Tag:Vanderbilt
Posted on: October 17, 2011 1:18 pm
 

SEC 'gathering information' on Vandy-UGA incident

Posted by Jerry Hinnen



The heated verbal exchange between Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham following Saturday's Bulldog victory might result in more than just a round of apologies and finger-wagging.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that the SEC league office is "gathering information from all parties" on the incident, according to SEC spokesman Charles Bloom. Both schools have been asked to submit written reports providing their account of the situation. The conference could issues reprimands or even suspensions on those involved "parties," though Bloom added that it was "too early to comment" on any possible sanctions from the league.

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity told the AJC that he has met with Grantham face-to-face to review his actions. "Obviously the conduct that was displayed was not representative of how we want to conduct ourselves," McGarity said.

The incident apparently began with Franklin gesturing towards a Bulldog player that may have been safety Shawn Williams; Franklin said afterwards he wanted to confront Mark Richt with a complaint but found Grantham instead. The exchange between the two escalated into the image above and nearly sparked an on-field brawl between the two teams.

Richt said Sunday he had spoken to Franklin and regretted the incident. "I just think that tempers were hot [and] it was a very heated ballgame ... for everybody," he said. "[P]ersonally, I like it at the end of a ballgame when everybody can just walk across the field and shake hands and say good luck for the next one. Unfortunately, it didn't happen this ballgame."

Franklin apologized for the confrontation, with Grantham saying he wished things had gone differently ... while stopping short of issuing an apology. His statement to the AJC:
“First of all, I love my players and appreciate their hard work and investment in our program. I feel a responsibility and loyalty to protect and stand up for them. However, I feel it’s important to educate them in all areas of life. While my intentions were genuine, I feel it was unfortunate that things escalated to a confrontation. However, I’ll use it as a learning experience for myself as well as my players so that we all become better men.”
Grantham's repeated emphasis that was was "standing up" for his players suggests that Franklin may have had something less-than-complimentary to say about the Bulldogs' performance (which included a punch thrown by nose tackle Kwame Geathers). But whatever Grantham's motivations, it's doubtful Mike Slive is happy--and if he's really unhappy, Grantham or Franklin could find themselves out a paycheck.

Image HT: Mocksession.com.

Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Two Ole Miss senior defenders out for year

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

If you're an Ole Miss fan, you probably entered Saturday's ritualized slaughter against Alabama thinking things would be bad ... but that after losing 30-7 to Vanderbilt earlier in the year, nothing the Tide could do to you would actually make things worse.

Sorry, Ole Miss fan: things have gotten worse. Houston Nutt announced Sunday that senior defenders Wayne Dorsey and Marcus Temple, both of whom left the Alabama game with injuries, will now miss the rest of the season. Both players' Rebel careers are over.

"Two really good players and two captains that have done a lot for us," Nutt said.

Temple broke his right ankle early in the game, while Dorsey fractured his right arm in the fourth quarter.

Both players had taken on pivotal roles for the improved (really) Ole Miss defense this season, and not only in the leadership roles Nutt mentioned. Temple had nabbed two of the team's eight interceptions and was a major part of the Rebel pass defense moving into the top half of the FBS in yardage allowed after finishing 103rd a year ago.

But Dorsey is, almost without question, the even bigger loss. The former JUCO transfer had led the Rebels in both sacks (with three) and tackles-for-loss (five), and not surprisingly was leading the defensive line in tackles as well. As pointed out by the Clarion-Ledger, Dorsey's production had essentially doubled the production from the other defensive end spot.

The Rebels' 2011 season already in a deep, deep hole; at 2-4 overall (0-3 SEC) and with their only remaining conference home games coming against heavy favorites LSU and Arkansas, Nutt faces a steep uphill battle just to hit four or five wins, much less bowl eligibility. And with Temple and Dorsey gone, that hill has now gotten just that much steeper.

Posted on: October 16, 2011 2:42 am
 

SEC Winners and Losers, Week 7


Posted by Jerry Hinnen

A handy recap of who (and what) really won and really lost in the SEC's Week 6.

