Alabama Crimson Tide: Jarvis Jones

SEC's DLs, LBs strong at combine

February, 21, 2013
2/21/13
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

Alabama Crimson Tide


Alabama's front seven was rock solid and had a distinctive rock-n-roll flair in nose guard Jesse Williams. Though the Crimson Tide defense lacked a true superstar, Williams' Mohawk haircut, countless tattoos and colorful face paint made the unit stand out.
  • DT Jesse Williams (Position rank: No. 8)
    Strengths: Like his counterpart on the middle of the Alabama offensive line, Barrett Jones, Williams is nothing if not versatile. He played both defensive end and nose guard at UA and possesses the type of strength and quickness that would allow him to do the same at the next level.
    Weaknesses: While Williams is above average in defending the run and the pass, he's not superb at either. His production at Alabama was less than ideal, which can be attributed to the scheme on defense, but a lack of sacks and tackles for loss highlight an inability to consistently rush the passer.
    Comparable: In terms of versatility and athleticism, he is similar to Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Kevin Williams.
  • ILB Nico Johnson (Position rank: No. 8)
    Strengths: Johnson -- who no longer is scheduled to attend the combine -- has the look of an NFL linebacker at 6-foot-2 and 249 pounds. He is a solid wrap-up tackler with good instincts. The fact that he has had no off-field trouble or injury concerns will only help his draft stock.
    Weaknesses: The emergence of C.J. Mosley hurt Johnson in 2012. When Alabama had to defend multiple-receiver looks, Johnson often came off the field in favor of Mosley. Johnson is built for run support, but his lack of athleticism hurts in terms of being an every-down linebacker.
    Comparable: Johnson looks and plays like New Orleans Saints linebacker Curtis Lofton. Both are sure tacklers with good instincts getting between the tackles and getting to the ball carrier.
  • DE Quinton Dial (Position rank: No. 27)
    Strengths: Every so often an Alabama player doesn't hit his potential until he has left college. Dial might be one of those guys. The big, thick defensive end has the raw size (6-foot-5, 307 pounds) and skill to play at the next level and will likely do well in team workouts leading up to the draft.
    Weaknesses: A lack of production at Alabama will create a glass ceiling for Dial. While scouts can fall in love with measurables, they still want to see the talent on tape.
    Comparable: Dial could learn a thing or two from Baltimore Ravens defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, who didn't blow away anyone at Georgia, but after being selected late in the seventh round has become a solid contributor. In terms of size, the two compare favorably, as Tyson comes in at 6-foot-2, 315 pounds.
  • Damion Square (Position rank: No. 29)
    Strengths: Square isn't going to light up the scoreboard with sacks or tackles for loss, but he's consistent. Under coach Nick Saban's watchful eye, Square developed into a solid defender against the run and pass, and understands the idea of gap-assignment football.
    Weaknesses: Simply put, Square doesn't possess the necessary athleticism to get drafted. If there is a player hurt most by missing out on the Senior Bowl, it's him.
    Comparable: N/A

Florida Gators


The heart of the Gators’ 2012 defense will participate in the combine today. DT Sharrif Floyd, whose stock is rising rapidly as he is projected to be taken as high as No. 3, had a fantastic season and anchored UF’s front. He dominated Florida State’s front, and his mixture of size, strength and quickness has scouts drooling. ILB Jon Bostic started every game the past two seasons and was UF’s leader on defense. Nobody was more dependable than Bostic. OLB Jelani Jenkins was limited in 2012 because of a broken finger, a strained hamstring and a broken foot, but when healthy he’s a solid player. OLB Lerentee McCray was forced into action at the buck position (hybrid end/linebacker) because of the injury to Ronald Powell. He didn’t produce big numbers but was a high-effort, high-motor guy.

(Read full post)

Where they ranked as recruits: Defense

January, 30, 2013
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Now that we’ve examined where the offensive players on the 2012 Associated Press All-SEC team ranked as high school recruits, we look next at the defensive players.

