QUARTERBACK SITUATION FOR EACH SEC TEAM
FLORIDA: The Gators return starter Kyle Trask, arguably the best quarterback in the SEC heading into 2020 after a season in which he threw for 2,941 yards on 66.9% completions and 25 touchdowns after taking over the job in the fourth quarter of game three when Feleipe Franks went down with a season-ending injury. His backup is Emory Jones, who can dazzle as a runner (256 yards, 4 TDs last year) and has shown continued improvement as a passer (25-38, 267 yards, 3 TDPs). The QB of the future is early-enrolled freshman Anthony Richardson (6-4, 235), a dual threat type who will draw instant comparisons to Dak Prescott.
The rest of the SEC
Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa has moved on to the NFL, so Mac Jones (97-141 passing, 1,503 yards, 14 TDPs), who took over as the starter when Tua went down with injury is the incumbent. Backups are Tua’s younger brother Taulia (100 passing yards, 1 TDP as a freshman) and redshirt freshman Paul Tyson. The Crimson Tide signed the nation’s top high school QB in Bryce Young (6-0, 190, Pasadena, CA Mater Dei).
Arkansas: New HBC Sam Pittman brought in Kendal Briles as his OC, who was instrumental in landing Florida grad transfer Feleipe Franks (4,593 passing yards, 38 TDPs; 8 rushing TD for his UF career). The Razorbacks return backups John Stephen Jones IV (101 passing yards, 2 TDP as a redshirt freshman), Jack Lindsey (126 passing yards, 3 TDPs as a junior) and KJ Jefferson (197 passing yards, 2 rushing TD as a freshman). They signed Malik Hornsby (6-2, 175, Fort Bend, TX Marshall).
Auburn: Gus Malzahn brought in former Arkansas HBC Chad Morris as his offensive coordinator so there will be changes in the offense and play calling. The incumbent is sophomore Bo Nix (2,543 passing yards, 16 TDPs; 317 rushing yards, 7 TDs in 2019) and the only scholarship backup is former minor league baseball player Cord Sandberg (84 passing yards, 2 TDs last year). Auburn signed Chayil Garnett (6-1, 205, Lakeland, FL) who is already enrolled. Don’t be surprised if Auburn seeks a transfer QB in the spring.
Georgia: Three-year starter Jake Fromm is gone and so is offensive coordinator James Coley. The Bulldogs are rolling the dice with new OC Jeff Monken and Wake Forest Gump grad transfer Jamie Newman (2,868 passing yards, 26 TDPs; 574 rushing yards, 6 TDs in 2019). The Bulldogs return senior backup Stetson Bennett (20-27 passing, 260 yards, 1 TD), redshirt freshmen D’Wan Mathis, who missed the season after brain surgery, and Nathan Priestly. The Bulldogs signed Carson Beck (6-4, 225, Jacksonville, FL Mandarin), who is enrolled.
Kentucky: If Terry Wilson can return to form (1,889 passing yards, 11 TD; 547 rushing yards, 4 TD as a junior in 2018) after suffering a season-ending knee injury in 2019, the Wildcats should be in good shape. Also returning are Sawyer Smith (690 passing yards, 4 TD last season as a junior) and redshirt freshmen Amani Gilmore and Nik Scalzo). Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood (6-5, 233) is a dual threat QB who will have to sit since he’s transferred within the SEC. The Wildcats signed Beau Allen (6-2, 203, Lexington, KY Catholic).
LSU: No quarterback in the country will be under greater scrutiny than redshirt sophomore Myles Brennan (24-40 for 353 yards, 1 TDP in 2019), who has the unenviable task of replacing Heisman winner Joe Burrow. Also returning are redshirt freshman Peter Parrish and redshirt freshman AJ Aycock. The Tigers signed Max Johnson (6-5, 220, Watkinsville, GA Oconee), son of former FSU QB and Super Bowl winner Brad Johnson, and monstrous TJ Finley (6-6, 250, Ponchatoula, LA), both of whom are enrolled.
