Georgia Bulldogs: amari cooper
- Alabama's Amari Cooper is back to 100 percent after dealing with injuries and frustration.
- Alabama's Jeoffrey Pagan says he wants the Crimson Tide to put away LSU “as quick as possible and let some of our freshmen play.”
- LSU needs another breakout game from quarterback Zach Mettenberger against Alabama.
- Compare and contrast the offenses from Alabama and LSU.
- Missouri's Michael Sam rose from a small Texas town to become a national star.
- South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney is frustrated by his lack of sacks this season.
- Auburn's rise doesn't surprise Tennessee coaches Tommy Thigpen and Willie Martinez, both former Tigers assistants.
- The Kansas City Star's preview of Kentucky-Missouri.
- The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin is USC's top target to become its next head coach.
- Georgia freshman Quincy Mauger has risen from unheralded recruit to become the Bulldogs' only safety who has played in every game this season.
- Trenton Brown has big potential on Florida's offensive line.
- Vanderbilt sees an edge in Florida's many injuries.
- Mississippi State's Dak Prescott is carrying the load on third down.
- Video: Ole Miss coaches Matt Luke and Derrick Nix evaluate the progress being made by some of their young players this season.
3. Mizzou a legitimate contender? It’s safe to say nobody had Missouri as one of the two unbeaten teams in the SEC heading into Week 7. But after an impressive road win at Vanderbilt, the Tigers are 5-0 and finally starting to gain some respect around the league. The next three weeks will be telling, though, as they play Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
4. LSU’s WRs versus Florida’s CBs: It’s a dream matchup for NFL scouts. LSU features what many consider to be the top wide receiver tandem in college football with Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry. However, Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy is arguably the top cornerback in the SEC, and playing opposite of him is freshman Vernon Hargreaves III, who already has three interceptions. The Gators are also expecting the return of corner Marcus Roberson, another one who could soon be playing on Sundays.
5. Tyler Murphy in Death Valley: Since replacing the injured Jeff Driskel at quarterback, Murphy has exceeded expectations for the Gators. In three games, he has thrown for 530 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception, and he’s progressively gotten better. However, the junior signal-caller is in for his toughest assignment yet when Florida travels to LSU this weekend. How will he perform in a hostile atmosphere?
6. The return of Cooper: When will we see the real Amari Cooper, the one who had 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman for Alabama? The star wide receiver has been slowed by nagging injuries all season, but he expects to play Saturday against Kentucky. Will he be 100 percent? Quarterback AJ McCarron would love to have him back sooner rather than later.
7. Aggies without Ennis: As if Texas A&M’s rush defense wasn’t bad enough, the Aggies lost Kirby Ennis, one of their top interior linemen, for the season with a torn ACL. The injury comes at a bad time for the Aggies, who have to visit Ole Miss this weekend and deal with Rebels running back Jeff Scott, not to mention quarterback Bo Wallace. The staff will turn to freshman Isaiah Golden, who is expected to start alongside Alonzo Williams in the middle.
8. Shootout in Oxford: The SEC has featured its fair share of shootouts early in the college football season, and Saturday’s game between Ole Miss and Texas A&M could be right up there. Both teams feature an up-tempo offense, and neither one likes to waste much time between plays. It could be a long day for both defenses.
9. Big game for Bielema: After a 3-0 start, Arkansas has quickly fallen back to .500 with three consecutive losses. However, first-year coach Brett Bielema has a chance to notch his first signature victory with the Razorbacks this Saturday when they host No. 14 South Carolina. The Gamecocks have struggled in recent weeks and could be prime for an upset. It’s likely a must-win scenario for Arkansas if the Hogs want to reach a bowl game.
10. Auburn’s quarterback: Who will start for the Tigers against Western Carolina? Starter Nick Marshall injured his knee last weekend against Ole Miss, and although he’s expected to play, coach Gus Malzahn hasn’t made a ruling one way or the other. If Marshall can’t go, Auburn will either turn to returning starter Jonathan Wallace or true freshman Jeremy Johnson.
The No. 9 Bulldogs (2-1, 1-0 SEC) know they lost any margin for error when they dropped their opener at Clemson, making Saturday's date with No. 6 LSU (4-0, 1-0) nothing less than a must-win game for Georgia.
