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Found 380 results

  1. 2019 Opponent Preview: South Carolina Hosts Gators In “Measuring Stick” Game For Both Programs June 18, 2019, | by CHRIS, | THESPURSUPSHOW OPPONENT: Florida WHEN: Saturday, October 19th WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, SC) ALL-TIME SERIES RECORD: Florida leads 27-9-3 LAST MEETING: Florida beat the Gamecocks 35-31 in Gainesville, FL 2018 RECORD: 10-3 (5-3) Head Coach… Dan Mullen The Gators football program got a boost of energy a year ago when former assistant Dan Mullen was named head coach. Year one was successful for Mullen and co., leading the Gators to a 10-3 (5-3) overall record, capped off by an impressive 41-15 win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. Now, Mullen looks to make another big jump in year two and get the Gators closer to the promises he made upon his hiring. Returning Starters… OFFENSE (5) WR Van Jefferson (Sr.) WR Tyrie Cleveland (Sr.) WR Josh Hammond (Sr.) C Nick Buchanan (Sr.) QB Feleipe Franks (Jr.) DEFENSE (7) DE Jabari Zuniga (Sr.) NT Adam Shuler (Sr.) DT Kyree Campbell (Jr.) LB David Reese II (Sr.) CB CJ Henderson (Jr.) STAR Trey Dean III (So.) S Donovan Stonier (Jr.) How did they fare in 2018? The Gators surpassed expectations in Dan Mullen’s first season, winning 10 games capped off by a huge win over Michigan in the Peach Bowl. The year didn’t come without some bumps and bruises along the way, however. Florida lost to Kentucky for the first time in over two decades, sending fans in Gainesville into panic mode early on. UF rebounded nicely, winning five in a row before suffering back to back losses to Georgia and Missouri. Once again, Florida bounced back, winning four straight games, leading to an off-season full of optimism and hope heading into the 2019 season. Best Returning Player… Felipe Franks While highly criticized at times, Franks truly is the engine that makes Florida go. Franks quietly had a nice year for the Gators, throwing for just under 2,500 yards, 24 TD and just 6 INT. Now, heading into his junior season, he will look to take another major step and establish himself as one of the best signal callers in the SEC. Overall Outlook… To nobodies surprise, the Gators enter this season with sky high expectations in Dan Mullen’s second season. It’s been an interesting off-season for Florida to say the least, led off by Chris Steele’s decision to transfer which spurned a lot of moving around in Gainesville. Mullen has been very outspoken this off-season as well, getting in daily jabs at his archival UGA, Tennessee and others. Now, for the Gators trip to Columbia. First of all, don’t even get me started on last years game… South Carolina had Florida dead, leading by 17 with just under five minutes to play in the 3Q before the Gators stormed back for a 35-31 win. Now, the Gamecocks will look for revenge in what should prove to be a “measuring stick” type game for both programs this October. Still the question remains: what can we expect from this Gators team? Some have them listed as high as a Top 10 team in the pre-season, while some have UF taking a step back. Count me amongst those who are skeptical of the Gators in year two of the Dan Mullen era. UF comes back down to Earth a bit in 2019, including in their week eight match-up in Columbia. 2019 SEASON PROJECTION: 8-4 (4-4)
  2. Independence Bowl SEC cutting after this season SEC cutting after this season. Picking up Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa and Las Vegas Bowl. That would make the 7-5 season seem a bit better you think?
  3. Statement after SEC Meetings from Ray Tanner:"The public sale of alcohol in SEC venues has been a discussion item for several years and there had never been enough momentum to change the policy until this year. While we have discussed this inside the athletics department, now that the ban has been rescinded, we need fully to vet the impact for us with our campus leadership, including the President and the Board of Trustees, as well as campus, local and state agencies. We value the customer experience in all of athletic venues and will not do anything to negatively impact that."
  4. Southern Pigskin's ranking of the top five SEC defensive fronts for 2019. May 27, 2019 1. Alabama -- Linebacker Dylan Moses returns as the Crimson Tide's leading tackler, also adding ten tackles for loss, set to quarterback another elite defense in Tuscaloosa. Simply put, he goes wherever the ball goes. At 6'7'', Raekwon Davis is Alabama's latest stud on the defensive line. He has 15.5 tackles for loss the past two years and, at nearly 310 pounds, had a key interception in the national championship game two seasons ago. The athletic Anfernee Jennings, 13 tackles for loss as a junior, is back to rush passers off the edge. 2. LSU -- Even without Devin White, star power abounds. End Rashard Lawrence, at 6'3'', 317 pounds, is one of the most fierce linemen in all of college football. He and Breiden Fehoko set a dominant tone in the trenches. Linebackers Michael Divinity, Jr. and Jacob Phillips are a productive inside-outside duo that roam the middle of the field. Keep an eye on true freshman Marcel Brooks here, too. The return of edge defender K'Lavon Chaisson from injury will boost the pass rush. 3. Auburn -- Few defensive lines in the country are most disruptive as Nick Coe, Derrick Brown, Marlon Davidson and Big Kat Bryant are back after combining for 32.5 tackles for loss in 2018. The Tigers, led by Brown, who turned down the NFL Draft for another year on the Plains, boast top-tier talent and depth everywhere across the line of scrimmage. K.J. Britt is the most proven returnee at linebacker, though watch out for five-star incoming recruit Owen Pappoe. 4. South Carolina -- The Gamecocks have multiple difference-makers along the front seven, most notably veteran linebacker T.J. Brunson, who has 194 total stops the past two years. He and Sherrod Greene return as the team's top two tacklers. At 6'6'', 300 pounds, tackle Javon Kinlaw is a name to know, and a fast-rising draft prospect, up front. A healthy D.J. Wonnum, six sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2017, is a standout playmaker. 5. Arkansas -- Defensive tackle McTelvin Agim and linebacker De'Jon Harris are stars, both All-SEC contenders. Agim, a tried-and-true anchor at the point of attack, has 23 career tackles for loss. Harris has been all over the field the past couple of years, with 270 total stops and 19.5 tackles for loss to date. The last two seasons, alone, he has 118 and 115 tackles, respectively. Linebacker Bumper Pool will take on more responsibility after a nice freshman debut.
  5. 2019 SEC Secondary Rankings By Southern Pigskin Staff SouthernPigskin.com Ranking the top five defensive backfields in the SEC. 1. LSU -- Safety Grant Delpit is one of the premier players, regardless of position, in all of college football. A lock for All-American, he can impact a game in coverage, see five interceptions a year ago, or near the line of scrimmage, with 9.5 tackles for loss. Delpit makes the already-notable talent around him even better. Cornerback Kristian Fulton, now the number one, has the potential to be All-SEC good. Get ready to hear a lot about five-star true freshman Derek Stingley, Jr, who stands 6'1'', 195 pounds. 2. Florida -- There is talent and depth everywhere for the Gators, meaning coordinator Todd Grantham will have lots of options. C.J. Henderson will contend for national honors at cornerback and leads a rotation as deep and athletic as any in the country. Marco Wilson, back from injury, will again make his mark. At 6'3'', Trey Dean III brings impressive length to the perimeter. Standouts Jeawon Taylor, Brad Stewart and Donovan Stiner are all proven playmakers with starting experience at the safety spots. 3. Alabama -- All-American safety Xavier McKinney is an all-over-the-field defender. He had 74 total tackles, ten pass breakups and six tackles for loss a season ago and sets the tone in the secondary. Patrick Surtain had a standout freshman introduction as expected. Together, he and Trevon Diggs are a formidable cornerback duo. Versatile veteran Shyheim Carter can play multiple positions in the secondary and play them well. 4. Georgia -- The safety tandem, for the Bulldogs, is one of the best in the nation. J.R. Reed and Richard LeCounte were Georgia's top two tacklers last season, combining for 140 total stops, and are versatile, instinctive defenders. Reed and LeCounte have all-conference upside alike. Both Tyson Campbell, a returning starter, and Eric Stokes had impressive freshman debuts last fall. Former blue-chip recruits fill out the depth chart. 5. Mississippi State -- At 6'2'', 185 pounds, Cameron Dantzler is a top-tier cover corner. He will be in consideration for All-SEC honors. Dantzler's role becomes a more prominent one this fall. Though there are notable stars to replace, there is plenty of experience in Starkville. Safeties Brian Cole and Jaquarius Landrews are seniors, as is Dantzler's partner at cornerback Maurice Smitherman.
