Posted on: November 19, 2011 3:48 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 3:52 pm
Posted by Chip Patterson
GEORGIA WON. In arguably their most important conference game of the season, Georgia overcame a slow start to beat Kentucky 19-10 and win the SEC East outright. The Bulldogs needed a win to avoid a tie in the standings with South Carolina, because the Gamecocks owned head-to-head tiebreaker. Freshman running back Isaiah Crowell injured his ankle early in the first half, and Carlton Thomas was absent for "personal reasons," so it was Brandon Harton who led the way on the ground with 23 carries for 101 yards.
HOW GEORGIA WON: Kentucky controlled the line of the scrimmage early in the game on both sides of the ball, but the story of the game for both teams was turnovers. Even when the Wildcats seemed to have the momentum early, turnovers kept them from being able to take advantage of the Bulldogs' slow start. Eventually the Bulldogs got their rushing game rolling, and Kentucky began to break down. Freshman quarterback Maxwell Smith was replaced by Morgan Newton after a hard hit put him on the sideline in the third quarter, and Kentucky's passing game never recovered.
WHEN GEORGIA WON: Maxwell Smith was able to find some success passing on Georgia's defense, which only allowed allowed 1.1 yards per carry all afternoon. But that passing attack left when Smith did, As Newton only attempted two passes for the rest of the game.
WHAT GEORGIA WON: Their first SEC East title and Championship Game appearance since 2005. After starting the season 0-2, the Bulldogs have ripped off nine straight wins to put themselves in contention for a BCS bowl game.
WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: The Wildcats caught Georgia sleepwalking early in the game, but mistakes and the inability to run the ball kept Kentucky from pulling off the upset. Bowl eligibility was not completely out of reach until Saturday's loss, which was the seventh of the season for Joker Phillips' squad.
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Posted on: October 8, 2011 4:25 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Barring injury, the Stephen Garcia era came to its all-but-official end as Connor Shaw shredded the Wildcat defense for 311 yards and 4 touchdowns without throwing an interception. That was more than enough help for the Gamecock defense, which held the utterly feeble Kentucky offense to all of 96 total yards and forced five turnovers. At one point in the fourth quarter, Kentucky quarterbacks had thrown as many interceptions -- four -- as completions.
WHY SOUTH CAROLINA WON: Shaw's confident, in-control performance had a lot to do with it. The sophomore looked little like the overwhelmed player that started the season opener against East Carolina, making sharp passes, correct reads, and even some hay on the ground on the zone read (42 rushing yards, even after accounting for several sacks). So effective was Shaw that the Carolina offense barely even needed Marcus Lattimore, who had the quietest 100-yard rushing day (4.6 yards per-carry, no touchdowns) it's possible to have.
But as big a story as the Gamecocks' offensive success was, even it might have been eclipsed by the endless whirlpool of horror that was the Kentucky offense. Carolina's defense is solid enough (and even had Melvin Ingram available after the SEC's leader in sacks overcame an ankle injury), but Joker Phillips can't have many excuses for this kind of wretched display: 4-of-26 passing for 17 yards, 2.9 yards averaged over 27 carries, as many turnovers -- six -- as first downs. Morgan Newton gave the Wildcats nothing through the air, forcing Phillips to turn to freshman Maxwell Smith in the second half ... only for Smith to throw interceptions on his first two passes.
With Shaw in command, the Gamecock offense once again looks like a unit capable of powering the team to an SEC East title. But even accounting for their competition, Kentucky's barely looks capable of taking the Wildcats to, say, the middle of the Sun Belt standings.
WHEN SOUTH CAROLINA WON: As soon as Shaw proved he wasn't going to follow in Garcia's scattershot, interception-prone footsteps, which he did on the Gamecocks' first possession: 7 plays, 80 yards, capped with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Alshon Jeffery. With Kentucky's offense, that was Game Already Over.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA WON: After weeks of listless performances and sleepwalks past overmatched competition -- not to mention the ugly 16-13 loss to Auburn --dispatching an SEC opponent in such ruthless fashion will be a huge jolt of confidence. With Florida looking totally overmatched at LSU, the Gamecocks have reestablished themselves as a favorite -- and maybe the favorite -- in the East.
WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: In the win/loss column, just another game they were supposed to lose. But after another horrific blowout, the Wildcats' confidence and morale looks to have been blown into a million tiny, tiny pieces. Kentucky looks far more like a future 0-8 SEC team than even a 2-6 one.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Up 33-3 early in the fourth quarter and driving, Steve Spurrier called for a Lattimore-to-Shaw-to-Ace Sanders flea flicker that gained 25 yards. A nice play, but why use it at that stage of this game? Spurrier's never been known for his mercy when it comes to blowouts, and that call won't do anything to change that reputation.
Posted on: October 5, 2011 2:08 pm
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).
FLORIDA. It's been a busy few days down in Gainesville since the Tide swept the Gators away, even moreso for starting defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who was accused by a former Alabama player of assaulting him on a stadium walkway post-game. Though Easley has not been charged with any crime (nor even named as a suspect), he has hired notable criminal defense attorney Huntley Johnson. Johnson on why Easley retained his services: "Probably because he read the Constitution. It's his right."
A Gator spokesman had no comment on the situation.
As for the Gators' quarterback situation in the wake of John Brantley's right leg injury -- reportedly confirmed as a high ankle sprain -- freshman Jacoby Brissett is firmly in the mix, with Charlie Weis saying he could have won the backup's job if he had been enrolled for spring practice. Fellow true freshman Jeff Driskel has served as Brantley's backup to-date and is the other option to start with Tyler Murphy likely third string.
LSU. Jordan Jefferson had quite the interview with the media late Monday evening, and while most of it's covered in this wire report, it's also worth noting this gem of a quote: "I didn't have to apologize because we all were there (at the bar fight)," he said. "So I didn't have to apologize for anything." We're not sure that really applies when you're a senior leader breaking curfew and inadvertently setting off a media circus that still hasn't subsided, but we'll take his word for it.
Les Miles addressed the CBSSports.com report that NFL teams would be interested in hiring him, saying he was flattered but "I am happy where I am." He also confirmed that the hamstring injury which removed tailback Spencer Ware from last Saturday's win over Kentucky would not keep him out of this week's matchup vs. the Gators.
AUBURN. An already-shaky injury situation for the Tigers at wide receiver has only gotten worse. Trovon Reed is still out with a shoulder injury, but the bigger blow is that junior Emory Blake is in a protective boot and doubtful for Auburn's trip to Arkansas. Between them, Blake and Reed have accounted for 32 of the Tiger wideouts' 48 receptions on the season.
The good news for Auburn is that Michael Dyer's ankle injury won't prevent him from taking the field vs. the Razorbacks. Dyer blamed South Carolina for intentionally causing the injury, saying a Gamecock player had twisted his ankle after the whistle. (A replay of the play is available here.)
SOUTH CAROLINA. Speaking of the Gamecocks and injuries, Carolina likely won't need Melvin Ingram to beat Kentucky. But they're likely to find out all the same, as the SEC's leading pass rusher and tackler-for-loss has been on crutches and is a question mark for Saturday.
Also potentially out: left tackle Kyle Nunn, which won't help an offensive line Steve Spurrier said has backslid the last few games. "Our blocking has been a little on the bad side lately," he said.
ELSEWHERE. He wouldn't be Nick Saban if he wasn't disappointed in some aspect of his team's play, and this week it's first quarters. “We really haven’t played worth a damn in the first quarter ... that was certainly the case in this last game [vs. Florida], where we gave up half the yards," Saban said. He also had some choice wordsfor the practice of trash talking. " “You should never talk to the guy you are playing against," he said. "You’ve got nothing to say to that guy" ...
Arkansas has several candidates for their starting tailback slot, and will use them all ... Mark Richt is one victory away from 100, but he'll have to earn it without Da'Rick Rogers, the receiver who eventually signed with (and now stars for) his Saturday opponent, Tennessee. "We thought we had him," Richt said. "Then, it changed. It happens in recruiting" ...
Meanwhile, in Knoxville, true freshman Devrin Young made two long special teams returns in his Vol debut vs. Buffalo, but a fumble has meant spending this week working on his ball security ... Embattled Ole Miss athletic director Pete Boone received a standing ovation at a Jackson (Miss.) speaking engagement ... The remarks of Boone's head coach on Auburn cornerback Jermaine Whitehead's recruitment have been much less well-received ... Morgan Newton is still taking all the first-team quarterback reps at Kentucky practice this week.
