Florida Gators: Florida
On Friday, the first-year Gators coach wasn't shy when asked about some of the depth issues facing his team this spring, especially those on the offensive side of the ball.
“You’ve got to play the hand you’re dealt,” McElwain told reporters. “And right now, quite honestly, the hand we’re dealt is really insufficient at some of the areas.”
The main area of concern is on the offensive line, where Florida has just eight scholarship players and seven healthy enough to practice this spring, but it doesn’t stop there. Running back and linebacker also are dangerously thin heading into McElwain’s first season.
You can read more about McElwain’s comments and his team’s depth issues at GatorBait.net.
Every year we see running backs and wide receivers that can make one move and go the distance. They're explosive in every sense of the word. They're quick, fast and utterly elusive.
In 2013, Henry Josey and Tre Mason were home run hitters at running back. Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans and Jordan Matthews routinely burned defenses deep at receiver. Heck, who can forget Johnny Manziel's big-play antics at quarterback?
But all of those playmakers have moved on. Now it's time for a new group of explosive athletes to emerge on offense in the SEC.
Here's a rundown of each team's most dangerous weapons:
- Alabama: A talented return man, Christion Jones knows how to operate in space and break free from the defense. Amari Cooper, meanwhile, has the feet of a ballerina and can dance away from coverage just as well -- or run right by it. After experiencing a down sophomore year due to injury, he should return to his freshman form where he had 19 receptions for 20 yards or more. And don’t lose sight of Kenyan Drake while you’re at it. Even on limited carries last season he had 29 rushes of 10 or more yards.
- Auburn: Speed is in ample supply at Auburn, from quarterback to receiver to running back. Nick Marshall’s agility and big-play ability under center speaks for itself. Meanwhile, Sammie Coates has some of the best straight-line speed you’ll find in the country. And, finally, running back Corey Grant is one of the league’s all-time burners, having reportedly clocked a sub-4.2 second 40-yard dash. He had 29 rushes of 10 or more yards last season and averaged a whopping 9.8 yards per carry.
- Arkansas: Bret Bielema needs some help at receiver. Sure, Keon Hatcher (12.8 yards per catch) showed some promise late and the return of Demetrius Wilson from injury is reason for hope. But ultimately the real big-play ability on offense comes from the running backs. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams combined for 56 rushes for 10 or more yards last season -- a number that would have tied for third nationally behind Jordan Lynch (64) and Taysom Hill (60).
- Florida: Andre Debose, when healthy, is an athlete with world-class speed. After all, he was a state track champion in high school, running the 100-meter dash in 10.68 seconds. It’s part of why he already holds the school record of four kickoff returns for touchdowns -- a record tied for tops in SEC history with Willie Gault, Felix Jones and Brandon Boykin. How's that for good company? With two major injuries hopefully now in his past, Debose is a threat to score at both receiver and in the return game.
- Georgia: Malcolm Mitchell will be a welcome return at receiver after missing all but one game last season with a torn ACL. When he was healthy, he was able to run in the neighborhood of a 4.4-second 40-yard dash. He and Chris Conley, who led the team in receiving yards last year, can stress any secondary. That’s not to mention Justin Scott-Wesley, who was a state champion in both the 100- and 200-meter dash in high school.
- Kentucky: You should know Javess Blue's name, but chances are that many of you probably don’t. Unfortunately his work at receiver flew mostly under the radar at Kentucky in 2013. His five catches of 20-plus yards may not sound overwhelming, but you have to remember he did that without much help from his quarterbacks. Still, Blue is a burner to the tune of a 4.29 second 40-yard dash.
- LSU: Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. will be missed. But coach Les Miles wasn’t left lacking for playmakers on offense when they went on to the NFL. Terrence Magee was quietly one of the most explosive backs in the league last season with 10 rushes for 20 or more yards. Even so, No. 1 overall recruit Leonard Fournette might overshadow him. Fournette is not just big and strong, he’s also fast. (Think of a young Adrian Peterson). And while we’re talking true freshmen, Malachi Dupre has the chance to make an immediate impact at receiver. The former five-star prospect runs in the 4.5-second 40-yard dash range, and has impressive size and a vertical to match.