Whereas only four of the 12 offensive players (counting the all-purpose player) on this season's All-SEC team were ESPN 150 prospects, nine of the 11 defensive players made the ESPN 150 cut as high school recruits. Eight of the 11 were ranked among the top 10 prospects nationally at their position.

The only two who weren't ESPN 150 prospects were Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore and Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks.

Here's a look back:

[+] EnlargeJadeveon Clowney
Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsSouth Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney was ranked No. 1 overall in the ESPN 150 in 2011.
DEFENSE

DE: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina -- A five-star prospect and ranked No. 1 overall in the ESPN 150 in 2011. Received a grade of 95 and described by some analysts as one of the most talented and physically impressive high school prospects to be evaluated since the advent of recruiting rankings.

DE: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M -- A three-star prospect and unranked in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 48 defensive end prospect nationally. Six of the top 15 defensive end prospects that year signed with SEC schools -- No. 4 Corey Miller (Tennessee), No. 5 Adrian Hubbard (Alabama), No. 9 Corey Lemonier (Auburn), No. 10 Chris Martin (Florida), No. 14 LaDarius Owens (Auburn) and No. 15 Justin Maclin (LSU).

DT: Sharrif Floyd, Florida -- A four-star prospect and ranked No. 25 in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 3 defensive tackle prospect nationally. The No. 1 defensive tackle prospect that year was Florida teammate Dominique Easley. The Gators also signed a third top 10 defensive tackle prospect -- Leon Orr -- in that 2010 class.

DT: Sheldon Richardson, Missouri -- Ranked No. 107 in the ESPN 150 in 2009. Ranked as the No. 8 defensive tackle prospect nationally. There were three tackle prospects ranked ahead of him that year who signed with SEC schools -- No. 2 Gary Brown (Florida), No. 4 Josh Downs (LSU), and No. 7 Chris Davenport (LSU).

LB: Jarvis Jones, Georgia -- Ranked No. 59 in the ESPN 150 in 2009. Originally signed with USC before transferring to Georgia. Ranked as the No. 6 outside linebacker prospect nationally. The No. 1 outside linebacker prospect in that class was Manti Te'o. Jones was ranked as the No. 7 overall prospect in the state of Georgia in 2009. Future Georgia teammates Branden Smith (No. 2) and Chris Burnette (No. 6) were ranked ahead of him.

LB: Kevin Minter, LSU -- Ranked No. 133 in the ESPN 150 in 2009. Ranked as the No. 11 outside linebacker prospect nationally. Counting Jarvis Jones, eight of the top 15 outside linebacker prospects that year either signed with an SEC school or wound up at one. Florida got two of them -- No. 2 Jelani Jenkins and No. 8 Jon Bostic.

LB: C.J.Mosley, Alabama -- A four-star prospect and ranked No. 99 in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 7 outside linebacker prospect nationally. The only outside linebacker prospect to sign with an SEC school ranked higher was Georgia’s T.J. Stripling at No. 5.

CB: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State -- Unranked in the ESPN 150 in 2009. Ranked as the No. 27 athlete nationally, one spot behind eventual LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne. Banks, who grew up in the tiny town of Maben, Miss., only received the one scholarship offer from Mississippi State.

CB: Dee Milliner, Alabama -- A four-star prospect and ranked No. 16 in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 2 cornerback prospect nationally. Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner was ranked as the country’s No. 1 cornerback prospect that year. Florida signed three of the top 10 cornerback prospects in 2010 -- No. 3 Josh Shaw, No. 5 Jaylen Watkins, and No. 7 Cody Riggs.

S: Matt Elam, Florida -- A five-star prospect and ranked No. 9 in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 2 athlete nationally. The No. 1 athlete that year was eventual Florida teammate Ronald Powell. Auburn signed three of the top 10 athletes in 2010. Two of them, Antonio Goodwin and Shaun Kitchens, were part of the 2011 armed robbery of a trailer and kicked off the team. The third was receiver Trovon Reed.

S: Eric Reid, LSU -- A four-star prospect and ranked No. 71 in the ESPN 150 in 2010. Ranked as the No. 7 safety prospect nationally. Reid was one of two top 10 safety prospects the Tigers signed that year. The other was Tharold Simon, who wound up playing cornerback. The No. 1 safety prospect in 2010 was Jonathan Dowling, who signed with Florida and was kicked off the team during his freshman season by Urban Meyer.