  6. Southern Pigskin's ranking of the top five SEC offensive lines for 2019. May 27, 2019 1. Georgia -- Led by All-American tackle Andrew Thomas, the ever-physical Bulldogs boast college football's top offensive line. The unflappable Thomas and fellow bookend Isaiah Wilson, fresh off a great spring, form a prototypical tackle tandem. Across the front, the size is staggering; Thomas stands 6'5'', 320 pounds, guard Solomon Kindley goes 6'4'', 335, center Trey Hill is 6'4'', 330 pounds, guard Ben Cleveland measures in at 6'6'', 335 and Wilson towers at 6'7'', 340.2. Alabama -- Strong play along the offensive front continues to be a fixture in Tuscaloosa and, even with big names to replace, the program standard will continue. The next big star at the line of scrimmage for the Crimson Tide appears to be 6'6'' guard Alex Leatherwood, who is one of the nation's best. Tackle Jedrick Willis, Jr. is really good, too. Keep an eye on true freshman tackle Evan Neal. A five-star prospect, he is a mammoth people-mover at 6'7'', 360 pounds.3. Missouri -- The Tigers have ranked in the top eleven nationally in fewest sacks allowed in three consecutive years. Expect more of the same. First-team All-SEC honoree Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms, a dominant senior at 6'5'', 340 pounds, is one of the top road-graders in the country. At 6'7'', 330, senior Yasir Durant is a consistent, proven edge protector. Center Trystan Colon-Castillo is a strong anchor at center.4. Mississippi State -- Senior Darryl Williams can play anywhere along the interior and has multiple years of big game experience on his resume. He leads a unit that should be one of the league's best when it comes to run-blocking. Guard Stewart Reese, 6'5'', 340 pounds, will help lead the charge there. The Bulldogs signed a five star prospect at tackle in Charles Cross, one of the program's highest-ranked recruits ever.5. LSU -- Four starters return for the now-experienced Tigers, meaning notable progress should be made up front. Guard Damien Lewis is an All-SEC type talent who, as a senior, will anchor the line for an offense that will, as usual, look to be physical. Tackle Saahdiq Charles is emerging on the edge at tackle
  7. It is being sold at Riverbanks Zoo. I do not know. Hate to be around a bunch of miserable drunks when we lose. Could make it really more of a bad day. Seems a lot get tanked up before they hit the gate. How do you feel on the subject? With Its Alcohol Policy Back Up For Discussion, the SEC Considers Joining the Party Chris Maitre is a Tulane football lifer. He attended Green Wave football games with his father in the 1970s at the Superdome. Chris was just 5 then, but he can vividly remember his dad clasping an adult beverage in his right hand as the Wave played on the field below. “Alcohol, specifically beer, has been at Tulane events for as long as anybody can recall,” says Maitre, now a senior associate athletic director at Tulane who has worked at the school for 23 years. “I don’t know when we didn’t have it.” (TO READ ARTICLE CLICK)
  8. Southern Pigskin's ranking of the top five SEC backfields for 2019 May 20, 2019, | southernpigskin.com 1. Alabama -- Tua Tagovailoa, the likely number one overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, now holds college football's single-season passer rating record at 199.4. Remarkably, he completed 69% of his passes for 3,966 yards with 43 touchdowns and just six interceptions this past year. The powerful Najee Harris was the Crimson Tide's second-leading rusher last fall, rushing for 783 yards and averaging an impressive 6.7 yards per carry. Alabama, among all the five-stars, added Trey Sanders in its latest recruiting class, the number one running back prospect in the nation. 2. Georgia -- A very strong argument can be made for the Bulldogs having the top offensive backfield in the SEC and certainly a top three group nationally. After finishing 8th in the nation in passer rating as a true freshman, Jake Fromm jumped to 5th as a sophomore. He has averaged nine yards per pass attempt both years and improved to 30 touchdown passes in 2018. From mid-October on, dynamic running back D'Andre Swift had over 100 yards in each of the five games where he had double digit carries. As usual, Georgia has incredible running back depth with the likes of James Cook, Brian Herrien and Zamir White. 3. Florida -- The Gators are stacked at running back with the return of Lamical Perine, Dameon Pierce and Malik Davis, all of whom are capable of being featured offensive playmakers. Perine has 15 rushing touchdowns the last two years. Quarterback Feleipe Franks improvement dramatically under Dan Mullen, throwing 24 touchdown passes and rushing for seven more. Franks was named Offensive MVP of the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. There is also excitement around reserve signal caller Emory Jones. 4. Mississippi State -- Stepping in for Nick Fitzgerald due to injury, Keytaon Thompson has done a very nice job the past few years. He, as a dual-threat talent, scored ten total touchdowns in 2018, with only one interception. Thompson should continue his progression into a prominent front-line starter. Kylin Hill is an explosive running back who averaged nearly 6.3 yards per carry last fall. Reserve Nick Gibson can be a home run threat. 5. Missouri -- Former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant brings quite the resume to the Tigers of the SEC East, most notably a 15-1 record in games he has both started and finished. Bryant scored 24 total touchdowns in 2017. Larry Rountree III should pair quite well with Brant. With 1,216 yards, Rountree just recorded the third-highest single-season rushing total in Missouri history. He rushed for 458 yards over the team's final three games. In career games where Rountree has topped 90 yards, the Tigers are 7-1.
  9. Southern Pigskin's ranking of the top five SEC receiving corps for 2019 May 20, 2019, | southernpigskin.com 1. Alabama -- Not many programs in history have returned production like this. Jerry Jeudy, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs III and DeVonta Smith are back after combining for 202 receptions for 3,597 yards and 38 touchdowns last season. Remarkably, they all ranked in the top eleven in the SEC yards per catch. Jeudy was the 2018 winner of the Biletnikoff Award given to the best receiver in the nation. With all of the aforementioned talent, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa returns after setting the game's single-season passer rating record. 2. Florida -- There is great depth in Gainesville, where the Gators' top six receivers all return. After transferring from Ole Miss, Van Jefferson led Florida with 35 catches, 503 yards and six touchdowns. Ohio State-transfer Trevon Gimes added 26 grabs. Exciting playmakers dot the rotation, including veterans Tyrie Cleveland, Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain, 18.9 yards per reception and five scores, and the versatile Kadarius Toney. Expectations are high for athletic rising tight end Kyle Pitts. 3. LSU -- Justin Jefferson is one of the nation's most talented receivers. His sophomore production, 54 catches for 875 yards and six touchdowns, speak to that ability. Jefferson had two big scores in the Fiesta Bowl victory over Central Florida. Stephen Sullivan is a major matchup problem at 6'7'', one of many notable athletes on the perimeter. Ja'Marr Chase is fresh off an impressive freshman debut. 4. Missouri -- Albert Okwuegbunam is college football's best tight end. Even after missing late last season due to injury, he has 72 catches and 17 touchdowns the past two years. With 1,896 career yards, Johnathon Johnson is one of the most productive receivers in the SEC. Jalen Knox leads a talented young core of pass-catchers. The Tigers have also added Arkansas-transfer Jonathan Nance, who led the Razorbacks with 37 grabs, 539 yards and five touchdowns in 2018. 5. Texas A&M -- A number of talented rising juniors will lead the way for the Aggies out wide. Quartney Davis, Camron Buckley, Jhamon Austin, Kendrick Rogers and Hezekiah Jones combined for 152 catches in 2018. Seven of Davis' 45 receptions went for touchdowns. Quarterback Kellen Mond will have plenty of options on the perimeter, proven producers ready for even more.
  10. OAYP: 2019 SEC Linebacker Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com Now it’s time for the linebackers. Thanks to the departure of Devin White, the SEC LB throne is up for grabs. There are a couple of front runners, one that’s pretty obvious, one not as much, but a deep second tier, as well, from which a contender could emerge. So, just as we’ve done with all the other position groups, let’s tier the SEC linebackers into Superstars (marginal OAYP >1.0), the second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0), and potential breakout stars. *marginal OAYP scores in parentheses* Superstars -Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State (1.34) If you were expecting to see Dylan Moses’ name here… so was I. We’ll get to the Alabama standout shortly, but Erroll Thompson deserves his due. Other than White, Thompson was probably the best coverage linebacker in the league last year. Among SEC players at the position, with at least 200 snaps in coverage, Thompson’s 56.2 allowed passer rating on throws into his coverage ranked first, and his two interceptions tied for first among the group. He also sits in the top five among returning SEC linebackers in tackles and the top ten in tackles for loss, even including edge defenders. For some historical context, according to CFB Reference, just five linebackers since 2000 had as many tackles, TFL’s, sacks, and picks in a single season as Thompson -- a shortlist that includes the likes of Deion Jones and Rolando McClain. Everyone talked about Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons last year, and with good reason, but Mississippi State didn’t have one of the best defenses in the nation last year because of just two guys. The linebacking corps, one of whom we’ll talk about shortly, led by Thompson, was nasty in its own right. Second Tier -Dylan Moses, Alabama (0.94) -De'Jon Harris, Arkansas (0.78) -TJ Brunson, South Carolina (0.67) -Cale Garrett, Missouri (0.6) -Willie Gay, Mississippi State (0.59) This could really be split into two tiers, given how close Moses is to that 1.0 mark, with Brunson, Garrett, and Gay a notch below, and Harris straddling the line. I would be remiss not to point out that while the individual OAYP formula does seem to do a pretty good job of ranking players straight up, players’ value to their respective teams do factor into the equation. For the record, I don’t think Thompson is a better pure linebacker than Moses, and OAYP doesn’t necessarily either. I do, however, agree with the formula that he is significantly more valuable to Mississippi State than Moses to Alabama, and given how close their on-field play is, I think the ranking is justifiable. Of course, that 0.94 marginal OAYP speaks pretty highly of the Butkus Award finalist, so I don’t think I should feel compelled to make excuses. Moses is a genuinely special athlete that could probably play just about position for any defense in the country with great success. He and Thompson had almost identical production in 2018. He had just one fewer tackle, the same number of sacks, and one more tackle for loss. And though he wasn’t as elite as Thompson was in coverage, he has all the athletic tools to be even better. If he takes a step forward in that respect, he’ll be the best linebacker in the country this season. De’Jon Harris has been a personal favorite player of mine for a couple of years now. In just three