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WOW Headlines – 11/15/12

Missing Texas A&M WR Thomas Johnson has been found “safe” in his hometown of Dallas after disappearing for 48+ hours
Sources tell MrSEC.com that Tennessee representatives continue to pursue ex-NFL coach Jon Gruden for what will soon be an opening at UT
Georgia LB Chase Vasser is out for the year with a torn labrum
South Carolina DE Jadeveon Clowney missed practice yesterday with a sore foot
The head of the Music City Bowl says Vanderbilt is that game’s top choice right now
Vanderbilt RB Zac Stacy returned to practice yesterday after missing most of last weekend’s game with a leg injury
Florida QB Jeff Driskel is definitely out for Saturday’s game with Jacksonville State and QB Jacoby Brissett will start
Auburn QBs Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley are almost back to 100% from nagging injuries
Texas A&M is not running a formal Heisman campaign for QB Johnny Manziel
NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper calls Tennessee WR Cordarrelle Patterson “a freakish talent”
ESPN has signed a 12-year deal with the SEC and Big XII to air the Sugar Bowl starting in 2014 season
Mississippi State guard Jalen Steele will miss six weeks of action with a broken wrist
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QB Moseley To Start For AU Versus Vandy

Auburn’s Gene Chizik has decided to once again start Clint Moseley at quarterback this weekend at Vanderbilt.  Last night the coach said on his weekly radio show:

 

“It’s one of those situations where at the beginning of the week you’ve really got to give them a good look just in terms of number of reps and who’s improving,  And again, Kiehl (Frazier) has kind of a little bit of a nagging injury that he’s just going to have to push some work through. That’s the bottom line.”

 

So just as Moseley’s nagging injury in the preseason gave the starter’s job to Frazier coming out of the gate, now it’s Frazier’s own injury that making Moseley the default starter.  Neither quarterback has looked great in the playing time they have had.

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AU To Start Moseley At QB Versus Ole Miss

After a 1-4 start and continued struggles at the quarterback position, Auburn is making a change.  Gene Chizik announced this afternoon that Clint Moseley will start tomorrow’s game at Ole Miss, not Kiehl Frazier.

Moseley — who many feel lost out on the starter’s job due to a sore shoulder in preseason camp — saw his first action of the year last week against Arkansas.  Unfortunately, he continued a trend started by Frazier and tossed two interceptions in a half of work.  Auburn’s new Scot Loeffler-led offense has struggled with turnovers since the season’s beginning.

Now Moseley will get the first shot at staying pick-free tomorrow in Oxford.

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Hogs’ Smith Makes News With Another Statement, This Time About Auburn’s QB

Arkansas’ John L. Smith needs to start taking lessons from Steve Spurrier.  Just stop answering questions from the media.

Ahead of the Razorbacks’ game at Auburn on Saturday, Arkansas’ interim coach was asked about Tiger quarterback Kiehl Frazier and his many struggles this season.  He responded as follows:

 

“He’s like all younger guys in the league.  If you play too darn early, it may not be a good thing.  But as you continue to play, the great thing about being young and playing early is you’re going to get better all the time.”

 

As I see it, there’s nothing wrong with that statement.  It wasn’t an indictment of Frazier or of the Auburn coaching staff.  But some are taking it that way.  We’ve heard from more than one AU fan this morning who’s sent this story too us, upset that either a) Smith would question Gene Chizik or b) Chizik would play Frazier before he was ready.

In reality, whether AU officials say it’s the case or not, most believe Clint Moseley would have probably been the Tigers’ starter had it not been for a sore shoulder.  He’s yet to see action this year despite Frazier’s woes which gives further credence to the injury theory.

And if a bum shoulder on Moseley is what forced Frazier into action a little bit ahead of schedule, then there’s not a thing wrong with Smith’s assessment of the situation on the Plains.

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AU’s Frazier Knows Why Fans Aren’t Happy

Sophomore quarterback Kiehl Frazier has gotten off to a rocky start as Auburn’s start this year.  He currently ranks as one the five worst passers in the nation in terms of passer rating.  Even his coach, Gene Chizik, said this week: “He’s go to get back there, he’s got to set his feet, he’s go to make a decision, throw the ball.”

