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SEC Power Rankings

Sep 01, 2014 -- 9:07pm

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

1. Georgia

Todd Gurley made a statement with his performance against Clemson Saturday night. 293 all-purpose yards that included a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown and three rushing the football.

2. Auburn

Auburn has two genuine playmakers at quarterback. Jeremy Johnson completed 75% of his pass attempts in the first half against Auburn and Nick Marshall’s presence made the running game click in the second half.

3. Texas A&M

Quarterback Kenny Hill completed 73% of his passing attempts on the way to throwing for 511 yards against South Carolina.

4. LSU

At some point in the third quarter the Tigers decided they should kick things into a higher gear against Wisconsin as the rallied to win 28-24

5. Alabama

There were concerns for Bama before the season in the secondary, at QB and special teams. They were all in evidence Saturday night.

6. Florida

The Gators earn this spot almost by default by getting weathered out against Idaho.

7. Mississippi State

Dan Mullen’s team went 49-0, but it was Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles have now won one game in their last twenty-five outings.

8. Ole Miss

At some point it has to be accepted that QB Bo Wallace is what he is. There are times when he is fantastic and others when he is lousy. Both ends of the spectrum were on display in the two halves of football against Boise State.

9. Tennessee

The Vols looked pretty good against Utah State. The rushing game for Butch Jones team is still a big question mark.

10 Missouri

The Tigers are a work in progress right now.

11. South Carolina

The Gamecocks better hope that Texas A&M QB Kenny Hill is THAT good. Otherwise, all team should include plenty of passing in their game plan for South Carolina

12 Arkansas

When your bread and butter is rushing the football and you only gain two yards in a half, which is a really bad sign of things to come. Then there was that defense.

13. Kentucky

It was a great day for Kentucky football, but they will not climb any higher than this in 2014.

14. Vanderbilt

The truth. James Franklin left new head Coach Derek Mason a team lacking in talent at key positions and Commodore fans should not be making plans for a bowl trip this year.




SEC Football-Television Schedule Week One

Aug 28, 2014 -- 10:40am

From Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

All times Central Time

Thu, Aug 285:00 PM# 21 Texas A&M at # 9 South CarolinaSEC NETWORK
Thu, Aug 287:00 PMBoise State at # 18 Ole MissESPN
Thu, Aug 288:15 PMTemple at VanderbiltSEC NETWORK
Sat, Aug 3011:00 AMTennessee-Martin at KentuckySEC NETWORK
Sat, Aug 302:30 PMSouth Dakota State at # 24 MissouriESPNU
Sat, Aug 302:30 PMWest Virginia at # 2 AlabamaABC, ESPN3
Sat, Aug 303:00 PMArkansas at # 6 AuburnSEC NETWORK
Sat, Aug 304:30 PM# 16 Clemson at # 12 GeorgiaESPN
Sat, Aug 306:00 PMIdaho at FloridaESPNU
Sat, Aug 306:30 PMSouthern Miss at Mississippi StateSEC NETWORK
Sat, Aug 308:00 PM# 14 Wisconsin at # 13 LSUESPN
Sun, Aug 316:00 PMUtah State at TennesseeSEC NETWORK


SEC Football Preview-Week One

Aug 27, 2014 -- 10:39pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Saturday, August 30

UT-Martin (0-0, 0-0) vs. Kentucky (0-0, 0-0)

11:00 a.m./SEC Network

Expect Kentucky to be improved on defense, but the offense will remain much like it was in 2013 when it was 13th in the SEC in scoring.

Coach Jason Simpson will be going for his fifth winning season at UT-Martin and features an experienced squad with twelve redshirt seniors. Jarod Neal and Dylan Favre both return at quarterback, and should provide solid play for a team that will have to replace last year’s leading rusher DJ McNeil.

The Call: Expect this to be a game without much drama and a feel good day for the Wildcats in their renovated stadium.

South Dakota State (0-0, 0-0) vs. Missouri (0-0, 0-0)

2:30 p.m./ESPNU

The Jackrabbits are an FCS team that went 9-5 last season and gave up 382 yards per game.

Missouri will start Maty Mauk at quarterback, and expectations are high after the role he played for the team while starter James Franklin was injured in 2013. Mauk is an exciting player who can hurt a defense with his legs and arm. Expect a big game from DE Markus Golden who will start at one of the spots occupied last season by NFL Draftees Michael Sam and Kony Ealy.

The Call: Missouri fans can leave the game early as they dominate this one from start to finish.