WINNER: Trent Richardson. On a day when the SEC failed mightily to produce anything resembling a classic game -- of the league's five matchups, two were won in overpowering fashion by its resident pair of 500-pound gorillas, and the other three were all varying degrees of "slopfest" -- Richardson nonetheless delivered a classic performance. The career highs in yards (183 yards) and touchdowns (four) were nice, but lots of running backs can amass gaudy numbers. What made Richardson's night special was the fury with which he punished Ole Miss's defenders on his runs between the tackles, and then the startling elusiveness he flashed once he found the open field; this juke is going to be a staple of highlight reels for weeks to come. The statistic that best reflects Richardson's night? The 11.2 yards he averaged across his relatively meager 19 touches.

With Marcus Lattimore going down with an injury today (more on this in a moment) and Tyrann Mathieu having a quiet day by his standards despite the total domination shown by his LSU secondary (1 pass broken up, 1 tackle, nothing in special teams), Richardson is now the SEC's far-and-away most viable Heisman candidate. And if the Ole Miss game is any indication, his campaign might just be getting warmed up.

LOSER: the SEC East. Thanks to the decline of Mississippi State, the East's record vs. the West isn't quite as lopsided as it was last year. But that doesn't mean the top of the division is any stronger than it was last year; based on the evidence of Saturday, it's even worse. South Carolina scored a total of two touchdowns while wheezing their way to a four-point win over a State team in offensive disarray. Georgia collected four turnovers from Vanderbilt and outgained the 'Dores by nearly 100 yards and still came within one Hail Mary off a receiver's hands from losing in Nashville. And Florida gained all of 194 yards against the nation's 105th-ranked defense at Auburn. Sure, the East champion won't have a prayer against LSU or Alabama, but with two of its title contenders having already lost to Gene Chizik's team and the third barely any less convincing-looking, the East champion might not even be any better than fifth-place in the West. Still.

WINNER: Ted Roof. After his Tiger defense was eviscerated for more than 1,150 yards in just two weeks by Mississippi State and Clemson, Roof was the most unpopular person on the Plains this side of Harvey Updyke. But thanks to the rapid maturation of players like sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier (three tackles-for-loss, two sacks, four QB hurries vs. Florida) and sophomore cornerback Chris Davis (five tackles, one pass breakup), Roof's unit suddenly looks in much better shape than celebrated coordinating counterpart Gus Malzahn's--and was largely responsible for both Auburn's win in South Carolina and over Florida Saturday. The Gators' quarterbacking woes no doubt helped, but short, quick running backs like Chris Rainey have given Roof's defenses fits in the past. In the present, Rainey was bottled up to the tune of just 33 yards on 16 carries.

LOSER: South Carolina's offense. Let's get the obvious out of the way first: if Lattimore's injury keeps him out for any extended length of time, that's a massive, massive blow for the Gamecocks. Players of the big sophomore's ability simply aren't replaceable in midseason (if ever), and Carolina doesn't have much depth behind Lattimore to begin with; his substitute against the Bulldogs was true freshman Brandon Wilds, who entered the game with all of eight career carries. 

But there's even more worries for Steve Spurrier past his running back situation. Connor Shaw's explosive performance against Kentucky looked like a mirage after he threw for an average of just 5.5 yards on his 28 attempts, with two interceptions; his banged-up offensive line opened holes for just 2.6 yards a carry, two weeks after Lattimore averaged less than 4 vs. Auburn; and Alshon Jeffery continues to be nearly invisible, collecting the game-winning TD vs. State but just four other receptions for all of 20 yards. If Spurrier can't fix things -- and likely do it without Lattimore -- his team may not win again until the Citadel visits on Nov. 19.

WINNER: Rueben Randle. Is anyone happier about Jarrett Lee's late-career renaissance than LSU's No. 1 receiver? The former five-star struggled to make an impact his first two years in Baton Rouge, but with Lee at the controls Randle has become one of the league's biggest deep threats. After 5 more receptions for 86 yards and a score against Tennessee, Randle is averaging an even 19 yards per reception--the best mark in the SEC for any receiver with more than 20 catches for the year.

