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Alabama, FSU, UF, Maryland and Oregon fans are going to have to wait on five-star DE Byron Cowart. Plus, Oregon State has made recruiting in LA a priority, so that’s why a good showing against the Trojans on Saturday is important.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp had a rather blunt assessment after reviewing the Gators' 42-21 loss to No. 3 Alabama last week.

"We stunk on defense," he said in Wednesday's SEC coaches teleconference.

A few days of perspective did nothing to brighten the defensive-minded coach's feelings about the school-record 645 yards his Gators allowed. His frustration has been building since UF gave up 369 yards passing to Kentucky in the season's second game.

"I'm extremely disappointed two games in a row of giving up the big plays we've given up defensively," he said. "We've got to get some things tied together better on the back end. That's the bottom line. ...

"The mistakes we’ve made in some situations back there are inexcusable."

Other than All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, no one's job is safe in the secondary.

"That’s what I told them," said Muschamp, who seems particularly fed up with his more experienced players.

Normally the biggest factor in determining starters and playing time is consistency in practice. The coaches assume that a player making critical mistakes in practice is more likely to make them when the lights are on and the crowd is roaring.

But the mistakes just kept coming from players Muschamp thought he could count on, like senior safety Jabari Gorman, junior cornerback Brian Poole and third-year sophomore safety Marcus Maye.

"What you’re doing’s not working so you might as well try somebody else," Muschamp said. "That’s where I am right now."

Perhaps Florida will take some lumps with true freshman DBs like Jalen Tabor, Duke Dawson and Quincy Wilson. But it might pay off in the long run.

Sophomore linebacker Jarrad Davis hopes the mistakes will be corrected in practice, even though he said that was where the problems originated. The Gators weren't technically sound, Davis said, and therefore got exploited by Alabama.

"You just have to work on your technique every time you touch that field," he said. "If you don’t do that every time you touch the field, on game day things are going to show up. It’s going to be exploited and you’re going to get hurt that way."

In the last two games the issues in the secondary have been further exposed because of a lack of pressure up front.

Pass rush continues to haunt the Gators. Muschamp's stance is that he'd like to have one.

He cited Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard as his only consistent rushers and said he wanted to find more playing time for defensive end Alex McCalister, who had a sack against Alabama.

"Past [them], we have not been very effective," Muschamp said.

The road doesn't get easier for a front seven that lost two senior starters to injury.

Muschamp said defensive tackle Leon Orr has a minor cartilage tear in his knee, and linebacker Michael Taylor has a bone bruise on his knee. Both are questionable for Florida's next game at Tennessee on Oct. 4.

Until then, it's back to the drawing board.

"We worked a lot on technique and fundamentals [in Tuesday's practice]," Muschamp said. "We've got a lot of things to work on."
There are plenty of stars in the SEC. Whether you're looking at Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board of NFL draft picks or the national rankings for receptions, passing yards or tackles, you're likely to find plenty of players from the Southeast. But through a quarter of the regular season, who in the SEC has separated themselves as the elite talent in the league? It's early, but let's take a look at three tiers.

[+] EnlargeLandon Collins
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesAlabama safety Landon Collins has firmly established himself in the elite category.
THE ELITE

  • Landon Collins, S, Alabama: The junior leads the Crimson Tide in tackles (32) and passes defended (2), and he's done all that in a secondary that hasn't had much stability. Collins' talent is unquestionable. He showed against Florida how disruptive a force he can be, whether that's in the passing game or playing near the line of scrimmage.
  • Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: We all knew how good the junior wideout could be. Heck, he broke Julio Jones' freshman records at Alabama two years ago. Now that he's fully healthy again, Cooper is defying all expectations, leading the country in receptions and receiving yards. His ability to pick up large chunks of yards after the catch is uncanny.
  • Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia: He's a beast. There's no two ways about it. The junior has settled any debate heading into the season: He's the best running back in the country. In a one-dimensional offense, he shoulders the load. He averages 134 rushing yards per game. And he's explosive, with 13 runs of 10 or more yards through three games.
  • Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M: Johnny who? The redshirt sophomore has made Aggies fans forget the mercurial Johnny Manziel. Hill's raw QBR (94.0) is the best of any quarterback in the country with at least three starts -- ahead of Oregon Heisman Trophy hopeful Marcus Mariota. Hill's 13 passing TDs to one interception is ridiculous.
  • Shane Ray, DE, Missouri: The Tigers' defense hasn't been the best this season, but it has nothing to do with the pass rush. Ray, a junior from Missouri, has played lights out. He leads the league in sacks with six and is tied for ninth in total tackles with 22.
STUCK ON THE FENCE

  • Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina: He was being billed as a possible contender for the Heisman Trophy, but Davis hasn't played up to those expectations yet. Nagging injuries have kept the junior tailback from reaching his potential once again. His 264 yards rushing ranks 10th in the SEC.
  • Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida: Don't put all of Cooper's 201 yards and three touchdowns on Hargreaves. The sophomore cornerback wasn't covering him the whole time, and when he did give up a TD in the second half, he was worn out from his offense's inability to stay on the field. Nonetheless, Hargreaves should be considered one of the best corners in the SEC.
  • O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: There had to be an A.P.B. put out on Howard earlier in the season. The dynamic sophomore wasn't getting the football. He had no catches in the first three games. The only time he'd been targeted, it resulted in an interception. Last Saturday was a move in the right direction -- two receptions for 22 yards -- but Howard has to find a way to become a bigger part of Alabama's offense.
  • Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: So much for a true freshman contending for the Heisman. But who really expected that would happen? Fournette has played well but not great. His 200 yards on 38 carries (5.3 average) is respectable but not noteworthy. Let's give the kid some time, why don't we?
  • Nick Marshall, QB, Auburn: What was all that talk we heard this offseason about Marshall developing into a better passer? It hasn't happened yet. The senior's completion percentage is still stuck well below the 60 percent benchmark. His QB rating (126.8) is worse than it was last season (143.2).
RISING UP THE RANKS

  • Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, RB, Arkansas: For all the talk about Georgia and Alabama's running backs, it's been Arkansas with the most productive duo in the SEC. Collins leads the league in rushing yards (490) and Williams leads the league in rushing touchdowns (7).
  • Travin Dural, WR, LSU: If it weren't for Cooper, we'd be drooling over LSU's explosive sophomore. He was overshadowed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry last season, but not anymore. Dural is second in the league in receiving yards (494) and tied for second in touchdown receptions (4) despite getting the ball just 18 times, compared to Cooper's 43 or Malcome Kennedy's 30 receptions.
  • Myles Garrett, DL, Texas A&M: The true freshman defensive end was brought to Aggieland to rush the passer, and he's done just that. The former five-star prospect has lived up to his talent, ranking second in the SEC with 5.5 sacks.
  • Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State: Whether it's with his arm, his feet or even his hands, Mississippi State's junior quarterback is getting the job done. In addition to having the fourth-highest QB rating in the SEC (178.4), Prescott is tied for the league lead in scoring with 90 total points.
  • Duke Williams, WR, Auburn: The former junior college transfer arrived at Auburn to much fanfare, and he quickly lived up to the hype. A physical 6-foot-2 and 216 pounds, he's become Marshall's favorite target. The Louisiana native is fifth in the SEC in receptions (21), sixth in receiving yards (324) and ninth in yards per catch (15.4).

SEC Week 5 predictions

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
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This week's marquee game, Missouri at South Carolina, lost a little luster after the Tigers' inexplicable loss at home to Indiana. Not surprisingly, all of our reporters got that one wrong, while a correct Mississippi State pick helped move Jeff Barlis into a first-place tie with Chris Low. There's not too much disagreement this time around, although that should change next week with three Top 25 games on tap.