No. 1 ILB relaxed after UGA official 

January, 27, 2013
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The No. 16 prospect in the nation was in Athens, Ga., over the weekend, as Reuben Foster (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) took his third official visit, this time to the University of Georgia. The 6-foot-1, 242-pound linebacker has visited Georgia many times, but this time there was something different about the campus.

2012 SEC regular-season wrap

December, 5, 2012
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Here we are again talking about another potential national championship for the SEC.

Weren’t we having this same conversation last year, the year before that and the year before that?

In fact, does anybody really remember the last time we weren’t having this conversation?

The BCS Championship Game festivities will again include an SEC team this season, and once again, it’s Alabama carrying the banner for the league.

(Read full post)

On Monday, Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones was named The Associated Press SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

A worthy candidate indeed when you look at his flashy resume. He finished the regular season third on Georgia's team with 77 tackles, first nationally in tackles for loss (22.5) and second in the SEC (fourth nationally) in sacks (12.5).

He also led he country with seven forced fumbles.

Not too bad for a player who battled injuries all year and played in just 11 of Georgia's 13 games.

But this had to be a very, very tough vote. While Jones was fantastic in his second year in the SEC, he had some very stiff competition from the likes of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, LSU linebacker Kevin Minter, Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.

All of them proved to be game-changers and all were worthy competition for Jones.

Let's take a look at their resumes:

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia (winner)

Tackles: 77 (40)
Tackles for loss: 22.5 (first nationally)
Sacks: 12.5 (fourth nationally)

Making the case for Jones: Every offense that faced Jones had to specifically game plan for him. He just has a knack for finding the ball and making plays. He completely changed the Missouri game with his interception and his sack/fumble force on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. He essentially won the game for the Dawgs against Florida when he poked the ball out of tight end Jordan Reed's hand just before he crossed the goal line for a potential game-tying touchdown. If there's a play to be made, Jones will find it.

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Tackles: 50 (37 solo)
Tackles for loss: 21.5 (second nationally)
Sacks: 13 (tied for first nationally)

Making the case for Clowney: When you talk to players and coaches around the league about Clowney, just about everyone tends to consider him the league's top player, regardless of position. He might be the most physically gifted defender in the SEC, if not the nation. After taking some criticism for his in-game endurance, Clowney turned his play up in the season's second half. He basically ended Tennessee's comeback hopes with his sack/fumble with the Vols down three and inside South Carolina's 20 late in the fourth quarter. Then he abused Clemson's backfield with 4.5 sacks in the season finale. The sack total was also a Clemson Memorial Stadium record.

Kevin Minter, LB, LSU

Tackles: 111 (48 solo)
Tackles for loss: 13.5
Sacks: 3

Making the case for Minter: He was one of the SEC's most active defenders. He averaged 9.25 tackles per game and even collected 20 tackles, 17 of them solo, against Florida. He finished the season with seven games in which he registered nine tackles or more. Like Jones, Minter is someone who just knows how to find the ball. He has tremendous speed and packs quite the punch when he goes in for a tackle. He also broke up six passes, grabbed an interception and forced a fumble.

Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

Tackles: 80 (54 solo)
Tackles for loss: 20 (tied for third nationally)
Sacks: 12.5 (tied for fourth nationally)

Making the case for Moore: So, he moved from outside linebacker, had to get into better shape and had to learn a new defensive scheme. Yet, he was even better? For most of the 2012 season, Moore was the most productive defensive player in the SEC. He only failed to record at least one tackle for loss twice and didn't record at least one sack in just three games. He finished the regular season leading the Aggies in tackles and will likely become the first defensive end to lead the Aggies in tackles since Sam Adams had 78 in 1993.