LOSERS: Anyone who tuned away from Georgia-Vanderbilt. Though it was too sloppy by half to qualify as a good game, the ending of Bulldogs-Commodores was as wild as any game in the SEC this season. Up 33-28, the Dawgs drove deep into Vandy territory and looked to have the game salted away before Aaron Murray was picked off by Casey Hayward at the Vandy 2 with 2:30 to play. But Jordan Rodgers was only able to drive the 'Dores to their own 25 before being picked off himself with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs weren't able to run out the entire clock, though, and had their punt blocked, almost returned for a game-winning touchdown, and eventually recovered by Vandy at the Bulldog 20 with 7 seconds left. Rodgers' Hail Mary hit a falling Chris Boyd in the hands, but Boyd was unable to bring it in, and one final desperation play fell short ... after which Vandy head coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham nearly sparked a brawl by angrily yelling at each other at midfield. 

Not a bad bit of drama for a game the few people who were watching potentially turned off once Georgia went up 33-21 early in the fourth quarter.

LOSERS: Gamblers who took South Carolina to cover the 3.5 points against Mississippi State. The Gamecocks' voluntary safety on the final play of the game -- reducing a four-point margin to two and flipping the result of the game against the spread -- cost worldwide bettors as much as $30 million, according to one report. We're skeptical the numbers for your run-of-the-mill SEC game run quite that high, but we'd still advise Spurrier not to walk down any dark alleys this week.

WINNERS: Hearts belonging to fans of Alabama and LSU. While fans in Columbia and Auburn and Athens and Starkville have all had their turns reaching for the blood pressure medication (Auburn's more than once), those in Tuscaloosa and Baton Rouge haven't had to worry. After winning their two games Saturday by a combined 90-14 score, the Tide and Tigers have now won their eight total SEC games by an average score of 37-8. The closest call? LSU's 19-6 "escape" at Mississippi State, which at the time was viewed as a disappointment for the Bulldogs.

Now, we're wondering if maybe they ought to put up a plaque to commemorate the achievement.


Posted on: October 14, 2011 12:08 pm
 

SEC: We have three options for 13-team schedule

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

With Missouri locked into the Big 12 for another year, the SEC is in turn all-but-locked into a 13-team schedule for the 2012 football season. But as the league is finding out, scheduling with unbalanced divisions is easier said than done.

Larry Templeton, chair of the conference's "transition committee" for Texas A&M's move to the SEC, told the Birmingham News Friday that the league is considering three "conceptual scheduling options" for a 13-team slate. The "least disruptive" plan would be the have the incoming Aggies play four teams from the West and four teams from the East.

The other options, Templeton said, are for the SEC to play the NCAA-mandated intra-division round-robins -- with West teams playing six divisional games and East teams five -- or to simply assign the Aggies eight games regardless of divisional affiliation.

There's a major issue with the divisional round-robin plan, though. "I'm not prepared to say we wouldn't do that," Templeton said. "But mathematically, I don't think it can be done." By which he means that it can't--in a 13-team conference, it's mathematically impossible for every team in a seven-team division to play all other divisional opponents in an eight-game schedule.

The 13-team MAC has worked around this problem by having some members of its seven-team division only play five divisional games, a move that has required an NCAA waiver from the bylaw demanding a round-robin.

Thanks to the math and the "least disruptive" nature of the 4-4 split for Texas A&M, the SEC will likely require that same waiver in the near future. Why would that split be so much less disruptive? Templeton declines to spell it out for the News, but as explained in this blog post at Vanderbilt blog Anchor of Gold, that's the plan which allows the SEC to complete all of the cross-divisional home-and-home rotations that began this year. 

For instance, this week Florida travels to Auburn and South Carolina visits Mississippi State. By assigning the Aggies four West games and four East games (and canceling the new cross-divisional rotations scheduled to start in 2012) the SEC would maintain enough flexibility to keep the return trips like Auburn's to Gainesville and Mississippi State's to Columbia intact.