Why South Carolina wins: Neither team has looked too impressive so far, but the Gamecocks are a quality team at home, the season-opening loss to Texas A&M notwithstanding. (They’ve won 20 of their last 21 at Williams-Brice Stadium.) The Gamecocks have been tested by three top-25 teams (Texas A&M, Georgia, East Carolina) while Missouri has not (and lost at home to Indiana). The Tigers are also shuffling their offensive line after losing a starter to injury. South Carolina 30, Missouri 20 -- Sam Khan Jr.

Why Missouri wins: Before you say anything, I know. How can you lose to Indiana? Well, the Hoosiers would probably put up 30-plus points on this South Carolina defense. I can only imagine the kind of game Maty Mauk is going to have. Also, expect the Missouri defense to play better with star DE Markus Golden back in the lineup. How about this for redemption? Andrew Baggett kicks the game-winning field goal. Missouri 34, South Carolina 31 -- Greg Ostendorf


Why Georgia wins big: Tennessee is coming off a bye, and there's no doubt the Vols are improved, but their defense is not ready to stop Georgia. Against Oklahoma, Tennessee gave up an average of 7.4 yards per carry to freshman running back Samaje Perine. Georgia's Heisman Trophy candidate, Todd Gurley, is averaging 9.8 yards per carry, and backup Sony Michel averages 10.3 yards per carry. More gloom and doom for the Vols: Once the ground game gets going, Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason will hurt you with the play-action game. He's completing 71.2 percent of his passes this season. Georgia 42, Tennessee 20 -- Jeff Barlis

Why Tennessee keeps it close: This might be a bit of an overreaction to Georgia's loss to South Carolina. It was on the road. And it was decided by less than an inch. But Hutson Mason hasn't showed me he can complement Todd Gurley enough. And the Bulldogs' secondary isn't especially inspiring. Tennessee finds a way to make a few explosive plays though the air (Justin Worley is spoiled at receiver), and the Vols keep it tight well into the fourth quarter. Georgia 23, Tennessee 20 -- Alex Scarborough


Why Texas A&M wins big: I like what Bret Bielema is building at Arkansas. His brand of offense -- big, physical, nasty -- is refreshing and increasingly unique. But while I don't expect Texas A&M's defense to be especially stout against the run, I think DC Mark Snyder will find a way to force Brandon Allen to throw. If that's the case and Kenny Hill continues his trill ways, this one goes the Aggies' way in a hurry. Texas A&M 42, Arkansas 20 -- Alex Scarborough

Why Arkansas keeps it close: It's clear the Hogs are better than they were, with the 324.5 rushing yards per game and 17 total rushing touchdowns as proof. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams have been fantastic, and the Aggies haven't faced an opponent remotely close to this one when it comes to the running game. I'm just not sure that the A&M line can hold up against it. But Kenny "Trill" Hill will find a way to zip throws through that shaky Arkansas secondary, and I'm just not ready to put a game on Brandon Allen's shoulders. It's just not enough in Jerry's World. Texas A&M 38, Arkansas 31 -- Edward Aschoff

More unanimous picks
Auburn over Louisiana Tech: This is Auburn’s only gimme for the next two months, so count on Gus Malzahn to get his starters out early with games against LSU and Mississippi State up next. Auburn 48, Louisiana Tech 14

LSU over New Mexico State: Because last week was a total embarrassment for LSU, New Mexico State probably won’t enjoy this visit to Tiger Stadium as Les Miles’ club tries to rebuild its confidence before returning to SEC play. LSU 40, New Mexico State 17

Kentucky over Vanderbilt: Maybe Florida’s blowout loss to Alabama made Kentucky’s overtime defeat in The Swamp look a bit less impressive, but it's still enough to expect Mark Stoops’ team to beat rebuilding Vandy. Kentucky 24, Vanderbilt 21

Ole Miss over Memphis: Like most of the other games in this renewed border rivalry -- Ole Miss holds a 47-10-2 advantage -- this one will end with the Rebels winning comfortably. Ole Miss 42, Memphis 20

Unanimous summaries and scores by David Ching

Standings
Jeff Barlis 38-4
Chris Low 38-4
Edward Aschoff 37-5
David Ching 37-5
Sam Khan Jr. 36-6
Greg Ostendorf 36-6
Alex Scarborough 34-8