“This is like an elimination game,” Georgia cornerback Damian Swann said. “To get to that Game 7, you've got to win Game 6 and I think this is a Game 6 for us and that's how we're going to approach it and that's how we're going to take it.”
The Bulldogs focused this week on a number of areas in need of improvement, most notably special teams, where Georgia has committed at least one glaring error in each game. Georgia coach Mark Richt opened the long snapping job for competition and said his coaching staff would re-evaluate the personnel on the various kicking units, potentially utilizing more starters on the coverage teams.
But aside from that department, this week is all about quality control for both teams -- each of which has been plagued by consistency issues. In particular, their young defenses must minimize the mistakes that characterized their play at points in the season's first month, and they must do it against opponents who establish themselves with powerful running games.
Georgia and LSU boast two of the SEC's top tailbacks in Todd Gurley (125.7 ypg, first in the SEC) and Jeremy Hill (117, third), who rushed for 184 yards in LSU's 35-21 win against Auburn last Saturday.
“It will be interesting to see who can run the ball and who can run it well,” Richt said. “Both teams are very capable of it, but on any given Saturday you don't know what's going to happen. We like ours and I'm sure they like theirs, and I like theirs and they probably like ours. They're just great players and it's going to be fun to watch.”
While both teams' main defensive objectives will be to limit the opponent's running games, overemphasizing the run could make them vulnerable to the play-action pass. Georgia's offense is perhaps a bit more potent through the air -- quarterback Aaron Murray leads the SEC with 346.7 ypg . LSU's improved passing game with quarterback Zach Mettenberger and receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will certainly test Georgia's secondary.
“I feel like we'll see a lot more of the famous play-action play Bama ran against us with Amari Cooper [for the game-winning touchdown last season],” Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins said. “I feel like if we can stop the run, then we won't be so worried about it and we can run a little bit more pressures and stunts to throw Mettenberger off his passing game. But I feel like our mindset this week is really going to be towards stopping the run and preventing them from getting that asset this game.”
Saturday's winner will likely be the team that minimizes its mistakes most effectively.
Georgia and LSU's respective resumes are among the most impressive in the league over the last few years, and their 2013 iterations appear to be evenly matched on paper. When teams like that meet, the victor is often the team that makes the fewest errors.
“You keep fighting like mad to not give up big plays,” Richt said. “You fight like mad to get turnovers. You fight like mad to find ways to get a big stop and a momentum-changing stop somewhere along the way, and that's what we're trying to do.”
- The SEC has secured bowl spots for at least 10 of its member schools starting in 2014.
- If anyone thought Alabama receiver Amari Cooper was about to slow down after a stellar freshman season, his explosive first scrimmage would indicate otherwise.
- Defensive coordinator John Chavis is fine with the many fresh faces on LSU’s rebuilt defense.
- An intriguing football triangle is taking shape between Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson.
- Tennessee running back Rajion Neal is confident that the Volunteers’ passing game will open up space for him to run.
- With Paul Finebaum returning to the airwaves today, al.com breaks down some of the infamous radio host’s most noteworthy callers who we’ve missed during his radio absence.
- Florida’s Ronald Powell is using Adrian Peterson as an example as he works to return from a season-ending knee injury suffered in spring 2012.
- James Franklin states his case for Missouri’s starting quarterback job.
- Georgia defensive end Sterling Bailey might start for the first time since high school, in 2010, when the Bulldogs open the season at Clemson.
- Approximately 5,000 people turned out for Vanderbilt’s fan day on Sunday despite the cloud of four former players having been arrested for rape hanging over the program.
- Auburn safety Justin Garrett was unable to practice on Sunday because of a foot injury.
- Speaking of Auburn, newly minted PGA champion Jason Dufner dedicated his victory to all the people in his adopted hometown.
But in terms of first-, second-, third- and fourth-team, selections, the SEC had the most with 25.
Below is a look at the SEC players making the cut:
- QB -- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
- RB -- Todd Gurley, Georgia
- OT -- Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
- DE -- Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
- LB -- C.J. Mosley, Alabama
- S -- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
- P -- Kyle Christy, Florida
- RB -- T.J. Yeldon, Alabama
- WR -- Amari Cooper, Alabama
- WR -- Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
- TE -- Arthur Lynch, Georgia
- C -- Travis Swanson, Arkansas
- OT -- Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama
- OT -- Antonio Richardson, Tennessee
- DT -- Anthony Johnson, LSU
- PR -- Marcus Murphy, Missouri
- WR -- Mike Evans, Texas A&M
- OG -- Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State
- OG -- Anthony Steen, Alabama
- CB -- Andre Hal, Vanderbilt
- S -- Craig Loston, LSU
- QB -- AJ McCarron, Alabama
- DT -- Dominique Easley, Florida
- LB -- A.J. Johnson, Tennessee
- CB -- Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida
Who are the best players from the SEC not making any of the four teams?