seasons, and 33 games, he’s amassed 270 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. One of just ten SEC players to hit all of those marks since the turn of the century, his 33 games to do it are the fewest of the group -- a group that features names like C.J. Mosley, Rolando McClain, Brandon Spikes, and Devin White. The other three, Brunson, Garrett, and Gay, are solid, pretty much all-around, but you could combine each one’s elite traits for the ultimate linebacker. Take the phyiscality and tenacious run defense of TJ Brunson, the sure-tackling of Cale Garrett, and the pass rush ability of Wille Gay and, well, you’ve basically got Devin White. None of them have put it all together yet, but any and all of them have the potential to threaten Thompson and Moses for the title of ‘best linebacker in the SEC’. Potential Breakout Stars -Buddy Johnson, Texas A&M (0.53) -Jamar Watson, Kentucky (0.34) -Deandre Square, Kentucky (0.28) -James Houston, Florida (0.24) Texas A&M loses a ton of talent from the front seven, returning just one qualifying OAYP candidate in Justin Madubuike. Of all the new faces, though, Buddy Johnson appears most poised to bear the leadership burden. He’s got more than a few meaningful reps under his belt now, and has flashed in big games over the past two years, most specifically at LSU in 2017 and Mississippi State in 2018, and in the Aggies’ bowl win over NC State last year. Looking to carry that postseason momentum into 2019, Johnson has a chance to make a name for himself around the SEC. Kentucky obviously had an upper echelon defense a season ago, but having to replace Josh Allen, not to mention the entire secondary, is less than ideal. However, with Watson and Square, alongside Kash Daniel, the dropoff may not be as severe as some people anticipate. James Houston is also worth keeping an eye on. A natural playmaker, if he can earn more snaps in 2019, he could do a lot in the way of replacing Vosean Joseph’s production. Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying SEC Linebackers 1. Erroll Thompson, Mississippi State (1.34) 2. Dylan Moses, Alabama (0.94) 3. De'Jon Harris, Arkansas (0.78) 4. TJ Brunson, South Carolina (0.67) 5. Cale Garrett, Missouri (0.6) 6. Willie Gay, Mississippi State (0.59) 7. Michael Divinity, LSU (0.36) 8. Mohamed Sanogo, Ole Miss (0.21) 9. Jacob Phillips, LSU (0.19) 10. Tae Crowder, Georgia (0.18) 11. Kash Daniel, Kentucky (-0.14) 12. Daniel Bituli, Tennessee (-0.22) 13. Sherrod Greene, South Carolina (-0.29) 14. Leo Lewis, Mississippi State (-0.37) 15. Darrin Kirkland, Tennessee (-0.54) 16. Monty Rice, Georgia (-0.66) 17. Dmitri Moore, Vanderbilt (-0.74) 18. David Reese, Florida (-0.75) 19. Will Ignont, Tennessee (-1.05) 20. Willie Hibbler, Ole Miss (-1.08)
  11. OAYP: 2019 SEC Cornerback Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com Now it’s time for the cornerbacks. Gone are Thorpe Award finalist Greedy Williams and winner Deandre Baker, but there is a strong class of returnees, anyone of whom could end up bringing that trophy home this year. So, just as we’ve done with all the other position groups, let’s tier the SEC cornerbacks into superstars (marginal OAYP >1.0), the second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0), and potential breakout stars. *marginal OAYP scores in parentheses* Superstars -Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State (1.42) -Shyheim Carter, Alabama (1.25) -CJ Henderson, Florida (1.15) 2019 should be a good year for cornerbacks in college football, and the SEC is one of the premier reasons why. The conference, like the country, has a deep, talented group of cover guys that could compete for awards, All-American honors, and first round selections. Cam Dantzler headlined a Mississippi State pass defense that allowed the fewest yards per attempt in the entire nation last year. The pass rush will presumably take a step back in 2019 after losing Montez Sweat and Jeffery Simmons from the defensive line, but there may not be much drop off, overall, of Dantzler continues to improve. Long and athletic, his two interceptions and nine pass breakups put him sixth among returning SEC cornerbacks, and he allowed the second lowest passer rating in the league on throws into his coverage, according to Pro Football Focus. Shyheim Carter is an interesting case, playing primarily from the slot for Alabama. Elite in both coverage and run defense, he allowed the fewest yards per snap in coverage among SEC returnees last year while also grading out tops at the position against the run. Despite dealing with a hand injury, he also notched two pick-sixes a season ago. Suffice it to say, it would be prudent for most teams to just stay as far away as possible from Carter. Though third in the SEC in marginal OAYP, there are more than a few knowledgeable analysts that could make a convincing argument he’s the best cornerback in the country. He was expected to be the Gators’ CB2 in 2018, opposite Marco Wilson, but an ACL injury to the latter thrust Henderson into the spotlight, basically from the get-go. Henderson thrived in the face of adversity allowing a 50% catch rate without surrendering a single touchdown. The modern prototype, Henderson now headlines what could be the best secondary in the game in 2019. Second Tier -Kristian Fulton, LSU (0.88) -Maurice Smitherman, Mississippi State (0.82) -Kary Vincent, LSU (0.72) -Patrick Surtain, Alabama (0.72) There were a lot of questions going into the 2018 season about who would line up opposite Greedy Williams in Baton Rouge. After successfully appealing Kristian Fulton’s NCAA suspension, that was no longer the case. As teams largely tried to avoid Williams, they quickly realized that going the other way wasn’t a great option either. Less than 40% of the throws into his coverage were caught, and he posted ten total passes defensed. As he steps into Williams’ departed CB1 role, it will be interesting to see if he can maintain that level of play. Until proven otherwise, however, there’s no reason to expect Fulton not to become the next great boundary defender in a long line at LSU. Meanwhile in Starkville, Maurice Smitherman will look to be the Kristian Fulton to Dantzler’s Greedy Williams. He ranks third among SEC returnees in yards per coverage snap allowed, and looked good in a handful of starts when Jamal Peters was hurt last year. Like with Fulton, it’s hard to predict how guys will react to an enhanced role and a heightened workload, but Smitherman has the tools to succeed. Vincent would have likely been LSU’s other starting cornerback had Fulton not been reinstated last year. Instead, he played primarily in the slot and flashed superstar potential in a few games -- against Georgia, Ole Miss, and Arkansas, for example. It would be nice to see some more consistency from the trackstar, but his upside is as high as he is fast. Surtain was one of the best freshmen in the sport last season, regardless of position. From the size to the athleticism to the NFL pedigree in his blood, this is the sort of cornerback you would build in a lab. As great some of Nick Saban’s cornerbacks have been at Alabama, Suratin was probably the most fully developed as a true freshman, perhaps even more so than Minkah Fitzpatrick. His dad was an All-Pro, and in the next few years the same will probably be true for junior. But before that can happen, he’s still got at least two years of torturing SEC quarterbacks in his future. Potential Breakout Star -Tyrell Ajian (0.52) Kentucky loses every starter from its 2018 secondary, leaving the Wildcats in dire need of leadership in the secondary. The former four-star is versatile from the slot, solid in coverage and run defense. He had a breakout performance in the win over Mississippi State last year and offers at least some modicum of experience to a position group that is severely lacking in that department. Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying SEC Cornerbacks 1. Cameron Dantzler, Mississippi State: 1.42 2. Shyheim Carter, Alabama: 1.25 3. CJ Henderson, Florida: 1.15 4. Kristian Fulton, LSU: 0.88 5. Maurice Smitherman, Mississippi State: 0.82 6. Kary Vincent, LSU: 0.72 7. Patrick Surtain Jr., Alabama: 0.72 8. Noah Igbinogehne, Auburn: 0.49 9. Bryce Thompson, Tennessee: 0.48 10. Javaris Davis, Auburn: 0.47 11. Tyrique McGhee, Georgia: 0.45 12. Eric Stokes, Georgia: 0.42 13. Trey Dean, Florida: 0.31 14. Tyson Campbell, Georgia: 0.18 15. Christian Holmes, Missouri: 0.18 16. DeMarkus Acy, Missouri: 0.15 17. Marco Wilson (2017), Florida: 0.15 18. Jaycee Horn, South Carolina: -0.19 19. Allan George, Vanderbilt: -0.36 20. Jordyn Peters, Auburn: -0.42 21. Christian Tutt, Auburn: -0.52 22. Charles Oliver, Texas A&M: -0.61 23. Baylen Buchanan, Tennessee: -0.63 24. Alontae Taylor, Tennessee: -0.66 25. Jalen Julius, Ole Miss: -0.69 26. Keidron Smith, Ole Miss: -0.99 27. Vernon Dasher, Ole Miss: -1.06 28. Debione Renfro, Texas A&M: -1.26 29. D'Vone McClure, Arkansas: -1.33 30. Jarcques McClellion, Arkansas: -1.53
  12. OAYP: 2019 SEC Safety Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com There are some bonafide studs returning to the league at this spot. In fact, because the top player’s score is so high, it hurts everyone else’s marginal numbers. When they’re adjusted relative to the entire nation, don’t be surprised if two or three of the “second tier” guys cross that “superstar” threshold. Regardless, just as we’ve done with all the other position groups, let’s tier the SEC safeties into superstars (marginal OAYP >1.0), the second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1.0), and potential breakout stars, relative to their conference peers. *marginal OAYP scores in parentheses* Superstars -Grant Delpit, LSU (2.71) -Xavier McKinney, Alabama (1.72) -J.R. Reed, Georgia (1.27) Grant Delpit is not of this world. He can play center field like Andruw Jones, strap up receivers like any number of NFL cornerbacks that LSU has put in the league over the years, come up in the box like a heat seeking missile, and even rush the passer when Dave Aranda’s feeling particularly cruel. He may also be able to fly, breathe underwater, and shoot laser beams out of his eyeballs. His power is limitless. Delpit led the SEC in interceptions last year, and finished second in total pass defensed. Those nine breakups were the sixth most among FBS safeties in 2018, he had even more quarterback pressures than batted balls -- 13 to be exact, which was fifth. Factor in his 9.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks, both of which led all SEC defensive backs, and there’s no debate as to who the best safety in the entire country is. It wasn’t necessarily a surprise to see Xavier McKinney ranked where he is, but I was taken aback by just far ahead of the next tier that he ended up. Alabama was very inexperienced in the secondary last season after losing its top six tacklers from the 2017 defensive backfield. Opposite McKinney, Deionte Thompson dominated out of the gates and continued to do so for the rest of the regular season. McKinney had a slower start, relatively speaking, but seemed to get better every week. Then, as Thompson floundered in the College Football Playoff and gave up some uncharacteristic big plays, McKinney was arguably the Tide’s second most consistent defender in the postseason, behind Quinnen Williams. Like Delpit, McKinney is supremely versatile, and was especially strong in coverage last year, allowing a mere 46.5 passer rating on throws into his coverage with no touchdowns and two interceptions, which is the best among returning SEC safeties, just ahead of the aforementioned LSU standout. If I was doing the rankings based on gut reaction, I would probably flip McKinney and Reed. In some ways, particularly from a defensive back standpoint, the OAYP formula is as much a playmaker index as anything else. Reed doesn’t necessarily fill out a box score like McKinney or Delpit, but his impact is unmistakable, and certainly felt. According to Pro Football Focus, Reed graded out as the SEC’s best safety in coverage last year, and, thanks to that late season dropoff from Thompson, actually ended up as the top graded safety overall. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time and never gives up big plays, which helped allow Georgia to play as bend-don’t-break as they did, whilst still ranking second in yards per pass attempt allowed to teams that ended up with a winning record. Second Tier -Richard LeCounte, Georgia (0.76) -JaCoby Stevens, LSU (0.76) -Daniel Thomas, Auburn (0.52) As mentioned above, the sheer dominance of Delpit hurts these guys’ marginal scores. When it’s all said and done, and the national averages are tallied, LeCounte and Stevens could both fall in the superstar category. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see all of these safety duos in the top two tiers. Like Andre and Big Boi, what can be great on its own, is even better together. These complementary pieces are more than the sum of their parts. Reed’s coverage dominance pairs very nicely with LeCounte’s athleticism and rare instincts. His 22 stops, or tackles that constitute a win for the defense, last year are tied for first among returning SEC safeties with Delpit, even ahead of McKinney. After playing, like, 100 different positions throughout the early part of his career at LSU, JaCoby Stevens finally broke out in their quarter safety spot last year, eventually realizing all that potential that made him a five-star recruit out of high school. With versatility to rival that of McKinney and his teammate Grant Delpit, the best is yet to come. The Auburn pair of Thomas and Dinson are similar to Georgia’s Reed and LeCounte. Each highly productive in his own right, Thomas provides elite coverage skills -- he led the league in 2018 in coverage snaps per reception allowed -- to go along with Dinson’s superior versatility and natural playmaking ability. Potential Breakout Star -Jaquarius Landrews, Mississippi State (0.92) Landrews stepped up in a big way last year when slot corner Brian Cole was forced to miss time with an injury, and one of the nation’s most dominant defenses didn’t miss a beat. In ten games, overcoming some injury issues of his own, and on a limited sample size at that, the JUCO product notched 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 5 pass breakups. Now poised to fill the strong safety void left behind by first round draft pick Johnathan Abram, a full season at the level he played last year could see him follow in his predecessor’s footsteps. Landrews’ teammate C.J. Morgan and Jared Mayden from Alabama are also a couple of names worth keeping an eye on. Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying SEC Safeties 1. Grant Delpit, LSU 2.71 2. Xavier McKinney, Alabama 1.72 3. J.R. Reed, Georgia 1.27 t4. Richard LeCounte, Georgia 0.76 t4. JaCoby Stevens, LSU 0.76 6. Daniel Thomas, Auburn 0.52 7. Jeremiah Dinson, Auburn 0.46 8. Brad Stewart, Florida 0.34 9. Donovan Stiner, Florida 0.28 10. Todd Harris, LSU 0.16 11. Nigel Warrior, Tennessee 0.1 12. Davonte Robinson, Kentucky -0.08 13. Jeawon Taylor, Florida -0.26 14. RJ Roderick, South Carolina -0.38 15. Myles Hartsfield, Ole Miss -0.71 16. Tae Daley, Vanderbilt -0.74 17. Larry Pryor, Texas A&M -0.89 18. Frank Coppet, Vanderbilt -0.95 19. Tyree Gillespie, Missouri -1.07 20. Khalil Oliver, Missouri -1.1 21. Kamren Curl, Arkansas -1.34 22. CJ Miller, Ole Miss -1.58
  13. SEC Post-Spring Reset By Matt Smith SouthernPigskin.com As we reach the midway point of the offseason, let’s review where things stand and what’s left to shake out before toe meets leather in late August. Spring practice wrapped up in the SEC a week ago with Georgia’s annual G-Day “game”. We now enter what The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) sportswriter Marc Morehouse has aptly dubbed “the horse latitudes” of the college football calendar. The horse latitudes are, in addition to a song by The Doors, subtropical regions of the Earth with little wind and little precipitation. In other words, not much is going on. That’s the next two-and-a-half months, a time in which no news is good news before the start of “talkin’ season” come mid-July. Unless you’re one of those weirdos who hates warm weather (and if you are, you probably don’t live in SEC country) late spring and early summer will ultimately fly by, and it’ll be time for preseason training camp before you bat an eye. As we reach the midway point of the offseason, let’s review where things stand and what’s left to shake out before toe meets leather in late August. Quarterback Competitions Ten SEC quarterbacks should feel pretty safe about their starting roles. Eight of the 10 are returning starters, while a ninth, Missouri’s Kelly Bryant started 18 games at Clemson over the past two seasons before being displaced by wonder boy Trevor Lawrence. Here are the 10: Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa (Jr.) Florida: Feleipe Franks (Jr.) Georgia: Jake Fromm (Jr.) Kentucky: Terry Wilson (Jr.) LSU: Joe Burrow (Sr.) Ole Miss: Matt Corral (So.) Missouri: Kelly Bryant (Sr.) South Carolina: Jake Bentley (Sr.) Tennessee: Jarrett Guarantano (Jr.) Texas A&M: Kellen Mond (Jr.) If you’re smarter than a fifth grader, you know that leaves four SEC teams who will have quarterback battles into August camp. Three of the four are extensions from the spring. Arkansas will add in Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel in the summer to compete with SMU transfer Ben Hicks, who has two legs up from playing for head coach Chad Morris with the Mustangs and having gone through spring drills in Fayetteville. Arkansas: Ben Hicks (Sr.) vs. Nick Starkel (Jr.) Auburn: Joey Gatewood (rFr.) vs. Bo Nix (Fr.) Mississippi State: Keytaon Thompson (Jr.) vs. Jalen Mayden (Fr.) Vanderbilt: Riley Neal (Sr.) vs. Deuce Wallace (Jr.) My predictions? I’ll take Thompson, Neal, Hicks and Gatewood. Nix is the future at Auburn and is likely to see meaningful playing time this fall, but I’ll mention one of my favorite quarterback-related anecdotes: The last SEC true freshman quarterback to start a season opener was Tennessee’s Brent Schaeffer in 2004. That was 15 years ago. It’s a rarity, so I’m not going to predict it until it happens again. New Coordinators All 14 head coaches are back from last season, but there were some significant staff overhauls, with 11 new coordinators coming onboard or receiving promotions. Alabama: Steve Sarkisian (Offense), Pete Golding (Defense) Auburn: Kenny Dillingham (Offense) Georgia: James Coley (Offense), Dan Lanning (Defense) Kentucky: Brad White (Defense) Ole Miss: Rich Rodriguez (Offense), Mike MacIntyre (Defense) Tennessee: Jim Chaney (Offense), Derrick Ansley (Defense) Vanderbilt: Gerry Gdowski (Offense) Many of the new coordinators were on staff last year, including both at Georgia, but Sarkisian, Dillingham, Rodriguez, MacIntyre, Chaney, and Ansley all were elsewhere in 2018. Sarkisian was, of course, the interim coordinator for the Crimson Tide in the 2016 season’s national championship game loss to Clemson, but left Tuscaloosa for the NFL just prior to Tua Tagovailoa’s arrival on campus. The biggest visible differences will likely come at Ole Miss. Rodriguez made his mark on the sport with his zone-read game, and he’ll bring that to a Rebels offense that saw a gutting of its passing game after last season. On the other side of the ball, MacIntyre has implemented a new base 3-4 scheme to help what has been the league’s worst defense over the past three seasons. Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia probably won’t look much different than in years past due to the preferred identities of their respective head coaches, even with Tigers’ defensive boss Kevin Steele the only coordinator returning among the six from a year ago. Tennessee is the wild card. Both Chaney and Ansley have previously worked at Tennessee, while Ansley spent time with Jeremy Pruitt at Alabama in 2016 and 2017. Expect more tight end usage from the Volunteers offense under Chaney, but Pruitt is a Nick Saban protégé, so his freedom may be restricted. Spring Standouts Southern Pigskin released its all-SEC Spring Game Team earlier this month, but I’ll highlight a few names that shined and raised their expectations heading into the season. -Georgia CBs Tyson Campbell and Eric Stokes: Someone has to replace first-round NFL Draft pick Deandre Baker. These two sophomore both have proven to be capable options as No. 2 corners, but it can be different taking over the No. 1 role. Stokes stood out in the spring game with an early pick-six of Jake Fromm. -Kentucky RB Kavosiey Smoke: Benny Snell is gone, and the redshirt freshman looks to have a big role in replacing the former Wildcats star after averaging 26 yards per carry in the Wildcats’ spring game. -Alabama WR John Metchie: Oh look, Alabama has a stud true freshman wide receiver. After Jerry Jeudy in 2017 and Jaylen Waddle last year both dazzled as first-year players, we may be able to expect the same from Metchie after an MVP performance in the Crimson Tide's A-Day game. Metchie caught five passes for 133 yards, but will face an absolutely loaded depth chart in the fall with Jeudy, Waddle, Devonta Smith, and Henry Ruggs III. -Texas A&M TE Baylor Cupp: With Jace Sternberger off to the NFL, Cupp has the opportunity to play right away. After leading the team with 88 yards in the Aggies’ spring game, he is well on his way to starting as a true freshman this fall. Way-too-Early Predictions With four months until the season, here’s how I envision the SEC divisions shaking out: SEC East 1. Georgia 2. Florida 3. Missouri 4. South Carolina 5. Tennessee 6. Kentucky 7. Vanderbilt SEC West 1. Alabama 2. LSU 3. Texas A&M 4. Auburn 5. Mississippi State 6. Ole Miss 7. Arkansas I believe South Carolina is the third-best team in a muddy middle tier of the SEC East, but they draw both Alabama and Texas A&M from the West, while Missouri gets Arkansas and Ole Miss. In addition, the head-to-head meeting between the Gamecocks and Tigers is in Columbia West. I whiffed on Kentucky last season, and I may be making the same mistake again, but the Wildcats just have too much to replace to replicate their 10-3 2018 season. There’s a pretty clear dividing line in the SEC West between No. 4 and No. 5. Both Mississippi State and Ole Miss had four players selected in the first three rounds of the NFL Draft, so there is some serious star power that has to be replaced in the Magnolia State after disappointing 8-5 and 5-7 seasons respectively in 2018. What’s Next SEC Spring Meetings take place in Sandestin, Florida, beginning on May 28. That event generated plenty of news in the early part of the decade when expansion, scheduling, the SEC Network, and the College Football Playoff were all major topics. As those issues have moved to the back burner, expect minimal developments to come out of the Florida panhandle that week. SEC Media Days return to their longtime home in the Birmingham area after a one-year stint at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. The four-day event begins July 15 at the Riverchase Galleria in Hoover, Alabama. The SEC will take part in “Week 0” for the first time since pre-Labor Day weekend games resurfaced in 2016. Florida will renew its old rivalry with Miami (FL) on Aug. 24 in Orlando. The teams haven’t played annually since the ‘80s, but they have met six times since 2000, with the Hurricanes winning five of them.
