January 5, 2015 · 5:08 PM
I know you guys don’t like it when I link to a Mark Bradley piece, but, really, you ought to read this one, as Bradley has outdone himself. From the header to the last punctuation mark, he’s reached the pinnacle of the Mt. Everest of trolling and planted his flag.
Georgia’s AD has committed his share of unforced PR errors recently, but agreeing to be interviewed by Bradley probably ranks as the dumbest of all.
I swear, if the day ever comes when McGarity does fire Richt, you know Bradley’s going to write a column urging Georgia to hire the genius.
January 5, 2015 · 2:31 PM
Randy Shannon is hired as Florida’s “Associate Head Coach,” co-defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach.
If you’re saying to yourself, “wait a minute, I thought Geoff Collins was hired as defensive coordinator”, you don’t know how to save $50,000 like Jeremy Foley does.
January 5, 2015 · 1:09 PM
It’s that time again to take stock of my preseason assessments of how every conference team would do in 2014. As before, schools are listed in the same order as they were in the preseason post, with this season’s won-loss totals.
AUBURN (8-5, 4-4)
- What I said: Historically, Auburn doesn’t do well when it’s a preseason front-runner, but I don’t foresee a huge drop off from last season. On the other hand, there’s got to be some regression to the mean, luckwise. No worse than two, maybe three conference losses.
- How I did: Regression to the mean? Sure. But there was just some plain old regression, too.
- Grade: C-
ALABAMA (12-2, 7-1)
- What I said: Let’s say the Tide will slip up and lose a regular season game, but there’s a reason everyone is putting them in Atlanta and the new CFP. If they don’t make it, I’m blaming Junior.
- How I did: The Tide made it to Atlanta and to the national semi-finals, but Saban will be watching the championship game like the rest of us. Not sure how much blame Kiffin deserves for that, but Alabama’s secondary deserves some.
- Grade: A-
LSU (8-5, 4-4)
- What I said: My default position on Les Miles – pencil in two regular season losses – feels right. This is a very talented team, but the Tigers have a lot of experience to replace, especially at the offensive skill spots.
- How I did: LSU lost more than I expected, it seems. Nobody in Baton Rouge had a clue how to jump-start the passing game.
- Grade: D+
TEXAS A & M (8-5, 3-5)
- What I said: I guess the question to ask is if TAMU is at the point where it reloads. They’ll likely be okay on offense, but I’m still not thrilled with that defense. I’m seeing a similar number of regular season losses in 2014.
- How I did: Pretty spot on.
- Grade: A-
MISSISSIPPI (9-4, 5-3)
- What I said: Defense should be excellent; offense, not so much. With that schedule, I think Ole Miss is probably looking at a four-loss regular season.
- How I did: Overall, Ole Miss was just a little better than I anticipated.
- Grade: B+
MISSISSIPPI STATE (10-3, 6-2)
- What I said: I still think this is the hardest team to handicap in the SEC. I can’t help but be impressed with what MSU brings on the defensive side of the ball, but the offense makes me nervous, mainly because of the quarterback situation. If Mullen can coach Prescott up to the next level, the Bulldogs could be the surprise team of the West. But I’m seeing four losses in the regular season at present.
- How I did: It turned out that Prescott was able to turn his game up and the team followed suit.
- Grade: C+
ARKANSAS (7-6, 2-6)
- What I said: Can it get better in Bielema’s second year? It can’t get worse. But I’m having a hard time figuring out where the Hogs grab that fourth win.
- How I did: Wrong, bacon breath. It got a lot better once Arkansas hit its stride mid-season.
- Grade: D+
MISSOURI (11-3, 7-1)
- What I said: The schedule shapes up to be Missouri’s biggest friend, with only three preseason ranked opponents. Pinkel knows what he’s doing and Mauk is a promising quarterback. But depth is a concern in several areas. Four regular season losses wouldn’t surprise me, although I think three is a more likely result.
- How I did: Once again, a pleasant surprise. As I wrote the year before, if I had a vote for conference coach of the year, Pinkel would get it.
- Grade: C-
SOUTH CAROLINA (7-6, 3-5)
- What I said: Hard to see the ‘Cocks doing worse from a win/loss standpoint than they did last season. But will another two-loss regular season be enough to win the division?
- How I did: Neither Steve Spurrier nor I saw what was coming. My biggest preseason whiff.
- Grade: F
GEORGIA (10-3, 6-2)
- What I said: The record will be improved because the Dawgs will be healthier, but the season will come down to competence in the secondary, on special teams and turnover margin improvement. I expect this team to improve over the course of the season, but there will be two or three regular season losses, depending on how they get out of the gate.
- How I did: Accurate. So why do I feel disappointed?
- Grade: A-
VANDERBILT (3-9, 0-8)
- What I said: People don’t realize it, but Franklin did Mason a big favor by redshirting a ton of kids from a very good recruiting class. That’s going to help, although not as much as the softest schedule in the SEC will. Vandy’s biggest problem is that the offense won’t be very good. I can’t see anything close to another nine-win season, but bowl eligibility is certainly a realistic goal.
- How I did: Hoo, boy, that sucks.
- Grade: D+
FLORIDA (7-5, 4-4)
- What I said: Yes, the Gators will improve from last season’s record. But with six preseason ranked opponents on the schedule, I’m looking at something in the neighborhood of 8-4. And that’s only if Driskel stays on his feet.
- How I did: Well, I didn’t know they’d go and outright cancel a game. So I was pretty close.
- Grade: B-
TENNESSEE (7-6, 3-5)
- What I said: I’m having a hard time finding a sixth win on this team’s schedule. But they upset South Carolina last year, so who knows?