- Mississippi State: It’s a make or break year for Mississippi State’s offense. In the past coach Dan Mullen has struggled to find playmakers. Now he has three guys who can really spread out a defense. Jameon Lewis, who has the tools of a poor man’s Percy Harvin, is a great underneath receiver, and Brandon Holloway, who can play either running back or receiver, is lightning quick and deadly in space. With De’Runnya Wilson standing at 6-foot-5 with the leaping ability of a true basketball player (he's a forward for the Bulldogs, in case you didn't know), Mullen’s offense should be able to attack every level of the secondary.
- Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel lost a lot of firepower on both sides of the ball this offseason. But even with Dorial Green-Beckham and LaDamian Washington no longer in Columbia, there are still plenty of dangerous weapons on offense. Russell Hansbrough is a talented back who had 20 rushes for 10 or more yards in 2013. Then factor in Bud Sasser (13.88 yards per play) and Marcus Murphy (17 career touchdowns four different ways: rushing, kickoff return, punt return and receiving), and the Tiger offense should be able to stretch the field just fine.
- Ole Miss: By now you ought to know about Laquon Treadwell, who finished second only to Jordan Matthews in the SEC in total receptions last season (72). He became the first player in school history to be named SEC Freshman of the Year by the league coaches. Though he may lack elite top-end speed, he more than makes up for it with his elusiveness and ability to make yards after the catch. And don’t sleep on running back Jaylen Walton. In addition to being the team's primary kick returner, he also rushed for 523 yards last season. His 29 receptions were fourth on the team and he led all Rebs with eight total touchdowns.
- South Carolina: Dylan Thompson may not have a lot of height at receiver, but he’s got plenty of speed. Shaq Roland is an All-SEC type of talent, if he can play with some consistency. His 18.2 yards per play last year ranked 15th nationally (minimum 25 touches). Opposite him at receiver is Damiere Byrd, who could be the fastest player in the league. His 17.3 yards per play ranked 20th nationally and an impressive 72.7 percent of his receptions went for either a first down or a touchdown.
- Tennessee: Outside of a spectacular one-handed grab against South Carolina, Marquez North and his 13 yards per catch were somewhat lost in the shuffle last season. At 6-foot-4 and in the neighborhood of 220 pounds, he shouldn’t have the speed he does. With his size and athleticism (he won the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics 110-meter hurdles at the age of 12), he’s a threat to burn any defensive back in the SEC.
- Texas A&M: All credit goes to Kevin Sumlin for pulling in some top-tier athletes on the recruiting trail the past two years. Trey Williams, who still has to adjust to the ins and outs of the running back position, has the speed and agility to be a breakout star this season. Meanwhile, there’s Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil to consider. They’ll wow you in different ways -- Noil is all moves and agility and speed, while Seals-Jones is pure height and jumping ability -- but both are threats to score from anywhere on the field.
- Vanderbilt: The first sentence of Brian Kimbrow’s high school scouting report by ESPN says it all: “Kimbrow may be small but he's an electrifying running back prospect with excellent speed and quickness.” When you think of his running style, think of Warrick Dunn. Kimbrow came on strong as a freshman in 2012 with 413 yards on only 66 carries, but he saw his production taper off last year behind Jerron Seymour and Wesley Tate on the depth chart. Now he has a fresh start under new coach Derek Mason, who showed a major commitment to the running game while at Stanford.
In fact, a lot of SEC coaches can sympathize.
Whether it’s the World Cup or the Iron Bowl, last-minute failures happen. It’s part of the beauty of sports. It isn’t over until it’s over. The fat lady sings and suddenly you can’t hear the words. There’s a buzzing in your ears, the earth is spinning, and the scoreboard is playing tricks on your eyes.
But no, it’s true. The second you think you’ve won is the second it’s over.
At least the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team has a chance at redemption. College football usually doesn’t work that way.