  14. 2019 All-SEC Spring Game Team By Southern Pigskin Staff SouthernPigskin.com An all-conference style team comprised of the SEC's best players during each school's respective spring games. OFFENSE QB Feleipe Franks, Florida RB Kavosiey Smoke, Kentucky RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU WR Trevon Grimes, Florida WR Freddie Swain, Florida WR Jay Urich, South Carolina TE Baylor Cupp, Texas A&M OT Isaiah Wilson, Georgia OG Darryl Williams, Mississippi State C Donell Stanley, South Carolina OG Ryan McCollum, Texas A&M OT Noah Gatlin, Arkansas DEFENSE DE Qaadir Sheppard, Ole Miss DL Phidarian Mathis, Alabama DT Daevion Davis, Vanderbilt EDGE Andre Anthony, LSU LB Michael Divinity, LSU LB Shane Lee, Alabama LB Eric Gregory, Arkansas CB Clifford Chattman, Texas A&M CB Eric Stokes, Georgia CB Moses Reynolds, Texas A&M S Jaylen McCollough, Tennessee S John Huggins, Florida SPECIAL TEAMS K Chance Poore, Kentucky P Braden Mann, Texas A&M AP Charles Olatunji, Auburn
  15. Wow Right off the bat do not agree with this outcome. 1. This isn’t the first year we’ve played without Deebo, 9-4 2. There is zero chance our defense isn’t much better this year 3. Some of this has to do with the fact that we have the hardest schedule in the country 4. I love the underdog role
  16. SEC: The toughest nonconference schedules ranked April 21, 2019 LSU and South Carolina face the toughest nonconference schedules in the SEC heading into the 2019-20 football season. Here are the rankings from toughest to easiest: 1. LSU Aug. 31 Georgia Southern; Sept. 7 at Texas; Sept. 14 Northwestern State; Oct. 5 Utah State Overview: LSU is coming off its first 10-win season since 2013 with the Tigers winning five nonconference games including wins over ranked teams in Miami and UCF. Ed Orgeron’s team travels to Austin for the first time since the mid-1950s with the Tigers looking to snap a four-game road losing streak to the Longhorns with the last road win coming in 1938. 2. SOUTH CAROLINA Aug. 31 vs. North Carolina (Charlotte); Sept. 7 Charleston Southern; Nov. 9 Appalachian State; Nov. 30 Clemson Overview: This is the third time in the last six seasons in which South Carolina has opened up the season against rival North Carolina. The Gamecocks have won three straight in the series and six out of the last seven meetings. The out-of-conference schedule wraps up with a home contest against in-state rival Clemson with the Tigers winning five straight in the series. 3. MISSOURI Aug. 31 at Wyoming; Sept. 7 West Virginia; Sept. 14 Southeast Missouri; Oct. 5 Troy Overview: Missouri is 1-4 against Power 5 opponents in the three seasons under coach Barry Odom with the lone win coming against Purdue last season. The Tigers will look to improve on that mark when they host West Virginia for the first time since the mid-1990s. About a month later, the team hosts a Troy team coming off a 10-win season in 2018. 4. GEORGIA Sept. 7 Murray State; Sept. 14 Arkansas State; Sept. 21 Notre Dame; Nov. 30 at Georgia Tech Overview: Georgia has been outstanding against nonconference opponents in the three seasons under coach Kirby Smart with the Bulldogs putting together a 13-2 mark. The two losses were against Georgia Tech (2016) and Texas (2018). Notre Dame makes its first visit to Sanford Stadium looking to avenge a 20-19 home loss to Smart and the Bulldogs in 2017. 5. TEXAS A&M Aug. 29 Texas State; Sept. 7 at Clemson; Sept. 14 Lamar; Nov. 2 UTSA Overview: Clemson’s 28-26 win over Texas A&M was the closest the Tigers came to losing a game last season and the Aggies would like nothing better to shock the defending national champs early next season. The last time Jimbo Fisher beat a Dabo Swinney-led team in Memorial Stadium was back in 2014 when he was still at Florida State. 6. TENNESSEE Aug. 31 Georgia State; Sept. 7 BYU; Sept. 14 Chattanooga; Nov. 2 UAB Overview: Tennessee has been outstanding in its out-of-conference schedule over the past eight years, winning 31 out of the last 35 games including a 3-1 record in 2018. Year 2 under coach Jeremy Pruitt features a schedule that includes the first meeting with BYU in the second week and a showdown with a UAB program coming off a school-best 11-win season. 7. VANDERBILT Sept. 7 at Purdue; Sept. 28 Northern Illinois; Oct. 12 UNLV; Nov. 23 ETSU Overview: After losing five straight season-openers, Vanderbilt has won two straight games, both over Middle Tennessee. The Commodores, who were 1-4 on the road last season, open up next season away from Nashville at Purdue. Derek Mason’s team hosts Northern Illinois and UNLV hoping to extend a winning streak over Group of 5 teams to six games going back to 2015. 8. MISSISSIPPI STATE Aug. 31 vs. Louisiana (New Orleans); Sept. 7 Southern Miss; Sept. 14 Kansas State; Nov. 23 Abilene Christian Overview: Mississippi State hasn’t lost more than two nonconference games in a season since 2003 and the Bulldogs schedule in 2019 features just one Power 5 showdown against a Kansas State team coming off a disappointing 5-7 season and a coaching change. The last time the program lost a home game to an out-of-conference foe was 2016. 9. AUBURN Aug. 31 vs. Oregon (Arlington); Sept. 7 Tulane; Sept. 14 Kent State; Nov. 23 Samford Overview: This is the second straight year in which Auburn has opened up at a neutral site against a Pac-12 opponent. The Tigers knocked off No. 6 Washington in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta last season. This time around, Gus Malzahn’s team will face Oregon in a rematch of the 2011 BCS National Championship Game. 10. OLE MISS Aug. 31 at Memphis; Sept. 14 Southeastern Louisiana; Sept. 21 California; Nov. 9 New Mexico State Overview: The last time Ole Miss ventured north to Memphis, the Rebels left with a 37-24 loss to the Tigers in 2015. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak in the occasional series that dates back to 1921. Three weeks later, the team hosts a team from the Pac-12 for the first time in school history when Cal travels to Oxford. 11. FLORIDA Aug. 24 vs. Miami (Orlando); Sept. 7 UT Martin; Sept. 28 Towson; Nov. 30 Florida State Overview: Florida opens up a season away from the Swamp for the second time in three seasons when the teams travels to Orlando for an in-state showdown with Miami at Camping World Stadium. The Gators have lost seven out of the last eight meetings with the Hurricanes. Dan Mullen’s team looks to make it two-in-a-row after snapping a five-game losing streak to rival FSU. 12. ALABAMA Aug. 31 vs. Duke (Atlanta); Sept. 7 New Mexico State; Sept. 21 Southern Miss; Nov. 23 Western Carolina Overview: For the eighth straight year, Alabama kicks off a college football season at a neutral-site venue, this time in Atlanta against Duke. The Crimson Tide is 7-0 in those games, outscoring their opponents 271-91. This is the fifth time these programs have met with ‘Bama holding a 3-1 advantage. The Tide is 55-7 against nonconference opponents under Nick Saban with the last regular-season loss coming in 2007. 13. KENTUCKY Aug. 31 Toledo; Sept. 7 Eastern Michigan; Nov. 23 UT Martin; Nov. 30 Louisville Overview: Kentucky went undefeated in its nonconference schedule last season (5-0) for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats open things up with back-to-back matchups against Mid-American Conference opponents, looking to extend their 10-game winning streak against the league. Mark Stoops’ team wraps things up Thanksgiving weekend looking to make it two straight against Louisville. 14. ARKANSAS Aug. 31 Portland State; Sept. 14 Colorado State; Sept. 21 San Jose State; Nov. 9 Western Kentucky Overview: The Razorbacks are the only team in the SEC to face a nonconference slate that doesn’t feature a game against a Power 5 opponent. That’s good news for a program that is coming off a two-win season in 2018 with both of those wins coming out-of-conference.