- How I did: That’s pretty much what happened.
- Grade: A-
KENTUCKY (5-7, 2-6)
- What I said: As the Beatles once sang, I have to admit it’s getting better. But not that quickly. Overall win total can improve a little from 2013’s, but without Arkansas on the schedule, the ‘Cats are going to have to steal a win from the likes of Vandy or Tennessee to get off the conference schneid.
- How I did: The ‘Cats benefited from the collapses of South Carolina and Vanderbilt. But reality set in over the last six games of the season
- Grade: B-
So what do you think? Too easy on myself? Too harsh?
It wound up being a weird year, that’s for sure.
January 5, 2015 · 10:40 AM
January 5, 2015 · 7:54 AM
ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach tweeted Sunday that he is “hearing” former Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will interview early this week for the job and that Western Kentucky offensive coordinator Tyson Helton is also a possibility.
Helton is pretty much the opposite of yesterday’s flavor, Mike Bloomgren. Western Kentucky’s offense runs a pass-oriented, hurry up scheme. It’s been prolific – check the crazy stats from this game – this season, too, in contrast to Stanford’s. Consider a few national rankings from Marty’s site:
All of those were better than Georgia’s. And while WKU didn’t run the ball as much as Georgia, there is this.
The Hilltoppers became the first team in FBS history to have a 4,500-yard passer (Doughty) and 1,500-yard rusher (Leon Allen). They also scored 577 points to shatter the old record of 432 scored by the 2002 team and finished with 76 touchdowns. The 1973 team scored 62 TDs, the previous program standard.
As MaconDawg sums Helton up, “Helton is the only realistic candidate whose 2014 numbers don’t pale in comparison to the Bobo-led UGA attack.” It’s likely he’s been brought to Richt’s attention by Neal Callaway, who’s the offensive line coach at WKU. (In case you’re wondering, Western Kentucky finished the year 28th in sacks allowed, with 19.)
Presuming Schlabach is right, if nothing else, it seems that Richt is willing to cast a pretty wide net to catch Bobo’s successor.
January 5, 2015 · 7:29 AM
They’re hoping for big things out of Georgia refugee Tray Matthews at Auburn next season. Here’s one thing they think he’s got going for him:
And there’s one thing working in his favor that many might not have thought about, Holsey said. Since Matthews never had to memorize the concepts in former coordinator Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 scheme, he won’t have to force himself to forget them now.
That should only help his cause as he vies for playing time under the Tigers’ new defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp.
“He didn’t really know the terminology for the last defense,” Holsey said. “So his first experience (at Auburn) is going to be a fresh start with Coach Muschamp.”
If not memorizing defensive concepts is a major deal on the Plains, dude, then Matthews ought to be on his way to superstardom, because it never appeared that he knew the terminology for his first defense, either.
January 5, 2015 · 7:07 AM
Little question this season ended with not with a bang, but a whimper, for the vaunted SEC. It’s not the apocalyptic debacle some are portraying it as – the conference finished the bowl season 7-5, which is evidence that there was some depth this year (assuming you want to read much into bowl games that oftentimes come down to little more than discovering which team wants to be there) – but there’s little question that the Alabama and Mississippi schools’ collective flame out was not what we’ve been used to seeing from the conference powerhouses this time of year. And there will probably be a price to pay in the next preseason polls, once ESPN gets done hammering public perception.
But that’s for next season. The task at hand it to rank the conference’s collective body of work for the season just finished. Not an easy one, trust me. But here goes (teams’ final records in parenthesis).
- Alabama (12-2 overall, 7-1 SEC). A program that defines itself by team depth and quality play found the focus on a star wide receiver and its much-traveled, notorious offensive coordinator. Saban had better find the time to fix a surprisingly vulnerable secondary.
- Georgia (10-3, 6-2). Claiming the conference’s best bowl win and top-scoring offense, along with every other SEC teams’ flaws, gets the Dawgs the second spot. And before you accuse me of being a homer, consider that what this really means is that Georgia was the conference’s biggest underachiever.
- Mississippi (9-4, 6-2). Laid a major egg against a very good TCU team, no doubt. But Ole Miss has a couple of solid wins on the résumé and was really hurt by key injuries.
- Mississippi State (10-3, 6-2). After all is said and done, I’m left with the basic impression of a team not ready for prime time.
- Missouri (11-3, 7-1). A flawed team with a great coach.
- Auburn (8-5, 4-4). Losing to a team with a one-dimensional offense that lost its previous game by 59 points isn’t the best way to convince me you had a good season, Auburn.
- Arkansas (7-6, 2-6). A team that improved as the season went on, and probably should have finished with a conference win or two more than it did.
- LSU (8-5, 4-4). Les Miles ought to be asking himself where he can find a functional quarterback. Joe Alleva ought to be asking himself whose bright idea was it to pay Cam Cameron $1.3 million this season.
- Texas A&M (8-5, 3-5). Now we know the limits of how far a team with a truly crappy defense can go in today’s SEC.
- Florida (6-5, 4-4). For all the recruiting hoopla the program enjoys, I’m not convinced this team was really all that talented.
- Tennessee (7-6, 3-5). At least the Vols looked like a team that wanted to go bowling.
- South Carolina (7-6, 3-5). With the bowl game win, Spurrier managed to salvage mediocrity.
- Kentucky (5-7, 2-6). Kentucky would have welcomed the opportunity to salvage some mediocrity for itself.
- Vanderbilt (3-9, 0-8). What is this “mediocrity” you speak of?