SEC morning links

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
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Quarterbacks under fire: They might be on shorter leashes after last Saturday's implosions, but it looks like Anthony Jennings' and Jeff Driskel's starting jobs are safe – for now. LSU coach Les Miles and Florida coach Will Muschamp both said on Wednesday that they intend to stick with their embattled quarterbacks. But that doesn't feel like a permanent decision in either case, as freshman quarterbacks seem to be bearing down on the two starters. Florida fans are already clamoring forTreon Harris to get more action, and Muschamp said that's a possibility. Likewise, LSU freshman Brandon Harris outperformed Jennings last week against Mississippi State and Miles said he has earned more playing time, even if he hasn't overtaken Jennings as the starter. Both starters simply have to perform better if they expect to hold onto their jobs, though. The freshmen are still learning, but their teams' offenses both played horribly with the veterans under center in last week's losses. At some point, their coaches could decide it simply makes better sense to let the rookies get their shots.

Dillon Day fallout: It will be interesting to see how center Dillon Day's one-game suspension will affect Mississippi State's offense in the Bulldogs' outing against Texas A&M. Quarterback Dak Prescott said he doesn't think it will hurt his play. Archie Muniz is next on the depth chart, but he was responsible for a high snap -- a problem he experienced during spring practice, as well -- that expedited LSU's comeback last Saturday. It's entirely possible that guardBen Beckwith might take over for a game, although he hasn't played center in an actual game since high school in 2008. Regardless of who starts, it will be a position worth watching for the Day-less Bulldogs. Texas A&M's 16 sacks rank fourth in the FBS.

Bulldog nuggets: It was a newsy day at Georgia, particularly on the injury front. Bulldogs coach Mark Richt said cornerback Shattle Fenteng probably won't play again this season and might need shoulder surgery, but Richt believes receiver Malcolm Mitchell -- who hasn't played since the first quarter of the 2013 opener against Clemson -- might be back for Georgia's Oct. 4 game against Vanderbilt. Among other Georgia notes, defensive back J.J. Green said he disagreed with the referees' targeting call against him in last week's game against Troy, saying the rule is “taking all the fun out of football.” Green was ejected on the third play of the game and watched the rest of the game from the coaches' locker room at Sanford Stadium. Finally, Mike Lutzenkirchen -- the father of former Auburn tight end Philip, who died in a June alcohol-related auto accident -- spoke to the Bulldogs before Wednesday's practice about making good decisions.

Around the SEC
Tweet of the Day (and why Auburn probably won't win the SEC West)

 
A rival recruiter believes Kevin Sumlin’s not-so-subtle message to former Texas A&M pledge DaMarkus Lodge could come back to haunt the Aggies. Plus, one of Florida’s top defensive commitments appears to be looking around.


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Florida to stick with QB Jeff Driskel

September, 24, 2014
Sep 24
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[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
AP Photo/John RaouxFlorida will stick with Jeff Driskel as its starting quarterback despite his rough game last weekend against Alabama.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There's no change at quarterback for Florida, but there was an apology.

Struggling junior Jeff Driskel is still the starter after Florida coach Will Muschamp reiterated Wednesday that the fourth-year quarterback "gives us the best opportunity to win right now."

Muschamp also said he got a call from Gator great Emmitt Smith, the NFL Hall of Famer, who called for Driskel to be benched during Florida's 42-21 loss to Alabama last Saturday.

"Emmitt called to apologize, to me, to Jeff Driskel and our football team," Muschamp said. "He was frustrated. He wants us to win. He wants us to be successful."

Driskel's mistakes were obvious and costly in the Gators' blowout loss. He completed just 32 percent of his passes (9 of 28) with two interceptions.

"Jeff needs to play better and I think he'd be the first person to tell you that," Muschamp said. "... He certainly forced some things that we can't afford to do, especially on two of the interceptions."


(Read full post)


GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It's not an easy time to be Jeff Driskel.