C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama

Tackles: 99 (61 solo)
Tackles for loss: 7
Sacks: 4

Making the case for Mosley: He's one of the most gifted linebackers in the SEC and just figures out ways to find the ball an makes plays. He led the Crimson Tide in tackles by 43 and averaged 7.6 tackles a game. He recorded double-digit-tackle numbers three times this year and he was the one who tipped Aaron Murray's final pass in the SEC championship game that secured the Tide's victory. He has one of the highest motors in the league and has tremendous field IQ as well.
DawgNation's David Ching and TideNation's Alex Scarborough take a look at Alabama and Georgia position-by-position as Saturday's SEC championship game between the second-ranked Crimson Tide (11-1) and third-ranked Bulldogs (11-1) approaches.

QUARTERBACK
Alabama: It's hard to believe AJ McCarron is only a junior starting in his first SEC Championship. It seems like so long ago that he took over the reins from Greg McElroy and became the first underclassman to start and win the BCS National Championship Game. He learned how to treat big games like any other. The let-it-rip attitude has paid off this season as he ranks No. 2 in the country in passing efficiency while setting a school record for touchdown passes in a season.
Georgia: Junior Aaron Murray has already put together one of the best seasons in school history. Last week he became the first player in SEC history to pass for 3,000-plus yards in three straight seasons and tied Peyton Manning for second in career touchdown passes with 89. The national leader in passing efficiency (177.15), he has thrown 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The big question against Alabama, however, is whether Murray can play loose enough to be effective. He struggled against South Carolina and Florida, with one touchdown and four interceptions.

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Trenches will decide SEC title game

November, 30, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Games in the SEC are often decided up the middle -- in the trenches, over the center and into the heart of it all.

Saturday's matchup between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia likely will be no different, as the Crimson Tide's offensive line, arguably the best in the country, battles with the Bulldogs defensive front that is equal parts size and skill.

[+] EnlargeJenkins
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesBlocking John Jenkins will be a key for Alabama getting its running game going.
Alabama center Barrett Jones has gone through four seasons of SEC battles. He has gone head-to-head with the best from LSU, Arkansas and Florida. But the biggest challenge he has ever faced might have come from a former teammate during practice. Terrence Cody, the former Alabama nose guard with the apt nickname of Mount Cody, was terror on centers and guards in his two seasons in Tuscaloosa.

This weekend Jones will face a nose guard similar to the former 6-foot-5, 365-pound All-American. He might not be a mountain, but John Jenkins is surely a load. The 6-foot-3, 351-pound senior has helped Georgia to a top-25 defense.

"He's hard to block," UA coach Nick Saban explained. "Any time you play an odd defense, a 3-4 defense and can't block the nose guard, makes it hard to run a lot of plays. He reminds me a lot of Cody when we had him here."

Jones doesn't compare well to anyone in Alabama's past, perhaps because he has played so many positions. But nevertheless, Georgia coach Mark Richt is aware of the defending Outland Trophy winner's presence at center.

"He's a fantastic player, obviously," Richt said of Jones. "You know, very versatile. All of a sudden he's playing center when he was playing some tackle in the past. To have a guy like that, a senior leader, up front, right where you need him, right down the middle, is huge.

"No doubt, he's got the ability to block a big man like [Jenkins] because he's a big man himself. A lot of centers aren't quite as big as he is. I think it's going to be an advantage for him to have a better chance to man up against a big nose guard like that."

But Jones is defined by more than his size, said Saban.

"He's an extremely smart player," Saban explained. "This is his first year playing center, but he's done a really good job for us. His efficiency as a blocker, whoever he's had to block, has been really good for us this year."

The Jones-Jenkins matchup is the focus, but the entire line is filled with intrigue. When Jenkins goes out, he is spelled by another 350-plus pound nose guard -- Kwame Gaethers.

(Read full post)

Five storylines: Alabama vs. Georgia 

November, 29, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In advance of Saturday's SEC Championship Game played between No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia, let's look at five key storylines for the Crimson Tide.

