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Five SEC questions that will be answered in 2015

Aug 31, 2015 -- 8:49am

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter: @cfbupdate

SEC football kicks off this week and here are five questions just waiting to be answered in 2015.

1. What impact will the lack of a proven QB have on Alabama?

We have all heard the old saying, "if you have two quarterbacks, then you don't have any." In Tuscaloosa there are five and with less than a week before facing Wisconsin in Dallas it seems that maybe the race is down to three. Which one it will be is in the air and could be a big factor in the College Football Playoff. The candidates are:

  • Jacob Coker-the Florida State transfer was the favorite last year and failed to beat out Blake Sims. It is obvious that something is just not clicking.
  • Alec Morris-the most unheralded of the Tide quarterbacks, but has been in the system and has a grasp on the offense.
  • Cooper Bateman-an athletic player who can use his legs to get out of trouble. Has improved his accuracy and decision making since spring according to reports.

You may even see all three in week one. Wow.

2. Which team is stepping forward the most in 2015: Arkansas or Tennessee?

In 2014 the Razorbacks went 7-6, showing great improvement as the season progressed. The highlight of the year for Razorback fans was beating the hated Longhorns in the Texas Bowl, but shutout wins over Ole Miss and LSU were more impressive. Nine starters are back for Bret Bielema on offense in 2015.

Tennessee also posted a 7-6 season, and are excited about the abilities of quarterback Joshua Dobbs and a supporting cast of talented playmakers. The Vols have ten starters back on offense and eight on defense.

These two square off on October 3 in Knoxville. It should be fun.

3. Which of the new defensive coordinators will have the biggest impact in year one on a different campus?

The candidates are Will Muschamp at Auburn, John Chavis at Texas A&M and Kevin Steele of LSU.

While Chavis has a proven track record of success at Tennessee and LSU, he has a big issue in year one at College Station. The Aggies have a great group of wide receivers. Nineteen to be exact. LSU has fourteen on the roster and Tennessee has fifteen. While Kevin Sumlin has a handful of great players on defense, his allocation of scholarships has left the team shorthanded at a few key defensive slots. Defense takes a unit to get the job done. 

Muschamp will have a much better defense in year two and an improved one in year one. It just won't be a dominant group out of the gate. In SEC games last year the Tigers gave up 32.8 points per game, good for tenth in the league. They also have eight starters back. Can Muschamp make this group that much better with schemes or does the talent need upgrading?

Steele inherits the most complete and game ready set of players of this group. LSU returns six starters and there is no lack of 4-5 stars ready to step in. LSU is one of those rare places that can easily absorb losing five starters and possibly be improved with the new faces. The key for Steele is to keep things pointed in the right direction in year one.

Talent on hand gives Steele the edge.

4. Is Kevin Sumlin going to be able to push Texas A&M to a new level?

There has been an excitement around Texas A&M football since Kevin Sumlin arrived as the head coach for the Aggies in 2012. Two reasons for much of that goes to the arrival of the Aggies into the SEC and the emergence of Johnny Manziel's wizardry on the playing field.

 Here is a fact though: Texas A&M has won fewer games each season during Sumlin’s tenure.

As a matter of fact, the last two seasons Sumlin has just one more win than Mike Sherman did in his final two years in College Station. You might even say that Sumlin’s best season leading the Aggies was accomplished almost entirely with Sherman’s players. As he has put more of his own guys on the roster, that win total has decreased.

This is a big season for Texas A&M, and one filled with hope. They have an experienced quarterback returning in Kyle Allen and he has plenty of talent to throw to. In addition, John Chavis is the new defensive coordinator and there are talented young players like Myles Garrett at defensive end and Armani Watts at safety to build around.

Now it is time for Sumlin to show he can orchestrate all this talent and drive the Aggies to a new level.

5. Which true freshman is going to help his team show marked improvement in 2015?

Auburn needs to improve their pass rush for the Tiger’s D to make a statement in year one under Will Muschamp. Byron Cowart was one of the nation’s top recruits and has an opportunity to show he was worth all those stars by gathering some sacks in 2015.

Whoever ends up being the quarterback at Alabama will need someone to throw the ball to as there is no Amari Cooper to throw the ball too. Calvin Ridley was the top receiver nationally in last year’s signing class and he needs to be a contributor from week one to help the Tide win.

At Tennessee Shy Tuttle is the kind of impact player that can provide the Vols depth on a defensive line that can be dominating this season. Tuttle is a 320 pound space filler that he combines with a surprisingly quick first step.

Besides these players, there are plenty of other candidates. You can be sure, one freshman will step forward.

College football is coming.

The Heisman Trophy is usually NOT won by the best player in college football. Of this, there can be no debate

Aug 29, 2015 -- 12:16pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on twitter: @cfbupdate

The best player on college football does not win the Heisman very often. Of this, there can be no debate.