With that in mind, here are a few last-second losses that come to mind (or wins, depending how you look at it) in the SEC since 2000:
Prayer at Jordan-Hare: These things just don’t happen. Looking back at Auburn’s two-week stretch against Georgia and Alabama, maybe you have to agree that it was a team of destiny. Because divine intervention would be the only way to describe Nick Marshall’s Hail Mary touchdown pass to Ricardo Louis. The game was over. Louis was triple-covered, and Marshall threw it anyway. Both Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons overplayed the ball, eventually tipping it to Louis for the game-winning score.
Rocky Block: See, it’s not all bad, Tide fans. Nick Saban’s first national championship at Alabama doesn’t happen without a miracle of your own. Remember the feeling when, up 12-10, Daniel Lincoln lined up a potential 44-yard game-winning field goal for Tennessee with 4 seconds left? The dream was almost over. The perfect season was nearly dashed. Terrence Cody couldn’t block two kicks in one game, could he? Well, yes he could. The 365-pound tackle had just enough burst to break through the line, get a hand up and keep the dream alive. The coach on the other sideline that day: Lane Kiffin. How’s that for things coming full circle?
Flynn to Byrd: It can’t all be gravy, Auburn. We had to remind you of the game that almost was. With under a minute remaining, Les Miles looked like he was going to have another Les Miles moment. Down 24-23, with a makable field goal in sight, Miles instead went for the jugular. Matt Flynn took the snap, took five steps back and let it rip to Demetrius Byrd in the end zone. Auburn cornerback Jerraud Powers didn’t turn for the ball in time -- he would have easily knocked it down if he had -- and Byrd was able to snag it for the game-winning score with 1 second remaining. LSU would lose once more that year, but ultimately won the SEC title and the BCS national championship.
Florida-South Carolina, 2006: Jarvis Moss had no finer moment than when he timed his jump perfectly and blocked Ryan Succop’s would be 49-yard game-winning kick in 2006. Florida hung on to win 17-16 and former Gators coach Steve Spurrier was denied yet another win in The Swamp, his first as coach at South Carolina. From then on, Florida would roll all the way to the BCS national championship, beating Arkansas by double-digits in Atlanta before throttling Ohio State in Arizona.
The Catch: The SEC as a whole was let down with this one. LSU had Iowa beat in the Capital One Bowl in 2005 before the Hawkeyes got a play off on their own 44-yard line, down 25-24. Drew Tate hurried the snap, dropped back, bounced around for a few seconds and hurled a pass down the right sideline. LSU’s safeties were caught napping, defending the middle of the field and not the three receivers racing down the right sideline, and Warren Halloway came down with the pass cleanly, sprinting to the end zone for the game-winning score with no time left on the clock. And for an added dash of history, that was Saban’s final game as LSU’s head coach.
The Bluegrass Miracle: How could we forget? Saban wasn’t going to get dumped on twice in this post without reliving one of the craziest (positive) finishes of his career. LSU, ranked in the top 15 at the time, should have gone to unranked Kentucky and rolled. Instead, the Wildcats racked up 30 points on the Tigers and stood 75 yards away from a monumental upset. Players even gave coach Guy Morriss a Gatorade bath sensing the imminent victory. There was no way Marcus Randall, a quarterback with average arm strength, could throw the ball that far. Except he did. He launched it from LSU’s 25-yard line to around Kentucky’s 25, the ball was tipped, and Devery Henderson came down with the pass for the game-winning touchdown. Fireworks shot off from Kentucky’s sideline, but it was LSU’s win for the ages.
- Because the College Football Playoff selection committee won't be under fire enough, Alabama coach Nick Saban wants to use it to decide all the bowl games every year, creating a selection process more similar to NCAA basketball.
- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn wouldn't get into the cultural importance of Michael Sam being drafted by the St. Louis Rams, but he did praise the former Missouri Tiger's ability, noting how Sam and fellow defensive end Kony Ealy gave his coaching staff some headaches heading into the SEC championship game.
