?

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

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

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

THE SCHEDULE

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

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

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

Auburn vs Oregon: We can’t wait!!

OK, so we might hate the idea of one-off non-conference games during the regular season, but we have to be honest, the confirmation that Auburn’s going to play Oregon in 2019 at JerryWorld is INCREDIBLE.

WE. CAN’T. WAIT.

Of course, we would have preferred a home-and-home. And so would Oregon season ticket holders (Eugene’s a 32 hour drive from Dallas). And possibly Auburn season ticket holders (10 hrs, 52 mins).

But the TV companies? Definitely not. The conferences? Definitely not. This is a top echelon conference showcase between two superpowers. And the schools? It’s going to be a nice payday, thanks very much. And if they win, their chances of going to the play-off (which might be up to 8 teams by 2019) skyrocket, and if they lose and win through the season, their chances of going to the play-off skyrocket. The ADs don’t look bad.

We can’t wait because if the way Auburn and Oregon have been set up over the last few years, there are going to be a heap of points. And remember: The last game in 2011 between these two wasn’t too bad, after all.

Georgia hires new offensive co-ordinator

Georgia has hired Brian Schottenheimer from the St Louis Rams as its new offensive co-ordinator.

I’m excited to have Brian join our coaching staff,” Richt said in a statement. “His NFL experience will be a perfect fit for how we like to play offensive football here at Georgia. He’ll be excellent in developing our players in both the running and passing games, which will benefit them while they are at Georgia and for their future.

Schottenheimer’s hiring comes after long-time offensive co-ordinator Mike Bobo decided to go and take on the head coaching position at Colorado State, after CSU’s head coach Jim McElwain decided to go and be the head coach at Florida.

This year St Louis’ offense – not helped by a season-ending injury to starting QB Sam Bradford – was terrible, ranking 28th in the NFL.

Schottenheimer, who will also coach UGA’s QBs, said: “This is a great opportunity to become a Georgia Bulldog for both my career and my family,” Schottenheimer said in a statement. “I’m thrilled to be part of an elite program with such national tradition and a great staff already in place. I look forward to working with young men and being a positive and significant influence on their lives as we develop them athletically, academically and socially.

 

Geaux-ing, Geaux-ing, Gone: Why Saturday’s game for LSU is make or break

There is a smell around Tiger Stadium, and despite what Katy Perry says, it’s not corndogs and it’s certainly not bourbon. It feels – and smells – like a funeral.

That shouldn’t be surprising, because Death Valley has prided itself on being the place where opposition teams’ – and their fans’ hopes go to die. Now, the fanbase- complete with a multi-million dollar new addition the stadium – are feeling the stench of the death upon them as a program, punch-drunk by successive monster losses, falls to its knees like a heavyweight boxer lit up by consecutive Mike Tyson punches.

At the start of the season, people weren’t as angry at Les Miles, because they came back from the dead to beat Wisconsin. Since then, they’ve won the games they should do against minor opposition, and in the big unveiling of the new south end zone expansion, they were blown out by Mississippi State (the end scoreline doesn’t really lend weight to how far apart Cowbell and Tiger really were), and then at Auburn, it was a Titanic that was smashed by a double iceberg of Gus Malzahn offense and its own horrors on both sides of the ball. Now they are really angry. After all, LSU hadn’t lost to Mississippi State and pretty consistently owned Auburn, but they were owned.

To put this in perspective: LSU last had a winless record in a conference in 1924. That was in the Southern Conference days, before they decided they were going to be a founder member of the SEC. Heck, the last time they only lost one game in the Southeastern Conference was in 1999. They are in great danger of posting the egg this season.

And last season LSU wasn’t great.

Sure, they went 10-3 for the second year in a row, but LSU really wasn’t great. Before the season began the team became a laughing stock when it was allowed to vote on the future of Jeremy Hill, who had been arrested for giving one of the worst blindsides-by-a-football-player in the annals of bad blindsides outside Tigerland. His previous history from his pre-college years should have seen an ‘au revoir’ from Team Geaux, but then again, what’s a moral when you’ve got wins to be had? Oh, and the 2013 LSU Tigers were awful tacklers, too. And they really didn’t seem to care all season long, either. Sure, the Tigers could throw and catch the ball, but the defense was horrible? Hell, but it was exciting!!

Despite all that, NINE LSU players went to the NFL Draft, including Mettenberger, top talents on wide receiver in Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and both Hill and Alfred Blue. And DT Ego Ferguson and OLB Lamin Barrow went too. All in all, the team returned 5 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters. But if we’re honest, the talent all went pro in something that was football. Listen, we know LSU went into 2014 with a bit of love. “Les Miles is still one of the best recruiters in the country”, drooled the writers, telling us all that the Cat In The Hat had managed to pull off a 2nd-ranked 2014 recruiting class and a year before that, a 6th-ranked recruiting class. The 2014 recruiting class included the ‘new Bo Jackson’ Leonard Fournette, and a bag of other talent, too.

