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THOMAS WELLS | DAILY JOURNAL
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Football Journal 2013
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
DAILY JOURNAL |
THOMAS WELLS | DAILY JOURNAL
MSU’s Dan Mullen, left, saw his team stumble at the end of an eight-win campaign. Hugh Freeze celebrated a fast finish and seven wins.
Rebels beat Bulldogs in the expectations game TUPELO uick, which team had the better season in 2012, Ole Miss or Mississippi State?
After that long dry spell that followed the 2000 bowl season, three conNow there is a real footballsecutive style Rorshach test. winning seaMississippi State won eight sons and three games, and 4-4 in league play, bowl trips for JOHN L. while Ole Miss went 7-6 overall, Mississippi 3-5 in the league. State ought to PITTS Both teams went to bowl look pretty games – with the Bulldogs reachgood. ing a “better” brand-name bowl, But MSU’s the Gator, played on New Year’s season has to be seen as someDay. thing of a disappointment, with Yes, but there’s more to it than a 7-0 start and a 1-5 finish – injust wins and losses. When you cluding a bowl loss to Northwin matters, too. western, a team that hadn’t won
a bowl game since 1949. Ole Miss ended on a high note, with victories over MSU and then against Pittsburgh in the Compass Bowl. And after winning a combined six games over the previous two seasons – and just one league game – fans had every right to be excited.
CRUNCH THE NUMBERS
So a seven-win Ole Miss team appears to have had a better season than an eight-win MSU team. That’s underscored by USA Today computer guru Jeff Sagarin, who ranked Ole Miss 24th in his final crunch of the numbers, with MSU only 42nd.
Ah, but the expectations game comes into play this fall, too. Another seven-win season for Ole Miss would fall short of fans’ lofty expectations, especially after a highly regarded recruiting class that signed in February. But the early schedule has some brutal aspects, starting with an SEC opener on the road and including an early visit to a nationally ranked Texas team. Another eight win season in Starkville might be seen as a success – depending on which teams the Bulldogs beat. John L. Pitts (email@example.com) is sports editor of the Journal.
Alcorn State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Belhaven . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Brad Locke column . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 C.J. Johnson (Ole Miss) . . . . . . . . .6 Delta State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Itawamba CC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Jackson State . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 LaDarius Perkins (MSU) . . . . . . . . .7 Memphis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Millsaps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Mississippi College . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Miss. Valley State . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 MSU positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Northeast Miss. CC . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Ole Miss positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Parrish Alford column . . . . . . . . . . 4 Schedule analysis . . . . . . . . . . . .10 SEC East . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 SEC schedule . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 SEC standings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 SEC West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Small-college schedules . . . . . . .20 Southern Miss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 West Alabama’s Robert Henry . . . 18
FOOTBALL JOURNAL 2013
Sports editor: John L. Pitts Cover photo: Ole Miss receiver Vince Sanders, left, battles with MSU’s Jay Hughes during last year’s Battle for the Golden Egg in Oxford.
THERE’S MORE ONLINE!
At our website, djournal.com, you can find blogs from Parrish Alford, Brad Locke – both updated daily. You can also follow us on Twitter: @parrishalford, @bradlocke, @johnlpitts and @djournalnow.
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A31 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N9 N16 N23 N30
rolltide.com Virginia Tech*, 4:30 p.m. at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m. Colorado State Ole Miss Georgia State at Kentucky Arkansas Tennessee LSU at Mississippi State Chattanooga at Auburn
A31 S7 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 N2 N9 N16 N23 N30
A31 S7 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 N2 N9 N16 N23 N30
georgiadogs.com at Clemson, 7 p.m. South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. North Texas LSU at Tennessee Missouri at Vanderbilt Florida*, 2:30 p.m. Appalachian State at Auburn Kentucky at Georgia Tech
A31 S7 S14 S28 O5 O12 O24 N2 N9 N16 N23 N30
ukathletics.com Western Kentucky*, 6 p.m. Miami (Ohio), 11 a.m. Louisville, 11 a.m. Florida at South Carolina Alabama at Miss. State, 6:30 p.m. Alabama State Missouri at Vanderbilt at Georgia Tennessee
A31 S7 S14 S21 O5 O12 O19 O26 N2 N9 N16 N30
A31 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N9 N23 N29
LSUsports.net TCU*, 8 p.m. UAB, 6 p.m. Kent State, 6 p.m. Auburn at Georgia at Mississippi State Florida at Ole Miss Furman at Alabama Texas A&M Arkansas, 2:30 p.m.
MISSISSIPPI STATE A31 S7 S14 S21 O5 O12 O24 N2 N9 N16 N23 N28
www.hailstate.com Oklahoma State*, 2:30 p.m. Alcorn State, 3:30 p.m. at Auburn, 6 p.m. Troy LSU Bowling Green Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. at South Carolina at Texas A&M Alabama at Arkansas Ole Miss, 6:30 p.m.
A31 S7 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N2 N9 N23 N30
www.mutigers.com Murray State, 6 p.m. Toledo, 2:30 p.m. at Indiana, 7 p.m. Arkansas State at Vanderbilt at Georgia Florida South Carolina Tennessee at Kentucky at Ole Miss Texas A&M
A29 S7 S14 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N9 N16 N23 N28
olemisssports.com at Vanderbilt, 8:15 p.m. SE Missouri, 6 p.m. at Texas, 7 p.m. at Alabama at Auburn Texas A&M LSU Idaho Arkansas Troy Missouri at Miss. State, 6:30 p.m.