Tags: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Buffalo, Charlie Weis, Da'Rick Rogers, Devrin Young, Dominique Easley, Emory Blake, Florida, Georgia, Huntley Johnson, Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel, Jermaine Whitehead, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Kentucky, Kyle Nunn, Les Miles, LSU, Mark Richt, Melvin Ingram, Michael Dyer, Morgan Newton, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Pete Boone, RapidReport Roundup, SEC, South Carolina, Spencer Ware, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Trovon Reed, Tyler Murphy
Posted on: October 1, 2011 3:41 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
LSU WON: SEC wins simply don't get more ho-hum than this. Kentucky gained just 59 yards of offense through three quarters and didn't penetrate any further than the LSU 47 until fewer than nine minutes remained, meaning that even as the LSU offense sputtered -- 8-of-21 passing for Jarrett Lee and fewer than 4 yards per-carry probably weren't what the home crowd had in mind -- their 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter was never remotely threatened. The game had two bursts of excitement: when Jordan Jefferson came off the bench to sneak in from a yard out for that first LSU touchdown, and when budding Heisman candidate Tyrann Mathieu stripped replacement Wildcat quarterback Maxwell Smith, recovered the fumble, and returned it for his second touchdown of the season.
WHY LSU WON: Because the collision of the impotent Kentucky offense and the ruthless LSU defense was as brutally one-sided as you'd expect. The Wildcats' first five drives all ended in three-and-outs as the Tiger defensive line crushed any efforts at running the ball -- their first nine attempts went for five yards or fewer -- and Kentucky starting quarterback Morgan Newton had been sacked twice before he completed his first pass ... on his 10th attempt. That Joker Phillips sent the true freshman Smith on for the second half ... against LSU ... down 14 ... in Death Valley should tell you the depths of the Wildcats' desperation.
The Wildcats' only realistic hope of getting on the board against LSU's first string was a turnover or huge special teams play. But the Tigers never lost a fumble or threw an interception, and committed just four penalties. The list of teams that can beat the Tigers when they commit that few mistakes is very, very short, and Kentucky most assuredly isn't on it.
WHEN LSU WON: The Tigers' 14-0 lead at halftime was more-or-less unassailable, but the win might as well have gone into the record books when they took their first drive of the second half 68 yards in 10 plays, capping it with a one-yard Alfred Blue plunge. At 21-0, Kentucky's chances of coming back were identical to their chances of coming back if the score was 437-0.
WHAT LSU WON: Another boost to Mathieu's All-American campaign, another notch in the win column, plenty of rest for the Tiger starters in the late-going. Aside from a little more crispness on offense, Les Miles couldn't have asked for much more.
WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: Just another bit of confidence in their offense to do anything against top-notch defensive competition. But given how little was expected of the Wildcats going on the road to face the No. 1 team in the nation, not much else.
Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:13 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
FLORIDA WON: The Gators extended their series streak against the Wildcats (the second-longest current streak in the FBS*) to 25 straight games, and sadly for Kentucky, it's been a while since they were even competitive; after tonight's result, they've lost their last four against Florida by a combined score of 200-36. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey each went over 100 yards rushing as the Gators racked up a ridiculous 405 yards on the ground.
WHY FLORIDA WON: There's a lot of things these past four years that have gone wrong for Kentucky against Florida. Wait, scratch that: everything has gone wrong these past four years. But maybe nothing has gone more wrong than the Wildcats' first halves. Again and again, they've left the first half (or even the first quarter) so hopelessly behind the Gators that they must feel like they shouldn't even both showing up for the second ... and it's shown in the final scores.
So what happens tonight? A three-and-out forced on Florida's first possession, a nice Ryan Tydlacka punt to pin them on their 8, then a solid stop on the Gators' second ... and then the 'Cats Josh Clemons fumbles on the UK 45. Next play, John Brantley throws a 45-yard touchdown pass. Next Florida possession: 20-yard Demps touchdown. Ensuing Kentucky possession: Morgan Newton throws an interception. Two plays later, Trey Burton scores another touchdown.