Herschel Walker: best college RB in CFB history...OTTCBND

Ohio State SHOULD be number one right now...OTTCBND

Really, the award does not even claim to be presented to the “best” player, but simply the most outstanding. Here is the mission statement from the Heisman Trophy website(highlights are mine):

“The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. Winners epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work. The Heisman Trophy Trust ensures the continuation and integrity of this award. The Trust, furthermore, has a charitable mission to support amateur athletics and to provide greater opportunities to the youth of our country. Our goal through these charitable endeavors is for the Heisman Trophy to symbolize the fostering of a sense of community responsibility and service to our youth, especially those disadvantaged or afflicted. All assets of the Trust beyond the expense of maintaining the annual presentation of the Heisman Memorial Trophy are reserved for such charitable causes. The Trustees, who all serve pro bono, are guided by a devotion to college football and are committed to community service and the valued tradition which the Trophy represents.”

Most outstanding does not mean best. Here is the definition of outstanding as defined by Merriam-Webster:

·         extremely good or excellent

·         easy to notice especially because of being important or very good

·         not yet paid

The second definition is even more significant than the first one. Why? You have to be seen OFTEN to get the award. To be seen enough to get the award you have to touch the football during the game lots of times. You also have to pile up plenty of yards with it. It is also of great help to play at a big school.

I find the accounting use of the word that is the third definition to be interesting since we are talking about college players. Many who are being paid.

If you think the best player in college football wins the award, then you believe there has never been a lineman on either side of the ball that was the best guy. You also don’t believe that any defense only player has ever been at the top of the pile.

Here is the position breakdown for Heisman winners:

·         Receiver-4

·         Combo DB/WR-1

·         Quarterback-32

·         Running Back-42

Playing at a power program, especially Notre Dame, is also a big help. Four schools have seven Heisman Trophy wins: Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and USC. You have heard of all these? Right?

Playing at Notre Dame was a particular advantage before the explosion of cable television. In the 1953 voting QB Jerry Rhome of Tulsa lost to John Huarte. Huarte who played QB for Notre Dame passed for 2,062 yards that season with 20 touchdowns and eleven picks. Rhome passed for 2,870 yards with 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Playing for the Irish was a good thing.

Here is one thing you can be sure of: there will be a Heisman Trophy awarded at the end of the 2015 season. We will all follow the debate with a great deal of interest and have strong opinions. It will, barring a miracle, go to a skill position player. Don’t waste your time with other candidates.

College football is coming.



Herschel Walker: best college RB ever. Of this, there can be no debate.

Aug 27, 2015 -- 7:48pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on twitter: @cfbupdate

If your list of greatest college running backs does not have former Georgia star Herschel Walker at the top, then the rest of your list has no credibility. Of this, there can be no debate.

What did Walker accomplish during his career? Here is a short list of some of the highlights:

-Rushing by season

  • 1980-1,616
  • 1981-1,891
  • 1982-1,752

-First “true freshman” to be named a first team All-American.

-Only player named an All-American every year of his collegiate career.

-Only player to finish in the top three in Heisman voting every season played.

-Heisman Trophy winner in 1982.

-Finally, did you ever see him run over Bill Bates in his first game as a true freshman? Click here to see it.

Click here for more Herschel highlights.

Yes, Bo Jackson was a great athlete. Indeed, Barry Sanders was off the charts in 1988. Sure, Archie Griffin has those two Heisman’s.  Debate all day about who is number two. Herschel is the best. Ever. Period.

College football is coming.


Ohio State SHOULD be the number one preseason team...Of this, there can be no debate

Aug 23, 2015 -- 8:08pm

BY Gary Brown

Follow on twitter: @cfbupdate

The Associated Press released their 2015 college football pre-season poll Sunday. The Ohio State Buckeyes are the first school in the history of the AP poll to get all the first place votes. The Buckeyes are also the top team in the Amway Coaches Poll.

Both polls got it right.

Ohio State should be ranked number one going into the college football season. Of this, there can be no debate.

Why should Urban Meyers team hold this spot without question?

They are the nation’s defending national champion.

Not enough for you? Me either. How about these facts:

  • There are fourteen returning starters. Seven on offense and seven on defense.
  • Last year the Buckeyes rushed for 3,967 yards. They have all but 102 of those yards coming back.
  • RB Ezekiel Elliott is back and is going to be a frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. In the Big Ten Championship, College Football Playoff first round and Championship Game he rushed for 696 yards. 232 yards in the three biggest games of the Ohio State season.
  • Have you heard that Urban Meyer has three quarterbacks that would start at just about every SEC school?
  • Last season’s leading receiver, Devin Smith is gone, but numbers 2-7 are back. They accounted for 62% of all receiving yards in 2014.
  • Want experience on the offensive line? The unit has 75 starts. A reference point. The Razorbacks offensive line has 74 starts. It is really good.
  • On defense there is plenty of talent back as well. The team’s top four tacklers return this coming season.
  • There are some scouts that believe they have two number one draft picks on their defensive line in Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington.
  • Use three word for the linebackers: depth, experienced, skilled
  • Urban Meyer is a winner. His career record is 142-26.