The noise in the system is reaching a crescendo after another dismal performance in a big game. The latest misstep was Saturday's 42-21 loss to No. 3 Alabama in which Driskel completed 32 percent of his passes (9 of 28) for 93 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.

By now Driskel has seen or at least heard about Emmitt Smith's tweet calling for the junior QB to be benched.

Smith was just one voice in a chorus of former Gator players ready for a change at QB.

Heck, even Driskel's favorite target, sophomore wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, was caught expressing his displeasure in the form of a damning retweet:



Everyone it seems is ready for a new face at quarterback after three-plus seasons of Driskel at the controls. Even Driskel's most important supporter, coach Will Muschamp, admitted he thought about turning to true freshman backup Treon Harris during Saturday's rout.

"I did [consider a change], but Jeff gives us the best opportunity right now," Muschamp said after the game. "For us to win a football game like that, Jeff Driskel needs to play.

"As we move forward we need to play better at that position and a bunch of other positions, so we will evaluate that."

The Gators (2-1, 1-1 in the SEC) have nearly two weeks to evaluate before a critical game at Tennessee that could have a big impact on Muschamp's future as coach.

Before the season started, Muschamp said it was important to develop backups at the quarterback position. He was mostly referring to UF's two true freshmen recruits who were both among the top-10 prospects in the country last year.

Despite arriving on campus months after Will Grier, Harris won the No. 2 job in preseason camp and had a spectacular debut in Florida's season opener.

Still, this is a teenager who has thrown just two passes at the collegiate level.

After Florida's shaky triple-overtime win against Kentucky during which Driskel struggled mightily in leading the Gators to just three first-half points, Muschamp said he didn't think about putting in Harris.

He does, however, believe Harris has the ability to play this season.

"Absolutely," Muschamp said two days after the UK game. "And we have a plan every week for him in some situations to come in and play. Absolutely.”

It didn't happen against Alabama despite Driskel's ineffectiveness, and now the same noise on Twitter that has called for the starter to sit has led to a #FreeTreon hashtag.

One thing is certain -- it's gotten very difficult to defend Driskel, internally that is.

He's last among SEC starters in QB rating (111.1) as well as yards per attempt (5.5). His work on third downs this season is particularly telling. He's completing 42 percent of his passes (13 of 31). On eight third-down passes in Saturday's loss, he completed more passes to Alabama (two interceptions) than Florida (one).

"I didn't get it done," he said afterward.

He's as frustrated as any of his teammates, but Driskel is in a leadership position. All eyes are on him and he knows there's still a long season ahead.

"We're not going to hang our heads and we're going to continue to work to improve," he said "...Going into the bye week, we're going to have to shore some things up."

It starts at quarterback.

SEC Weekend Wrap: Sept. 23

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
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Recruiting reporter Derek Tyson breaks down the top weekend storylines from the SEC.

#SceneAndHeard Lunch Break: Sept. 23 

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
12:00
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For today’s lunch break, the continued impressive recruiting mind of the Tennessee Volunteers coaching staff takes center stage, plus the latest on Under Armour All-America Game defensive back Micah Abernathy.


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SEC morning links

September, 23, 2014
Sep 23
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1. The SEC is all over the Top 25 this week, but let's just come right out and say it -- there's no dominant team. Oh, a few of the West's best will have their chances to make a case, but right now there isn't a team without some warts. Take Texas A&M for instance. The Aggie offense with Kenny Trill pulling the trigger is a nightmare to game plan against. But A&M's defense is scary, too, and not in a good way. This unit was the worst in the SEC last season in total defense and run defense. Sure, the Aggies have improved since then. Maybe a lot. But who have they played for us to be sure? Aside from the season-opening ambush of South Carolina (a game in which the Gamecocks piled up 433 yards), A&M has played Lamar, Rice and SMU. Kevin Sumlin and Co. would be wise to not overlook the Razorbacks. Since their loss to Auburn in Week 1, the Hogs have averaged 58 points of offense in winning their last three. Their SEC-best rushing attack has the potential to give Texas A&M some nightmares as well.