- Florida coach Will Muschamp walked away with mixed feelings on the NFL draft. He couldn't contain his frustration even when he spoke of Dominique Easley going in the first round, saying how he earned it on the field and not at a "combine" or from "some street agent" or "some show on where to draft people." Pointing out the high number of underclassmen who went undrafted, Muschamp said he wants a better draft process in which players are better informed about their standing and how to handle the process.
- Georgia's secondary is going to have a very different look next season. Here's a quick primer on what new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt has to work with.
- Building statues has become all the rage in SEC Country. Just look at the bronzed images of Cam Newton and Bo Jackson at Auburn, or the Walk of Champions at Alabama with coaches Paul Bryant and Nick Saban. So why is LSU standing still by comparison?
- Jeremy Chappelle's time at Mississippi State wasn't long. The former transfer burst onto the scene at the Bulldogs spring game in 2013 but never made much of an impact on the field. Now he's headed elsewhere, saying it was his decision not to return for a second season in Starkville.
But as our good buddy at the SEC offices Chuck Dunlap pointed out on Monday: "Eight weeks from today SEC Football Media Days begin." And because Dunlap knows his audience, he followed that tweet with another: "I feel like I just ruined the entire summer of every single person who writes in some capacity about college football." Sort of.
- Johnny Manziel isn't being handed anything with the Browns. There's a joke to be made here about a homeless man running the organization, but we'll stay away from that land mine and simply wish the former Texas A&M star the best in Cleveland.
- In other Aggies news, Texas A&M sophomore receiver Ja'Quay Williams is transferring, according to a report. Williams caught four passes for 77 yards last season.
- He wasn't early enough to participate in spring practice, but 2014 signee Gerald Willis got to Florida's campus for summer semester A this week, a full step ahead of the rest of his fellow summer enrollees. Speaking as someone who has sat down with the brother of Alabama safety Landon Collins, let me just say that I'm intrigued by the big defensive end's possibilities under Will Muschamp. He's everything you want: big, strong, quick. There's a reason Texas A&M, LSU and Alabama all wanted him.
- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made another stop on his Tiger Trek tour this week, telling reporters how important the offseason will be for players to get "stronger" and "faster," while at the same time better understand the systems on offense and defense. As far as what to watch for come fall camp, Malzahn said the freshmen will have a chance to prove themselves then.
- The 2012 BCS National Championship Game between Alabama and LSU was a snoozefest as the Tide jumped out on top and never looked back. But that game has lived on through the NFL draft as both programs have produced a number of pro talents.
- Don't worry Georgia fans, this defensive back is only leaving his position, not the program. Brendan Langley, who started four games at cornerback last year, is moving to receiver. Given the departure of Shaq Wiggins and Josh Harvey-Clemons, this leaves Damian Swann as the lone DB returning with more than one start in his career.
- Missouri has a good recruiting tool, if it wants to use it. Coach Gary Pinkel and Co. would be fools not to point out to prospects that, if all goes well for its players in the 2014 NFL draft, the Tigers will have as many as 32 players on NFL rosters.
- Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron responded to the scouts who questioned his leadership and those who still doubt him.
- Got a second? Auburn Iron Bowl hero Chris Davis didn't need much time to sign a free-agency deal after the NFL draft came and went without his name being called.
- Razorback players like tight end Hunter Henry had seen clips of the tornadoes that ravaged Central Arkansas, but nothing prepared them for witnessing the damage firsthand. On Friday, Henry and six teammates took time to help participate in the clean up and recovery efforts.
- Even after a down season Florida puts players in the NFL. Five former Gators have agreed to free-agent deals, including the multi-dimensional Trey Burton.
- After watching Shaq Wiggings leave Athens, Ga., it's fair to examine whether Georgia's trend of transfers is worrisome.
- If for nothing other than the clever bit of headline writing, read this story: "LSU's Zach Mettenberger glad the Titans remembered him in the NFL draft."
- President Barack Obama called the Rams drafting former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam "an important step forward."
- Is Jadeveon Clowney the last in a run of top in-state talent in South Carolina?