Alabama (0-0, 0-0) vs. West Virginia (0-0, 0-0)

2:30 p.m./ABC/Georgia Dome

The West Virginia offense last year was not very good. The Mountaineers finished the season ranked 120th in turnovers. The running game will be starting over with the departure of Charles Sims, but they have five solid candidates to fill his spot carrying the ball. The offensive line will be full of question marks. On defense Tom Bradley arrives from Penn State to try and improve the three man front used by the Mountaineers. Bradley will work under defensive coordinator Tony Gipson, who is the latest in this revolving door position.

Alabama does not have a quarterback starter yet, but the running game is strong with T.J. Yeldon back for his junior campaign and plenty of help from Derrick Henry and Kenyan Drake, The offensive line struggled last year, but should be solid enough for West Virginia. On defense Landon Collins is a physical player who will be instrumental as a leader in the Tide secondary.

The Call: Last year Alabama struggled against Virginia Tech in their opener, but expect this Tide team to play fast against the HUNH of West Virginia and control the ball on offense. Bama gets an opening win.

Arkansas (0-0, 0-0) vs. Auburn (0-0, 0-0)

3:00 p.m./SEC Network

Arkansas will be looking for a bounce back year after going winless in the SEC in Bret Bielema’s first year. The Razorbacks have one of the nation’s top collection of running backs, but Arkansas needs an improved season from QB Brandon Allen for the Hogs to take a step forward. On defense Brooks Ellis might just provide the consistency at linebacker this team has needed for a few years now. Trey Flowers and Darius Philon would start for most SEC schools on the defensive line.

Auburn starting quarterback, Nick Marshall, has been suspended for some period of time in the Tigers opening game as a result of a team rule violation. He will play, but so far Gus Malzahn is keeping a secret for how long it will be before Marshall gets in the game. Auburn has a strong offensive line and Sammie Coates leads an improved group of receivers. On defense, Auburn will look to improve over last year’s shaky play, and the improvement should start with a more experienced secondary.

The Call: Has Arkansas closed the talent gap on Auburn? Maybe slightly, but not enough to make a significant difference in the outcome. While everyone expects a better Arkansas team in Bret Bielema’s second campaign, why should there not be the same expectations for Gus Malzahn and Auburn? Expect Auburn to get a comfortable win.

Clemson (0-0, 0-0) vs. Georgia (0-0, 0-0)

4:30 p.m./ESPN

Clemson has to replace a major part of their offensive production in 2014, but Coach Dabo Swinney indicates he has plenty of confidence in Cole Stoudt at quarterback. It will be a boost for Stoudt if true freshman receivers Demarre Kitt or Artavis Scott can create a presence in the passing game. There are six starters back on a defense that is fundamentally sound and led by a strong defensive line.

Georgia will welcome back a host of offensive players who lost significant time due to injuries last year. Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall should both be 100% and Michael Bennett returns for his senior year for the Bulldogs. All of this offensive talent should make life much easier for Hutson Mason, who is taking over at QB. On defense, new coordinator Jeremy Pruitt will be looking to improve the fundamentals of an athletic group that should be significantly better in 2014.

The Call: This should be another exciting game between these two schools, but Clemson is just missing too many parts from last season to expect a breakout type performance in this season opener on the road. Georgia’s offense will be strong and should help the Bulldogs start the season 1-0.

Southern Miss vs. Mississippi State (0-0, 0-0)

6:30 p.m./SEC Network

What has happened to Southern Miss football? Once a consistent performer, they are now coming off a two year record of 1-21. Nick Mullens grabbed the QB position mid-way through last season and will be at the helm again. There are seven starters back on defense. Are they any better than last season when they gave up lots of points? Time will say if experience is a good or bad thing.

Mississippi State has a proven quarterback with Dak Prescott entering his junior campaign. He will have success if the Bulldogs are able to provide blocking from a line with several new starters. On defense the Bulldogs feature one of the best linebackers in the game, Benardrick McKinney and a host of defensive linemen.

The Call: This should be a good day for the home team. Dan Mullen gets win number one of the 2014 season.

Idaho (0-0, 0-0) vs. Florida (0-0, 0-0)

5:00 p.m/ESPNU

The Vandals signed sixteen junior college players to bolster their roster. They are one of the worst programs in college football. These are the only two things you need to know.

Florida will debut the offense of new coordinator Kurt Roper and hopefully jump-start the play of quarterback Jeff Driskell. There is a more complete set of receivers and running backs on campus this season. Defensively, the Gators return seven starters and if this group stays healthy it should fuel a much better 2014 for Head Coach Will Muschamp.

The Call: Florida gets to have a big time, with everyone playing in the season opener.