1. A return to the Georgia Dome with everything on the line: It's hard to believe it's been three years since Alabama was last in the Georgia Dome competing for the SEC title. It went well in 2009, and the hope around Tuscaloosa is history repeats itself. "It's a real opportunity, I think, for our players," UA coach Nick Saban said on Monday. "The SEC championship game is a great competitive venue." How Alabama handles the environment will be important. The Tide have played in big games like this before, but not one that so directly affects the rest of the season. Win and they're off to Miami for the BCS National Championship Game. Lose and kiss any BCS bowl goodbye.

2. Getting to Murray: Give Aaron Murray time to pass and he'll pick you apart. "If we let him sit back in the pocket, he can hurt you," UA linebacker Nico Johnson explained. "It has shown all year." The senior has struggled in big games (see Florida and South Carolina this year, LSU in 2011) but his career numbers are undeniable. He's never thrown for fewer than 3,000 yards and has averaged more than 30 touchdowns a season. Getting in his face and disrupting his timing will be a monumental task for Alabama's front seven, something it has struggled to do consistently this season.

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For all the talk about how Shawn Williams’ “soft” comments woke up Georgia’s sleeping defense before the Florida game, Jarvis Jones points to a different weekend that re-energized an underperforming unit.

He looks at Georgia’s embarrassing 35-7 loss to South Carolina on Oct. 6 that sent the Dawgs back to Athens with their tails between their legs and tossed their SEC/BCS hopes temporarily into the garbage.

It also served as a time for the Dawgs’ defense, which returned just about everyone from a unit that ranked fifth nationally in total defense a year ago, to realize that skill alone wasn’t going to get the job done.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Jones
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireJarvis Jones says the Georgia defense hit stride after the loss against South Carolina.
The defense needed to get its swagger back by relocating its focus, something the junior linebacker said was lost with distractions and arrogance.

“South Carolina did a great job of reminding us and humbling us and got us on the right path,” Jones said.

That path has been a relatively smooth one for the Bulldogs, and extremely bumpy for opponents. Since its rough outing against the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs have risen in the defensive rankings and have allowed just 301 total yards per contest in the past six games. During that span only one team -- Kentucky -- scored 20-plus points on the Bulldogs. Before that, five of Georgia’s first six opponents scored 20 or more.

Granted, only two of Georgia’s past six opponents currently rank within the top 50 in total offense (Georgia Tech, 28; Ole Miss, 46), but the defense’s play is a far cry from what it was at the beginning of the season.

“We've been focused and we've been disciplined and very coachable,” said Jones, who is third in the SEC in tackles for loss (19.5) and sacks (10.5). “That got us to the point where we are today.”

He's also hoping it gets Georgia past Alabama’s bruising offense in Saturday’s SEC championship game.

(Read full post)

Now that you've seen Chris Low's top 25, it's time to see what my list of the top 25 players in the SEC looks like.

I'm not perfect, but I'll try to be:

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Who has been more exciting than Johnny Football? The Aggies aren't 5-1 without him or his 1,600 passing yards, 676 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns.

2. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida: He's powering Florida's offense and he's been the SEC's best back thus far. He's extremely explosive and is strong enough to bully his way to extra yards and wear down defenses.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: He's turning into the dominating player we've really been waiting to see. Some think he might be the best player overall in the conference and is pushing to be next year's No. 1 NFL draft pick.

4. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: At one time, he was a Heisman candidate, but injuries and double-teams stunted that campaign. Still, he's the SEC's best linebacker, can fly around the field and just feasts on opposing quarterbacks.

5. C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama: He's been Alabama's best defensive player this year and can make plays from just about anywhere on the field. He leads Alabama with 51 tackles, has 2.5 sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

6. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M: Even though he moved from linebacker to defensive end, Moore has been just as dominant as he was last season. He leads the SEC in sacks (8.5) and tackles for loss (15).

7. Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: This summer, he said he was the SEC's best cornerback and he hasn't disappointed. He has three interceptions on the season and is averaging just 4.7 yards per attempt in man coverage.

8. Chance Warmack, OL, Alabama: He might be the nation's best offensive lineman and he's just blowing defenders up this season. No wonder Alabama can run the ball so well.

