SEC Insider

FAYETTEVILLE — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier doesn't mind a Thursday night game one bit. After all, there's added national exposure, some extra time off afterwards and in the Gamecocks' case an opportunity to kick off the 2008 college football season on center stage.

"(The Thursday games) have been very helpful, I think, for our program," Spurrier said. "Dave Brown of ESPN asked us if we'd do some Thursday night games and he said if we'd do some, he'd said we'll let you open up college football. And three out of last four years we've opened up on a Thursday night.

"So we certainly thought that was a good deal and playing back to back (Thursday nights) is good also. You can just treat it like a regular week, for example we just treat Thursday like it's a Saturday. So it's worked out pretty well and hopefully we play pretty well on those national TV Thursday games."

While Spurrier is a big fan of the Thursday night game highlighted on ESPN, one of his Southeastern Conference counterparts isn't. Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is in the same boat as Spurrier, playing back to back Thursday games to open the 2008 season — with the Gamecocks and Commodores squaring off on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. today. But even with the chance to be seen across the country, in front of a national audience, Johnson prefers things the old-fashioned way if he had his choice.

"I wouldn't like too many of them, to tell you the truth," Johnson said. "It's hard for us academically and with our guys, it's very important that they go to class.

"When we traveled to Miami (Ohio) last week we missed one day of class with travel and another day of class on game day. And then this Thursday we'll go to morning classes and then we'll have to miss afternoon classes. So it's just something you have to deal with."

Father First

After coaching Georgia to a 45-21 win against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt raced from Athens to Atlanta to catch a peek at Alabama's 34-10 win against Clemson. Richt wasn't there to scout the Crimson Tide, though. Instead, he was in attendance at the Georgia Dome playing the role of father.

Richt's son, Jon, is a freshman quarterback at Clemson this season. And with the Alabama-Clemson kickoff a few hours after the end of the Georgia-Georgia Southern game, it game Mark Richt a chance to root on his boy live and in person.

Before doing so, however, Richt made sure him being there was okay with Alabama coach Nick Saban.

"Mark's a really good person. He's got a really great family and he's a great family man," Saban said. "He asked what I thought about him coming to the game because his son is on the Clemson team and I said, absolutely you'd be more than welcome. I mean he's going to see the game on tape, and I think family should come first and it's probably one of the few opportunities he'll have all season to see his son.

"I hope his entire family was able to come and enjoy the game and I'm sure his son appreciated the fact that he was there. You know, I have a son and I didn't see all of his games and if there's one thing I regret it's not having the chance to see all of his games when he was growing up."

Even though Clemson lost with his son was stuck on the sidelines, Richt cherished the chance to catch the game.

"I had to scramble out of there, I had to do my coach's show and all of that," Richt said. "But the most fun was just to see (Jon) trot on and off the field with the team and after the game I got a chance to hug his neck some. That was really good."



Chris Nickson

Quarterback, Vanderbilt

6-1 • 210 • Senior

Brundidge, Ala. (Pike County HS)

Nickson rushed for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns and threw for 91 yards and one TD in Vanderbilt's 34-13 win at Miami (Ohio). His 166 rushing yards were the second most ever by a Commodores quarterback, just one yard shy of Van Heflin's 167-yard effort against Air Force in 1979. Nickson — who was returning to the starting role after injuries forced him out midway through the 2007 season — scored both of his rushing touchdowns in the first half as Vanderbilt took a 27-10 lead into the half.


Myron Pryor

Defensive Tackle, Kentucky

6-1 • 310 • Senior

Louisville, Ky. (Eastern HS)

Pryor played a key part in Kentucky's 27-2 win at Louisville, forcing one fumble and returning another 72 yards for a touchdown. Pryor's forced fumble led to Kentucky's first touchdown, as Ashton Cobb returned the turnover 28 yards for a score to give the Wildcats a 10-0 lead at the time. Then in the fourth quarter, Pryor helped put the game away when he scrambled 72 yards for Kentucky's final score. The senior defensive tackle also made a big stop on 4th-and-1 and finished the game with three tackles and one tackle for a loss.


Brandon James

Return Specialist/Running Back/Wide Receiver, Florida

5-7 • 186 • Junior

St. Augustine, Fla. (HS)

James returned four punts for 95 yards, including one return for a 74-yard touchdown in Florida's 56-10 win against Hawaii. The junior's touchdown came midway through the second quarter and helped break open the game for the Gators. Along with his special teams touchdown, James also had three carries for 16 yards and a touchdown, scoring on a one-yard run in the first quarter. James also recorded one tackle while serving as a gunner on the kickoff unit.


Mike Johnson

Guard/Tackle, Alabama

6-6 • 299 • Junior

Pensacola, Fla. (Pine Forest HS)

Johnson played both left guard and left tackle and did not allow any sacks or quarterback pressures in Alabama's 34-10 win against Clemson last week. Led by Johnson up front, the Crimson Tide offense gained 419 total yards and picked up 25 first downs, while also going 11-for-17 on third-down conversions against the previously ninth-ranked Tigers.


Terrence Cody

Noseguard, Alabama

6-5 • 365 • Junior

Ft. Myers, Fla. (Mississippi Gulf Coast CC)

Making his first career start for Alabama, Cody netted four tackles — including one tackle for a loss — as the Crimson Tide thrashed Clemson, 34-10. Cody helped limit the Tigers to no rushing yards while also holding them to a 1-for-9 effort on third down conversions.


Brandon Bolden

Running Back, Ole Miss

5-11 • 215

Baton Rouge, La. (Scotlandville Magnet)

Bolden had a team-high 76 yards rushing on just eight carries in the Rebels' 41-24 win against Memphis in the season opener. The freshman also scored on a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter — which gave Ole Miss a 41-17 lead at the time — and completed a 37-yard halfback pass to set up another Rebel field goal.


Still Tops

Even with two nonconference losses in the opening week of the 2008 season — by Tennessee and Mississippi State — the Southeastern Conference still posted the best winning percentage of all Bowl Championship Subdivision conferences.

Conference W-L Pct.

SEC 10-2 .833

Big 12 10-2 .833

Pac-10 5-1 .833

Conference USA 5-2 .714

Mountain West 5-2 .714

Big Ten 7-3 .700

ACC 7-4 .636

Western Athletic 5-3 .625

MAC 6-6 .500

Big East 4-4 .500

Sun Belt 1-5 .167

That Figures

0 Rushing yards allowed by Alabama in its 34-10 win against Clemson last week

1 Number of Southeastern Conference quarterbacks — Arkansas' Casey Dick — to throw for more than 300 yards in the first week of the 2008 season

2 Consecutive Thursday night games being played by both South Carolina and Vanderbilt, who face each other today

166 Career-high rushing yards for Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson last week, which also was the highest rushing total in the SEC during week 1.

1999 The last time Arkansas had a 300-yard passing performance before last week

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