LSU (0-0, 0-0) vs. Wisconsin (0-0, 0-0)

8:00 p.m./ESPN/NRG Stadium

Les Miles will be without last year’s leading passer, rusher and top two receivers. Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will take their competition for the starting quarterback position into this game and that might present challenges in establishing continuity on offense. The offensive line should be good and Terrence Magee should combine with heralded freshman Leonard Fournette to provide a solid running game. On defense the Tigers have experienced another exodus of talent to the NFL, but there are plenty of athletes that remain on the LSU roster for defensive coordinator John Chavis. Defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Jermauria Rasco will provide a dynamic pass rush.

Wisconsin also has a quarterback battle between Joel Stave and Tanner McEvoy. At running back Melvin Gordon brings back an 8.1 yards per carry from last season. Corey Clement will be the other back for the Badgers in 2014. The Wisconsin defense is not big, but very athletic. The front seven has no returning starters and will have to grow up fast in this game.

The Call: Both teams come into this game without a clear cut starter at quarterback and this could be a significant factor in the game. The school that finds a QB that can lead their team the quickest will have a significant edge. This game should be close, but the brand new front seven for the Badgers should give LSU the edge.

Sunday, August 31

Utah State (0-0, 0-0) vs. Tennessee (0-0, 0-0)

7:00 p.m./SEC Network

Utah State will be replacing four starters on the offensive line which might make things tough on the Aggies QB duo of Chuckie Keeton and Darell Garretson.  The team’s top tailback, Joe Hill, is returning from a knee injury that took him out of nine games last year. Utah State has been a good defensive team the last two years, but there are several defensive starters along the front that have to be replaced.

Butch Jones has a tough task in replacing all of his linemen in 2014. On offense and defense. The Vols have added significant speed at the wide receiver positions and quarterback Justin Worley has valuable experience. On defense Tennessee will have a solid group of linebackers led by AJ Johnson, but the secondary is not fast enough and all the d-line will be new.

The Call: Expect this game to be competitive late, but better athletes across the board will give the Vols an edge as the game develops.






For Auburn to win...

Aug 25, 2014 -- 3:49pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

When Arkansas faces off against Auburn this Saturday, they will do so as heavy underdogs to the defending SEC champs.

Yesterday we looked at what Arkansas will have to do to get the win. Today we flip to the Auburn Tigers and review what Gus Malzahn’s team needs to do to win their 2014 opening game.

Start fast

If you look back over the Gus Malzahn years at Auburn as a head coach and offensive coordinator, the Tigers have started slow in the first few games of the year. Their struggles have come against teams like Washington State last season and Utah State when Malzahn was the offensive coordinator. From his one year at the helm of Arkansas State you can ignore the opener against Oregon, but the Red Wolves struggled with Memphis in week two. If the Tigers start slow against Arkansas it might be a tough day on the plains.

Get your best athletes involved in the offense

For Auburn this means that wider receiver Sammie Coates needs to be part of the game plan early. Coates is a physical receivers and his 902 yards receiving last year were the seventh best single season in Auburn history. He averaged 21.5 yards per catch and is poised for a big year in 2014. The other athlete Auburn will rely on is quarterback Nick Marshall. Marshall will not start the game as a result of an off-season team rule violation, but he is a dangerous runner and an efficient passer. Malzahn will probably decide when to insert him based on the performance of the Auburn offense, but if it is struggling expect him to enter the game in the late first quarter or at the start of the second.

Pace, Pace, Pace

Auburn will want to try and establish an up-tempo offense early, especially with a forecasted high for Saturday of 90 degrees and humidity set to be around 80%. While Arkansas may have some strong players in the first rotation on the defensive front, there are questions about depth. A quick pace on a warm day might make things tough for the Hogs along the front four. By the way, there is a good chance of rain in the forecast right now for Auburn on game day.

Account for Arkansas TE Hunter Henry

Henry is a tall, athletic tight end and is a tough mismatch for most teams. He is faster than most linebackers and has the size advantage over defensive backs. Look for Auburn to use a guy like LB Kris Frost who has the height to stay with Henry or a physical safety like Justin Garrett. Either way, you are going to lose speed or strength to Henry in man-to man coverage.

Make Arkansas predictable on third down

If the Razorbacks are third and three they will have the whole playbook at their disposal. For Auburn to have the same type of success they experienced on third down last season, they will need to make third down be for five or more yards. This will force more passes from Hog QB Brandon Allen and give the Auburn defense more options on coverages and/or pressures.

Be who you are

Auburn has more talent on both sides of the ball right now than Arkansas. Sometimes HUNH guys can try and get a little cute with schemes and forget that talent is the most important factor in a game. Malzahn and crew need to use this advantage wisely and avoid putting the team in bad situations that will lead to bad field position or turnovers.




For Arkansas to win....