www.gamecocksonline.com A29 North Carolina, 5 p.m. S7 at Georgia, 3:30 p.m. S14 Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. S28 at UCF O5 Kentucky O12 at Arkansas O19 at Tennessee O26 at Missouri N2 Mississippi State N16 Florida N23 Coastal Carolina N30 Clemson
auburntigers.com Washington State, 6 p.m. Arkansas State, 6:30 p.m. Mississippi State, 6 p.m. at LSU Ole Miss Western Carolina at Texas A&M FAU at Arkansas at Tennessee Georgia Alabama
gatorzone.com Toledo, 11:21 a.m. at Miami, 11 a.m. Tennessee at Kentucky Arkansas at LSU at Missouri Georgia*, 2:30 p.m. Vanderbilt at South Carolina Georgia Southern Florida State
www.arkansasrazorbacks.com A31 La.-Lafayette, 3 p.m. S7 Samford, 6 p.m. S14 Southern Miss, 11:21 a.m. S21 at Rutgers S28 Texas A&M O5 at Florida O12 South Carolina O19 at Alabama N2 Auburn N9 at Ole Miss N23 Mississippi State N29 at LSU
2013 SEC SCHEDULE
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
A31 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O19 O26 N2 N9 N23 N30
www.utsports.com Austin Peay, 5 p.m. W. Kentucky, 11:21 a.m. at Oregon, 2:30 p.m. at Florida South Alabama Georgia South Carolina at Alabama at Missouri Auburn Vanderbilt at Kentucky
www.aggieathletics.com A31 Rice, noon S7 Sam Houston State, 6 p.m. S14 Alabama, 2:30 p.m. S21 SMU S28 at Arkansas O12 at Ole Miss O19 Auburn O26 Vanderbilt N2 UTEP N9 Mississippi State N23 at LSU N30 at Missouri
www.vucommodores.com A29 Ole Miss, 8:15 p.m. S7 Austin Peay, 6:30 p.m. S14 at South Carolina, 6 p.m. S21 at UMass, 11 a.m. S28 UAB O5 Missouri O19 Georgia O26 at Texas A&M N9 at Florida N16 Kentucky N23 at Tennessee N30 Wake Forest *-Neutral site
STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
(From Phil Steele) National rank in parentheses Florida (1) Tennessee (19) Arkansas (5) Georgia (23) Kentucky (9) Texas A&M (28) Missouri (11) MSU (33) So. Carolina (14) Ole Miss (34) LSU (16) Vanderbilt (39) Auburn (18) Alabama (40)
Western 1, Alabama 2, Texas A&M 3, LSU 4, Ole Miss 5, Auburn 6, MSU 7, Arkansas
Western 1, Alabama 2, Texas A&M 3, LSU 4, Ole Miss 5, Auburn 6, MSU 7, Arkansas
Eastern 1, Georgia 2, So. Carolina 3, Florida 4, Vanderbilt 5, Tennessee 6, Missouri 7, Kentucky
Eastern 1, Georgia 2, So. Carolina 3, Florida 4, Vanderbilt 5, Missouri 6, Tennessee 7, Kentucky
Western 1, Alabama 2T, LSU 2T, Texas A&M 4, Ole Miss 5, Arkansas 6, Auburn 7, MSU
Eastern 1, Georgia 2T, So. Carolina 2T, Florida 4, Tennessee 5, Vanderbilt 6, Missouri 7, Kentucky
Western 1, Alabama 2, Texas A&M 3, LSU 4, Ole Miss 5, MSU 6, Auburn 7, Arkansas
Eastern 1, Georgia 2, So. Carolina 3, Florida 4, Vanderbilt 5, Tennessee 6, Missouri 7, Kentucky
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Rebels will be challenged quickly on the road OXFORD any fans this time of year play the schedule game. They get a copy of their team’s 12 football dates and go game-by-game marking a “W” or an “L” along the way. We do it, too. Players and coaches, though, have a built-in mechanism when talking to media. I wish I had a dollar for every time I AUG. 29 hear, “One game At Vanderbilt at a time.” 8:15 p.m. We don’t live in a one-game-at-atime society, so on behalf of the players and coaches, someone has to look ahead. That’s what we do. Looking ahead at the Ole Miss schedule is troubling. The
2012: 7-6 (3-5 SEC)
S1 Central Arkansas S8 UTEP S15 Texas S22 at Tulane S29 at Alabama O6 Texas A&M O13 Auburn O27 at Arkansas N3 at Georgia N10 Vanderbilt N17 at LSU N24 Mississippi State Compass Bowl J5 Pittsburgh
W, 49-27 W, 28-10 L, 66-31 W, 39-0 L, 33-14 L, 30-27 W, 41-30 W, 30-27 L, 37-10 L, 27-26 L, 41-35 W, 41-24 W, 38-17
Rebels could indeed make progress on their journey, but be no better in the wins and losses. In trying to get Ole Miss PARRISH players to discuss the schedALFORD ule in the bigger picture I was met with “one game at a time.” The reality of the schedule is that Ole Miss needs to be a good team early, but more than that, it needs to be a good road team early. Those are different things. It’s easier to gain confidence with a few weaker opponents at home, as Ole Miss did last year, before it was overmatched
Passing: Bo Wallace 2,994 yards, 63.9%, 22 TDs, 17 INTs Rushing: Jeff Scott 197-846-6 Bo Wallace 143-390-8 Barry Brunetti 60-277-3 Receiving: Donte Moncrief 66-979-10 Ja-Mes Logan 43-490-1 Tackles: D. Nkemdiche 82 (37 solo) Cody Prewitt 80 (44 solo)
against Texas. That won’t necessarily be the case this year, but out in Austin the result, if closer, may be no different in the end. The Texas trip is just one of four – count ‘em, four – road games for the Rebels before the second week of October.
HOME, SWEET HOME
After a visit to Auburn on Oct. 5, the Rebels don’t leave the state of Mississippi. They’re at home six straight weeks then play at Mississippi State. In theory that’s a time to make up ground, but the home schedule also includes Texas A&M and LSU, and those games are the first two after the traveling show. Come December, the Rebels will have played 12 games, and they’ll have had chances at home and chances on the road
LAST 10 SEASONS
SEC All 2012 3-5 7-6 2011 0-8 2-10 2010 1-7 4-8 2009 4-4 9-4 2008 5-3 9-4 2007 0-8 3-9 2006 2-6 4-8 2005 1-7 3-8 2004 3-5 4-7 2003 7-1 10-3 All-time: 628-492-35 (.558 winning percentage)
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This is the Rebels’ most significant opener in recent memory. If they lose it, they stand a great chance to be 1-3 going to what should be a much-improved Auburn team on Oct. 5. After Vanderbilt there’s a Sept. 7 home date with Southeast Missouri, but that’s followed by the Texas game and an Alabama trip. AP The Vanderbilt game is huge. Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M You only play them one at a will visit Oxford again this fall. time, but you can talk about them collectively, and the dislike every other team. cussion leaves no room for But when you play them on growing up along the way. the schedule does matter. The Rebels need to pack their For Ole Miss, nothing matters big-boy pants from the beginmore than the Aug. 29 opener at ning. Vanderbilt. The Commodores have won four of the last five in Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ the series and, like Ole Miss, rejournalinc.com) covers Ole Miss for the turn an experienced and hungry Daily Journal. He blogs daily at team. InsideOleMissSports.com.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Better Bulldogs still face daunting path to success STARKVILLE ’all know how I feel about making predictions. I don’t like doing it. I didn’t even bother making a prediction on Mississippi State’s season last year. I imagine I would’ve been pretty close to nailing what transpired: an 8-5 record, including 4-4 in SEC play. AUG. 31 So what to Oklahoma State make of this (at Houston) year’s team? 2:30 p.m. Well, I truly believe this is the deepest team fifth-year head coach Dan Mullen has had, although a lot of guys are gone from last year. A lot of the depth is inexperienced, but the talent is tantalizing, with guys like Richie Brown, Taveze Calhoun, A.J. Jef-
ferson and Josh Robinson. This being Mullen’s fifth year, there’s an expectation for the program to take a big step forward. All the BRAD players are Mullen recruits, LOCKE his system is entrenched, and the fans are on board. Three consecutive winning seasons and bowl appearances are great, but now is the time for MSU to do bigger and better things. Unfortunately, the SEC Western Division doesn’t give a rip about Mullen’s plans. Alabama will almost certainly win the division, and if it doesn’t, Texas A&M or LSU will. Ole Miss is on the
rise. Arkansas and Auburn have two awfully good new coaches and probably won’t be down for long.
isn’t too bad, what with Bowling Green, Kentucky and an off week. Then comes November and the Gauntlet of Death: at South Carolina, at Texas A&M, Alabama, at TOUGH TASK Arkansas, Ole Miss. There is no margin for error for Remember that faceplant MSU MSU. If it wants to reach the made at the end of last season? goals of which Mullen has spoThat could happen again, and ken openly – double-digit wins, a not because the Bulldogs aren’t a division title – then it will simply good team – and I believe they’re have to beat Alabama, A&M and better than last year – but beLSU. Otherwise, better get used cause the opposition is so good. to finishing fourth or worse every Again, I don’t like making preyear. dictions, but I feel like I oughta, The schedule State faces is an so here goes: MSU will finish the unforgiving one. It starts with Ok- regular season 7-5. And that’s lahoma State in the season leaning toward the optimistic opener, and while you don’t want side. to judge a team based on one Such is life in the SEC. game – especially the first one – it’s the kind of game Mullen Brad Locke (brad.locke@ needs to win in Year 5. journalinc.com) covers Mississippi State The October slate opens with for the Daily Journal and blogs daily at LSU, but the rest of the month DJournal.com.