- Spring break is over at Alabama. The Crimson Tide get back to work today on rebuilding a team with its fair share of question marks.
- Arkansas was spoiled to have someone like Kiero Small at fullback last season. Now Bret Bielema and his staff are turning toward Kody Walker to see if he can handle the position.
- Angelo Blackson had the look of a difference maker heading into last season, but his play dwindled as the year went along. Now facing his final year of eligibility, he's looking to work his way back into the rotation on the defensive line for Auburn.
- Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is more than pleased to have Jeff Driskel at quarterback. In fact, the coach said it was the "luck of the draw" to get him under center.
- Reggie Davis is all in on football, not track this spring. The speedy Georgia wideout could make a difference in more areas than one.
- A "hard-hitting" scrimmage has LSU ready for next week's spring game. Les Miles didn't release the quarterbacks' stats, but there were four touchdown passes thrown.
- Find out what Dan Mullen and quarterback Dak Prescott had to say about Mississippi State's first scrimmage of the spring. Check out some stats while you're there.
- Besides the turnovers, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace says the offense took advantage of the defense and "kicked their butt all day" during the scrimmage.
- Monte Kiffin says his son, Lane, is "pretty fired up" about coaching at Alabama.
- Auburn's offense is in a good spot with center Reese Dismukes returning for his senior season. But the Tigers did lose a top reserve.
- We couldn't have said it any better. In a Q&A, South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw had this to say: "At the end of the day, I'm a winner."
- Johnny Manziel said what I'm sure a lot of Texas A&M fans were thinking as they watched the Seattle Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and listened to the announcers go on and on and on about the crowd noise. Manziel pointed out who the real 12th man is.
- As those who watched Florida suffer through last season know, the offense wasn't the only problem. For the Gators to rebound in 2014, special teams must improve as well. And new coach Coleman Hutzler is eager for the challenge.
- James Franklin's raid on Vanderbilt coaches and commitments continues. We might have to start calling his new program the Penn State Commodores the way this is going.
- Geoff Collins made the most of his first full season as defensive coordinator at Mississippi State. So much so that the administration awarded him an extension that will pay him $1.2 million over the next two years.
- Jesse Williams, Terrence Cody, Quinton Dial. Alabama has had some good luck signing junior college defensive linemen.
- Auburn center Reese Dismukes hasn't made any choices about his future yet, but he has submitted paperwork to the NFL Draft Advisory Board to better make a decision.
- LSU's Jalen Mills, who was a standout freshman at cornerback last season, is seeing some time at safety. And while Zach Mettenberger might not throw another pass for the Tigers, he is sticking around to help tutor the other quarterbacks.
- "It honestly doesn't matter what star you're ranked," says Missouri defensive end Michael Sam, a consensus All-American.
- Ole Miss is doing everything it can to prepare for Georgia Tech and its vaunted triple option offense, even if that means running drills coach Hugh Freeze isn't comfortable with.
- Mississippi State is getting back into the mode of game-planning with a short holiday break coming.
- Former New Mexico assistant Coleman Hutzler is rejoining Will Muschamp in Gainesville where he will coach outside linebackers and special teams.
- Well he grew up tall and he grew up fast. Jadeveon Clowney, reflecting on his time at South Carolina, says his first three years flew by.
- Georgia redshirt freshman Faton Bauta isn't satisfied. "You always want to shoot higher," he said of being the Bulldogs' No. 2 quarterback.
- Alabama starting right guard Anthony Steen is likely to miss the Sugar Bowl after having surgery on his shoulder. On Tuesday, Nick Saban gave an idea who might fill in for the veteran against Oklahoma.
- Auburn's a one-dimensional offense? Perish the thought, says Nick Marshall. The Tigers' quarterback is motivated by those who claim all Auburn can do is run. But, to be fair, even if it is one-dimensional, it's been better than a lot of 2-D or 3-D offenses this year.
