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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Steele's transfer "a colossal disaster" for Gators: SDS CHRIS STEELE’S DECISION TO LEAVE FLORIDA TOOK COURAGE, AND IS A COLOSSAL DISASTER FOR THE GATORS As if losing Bowman weren’t bad enough, the Gators received even more awful news earlier Thursday when the story broke that Chris Steele, the crown jewel of Florida’s 2019 recruiting class and one of the most promising players in spring practice, announced he would transfer without ever playing a down in Gainesville. Steele entered the transfer portal, citing, according to the Gainesville Sun’s Zach Alboverdi, a dispute with the coaches over a roommate situation, as the reason. The roommate? Jalon Jones. Alboverdi reported, and SDS confirmed through multiple sources, including one with the University Police Department,that Steele had concerns about Jones that predated the early April sexual battery incidents wherein Jones was implicated. Steele, who is listed in the police reports as a prospective witness on account of living with Jones, expressed concern about Jones’ behaviors to the Florida coaching staff as early as late January, per SDS sources. According to Alboverdi’s report, Steele asked to be assigned a different roommate, citing his own concerns about getting into trouble by association. The staff punted on the request, telling Steele they would move him in the summer. As it turns out, Steele was right, and the summer was too late. The whole incident infuriated Steele’s family, who encouraged him to come home to California. If you are Chris Steele or his family, the decision makes sense, both financially and from a common-sense safety standpoint. From a safety perspective, Steele’s family entrusted Mullen and the coaching staff with their son’s well-being, future and safety. Steele sensed danger and asked the staff to remove him from what he viewed as the problem. The staff, mystifyingly, declined to act. From a financial perspective, Steele is a high-level defensive back prospect likely destined for the NFL in 3 seasons. The last thing a player like that needs is NFL teams asking character questions at draft time simply because his name popped up in a sexual battery investigation. Steele, sensing a problem, asked to be removed from that danger. It’s difficult to blame Steele for perceiving Florida’s lack of action as a sign that Florida didn’t necessarily value Steele’s future. Make no mistake: This is a colossal disaster for Mullen and Florida. From a football standpoint, Steele was going to play early and often next season. Florida lacks secondary depth, as Georgia exposed last fall, and Steele showed all spring that he was simply too fast and too good to keep on the sideline for long. But forget the football piece. Mullen arrived in Gainesville talking about restoring the “Gator standard,” not only on the field, but off it. Mullen inherited a broken culture in the wake of a credit card scandal that rocked the roster the year before. Restoring Florida’s credibility off the field mattered and, to parents entrusting coaches with their children, was critical. The Steele fiasco is a setback. When Scott Stricklin speaks about “making Florida football fun again,” he’s doubtlessly referencing the Spurrier era, which had its share of barbs and bravado, but always on a foundation of integrity. Where I come from, that matters. Maybe that type of cultural rebuild was never in the cards for Mullen, who is, after all, an Urban Meyer protégé. Mullen was instrumental in Florida winning two national championships under Meyer, to be sure, but was also in Gainesville during a time of substantial off-field discontent, plagued by a string of off-field incidents and arrests. The Gator Standard needs to be better than it was under Meyer. From the looks of it, the Gator Standard needs to look like Chris Steele. His decision to ask to have his roommate changed took character and it took courage. It’s the type of decision the Gator Standard should be about. When that was met with procrastination, Steele’s worst fears were confirmed. Now Steele is gone, and Mullen will pay the price. Will he learn from it?