Frazier’s unease in the pocket and his inaccuracy when he does throw the ball has naturally earned the signal-caller quite a bit of grief from fans.  He says he understands it:

 

“I don’t really take it personally.  Winning, that’s the expectation at Auburn.  And if you don’t do that, people will be talking about it…

I probably got rushed to where I needed to scramble only three times in the last four games.  (I’ve got to get better) at going through my first, second, third, fourth progression, and not just stopping at two, but going through the progression before making a decision to use my legs.”

 

The concern for Tiger fans is that previous offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn clearly had no faith in Frazier as a passer.  Now Scot Loeffler is on the scene — with a brand new system — and he’s not having much luck with Frazier’s ability to read a defense and accurately throw the ball, either.

Instead of saying, “Well, he’s only started four games,” it’s beginning to look more and more like, “Well, he’s had two year and two coaches.”  Having two different coaches and systems could be part of the problem, of course.

Either way, Frazier isn’t letting his poor start impact his confidence.  “The next four games, I won’t have seven picks,” he said yesterday.  “That’s for sure.”

He’d better hope not… or else Clint Moseley (when his shoulder is healed up) or freshman Jonathan Wallace (in the Wildcat) will start taking more and more game snaps away from him.

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With UK’s Race Now Settled, Here’s How The SEC QB Situations Stack Up

We’re 10 days from kicking off the 2012 football season and three SEC teams are still wondering who their starting signal-caller is going to be.  That’s not a good situation to be in right now… regardless of how coaches try to spin it.

So which teams are in the best shape quarterback-wise as we race toward Week One?  Below are our answers.  Each team has been dropped into one of four categories.  We’ve also added a word of explanation for why your favorite squad wound up were it wound up.

 

Top Guns

* Arkansas (Tyler Wilson, senior) — Bobby Petrino is gone, but his system remains.  Some NFL scouts openly mourned the fact that the 6-3, 220-pound Wilson returned to Fayetteville for his final season.  He passed for 3,600+ yards and a had a TD-INT ratio of 24-6 last season.

* Georgia (Aaron Murray, junior) — Georgia’s QB looks the part of an All-SEC quarterback.  He’s got the arm and the legs to win games.  But he’s just 2-7 against ranked foes — which can’t all be put on him — and he’s lost his security blanket in tight end Orson Charles.

 

Proven Commodities

* Alabama (AJ McCarron, junior) — There’s a reason McCarron made the coaches’ preseason all-conference team: he wins.  He captured a BCS title ring in his first season as a starter, completing 67% of his passes while throwing just five interceptions last year.  He’s everything Nick Saban wants in a quarterback.  One word: Solid.

* Missouri (James Franklin, junior) — At 6-2, 225, Franklin is bigger than most SEC fans probably think.  More than just a scrambler, he’ll run over you if he has to.  Last year he threw for 2,865 yards and ran for an additional 981 in the offense-first Big XII.  But can he adjust his style of play to the SEC… and can he stay healthy if decides not to change his ways?

* Tennessee (Tyler Bray, junior) — Bray has the tools to make all the throws and earn himself a fat NFL paycheck next spring or the year after.  The only thing keeping out of the Top Gun category is his head.  Bray has had some Stephen Garcia-esque off-field misadventures and his head coach recently said he had to do some maturing and make “lifestyle changes” this summer.  If he did, he can be a star.

 

Question Marks

* Kentucky (Maxwell Smith, sophomore) – Just named UK’s starter yesterday, the sophomore from California made nice strides over the course of the 2011 season.  He’ll need to improve further for the Cats to return to a bowl game after a one-year absence.

* LSU (Zach Mettenberger, junior) — Down on the Bayou, there are high expectations for the Georgia-to-juco-LSU newcomer.  The 6-5 bomber has Baton Rouge’s best arm since JaMarcus Russell and Tiger coaches say they’re going to use it.  But star juco quarterbacks have entered the league and thrived (Cam Newton) and imploded (Brent Schaeffer).  Until we see him on the field… the jury’s out.