2. Despite the roller coaster the Gamecocks have already been on in the season's first month of games (you can just see it on Steve Spurrier's face), it should be noted that South Carolina leads the SEC East. Does anybody want to win this division? Maybe we'll get an answer on Saturday when Missouri visits USC. Spurrier isn't sounding too confident after the way his team looked against what had been a dreadful Vanderbilt team. On the other hand, Mizzou is banged up. Starting left guard and fifth-year senior Anthony Gatti tore his ACL and MCL in the Tigers' loss to Indiana. And second-leading receiver Darius White will be out with a strained groin. This one isn't exactly shaping up to be the epic battle for East supremacy that some thought it could be a month ago.

3. ESPN's "College GameDay" is headed to Columbia, South Carolina. Not to be outdone, the other big game in the SEC East -- Tennessee at Georgia -- will be the site of the SEC Network's pregame show "SEC Nation". The Vols have something to prove and will hit the road with a much-improved defense. UT is sixth in the SEC in total defense, giving up 343 yards a game. That should give Tennessee some hope in preparing to face Georgia's star running back Todd Gurley and his SEC freshman of the week understudy, Sony Michel. The Bulldogs are also short-handed with Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley among the injured. The biggest challenge for Tennessee, however, is likely to come on the other side of the ball. Georgia has an intimidating pass rush, and the Vols O-line has given up an SEC-worst nine sacks already this seasons. Buckle up.

Around the SEC
  • LSU's stunning pratfall in Saturday's home loss to Mississippi State will prompt some changes. Most notably, the QB battle is back on.
  • Mississippi State center Dillon Day, accused of stomping on two LSU players, wrote a letter to Bulldogs fans to defend himself. Day has some history, though. He was suspended for a half last year after he stomped on an Auburn player.
  • File this under "Oh, they're friends now." Arkansas coach Bret Bielema to Gus Malzahn after Auburn's win at Kansas State: "Some of you may faint. I shot Gus a congrats text and just said, 'Hey I know how tough that place is. Congrats.' "
  • Will Muschamp has fallen off the hot seat and directly into the fire. Here are some ideas for fixing Florida.
Tweet of the day

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Rick Reilly tells how Jets wide receiver David Nelson's charitable work in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake led to his caring for a number of orphans, who reside in a fully staffed home Nelson maintains on the island.
Treon Harris, Brandon HarrisDerick E. Hingle/USA TODAY SportsCould it be time for Treon Harris, left, and Brandon Harris to see more time on the field?
Let me preface by saying that I'm not calling for anyone to be permanently benched, but as we dive into the heart of SEC play, it might be time for Florida and LSU to take a look at their quarterback situations and give those youngsters more time. Their offenses are drowning in inconsistency and a lot of that has to do with the quarterback play.

Florida's Jeff Driskel, a redshirt junior, and LSU's Anthony Jennings, a true sophomore, have been too inconsistent to start the year to not try some new things at quarterback. That means true freshmen Treon Harris (Florida) and Brandon Harris (LSU) need more quality reps in practice and games.

Against good defenses, Florida and LSU watched their offenses back-peddle on Saturday because of nonexistent passing games. It might be good for both schools to ease their freshmen quarterbacks onto the field a little bit more going forward because there are obvious issues under center.

This was supposed to be a brand new year for Driskel with new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper installing a spread offense that would fit with his skill set more, but the last two weeks have raised the same questions about Driskel's composure. He had a troubling Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in that triple-overtime win against Kentucky and then looked flat and had zero rhythm in the blowout loss to Alabama. Driskel was off on just about every one of his down-field passes against a shaky Alabama secondary that gave him plenty of good looks in the first half and he couldn't get the ball out fast enough. He finished a paltry 9 of 28 passing for 93 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Driskel's confidence was shot, as the struggles that have plagued his college career returned in Tuscaloosa. With the bye week here, Florida's coaches have two weeks to prepare for Tennessee and get things right with their offense. And that should include more quality reps from Treon Harris.