  4. 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)
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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)
  11. 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
  12. Muchamp #2 when it comes to being on the Hotseat just behind Malzahn (in the SEC) thoughts? 1. GUS MALZAHN, AUBURN Did the amazing offensive show against Purdue in the Music City Bowl show off the hope needed going forward? Malzahn now has lost five or more games in four of the last five season, and this should be a rebuilding campaign. Throw in the rough schedule, and few head coaches will have a more pressure-packed year. Last Season SEC Spring Hot Seat Ranking: 7 2. WILL MUSCHAMP, SOUTH CAROLINA Virginia 28, South Carolina 0 in your 2018 Belk Bowl. That’s how the 7-6 season ended in what was supposed to be a big third season for South Carolina under Muschamp. At 22-17 so far, this had better be a really, really good year. Last Season SEC Spring Hot Seat Ranking: 8 3. CHAD MORRIS, ARKANSAS It was an interesting hire that was at least supposed to bring a difference-making offense into the equation. Instead, the Hogs under Morris had a very, very ugly 2-10 season. He won’t get fired with another 2-10 clunker … maybe. At the very least, Arkansas had better be interesting. Last Season SEC Spring Hot Seat Ranking: 10
  13. Who wins the East in 2019? Is it UGA again? They have one it in the last 2 years. Florida? Tennessee? or perhaps Carolina. I feel Flordia and Georgia will be in the big picture and I fear Tennesse will be right there. Carolina will have to play better much better on the defensive side. Just hope they do not lose any more players Like today with Belk gone. There is a chance he could be back just would not hold my breath though. On Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Mizzou will finish out the bottom. Kentucky lost too much and Mizzou has troubles of their own that they have to overcome and Vanderbilt is Vanderbilt. Tough to play but lacking in certain important areas.
  14. SEC Rivalry Week Preview - College Football Week 13 - Game Times, TV, Odds November 22, 2018
  15. A ranking and a Heisman candidate. How is UK handling the hype heading into USC game? Sept. 26, 2018 Kentucky has a perfect record, a national ranking and a darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate. Yet quickly after the spread was revealed for the Wildcats’ upcoming game with South Carolina, UK was listed by the Vegas oddsmakers as a 2-point underdog. Not that it bothered Mark Stoops all that much. “I don’t care,” the Kentucky coach said Tuesday during a news conference in Lexington. “I think we were two-touchdown dogs last week, weren’t we? So I don’t know. We’re just going to go about our business and do the best we can.” The No. 17 Wildcats (4-0, 2-0 SEC) have since moved to 1-point favorites for their 7:30 p.m. Saturday clash with the Gamecocks (2-1, 1-1) at Kroger Field. The initial slight likely has something to do with UK being in this rare a position. Kentucky is about to play a game as a team ranked in the AP Poll for the first time in 11 years. That much, according to Stoops, has been applauded. After all, the Cats were picked to finish fifth in the SEC East Division preseason poll. “As far as the recognition and all that, I’m good with it because the players earned it,” Stoops said. “They worked hard. That’s fine. But it cannot distract us, it should not, it will not. But they do deserve to get some recognition because they put a lot of time in. “It’s about the production that they’ve done this year. They didn’t get that in the preseason. So they’ve earned that through the work that they’ve done.” Kentucky upset No. 14 Mississippi State last Saturday. The poll debut came Sunday. On Monday, UK launched both Snellyeah.com and DraftJosh41len.com to help promote star running back Benny Snell and linebacker Josh Allen. How are the Wildcats handling all the sudden hype? Stoops said they began the week with an “OK practice.” “It starts with the respect we have for our preparation,” Stoops said. “It’s obedience. It’s being obedient and disciplined to do things that you have to do. “There’s something about earning it, and you earn it with the way you prepare. Our players are starting to buy into that. They like the grind, the discipline that it takes to earn it throughout the week. The only thing we talk about all the time is a successful season comes from some successful weeks. Obviously successful weeks come about from each day. “ UK will be seeking a fifth consecutive win against USC. “They’re what I expected, a good football team,” Stoops said after watching tape of the Gamecocks for the first time. “They’re good,they’re well-coached in all three phases and they’re sound at what they do.They really have some talent offensively at some skill positions that are real explosive gu
