Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifoy are almost locks to not only make the final cut but see playing time in the No Fun League this year. On most teams, losing that kind of talent to the next level a year early would be a serious blow. At Florida? Well, the guys stepping into those departed shoes just might be better.
Vernon Hargreaves III was better than either Roberson or Purifoy last year as a true freshman. He’s going to be even better this year. Over on the other side, Brian Poole has been playing very well, but the eye test tells us that Will Muschamp is going to have to put Jalen Tabor, Quincy Wilson, and J.C. Jackson on the field. They’re too talented and athletic to ride the pine.
And we can’t forget about Duke Dawson, who looks like this year’s secondary version of the Swiss Army Knife. Duke can do it all. He can be the physical corner the Gators need, but might find his home at nickel or even at safety. He’s a keeper who is going to be an impact player from day one.
It’s not that seniors Leon Orr and Darious Cummings are playing poorly. They’re not. It’s just that the young guys at defensive tackle are starting to assert themselves. Caleb Brantley, Joey Ivie, Khairi Clark, and Jay-nard Bostwick are all stepping up their games in practice. When Thomas Holley returns from minor surgery to remove some scar tissue from around a sports hernia he suffered in high school, the depth and competition will be the best it’s been in years.
On the outside, it’s starting to look like the emergence of Gerald Willis as a pass rusher will help take the pressure off Dante Fowler Jr. It’s hard to imagine that there are two defensive ends on one team with quicker first steps than those two.
Alabama: Blake Sims and Jacob Coker are alternating between the #1 quarterback and backup roles. One practice Sims is the #1 and the next he trades places with Coker ... Alabama will be paid $3.2 million for playing West Virginia in the Chik-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta ... Southern Miss will receive a $1.4 million payout to play Alabama in Tuscaloosa while Florida Atlantic will be paid $1 million.
Arkansas: Quarterback Brandon Allen continues to look like the most improved player on the team ... Sophomore running back Alex Collins, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last year, had a couple of spectacular runs at Wednesday’s practice.
Auburn: Auburn’s base defense is a 4-2-5 with Casanova McKinzy and Kris Frost the top two linebackers. Anthony Swain, JaViere Mitchell and Kenny Flowers are the three batting for the top roles as backups ... With Duke Williams looking so good at wide receiver, Sammie Coates, who has run a 4.2 40 and has a 44-inch vertical is seeing fewer double teams.
Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that fullback Merritt Hall’s career is over. He has been medically disqualified because of numerous concussions, at least three in the last two seasons ... Reggie Davis became the latest Georgia wide receiver in a green no-contact jersey, joining Chris Conley, Isaiah McKenzie, Kenneth Towns, Justin Scott-Wesley and Clay Johnson ... The pressure is on left tackle John Theus to start living up to the high school hype. He’s a third-year guy whose career has been marked by inconsistency.
Kentucky: Kentucky got in a full contact scrimmage Wednesday. Quarterbacks shared time with the first team, but Patrick Towles seems to have the upper hand so far. Head coach Mark Stoops says he might name a starter as early as next week ... Freshman wide receivers Thaddeus Snodgrass, Blake Bone and Dorial Baker continue to impress ... None of the wide receivers has shown the ability to consistently stretch the field.
LSU: LSU held a 52-play scrimmage Wednesday. Freshman tailback Leonard Fournette and wide receiver Malachi Dupre were held out of contact for minor dings ... Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings continue to split the reps at quarterback ... Redshirt freshman Frank Herron, whom head coach Les Miles has called “a beast,” continues to impress at defensive tackle along side Christian Lacouture ... The torn biceps suffered by defensive tackle Quentin Thomas apparently is not as severe as first thought. He’s back working out doing individual drills.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs will go through two practices Thursday. Fall camp ends Saturday as school starts on Monday ... Corner Cedric Jiles, who was in the four-man rotation, suffered a hamstring injury that could keep him out a game or two at the start of the season. Jameson Love and Taveze Calhour are currently listed as the starters. Sophomore Tolando Cleveland is the top backup.
Missouri: It’s becoming abundantly clear that the Tigers are in serious trouble if quarterback Maty Mauk goes down for any extended period of time. Backups Corbin Berkstresser and Eddie Printz have been anything but impressive so far ... Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy give the Tigers a solid 1-2 punch at tailback.