Per Anchor of Gold, that plan would also necessitate A&M hosting all of their East games and going on the road for all of their West games. Assuming the SEC would limit their travel costs as much as possible (and not send them to Auburn or Alabama, the two most distant West campuses), A&M's initial SEC schedule would look something like: at Arkansas, at LSU, at Ole Miss, at Mississippi State, vs Georgia, vs. South Carolina, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. Florida.

That schedule would be so different from the rest of the West's, there's no question it would damage the division's competitive balance--and cause more than a few complaints if/when it affected which team won the division's eventual championship. But because of the importance of those cross-divisional return games (and the fairness of completing the rotations), it remains the "least disruptive" scheduling path for the SEC ... and the one it's most likely to pursue.

Posted on: October 13, 2011 3:27 pm
Edited on: October 13, 2011 3:33 pm
 

Pro scout on Tide D: 'They look like an NFL team'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

The old saying goes that if you have two (or in Ole Miss's case, three) quarterbacks, you don't have any. But Houston Nutt has noted correctly this week that having depth at that position isn't so bad when you're preapring to face this year's version of Alabama.

“If you watch teams that have played Alabama the last few weeks, their quarterbacks have not been in the games very long," Nutt said. And he's right: neither Florida's John Brantley nor Vanderbilt's Larry Smith have been able to make it out of the first half with their health intact.

Those kinds of worries are why the Rebels' hometown Clarion-Ledger got in touch with a handful of NFL scouts, to find out exactly what Ole Miss would be dealing with. Any Rebel fans still harboring hopes for the Upset of the Season Saturday should start looking away ... now:
"I had seen them on TV and on tape, but I was down on the field before they played Arkansas," said one NFL team's chief talent evaluator. "They really look like an NFL team. You hear people say that, but with them it's true. That defense is huge, bigger than most NFL teams. Not just the linemen, but the cornerbacks, the linebackers, the safeties. And they can all run. That secondary ... it's the best secondary I've ever seen in college football" ...

Said a third scout, "You watch Alabama play and the speed of the defense is the same as the NFL. It looks like they've got too many people out there."

And another: "It's like watching a pro team, except they are bigger than a lot of pro teams. You just wish you could take them all."

And another: "What you get with Alabama is everybody plays to his speed. What I mean is a 4.7 guy really plays at 4.7 speed, because he is so well drilled and so well-coached he knows exactly what he supposed to do and where he's supposed to go. He doesn't have to pause and think. Sometimes, you see 4.5 guys to play 4.8 or 4.9. At Alabama, the 4.5 guys play 4.5. And they've got a bunch of them."

You get the point: if Alabama's defense was a woman, NFL scouts would be lined up outside its door, flowers, choclates and rings in hand. They estimate to the Clarion-Ledger that more than half the Tide's starters -- "six or seven" players -- could go in the NFL draft's first three rounds.

Frankly, it all sounds a little on the hyperbolic side, and getting that excited about the Tide D maybe does a disservice to the defense down the road in Baton Rouge, which has more than a few athletes of its own. (One scout does refer to the LSU D as "comparable, but younger.") But that doesn't mean the ultimate point is wrong: Alabama is very, very good, and they have many, many players who will play on Sundays. At the least, Ole Miss won't be able to say they weren't warned.



Posted on: October 12, 2011 2:14 pm
 

SEC RapidReport roundup: Trotter still Tiger QB

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Running down everything you need to know from the current news in the SEC, courtesy of our CBSSports.com RapidReporters (and others).

AUBURN. Despite a miserable 6-for-19, 81-yard, 2-INT performance against Arkansas, Tiger quarterback Barrett Trotter will still be the starter in Saturday's showdown with Florida. "He's our quarterback today; he'll be our quarterback Saturday," Gene Chizik said. Many Tiger fans have been clamoring for a greater role for true freshman Kiehl Frazier, but Chizik reiterated that Frazier would remain a "changeup."

For their part, both offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Frazier himself agreed that the freshman isn't ready to take on the full-time quarterbacking responsibility. Auburn will have to face Florida without starting senior guard Jared Cooper, out with an ankle injury. He'll likely be replaced by redshirt freshman Chad Slade.