  17. OAYP: 2019 SEC Defensive Linemen Rankings By Jim Johnson / SouthernPigskin.com The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the SEC's returning defensive linemen. Today, we’re diving into the true defensive linemen. Those include defensive ends in three-man fronts, defensive tackles, and nose guards. Gone is Quinnen Williams, but outside of him, a ton of talent returns at the position. That means we have a pretty large sample of players that should be more accurately reflective than, say, the edge rushers were. So let’s tier the SEC defensive linemen, just like we did with the offensive players and edge defenders, into superstars (marginal OAYP >1), second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1), and potential breakout stars. *marginal OAYP scores in parentheses* Superstars -Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M (1.9) -Derrick Brown, Auburn (1.35) -McTelvin Agim, Arkansas (1.33) -Rashard Lawrence, LSU (1.17) -Raekwon Davis, Alabama (1.12) Off the top of my head, I would have had the exact same top five as the formula, but not in that order. My gut says: Brown, Lawrence, Davis, Agim, and then Madubuike. Nevertheless, it’s hard to argue with Madubuike’s production. In some ways, the formula is, first and foremost, a playmaker index. Whereas, for example, Pro Football Focus’ grades measure consistency, OAYP values the sort of snaps that show up on highlight reels. Madubuike’s three forced fumbles in 2018 are tied with Agim for the most among returning SEC players. He’s also tied for first with Brown and Lawrence among returning interior defenders in tackles for loss alone atop that list in sacks. It will be interesting to see if he can be as statistically impactful in 2019 after Texas A&M’s losses of Otaro Alaka, Tyrel Dodson, Kingsley Keke, Landis Durham, and Daylon Mack in the front seven. The Aggies’ average front seven OAYP score is the lowest of the five schools represented by the above superstars, so while he was the beneficiary of a strong supporting cast last season, he will be the focal point going forward. In some ways it was surprising to see Derrick Brown come back for his senior year. I actually think it was a good decision, though. This is among the most talented defensive line classes ever, and while he could have been a first rounder, it was not a sure thing. Barring an unfathomable regression, he’ll go in the top half of the first round in 2020. An ideal blend of power and explosiveness, he combines a good first step with a devastating bull rush that only a few SEC offensive linemen have been able to handle over the past couple of seasons. With Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson back alongside, his encore performance could be his best. Agim has spent some time at end during his career, both in high school, where he developed into a five star prospect, and at Arkansas. He’s a good, even a very good defensive end, but not elite. He is an elite tackle. Now, finally moving to the interior of John Chavis’ defensive front, after posting double digit tackles for loss, QB hurries, and, as noted above, three forced fumbles, just imagine what he can do at his most natural position. Lawrence is a consummate leader, both on and off the field for LSU. He, like Brown, probably could have gone pro and been a day two selection at worst. He, Brown, and Madubuike had the most tackles for loss of any returning interior defender last year at 10.5. He’ll also continue to benefit from a top tier supporting cast -- LSU’s average front seven OAYP is a full point higher than Texas A&M’s and second only to Alabama among the above five teams. He’s strong, violent, and eats double teams for breakfast. Banged up a season ago, he could challenge Brown for the title of ‘SEC’s best defensive lineman’ in 2019 if he stays healthy. Rounding out the top five is the monster known as Raekwon Davis. The anticipation going into last season was that he would be Alabama’s best defensive lineman, and perhaps even the best player on their entire defense. He was clearly not Quinnen Williams, and might have even been third in his own position group, behind Isaiah Buggs. That’s not even an indictment of Davis, either, simply a reflection of just how dominant that trio was. He’s as tall as the average NBA player and heavier than Ndamukong Suh, yet shows incredible range for his size. When you hear people discuss the irresistible force paradox, the immovable object they’re referring to is Raekwon Davis. Second Tier -Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (0.66) -Labryan Ray, Alabama (0.63) -Marlon Davidson, Auburn (0.62) -Glen Logan, LSU (0.53) It’s not much of a surprise that three of the four second tier players are teammates with one of the superstars. Like a rising tide lifts all boats, a truly elite defender makes everyone around him better. Javon Kinlaw is the lone player in the second tier without a companion in the ranks of the elite. Granted, with a healthy DJ Wonnum back on the edge in 2019, that’s subject to change. He joined the Gamecocks after spending time at the JUCO level as part of their 2017 signing class, dripping with talent, but overweight and limited by his physique. Since then, he’s cut around 40 trims and now sits at a trim 305-ish. Long, lean, and mean, Kinlaw has the sort of rare physique that scouts will drool over. His raw strength at that size, combined with an incredible first step for the position allows him to shed blocks with the best of them. The only left for him to prove is that he can turn that unlocked potential into more consistent production. The number two recruit at his position in the Class of 2017, LaBryan Ray has served only in a rotational role during his Alabama career, to date. Even so, he managed six tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks during his sophomore campaign. Ray possesses the size, athleticism, and versatility that we’ve come to expect from Alabama defensive linemen, and could become one of the premier defensive linemen in the nation as he takes on more of a starring role for the Tide. Marlon Davidson is a perfect complement to Derrick Brown’s attack, attack, attack mentality. Davidson won’t wow anyone with his athleticism, but he approaches the position with veteran savvy. He doesn’t offer a ton in the way of pass rushing prowess, though he may be underrated in that respect, but is a physical run stopper that does his job with great consistency. Davidson’s raw production does not fully depict his value to Auburn’s defensive front. Glen Logan is a lot like the movie Fight Club. It was far from a success at the box office, and Logan is far from a box score stuffer, but both are beloved by a certain audience. The David fincher film grossed just over half of its budget, and Logan’s production is arguably about half of what fans may typically expect from a player as highly touted as Logan was coming out of high school. Even so, Fight Club eventually garnered the appreciation it deserved. Maybe in 2019, the same will happen for Logan. Potential Breakout Stars -Phidarian Mathis, Alabama (-0.63) Obviously, given the weight towards value over efficiency on the defensive scores, the smaller sample size players generally won’t be above the mean in marginal OAYP. Mathis ultimately may not even end up being Alabama’s primary nose tackle. He had a fine spring by all accounts, but freshman early enrollee D.J. Dale stole the show. Neither will be Quinnen Williams, but I’m quite sure that Nick Saban’s defense will be just fine regardless. Mississippi State’s Lee Autry and Jayden Peevy from Texas A&M are also both worth keeping an eye on. Full Marginal OAYP Scores for Qualifying SEC Defensive Linemen Justin Madubuike, Texas A&M (1.9) Derrick Brown, Auburn (1.35) McTelvin Agim, Arkansas (1.33) Rashard Lawrence, LSU (1.17) Raekwon Davis, Alabama (1.12) Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina (0.66) Labryan Ray, Alabama (0.63) Marlon Davidson, Auburn (0.62) Glen Logan, LSU (0.53) Josiah Coatney, Ole Miss (0.39) Jordan Elliott, Missouri (0.24) Fletcher Adams, Mississippi State (-0.14) Emmit Gooden, Tennessee (-0.15) Keir Thomas, South Carolina (-0.18) Adam Shuler, Florida (-0.18) Tyler Clark, Georgia (-0.22) Malik Herring, Georgia (-0.27) Julian Rochester, Georgia (-0.28) Kobe Smith, South Carolina (-0.33) Kyree Campbell, Florida (-0.37) Benito Jones, Ole Miss (-0.48) Phil Hoskins, Kentucky (-0.49) Drew Birchmeier, Vanderbilt (-0.52) Dayo Odeyingbo, Vanderbilt (-0.57) TJ Smith, Arkansas (-0.64) Neil Farrell, LSU (-0.66) Jordan Davis, Georgia (-0.74) Kingsley Enagbare, South Carolina (-1.1) Tedarrell Slayton, Florida (-1.24) Cameron Tidd, Vanderbilt (-1.29)
  18. OAYP: 2019 SEC Tight End Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the SEC's returning tight ends. Earlier in the offseason I released the 2018 OAYP rankings as part of the debut of a new advanced metric to evaluate college football teams. Last season’s scores will obviously factor into the eventual 2019 preseason rankings, but those alone are only reflective, not predictive. In order to make the aforementioned OAYP metric predictive, we’re factoring in individual player OAYP scores for projected starters and key contributors. Those numbers are a sort of spiritual descendant of adjusted yards per attempt, the quarterback metric first introduced in the book The Hidden Game of Football by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer, and John Thorn, and Pro Football Reference founder Doug Drinen’s ‘approximate value’ measure. The basic premise is to cross the efficiency measure of the former, but across all positions, with the value principles of the latter -- hopefully as a way of more accurately depicting a given team’s returning production. Returning good players is more valuable than returning only average or subpar players, and not all production is created equal, so this should ideally prove to be more predictive than simply looking at the raw number of returning starters or the percentages of returning production. Over the coming weeks I’ll be diving into those individual OAYP scores for some of the top returning qualifying players in the SEC at each position, as well as some potential breakout stars that posted big OAYP numbers, but on too small a sample size to qualify. Now, to separate the truly dominant players, rather than just using the OAYP scores, we’ll be looking at the scores relative to their positional averages. For the time being, we only have the SEC to look at, but those marginal ratings will eventually reflect their value relative to the entire country -- at least among qualifying returnees. That way, because there is some mild inequity in scoring from one position to the next, those disparities are wholly mitigated. Sort of like WAR in baseball, marginal OAYP tells us how far above or below a player is their positional average. We’ll tier them into ‘superstars’ (marginal OAYP >1), ‘second tier’ (marginal OAYP between 0.5 and 1), ‘not as good as we thought?’, and potential