Mississippi State: Mike Leach is the new HBC and the offense will be the pass crazy Air Raid, which is why grad transfer KJ Costello (6,149 passing yards, 49 TDP in three years) arrives from Stanford. So, what will sophomore Garrett Shrader (1,170 passing yards, 8 TD, 587 rushing yards, 6 TD) do? He’s more of a dual threat guy who may not want to sit a year. Redshirt junior Keytaon Thompson seems to have been waiting for a break his whole life and redshirt sophomore Jalen Mayden is more runner than passer. The Bulldogs signed Will Rogers (6-2, 200, Brandon, MS) who has enrolled.
Missouri: New HBC Eli Drinkwitz is expected to give the first shot at replacing Kelly Bryant to TCU transfer Shawn Robinson (1,334 yards and 9 TDPs at TCU in 2018), who sat out last season. Also returning are junior Taylor Powell (297 passing yards, 1 TD in 2019) and redshirt freshman Connor Bazelac (15-21, 144 yards in three games). Mizzou signed Brady Cook (6-3, 210, St. Louis, MO Chaminade Prep).
Ole Miss: Lane Kiffin is the new HBC and he has a brilliant record of developing QBs and putting together an explosive offense. If he wants a running QB, sophomore John Rhys Plumlee (1,023 rushing yards, 12 TD) is his guy although he has to have work on his passing (79-150, 910 yards, 4 TD). If he wants a thrower, then he has redshirt sophomore Matt Corral (105-178, 1,362 yards, 6 TDPs). The Rebels also return redshirt freshmen Grant Tisdale and Kinkead Dean. Ole Miss signed Kade Renfro (6-4, 190, Stephenville, TX).
South Carolina: Will Muschamp brought in former Georgia OC and Colorado State HBC Mike Bobo to revamp his offense. There might be a QB controversy brewing. Ryan Hilinski (2,357 passing yards, 11 TDP as a true freshman) took over when three-year starter Jake Bentley was injured. What will he do if Bobo turns the offense over to grad transfer Colin Hill (3,323 passing yards, 23 TDP in three injury-prone seasons), who followed his former coach to South Carolina? Will redshirt sophomore Dakereon Joyner (168 passing yards, 101 rushing yards, 1 TD) grow weary waiting his turn? The Gamecocks signed Luke Doty (6-1, 185, Myrtle Beach, SC), who is enrolled.
Texas A&M: Incumbent senior Kellen Mond (6,004 passing yards, 44 TDPs; 974 rushing yards, 15 TDs the last two seasons) is starting his third year for Jimbo Fisher and fourth as the Aggie QB. Aggie fans expect him to lift the A&M to the SEC West promised land with a roster that was built for the 2020 season. The backups are redshirt freshman Zach Calzada (133 passing yards, 2 TD) and James Foster (30 passing yards, 15 rushing yards) and fourth-year junior Connor Blumrick. The Aggies signed Haynes King (6-3, 190, Longview, TX), who has enrolled.
Vanderbilt: The situation is a mess. Every scholarship QB from 2019 either graduated or transferred out. The only quarterback on the spring roster is walk-on Jack Bowen. New offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will have four to work with starting in the summer – jucos Danny Clark (6-4, 223, Wesson, MS Copiah-Lincoln CC) and Jeremy Moussa (6-2, 190, San Bernardino, CA College of San Bernardino Valley) and freshmen Ken Seals (6-3, 203 Weatherford, TX) and Michael Wright (6-4, 185, Atlanta, GA Woodward Academy).
ANOTHER FRUSTRATING SETBACK FOR UF BASKETBALL
In the last 30 hours since UF’s rather listless 68-51 loss to Ole Miss on the road, two former Gator basketball players called me and offered these five observations:
(1) Kerry Blackshear Jr. looks frustrated. He gets wide open in the low blocks but no one gets him the ball. The only time they (teammates) seem to pass him the ball is when he’s up high in pick and roll situations. When he gets the ball consistently in the low blocks he scores a lot of points and draws a lot of fouls.
(2) Other than Andrew Nembhard, this team doesn’t have any skilled passers. Most of the time when the offense is stagnant isn’t because of poor offensive sets or coaching but because this isn’t a good passing team.