(Read full post)

SEC power rankings: Week 7

October, 8, 2012
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There's movement all over as we check out the SEC power rankings for Week 7:

1. Alabama (5-0; LW: 1): The Tide was off last week, so it didn't have a chance to widen its lead on the SEC and the rest of the country. The last thing Alabama's upcoming opponents want is a rested Tide team. I can only imagine the extra work Nick Saban put his team through in order to clean up all those little things.

2. South Carolina (6-0; LW: 4): The Gamecocks completely dominated Georgia over the weekend. South Carolina's offense is extremely balanced and looks like it can just jump on Marcus Lattimore's shoulders at this point. He's just getting stronger and stronger. The defense is smothering up front and stopping that defensive line has been a nightmare for teams. But road games at LSU and Florida will be tough.

3. Florida (5-0; LW: 5): The Gators might not have the most exciting offense, but that defense is tremendous. Florida put a load of pressure on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger over the weekend and clobbered the Tigers' running game. Behind Mike Gillislee, the Gators pounded LSU with their running game, but the passing game is still a concern. If Florida can get more through the air, this offense could start to really give defenses fits.

4. LSU (5-1; LW: 2): It's obvious that the Tigers can't put everything on their defense. Even with how talented LSU is on the defensive side of the ball, the offense needs major work, especially in the passing game. Mettenberger hasn't come close to living up to the hype and just doesn't look comfortable standing in LSU's pocket. The running game was one of the SEC's best, but was quieted against Florida because there just wasn't the threat to pass. No offensive balance could doom this team.

5. Georgia (5-1; LW: 3): The concern about the defense continues to grow after the Bulldogs' 28-point loss to the Gamecocks. USC was intent on running and Georgia couldn't do anything to stop it, allowing 232 rushing yards. Jarvis Jones has been a non-factor for the past two weeks and Aaron Murray's big-game struggles came right back in Columbia, S.C. The good news is the Bulldogs have the SEC East's easiest schedule from here on out.

6. Mississippi State (5-0; LW: 6): These Bulldogs weren't flashy, but they were very efficient against Kentucky. Tyler Russell is one of seven FBS quarterbacks with 10-plus passing touchdowns and fewer than two interceptions this season, while LaDarius Perkins is the only player in the SEC to be in the top two in rushing yards per game (99.8) and all-purpose yards per game (130.0). That defense has been pretty stout as well, as the Bulldogs have trailed for just 10:19 this season.

7. Texas A&M (4-1; LW: 7): Johnny Manziel grabbed hero status in Oxford, Miss., over the weekend. The redshirt freshman quarterback led the Aggies to 13 straight points in the fourth quarter, after trailing Ole Miss by 10. He had a nifty 29-yard touchdown run to trim the Rebels' lead to four and then found Ryan Swope for the game-winning 20-yard touchdown pass with 1:46 remaining. What's more impressive is the Aggies got the win despite committing six turnovers.

8. Tennessee (3-2; LW: 8): The Vols were off, but have a very important matchup with Mississippi State this weekend. We finally saw good balance out of the Vols against an SEC opponent in their shootout loss to Georgia two weeks ago, but most of the extra time Tennessee had better have been devoted to doing something about that defense. The Vols are 13th in the SEC in total defense (425.8 yards per game), and that just won't cut it if Tennessee is going to make any sort of second-half run.

9. Vanderbilt (2-3; LW: 12): The Commodores got a big win on the road at Missouri. Like prior games, Vandy wasn't great when it had the ball, but it played tough for four quarters and outlasted a banged-up Mizzou team. The defense really has been impressive for most of the season, but the Commodores have to get more out of the offense.

10. Ole Miss (3-3; LW: 10): After a heartbreaking loss to the Aggies, Ole Miss now has lost 16 straight SEC games. Blowing that 10-point lead in the fourth quarter probably will haunt this team all week. There's no doubt the Rebels can move the ball, but costly turnovers have doomed this offense. The defense has made strides since last season, but there's still too much break in this unit.

11. Arkansas (2-4; LW: 13): Just when you think the Hogs are done, they find some strength and walk out of Auburn with a huge win over the struggling Tigers. Auburn has had a plethora of issues this season, but from a mental aspect, this was a big win for Arkansas' team. The Razorbacks aren't totally out of the bowl hunt now, but there's still a lot of ground for this team to make up. Finally holding an offense in check, forcing five turnovers and getting eight sacks is a good start.