Finally, 2015 is the year when everyone THOUGHT this team would be good.

Yes, the Buckeyes deserve that top ranking as the season gets ready to kick off. Now it will be seen if they can keep it with that big target on their backs.

College football is coming.




The Greatest Strength for Each SEC Team in 2015

Aug 18, 2015 -- 7:58pm

By Gary Brown

Follow Gary on Twitter @cfbupdate

Every team has a strength as 2015 is getting ready to kickoff. Even Vandy. Here they are....


Alabama: the defensive front.

Auburn: passing game will be strong with Jeremy Johnson throwing to Duke Williams.

Arkansas: that big offensive line.

LSU: handing the ball to Leonard Fournette and company.

Ole Miss: a talented group of offensive linemen.

Miss. State: an overrated Dak Prescott.

Texas A&M: incredible skill and depth at WR.


Florida: an incredibly talented secondary.

South Carolina: Pharoh Cooper may be the best player in the conference.

Georgia: a running game that can move the football.

Kentucky: four returning starters on the offensive line.

Missouri: ability to run the football.

Tennessee: a loaded group of wide receivers.

Vanderbilt: getting to play in the SEC East and not the West.

SEC Bowl Previews: December 30 Games

Dec 29, 2014 -- 1:05pm

By Gary Brown

Follow on Twitter at: @cfbupdate

Each day an SEC team is playing during bowl season we will preview the game and give you reasons to watch.

We start with the December 30th games.

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
#22 LSU (8-4, 4-4 SEC) vs. Notre Dame (7-5)
2:02pm Tuesday, 12/30 | LP Field, Nashville | ESPN

Notre Dame was 6-0 and had the world in front of them when they faced Florida State on October 18. Then, a penalty took a late touchdown of the board and the Fighting Irish went into a free fall for the balance of the season losing four of their last five after that game. Mid-way through the season this team had dreams of the college football playoffs, and spent the balance of the season just trying to figure out what was wrong.

LSU had a disappointing season by the standards set over the last decade. The Tigers won eight games, but they had four stinging losses that really defined the season. Auburn routed LSU, they lost to Mississippi State in a game where they tried to rally late to win, took a tough home loss to Alabama in overtime and were shut out by Arkansas.

LSU lacked offensive punch in 2014 and most of the issues can be traced to growing pains at quarterback. Anthony Jennings only completed 48.8% of his passes and had ten touchdowns to go with seven interceptions. The ground game was solid and could have been better if the Tigers had any genuine threat of a passing attack. On defense, the Tigers gave up more yards than normal, but still finished second in scoring defense in the SEC.

The return of Everett Golson at quarterback was supposed to be a big boost to the Notre Dame offense, and while he had great moments there were too many times where he made big mistakes. An example of his play that cost the team, there are the four picks against Arizona State. The Irish were also not as good on defense as they needed to be and finished the season 86th nationally in scoring defense giving up 29.3 points per game.

The Call: Both teams brought higher expectations into the season than the Music City Bowl, which means that neither team is just wild about being in Nashville. That means overall talent should prevail and the edge in this category would go to LSU. Quarterback play will also be important. If one signal caller can win the game it would be Golson, though both could lose it for their team. This should be a close game, but expect LSU to rack up another win for the SEC.

Belk Bowl-Georgia (9-3, 6-2 SEC)vs. Louisville (9-3, 5-3 ACC)

 Kickoff: Tuesday, Dec. 30 at 5:30 p.m. CT

TV Channel:ESPN

At most schools a 9-3 record is reason to celebrate. Georgia fans view it as another disappointing season for the Bulldogs under Mark Richt. While there were big wins over Clemson, Missouri and Auburn, there were the moments of failure that haunt this Georgia program. The loss to South Carolina was a tough one given how the Gamecocks lost to Texas A&M.  Against Florida the Dawgs were manhandled and in the game with Georgia Tech they managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

Louisville had a solid first year trek through the ACC and had Florida State on the ropes for much of their game before being wore down by the Seminoles. An early season loss to Virginia was disappointing, but the Cardinals were able to put that in the rearview mirror successfully.

Like most Bobby Petrino teams the Cardinals will be able to put points on the board and average 32.6 points per game. A holdover from the Charlie Strong years as head coach is a solid defense. Louisville is second in total defense in the ACC and is only giving up 20.5 points per game.

Georgia will be without longtime offensive coordinator Mike Bobo and play calling duties will be handled by tight end coach John Lilly. Don’t expect the Bulldogs to shift away from their physical running game with Nick Chubb carrying the load.

The Call: While this should be a good game the physical running of Georgia will be the toughest Louisville has faced this season. Despite the impressive stats of the Louisville defense against the run, Georgia should be able to find separation in the second half. In addition, the Georgia defense is the SEC’s best against the pass and they should have success in making Louisville one dimensional. As long as Georgia does not stray too far from their typical game plan, they should lock up win ten this season for Mark Richt.









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