* Miss. State (Tyler Russell, junior) — Folks in Starkville will tell you that Russell is set for a big year as the Bulldogs lean on veteran wideouts and shift into more of a passing mode.  But Russell never could wrestle the starting job away from run-first Chris Relf.  And last year he completed just 53% of his 129 pass attempts.

* S. Carolina (Connor Shaw, junior) — In 2011, Shaw took over for Stephen Garcia in October but failed to show the arm that many had Carolina fans had hoped to see.  Steve Spurrier went to more of a zone-read offense to suit Shaw’s skill set and the Ol’ Ball Coach says USC may run the ball even more this season.  Still, Shaw needs to take a step forward as a thrower.

* Vanderbilt (Jordan Rodgers, senior) — The younger brother of Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Vandy’s quarterback has the athleticism to succeed.  But can he succeed in the SEC with the talent that surrounds him at VU?  He’ll need to do better than a 50% completion percentage and a 9-10 touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio in 2012.

 

Worry Warts

* Auburn (Kiehl Frazier, sophomore or Clint Moseley, junior) – Auburn went 2-3 during the late part of the season with Moseley running Gus Malzahn’s offense.  When Frazier played, he threw just 12 passes (completing five to his team and two to his opponents) and ran 76 times.  Maybe there’s a reason everyone’s talking about third-string freshman Jonathan Wallace on the Plains.

* Florida (Jacoby Brissett, sophomore or Jeff Driskel, sophomore) – Brissett played in five games for the Gators last year and was woeful as a passer (46% completion percentage, 2-4 TD-INT ratio).  Driskel — who’s dealing with a bruised scapula at the moment — wasn’t much better in his five games (47% completion, 0-2 ratio).  The fact that neither guy has separated himself so far in fall camp probably isn’t a good sign.

* Ole Miss (Barry Brunetti, junior or Bo Wallace, sophomore) — Face it.  It’s an ugly situation in Oxford.  Brunetti saw action in four games last year after transferring in from West Virginia.  He was pedestrian at best.  Wallace arrived in January after an All-American year in the juco ranks, but he’s not yet passed Brunetti on the depth chart.  With so little talent around them, it might not matter who wins the starter’s job.

* Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel, freshman) — Rivals ranked Manziel as the 14th best dual-threat quarterback in the nation when he signed with the Aggies in February of 2011.  The fact that he won a four-man battle to become A&M’s first-ever SEC quarterback was a surprise to many.  Kevin Sumlin knows how to develop quarterbacks, but Year One of his system… entering a defense-first league… things could get rough with a  redshirt freshman behind center.

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AU QB Candidate Pike Arrested For Public Intoxication

It’s college.  He’s a freshman.  You live and you learn.

But for Auburn quarterback candidate Zeke Pike, you have to wonder how much an early Sunday morning arrest for public intoxication will impact his chances of landing the Tigers’ starting quarterback gig this fall.  The 19-year-old was hit with the misdemeanor charge after being taken into custody on South College Street in Auburn shortly after midnight yesterday morning.

New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler said during spring practice that his QB race could last the length of fall/preseason practice.  Pike — a three-star prospect from Kentucky — competed with sophomore Kiehl Frazier and redshirt junior Clint Moseley in the spring after enrolling early.

Might this arrest lead Loeffler or head coach Gene Chizik to question the young man’s leadership capabilities at this stage of his career?  Possibly.  But if Pike turns out to be the clear best choice to run Loeffler’s offense, then probably not.

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SEC Headlines – 4/4/12

1.  Athlon Magazine has ranked the SEC’s football coaches from Nick Saban down through Joker Phillips.  (Interestingly, James Franklin ranks ahead of Gene Chizik and Dan Mullen is ranked ahead of Les Miles.  Plenty of red meat for you.)

2.  Everyone wants to change the NCAA/NBA’s one-and-done policy… except for the players’ union.

3.  Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley was throwing the ball at practice this morning.

4.  Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron says the Tide has enough leadership to avoid a 2010-style backslide after UA’s most recent BCS crown.

5.  Arkansas offensive coordinator Paul Petrino said of his brother’s quick return to practice after a motorcycle injury: “He’s a Petrino… tough.”