2012: 8-5 (4-4 SEC)
S1 Jackson State S8 Auburn S15 at Troy S22 South Alabama O6 at Kentucky O13 Tennessee O20 Middle Tennessee O27 at Alabama N3 Texas A&M N10 LSU N17 Arkansas N24 at Ole Miss Gator Bowl J1 Northwestern
W, 56-9 W, 28-10 W, 30-24 W, 30-10 W, 27-14 W, 41-31 W, 45-3 L, 38-7 L, 38-13 L, 37-17 W, 45-14 L, 41-24 L, 34-20
LAUREN WOOD | DAILY JOURNAL
Josh Robinson and other young players could give a boost to the Bulldogs’ fortunes this fall.
Passing: Tyler Russell 2,897 yards, 58.6%, 24 TDs, 10 INTs Rushing: LaDarius Perkins 205-1,024-8 Josh Robinson 55-344-1 Nick Griffin 32-234-1 Receiving: Robert Johnson 17-164-2 Jameon Lewis 10-108-0 Tackles: B. McKinney 102 (45 solo) Nickoe Whitley 88 (50 solo)
LAST 10 SEASONS
SEC All 2012 4-4 8-5 2011 2-6 7-6 2010 4-4 9-4 2009 2-5 5-7 2008 2-6 4-8 2007 4-4 8-5 2006 1-7 3-9 2005 1-7 3-8 2004 2-6 3-8 2003 1-7 2-10 All-time: 514-549-39 (.484 winning percentage)
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Returning sacks leader ‘brings passion and just raw speed’ for Rebels BY PARRISH ALFORD DAILY JOURNAL
OXFORD – Three-fourths of C.J. Johnson is better than a lot of college football players. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, however, is hoping for a full serving of Johnson when the Rebels open the season Aug. 29 at SEC foe Vanderbilt. Johnson sustained a broken leg early in spring drills and has been on the mend ever since. He was held out of practice at the beginning of camp before Johnson gradually being worked into drill work, then team work. Just last week, Freeze said last year’s returning sacks leader was running at “about 75 percent.” Johnson is just one of a number of players Freeze is hoping to have at 100 percent to help end a three-year losing streak to the Commodores. “C.J. kind of changes our front when he’s out there,” Freeze said. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack called Johnson the MVP of a unit that got better as the 2012 season went along. Johnson, then a sophomore, played in every game at defensive end and started 10. Even then he wasn’t always completely healthy. “If you had to ask me who’s the best player on this defense that made a difference for us last year, I’d say C.J. Having that speed rusher, and in our system, having that guy that’s kind of a hybrid defensive end and can play linebacker, makes a difference to us,” Wommack said.
Johnson has favored his healing leg. Early in camp a projected first defensive line emerged that included Johnson at one end and freshman Robert Nkemdiche – the nation’s top recruit – at the other. If that holds, it means that a senior returning starter in Cameron Whigham will play off the bench. Sophomore Channing Ward, a prep All-American from Aberdeen, and D.T. Shackelford, returning after two years away from the game, make end an intriguing position.
Johnson says the Rebels need production from Nkemdiche and other freshmen. “They understand they’re going to have to come in and make an immediate impact for our football team, and pretty much they’ve responded,” he said. Many on the team are hoping for the biggest response from Johnson. Senior cornerback Charles Sawyer says Johnson can break records if he can stay healthy. “Man, that’s my boy. He’s good. He brings passion and just raw speed off the edge. He’s a THOMAS WELLS | DAILY JOURNAL football player,” Sawyer said. C.J. Johnson, an impact defender, has been recovering from a broken leg suffered in the spring. Johnson believes he will be healthy and that improved techJohnson finished with 6.5 that hasn’t been banged up and for camp media sessions. nique and “being more crisp on sacks and eight tackles for loss. had a few nicks and bruises, but Ole Miss athletics director stunts” will help him increase He recovered a fumble for a I think overall I was pretty Ross Bjork said Ole Miss was co- his production. touchdown against Auburn. healthy,” he said at the school’s operative with the NCAA and Wommack hopes he’s correct. Johnson downplays the idea media day on Aug. 2. that the matter of Johnson’s re“He’s very important to us. He that health slowed him a bit last Johnson’s late start to practice cruiting – He chose the Rebels needs to stay out there and stay year. and the off-field news of the after a hotly contested battle healthy, because I’m not sure “It’s always tough playing in NCAA’s summer presence in his with Mississippi State – is closed. we’ve got another one behind the SEC. I don’t think there’s a hometown asking questions Wommack has clearly worked him.” guy who’s come through this about his recruiting have caused to get Johnson ready for the league and played a full season Freeze to make him unavailable opener. At times in practice email@example.com
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Fifth-year senior running back evolves into ‘one of our star players’ BY BRAD LOCKE DAILY JOURNAL
STARKVILLE – At first glance, LaDarius Perkins does not have the look of an every-down SEC tailback. He proved last year that it pays to look at him more closely. Perkins rushed for 1,024 yards in 2012, and he enters his senior year at Mississippi State as one of the league’s biggest workhorses. His average of 17.1 carries per game last fall ranked second in the SEC, trailing only Florida’s Mike Gillislee (18.8 carries per Perkins game). This did not surprise MSU head coach Dan Mullen. “I got to see him as a scout team tailback as a true freshman. That was never a deal,” Mullen said of Perkins’ size. “When perception and reality creep in, you look at a guy, and it’s, OK, the perception’s this of him. But the reality of a guy like Perkins, I mean, he weighs (195) pounds. He has size.” Perkins, who stands 5-foot-10, is a muscle-bound speedster who isn’t afraid to mix it up between the tackles. The first two years of his career he was a complementary player, a change-ofpace back when the bruising Vick Ballard was MSU’s lead ball carrier. Before Ballard came along, Anthony Dixon led the rushing attack, and he too was a big, physical player. So the insertion of Perkins in the lead tailback slot broke a pattern, and it went against the conventional wisdom that SEC lead runners need to be big bruisers.
DESTE LEE | DAILY JOURNAL
LaDarius Perkins was a 1,000-yard rusher last season for Mississippi State. He’s a fifth-year senior. Mullen credited Perkins’ success with his willingness to work his way up and develop himself as a player each year. “And he’s just shown that he has in his development and growth throughout his career of going from a guy that redshirted
into a role player into a starter into a guy that everybody counts on to be one of our star players for this season,” Mullen said.
Being a fifth-year senior, Perkins brings more than just
physical tools to the table. He’s got knowledge and veteran savvy, and that can go a long way. “He doesn’t think about anything, he just reacts to what he hears. He knows it,” running backs coach Greg Knox said.