  16. LOOK: Will Muschamp pokes fun at Nick Saban on Twitter July 11, 2018 By all accounts, South Carolina coach Will Muschamp and Alabama coach Nick Saban are on good terms and think highly of each other after working together at LSU and with the Miami Dolphins. But when Coach Boom saw an opportunity to poke fun at his old boss, he took advantage. Muschamp and some of the Gamecocks recently spent a day out on the lake. Judging by the photos Muschamp shared, a good time was had by all. After tweeting the set of photos, Muschamp decided to reply to himself and troll Saban with the hashtag #HadGas. Saban, of course, made headlines this spring when he and some of his players got stuck out on the lake in his boat. While it was assumed by many that the boat had run out of gas, Saban later explained that it was actually a problem with the fuel pump. While technically Saban wasn’t out of gas, this is still excellent use of social media by Muschamp. SDS
  17. Three keys for South Carolina to win the SEC East in 2018 July 05, 2018 Coming off of a 9-4 season that included an Outback Bowl victory over the Michigan Wolverines, 26-19, the Gamecocks are looking to continue their upward trajectory in 2018. There are still unknowns about this team going into fall camp. However, there are also quite a few signs that point in the Garnet and Black’s favor. With Georgia losing over 30 players from a National Championship runner-up team, they seem primed to take a step back this year. Florida and Tennessee are both coming off of four-win seasons and coaching staff turnovers in the off-season. Missouri has Drew Lock but he lost his top wide receiver from last year and also his offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel. Kentucky still has Benny Snell Jr. at running back and Josh Allen at linebacker but not much else. Vanderbilt has one of better and more experienced quarterbacks in the league in Kyle Shurmur but they will be hurt from the departure of Ralph Webb and Oren Burks in their respective positions. The SEC East has arguably been “down” the past couple of seasons but looks to be improving. Still, the upcoming football season looks to hold some exciting potential for Will Muschamp and staff. South Carolina hasn’t won the SEC East since 2010. They ended up getting pummeled by Auburn in the Championship game though, losing 56-17 at the hands of Cam Newton and the Tigers. With Georgia recruiting at a high level plus Florida and Tennessee improving, this upcoming season could be the Gamecocks best chance to reach Atlanta since 2010. Here are my three keys to South Carolina winning the SEC East in 2018: 1. Jump on Georgia early The last two years, Georgia and South Carolina have met in November and October. That’s about halfway through the regular season. Most years, the two teams would meet in an early September game. In 2018, it’s back to the typical time of year for this inter-conference rivalry. The Bulldogs will visit Williams-Brice in the second week of the season for a 3:30 kickoff on CBS. There’s no doubt UGA is the pre-season favorite to win the East. However, this is a huge opportunity for the Gamecocks to get a head start in the division race. A win over the Dawgs would virtually give South Carolina a two-game lead in the division due to the fact that they would own the tiebreaker if each team ended conference play with only one loss. With great players like Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Isaiah Wynn, Roquan Smith and many others no longer in Athens, Georgia will be without a lot of greatly talented experience. Since the game is as early as it is in the season, a more experienced South Carolina team at home should have an edge in this matchup. No Hayden Hurst will hurt but the Gamecocks do get back Deebo Samuel who had vaulted into the Heisman discussion last season after just two games before getting injured. This game could ultimately be the deciding factor in who gets to represent the East division in Atlanta this year. 2. Develop a consistent running game The Gamecocks have not had a consistently successful running attack since