Ole Miss: Florida International transfer Fadon Brown (6-4, 280) continues to make an impact at defensive end ... With Tee Shephard (foot) out at cornerback, backups are going to have to step up. Kendarius Webster is a name that keeps drawing praise from head coach Hugh Freeze as the Rebels attempt to fill Shephard’s spot in the lineup ... Everybody is still buzzing about a one-handed catch for a touchdown made by wide receiver Laquon Treadwell in a scrimmage.
South Carolina: Freshman Michael Scarnecchia has stepped it up in his battle with Connor Mitch for the second team quarterback position behind Dylan Thompson. Steve Spurrier said, “He [Scarnecchia] is a kid who tries to learn what to do. He listens. He pays attention.” ... Thompson had an excellent scrimmage on a day in which Spurrier said ... Starting center Cody Waldron has been slowed by a pulled oblique muscle.
Tennessee: Head coach Butch Jones has hinted that he will name a starting quarterback this week. Most likely candidate to get the starting nod is senior Justin Worley. “I see Justin gaining confidence practice in and practice out,” Jones said ... Jashon Robertson has made an impression since moving to the offensive line after starting out on defense.
Texas A&M: Stud offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi is no longer in a boot but he hasn’t returned to practice, either ... New secondary coach Terry Joseph starts each day with a quiz. Says safety Devonta Burns, “Before meetings we take a quiz on what we do, what the linebackers do and what the D-linemen do. [Coach Joseph] makes sure we know the whole defense, not just our part of the defense. He’s hard on us every day. There are no days off.” The Aggies had the worst secondary in the SEC last year.
Vanderbilt: Head coach Derek Mason was highly impressed with Vanderbilt’s Wednesday practice. “Great tempo, really good execution and really good competition on both sides of the ball” is how Mason described it. After a couple of mediocre practices earlier in the week, this was a vast improvement ... Mason thinks the Commodores can compete with anybody in the SEC this year. “We’ve got enough tools in the tool box to be successful if we can just do what we do, understand who we are and stick to our program,” he said.
Not that Roger Goodell ever responds to the heat he gets in the media or anything like that, but just a short time after catching it from all sides about a two-game suspension for Ray Rice for domestic violence, apparently the NFL is considering tougher legislation to curb the problem. The Washington Post reports that the NFL is considering a rule that would make a first time domestic violence offender subject to an automatic 4-6 game suspension and a full year for a second time offender. The NFL has declined to respond to the report in the Post.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen told reporters on Monday that “you lie in recruiting a bunch.” After considerable heat for that remark, Holgorsen tried to walk it back with a statement in which he claimed the Monday remark was “in a lighthearted moment.” Really? I’m not saying Holgorsen is a liar, but it’s been my experience over the years that at least 70-80% of the coaches on the recruiting trail take liberties with the truth, some more than others. There are a few head coaches and even more assistants that might qualify for Pathological Liars Anonymous.
Former Gator quarterback Rex Grossman has signed with the Cleveland Browns ... Tiger Woods has withdrawn from Ryder Cup consideration after consultation with his doctors, who told him his back needs rest and rehab ... Arizona State offensive lineman Chip Sarafin has announced that he is gay ... Oklahoma seems very confident that former Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham will get a waiver from the NCAA that will allow him to play this season ... Everett Golson, who had to sit last season for academic reasons, is the starting quarterback at Notre Dame, to no one’s surprise ... Ralph Friedgen has resurfaced. The Fridge is the offensive coordinator at Rutgers ... The Oakland Raiders won’t extend their deal with the Oakland Coliseum. Raiders owner Mark Davis is talking with the folks in San Antonio about moving the team there ...
The SEC Network kicks off today. Will you only watch the major sports – football, basketball and baseball – or will you tune in to watch some of the minor sports that the network will bring to your living room?
No band ever made greater contributions to rock and roll guitar more than The Yardbirds, whose 1960s lineup included Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. When Clapton left the band in 1965 to join John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, he recommended Page, but Page declined, opening the door for Beck to join the group. Page joined as a bass player a little later and eventually took over as the lead guitar when Beck was fired for being a consistent no-show during their 1966 US tour. Beck was the lead guitar in 1966 when The Yardbirds released their album “Roger the Engineerm,” which included “Over, Under, Sideways, Down.”