FLORIDA. Meanwhile, Auburn's Saturday opponents have their own worries at quarterback with John Brantley out. But freshman backup Jeff Driskel has returned from his ankle injury and split reps during Tuesday's practice with fellow freshman (and starter vs. LSU) Jacoby Brissett. Though the two are now locked in close competition to be the starter at Auburn, Will Muschamp said he doesn't plan on keeping his decision a secret once it's made ... though he has also hinted at leaning in either Brissett's or Driskel's direction.

Despite reports suggesting his Gator career was over, sophomore linebacker Dee Finley has not yet made a final decision on whether to transfer out of the program or not, Muschamp said.

VANDERBILT. More QB drama: for the first time this season, the Commodore depth chart at quarterback has an "or" between starter Larry Smith and backup Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of Aaron Rodgers. Head coach James Franklin said the team would "kind of have a competition" at the position and whichever quarterback performs better in practice this week would get the nod against Georgia. Rodgers came on in relief of Smith vs. Alabama and completed 11 of 18 passes, but with two interceptions.

LSU.
The No. 1 Bayou Bengals' Nov. 5 trip to Alabama is already being marked on many college football fans' calendars as the Game of the Year--including LSU's, who chanted "We Want 'Bama" at the end of their team's beatdown of Florida. But don't tell that to Les Miles. "I hear the talk," he said. "But I promise you that talk doesn't exist in our building. That's fan chat or a media buzz. That buzz doesn't take place in our building."

With Miles stressing ball security, LSU has now gone three games without a turnover. At +11, the Tigers rank fourth in the nation in turnover margin. With the Auburn game a week from Saturday set for a 2:30 CT kickoff (on CBS), LSU will go an entire season without playing an SEC night game for the first time since 1935.

ELSEWHERE: The already-struggling Tennessee running game could be without starting tailback Tauren Poole, day-to-day with a hamstring injury ... new/old starting quarterback Matt Simms is happy to return to the starter's role against LSU, the team he nearly defeated last season ... Arkansas's bye week comes at a good time for quarterback Tyler Wilson, who needs the extra time to recover his lost voice ...

Don't expect to beat Alabama on the Tide's mistakes: they're committing the second-fewest penalties in the nation and AJ McCarron hasn't thrown an interception in 127 pass attempts ... Good news and bad news on the injury front for Georgia, who should see inside linebacker Alec Ogletree back on the field as scheduled come the Bulldogs' Oct. 29 meeting with Florida, but will miss receiver Malcolm Mitchell for this week's trip to Vanderbilt ...

Amidst the higher-profile stories breaking in Columbia Tuesday, Andrew Clifford and Dylan Thompson are battling to be this week's backup quarterback against Mississippi State. Steve Spurrier said picking one or the other could be a game-time decision ... Ole Miss will stick with Randall Mackey as the starter at quarterback against Alabama Saturday, but there's no set backup there, either ... But at least the Gamecocks and Rebels have a starter. Dan Mullen has said he won't name Mississippi State's until kickoff, if then. Chris Relf is attempting to fend off a challenge from Tyler Russell, who sparked the offense to three second-half touchdowns against UAB.

Posted on: October 11, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: October 11, 2011 1:47 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Alabama at Ole Miss

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

ALABAMA WILL WIN IF: a meteor fails to strike the Crimson Tide sideline midgame. And even that might not do it: you'd have to take into account the size of the meteor, the ratio of starters to second- and third-stringers struck down, whether Nick Saban was still ambulatory, etc. Because when Ole Miss's own coach is nearly begging for mercy from the Tide weeks before the game, you know it's a mismatch. And so this one is, as anyone who watched the Rebels' 30-7 loss to Vanderbilt and the Tide's 34-0 win over that same Commodore team knows. As long as Alabama can avoid a sudden, freakish storm of turnovers and special teams mistakes -- and keep quarterback Randall Mackey from improvising a big play here or there -- the Tide will come out of Oxford safe and sound.