Mike Davis left the program. The past couple seasons have been ‘by committee’ in the backfield and not in a good way. In 2016, South Carolina had 12 different players attempt at least one rush on the season for a combined average of just 3.7 yards per carry and a total of 1,747 yards rushing on the year (134.4 per game). Last season saw only 10 different Gamecocks attempt a rush. They had a combined average of 3.9 yards per carry and a total of 1,588 total yards rushing for the season (122.2 per game). Five different players carried the ball at least 41 times last year, four of which were running backs with the other being Jake Bentley. The running backs had a total of EIGHT rushing touchdowns and 1,405 total yards rushing (4.7 yards per carry). Bentley alone had SIX rushing touchdowns. All five of the leading rushers from last year’s team return in 2018. In order for the Gamecocks to really push for an East division title, one of them needs to step up and stand out. Rico Dowdle is the most explosive of the returning backs but has dealt with a couple injuries. Ty’Son Williams is the most physical. AJ Turner is the most consistent. Mon Denson has made the most of his attempts but is clearly the fourth best of this bunch. A new, fast-paced, up-tempo offense will change the look of the offense. This should force at least one of these guys to create some separation from the others. Without a consistent running attack, the Gamecocks offense will never reach its full potential. If not fixed, it could ultimately cost them a chance to play for an SEC Championship. 3. Avoid the injury bug The 2017 season yielded some painful (no pun intended) injuries for the Gamecocks as a whole. Deebo Samuel was lost for the year in the third game against Kentucky with a broken leg. The next week, Bryson Allen-Williams was ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury. Two starting offensive linemen in Cory Helms and Zack Bailey missed multiple games each with various injuries. KC Crosby suffered the same injury as Deebo vs Arkansas and then just another week later, Rico Dowdle also went down with the exact same injury. Some other notable players who missed time due to injuries were Terry Googer, Jamyest Williams, Shi Smith and DJ Smith. Going into 2018, South Carolina has talent at every position. However, some is inexperienced and there isn’t a great amount of depth at any position besides wide receiver. The Gamecocks have to stay healthy to compete for a trip to Atlanta. While the schedule is manageable, the injury bug is one thing that will certainly undo Carolina’s chances.
  18. Georgia QB Jake Fromm's Injury Diagnosed as Broken Hand July 05, 2018 Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Jake Fromm reportedly suffered a broken left hand Monday in a "freak" accident at a lake, according to Trent Smallwood of Rivals.com. As noted by Jeff Sentell of DawgNation.com, the break was in his non-throwing hand. Per that report: "The event took place during a boating incident. The exact details of the event could not be specifically confirmed other than a tow rope got away while dragging another rider and Fromm put his hand up to shield himself from the rope." Sentell added that Fromm will "only need a few weeks to heal" and "should be ready to go for the start of fall camp." Head coach Kirby Smart confirmed the injury, per ESPN.com's Chris Low. It's Fromm's second offseason injury. Last month, he got a fishing lure lodged in his leg. "Well, I was fishing, and it was getting dark," he said of that accident, per Jay Clemons of 11Alive.com. "My buddy and I were fishing at the top of the water. ... He tried to set the lure, and the lure came flying back at me, and it gets stuck in my leg. The rest is pretty much history." Fromm, 19, took over as Georgia's starting quarterback last season after Jacob Eason suffered an injury in Week 1. He promptly led the Bulldogs to the College Football Playoff National Championship, throwing for 2,615 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions while completing 62.2 percent of his passes. He also rushed for 79 yards and another three scores. Georgia, led by a stout defense and a devastating run game, didn't need Fromm to play hero ball, and he managed the offense ably in the team's 13-2 season. While they fell short against Alabama in the title game, it was still a superb season for the Bulldogs. The Bulldogs aren't exactly wanting for options at the position, however, as 5-star recruit Justin