6.  The coach’s helmetless accident could help save lives in the long run.

7.  Juco transfers are giving MSU help on its offensive line.

8.  Bulldog hoopster Rodney Hood told new coach Rick Ray — according to the coach — after his first day, “Coach, that’s the hardest workout I’ve ever had.”

9.  Receiver Tobias Singleton could be moving to running back at Ole Miss.

10.  The tempo has increased at Texas A&M as this video will attest.

11.  Total sidenote here, but if you want to feel old, check out what the Astrodome looks like these days.  (Bottom gallery.  It’s like the History Channel’s “Life After People” series.)

12.  For the second year in a row, Florida’s spring game won’t actually be a game.

13.  Georgia’s D-line is providing hope and stability (while the secondary’s in a shambolic state).

14.  Freshman tailback Keith Marshall will be “a very important piece” of UGA’s offense once he returns from a hamstring injury.

15.  The President made the traditional post-championship phone call, this time to Kentucky.

16.  But a violent post-game celebration on Monday night marred UK’s victory.  (One gunshot victim had to have his foot amputated.)

17.  Thankfully, yesterday’s banner-raising at Rupp Arena went a lot more smoothly.

18.  And Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart enjoyed the heck out of it.

19.  Frank Martin has announced his first South Carolina coaching staff.

20.  Despite spring struggles, Connor Shaw is locked in as the Cocks’ starting quarterback.

21.  Tennessee’s basketball team will play four games in Italy this summer… and Jeronne Maymon should be back from knee surgery by then.

22.  Prentiss Waggner is the leader of the Volunteers’ secondary.

23.  Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins is 50-50 on whether to jump to the NBA or return for his senior year.  (The deadline for college players is next Tuesday.)

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SEC Headlines – 4/3/12 Part One

1.  There was room for improvement after Alabama’s first spring scrimmage.

2.  Clint Moseley’s sore shoulder has become a “big factor” in Auburn’s quarterbacks race.

3.  Arkansas’ Bobby Petrino — who wasn’t wearing a helmet during his weekend motorcycle crash — was resting comfortably in an area hospital last night.

4.  The Hogs will start an e-ticket program for football this season.

5.  Soccer player / homecoming queen Mo Isom — who’ll try out as a kicker at LSU again this August – will be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show today.

6.  Here’s a rundown of yesterday’s practice session at Ole Miss.

7.  New MSU hoops coach Rick Ray gets a big thumbs up from one former boss… and a pair of MSU commitments.

8.  Ray’s new boss opens up about the search that led Scott Stricklin the former Clemson assistant.

9.  Here’s a Day Two practice report from Texas A&M.

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SEC Headlines 3/28/12

This week’s going to be a busy one around MrSEC.com Headquarters, so we’re going to go a little light on the headlines today and just dump all together in one big pile.  You can root around in ‘em as you see fit:


1.  So much for Clint Moseley’s shoulder inflammation… the Auburn quarterback was throwing the ball the yesterday.

2.  There’s fierce competition in Tuscaloosa as Alabama rebuilds its secondary.

3.  This Arkansas practice report says tailback Knile Davis is ready for some contact.

4.  LSU’s receivers like their “Fab Five” nickname because they say they’re “all go-to receivers.”

5.  Mississippi State’s practice was “sloppy” but energetic yesterday.  (There are plenty of jokes in that one that I will pass on.)

6.  Ole Miss is looking for the right linebacker/safety hybrid for its base 4-2-5 defense.

7.  Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin delayed spring practice so his new staff could get to know one another.

8.  New offensive coordinator Brent Pease is all over the practice field as he molds Florida’s offense into form.

9.  Georgia’s D-line appears to be having a big spring (or does that mean the O-line is having a tough time?)

10.  New South Carolina hoops coach Frank Martin tried yesterday to distance himself from the “I’ve paid players” type comments he made on CBS last weekend.

11.  Tennessee linebacker AJ Johnson likes the new 3-4 style defense Sal Sunseri has brought with him from Alabama.

12.  Mike Slive thinks Missouri has found “a home that was stable and a home where they felt comfortable.”


(Sidenote — I get a lot of emails claiming that we often ignore offseason or spring football news at Kentucky and Vanderbilt.  Not so.  The media in Lexington and Nashville ignore offseason and spring football news at Kentucky and Vanderbilt.)

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