At the top of my list would be Ole Miss receiver Donte Moncrief. I'd also throw in Alabama outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, Florida cornerback Marcus Roberson, Vanderbilt offensive tackle Wesley Johnson, Missouri cornerback E.J. Gaines and Mississippi State running back LaDarius Perkins.
Today's Take Two topic: If you could pick an offense in 2013, which one would you take -- Alabama's or Georgia's?
Take 1: Chris Low
To me, the three best offenses in the SEC next year should belong to, in alphabetical order, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M. You couldn’t go wrong with any of the three. If I were picking one, though, I’d take the Crimson Tide. It starts with senior quarterback AJ McCarron, who knows that offense inside and out, also knows the league, and doesn’t make mistakes. In the past two seasons, he has thrown 46 touchdown passes and only eight interceptions. He also has been at his best in each of the past two BCS National Championships. There’s no substitute for having a veteran quarterback who delivers in the big games.
There’s no question that if the Bulldogs return to the SEC championship game for a third consecutive year, those defensive players will have made enormous strides to get them there. They return every key offensive player except receivers Tavarres King and Marlon Brown, but lose 12 important defenders.
So let’s take a quick look at five key players who will lead the rebuilding effort for Georgia’s defense this fall -- and then three more to watch for good measure.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Well, Nick Saban and his gang of future NFL ballers proved to us once again that it is indeed Alabama's world, after claiming their second consecutive national title and third in four years Monday night. That ringing in your ears is just the sound of "Roll Tide" being repeated over and over in your head. I've learned there's nothing we can do about it.
But will 2013 bring college football a team that can really stop the Tide? I mean, REALLY stop Alabama from winning a third straight national championship? Well, ESPN's Mark Schlabach seems to believe that the road to Pasadena is paved in crimson and white, as he has Alabama No. 1 in his Way-Too-Early-Top 25 for 2013.
It's hard to blame him at this point. Sure, Alabama's offensive line won't be nearly as good with Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack leaving. And it will take even more of a hit if/when D.J. Fluker decides to turn pro. But with quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon (we're assuming Eddie Lacy and his sweet spin move are headed to the NFL), wide receiver Amari Cooper and a host of studs on the defense returning, Alabama will again be the team to beat.
But there are some quality teams in the SEC that will fight to dethrone Alabama, and Schlabach has four in his top 10. Texas A&M, which returns the Heisman-winning Johnny Football, ranks fifth, Georgia is sixth, South Carolina is seventh and Florida is 10th. The thing about all those teams is that they all return their starting quarterbacks, with Georgia's Aaron Murray being one of the best in the country alongside Johnny Manziel.
South Carolina will be one of the more balanced teams in the SEC next fall, and if Florida can actually find a passing game in 2013, watch out because that defense will still be fierce, even with a few junior defections.
LSU, checking in at No. 13, is the only other SEC team in Schlabach's top 25. The Tigers are expected to have a better offense, especially with Zach Mettenberger finally finding his comfort zone under center, but a poor offensive showing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl defeat to Clemson and the loss of junior running backs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware create an uneasy feeling around the offense. Plus, the defense just took a beating as a result of juniors departing for the NFL, especially up front. All-American punter Brad Wing also left.
The good news for LSU is that running back Jeremy Hill is returning, and he'll only be a sophomore.
It's a good list to start off with, but where in the world is Vanderbilt? The Commodores are coming off of a historic season in Nashville. There were nine wins that included a bowl victory, five conference wins and a seven-game winning streak. The quarterback and running back spots might be up for grabs, but Jordan Matthews is coming back, along with fellow receiver Chris Boyd. And most of the rest of the offense remains intact.
There was room for Vandy in there somewhere ...
No. 18 Bacarri Rambo
67 tackles, 3 INTs, 3 FF
Role in 2012: The 2011 first-team All-American returned to his playmaking ways in the secondary following a four-game suspension to open his senior season.