Benching Driskel for Treon Harris right now would be a mistake, but keeping the frosh off the field is too. His first two college passes went for 148 yards and two touchdowns against Eastern Michigan. That will never happen again, but there have to be plays in Roper's playbook for him to make. He's at least a change of pace for the Gators at quarterback, and some sort of change has to come.

Coach Will Muschamp hinted at some quarterback re-evaluation in the next two weeks.

“The execution is not where it needs to be,” Muschamp told reporters Saturday. “We missed a deep ball to (Demarcus Robinson) early in the game where he got on top of a guy. We had a dropped third down.

“Against a team like that, you have to make plays when you have the opportunities, and we didn't do that. We need to go back and evaluate the decisions we made going into the game and during the game.”

One Florida great, Emmitt Smith, even tweeted his unhappiness with Driskel.

Ouch.

At LSU, Jennings went from hero in the comeback win over Arkansas last year to a wildly inconsistent gunslinger. To his credit, he made some big throws in that valiant comeback over Wisconsin, but against a Mississippi State defense that is the best he's seen to date, Jennings threw for 157 yards and missed too many passes that were there. Granted, the Bulldogs frustrated him all night with pressure, but Jennings just wasn't efficient enough to win the game for the Tigers. He had no composure.

Jennings has been more of a game manager than anything for the Tigers to start the year, as LSU has spent more time running the ball. When the Tigers had to throw down field against Mississippi State, which held LSU to 89 rushing yards, they couldn't.

Until Brandon Harris came in late and delivered touchdown passes for 30 and 31 yards to almost pull the dramatic comeback win. Harris completed 6 of 9 passes for 140 yards in relief duty.

The thing about this situation is that it looked like Jennings got hurt in the Mississippi State game, so Brandon Harris might have no choice but to see more time. But he's also a better down-field passer and appears to be the more talented option. He really struggled against Wisconsin, but delivered some beauties against Mississippi State. Let him play. Build his confidence.

The seasons aren't over for either of these programs, but they will be soon enough if they don't create a passing threat. It might not be time for a changing of the guard for either school, but there's no point in keeping some talented guys on the bench.

Let the kids play.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Before Saturday's Alabama-Florida game, Amari Cooper and Vernon Hargreaves III acted no different. Both players kept to themselves, showing no emotion despite the magnitude of the game. There was no trash talking when they lined up across from each other on that first play. There was a sense of respect.

[+] EnlargeAmari Cooper
AP Photo/Brynn AndersonAlabama's Amari Cooper got the best of the personal matchup with Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III, but both played well.
It was no different after the game. Cooper finished with 10 catches for 201 yards and three touchdowns, clearly winning the individual matchup, but there to congratulate him afterward was Hargreaves. It didn't matter that Hargreaves was banged up and missed the final eight minutes. He knew he was facing one of the nation's best.

"He just said, 'Good game. You played great," Cooper told reporters after the game. "He's a very humble player. You can tell he comes from a good family.”

Looking back, both played well. Cooper is obviously on another level and showed why he's the better of the two, but Hargreaves didn't have a bad game despite what the stats might indicate.

Alabama found ways to move its top receiver around before the snap and match him up against somebody other than Hargreaves. On two separate plays in the first half, Cooper lined up in the slot with Hargreaves playing outside. The first play went for 37 yards, the second for 79 yards and a touchdown.

When the two were matched up in clear one-on-one situations, Cooper had five catches for 51 yards and one of his three touchdowns. His last score came with Florida's top cornerback on the sideline.

After the game, Alabama coach Nick Saban was complimentary of both.

“Coop did a great job in the game,” Saban said. “We have a lot of respect for their No. 1 guy [Hargreaves]. He is a very good player. But when you have matchups like that with two good players and you analyze the whole thing, both guys will end up making some plays.”

VH3 draws first blood: On its first play from scrimmage, Alabama used Cooper as a decoy and threw a long touchdown to Kenyan Drake on the other side. The next time the Tide got the ball, they ran to Hargreaves' side, and he was ready. Both he and safety Marcus Maye helped strip the ball from Drake, and Hargreaves was the one to recover it before going out of bounds. For the most part, Hargreaves played well against the run and finished with six tackles including one for a loss.