(3) When these guys want to play good defense (see Auburn) they’re quite capable of playing tough and hard. Against Ole Miss, nobody seemed to want to play defense. How can you let the only two guys they have that can shoot (Tyree and Shuler) have their way without putting up any resistance?
(4) Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann need a lot of time in the weight room. They are not strong enough to play significant minutes in the SEC. The people who rate kids coming out of high school claimed they were one-and-done candidates. Neither one of them is anywhere close to being ready for that grind if they can’t handle a college grind, which is evident.
(5) Florida’s best two basketball players are sitting out this season because of the NCAA transfer rules: Anthony Duruji and Tyree Applebee. They are the difference makers UF doesn’t have this year. SEC BASKETBALL Saturday’s scores
Ole Miss (12-11, 3-7 SEC) 68, FLORIDA (14-9, 6-4 SEC) 51 #11 Auburn (21-2, 8-2 SEC) 91, #18 LSU (17-6, 8-2 SEC) 90, OT #15 Kentucky (18-5, 8-2 SEC) 77, Tennessee (13-10, 5-5 SEC) 64 South Carolina (14-9, 6-4 SEC) 74, Texas A&M (11-11, 5-5 SEC) 54 Missouri (11-12, 3-7 SEC) 83, Arkansas (16-7, 4-6 SEC) 79 Alabama (13-10, 5-5 SEC) 105, Georgia (12-11, 2-8 SEC) 102, OT Mississippi State (15-8, 6-4 SEC) 80, Vanderbilt (9-14, 1-9 SEC) 70 Tuesday’s games #15 Kentucky (18-5, 8-2 SEC) at Vanderbilt (9-14, 1-9 SEC), ESPN Mississippi State (15-8, 6-4 SEC) at Ole Miss (12-11, 3-7 SEC), ESPNU Arkansas (16-7, 4-5 SEC) at Tennessee (13-10, 5-5 SEC), SEC Network Missouri (11-12, 3-7 SEC) at #18 LSU (17-6, 8-2 SEC), SEC Network
Wednesday’s games Florida (14-9, 6-4 SEC) at Texas A&M (11-11, 5-5 SEC), SEC Network South Carolina (14-9, 6-4 SEC) at Georgia (12-11, 2-8 SEC), SEC Network Alabama (13-10, 5-5 SEC) at #11 Auburn (21-2, 8-2 SEC), ESPN2
GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY
From Scott Dotcherman of The Athletic, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on the state of officiating in college football: “Year after year, we tweak the rules. Over five years, eight years, 10 years, there’s a real compound effect on this stuff. And it ties in with what one of those NFL coaches, someone in the last two months said he’s not sure what pass interference is anymore. I mean, the guy is an NFL coach, and that’s what he does for a living and he doesn’t know? I think that’s very telling to me. I think I’ve seen that or we’ve seen that at the college level right now.”
From Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, Duke coach Mike Kryzyzewski on the state of college basketball: “There aren’t any great teams. There are some really good teams who have good records … I think the whole state of college basketball has been hurt by how many kids have tested the [NBA Draft] waters. It’s not the one-and-dones. We’ve lost about 70 or 80 kids who weren’t even drafted.”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: I’m neither a Duke nor Coach K fan, but the Blue Devils’ comeback to beat North Carolina in overtime Saturday night was must see TV … Canadian Nick Taylor shot a 1-under par 70 on the final day at Pebble Beach to cruise home with a 4-shot win over Kevin Streelman, five shots better than Phil Mickelson, who shot a final round 74 … Bryan McClendon, the offensive coordinator the last two years at South Carolina until demoted after the 2019 season, is taking the job as wide receivers coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers ... After completing fewer than 50% of his passes and throwing two picks in his debut at QB with the XFL Tampa Bay Vipers, I think Aaron Murray might want to see if CBS is holding his spot in the college football broadcast booth.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What is your opinion of officiating, whether in college football or basketball? Is there a need to perhaps simplify the rule book and maybe limit the time for replay to something like two minutes?