Fields—the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2018, per 247Sports.com—is waiting in the wings. The dual-threat Fields was expected to play some role for the Bulldogs in the 2018 season, and perhaps even win the job over Fromm, though the incumbent isn't worried that the quarterback competition will affect the locker room. "It's part of the team aspect that's out there," Fromm said, per David Paschall of the Times Free Press. "Obviously you're buddies with guys in your room, because you see them every day and you're with them every day. We're also competing for a job and competing the best way we can. The main goal is to help the team the best way we possibly can." https://syndication.bleacherreport.com/amp/2784539-georgia-qb-jake-fromms-injury-reportedly-diagnosed-as-broken-hand.amp.html
  19. This early poll projects South Carolina to finish strong in SEC standings June 30, 2018 South Carolina football seems to be carving out its niche, where it fits in the constellation of preseason expectation. AL.com conducted its annual poll of the SEC's 14 football information directors. The results, unsurprisingly, had Alabama and Georgia at the top (they played for a national title after all). But South Carolina was in solid position as well. Those voters had the Gamecocks as No. 6 in the SEC overall, so top half of the conference, and second in the SEC East. That's two spots better than Florida and three ahead of Kentucky and Missouri, which tied for ninth. "Despite an 11-win season in Gainesville, Will Muschamp could never seem to get over the hump at Florida," AL.com's Rainer Sabin wrote. "But it appears that he is in the process of building something substantial in Columbia. The Gamecocks finished with nine wins last season and the roster looks deeper and more talented than it was in 2017. Quarterback Jake Bentley and receiver Deebo Samuel are a formidable combination and should be able to inject some life into an offense that finished 99th in scoring last season. South Carolina got two eighth-place votes, one seventh-place vote, four sixth-place votes, four fifth-place votes, one fourth-place vote and one third-place vote. The total of 108 points was just behind Texas A&M (111) and LSU (115) In this poll for 2017, USC was picked in a tie for ninth, behind Tennessee and Florida. The Gamecocks were predicted by the media to finish fourth in the SEC Eastern Division last season and finished second behind Georgia. USC returns eight offensive starters, notably losing first-round draft pick Hayden Hurst at tight end, and does add Samuel. USC's defense loses some pieces, but is still in the hands of Muschamp and Travaris Robinson. The schedule also might open up, as beyond Clemson and Georgia, the next four strongest programs the Gamecocks face are breaking in new coaching staffs (another lost the coordinator of a prolific offense). The slate includes six of the bottom seven teams in this poll. South Carolina also made several preseason Top-25s. SEC Media Days run from July 16-19 in Atlanta. That's when the media's predicted order-of-finish for the SEC East and West will be released. AL.com/The Birmingham News preseason SID Poll 1. Alabama (169 points) 2. Georgia (157) 3. Auburn (144) 4. LSU (115) 5. Texas A&M (111) 6. South Carolina (108) 7. Mississippi State (100) 8. Florida (95) T-9. Missouri (61) T-9. Kentucky (61) 11. Ole Miss (48) 12. Tennessee (45) 13. Arkansas (40) 14. Vanderbilt (22) THE STATE
  20. Paul Finebaum on his dark-horse pick to win the SEC East Feb. 27, 2018 SEC Network TV/radio host Paul Finebaum is not going to jump out on any limbs when it comes to picking the favorites to win the 2018 SEC East and West championships. Like almost everybody else, he’s picking Georgia and Alabama, the two teams that met in the 2017 national championship game. If fact, Finebaum told SEC Country that he’ll never pick anybody other than Alabama to win the SEC West as long as Nick Saban is the coach of the Crimson Tide. But when asked about dark-horse picks, Finebaum picked the Gamecocks in the SEC East. “I think South Carolina would have to be considered a dark horse,” Finebaum said. “Maybe Florida if they can figure out the quarterback situation.” USC returns quarterback Jake Bentley and several talented receivers, including Deebo Samuel who missed most of last season with an injury. In the West, Finebaum said: “Maybe Mississippi State. But again, they have to play at Alabama.” Coach Will Muschamp’s Gamecocks open spring football practice on Wednesday.