Cooper gets behind defense: How do you leave the SEC's best wide receiver wide open for a 79-yard touchdown pass? It came down to simple miscommunication. Cooper lined up in the slot with Hargreaves on the outside and Florida running zone coverage. The Alabama wide receiver took off on a go route, and because of a mix-up between defensive backs Brian Poole and Keanu Neal, the entire Gators defense had to watch as Cooper caught what might have been the easiest touchdown of his college career. It was simple pitch and catch.

The touchdown that wasn't: Cooper might have had four touchdowns Saturday if not for an offensive pass interference called against him in the third quarter. It was Cooper against Hargreaves, one-on-one, and the Alabama wide receiver gave a little shove before turning around and catching the ball. Once he caught it, he showed off his moves and maneuvered his way through traffic to find the end zone, but it all went for naught. Cooper caught another long pass with Hargreaves draped on him that was called back due to illegal formation.

Cooper shows why he's elite: If there was one play the NFL scouts will turn to when evaluating Cooper, it was his touchdown grab late in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Jake Coker had checked into the game, and it was once again one-on-one with Hargreaves, the matchup everybody wanted to see. Cooper ran a fade to the back of the end zone, and with the ball at its highest point, he went up and simply took it away from Hargreaves, who had good position on the play. It didn't matter who was throwing it. It didn't matter who was covering him. Cooper was catching that ball.

Advantage: Cooper

SEC morning links

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
8:00
AM ET
1. Missouri is still reeling from its surprising home loss to Indiana, a middling Big Ten team. Let that sink in for a minute. The Tigers were favored by 14 or 15 points in most spreads. And lost. For a team that was starting to look like a strong contender in the East Division, it was a shocking upset. Mizzou's worst loss in years. There is no panacea on the horizon. Up next is a road trip to South Carolina, which has ongoing problems of its own after barely escaping Nashville with a win against the Dores. As one would expect, Head Ball Coach Steve Spurrier threw around some choice adjectives. The word embarrassing came up a lot. After giving up two kickoff returns for touchdowns, Spurrier announced on Sunday that he will be the Gamecocks' new assistant kickoff coverage coach. That oughta fix it. College GameDay will be in Columbia, S.C., this weekend, which prompted yet more Spurrier being Spurrier:

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2. There wasn't much to learn about Georgia in its 66-0 win against Troy. Or was there? We already knew Todd Gurley was one of the nation's finest players. He hardly broke a sweat on Saturday with six carries for 73 yards, but Georgia hasn't had to overwork Gurley, and still his 9.8 yards per carry leads the FBS. We knew the Bulldogs had some talented youngsters, but who knew true freshmen Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie were ready to completely overshadow another injury to former five-star running back Keith Marshall? It seems the only question surrounding Georgia is wither the passing game, fellas? Georgia welcomes Tennessee this weekend along with the chance to see if Hutson Mason needs to do anything other than hand off. For their part, the Vols enjoyed a perfectly timed bye week after three nonconference games and can now go about the business of clawing their way back to SEC relevance.

3. That sound of laughter you're hearing off in the distance? It's Lane Kiffin basking in the afterglow of Alabama's 42-21 smackdown of the Gators. His offense so thoroughly dominated Florida's defense, the Gators set a record for the most yards allowed in school history. Dating to his time as head coach at Tennessee, that kind of performance against the hated Gators was something Kiffin could only dream about. On Saturday, his quarterback threw for 445 yards -- second only to Scott Hunter's 484 in Alabama history -- and his money wide receiver was the clear winner in a much-anticipated matchup with one of the best cover cornerbacks in college football. Today, receiver Amari Cooper is a legitimate Heisman candidate. We suspected he might be the best wideout in the country, but there is now a totally different perception of quarterback Blake Sims (who deflected some of the praise to Kiffin, by the way). If Alabama's offense can keep up this kind of balance and ruthless efficiency, the only sound we'll be hearing will be the chattering teeth of defensive coordinators.

Around the SEC
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