breakout stars (players that didn’t get enough reps to qualify, but posted high OAYP scores on a smaller sample size). *Marginal OAYP in parentheses Superstars -Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (1.94) Albert Okwuegbunam is special. He has the ideal frame for a modern tight end with well above average straight line speed. However, there are a lot of big, athletic guys in the SEC. What separates him from the pack is his ability as a natural pass catcher. He’s a large target with an even greater catch radius, making Drew Lock look good the past couple of years thanks to an innate knack for reeling in those off target throws. Whether he lines up in the slot, in-line like a more traditional TE, or even outside, his leaping ability makes him a special sort of nightmare to defend in the red zone. His season was cut short by injury in 2018, but he nonetheless managed to earn finalist honors for the Mackey Award. There’s not a better returning tight end in college football. Second Tier -Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt 0.88 -Cheyenne O'Grady, Arkansas 0.6 Pinkney might could have cracked the 1.0 OAYP mark if he was better blocker, but the rising senior is a matchup problem as a pass catcher. He’s not as nuanced a route runner or as athletic as Okwuegbunam, but like the Mizzou standout, he’s big, long, and strong. His production last year was as reliable as his hands are, posting at least three catches in all but two games, at least 40 yards in all but 4 games, and a touchdown in nearly half of Vanderbilt’s contests. Cheyenne O’Grady didn’t play in either of Arkansas’ first two games in 2018, and didn’t register a reception until their fifth game of the season, against Texas A&M. Once he got going, though, he really got going. Pinkney is the only returning SEC tight end with more touchdowns last year than O’Grady’s six, and that was with three more appearances and 20 more receptions. Moreover, four of those six scores came against Alabama and LSU, with two apiece against those two dominant defenses. Not as good as we thought? -Charlie Woerner, Georgia (-0.23) Woerner served in a limited capacity in 2018, backing up Isaac Nauta who has since departed for the NFL. He checks all the boxes athletically, but, albeit on a smaller sample size, has never matched production with the potential. As he steps into a larger role, it’s easy to expect that to be remedied, but that might be shortsighted. Nauta was arguably more physically gifted than Woerner, and was certainly a more highly touted prospect, but he never fully live up to the hype either. There are plenty of reasons for Georgia fans to be excited about what Woerner could be, but there’s also reason to question whether or not he ever actually gets there. Potential Breakout Stars -Octavius Cooley, Ole Miss (2.42) Cooley, too, was a backup in 2018, playing behind Dawson Knox. However, he made the absolute most of his limited opportunities, averaging 21.5 yards per reception and scoring a touchdown on just eight catches. There’s also a nice history of recent tight end success at Ole Miss left behind by Knox and Evan Engram, both of whom would have posted >1.0 marginal OAYP scores in their final seasons, relative to this class. Like with all the Rebels we’ve covered in these position rankings, it’s yet to be seen what the offense will look like under Rich Rodriguez, but Cooley has his own history and that of his predecessors on his side. Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying Tight Ends Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (1.94) Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt (0.88) Cheyenne O'Grady, Arkansas (0.6) Kiel Pollard, South Carolina (0.01) Sal Cannella, Auburn (-0.12) Charlie Woerner, Georgia (-0.23) Dominick Wood-Anderson, Tennessee (-1.28) Farrod Green, Mississippi State (-1.76)
  19. OAYP: 2019 SEC EDGE Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com Today, we’re diving into the edge rushers. Those include defensive ends in four-man fronts and outside linebackers in three-man fronts. The league lost a ton of talent from this spot, including Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, and Jachai Polite, among others. As such, there’s a relatively short list of qualifying returnees which could somewhat skew the marginal scores.Regardless, let’s tier the SEC edge rushers, just like we did with the offensive players, into superstars (marginal OAYP >1), second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1), and potential breakout stars.*marginal OAYP scores in parentheses*Superstars-Jon Greenard (Louisville 2017), Florida (1.32) -DJ Wonnum (2017), South Carolina (1.08)Curiously enough, these guys played a combined five games last season. Greenard suffered a season ending injury in the first defensive series of Louisville’s season opener in 2018. Wonnum also went down in South Carolina’s first game, against Coastal Carolina. He returned for a few games in the middle of the season, but didn’t play in either of the Gamecocks’ last two regular season contests or the bowl game.Therefore, as denoted above, their 2019 projections come as a result of their 2017 production.It’s tough to just assume that a grad transfer, Greenard, will be one of the best edge defenders in the SEC next year, but there are reasons for Florida fans to be optimistic. He has a prior relationship with Todd Grantham from when the Gators’ DC recruited him to Louisville. He also enters a situation in which the departures of Polite and Cece Jefferson have opened the door to plenty of playing time opposite Jabari Zuniga. Jeremiah Moon, his fiercest competition at the position is also missing spring practice due to injury. At this point, it almost seems like a foregone conclusion that Greenard will earn the bulk of the snaps in what was Polite’s role. Greenard isn’t an elite athlete, but neither was his predecessor. Superior effort was probably Polite’s greatest attribute. Greenard, a bigger defender if not as explosive, shares that unceasing motor. He may not be as good as these numbers would suggest, but he’s a film star. Everytime the whistle is blown, he’s in the camera shot.Wonnum is a bit easier to project than Greenard, or any grad transfer would be, because we’ve seen him be super productive in this defense. Assuming he’s healthy, few edge defenders in the conference can wreak havoc like Wonnum. However, he needs to be more consistent. He had just two sacks in five games against teams that ranked in the top half of the country in adjusted sack rate that season, and five of his thirteen tackles for loss came against NC State and Tennessee, who ranked 110th and 125th in stuff rate, respectively. In fairness, he did have sacks against both Missouri and NC State, top six teams in sack rate, plus tackles for loss against Georgia, Florida, and Kentucky, all top four teams in stuff rate, so it’s not like he’s just showing up and stockpiling numbers against the hapless. The next step is simply being more impactful on a week to week basis.Second Tier-Nick Coe, Auburn (0.93) -Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (0.86) -Jabari Zuniga, Florida (0.68) -Darrell Taylor, Tennessee (0.57)Because Greenard is a transfer and Wonnum is coming off of an injury, Auburn’s Nick Coe and Alabama’s Anfernee Jennings would actually be my two best bets as to who will be the best edge rushers in the SEC.Coe has been a personal favorite of mine to watch going back to his freshman year. He has continued to put on weight since then, whilst maintaining the speed and explosiveness that made him such a highly touted recruit. Now, a devastating blend of power and athleticism, Coe’s 13.5 tackles for loss last year are the most among any returning player in the SEC and his seven sacks put him just one behind Tennessee’s Darrell Taylor.Jennings is not the raw athlete that Coe is, but he’s a straight up bully. Long, strong, and mean, where you or I have palms and phalanges, Jennings has cement blocks, except the blocks aren’t actually made of cement, they’re made of fire and nails. I mean, there might be some cement in there, too, but I’m not sure. Regardless, he put those things to good work tallying 13 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks in 2018.Zuniga is in a good spot with Greenard coming in, even after losing Polite, and should continue to produce at a high level, as he has since he stepped on campus. After stagnating from his freshman year to his sophomore year, Zuniga made a jump last season, perhaps as a byproduct of Polite’s emergence, but a jump no less. He could take another step forward in 2019 and join the ranks of the college football elite.Taylor, meanwhile, was one of the lone bright spots on Tennessee’s defense last year. As mentioned above, he posted more sacks than any other SEC returnee a season ago and should be poised for a major encore performance as his surrounding talent continues to improve under Jeremy Pruitt.Potential Breakout Stars-Chauncey Rivers, Mississippi State (0.28)Having to replace Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat on a line that spearheaded one of the nation’s most dominant defenses is no joke, but Chauncey Rivers could help ease that transition. He won’t be Sweat, that’s an unfair expectation, but he is the only returning edge defender in the SEC that didn’t qualify but still managed to post a positive marginal OAYP score, although that’s partially because the defensive formula is a little more value based than efficiency based, as compared to the offensive formula.. Auburn’s Big Kat Bryant and Kenny Hebert from Vanderbilt are also a couple of names to keep an eye on.Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying SEC Edge Defenders1. Jon Greenard (Louisville 2017), Florida (1.32)2. DJ Wonnum (2017), South Carolina (1.08)3. Nick Coe, Auburn (0.93)4. Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (0.86)5. Jabari Zuniga, Florida (0.68)6. Darrell Taylor, Tennessee (0.57)7. Qaadir Sheppard, Ole Miss 0.368. Calvin Taylor, Kentucky -0.649. Patrick Queen, LSU (-0.67)10. Jeremiah Moon, Florida (-0.7)11. Ryder Anderson, Ole Miss (-0.81)12. K'Lavon Chaisson (2017), LSU (-0.94)13. Daniel Fennell, South Carolina (-0.95)14. Tariqious Tisdale, Ole Miss (-1.11)