“When you’re operating like that, where you’re just reacting to what you hear and you never think, you operate at a fast pace.” Running the ball is not all Perkins is expected to do. He’s been a vital weapon in the pass game and should again play a role there. He’s also returned kickoffs, although he looks to be switching over to punt return duty this year. “I see him getting quite a few touches, whether it’s in the run game or the pass game,” Knox said. “Getting the ball to him can be very beneficial for us. He’s a weapon.” And Perkins could see a slight reduction in carries, because MSU has a wealth of experienced depth behind him. Junior Nick Griffin and sophomores Derrick Milton and Josh Robinson will all vie for playing time. “I feel like all those guys can get the job done when I’m not in there,” Perkins said. But when Perkins is in there, however many carries he’s getting, he expects to get the job done. By the time he’s finished at MSU, he will have made a mark on the school’s career charts. Another 1,000-yard season could vault him to third in career rushing yards, and he’s seven rushing touchdowns away from breaking the top 10 on that list. Perkins isn’t concerned with those numbers, or with how many carries he gets this year. “This year I’m just trying to make everybody around me better,” he said. “That’s my main goal.” firstname.lastname@example.org
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Rebels: Position by position breakdown Senior Patrick Junen was a versatile reserve last season but has been slow to QUARTERBACKS get back in the mix after off-season surBo Wallace is the clear No. 1. There’s gery, leaving him behind in a competition less clarity at No. 2, where freshman De- for the right guard spot with third-year vante Kincade has been prepared for a sophomore Justin Bell. Junen will again role, the status of which may become be a valuable reserve. more clear as the season progresses. Freshmen Laremy Tunsil and Austin For starters, the starter’s shoulder is in Golson have been at least second team good shape. Wallace has made the from the beginning with Tunsil – the nathrows this month. The question is, can tion’s No. 1 OL prospect – getting a lot of he make the right decisions. first-team work while Burton was out. Decision-making was a constant story The line was basically a six-man line for Wallace last year and a factor in show last year. Expect that to increase his 17 interceptions. Ole Miss coach with relief work coming from a possible Hugh Freeze called him out for wrong mix of Junen, Tunsil, Golson and redshirt calls in the first week of camp. He’s got- freshman Robert Conyers. ten better since then. Kincade was labeled a “dual threat” RECEIVERS quarterback in his recruiting coverage as Junior Donte Moncrief has star poa high school star. He’s faster than Barry tential and could very well leave for the Brunetti, the Rebels’ run-oriented back- NFL after this season – provided he can up, and has had a good camp passing spread around his SEC productivity. Prior the football. to the LSU and MSU games at the end of Brunetti and Kincade have shared last season, Moncrief had one touchsecond-team reps in camp. down catch in six conference games. Freshman Ryan Buchanan will likely The loss of Vince Sanders to a broredshirt. ken collarbone on the second day of fall practice was a big blow and a signal to RUNNING BACKS freshmen Laquon Treadwell and Jeff Scott is the returning starter and Quincy Adeboyejo that they needed to says he wants to rush for 1,000 yards get ready to play big snaps quickly. this season. He has that potential but Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 receiver may not reach it, if only because the tal- prospect last year, has shown himself to ent behind him may reduce his carries. be a physical receiver with good hands Starting backs usually take their fair in traffic and an enticing complement to share of hits, making a strong second Moncrief when they line up next to one back a necessity. another with Treadwell in the slot. You Sophomore I’Tavius Mathers had a can’t double-team everybody. bead on the No. 2 spot before missing Senior Ja-Mes Logan moved from several days of practice with a sprained the slot to flanker when Sanders went ankle. He’s pushed by freshman Mark out, opening the door for Treadwell with Dodson, who helped himself in the com- the first team. petition immeasurably by graduating Senior Korvic Neat was running sechigh school early and going through ond team at the slot receiver when he spring drills at Ole Miss. had knee surgery last Tuesday. He is exSophomore Jaylen Walton will figure pected to be out four weeks. Replacing in as well and should figure prominently those second-team reps will be done by into the short passing game. committee. Freshman Kailo Moore’s speed could Freshman Evan Engram is a very get him on the field, though he missed a athletic option at tight end, but at 217 week of camp with a concussion and fell pounds is fairly light in the pants for behind in the learning process. blocking support. Freshman Jordan Wilkins is a redConverted running back Nick Parker shirt candidate. (6-0, 234) can help out there, and so can senior Jack Nuismer.
Four starters are back in tackles Emmanuel McCray (left tackle) and Pierce Burton, center Evan Swindall and left guard Aaron Morris.
DEFENSE DEFENSIVE LINE
Key players are trying to work back
Depth at cornerback took a hit when it was announced that junior college transfer Nick Brassell would not have the grades for eligibility. Junior Senquez Golson and senior Charles Sawyer, the projected starters, missed most of camp recovering from injuries. That left sophomore Quintavius Burdette and senior Dehendret Collins to run first team. Both moved to CB only recently, though Collins played the position early last year before moving to safety. Sophomore Anthony Standifer, freshman Bobby Hill and junior college transfer Quadarias Mireles are also in the mix to provide depth. Golson and Sawyer expect to play against Vanderbilt, but the amount of camp time missed means they may not be in condition to go wire to wire. Look for at least one of the backups, probably Collins, to get plenty of snaps on opening night. Sophomore Trae Elston and junior Cody Prewitt are returning starters at the safeties. Look for freshman Derrick Jones to make an impact as well. Sophomore Mike Hilton has held his starting job at the “Huskie,” the fifth deBRUCE NEWMAN | OXFORD EAGLE fensive back that plays near the line of Bo Wallace was fifth in passing in the SEC last season, averaging scrimmage, but look for big things from 230.3 yards per game, with 22 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. freshman Antonio Conner. from off-season surgeries here, and there’s the question of how last year’s No. 1 overall recruit will acclimate to game-day speed, but the group has exciting potential. Before the end of the first week, freshman Robert Nkemdiche was running first team at defensive end. It was a move made easier because junior end C.J. Johnson – coming back from a broken leg – was not yet going through team drills, and senior Cameron Whigham missed a handful of days with a concussion. Nkemdiche has stuck with the first team, to no one’s surprise. At 6-4, 297 he looks the part, and through camp looks have not been deceiving. It’s Johnson, though, who is called the MVP by defensive coordinator Dave Wommack and Johnson was only running at about 75 percent, according to coach Hugh Freeze, a week ago. The Rebels were 10 days into camp before sophomore nose tackle Issac Gross began going through drills, but
there’s a lot of excitement around thirdyear sophomore Woodrow Hamilton, who has run first team at nose in Gross’ absence. Wommack raves about the athleticism that Hamilton brings with a 300pound frame. Junior Bryon Bennett will factor in at tackle, and junior college transfer Lavon Hooks will provide depth.
This position is deep and manned mostly with veterans. Sophomore Denzel Nkemdiche burst onto the scene with an All-SEC season a year ago. He led the team with 82 tackles and 13 tackles for loss and returns as the starter at outside LB. Mike Marry, a senior, is back at middle linebacker after posting 78 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss last year. Serderius Bryant on the outside and Keith Lewis in the middle provide experienced depth.
SPECIAL TEAMS Freeze made the unusual move of redshirting two seniors last year. That should now pay off for kicker Andrew Ritter and punter Tyler Campbell. Ritter has handled the kickoff chores for three years, but played behind the reliable Bryson Rose and has not attempted a field goal since high school at Jackson Academy. Campbell was the NCAA punting champion as a sophomore in 2010 with a 46.4-yard average. Former special teams coach James Shibest changed Campbell’s style in 2011 with more emphasis on the rugbystyled punts. The average dropped to 43.6, but Campbell had more punts downed inside the 20. Depth at running back should allow Jeff Scott to return to his role as punt returner. Scott, I’Tavius Mathers, Jaylen Walton and Trae Elston are candidates to be deep on kickoffs. Compiled by Parrish Alford
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Bulldogs: Position by position analysis OFFENSE QUARTERBACKS
Fifth-year senior Tyler Russell is back under center – quite literally. After taking most of his snaps from the shotgun formation last year, he got a lot of reps this offseason from under center. Russell is coming off a breakout season, having thrown for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns, but the coaches aren’t afraid to mix things up a bit. Russell has a comprehensive knowledge of the playbook and is able to make adjustments before and after the snap. That’s a big advantage when going against SEC defenses. A motivating factor for Russell is the way last season ended, when he threw six interceptions over the final two games, including four against Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. Also getting snaps will be sophomore Dak Prescott. He became a valuable weapon in certain situations last fall, both with his legs and his arm. Prescott had four touchdowns passing and four rushing. Russell has made a big effort to mentor him, and this is Prescott’s time to prep for a likely starting role in 2014.
and get to quarterbacks. Collins would ideally like to go eight or 10 deep at linebacker, and there is some young talent that will get a chance to make a mark. Beniquez Brown, Richie Brown and Zach Jackson are among those expected to add depth. Junior Ferlando Bohanna backs up McKinney, and with his speed he’ll provide some of the versatility Collins covets.