12. Missouri (3-3; LW: 9): This has not been the SEC welcome the Tigers expected. Mizzou has been banged up all year and pushed around by its SEC counterparts. James Franklin is out for a few weeks with a knee sprain. Corbin Berkstresser is now the starting quarterback, and he'd better get over his rough performance against Vandy, where he hit only 9 of his 30 passes. Things just get harder, as the Tigers host No. 1 Alabama Saturday.

13. Auburn (1-4; LW: 11): Things just aren't working on the Plains. With an extra week to prepare for the SEC's worst defense, the Tigers mustered only 321 yards of offense against Arkansas and found the end zone once. Kiehl Frazier was benched for Clint Moseley at quarterback, but two fourth-quarter interceptions doomed Auburn. The offense just has too many issues right now, and the Tigers might have lost their chance at a postseason berth with Saturday's no-show.

14. Kentucky (1-5; LW: 14): Injuries have crippled this team and things just aren't getting any better for the Wildcats. Kentucky was forced to play two freshmen at quarterback, and lost one (Patrick Towles) to an ankle injury, against Mississippi State. The Wildcats already were working without their starting running back. Things continue to heat up around Joker Phillips, whose team is hovering around the bottom of the SEC in most offensive and defensive categories.

SEC Heisman watch: Week 5

September, 25, 2012
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Another week and there's more movement in our Heisman watch:

1. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Murray just keeps impressing with that right arm of his. This past weekend, Murray lit up Vanderbilt's secondary for 250 yards and two touchdowns, completing 78 percent of his passes along the way. Murray is second in the SEC with 1,092 passing yards, is tied for second with 10 passing touchdowns and has a quarterback rating of 182.43. With help from Murray, Georgia has scored 40-plus points in four consecutive games for the first time in school history, and he's had a 100-yard receiver (three different ones) in all of the first four games.

2. AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: There might not be a more efficient quarterback in the SEC. He doesn't exactly light up the stat sheet when it comes to yards, but McCarron leads the SEC and ranks fourth nationally with a quarterback rating of 188.63. He's completing 63 percent of his passes and has thrown for 819 yards and 10 touchdowns to zero interceptions. The fact that he's on the No. 1 team in the country and has a chance to get to 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns will only help his Heisman chances going forward.

3. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia: Jones was slowed by an injury against Florida Atlantic, but rebounded nicely in the Dawgs' win over Vandy. He registered seven tackles, including three for loss, and a sack. He now has 4.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hurries to go with 24 total tackles this season. You just can't find a better game-changer on defense. He might not fly all over the field like Tyrann Mathieu did when he was a Heisman finalist last year, but his ability to completely change offensive game plans makes him just as dangerous as the Honey Badger was.

4. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: Yes, a freshman makes our list. Who cares that a frosh has never won the Heisman? After the first four games of his collegiate career, Gurley leads the SEC in rushing with 406 yards and is averaging 9.2 yards per carry. He's also tied for first in the league with six rushing touchdowns. Oh, and he's been pretty solid on special teams, averaging 34.7 yards per kickoff return, including one that he took to the house in Georgia's opener. After carrying the ball 16 times for 130 yards and two scores against Vandy, Gurley now has three 100-yard rushing performances this season.

5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: Lattimore shed his knee brace and looked even stronger against Missouri. He rushed for 85 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and caught seven passes for another 60 yards. He has 320 rushing yards and six touchdowns and has caught 13 passes for 93 yards. Slowly, we're starting to see Lattimore look like his old self as he continues his comeback from last year's season-ending knee injury. He's getting tougher to bring down and looks way more confident in his runs now.

ESPN.com All-America team is SEC-laden

August, 29, 2012
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Our ESPN.com preseason All-America team is out today, and 10 of the 25 players on the team play in the SEC.

Alabama and LSU each had three players selected.