  20. OAYP: 2019 SEC Offensive Line Rankings By Jim Johnson SouthernPigskin.com The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the SEC's returning offensive linemen. Today, we’re diving into the offensive linemen. Now, simply because of the sheer volume of qualifying returnees, I won’t list all 40+ individuals, rather the projected offensive line totals for each school. Those obviously include returning starters, but also factor in projections for new starters and team pedigree. However, before we get to that, let’s tier some of the SEC’s blockers, just like we did with the skill players, into superstars (marginal OAYP >1) and second tier (marginal OAYP between 0.5-1) players. I’ll also list the top five at each position above the team projections. *marginal OAYP scores in parentheses* Superstars -Andrew Thomas, T, Georgia (3.11) -Solomon Kindley, G, Georgia (1.4) -Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms, G, Missouri (1.39) -Alex Leatherwood, G, Alabama (1.06) -Prince Tega-Wanogho, T, Auburn (1.02) It should come as no surprise to see two Georgia Bulldogs at the top. Sam Pittman’s offensive line was a finalist for the 2018 Joe Moore Award, given annually to college football’s best group of blockers. Oklahoma ended up winning, but the Sooners return only one starter from that unit, and Alabama, the other finalist, lost three starters. Georgia only lost one. Kindley was quietly one of the best guards in the league in 2018, not allowing a single sack in the regular season. However, Thomas is the name to know. He might have been the best tackle in the country already, when healthy. Now that all of his closest competitors are off to the NFL, it’s safe to assume he’ll be the best, hands down, in 2019. Wallace-Simms has been a bastion of consistency for Missouri for a couple of years now, and earned first team All-Conference honors from the media for his efforts. He helped the Tigers to a top 20 ranking in line yards per carry and opportunity rate, and the top ten in allowed stuff rate and sack rate, respectively. Leatherwood is an interesting case because, based on how highly touted he was out of high school, he can sometimes leave one wanting more. Yet, at the same time, when he’s at his best, there are only a couple of offensive linemen that are in the same class as he is, athletically. He was arguably playing out of position at guard, and could be in a more favorable scenario as he takes over for Jonah Williams at left tackle, so the sky 's the limit in 2019. There wasn’t a lot to like about Auburn’s offense in 2018, and the offensive line was a big reason why. One bright spot, though, was Prince Tega-Wanogho, who allowed just two combined sacks and hits in pass protection. With Tega-Wanogho leading the way, and all five starters coming back, Auburn’s new signal caller, whoever it ends up being, ought to be in a far more fortuitous situation. Second Tier -Jedrick Willis, T, Alabama (0.89) -Isaiah Wilson, T, Georgia (0.61) -Yasir Durant, T, Missouri (0.6) You might be starting to notice a trend here. The three best offensive lines in the SEC last season were Alabama, Georgia, and Missouri. The reason those were the three best was because they had good offensive linemen. Some of those good offensive linemen are back. That means those teams will, in all likelihood, continue to have very good offensive lines. Willis is the only returnee for the Tide that is still working at the position he played in 2018, and, though not as highly touted as Leatherwood was out of high school, should be the leader of that group. Wilson, a mountain of a man, will once again man the right tackle spot for what will be the most formidable offensive line in the country. Durant, meanwhile, is the prototype for the position, and play his way into a comfortable day two draft spot with another solid campaign. Top 5 Tackles 1. Andrew Thomas, Georgia (3.11) 2. Prince Tega-Wanogho, Auburn (1.02) 3. Jedrick Willis, Alabama (0.89) 4. Isaiah Wilson, Georgia (0.61) 5. Yasir Durant, Missouri (0.6) Obviously, as mentioned above, Alex Leatherwood is sliding to left tackle which would alter these rankings, but I’m going to leave him at guard for these purposes since that’s where he earned his OAYP score a year ago. Top 5 Guards 1. Solomon Kindley, Georgia (1.4) 2. Tre'Vour Wallace-Simms, Missouri (1.39) 3. Alex Leatherwood, Alabama (1.06) 4. Darryl Williams, Mississippi State (0.46) 5. Damien Lewis, LSU (0.28) Top 5 Centers 1. Donell Stanley, South Carolina (0.49) 2. Trystan Colon-Castillo, Missouri (0.39) 3. Nick Buchanan, Florida (0.28) 4. Drake Jackson, Kentucky (0.04) 5. Kaleb Kim, Auburn (0.04) 2019 Projected Marginal OAYP SEC Offensive Line Rankings 1. Georgia 6.3 2. Alabama 3.24 3. Missouri 2.67 4. Mississippi State 1.53 5. Auburn 1.15 6. Florida -0.37 7. LSU -0.55 8. South Carolina -0.61 9. Kentucky -0.67 10. Ole Miss -1.35 11. Texas A&M -1.54 12. Vanderbilt -2.02 13. Arkansas -3.02 14. Tennessee -4.81
  21. Probably a smart move. I doubt he'll be able to top what he accomplished this season.
  22. OAYP: 2019 SEC Receiver Rankings April 08, 2019 SOUTHERN PIGSKIN.COM The new OAYP advanced metric ranks the SEC's returning receivers. Earlier in the offseason I released the 2018 OAYP rankings as part of the debut of a new advanced metric to evaluate college football teams. Last season’s scores will obviously factor into the eventual 2019 preseason rankings, but those alone are only reflective, not predictive. In order to make the aforementioned OAYP metric predictive, we’re factoring in individual player OAYP scores for projected starters and key contributors. Those numbers are a sort of spiritual descendant of adjusted yards per attempt, the quarterback metric first introduced in the book The Hidden Game of Football by Bob Carroll, Pete Palmer, and John Thorn, and Pro Football Reference founder Doug Drinen’s ‘approximate value’ measure. The basic premise is to cross the efficiency measure of the former, but across all positions, with the value principles of the latter -- hopefully as a way of more accurately depicting a given team’s returning production. Returning good players is more valuable than returning only average or subpar players, and not all production is created equal, so this should ideally prove to be more predictive than simply looking at the raw number of returning starters or the percentages of returning production. Over the coming weeks I’ll be diving into those individual OAYP scores for some of the top returning qualifying players in the SEC at each position, as well as some potential breakout stars that posted big OAYP numbers, but on too small a sample size to qualify. Now, to separate the truly dominant players, rather than just using the OAYP scores, we’ll be looking at the scores relative to their positional averages. For the time being, we only have the SEC to look at, but those marginal ratings will eventually reflect their value relative to the entire country -- at least among qualifying returnees. That way, because there is some mild inequity in scoring from one position to the next, those disparities are wholly mitigated. Sort of like WAR in baseball, marginal OAYP tells us how far above or below a player is their positional average. We looked at the SEC quarterbacks and running backs last week. Today, we’re diving into the receivers. We’ll tier them into ‘superstars’ (marginal OAYP >1), ‘second tier’ (marginal OAYP between 0.5 and 1), ‘not as good as we thought?’, and potential breakout stars (players that didn’t get enough reps to qualify, but posted high OAYP scores on a smaller sample size). *Marginal OAYP in parentheses Superstars -Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (1.98) -Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (1.59) -Henry Ruggs, Alabama (1.31) Tua Tagovailoa is the best quarterback in college football. He returns the best receiving corps in college football. That doesn’t seem fair. Jerry Jeudy won the Biletnikoff Award, given annually to college football’s best receiver, and yet, at least according to Pro Football Focus, he wasn’t even the best pass catcher on his own team. That distinction went to freshman Jaylen Waddle who posted the fourth highest WR grade in the country. Oh yeah, and then there’s Henry Ruggs, maybe the only player in the country that’s faster than Waddle. Not to mention… Second Tier -Devonta Smith, Alabama (0.91) -Bryan Edwards, South Carolina (0.54) Devonta Smith was Tagovailoa’s top target during the College Football Playoff, and all four of those weapons rank in the top eight among returning SEC pass catchers in yards per reception and touchdowns. Bryan Edwards is not the athlete that Deebo Samuel is, but as the latter provided enough excitement for the both of them, Edwards was a bastion of consistency and even proved to be a viable WR1 when Samuel was injured in 2017. He has 12 receiving scores and over 1,600 yards the last two years, and proved more able to stretch defenses downfield a season ago. Big, long, and strong, Edwards is a jump ball warrior and should have his best season yet in 2019, especially if Jake Bentley is a little steadier behind center. Not as good as we thought? -Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt -1.05 -Lynn Bowden, Kentucky -1.14 Both Lipscomb and Bowden were All-SEC selections in 2018, Lipscomb to the second team by the media and Bowden to the second team by the coaches. In fairness, Bowden was picked as an all-purpose/returner, but, nevertheless, his production does not match his perception. An elite punt returner to be sure, his numbers from scrimmage, both as a rusher and receiver, are pretty pedestrian. He did have some monster performances, but no-shows like he had against Mississippi State and South Carolina leave me wanting more. Meanwhile, though Lipscomb’s raw numbers are impressive, he was force fed the ball, and inefficient in the way in which he accumulated those stats. Despite leading the league with 87 receptions, he failed to hit 1,000 yard mark, and ranked 36th among 42 qualifying SEC receivers last year in yards per reception. Potential Breakout Stars -Kam Scott, Missouri 4.14 -Stephen Guidry, Mississippi State 2.72 -Tyler Simmons, Georgia 2.36 -Seth Williams, Auburn 2.22 -Jeremiah Holloman, Georgia 1.49 -Josh Palmer, Tennessee 1.18 Scott, Guidry, and Simmons’ numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. Impressive as they may be, none of them had even 20 touches, though Guidry was just shy of that mark. However, we saw enough of the other three to acknowledge that, though they probably aren’t as good as those OAYP scores, big seasons could be in the cards for each one. Williams is in an interesting spot because of Auburn’s quarterback situation, but Holloman did a nice job stepping into that Javon Wims-esque deep threat role for Georgia last year, while Palmer emerged as an upper echelon big play threat, gaining at least 20 yards on just shy of 40% of his receptions. Full Marginal OAYP Rankings for Qualifying WR’s Jerry Jeudy, Alabama (1.98) Jaylen Waddle, Alabama (1.59) Henry Ruggs, Alabama (1.31) Devonta Smith, Alabama (0.91) Bryan Edwards, South Carolina (0.54) Van Jefferson, Florida (0.51) Justin Jefferson, LSU (0.38) Marquez Callaway, Tennessee (0.32) Shi Smith, South Carolina (0.23) Josh Hammond, Florida (0.22) Jauan Jennings, Tennessee (0.2) Jalen Knox, Missouri (0.13) Quartney Davis, Texas A&M (-0.12) Camron Buckley, Texas A&M (-0.34) Anthony Schwartz, Auburn (-0.36) Johnathan Johnson, Missouri (-0.46) CJ Bolar, Vanderbilt (-0.48) Jhamon Ausbon, Texas A&M (-0.97) Eli Stove (‘17), Auburn (-1.04) Kalija Lipscomb, Vanderbilt (-1.05) Lynn Bowden, Kentucky (-1.14) Elijah Moore, Ole Miss (-1.15) Kadarius Toney, Florida (-1.18)
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