And in a matter of minutes, it's 21-0 and the limping, toothless Kentucky offense has no prayer of ever climbing out of the hole. Credit to the Gators: with the chance to deliver the early knockout blow, they delivered it. But why do the Wildcats always seem to accept such a blow against this particular team?
WHEN FLORIDA WON: Kentucky did take some morsel of momentum into halftime, Newton capitalizing on a Jeff Driskel fumble to throw a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 left in the half. Too bad Florida's first drive of the third quarter went 99 yards for a touchdown, the last 84 of them coming on Demps' second touchdown of the night to restore the lead to 38-10. If the game wasn't over already, it was over-over at that point.
WHAT FLORIDA WON: Given the history between the two teams and Kentucky's painful start to the season, the Gators' thumping of the 'Cats won't do much to move the needle. But it sure won't do anything to hurt their status as the East's top challenger to South Carolina, either.
WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: This surely wasn't one of the four remaining victories Joker Phillips' was counting on to extend the Wildcat's bowl streak, so not that much in the final reckoning. But we can't imagine yet another bludgeoning at the hands of the Gators will do much for the 'Cats morale.
Posted on: September 16, 2011 3:28 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
We're in the third week of the regular season which means that we're finishing up with the appetizers of the college football menu and getting to the main courses. This week we've got plenty of entrees guaranteed to keep your cardiologist's savings account healthy, as plenty of BCS schools clash and conferences like the SEC continue to delve into conference play. So prepare yourself for an endless bounty taste and bold flavors, and for the love of Bear Bryant, make sure you wear pants with an elastic waistband.
Maryland vs. #18 West Virginia - ESPNU 12pm ET
The Terps will be donning their all black uniform combination for their first outing since taking down Miami on Labor Day evening. West Virginia's potent offense has been scoring on nearly 70% of their drives, so it will be on sophomore Danny O'Brien to keep up with the high-powered Mountaineers. Unfortunately, he lost two of his top weapons when Ronnie Tyler and Quinton McCree were suspended indefinitely on Thursday. - Chip Patterson
Clemson vs. #21 Auburn - ABC 12pm ET
There won't be much in the way of offensive surprises for either defense this game: Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris learned his offensive schemes from Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn when both were high school coaches, and both vaulted to their current jobs after operating that same scheme at Tulsa. If that would seem to favor Malzahn's Tigers (who have three years of familiarity with the offense over Clemson's one), remember that this is also the exceptionally green Auburn lineup's first game away from the Plains. Can the Tiger cubs handle Death Valley? - Jerry Hinnen
Iowa vs. Pitt - ESPN2 - 12pm ET
This should be quite the interesting game. Both teams are coming off subpar Week 2 performances, with Iowa dropping a 44-41 thriller to Iowa State in 3OT, and Pitt holding off a late Maine rally to win 35-29. Iowa would appear to hold the advantage here, being that the game is at Kinnick Stadium, but since neither team is playing at a high level, no result would be a shocker. Plus, if anything, Michigan and Notre Dame just demonstrated how fun games can be when both teams are trying to lose. - Adam Jacobi
#11 Nebraska vs. Washington - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
Incredibly, this will be the third meeting between Nebraska and Washington in the last year; the two teams met on September 18 last year, then held a rematch in the Holiday Bowl. The rubber match here should tell us plenty about where both teams stand as we near conference play -- does Washington have what it takes to hang with a ranked foe this year? Will the Cornhuskers finally live up to their preseason hype and No. 11 ranking? Let's find out. - AJ
#16 Florida vs. Tennessee - CBS 3:30pm ET
Don't expect Week 2's trend of high-scoring shootouts in the SEC's highest-profile games to change in Gainesville. The Vols are banged-up and inexperienced in the front seven, and seem like little match for a Gator ground game featuring Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps; the Gators start two true freshmen in their secondary and could be lit up by quarterback Tyler Bray and explosive receiving duo Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. First team to 40 wins. - JH
UCLA vs. #23 Texas - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