There’s been a lot of focus on what MSU lost here, and for good reason. Johnthan Banks, who won the Jim Thorpe Award, and Darius Slay are now in the NFL, leaving two big holes at cornerback. Those two combined for nine interceptions last season. So who steps in? Junior Jamerson Love and juco transfer Justin Cox are expected to win the starting roles, and both bring particular strengths to the position. Love is one of the fastest players on the team, while Cox showed good ball-hawking skills at East Mississippi CC, recording 11 picks in his two years there. Cedric Jiles and Taveze Calhoun will get plenty of snaps, too. RUNNING BACKS The safeties are an experienced LaDarius Perkins is a fifth-year sengroup, led by senior Nickoe Whitley. AP He’s a hard hitter with 10 career interior who rushed for 1,024 yards last seaMississippi State QB Tyler Russell passed for 2,897 yards and 24 touchdowns last season. son, and he’s countered the notion that ceptions, and he’ll be joined in the rotahe can’t be an every-down back. But tion by Dee Arrington, Jay Hughes and one of the candidates to start, along with the tackle spots. While there is experiman Chris Jones, a five-star recruit who Kendrick Market. with the depth MSU has at tailback, juco transfer Jeremey Chappelle, junior ence there with junior Blaine Clausell might see the field early. Perkins doesn’t have to carry too heavy Jameon Lewis and sophomore Joe (left tackle) and senior Charles SidThe tackle positions run deep. P.J. a load. All three backups return: Josh SPECIAL TEAMS Morrow. doway, the protection must improve. Jones, a junior, brings strength and athRobinson, Derrick Milton and Nick After working on kick returns the past The top returning receiver in terms of Russell took quite a few hits last sea- leticism to the position, and he’ll be Griffin combined for 723 yards last seathree years, LaDarius Perkins is the catches is actually Perkins, the tailback. son, although some of that could be atflanked by junior Kaleb Eulls, who has son. leading candidate to take over on punt Johnson is the top returner in terms of tributed to his holding onto the ball. One made a permanent move inside. Curtis With Perkins possibly getting used returns. MSU ranked 12th in the SEC in yards, with 164, and he showed promis- positive – MSU allowed just 19 sacks. Virges, Quay Evans and Nick James more in the passing game, the carries punt return average last season (7.4 ing signs of progress last year. Morrow, a Position coach John Hevesy believes will be key parts of the rotation, too. could get spread more evenly. That yards); Perkins’ speed and shiftiness big target (6-foot-4) coaches hope can this group can go eight, maybe even should help MSU have fresh legs come could be an asset there. Several candistretch the defense, was slowed last nine deep. LINEBACKERS the fourth quarter. Even though Russell is Linebackers coach Geoff Collins took dates are vying for kickoff return duty, back at QB, losses at receiver could have season by injury. Lewis, meanwhile, including receiver Jameon Lewis. steps into the slot position vacated by over the defensive coordinator role this State leaning a little more on the run DEFENSE Punt coverage is something MSU exChad Bumphis, who scored an SECyear, and the attacking style he hopes to game this fall. DEFENSIVE LINE celled in last season. Senior Baker Sweplay will largely depend on the ability of MSU ranked 10th in the SEC in rush- leading 12 TDs last fall. State has built up a solid unit here, Lewis is small, but size is something the linebackers to be versatile. And it’s a denburg averaged a respectable 41.1 ing last year (144.2 ypg), but that was and the expectation is that the D-line will yards per punt, but his real strength was MSU has a lot of at receiver, and it’s a versatile group, led by sophomore midpartly due to a much heavier emphasis get a better push into opposing backball placement. MSU ranked first nationwelcome change from the past. dle linebacker Benardrick McKinney, on the passing game. It was an exact fields. Senior Denico Autry returns at who can cover a lot of ground and brings ally in punt return yardage defense, al50/50 split on run plays versus pass right end, while junior Preston Smith OFFENSIVE LINE good size to the table (6-5, 235 pounds). lowing just 0.46 yards per return. plays. Sophomore Devon Bell again has If one counts right guard Justin Mal- anchors the left side; they combined for With Cam Lawrence gone, McKinney will placekicking duties. He had an up-andone, who drew four starts last year, then 9.5 sacks last year. Autry, a juco transfer, bear most of the responsibility in terms RECEIVERS down freshman year, making 14 of 21 of making calls and adjustments. MSU returns less than a quarter of its MSU has five returning starters up front. could be poised for a breakout year, if the way he finished last season is any field goals, including 4 of 7 from 40 The interior is strong with All-SEC left Senior Deontae Skinner and junior receiving production from last season. indication. There’s depth but inexperiguard Gabe Jackson and junior center Matt Wells hold down the outside spots, yards or more. Junior Robert Johnson is the top reCompiled by Brad Locke Dillon Day. The question marks come at ence behind those two, including freshwith Wells able to both cover receivers turning touchdown man, with two. He’s
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
MSU schedule analysis AUG. 31, VS. OKLAHOMA STATE: MSU opens in Houston against the No. 13-ranked team. The Cowboys’ passing game will be a huge challenge, and the Bulldogs might have to win a shootout. Winning could set up a fast start similar to last year. Likely winner: OKLAHOMA STATE. SEPT. 7, ALCORN STATE: MSU likes to play an in-state FCS school every year. MSU. SEPT. 14, AT AUBURN: The Tigers are coming off an 0-8 SEC showing last year, but new coach Gus Malzahn is expected to inject some life into the program, especially the offense. How quickly he does so is another matter. MSU. SEPT. 21, TROY: The Trojans put a scare into MSU last year in Troy, with the Bulldogs scratching out a 30-24 win despite being outgained, 572-457. Troy finished with a 5-7 record. MSU. OCT. 5, LSU: The Bulldogs have lost 13 in a row in this series, their last win coming in 1999 in Starkville. This game might be MSU’s best shot at an upset in the Western Division. LSU. OCT. 12, BOWLING GREEN: Mullen first worked under Urban Meyer at Bowling Green, serving as quarterbacks coach for the 2001-02 seasons. The Falcons are coming off an 8-5 season, 6-2 mark in MAC play. MSU. OCT. 24, KENTUCKY: The first of two Thursday
Ole Miss schedule analysis AUG. 29, AT VANDERBILT: A win that Ole Miss left on the table last year. The two were evenly matched then, and both return plenty of players. Ole Miss will have a slight edge at QB because Bo Wallace has been through the league once. Austyn Carta-Samuels, successful for two years at Wyoming, has not. Likely winner: OLE MISS SEPT. 7, SOUTHEAST MISSOURI: “Remember Jacksonville State” was a worthy battle cry when the Rebels trailed Central Arkansas at halftime in the opener of the Freeze Era. Similar success for SEMO isn’t likely. OLE MISS SEPT. 14, AT TEXAS: The Rebels are better prepared for the Longhorns this season. Unfortunately, this game is on the road. TEXAS SEPT. 28, AT ALABAMA: Ole Miss gave Alabama some trouble year ago. It will be interesting to see how Nick Saban, a meticulous planner, attacks the hurry-up this year. ALABAMA OCT. 5, AT AUBURN: Two teams that will try to snap the ball as often as they can play a 2 1/2 hour game. Auburn will be much improved and will have a turnaround season similar to the one Ole Miss had last year. AUBURN OCT. 12, TEXAS A&M: A welcome return to Vaught-Hemingway is spoiled by Johnny Manziel, who doesn’t have the turnovers he did when the