  21. Will Muschamp on balance of power in SEC: ‘It’s not the West, it’s Alabama’ Feb. 21, 2018 Ladies and gentlemen, Will Muschamp is here to settle the debate on the balance of power between the SEC East and SEC West. After all, the South Carolina coach may be one of the most qualified people in the league to make an assessment. Not only does he coach the Gamecocks, but he’s a former Georgia player, former Florida coach, and had stints as defensive coordinator at Auburn and LSU. If there’s anyone currently involved with the on-field product who has seen the league from all sides, it’s probably this guy. During a Q&A with The Athletic’s Jason Kersey, which was released on Wednesday, Muschamp was asked about the balance of power in the league as the 2018 season approaches. “I think it all goes in cycles,” Muschamp explained. “There was a time when Florida and Tennessee were really battling every year for the SEC Championship and the national championship. It has swung to the West side. “But I think more than anything, it’s not the West, it’s Alabama. Alabama has been dominant. That’s what I would look at and point to.” Georgia broke an eight-game winning streak for the SEC West in the SEC Championship Game last season, defeating Auburn 28-7. It avenged a regular-season loss to the Tigers on the Plains. And while that championship game could mark a shift of power back in the direction of the East, at least temporarily, it is worth noting that Alabama went on to win the national championship in spite of missing out on a chance to play in the conference title game after an Iron Bowl loss to Auburn. Even when you beat Nick Saban, you can’t keep him down for long. Saban’s program has been in the SEC Championship Game in six of his 11 seasons at Alabama. Perhaps more stunning than that number is that Saban won a pair of national titles (2011, 2017) in two of the seasons when he missed SEC title-game appearances. The teams that played in Alabama’s place representing the SEC West (LSU, 2007; Auburn, 2010, 2013) went on to play for national title. Those results make it no surprise to Muschamp — who was a Saban assistant at LSU — that the league has hired coaches who worked in the Saban system to try to replicate his success. “We were very fortunate to work for Nick Saban,” Muschamp told Kersey coming off a nine-win season in Year 2 at South Carolina. “The model that he has is a very good one, from the offseason program to philosophically, offense, defense, special teams, recruiting.” In addition to Muschamp at South Carolina, Georgia coach Kirby Smart, new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and new Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher are just some examples of the league’s propensity to pursue Saban’s assistants. Fired Tennessee coach Derek Dooley, now the offensive coordinator at Missouri, and former Florida coach Jim McElwain represent failed attempts at that endeavor. Even Muschamp himself, who was fired at Florida, is a statistic on that side of the Saban assistant argument. SEC Championship Games during the Alabama-Nick Saban era Season SEC East champion SEC West champion 2007 Tennessee 14 LSU 21 2008 Florida 31 Alabama 20 2009 Florida 13 Alabama 32 2010 South Carolina 17 Auburn 56 2011 Georgia 10 LSU 42 2012 Georgia 28 Alabama 32 2013 Missouri 42 Auburn 59 2014 Missouri 13 Alabama 42 2015 Florida 15 Alabama 29 2016 Florida 16 Alabama 54 2017 Georgia 28 Auburn 7 SECCOUNTRY
  22. Looks like Washington. Predictable. http://www.espn.com/college-footbal...ldogs-expected-transfer-university-washington
  23. A look at the wish lists for SEC coaches as the jolly fat man prepares to visit December 24, 2017 Santa Claus is coming to town, and given that coaches believe in anything and everything that can potentially provide even the smallest advantage, you can be sure that football coaches everywhere believe in the ability of the jolly fat man to grant wishes. Read on for a team-by-team look at what Santa could do for each of the 14 SEC coaches. Alabama Santa knows the ID of the real Saint Nick, and thus usually gives Nick Saban what he wants – and this year, that’s a fifth national title. Thing is, if Saban gets that, Santa knows the “Nick Saban is the greatest college coach ever” talk will create some controversy, and Santa usually isn’t too keen on controversy. Arkansas New coach Chad Morris has a long background in the state of Texas as a high school coach, and that has led to Morris’ wish: A steady influx of Texas high school talent making its way to Fayetteville, Ark. It may take a while for Santa to grant this one. Auburn This has been an interesting season for Auburn. The Tigers have played three of the four teams in the College Football Playoff and beaten two of them; alas, they also have lost to two of them, which is why they aren’t in the CFP and instead are in the Peach Bowl. What Gus Malzahn wants? A smooth season, without the ups-and-downs (and injuries) that have plagued the Tigers for four seasons in a row now. Florida Santa has answered the call of Florida fans, who wanted a coach who can improve the offense. (Well, we think he has answered