OLE MISS WILL WIN IF: their engineering department has figured out a way to arrange for a meteor strike through, like, magnets or something. But, fine, if we're going to approach it seriously, whatever slim-to-none chances of victory the Rebels have rest on their improved defense making Alabama work for their points and possibly pulling out a game-changing turnover here or there. While the Tide have come by their four-yards-and-a-cloud of dust reputation honestly, the 2011 version has also proven surprisingly explosive, as Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy have shown the ability to take it the distance from any point on the field, AJ McCarron has shown impressive downfield touch, and Marquis Maze has become a lethal special teams weapon in the return game. If the Rebels want to stay close, they have to at least force the Tide to drive the field--and hope that somewhere along the way, McCarron makes the kind of killer mistake he's avoided thus far this season.

THE X-FACTOR: Meteors. Or Maze, whose dynamic returns have meant that Alabama isn't just brutally efficient on offense and all-out ruthless on defense--they're probably better than you at special teams, too.

Posted on: October 10, 2011 3:40 pm
 

SEC Poll Reactions, Week 6

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the SEC fared, from the top of the polls to the bottom, and what it means.


(AP/Coaches)

1/2. LSU

No movement for LSU this week despite -- or, in the case of the AP, because of -- the dominant win over Florida. And barring something unforeseen this week against Tennessee, that won't likely change next week, either; the Tigers continue to enjoy a relatively comfortable lead at No. 1 in the AP, but in the Coaches are still closer to being passed by No. 3 Alabama (10 points behind, 11 first-place votes to LSU's 15) than they are to passing Oklahoma (25 points clear, 32 first-place votes).

2/3. Alabama

As we've written multiple times in this space, we're still of the belief that Alabama's overwhelming domination of a top-10 team like Arkansas and road victories top-25-caliber teams like Florida (pre-Brantley injury, anyway) and Penn State should have them a step ahead of Oklahoma--and in the mix for No. 1. But in a week where the Sooners and Bayou Bengals beat Texas and those same Gators by a combined 68 points, no one in Tuscaloosa can be surprised the Tide stayed where they were in last week's polls.

10/11. Arkansas

The Razorbacks defeated Auburn by 24 points the week after Auburn defeated South Carolina in South Carolina. The Gamecocks may be a different team with Connor Shaw at the helm rather than Stephen Garcia (may be; it was just Kentucky, after all), but for now, that's a comprehensive argument for Arkansas wearing the "third-best team in the SEC mantle." And maybe even the "best team with a loss" mantle; only Oregon is ranked higher.

15/13. South Carolina

Auburn's loss freed up the Gamecocks from the head-to-head loss ceiling; Shaw's performance likely reassued voters that they deserved the nod over similar one-loss teams like West Virginia or Nebraska. The result is that the Gamecocks are once again a consensus top-15 team. But should they be? Losing to Auburn at home isn't nearly the same as losing to LSU (in WVU's case) or Wisconsin (in Nebraska's). Until Shaw proves himself against more worthy competition, the Coaches' ranking of No. 13 strikes us as being on the high side.

24/unranked. Auburn

The Tigers hang on in the AP despite the debacle in Fayetteville, with the Coaches substantially less forgiving, placing the Tigers fourth in the "Also Receiving Votes" category. The split decision feels about right for Gene Chizik's squad, with their resume boasting both strong selling points (the win at Carolina, both losses coming on the road at top-10 teams) and big drawbacks (the lopsided nature of the losses, the skin-of-the-teeth wins over Utah State and Mississippi State).

Unranked/unranked. Florida

The Gators dropped out of both polls this week after getting drubbed by LSU. Though still at "No. 26" in each, Florida's fortunate to even be that close; their home win over Tennessee isn't as impressive now that Georgia beat the Vols just as convincingly in Knoxville, their other three wins are all against horrible teams, and the Gators couldn't stay within four touchdowns of either LSU or Alabama.

The result is that the SEC's much-lauded collection of eight ranked teams in the preseason has already been halved in the Coaches poll and nearly so in the AP. Fortunately, Georgia's return could be imminent if the Bulldogs can handle Vanderbilt this week.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com