night games this year for MSU is against a team it’s beaten four consecutive times. The Wildcats have a new coach in Mark Stoops, the former Florida State defensive coordinator. MSU. NOV. 2, AT SOUTH CAROLINA: MSU makes its first trip to Columbia in six years. The Gamecocks, No. 6 in the preseason, feature All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, a preseason Heisman Trophy candidate. SOUTH CAROLINA. NOV. 9, AT TEXAS A&M: State’s brutal November continues with its first trip to College Station in 100 years. Unless the NCAA says otherwise, the Bulldogs will have to face Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and a team that ranked third nationally in total offense last year. TEXAS A&M. NOV. 16, ALABAMA: The two-time national champions have some key personnel losses to overcome, but that’s nothing new. ALABAMA. NOV. 23, AT ARKANSAS: MSU is 0-6-1 in Little Rock, but Arkansas is trying to rebuild under new coach Bret Bielema. MSU. NOV. 28, OLE MISS: The Rebels snapped a three-game losing streak to State last season, the first with coach Hugh Freeze at the helm. Expectations are high in Oxford this fall, and this Egg Bowl is shaping up to be a doozy. MSU. Brad Locke
Aggies won 30-27 at Oxford in 2012. A&M OCT. 19, LSU: The Tigers have compiled the successive recruiting classes Hugh Freeze is seeking. LSU typically has an easier time with Ole Miss in Oxford than in Baton Rouge. LSU OCT. 26, IDAHO: The Vandals will click on offense under new coach Paul Petrino but not enough to win an SEC road game. OLE MISS NOV. 9, ARKANSAS: New Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema, like Saban, has been a vocal opponent of the tempo offense, saying it’s a matter of safety for his defensive players. The Razorbacks will leave without a tempo-related injury – and also without a win. OLE MISS NOV. 16, TROY: It’s a homecoming of sorts as long-time Ole Miss associate AD John Hartwell returns as AD of the Trojans. It won’t be enough to propel a mid-level Sun Belt team. OLE MISS NOV. 23, MISSOURI: It’s quite possible this could be a very important game for the future of Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel. OLE MISS NOV. 28, AT MISSISSIPPI STATE: The Rebels had the three-letter guy, Eli Manning, starting at quarterback the last time they won at Scott Field. It’s been a decade, but the streak ends this year. OLE MISS Parrish Alford
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013 |
EASTERN Georgia Florida South Carolina Vanderbilt Missouri Tennessee Kentucky WESTERN Alabama LSU Texas A&M Mississippi State Ole Miss Arkansas Auburn
SEC 7-1 7-1 6-2 5-3 2-6 1-7 0-8 SEC 7-1 6-2 6-2 4-4 3-5 2-6 0-8
SEC 2012 STANDINGS
PF 268 207 229 177 175 246 89 PF 303 180 313 202 224 157 81
PA 145 95 169 168 264 320 291 PA 90 150 168 223 239 257 272
All 12-2 11-2 11-2 9-4 5-7 5-7 2-10 All 13-1 10-3 11-2 8-5 7-6 4-8 3-9
PF 529 344 410 390 309 434 215 PF 542 387 578 383 409 282 224
PA 275 188 237 243 341 428 372 PA 153 228 283 303 359 365 340
T25 2-2 4-2 3-2 0-3 0-5 0-5 0-5 T25 6-1 3-3 4-2 0-4 1-4 0-3 0-5
Str. W1 L1 W5 W7 L2 W1 L1 Str. W4 L1 W6 L2 W2 L3 L1
2011 Home 10-4 7-0 7-6 7-0 11-2 7-0 6-7 4-2 8-5 3-4 5-7 4-3 5-7 2-5 2011 Home 12-1 6-1 13-1 7-1 7-6 4-2 7-6 6-1 2-10 4-3 11-2 3-5 8-5 3-4
T25 = Games against teams in Top 25 (AP, USA Today, Harris) at time of matchup
Div. 5-1 5-1 5-1 3-3 2-4 1-5 0-6 Div. 5-1 5-1 5-1 2-4 3-3 1-5 0-6
SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
AP | FILE
Alabama coach Nick Saban has led the Crimson Tide to back-to-back BCS national championships, two of the seven consecutive national titles for the SEC.
1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Alabama 28, Florida 21 Florida 28, Alabama 13 Florida 24, Alabama 23 Florida 34, Arkansas 3 Florida 45, Alabama 30 Tennessee 30, Auburn 29 Tennessee 24, Miss. State 14 Alabama 34, Florida 7 Florida 28, Auburn 6
2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
LSU 31, Tennessee 20 Georgia 30, Arkansas 3 LSU 34, Georgia 13 Auburn 38, Tennessee 29 Georgia 34, LSU 14 Florida 38, Arkansas 28 LSU 21, Tennessee 14 Florida 31, Alabama 20 Alabama 32, Florida 13
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2010 Auburn 56, South Carolina 17 2011 LSU 42, Georgia 10 2012 Alabama 32, Georgia 28 NOTABLE: Eastern Division teams, led by Florida (7-3), still hold a 12-9 edge in league championship games against their Western rivals, although they have lost 5 of the last 6.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
SEC West: Alabama and a half-dozen challengers ALABAMA
LAST SEASON: 13-1, 7-1 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 6, Defense 7, special teams 4 KEY PLAYERS: QB A.J. McCarron, WR Amari Cooper, LB C.J. Mosley KEY QUESTION: Alabama lost some big-time defensive players, so can Nick Saban reload again for a third consecutive BCS title? BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 10-2 QUOTABLE: “I know everybody's going to be targeting for us, and everybody’s going to come out and bring their A game against us. I don’t really try to bring any more pressure on myself or think too much about it.” – QB A.J. McCarron
LAST SEASON: 4-8, 2-6 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-4, D-8, ST-1 KEY PLAYERS: QB Brandon Allen, DE Chris Smith, DE Trey Flowers KEY QUESTION: New coach Bret Bielema comes from Wisconsin. Will his Big Ten approach go over well in Fayetteville, and how quickly will it work in the merciless SEC West? BEST CASE: 6-6. WORST CASE: 3-9
return the Tigers to prominence? BEST CASE: 6-6. WORST CASE: 3-9 QUOTABLE: “The No. 1 thing that our players have to do for us to be successful this year is get our edge back. That is the mental and physical toughness, the blue-collar, hard-nosed, hit-you-inthe-mouth Auburn football that’s made Auburn great.” – Coach Gus Malzahn
Can Gus Malzahn revive Auburn’s edge? Quotable: “I’m going to start with the offensive line and defensive line, two staples I believe are important for winning.” – Coach Bret Bielema
Last season: 3-9, 0-8 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-5, D-9, ST-2 KEY PLAYERS: RB Tre Mason, DE Dee Ford, QB Nick Marshall KEY QUESTION: Gus Malzahn is back as head coach, two years after leaving his offensive coordinator’s post at Auburn. Can his offensive mind
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RETURNING STARTERS: O-6, D-5, ST-2 KEY PLAYERS: QB Johnny Manziel, LT Jake Matthews, LB Steven Jenkins KEY QUESTION: With all the offseason controversy surrounding Heisman winner Manziel, will he and the Aggies be able to focus in and build on last season’s success? BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 9-3 QUOTABLE: “I don’t see it ever being about one player. I think certainly in many instances you have a player who is a catalyst for a lot of good things.” – Coach Kevin Sumlin Compiled by Brad Locke
LAST SEASON: 10-3, 6-2 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-8, D-5, ST-0. KEY PLAYERS: QB Zach Mettenberger, WR Odell Beckham Jr., SS Craig Loston MISSISSIPPI STATE KEY QUESTION: LSU lost 10 players early to the BEST CASE: 9-3, but it would take winning the NFL Draft, and while coach Les Miles always has opener and an SEC road game. Tough. talent on hand, how quickly can he replace those WORST CASE: 4-8, which might entail winning lost pieces? only one league game. BEST CASE: 11-1. WORST CASE: 8-4 QUOTABLE: “We’re looking forward to this ofOLE MISS fense. We feel like we’ll have an opportunity to be BEST CASE: 10-2, which would require every very dominant there.” – Coach Les Miles, on new break going the Rebels’ way. offensive coordinator Cam Cameron WORST CASE: 5-7, most likely as a result of an early injury to QB Bo Wallace. TEXAS A&M John L. Pitts LAST SEASON: 11-2, 6-2 SEC
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
SEC East: Can Georgia break through this season? FLORIDA