Aug 24, 2014 -- 9:38pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

When Arkansas faces off against Auburn this Saturday, they will do so as heavy underdogs to the defending SEC champs.

Being a first game for both teams it is difficult to define exactly what it will take for Arkansas to win the game, but based on returning talent and what is known about the style of play each coach will use, here are the things the Razorbacks will have to do to beat the Tigers.

Stay focused on the strength of the running game

In this contest the better running backs will be lined up on the Arkansas side of the ball. This is the strength of this team and Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and Korliss Marshall need to make a big statement behind an offensive line that will average 324 pounds. Auburns starting front four will be giving up about thirty-eight pounds each.

Win third down on offense

Did you know that Auburn’s defense was the SEC leader in 2013 on third down? Opponents converted only 33% of the time. This is the same team that was 12th in total defense. Keeping drives alive will allow Arkansas to run the clock and frustrate the high paced offense of Gus Malzahn.

Get QB Brandon Allen comfortable throwing the ball early

Hunter Henry should be the best friend Allen has early in the game. Use the big, reliable tight end as a security blanket by targeting him in 1/3 of the passing attempts. The next receiver should be one of the back in the flats. There are two benefits to using the running backs like this. First, it does not pressure Allen to be waiting for downfield routes to open up and it gets the best athletes on the team the ball in open space.

Make Auburn one dimensional on offense

The Tigers bring back all of their significant production at receiver, including Sammie Coates, who was excellent last season. What is unknown right now is what impact the loss of senior Tre Mason and the suspension of QB Nick Marshall will have on the Auburn running game. They both rushed for over 1,200 yards last season. The best bet in game one might be to force Auburn to the air. Jeremy Johnson, who will start for Marshall, might be the better passer, but it is doubtful he can be as productive running the ball.

Hold the Auburn offense to 60 plays.

Last year the Tigers averaged 72 plays per game. They scored a touchdown on average every 14.91 plays. In a close game, those extra twelve plays will be the difference.

Tomorrow: What Auburn has to do to win



SEC: questions still needing answers

Aug 21, 2014 -- 9:03pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

In just a little over a week SEC football will be underway and all of the prognostications, debates and predictable college football conversations will come to an end. There will be actual games to discuss.

Walking in the Colorado Mountains, I debated what the questions were that we just don’t have answers to with just one week to go before the games begin. Here are the most perplexing ones that remain. In my humble opinion.

Will the Razorback secondary be better?

Most of the guys who will be patrolling the secondary for Arkansas have experience. That is the reason for concern. We have seen them get beat. With a new coordinator and a more basic scheme and press coverage will they show skills not seen before?

Many are buying in on the idea that the secondary will be vastly better. I’ll have to believe it to see it.

Who will be the starting quarterback for Alabama?

Since last December the general consensus among college football experts has been that Florida State transfer Jacob Coker would walk onto campus and be the starting quarterback after tossing the ball around in summer 7-on-7. Today, if you are listening to Bama coach Nick Saban, it seems that Blake Simms might be the guy under center when the Tide plays West Virginia.

If this is the case, then Bama is in for a tough year.

Can Mississippi State’s offensive line be good enough to help the Bulldogs step forward?

The Bulldogs list eight starters coming back on offense. That is a half-truth.  Some of the guys listed as starters were less than fulltime because of injuries and such. They have lost three guys who were major contributors for Coach Dan Mullen last year on the offensive line and just the other day starting right tackle Damien Robinson was lost for the year to a knee injury.

Dak Prescott is a dynamic playmaker at QB, but a quarterback can only be so effective when they lack an experienced, polished offensive line. The answer to this question is no.

Who is the real Bo Wallace?

Against LSU last year he was 30-39 passing and 346 yards in a 27-24 win. Against Alabama he was 17-31 for 159 yards in a 25-0 loss to the Tide. The first guy can beat anyone in the conference. The other guy, well, he can’t.

Truth is, we have enough evidence to know that Wallace is both guys and you can’t predict which day the really good player will show up. Sometimes you are, what you are.

Was it QB Johnny Manziel or Head Coach Kevin Sumlin?

The Aggies experienced incredible success with Johnny Football at QB and Sumlin at the helm. Will the success continue with Manziel? In two years in the SEC the Aggies went 20-6. Can they keep the pace up in year one with a new QB?

No. The biggest reason? There is no Mike Evans to throw jump balls to.

Will Maty Mauk be “The Man” now that he is the man at Missouri?

When Mauk was forced on the field last year in relief of an injured James Franklin, he threw ten touchdown passes and only two picks. How will he do now that the keys to the Tigers offense are firmly in his hands?

Mauk has a solid chance of being the All-SEC Quarterback when the season ends.

With these burning questions settled you can go on to a great weekend.




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