Center Barrett Jones, offensive guard Chance Warmack and noseguard Jesse Williams are the Crimson Tide players on the team.

The LSU players who made it are defensive end Sam Montgomery, safety Eric Reid and punter Brad Wing.

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Mississippi State cornerback Johnthan Banks and LSU punter Brad Wing round out the SEC representatives.

Best of the 2012 SEC media days

July, 20, 2012
7/20/12
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HOOVER, Ala. -- Now that another year of SEC media days are through, it's time to take a look back at the best moments from this year's three days in the Wynfrey Hotel:

Best interview: Yes, Missouri wide receiver T.J. Moe had a pretty good time with the media in Hoover and Arkansas coach John L. Smith seemed to win over the main ballroom during his press conference, but the best interview of the week had to go to Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones. The veteran strolled right into our interview room munching on pecan pie bites without a care in the world. But the real magic came during his video interview where he playfully crushed his best friend and former teammate William Vlachos and gave fellow SEC blogger Chris Low a shout out during his hit. Jones came prepared and knew how to have fun.

[+] EnlargeDonte Moncrief
Butch Dill/AP PhotoOle Miss WR Donte Moncrief dresses to the nines for his appearance at SEC media days.
Best quote: There were so many good one-liners from Moe that we're giving you our top three from the week:

  • Moe on what's different about the SEC: “They say girls are prettier here, air’s fresher and toilet paper is thicker.” -- Offensive lineman Elvis Fisher later told us that this line was planned after a conversation during the trip over.
  • But Moe wasn't done there: "Apparently Ryan Swope is a god because he can come in and get first-team all-SEC. But that’s fine.”
  • And this one really got to Arkansas running back Knile Davis: “In the Big 12, we put our best athletes on offense. [In the SEC], they put their best athletes on defense."
Best outfit: The players came out and dressed well this week, like Auburn's Corey Lemonier and bow tie and red-striped socks and Vanderbilt's Trey Wilson in his slick charcoal suit with the black checkered shirt and red tie. But Ole Miss wide receiver Donte Moncrief stole the show with his colorful outfit. He rocked a light beige jacket over a checkered mint shirt and a blue bow tie. He was also equipped with salmon pants and a bright pink pocket square. The man dresses with confidence.

(Read full post)

HOOVER, Ala. -- The 2012 SEC media days All-SEC team was announced Thursday, and LSU led the conference with the most first-team selections with seven. The media has voted for a preseason All-SEC team and predicted the order in which each team would finish since 1992.

It should be noted that the media has only picked the correct SEC champion four times since 1992. Those correct picks were Florida in 1994 and 1995, LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2008.

Here are some notes from the league on the All-SEC team:
    [+] EnlargeMarcus Lattimore
    Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSEC members are expecting big things this season for South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.

  • The 222 voters is an all-time high for SEC media days. The previous high was 177 voters in 2010.
  • South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter this season with 201 of 222 votes. He is the fourth running back in the past six years to be the highest vote-getter (2007 – Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 2008 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia and Percy Harvin, Florida; 2009 – Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Florida; 2010 – Mark Ingram, Alabama; 2011 – Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina).
  • Lattimore (2012) and Jeffery (2011) have been the leading vote-getters the last two seasons.
  • Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a three-time member of the SEC media days first team
  • South Carolina has had a sophomore make the media days first team for the third straight season – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE (2012); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB (2011); Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, DB (2010).
  • Since 2000, Arkansas’ Darren McFadden is the only unanimous selection to the SEC media days All-SEC team, collecting all 80 votes.
  • LSU had the most first-team selections this season with seven. Since 1992, the most players on a first team were nine by Alabama in 2011 and eight by Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009).
  • LSU leads with the most overall selections this season with 13. The total is the second highest ever, behind Alabama’s 16 last season. Prior to last season, Alabama (2010) and Florida (2009) had the most overall selections with 12.
  • LSU is predicted to win the SEC championship by the media for the first time since 2007. It is the second time since 1992 that LSU has been predicted to win the league title. LSU did win the SEC title in 2007 and went on to win the BCS title.

Here is what the complete first team looks like:

(Read full post)

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