Well, even Fournette – who only arrived on campus in the spring – couldn’t do miracles. LSU- which needs a good running back duo bearing in mind its horrible problems at quarterback – ranks 32nd in the country in rushing offense. The quarterback and offensive line combo (Anthony Jennings is awful and Brandon Harris is young and overthrows the ball too much) has ensured LSU is 72nd in passing offense. And the offensive line itself has allowed 11 sacks for 70 yards (61st in the country) already. Defensively, the team can’t stop the rush. LSU is 89th in the nation defending the rush. Weirdly, the secondary has been excellent against the pass – No. 10, and 2nd in the SEC. But it doesn’t matter about passing when you can rush the ball on the Paper Tigers, does it? Against Auburn, it was big play after big play after big play they managed to give up, and we could swear that the only reason LSU wasn’t beaten by 60 is that Gus Malzahn realized he had a pretty big game at Mississippi State the following week and wanted to keep the score down.

So what’s going to happen against Florida, a team with its own problems? We don’t know. But if the Tigers don’t win this one, LSU fans are going to get someone’s head. Because one thing’s for certain: They won’t get geaux-ing to a bowl game in a hurry.

Leading Tennessee WR takes leave of absence

Tennessee wide receiver Alton ‘Pig’ Howard has taken a leave of absence and won’t play in the spring practice period with the team, say reports coming out of Knoxville.

The News Sentinel-owned GoVolsExtra  site said “Howard has been away from the team due to “personal reasons” and his long-term future with the Vols had not yet been decided.”

Howard had 44 receptions and 3 TDs in 2013, which led the offense-light Volunteers. He also had 388 receiving yards.

He is thought to be the Vols No.2 receiver behind Marquez North coming into the Spring.

BOTTOM LINE: This isn’t going to make the Vols’ already-tough schedule any easier. Howard may well return for the Spring, but it’s looking increasingly unlikely. Over to you, Marquez…

 

Nick Saban gives thoughts on ‘Saban Rule’

Below is Q&A done with Alabama Coach Nick Saban by Al.com‘s Brandon Marcello on the controversial ‘Saban Rule’, which would force offenses to wait before snapping the football, therefore slowing down the game.

***FIRST PUBLISHED ON AL.COM***

Q: What are your thoughts on the 10-second rule proposal?

Saban: “I really don’t necessarily have an opinion on the 10-second rule. I think there are three issues that need to be researched relative to pace of play, the first being player safety. When you look at plays that are run, and a team averages 88 plays, and we average 65 at Alabama, that’s 20-something plays more a game over a 12-game season, that adds up to four more games a year that guys have to play. I think it’s wear and tear and tougher to prepare players when you have to play against a hurry-up offense because of the way you have to practice. 

I don’t know that there’s any particular scientific evidence that you could say, more guys get hurt in this offense versus that one, or hurry-up, or whatever, but everything that we’ve ever done in the NCAA is about exposure. How many exposures does a player get? We’ve always tried to limit spring practice, we limit fall camp, we limit the number of days you can hit now. We have acclimation days: so many days in shorts, so many days in shoulder pads. The NFL even limited their practice even more, but really found that they got more guys hurt in the games. The ratio of guys that get hurt in the game is 7 to 1 that guys get hurt in practice. So we’re limiting practice, and playing more plays in the game. College football is the only game in the country, of any kind, that the college game is longer than the pro game. And the disparity in plays run is like 59 to 72 in the NFL – 59 for the lowest-average team, 72 for the highest. You know, in college, it’s more like 61 and 90. Alright, so there’s a large disparity. But that’s just something that people need to look at.

The second thing is, can officials officiate the game? They’re not in position when the ball is snapped, just like defensive players aren’t in position when the ball is snapped, so that’s a game administration issue that people should probably look into.

And the third thing, to me, and the last thing, which is not the most important, I think the first is most important, is there any competitive imbalance created by the pace of play.

So I think those are all issues that people need to look at. In the NFL, what they did is the officials stand over the ball until the officials are ready to call the game. Alright, that’s how they control the pace of play. The coach at Philadelphia ran 83 plays a game at Oregon, and ran 65 a game in Philadelphia. So why do they control the pace of play in the NFL? I mean, I’m just asking.

But anyway, there’s just a lot of issues that need to be looked at, but I think the bottom line is, was football intended to be a continuous game?

 
Soccer is a continuous game, rugby is a continuous game, but for the physical elements that are involved in playing a football game and the number of plays that you play, I don’t know that it was ever intended to be a continuous game.”Q: Bret Bielema last week mentioned player safety being No. 1 for him, and even brought up the Cal player who passed away in February during a conditioning drill. His proof is death certificates, that these hurry-up offenses could lead to some player safety issues and the last thing he wants to see is a player, one, get injured and maybe even worse in the future. What are your thoughts on that?

Saban: “I think player safety is the No. 1 thing, and that was my No. 1 issue as well. I think when players get tired they’re more susceptible to get injured if you can’t substitute players when they’re tired or if they’re injured and you can’t get them out of the game. Or if a player has a pre-existing condition, whether it’s sickle cell, asthma or whatever it is and the trainer says that guy needs to come out. The only way to get them out of the game is to call timeout, so the other way, we could, you know alleviate — there’s a lot of solution to the problem. I don’t think coaches should be making this decision. I don’t think I should make it, I don’t think any coaches should make it. I think somebody outside all of us should decide what is in the best interest of the game, whether it’s player safety, game administration, whatever it might be. That’s sort of the concern that, I think, we all have.”