Much like the city of Los Angeles itself, Rick Neuheisel forever finds himself standing on shaky ground at UCLA. The Bruins haven't quite become Los Angeles' team like the program boasted it would when Rick came to town, but a second straight win over the Texas Longhorns could go a long way toward making it a reality. Meanwhile the Longhorns will unleash the quarterbacking duo of Case McCoy and David Ash this weekend, so tune in to see what the Texas offense might look like when it isn't tossing out interceptions like Tootsie Rolls on Halloween. - Tom Fornelli
Notre Dame vs. #15 Michigan State - NBC 3:30pm ET
The first two weeks of the season have been a nightmare for Notre Dame. Ten turnovers and two losses are not the way the Irish had planned on starting the return to glory, and things may get even worse before they get better. Michigan State has yet to be truly tested so far in 2011 but if Sparty can go into South Bend and get a win then Brian Kelly will have some pretty big fires to put out. - TF
Kentucky vs. Louisville - ESPNU 7pm ET
While this game might fall short of marquee status, it still pits two hated rivals against each other early in the year. Louisville needs to bounce back from a home loss to FIU, and Kentucky needed a 4th quarter comeback to defeat Central Michigan. I expect a lot of passion, and possible hilarity to ensue as both the Cardinals and Wildcats will be starting true freshman on the offensive line. Though, as Morgan Newton has proven this year, you don't need defensive linemen for a sack. - CP
Illinois vs. #22 Arizona State - Big Ten Network 7pm ET
Fresh off an overtime win, Arizona State heads on the road for the first time of the year to take on undefeated Illinois. This game features an underrated quarterback match up between 6-foot-8 signal-caller Brock Osweiler and dual-threat Nathan Scheelhaase. Of course you'll also want to tune in for one of the best linebackers in college football in Vontaze Burfict trying to stop the Illini. - Bryan Fischer
Miami vs. #17 Ohio State - ESPN 7:30pm ET
One team prefers to trade memorabilia for tattoos and cash, the other has enjoyed cover charges and open bars at adult entertainment nightclubs. What better idea than to get them all together in South Beach on a Saturday night? Al Golden and Luke Fickell navigate two programs under NCAA investigation into a primetime heavyweight bout with both teams needing a strong performance to live up to expectations. Get your "LAST" button greased up so you can bounce between this game and OU-FSU. - CP
#5 Florida State vs. #1 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET
In a weekend full of wonderful games, this one is the marquee matchup. Two top five teams clash in Tallahassee as Florida State tries to show the world that it is indeed back and a national title contender, while Oklahoma looks to prove to the world that it is the best team in the country. This one should be an exciting battle, and one of the key areas to watch will be how Florida State's offensive line handles the Sooners' defensive line. - TF
LATE NIGHT SNACK
Arizona vs. #6 Stanford - ESPN 10:45pm ET
Do you like quarterbacks? Do you like offense? If so, the Stanford-Arizona game will offer plenty of both as Andrew Luck roles into the desert to take on Nick Foles. While the Cardinal are not quite as explosive as the Wildcats' opponent last week (Oklahoma State), they bring in a trio of tight ends to watch out for and running back Stepfan Taylor to pound away in the running game. - BF
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Al Golden, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Brian Kelly, Brock Osweiler, Bryan Fischer, Case McCoy, Central Michigan, Chad Morris, Chip Patterson, Chris Rainey, Clemson, Da'Rick Rogers, Danny O'Brien, David Ash, FIU, Florida, Florida State, Gus Malzahn, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Jeff Demps, Jerry Hinnen, Justin Hunter, Kentucky, Louisville, Luke Fickell, Maine, Maryland, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Morgan Newton, Nathan Scheelhaase, Nebraska, Nick Foles, Non-BCS, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pac-12, Pitt, Quinton McCree, Rick Neuheisel, Ronnie Tyler, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, Stanford, Stepfan Taylor, Tennessee, Texas, Tom Fornelli, Tulsa, Tyler Bray, UCLA, Vontaze Burfict, Washington, West Virginia
Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:45 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson played like a star on the field last night in his team's 14-3 loss to Kentucky, recording 12 tackles (two of them for loss) and a sack. But he talked like a star on the sidelines, too, giving us this memorable summary of the Wildcats' toothless performance:
They supposed to be SEC. That's right, Andrew, but in no way, shape, or form did the Wildcats look like an SEC team last night, wheezing their way to the most uncomfortable of victories over a Hilltopper team that -- while expected to be much-improved over last year's 2-10 team -- is still believed to be a mid-to-lower level Sun Belt squad.