them, with Dan Mullen.) Along those lines, there are rumors that when an elf displeases him, Santa makes said elf watch UF’s offensive “highlights” reel. Those rumors are true: Santa isn’t cruel, per se, but sometimes you need folks to fall in line. And after watching those horror shows, every single one of those elves fell in line. As for Mullen himself, he has seen the “highlights,” too, and like a 7-year-old fixated on Legos for Christmas, Mullen has asked for a complete set of offensive playmakers – quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers. Georgia Interestingly, Kirby Smart’s wish is the same wish as that of his mentor, Nick Saban – a national title. Know this, though: If Smart gets that wish in just his second season, there are going to be a lot of mighty peeved SEC coaches. Kentucky Mark Stoops wants his program to be relevant and finish with a winning record in SEC play – something that hasn’t happened since 1977. Alas, while Santa can work miracles, that may be out of his realm. LSU Santa skipped Baton Rouge last year, figuring that Ed Orgeron being named permanent coach was enough of a gift. Presumably, that was a one-year hiatus, and what Orgeron really wants is a legitimate passing attack – you know, one opposing defenses actually have to worry about going into a game. Mississippi State Above all, new coach Joe Moorhead wants a seamless transition from the Dan Mullen era, and because Nick Fitzgerald (presumably) still will be around next fall, that wish should be relatively easy for Santa to grant. A secondary wish is for a seamless transition when it comes to recruiting for Moorhead. After all, he’s going from recruiting Philadelphia, Pa., to recruiting Philadelphia, Miss. Missouri Barry Odom simply is asking for an increasing level of comfort with his defense. That unit made strides this season, with the yards-per-game average dropping almost 55 yards from 2016 (from 479.7 to 425.3). Another 50 or so yards would make Odom much more comfortable. Truthfully, like a child who genuinely likes every toy he gets for Christmas, even if others think some of them are lame, Odom won’t care if his defense isn’t considered top of the line; if it’s average, he’ll be fine. Ole Miss Matt Luke knows he received an early present – two, actually. One is that the NCAA investigation is over; while Ole Miss didn’t get what it wanted in terms of a result, it still is over and that is big. The second thing is that Luke was named permanent coach. Bottom line: Santa ain’t visiting Oxford and Luke is just fine with that. South Carolina Santa has looked into it and thinks Will Muschamp simply has made copies of his Christmas 2010 “wish list,” from when Muschamp had just been hired at Florida, and sends the same one over and over. It says, “Offense, please.” Santa wants some effort put into those wish lists, which may be the biggest reason he never has come through for Muschamp. Tennessee Santa feels really bad for Vols fans, who have lived through a decade of mediocre football under three coaches. Thus, he’d like to grant the wishes of new coach Jeremy Pruitt (there are a lot of them, with the main one being a defense that shows some toughness). But remember that Pruitt still is performing his duties as Alabama’s defensive coordinator, and granting Nick Saban’s wish (which Pruitt would share in, obviously) and granting Pruitt’s might be giving Pruitt a bit too much for one Christmas. Texas A&M New coach Jimbo Fisher already has struck it rich (literally and figuratively), and Santa has to be careful not to give too many gifts to one coach. But Fisher is asking anyway. Fisher’s offense is as quarterback-centric as any in college football, and he certainly wouldn’t mind high-level quarterback play for the Aggies in 2018. Vanderbilt Unlike most coaches in the SEC, Derek Mason isn’t one for elaborate wishes. He simply wants a winning season. Think of this way: While other SEC teams want shiny toys and top-of-the-line electronics (i.e., national titles and the like), the Commodores have a huge need for the basics, like underwear, socks and T-shirts (i.e., a winning season). Alas, Vandy hasn’t had a winning record since 2013 and has had just three since 1982; given that history, that’s a tough wish to grant, even for a guy who delivers gifts all over the world in one night.
  24. Third Georgia player arrested since team made college playoff December 13, 2017 A Georgia freshman is facing a felony forgery charge over allegations of passing a counterfeit $100 bill last summer, the third player to be arrested since the Bulldogs won the Southeastern Conference championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Defensive back Latavious Brini was taken into custody Tuesday evening by the Clarke County sheriff’s office. He was released about three hours later on $5,700 bond, jail records show. Media outlets report that Brini’s arrest stems from a July incident in which the counterfeit bill was used to make an $8 purchase at a pet supplies store, with the suspect receiving $92 cash in return. Police say the store realized later at a bank drop that the $100 bill was fake.