LAST SEASON: 11-2, 7-1 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 6, Defense 3, Special teams 1. KEY PLAYERS: QB Jeff Driskel, WR-DB Loucheiz Purifoy, DL Dominique Easley KEY QUESTION: Can the Gators get more from their passing game? They were last in the SEC with just 146.3 yards a game a year ago. BEST CASE: 9-3. WORST CASE: 6-6 QUOTABLE: “We need to be more balanced on offense. We need to be more efficient throwing the football. We need to score more touchdowns in the red zone.” – Coach Will Muschamp
LAST SEASON: 12-2, 7-1 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-10, D-4, ST-2 KEY PLAYERS: QB Aaron Murray, RB Todd Gurley, CB Damian Swann KEY QUESTION: Can the Bulldogs beat South Carolina while maintaining success against the rest of the league? UGA is 14-0 against SEC teams not named South Carolina the last two seasons. This year’s slate trades Ole Miss for LSU. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: 8-4
QUOTABLE: “Once again, the goal is to get back KEY PLAYERS: QB James Franklin, WR to Atlanta. That’s it for us. You get to Atlanta, once L’Damian Washington, LB Andrew Wilson you get there, you win that game, you got a KEY QUESTION: Can a healthier Franklin help chance to play for a national championship. Missouri rise up in SEC Year 2 and fend off quesSounds like a broken record, but that’s the real tions about Gary Pinkel’s job security? deal.” – Coach Mark Richt BEST CASE: 7-5. WORST CASE: 4-8 QUOTABLE: “We need to work better as a team. KENTUCKY We have to have more confidence in each other LAST SEASON: 2-10, 0-8 SEC and build that chemistry. Everybody has to eat to RETURNING STARTERS: Offense 6, Defense 6, live and when the ingredients mix well together, Special teams 1 the food tastes a lot better.” – QB James Franklin KEY PLAYERS: QB Jalen Whitlow, DE Bud Dupree, LB Avery Williamson SOUTH CAROLINA KEY QUESTION: Can new coach Mark Stoops LAST SEASON: 11-2, 6-2 SEC get enough from the spread offense of new coorRETURNING STARTERS: O-6, D-5, ST-1 dinator Neal Brown to keep opponents off balKEY PLAYERS: QB Connor Shaw, WR-KR Bruce ance? Kentucky scored just 17.9 points a game Ellington, DE Jadeveon Clowney last year, last in the league. KEY QUESTION: Is Clowney as good as his BEST CASE: 5-7. WORST CASE: 2-10 hype? If the Gamecocks get off to a fast start QUOTABLE: “We understand there’s a lot of Clowney could ride a wave of momentum to the hard work that lies ahead, but we’re embracing Heisman Trophy. It would be a first for a full-time that process.” – Coach Mark Stoops defensive player. BEST CASE: 12-0. WORST CASE: -3 MISSOURI QUOTABLE: “Something we’ve not done here, LAST SEASON: 5-7, 2-6 SEC is win a conference championship, and we have RETURNING STARTERS: O-8, D-6, ST-0 hopes to do it.” – Coach Steve Spurrier
LAST SEASON: 5-7, 1-7 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-5, D-8, ST-3 KEY PLAYERS: OL Ja’Wuan James, LB A.J. Johnson, DL Daniel McCullers KEY QUESTION: Without an experienced quarterback and wide receivers is there enough for new coach Butch Jones to engineer a turnaround? BEST CASE: 6-6. WORST CASE: 4-8 QUOTABLE: “It has been the easiest transition out of all the coaches that we’ve had.” – DL Jacques Smith
LAST SEASON: 9-4, 5-3 SEC RETURNING STARTERS: O-8, D-6, ST-2 KEY PLAYERS: WR Jordan Matthews, CB Andre Hal, K Carey Spear KEY QUESTION: New quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels was good at Wyoming for two seasons. Can he step in quickly? BEST CASE: 8-4. WORST CASE: 5-7 QUOTABLE: “As a freshman to be 2-10, bottom of the SEC to where we are now ... is crazy and is really exciting.” – WR Jordan Matthews Compiled by Parrish Alford
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
After 0-12, Southern Miss aiming to rebound Southern Miss through a treacherous September schedule. The Golden Eagles have road games against Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State. Southern Miss will likely lean on some of the veterans on defense, like defensive back Deron Wilson and linebacker Alan Howze, to guide the team through those early weeks while the offense is adjusting to new personnel. Wilson said the Golden Eagles’ home opener against Texas State on Aug. 31 is crucial. The senior has been through the good times and bad, and said a victory is needed to wipe away the bad feelings from last year. “Winning solidifies the swagger,” Wilson said. “But we’re playing confident right now.”
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. NEW START: The one-year Ellis Johnson era was disaster for Southern Miss, which plummeted to 0-12 just one season after winning 12 games. AP | FILE Johnson was fired and in comes Todd Todd Monken will try to kickstart a Southern Miss program that hit Monken, who was known for his innoan unexpected collapse last season as it failed to win a game. vative offense at Oklahoma State. Monken says there’s enough talent on after the season ended. But Monken was still trying in the roster for a quick turnaround, but When Southern Miss hired camp to find a quarterback at the Golden Eagles must shake off last Monken, they couldn’t have Southern Miss who can run his season’s nightmare. found a coach much more simi- high-tempo offense. The three 2. QUARTERBACK PLAY: Monken lar to Fedora. Both were offenmain candidates are spring wants to run a high-tempo offense, but sive coordinators at Oklahoma starter Cole Weeks, California first he’s got to find a quarterback who State before being hired at USM transfer Allan Bridgford and recan handle the job. There’s not an obviand both put lots of points on turner Ricky Lloyd. ous replacement, though it appears the the scoreboard. Whoever wins the job will lead starter will come from a three-man bat-
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HATTIESBURG – Southern Mississippi’s football program endured a disastrous freefall last season. New coach Todd Monken is confident a turnaround can happen just as quickly. The former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator says the Golden Eagles have the talent to win quickly, despite a 0-12 record last season. Now Monken’s charge is installing a new offense and defense and finding the most talented players to execute his plan regardless of experience level. “We have a lot of (inexperienced) guys like that on this team,” Monken said. “So what? So do a lot of teams. That’s what (coaches) are supposed to do – figure it out. Put the pressure on them in practice. That’s what you try to do, make it hard.” Southern Miss has had plenty of success in the recent past. The Golden Eagles had a 12-2 record, won a Conference USA championship and the Hawaii Bowl in 2011 before offensiveminded coach Larry Fedora left for the North Carolina job. In came veteran coach Ellis Johnson – who was known more for his defensive acumen – and Southern Miss quickly fell apart in a historically bad 2012 season. Johnson was fired soon
tle involving spring starter Cole Weeks, California transfer Allan Bridgford and returner Ricky Lloyd. 3. NAVIGATING SEPTEMBER: Southern Miss has a brutal stretch of road games in September, with Nebraska, Arkansas and Boise State all waiting. Those aren’t easy games for a program that will probably need some time to find its footing with a new coach, new scheme and inexperienced quarterback. 4. NEW-LOOK CONFERENCE: There are lots of new faces in Conference USA thanks to conference realignment and the Golden Eagles will be playing several unfamiliar foes. There could be some interesting new conference rivalries develop with regional foes like Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee. 5. REVAMPED DEFENSE: Though it was the Southern Miss offense that took the brunt of the criticism last season, the defense wasn’t particularly good either. Veterans like defensive back Deron Wilson and linebacker Alan Howze need to have big seasons for the Golden Eagles to improve.