- Without assistant coach Charlie Partridge, Alex Collins may have never left South Florida for Arkansas where he became a breakout hit as a freshman running back. Patridge has flown the coop to become the next head coach at FAU, but Arkansas coach Bret Bielema remains optimistic, saying it's, "an opportunity to get better."
- In one of the strangest stories you'll read this year, Georgia receiver Chris Conley is planning a "Star Wars" lightsaber duel film, with Todd Gurley set to star in a supporting role. It's incredibly nerdy and incredibly awesome.
- Florida will have some more competition at kicker next season as former Virginia Tech Hokie and Army All-American Brooks Abbott is transferring to Gainesville in June.
- The mass exodus of juniors leaving early for the NFL draft after last season killed LSU. But this year Les Miles says he doesn't expect the same fleeing of Baton Rouge.
- Josh Henson thinks Missouri's offense needs to get better. Yes, you read that right. The Tigers' offensive coordinator saw how good James Franklin and Co. were against Auburn and throughout the regular season, but still he sees room for improvement. In fact, he said, "If we would have converted half those third downs, heck, we might have scored 50 points and won the game."
Hugh Freeze's Rebels are only a win away from getting back into the top 25, I think. Right now they're the top team receiving votes in the AP poll, and it's likely that someone will get knocked out of the rankings with a loss this weekend. But as to why Ole Miss isn't ranked today, I'm not sure. You raise a good point about its wins over LSU and Texas, though you could argue that neither is an elite team this season. That streak of three straight losses to Alabama, Auburn and Texas A&M killed the Rebels in the polls. Had Ole Miss found a way to hang on against the Aggies late, we could be having a much different conversation. But it's all about momentum. A victory Saturday over Troy would give Ole Miss three consecutive wins and set it up for a nice close with Missouri and Mississippi State to end the regular season. Win both of those games and the bowl-game scenarios start looking very good for the Rebels.
Chris Flynn (@Chris_Flynn1): Do you think Auburn's ineffective passing game will finally catch up to them against Georgia and Alabama's defense?
Against Georgia? No, I think the Gus Bus will continue to roll this weekend. Mark Richt's defense has gotten better since the beginning of the season, but there are still a bunch of holes on that side of the ball. I can't get out of my head what Vanderbilt and Florida's offenses were able to do against them the last few weeks. As far as Alabama's chances of stopping Auburn's running game, I think there's a possibility of that happening. Nick Saban's chief goal is to make an offense one-dimensional and Auburn's offense is already just that. While I think calling Nick Marshall an ineffective passer is a tad unfair because he simply hasn't had to throw the ball much lately, I think it is reasonable to question his ability to drive the ball downfield through the air consistently. I know Auburn fans will point to the Texas A&M game, but let's face facts and recognize just how bad a defense the Aggies have. When you look at Marshall's Pass EPA -- his clutch-weighted expected points added on plays with pass attempts -- he ranks an uninspiring 84th nationally at 15.6.
Billy (@CuzzinBailey): 'Obligatory Gators offense 2014 question'
That's a nice way of putting it, though I'd argue you didn't really ask a question there. I could go on and on about Florida's offense but I'll try to keep this short and sweet: The Gators have zero identity on offense and that's only their second-biggest problem. Watching Florida try to move the ball on offense is painful. I don't know if they're a control-the-clock power running team or if they want to spread you out and throw the football around. It changes by possession sometimes. I understand Will Muschamp wants to run a pro style, but he doesn't have the tools to do that. He doesn't have a quarterback who can execute throws down the field and he certainly doesn't have the receivers to create separation. He had some good running backs and a decent offensive line, but we saw what injuries did there. And that, to me, is the biggest concern. Florida needs to pick an identity, stick with it and find the right guys for the system. That's a lot to ask in one offseason, even with UF's impressive recruiting class. It's really a two-year project, and nobody in Gainesville seems willing to allow that much time.
Just Me (@JustMe227): When are you hacks going to go a full year without writing about your hope that Auburn loses the Iron Bowl?