Here's a breakdown of the Wildcats' Thursday night mediocrity, by the numbers:
44 -- Number of yards by which Kentucky was outgained. By Western Kentucky.
35, 75 -- Number of total yards the Wildcat offense had gained by halftime and through three quarters, respectively. Against Western Kentucky.
3.7 -- Kentucky's offensive yards-per-play. (Against Western Kentucky.) If stretched over a full season, this number would have ranked the Wildcats dead last in the FBS last year.
5.4, 3.7 -- UK quarterback Morgan Newton's yards-per-attempt, and his yards-per-attempt if his 31-yard fourth-quarter touchdown pass is removed from the calculation. (Against Western Kentucky.) If stretched over a full season, the 5.4 number would have ranked Kentucky 115th in the FBS last year.
3-to-1-to-0 -- Newton's ratio of interceptions to touchdown passes to first quarter completions against Western Kentucky.
2.8, 1.1 -- Kentucky's average yards per-carry, and their average yards per-carry on the 32 attempts that weren't Newton's game-saving 58-yard fourth-quarter scramble on 3rd-and-12. Against Western Kentucky.
45.9 -- Eye-popping net yards per-punt on seven attempts by Wildcat punter Ryan Tydlacka, the hands-down Wildcat MVP of the win.
That is, unless you want to cruelly name Hilltopper QB Kajuan Jakes the Wildcats' MVP; Jakes suffered through a 9-of-27, four-interception nightmare, one that included a second-quarter overthrow of a wide-open tight end in the end zone. Complete that, and WKU goes up 10-0 ... and the way the Wildcat offense was operating, maybe powers home to the victory.
We asked yesterday if the Wildcats could find some playmakers left behind from their 2010 exodus, and on the balance of last night, they don't have one, much less "playmakers," plural. Even having put a "1" in the win column, as Jackson said, Kentucky was supposed to look like an SEC team last night. And what they looked like was a team that might have a rough go of it in the Sun Belt.
Video by SportsGrid. HT: TeamSpeedKills.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With lots of movement on the SEC quarterback front the last few days, now seems a good time to update the entire league's worth of races, team-by-team. Here's the latest, in alphabetical order:
ALABAMA: The Tide's season opener against Kent State is just 11 days away, but Nick Saban hasn't given any more indication towards his staff's decision between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims than he did when spring practice opened. In fact, his last comment on the situation was to say that one of them might play a position other than qurterback. McCarron remains the slightest of favorites due to his extra year of experience, but the closer the opener grows, the more likely it becomes that Saban makes good on his April threat to platoon the two. And given that not even the most catastrophic of quarterback outings could submarine the Tide against the overmatched Golden Flashes, it might make some sense to use the opener as one final audition for both.
ARKANSAS: Believe it or not, the Hogs still don't have an official starting quarterback, as Bobby Petrino has refused to name Tyler Wilson the starter over sophomore Brandon Mitchell. That's despite the fact that anyone not directly related to Mitchell believes the job is 100 percent Wilson's and the junior has been lighting the practice fields up all camp. This one appears to be a formality designed to keep the carrot in front of Mitchell for as long as possible, but stranger things have happened, we guess.
AUBURN: As you probably know, junior Barrett Trotter has been named Cam Newton's successor, with redshirt sophomore Clint Moseley the backup and true freshman Kiehl Frazier third-string. But Gus Malzahn hasn't ruled out using Frazier in some capacity, and gave the four-star recruit every snap in last weekend's scrimmage. A late-season appearance might be in the cards, particularly if Trotter struggles.
FLORIDA: No controversy here: John Brantley has been the unquestioned starter since fall camp broke, with both coaches and players seeming to go out of their way to praise the much-maligned senior and downgrade the chances of five-star freshman Jeff Driskel. "John’s our starter, and he’s our quarterback, and I don’t have any anticipation of (Driskel playing)," Will Muschamp said when discussing the Gators' opener against Florida Atlantic. Driskel has, nonetheless, won the backup's role.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs don't have any drama, with Aaron Murray the unquestioned starter and sophomore Hutson Mason the established backup ahead of true freshman Christian LeMay. Mason has had an up-and-down fall camp, though, with some reportedly sharp practices offset by outings like one four-interception practice he called "my worst day ever — in football, period."