  25. Who made the best SEC coaching hire? Who made the worst? December 12, 2017 The Southeastern Conference has seen six football head coaching changes before the first bowl game of the season has been played. Now, after everybody has had a chance to catch their breath after the whirlwind turnover, let’s figure out who made out well and who left us scratching our heads. Ranking the SEC football hires: Florida: Dan Mullen The Gators hired former Florida assistant and Tim Tebow position coach Dan Mullen, who has spent the last nine years at Mississippi State proving he has the chops for the top job. Mullen was 69-46 in Starkville (making him the second-winningest coach on this list), and the job will be easier at Florida than it was at Mississippi State. The Gators took a big swing early on Chip Kelly, but they didn’t linger on it, moving on to check in on Scott Frost quickly and then nabbing Mullen. If this was the Gators’ third choice, it’s a really good backup plan to the backup plan, and they executed it without any embarrassment to the school. Arkansas: Chad Morris Chad Morris does not bring an impressive record to Fayetteville, but he does bring something that might be more valuable – strong recruiting ties to Texas. Before Morris got into college coaching at Tulsa, he was the head coach at five Texas high schools, and he remains a legend in that state’s prep circles. Given the low number of prospects traditionally produced by Arkansas high schools, it’s essential for a coach to successfully recruit Texas if he’s going to have a chance in Fayetteville. That combined with Morris’ success as Clemson’s offensive coordinator and his rebuilding job at SMU (where he went 2-10, 5-7 and 7-5) makes him a great fit here. Mississippi State: Joe Moorhead The Bulldogs could have ended up the big losers after seeing Mullen take off. Instead, they pulled off the best-executed search of anyone in the league. Two days after Mullen left, Mississippi State hired Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Bulldogs athletics director John Cohen was prepared for Mullen’s departure and didn’t waste any time with delusional thoughts about how this big-name coach or that big-name coach might give him the time of day. Instead, he jumped on Moorhead, who has head coaching experience at Fordham, a dynamic offense and is excited to have an SEC job. Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher How do you dole out a 10-year, $75 million contract and end up with the fourth-best hire in SEC? Somehow, the Aggies seem to have done it. From the moment Texas A&M pushed out Kevin Sumlin, and even before that, it was focused on bringing Jimbo Fisher from Florida State. Fisher is 83-23 and won the 2013 national title so he’s the most successful coach in this year’s shuffle, and it was a good time for him to leave Tallahassee given that he and the Seminoles’ administration seemed to be growing tired of each other. However, Fisher’s record hasn’t been tracking in the right direction (13-1 in 2014, 10-3 in 2015 and 2016, 5-6 in 2017), and this is a huge investment in a coach whose previous fan base had its share of gripes. Ole Miss: Matt Luke There’s not much to say here. The Rebels were awaiting a nasty NCAA penalty, which now has come down, and weren’t going to find too many good options. When interim head coach Matt Luke, who played at the school and may be the only coach on the market who really wanted the job, upset rival Mississippi State in the regular season finale, it became an easy call to give Luke the full-time job. Tennessee: Jeremy Pruitt The Volunteers go docked some points for how messy the search is, and maybe that’s not fair, but it was really, really messy. First, Tennessee had a memo of understanding signed with Greg Schiano, but that blew up badly after a fan revolt. Then athletics director John Currie reportedly had a handshake deal with Mike Leach, but the powers-that-be back home nixed that deal and fired Currie on top of that. The athletics director job went to former UT coach Phil Fulmer, who reports said had been angling for it all along, and Fulmer went out and hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Pruitt fits the Saban-assistant mold that has worked at times at other places, but it sure felt like Fulmer immediately zeroed in on assistant coaches when he took over the search. A cynic might think that gives him the opportunity for more input into the program as the veteran sounding board.
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