Oh, please. I wrote a few weeks ago about how Auburn's rise has reinvigorated the Iron Bowl. No one here hopes either team loses. The only thing I look for is that it's a good game because the last few haven't been. And the way things are shaping up, I think it will be a fair contest. Gus Malzahn is quickly becoming my favorite play-caller in the country. He has a feel for it and he doesn't worry about the run-pass ratio, which I like. The game being at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, it could go either way. But, hey, why don't we let a few weeks pass before we start getting too far into the matchup? I'm sure by the time Nov. 30 rolls around, both sides of the rivalry will be asking the same question you just did. If you don't think so, check out this editorial from The Wall Street Journal.
- Believe it or not, not everything has been up to speed for Alabama of late. The special teams has been "lackadaisical" according to one specialist.
- Take a walk down memory lane with the top 10 games between Auburn and Georgia -- also known as the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.
- The season hasn't gone as many hoped at Vanderbilt, but there's reason for some optimism heading into next year as many of the team's sophomores are hitting their strides.
- Their future is in the NFL, but as the season winds down there's work to do now for many of Tennessee's offensive linemen.
- It wasn't only football Nick Marshall left behind when he left Georgia. Hoops coach Mark Fox wanted him to play basketball as well.
- Expect Ole Miss running back Jeff Scott to play this weekend, but coaches say he won't have to shoulder the entire load.
- The Florida game is personal for South Carolina tailback Mike Davis. He has a new tattoo to prove it.
- Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's appearance at a Drake concert turned heads, but it shows just how crazy he is about recruiting.
- In yet another sign of how far the Florida program has fallen lately, Will Muschamp says to expect redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg to start against South Carolina.
- For veteran Alabama linebacker Tana Patrick, his forced fumble in the first half against LSU was a long time coming.
- Not many people know his name nationally because of the position he plays, but Auburn fullback Jay Prosch makes Gus Malzahn's offense hum.
- Arkansas won't reach a bowl game and players are disappointed. So what are the Razorbacks playing for? Pride, of course.
- With the way Saturday ended with Alabama's defense beating him up, LSU's Zach Mettenberger should be thankful for the opening week.
- Steve Spurrier doesn't know how the bowl projections look for South Carolina. His focus is solely on getting to the SEC Championship Game.
- Man, has it been a tough month for the Tennessee defense. The Vols have given up 987 yards on the ground the last three games.
- Things in Gainesville, Fla., aren't getting any easier. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy may miss Saturday's game against South Carolina.
- Rodney Garner left Georgia for Auburn and Chris Wilson replaced him. The move has worked out well for everyone involved.
- You've probably already seen the video piece where AJ McCarron provides dinner to his offensive linemen. Well, even after being sacked once by LSU, the meal's still on Alabama's veteran quarterback.
- Auburn's defense has seen enough of Aaron Murray to respect what he can do come Saturday when the Tigers take on Georgia in the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry.
- With Missouri's James Franklin expected back next weekend, Maty Mauk aced his final exam against Kentucky.
- Florida's Will Muschamp has been around the game long enough to know that pressure is a part of the job.
- Mississippi State, still switching gears after facing Johnny Manziel, will face a very different challenge in the top-ranked Crimson Tide.
- Even through some pretty lopsided defeats, Kentucky's Mark Stoops says there's hope. Turnarounds similar to the one he wants to make in Lexington, he says, have happened before.
- Imagine the amount of time Mark Richt has spent talking injuries with his medical staff this season. This week Georgia hopes to trade one injured tight end for another, while adding a receiver in the process.
- Florida is trying to regroup after a "emotional letdown" and turn the page to South Carolina.
- Kevin Sumlin could come out with a strong statement and put to rest the speculation that he'll go to Southern Cal, but that's not how the game is played anymore.
But were you aware that Saturday might be the last time Johnny Manziel plays in front of the home crowd in College Station, Texas? If you didn't, don't worry. That's what we're here for.
Here's a look at some notes from ESPN Stats & Info to get you ready for Week 11:
- Since allowing 42 points and 628 yards to Texas A&M on Sept. 14, Alabama has allowed just 4.3 points per game and two offensive touchdowns in its last six games.