KENTUCKY: Morgan Newton has long since been anointed the Wildcat starter, but Kentucky may need him to stay healthy even more than the Bulldogs' need the same for Murray. Newton and the Wildcat coaches have both had ample praise for backup Maxwell Smith's ability to pick up the offense after just one spring camp and one fall practice ... but the reason Smith's had just one of each is because he's a true freshman, and not a particularly highly-regarded one (according to recruiting experts) at that.
LSU: Now here's some drama. Much to many Tiger fans' chagrin, as of this moment not even the threat of a second-degree battery arrest is enough to move the gauge-needle on Jordan Jefferson's starting job away from "likely." Now here's the even more depressing news for those bayou residents hoping strong-armed JUCO (and former Georgia backup) Zach Mettenberger would assume the top spot: Mettenberger still hasn't even supplanted Jarrett Lee as the Tigers' backup. According to Lee himself, Jefferson is still running with the "ones" in practice, Lee the twos, and Mettenberger is left with whatever reps Lee doesn't take. If Jefferson does miss the opener against Oregon, it will now be quite the shock if Mettenberger gets the call over Lee, who does say he's had the best camp of his long career.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: We know that Chris Relf will be the Bulldog' starter. The question is: will backup Tyler Russell borrow any of Relf's snaps, as he did early in 2010 as the designated pocket quarterback? The consensus seems to be that he won't, with third-stringer Dylan Favre (yes, the nephew of that other Favre) reportedly closer to Russell than Russell is to Relf. Dan Mullen hasn't entirely ruled out a return to a quarterback rotation, but we'll be surprised if we see Russell in the event of anything other than a Relf injury.
OLE MISS: We touched on this earlier today in the wake of Randall Mackey's arrest and "likely" suspension for the Rebels' season opener, but it appears Barry Brunetti -- always the narrow favorite to win the starting job coming out of spring practice -- is now the most likely candidate to begin Ole Miss's 2011 season under center. But will he stay there? The Rebel coaching staff seems genuine in their repeated statements that none of their three candidates has separated himself from the other two, and former Houston Nutt doghouse resident Zack Stoudt offers a stronger-armed passing element that both Brunetti and Mackey lack. Unless Brunetti shines out of the gate, expect Stoudt to get a serious look at some point. And if Mackey avoids the doghouse himself, the same could go for him, too.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Steve Spurrier promised a legitimate quarterback battle back at SEC Media Days, but whatever slim chance Connor Shaw actually had of unseating Stephen Garcia, it likely evaporated last week when Shaw injured his thumb and missed three practices. Never say never with Spurrier, but it will likely take some truly egregious play on Garcia's part (or another off-field incident) for Shaw to see any meaningful playing time.
TENNESSEE: Tyler Bray hasn't always pleased his coaches or put his best foot forward this fall, but he appears to have done plenty enough to hold off Matt Simms, who sounds as if he's resigned himself to being the backup. All the same, having Montana as an opening-week tune-up should be an excellent opportunity for Bray to make sure the Vols' two-headed QB wounds of 2010 don't reopen.
VANDERBILT: The biggest news for Vandy's quarterbacks this week won't actually have any impact until 2012, when newly official Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels becomes eligible. Until then, Vandy will make do with either senior Larry Smith or junior Jordan Rogers, who together directed an offensive performance at Saturday's scrimmage one disappointed Vanderbilt blog described as "Vanderbilt-like." It may take more than one season (or the arrival of Carta-Samuels, who spearheaded the Cowboys' bowl run in 2009) for James Franklin to get the 'Dores' long-simmering quarterback woes ironed out.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Austyn Carta-Samuels, Barrett Trotter, Barry Brunetti, Bobby Petrino, Brandon Mitchell, Chris Relf, Christian LeMay, Connor Shaw, Dan Mullen, Dylan Favre, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Houston Nutt, Hutson Mason, Jarrett Lee, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Kent State, Kiehl Frazier, LSU, LSU, Matt Simms, Maxwell Smith, Mississippi State, Morgan Newton, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Ole Miss, Oregon, Phillip Sims, Randall Mackey, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Russell, Tyler Wilson, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp, Zach Mettenberger, Zack Stoudt