Posted on: September 14, 2011 6:53 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Running down everything you need to know from the week's news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters.
FLORIDA. Just in time for the Gators to face their first opponent of 2011 with a definable pulse -- and judging by their comprehensive smackdown of Cincinnati, Tennessee has more than just a pulse at the moment -- Will Muschamp will have his most complete roster to date. Defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd will officially be in uniform after serving his NCAA-mandated two-game suspension, and running back Jeff Demps will be able to go after missing most of the Gators' drubbing of UAB with a shoulder problem.
"He's fine," Muschamp said of Demps. "He's playing. He's been practicing." The one question mark is backup linebacker Dee Finley, arrested earlier this week on multiple misdemeanor charges; Muschamp would not say whether Finley had been suspended or not.
TENNESSEE. On the other side of the rivalry, Derek Dooley has several nicked-up players -- including pivotal defensive back Prentiss Waggner -- practicing in non-contact jerseys, but only as a "precautionary" measure. For senior starting defensive end Ben Martin, though, even a precautionary non-contact jersey would be an improvement; an ankle injury means Dooley would "like to get 15 plays from him" but may have to keep him on the sideline entirely.
In other Vol lineup news, struggling freshman Justin Coleman is holding off senior Art Evans at starting corner ... for now. On the scheduling front, Tennessee will play third-year FCS program Georgia State in 2012.
AUBURN. Gus Malzahn and Chad Morris, the offensive coordinator for Auburn Week 3 opponent Clemson, have something unusual in common besides their similar schemes: both came up through the high school coaching ranks. Malzahn hopes the matchup will help other teams look at high school coaches when filling out their staffs. "Hopefully, things like this will give more high school coaches opportunities that we've been fortunate enough to both have," Malzahn said.
The Tigers have been using as many as 12 defensive linemen and won't change those plans against Clemson, though redshirt freshman end Justin Delaine's season-ending knee injury may limit that number by one. True freshman kickoff returner Tre Mason is hoping Clemson kicks to him after Mississippi State began using squib kicks last week.
SOUTH CAROLINA. Despite the Gamecocks' 2-0 record, Steve Spurrier isn't thrilled with his team's defense. "We don’t look like we know what we are doing or we have some bad players, one or the other," he said. "I have been reading about all these great athletes we have on defense, but we don’t play great that’s for sure right now." He had similar comments for his wide receivers, who he said "are getting a lot of publicity, but need to start doing something." Wideouts other than Alshon Jeffery have combined for only five receptions so far this season.
Despite the Gamecocks' struggles in the passing game (on both sides of the ball), Spurrier said he won't be rotating Stephen Garcia with Connor Shaw. "The competition was over," Spurrier said. "[Garcia]’s got every opportunity to take us as far as he can because we firmly believe he’s our best quarterback on the team."
ELSEWHERE: Alabama senior wide receiver Darius Hanks will return for the Tide's meeting with North Texas after missing the first two weeks with a redshirting issue. "I don’t think his transition back will be a problem," Nick Saban said ... Ole Miss running back Brandon Bolden is surprisingly already practicing again after his broken ankle was found to be only a hairline fracture. Bolden could see the field as early as this week ...
Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen says his players have practiced "angry" this week after last week's loss to Auburn. "They felt we should have won that football game," he said ... As for the Bulldogs' Thursday night opponent, LSU head coach Les Miles would not rule out backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger making an apparance after a successful debut against Northwestern State. "I would anticipate playing Jarrett Lee really start to finish," Miles said, but added "You just never can tell when you may turn to him and see if we can get a hot hand and go." Lee is nursing an ankle injury but should be fine against MSU ...
Starting Georgia safety Shawn Williams could get a look at inside linebacker after the position has been hard-hit by injuries ... Vanderbilt's surprising recruiting renaissance has continued with the commitment of a top-25 wide receiver from Minnesota.
Tags: Alabama, Alshon Jeffery, Art Evans, Auburn, Ben Martin, Brandon Bolden, Chad Morris, Cincinnati, Clemson, Connor Shaw, Dan Mullen, Derek Dooley, Georgia, Georgia State, Gus Malzahn, Jarrett Lee, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Justin Coleman, Justin Delaine, Les Miles, LSU, Mississippi State, Nick Saban, North Texas, Northwestern State, Northwestern State, Ole Miss, Prentiss Waggner, SEC, Sharrif Floyd, Shawn Williams, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tennessee, Tre Mason, UAB, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp, Zach Mettenberger
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:09 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Auburn and Alabama, as you may already be aware, don't always get along. Or, more accurately, under no circumstances get along.
But it turns out that when their conference parents at the SEC ask (or demand), they can occasionally play nice. That's the lesson to learn from the Tigers' just-announced late-season 2011 schedule adjustment :
For the first time since 1963, the Tigers won't play Georgia and Alabama in back-to-back games; Auburn slipped in Samford to split them up.The alteration will no doubt stick in the craw of Auburn fans who will see the league (and potentially the Auburn administration) as having caved to the Crimson Tide's demands. Not only had Alabama filed the grievance regarding the bye-week problem, but Nick Saban had specifically, vocally griped (or from the Auburn perspective, "whined") about the Tigers enjoying an off week before the Iron Bowl. (The Tide also countered in 2010 by scheduling first-year FCS program Georgia State for the week before, and moving the game to Thursday night ... giving them the closest thing to a bye without actually having one.) "If Alabama wanted the change, and Auburn didn't, why is the league taking their side?" is how the orange-and-blue argument will certainly go.