Q: Gus Malzahn mentioned he doesn’t necessarily want to nix this right away, but he would like there to be a year to where everybody can kind of discuss and maybe do some research to gather data about it. Are you OK with that?

Saban: “I think one thing people don’t understand is they don’t have all the facts about this. The reason — I had nothing to do with the idea of the 10-second rule, but the committee decided the 10-second rule because they took 12 games of three fastball teams: Oregon, Auburn, Texas A&M and I forget the fourth one, it might have been Baylor, I’m not sure. And they said, OK, how many times did they snap the ball in the first 10 seconds of the play clock? It averaged four times a game, so you’re really not changing — I don’t think anybody was trying to change what they do or how they do it, but the fact that they can get on the line and snap it quick, you can’t substitute. All right. So, that becomes an eventual player safety issue and I think if you ask the guys philosophically, a lot of them that run the offense, they say we want to wear the defense down and get the defense tired. Well, you get the defensive players tired they are going to be more susceptible to getting injured.

Even though  there is no scientific data to prove this, there was a study at Virgina Tech in 2003. All right, they did sub-concussive head traumas on eight players for 10 games. Those players played 61 plays a game and had 18 sub-concussive hits in a game, so they played 61 plays a game for 10 games. So, I’m saying if you’re playing nose guard, three-technique, defensive end, offensive tackle, offensive guard, if you played 88 plays in a game, there’s no scientific evidence but there is some logic that says the guy would have more hits. So, that’s a player safety issue that I think people need to sorta look at. 

Look, I’m all for what’s best for the game. The game is what it is, I don’t think any coach should determine, just like when they went to Philadelphia in the NFL and they were going so fast, the officials said, ‘We control the pace of the game.’ The league said, ‘The officials control the pace of the game, not a coach.’ So, I’m just saying what’s best for the game. That’s what Nick Saban is for.”

Q: The officials controlling the pace of the game, is that something you’d like to see instituted in the college level?

Saban: “They spent a lot of money in the NFL figuring out what’s best for the game and what’s best for the players and they have a lot invested in it and I think sometimes we don’t need to do all the things that they do but I think in some situations the officials controlling the pace of the game in that league has, I think, benefited the players and I would like to see the officials be able to control the pace of the game. I think the officials control the pace of the game in all games, but they don’t in college football.”

Alabama hires Lane Kiffin as new OC

Alabama has hired Lane Kiffin as their new offensive co-ordinator – just days after previous incumbent Doug Nussmeier went to the job at Michigan.

The last time SEC fans saw Kiffin was when he walked out of Tennessee in 2010 to take the USC job, and he left a mess behind him. He was then fired mid-season by the Trojans in 2013 after they were schellacked by Arizona State. Before that they had lost to Washington State.

Kiffin had been invited by Bama Coach Nick Saban to evaluate the team’s offense in mid-December, a move that some saw as a sign that Nussmeier was not going to be coming back for the 2014 season.

The job for Kiffin should be a fairly simple one: Give the ball to running back stars Derrick Henry and TJ Yeldon, who will form one the SEC’s best thunder-and-lightning partnerships (it’s between them and Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall (if UGA can keep both fit/out of trouble). Alabama will be starting a new quarterback now AJ McCarron has completed a great four years in Tuscaloosa, where he won two National Championships.

We also anticipate more of a hurry-up offense to compete with Gus Malzahn at Auburn, which at times, seemed to fluster Alabama’s defensive line. We also anticipate the recruiting of great speed from Tuscaloosa, so Baylor and Oregon should be watching their backs from last-minute steals from the Crimson Tide.

Saban said: “We are excited to have Lane join our staff. He is an outstanding and creative offensive coach who has great experience both at the college and NFL level. He has a very good understanding of the game and I have always been impressed with what I saw in the games he called. He coaches with a great deal of passion and enthusiasm, and also does an excellent job as a teacher. Lane will be an outstanding addition to our coaching staff and we look forward to him and his family joining us at the University of Alabama.”

BOTTOM LINE: If Nick Saban was impressed with the games that Lane Kiffin called, he obviously wasn’t referring to the 2013 season, when USC flat-out stank. But let’s be honest, the Kiffin hire is going to be a massive risk for Alabama, bearing in mind Kiffin’s past, which this blog hasn’t mentioned before. The other bottom line is that the only person getting super-wealthy out of this deal (we think that Kiffin probably came pretty cheap for Alabama, and that Kiffin’s on a pretty short contract), is Jimmy Sexton, the college football superagent who shares Saban and Kiffin as clients.

BOTTOM, BOTTOM LINE: Since he was fired at USC, Kiffin appeared on College Gameday where he came off as humble, and we couldn’t help but be impressed. Kiffin’s job – if he just does the OC job and doesn’t do a lot of recruiting (which has got him trouble in the past) – will have some pressure taken off because at Alabama, there only seems to be one man who deals with the press: Nick Saban

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