- The SEC West race could become a lot more clear depending upon the winner of LSU-Alabama. The Tide has a one-game lead on Auburn in the standings and a win Saturday could set up a monumental Iron Bowl on November 30.
- Don’t read too much into both teams having a bye entering this game. Alabama has lost three games under Saban when coming off regular season bye week -- all vs. LSU, though LSU also had bye weeks in those matchups.
- Zach Mettenberger has gone one direction of late and AJ McCarron has gone another. Mettenberger has seen his completion percentage and QBR drop noticeably in his last two games. He threw for 15 touchdowns and two interceptions in his first two games, but four touchdowns and five interceptions in his last two contests. McCarron, meanwhile, has improved his completion percentage and QBR in his last four games. He threw six touchdowns and three interceptions in his first four games, but 10 touchdowns and no picks in his last four contests.
- Something's got to give. Missouri leads the SEC in turnovers forced (24) and turnover margin plus-15. Missouri also has a streak of 39 straight games with a takeaway, the longest active streak in FBS. Kentucky, however, has turned the ball over just six times all season, fewest among AQ teams.
- Missouri also leads the SEC in sacks with 27. Defensive end Michael Sam is tied for the FBS lead with 10 sacks and is second in tackles for loss (16).
- Kentucky has lost 14 straight games against AP-ranked opponents, including all four matchups this season. Its last victory over an AP-ranked team came over No. 10 South Carolina in 2010.
- Auburn hasn’t been good at avoiding turnovers, but they have been excellent at preventing opponents from scoring points off turnovers. Auburn has committed 13 turnovers this season and is plus-2 in turnover margin, both middle of the pack in the SEC. But Auburn has only allowed just 10 points off turnover all season, tied with Washington for fewest in the FBS.
- Auburn leads the SEC in rushing yards per game and yards per rush. They are tied for first in rushing touchdowns and, through nine games, they already have 20 more runs of 10 yards or more and 12 more rushing touchdowns than they had all of last season.
- This is the fourth ranked opponent in four weeks for Tennessee and the seventh ranked opponent in an eight-game stretch. Tennessee snapped its 19-game losing streak against AP-ranked teams three weeks ago by beating then-No. 11 South Carolina. But the Vols are now 1-21 in their last 22 games against AP-ranked opponents.
- Hard to believe, but this could be Johnny Manziel’s last home game. After this week, Texas A&M has an idle week before finishing with LSU and at Missouri. Manziel is only a sophomore but since he redshirted, he will be three years removed from high school and eligible for the NFL.
- Texas A&M has reeled off eight straight games with 500 yards of total offense. It would be nine straight, but the Aggies finished with just 486 yards in a season-opening win against Rice. Among all FBS teams in the last 10 seasons, Texas A&M’s streak is tied for the fourth-longest and is the longest by an SEC team.
- Dan Mullen is in his fifth season with Mississippi State and has a winning record overall (33-26) but has struggled in games against ranked opponents. Mississippi State is 2-19 vs. AP-ranked opponents under Mullen. The last ranked win came in 2010 against Florida and Mississippi State is 0-13 vs. ranked opponent since.
- Florida has won the last 22 meetings against Vanderbilt. The Commodore's last win came in 1988.
- With a loss Florida would be below .500 for the first time since it started 1-2 in 1992. Florida has not been below .500 this late in the season (as of Nov. 9) since 1979, when the Gators finished winless. A loss would also give Florida its first four-game losing streak since 2011.
- Florida’s offense is last in the SEC in both yards per game (334.6) and yards per play (4.9). During Florida’s three-game losing streak, it has averaged just 236.7 yards per game and managed just three offensive touchdowns.
- Vanderbilt is one of the slowest starting teams in FBS, being outscored 85-24 in the first quarter. That’s the second-worst point differential among BCS-AQ teams. Of the eight worst teams in first-quarter point differential, Vanderbilt is the only school with more than one win. In SEC games, Vanderbilt has been outscored 82-7 in the first quarter.
McElwain discusses new Florida football
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