But there's also little doubt that something had to be done about Alabama's bye-week problem -- it didn't hurt their case that all three of their 2010 losses came to teams that had enjoyed the extra week of preparation -- and of the six teams that asked for a pre-Tide bye in 2010, clearly only a couple would get the same indulgence in 2011. The SEC decided Auburn wasn't one of those teams. In the end, there's not that much room for complaint, particularly since both teams (who'll square off against FCS competition the week before) will still enter the 2011 Iron Bowl on equal footing.
It's Auburn and Alabama, though. Whether it's fans, head coaches, administrators, whoever: there's going to be complaining.
Posted on: November 24, 2010 3:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It's obvious that this year's Alabama team is not the same as the squad that won the national title last year. All you have to do is look at the Tide's record, and see those two blemishes in the loss column to figure that out. While there are a few reasons for this, one of the bigger factors has been the offensive line's inability to block for Greg McElroy.
Only Tennessee and Vanderbilt have allowed their quarterback to be sacked more often in the SEC this year than Alabama, who have given up 27 sacks. In the Iron Bowl on Friday, while Auburn's defense as a whole hasn't been all that impressive, the Alabama offensive line is going to have its hands full with Nick Fairley and company. A task that may be even tougher now that it looks like guard Barrett Jones isn't going to be able to play.
“Barrett Jones is still struggling a little bit,” said Nick Saban after practice on Tuesday. “He hasn’t been able to practice much. He may try to do some things tomorrow and I think that would be the indicator of whether he would be able to participate in the game or not.”
Jones suffered a sprained left ankle in the Mississippi State game, and sat out of the team's ritual sacrifice of Georgia State last week. He has been practicing, but he's been wearing the black "no-contact" jersey. If he can't go on Friday, he'll be replaced up front by Anthony Steen who filled in for him against Georgia State.
Posted on: November 18, 2010 12:45 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If there was ever a game in which you could give the coach and players of the favorite the thumbs-up on dropping the usual "we respect everyone/we're not looking forward to next week/no, seriously, even though our opponent is starting a cardboard cutout of Jar Jar Binks stolen from a shuttered Blockbuster at outside linebacker, we could lose this game" front, you'd think it would be tonight's matchup between reigning national champions Alabama and FCS Georgia State , a program in its very first year of existence. After all, the Crimson Tide rescheduled the game from Saturday to Thursday specifically to get some extra preparation in before next week's day-after-Thanksgiving showdown with Auburn . It is, almost by definition, a game you look past.
But give Nick Saban credit: even this week, even against the Panthers, the traditional coach's poker face has stayed resolutely in place :
"We're not concerned about anything else," Saban said. "We're not concerned about anybody else but the team that we play this week."This is the first time in recorded human history that "went to overtime against Jacksonville State " has been cited as a reason for Alabama to be concerned with an opposing football team. That Saban can offer it up with a totally straight face is a poor-mouthing job of truly Lou Holtz -ian proportions, and he should be commended not only for that but for apparently convincing his team of the same:
"We know that every game we play is important," Alabama defensive back Robert Lester said. "Every player in college is an athlete and can make plays. We can't look ahead to Auburn and look past Georgia State, because they could sneak up and beat us, which obviously wouldn't look good."No, no it wouldn't. But even though the spectrum of all potential possibilities is wide enough that Georgia State could win tonight, in the quantum sense of the word, it's not something Lester and his Tide teammates actually have to worry about. That he's bothering to express sentiments to the contrary should tell you: yes, even in what qualifies as a disappointing season in Tuscaloosa, this is every inch Nick Saban's team.
Posted on: November 16, 2010 10:55 am
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Alabama running back Trent Richardson hasn't played since scoring a touchdown during the Tide's loss to LSU nearly a week and a half ago, thanks to a knee injury he suffered on the play. Which means that Alabama's two-headed monster at running back was just a one-headed Heisman Trophy winner, Mark Ingram against Mississippi State last Saturday. Which didn't really seem to hurt Alabama all that much during its 30-10 win.
The Tide now have a short week, as they're going to be hosting Georgia State on Thursday night, and Richardson's status for the game is still up in the air. Though Nick Saban did sound optimistic that Richardson could play in the game.
"He actually wanted to play in the last game, but we didn't feel like he'd practiced enough or he was ready enough," Saban told the AL.com. "I still think we have to evaluate that day-to-day. It will be interesting. He really didn't do anything on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, so he's had three recovery days as well as rehab days to see where he is today, and that will determine a lot as to how ready he will be to play in this game and what contribution he'll be able to make."
Which is good to hear if you're Richardson, but seriously, what exactly would be the point of playing Richardson against Georgia State if you're Alabama? You aren't going to need him to win this game, as the rest of the starters will probably be out of the game before the end of the third quarter. So why risk having Richardson aggravate the knee injury in a game he isn't needed when there's that whole Iron Bowl looming on the horizon?
Last I checked, that game means more.