The good: Aside from Jarvis Jones, Rambo is the best turnover generator on the team, and that skill was in full effect during the Bulldogs’ second-half surge toward another SEC East title. He made huge takeaways in wins against Florida (an interception in the end zone) and Georgia Tech (a strip/fumble recovery at the Georgia 1 that he returned 49 yards to midfield). He finished fourth on the team in tackles, tied for first in interceptions and trailed only Jones with three forced fumbles.
The bad: Perhaps two of the Bulldogs’ most memorable defensive miscues -- a jump ball for a 42-yard completion to Damiere Byrd on South Carolina’s opening drive and a similar jump ball that Alabama’s Amari Cooper caught for a 44-yard gain -- were plays where the ball slid through Rambo’s fingertips. Plus he missed four games this season and one in 2011 while serving suspensions. Rambo is one of the most effective defensive playmakers of the Mark Richt era, but he’s also had his share of costly off-the-field issues.
Crystal ball: With one game left in his college career, Rambo is tied with Jake Scott for Georgia’s career interception record (16). If nothing else, he has shown a nose for finding the football while it’s in the air -- and that should help him land somewhere in the NFL. ESPN Scouts Inc. rates Rambo as a top-100 draft prospect and the No. 8 player at his position. Last week, however, ESPN’s Mel Kiper rated Rambo as the No. 2 senior safety prospect and said an NFL team will draft him “knowing he can start right away.”
No. 5 Damian Swann
47 tackles, 2 INTs, 3.5 TFLs
Role in 2012: Swann stepped into a starting role as a sophomore and immediately became one of the Bulldogs’ top playmakers in the secondary.
The good: Not only did he have a solid season as a cover corner, Swann also contributed in other ways. His sack and forced fumble early in the Florida game set up Georgia’s first touchdown. And he made two fumble recoveries against Ole Miss that helped the Bulldogs take control in that win. Overall he had an outstanding first season as a starter.
The bad: Unfortunately for Swann, the enduring image from his 2012 season will probably be Alabama’s Amari Cooper streaking behind him for the game-winning, 45-yard touchdown catch in the SEC championship game. It was one of the few times that an opponent got behind him and made a big play, but the stakes in that moment could not have been greater.
Crystal ball: Swann will be the only returning starter in Georgia’s secondary next season, so he will play a crucial leadership role as a junior. He started every game this season and played a key role in coverage and in blitzing and could help generate turnovers (as evidenced by his two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries). The Bulldogs have numerous holes to fill on defense next season, but Swann will be a stabilizing force.
The sixth-ranked Bulldogs (11-2) will instead play No. 16 Nebraska (10-3) in the Capital One Bowl with far less at stake, although they can still become just the third Georgia team ever to win 12 games in a season -- a win that could send off a valuable senior class in the right way after they helped re-establish Georgia as one of the SEC’s top programs.
Let’s review our Georgia Power Rankings entering bowl season (last week’s rank in parentheses):
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Dogs pull off fake puntThe score: 0-0
The situation: Georgia faced fourth-and-10 from the Alabama 36 on the first play of the second quarter.
To continue reading this article you must be an Insider
Two players barely a year out of high school football would decide the fate of Alabama’s 2012 season.
Boy did it pay off.
“Two big plays by freshmen there,” senior center Barrett Jones said.
Big doesn’t even begin to describe them. You need more hyperbole for this one, like mammoth or gargantuan.
The first play came on third-and-5 at the 50-yard line. Georgia held a 28-25 lead, and it appeared that the Tide were squandering their great field position. With about four minutes remaining, quarterback AJ McCarron stuck the ball in T.J. Yeldon’s gut, and the frosh cut to the right side and barreled his way past the first-down marker.
It was a play everyone inside the Georgia Dome or plastered to a TV set knew was coming.
Yet Georgia’s defense, which had been giving up rushing yards like men give up beads at Mardi Gras, couldn’t stop the force that was Yeldon.
“He went out there and just ran people over,” offensive lineman D.J. Fluker said of the 6-foot-2, 216-pounder. “You can’t find that too often.”
It was a simple post play to the left side, where it’s better if Amari Cooper releases on the inside. He cut outside and stopped momentarily as he looked for McCarron. Once he saw the play was coming, he left a helpless Damian Swann in his dust before hauling McCarron’s perfectly thrown pass and waltzing into the end zone to give Alabama the winning score in a 32-28 victory.
“Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and I wanted to come out here and be a big-time player,” said Cooper, who finished with a game-high seven catches for 127 yards and the key score. “I envisioned it before it happened, and it came true.”
He probably envisioned it because it looked easy on film, as he and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier felt confident taking shots at the Dawgs.
“That’s what we want as receivers,” Cooper said. “We want to take those shots, and that’s what we did.”
It helps that Cooper, who goes by the nickname Hollywood because of his on-field skill, is an extraordinary athlete. Before his touchdown, his play of the night came when he went up top and snatched a 44-yard prayer from McCarron away from one of the most physical players in the game in safety Bacarri Rambo in the second quarter. After that, he spent the rest of the night sprinting past or cutting by Georgia defenders and bailing Alabama’s offense out in crucial situations.
“He’s able to do the things that you would think a normal freshman wouldn’t do,” Tide linebacker Nico Johnson said. “He’s making big plays in big games, like he did today.
“He takes it and runs with it and lives to that name. He’s something special.”
To Jones, Cooper just has a different gear than a lot of players. One moment he is side-by-side with a defender; the next, he’s gone -- with the ball.
“He’s one of the fastest people I’ve ever seen,” Jones said.
Cooper stretched the field and gave Alabama more running room, which helped free Yeldon, who entered the game with just three 100-yard performances but carried the ball a game-high 25 times for a backbreaking 153 yards and a touchdown. While giving Eddie Lacy the occasional breather, Yeldon helped Alabama register an SEC championship record 350 rushing yards Saturday.
“It’s like he’s been here three times himself,” Lacy said. “As a freshman, you can’t ask him to play any better than he did tonight.”
You can’t ask more from either. They did so much for Alabama in the biggest game of either's career. Yeldon had nine runs that resulted in first downs, while Cooper had three first-down plays. Together, they touched the ball 32 times for 280 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson tells both Cooper and Yeldon before every game to play with purpose. On Saturday, they did that and then some. This is only the beginning for these fabulous freshmen.
“I’m glad they’re freshmen because they are going to be here for a while,” offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio said.
That has to be a scary thought for the rest of the league.
ATLANTA -- In what lacked the defense of a usual SEC game, No. 2 Alabama outlasted No. 3 Georgia 32-28 to claim the 2012 SEC championship. Alabama is now headed to Miami to face No. 1 Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship Game on Jan. 7.
Alabama's game-winning score came on a 45-yard pass from AJ McCarron to a wide-open Amari Cooper with 3 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
It was over when: After driving down to Alabama's 8-yard line, Aaron Murray threw a pass to Chris Conley at the 5-yard line that was tipped. Conley came down with the ball with 5 seconds remaining, but time expired before Georgia could run one last play.
Game ball goes to: If you looked up the word "workhorse" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon next to it. Lacy rushed for 181 yards on 20 carries and had two touchdowns. He registered 176 of those yards through the first three quarters, averaging 10.4 a carry during that time. Alabama's offense was at its best when Lacy touched the ball the majority of times on drives. Yeldon, only a freshman, carried the ball 25 times for 153 yards and a touchdown. His first-down run on third-and-5 on Alabama's final scoring drive set up the Tide's game-winning touchdown.
Stat of the game: Alabama (12-1, 7-1 SEC) outrushed Georgia 350-113 and averaged 6.9 yards per carry in the process -- a new rushing record for the SEC championship game. Georgia (11-2, 7-1) averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. That makes three consecutive games in which Georgia's defense surrendered 300-plus yards on the ground.
Best call: On the first play of the second quarter, Georgia coach Mark Richt stepped out of his shell and called a fake punt on fourth-and-10 at Alabama's 36-yard line. Tight end Arthur Lynch took the snap and zipped a pass to cornerback Sanders Commings for 16 yards. Two plays later, Murray threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jay Rome to give the Bulldogs the early 7-0 lead.
What it means for Alabama: The win assures the Tide of making their second straight national championship game and third in four years. Alabama, which is second in the BCS standings, will face top-ranked Notre Dame in the Discover BCS National Championship Game in Miami.
What it means for Georgia: The Bulldogs will miss out on a BCS bowl game and could be headed to the AT&T Cotton Bowl to take on a Big 12 opponent. The last time Georgia was in the Cotton Bowl was 1983, when the Bulldogs beat Texas 10-9.