BY DAVID BRANDT
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Alcorn State seeks to continue improvement BY DAVID BRANDT ASSOCIATED PRESS
Alcorn State was surprisingly competitive during coach Jay Hopson’s first season. Now the Braves are trying to become a real factor in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Eastern Division after finishing 4-7 last season. Alcorn State’s trademark under Hopson was a stingy pass defense that gave up just 156 yards per game. The Braves return all four starters in the secondary. But the Braves struggled badly on offense, averaging just 16 points per game. Hopson hopes
another year of learning can help improve production. Quarterback John Gibbs returns after completing just 48.6 percent of his passes for 1,406 yards last season. Alcorn State has a very tough September schedule, playing the SEC’s Mississippi State in the opener before key conference games against Mississippi Valley, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama State.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. SECOND GO-ROUND: Jay Hopson managed to lead Alcorn State to a 4-7 record last season despite inheriting a depleted roster. He’ll have a much deeper team this season and hopes to
turn that into more victories. 2. PASS DEFENSE: One of the bright spots a year ago for Alcorn State was a stingy pass defense that gave up just 156 yards per game. All four starters return in the secondary. 3. JUMPSTART NEEDED: Alcorn State’s big problems were on offense last season, where the Braves averaged just 16 points per game. Quarterback John Gibbs returns, as does leading receiver Tavoris Doss. 4. BIG SEPTEMBER: The Braves have key games in September, including against rival Mississippi Valley. Alcorn State also faces SWAC preseason favorites Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Alabama State during that early stretch. 5. STAY COMPETITIVE: Alcorn State had some galvanizing victories last sea-
son, but when the Braves played the league’s big boys, they usually lost by a wide margin. Hopson and his players will look to close the gap this season. A31 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N2 N7 N16
Edward Waters, 4 p.m. at Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m. Miss. Valley State*, 2 p.m. at Ark. Pine-Bluff*, 6 p.m. at Alabama State*, 5 p.m. Warner University, 2 p.m. Grambling*(at Indianapolis), 3 p.m. at Texas Southern*, 2 p.m. at Southern*, 5:30 p.m. Alabama A&M*, 4 p.m. Prairie View*, 6:30 p.m. at Jackson State*, 2 p.m. *-SWAC game
Alcorn coach Jay Hopson.
Dangerous QB Moore returns to lead Jackson State with 16.0 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks. The defensive front lost sack machine Joseph LeBeau, but Comegy likes what he has there. JSU’s bid for another division title won’t be easy, especially with teams like Alcorn State and Mississippi Valley State showing improvement. “They are getting better,” Comegy said. “We’ve got to keep what we do, and that’s just stay focused on our business. “We’ve got a good level of talent that comes here regardless of the talent that they recruit.”
BY BRAD LOCKE DAILY JOURNAL
Jackson State finished the 2012 season strong, and it’s no coincidence Clayton Moore was the quarterback during that closing stretch. The Tigers won five consecutive games to end the regular season and win the SWAC’s Eastern Division title. Moore was running the offense by that point, and he’s back for his senior year to try and get JSU back to the SWAC title game. The Louisville product passed for 1,863 yards and 11 touchdowns last season, and he added 633 yards and 11 TDs rushing. “Clayton’s an outstanding leader and a winner, and you can never take that away from him,” eighth-year coach Rick Comegy said. “Last year he showed us he can take over a game and really almost win one by himself.” Moore has plenty of weapons at his disposal, with a deep receiving corps led by top returning ball-catcher Zachary
This season, JSU quarterback Clayton Moore wants to leave the field at the SWAC championship game as a winner. Pendleton and a pair of experienced tailbacks, Tommy Gooden and Rakeem Sims. Gooden and Sims combined for 1,385 yards 14 touchdowns a year ago, and Comegy likes some of the young players backing them up. “Our running game will be a big powerhouse for us,” he said. SWAC preseason defensive player of the year Qua Cox leads
the defense. The senior cornerback had a league-leading five interceptions and 13 pass breakups last year. JSU was stingy against the run, allowing just 122.2 yards per game, which ranked second in the SWAC. That should again be a strength, especially with the return of top tackler Cameron Loeffler, an outside linebacker. He made 84 stops last year to go
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. MOORE FROM THE QB: Senior quarterback Clayton Moore took over the starting job midway through last season and guided the Tigers to five straight wins late in the season. He threw 11 touchdowns and also rushed for 11 TDs. Freshman LaMontiez Ivy is in the mix for playing time. 2. COMEGY KEEPS WINNING: Rick Comegy enters his eighth year as Jackson State’s coach and has built a consistent winner. The Tigers are coming off a 2012 Eastern Division title and have had a winning record in six of his
previous seven seasons. 3. TOUGH START: Jackson State travels to face Tulane for the season opener before a showdown with Alabama State on Sept. 7. The Hornets and Tigers are both expected to contend for the Eastern Division title. 4. COX LEADS DEFENSE: Jackson State’s defense returns seven starters from last season, including senior defensive back Qua Cox. Cox was named the SWAC’s preseason defensive player of the year after leading the league with five interceptions last season. 5. OPTIONS AT RUNNING BACK: Tommy Gooden and Rakeem Sims, who combined to rush for nearly 1,400 yards last season, each return. Listt compiled by AP A29 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N9 N16
at Tulane, 7 p.m. Alabama State*, 6 p.m. Tenn. State (at Memphis), 6 p.m. Texas Southern*, 6 p.m. at Southern*, 6 p.m. Ark. Pine-Bluff*, 6 p.m. at Miss. Valley State*, 2 p.m. Grambling State*, 2 p.m. at Prairie View A&M*, 4 p.m. at Alabama A&M*, 1 p.m. Alcorn State*, 2 p.m. *-SWAC game
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SWAC PRESEASON POLL
(With first-place votes) Eastern Division 1. Alabama State . . . . . . . 108 (15) 2. Jackson State . . . . . . . . 102 (9) 3. Alabama A&M . . . . . . . . . . . . 60 4. Miss. Valley State . . . . . . . . . 51 5. Alcorn State . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Western Division 1. Ark.-Pine Bluff . . . . . . 105 (14) 2. Southern . . . . . . . . . . . . . 88 (6) 3. Prairie View A&M . . . . . . . 82 (3) 4. Grambling State . . . . . . . 51 (1) 5. Texas Southern . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Championship game: Dec. 7, Houston
Eastern Division SWAC All Jackson State 7-2 7-5 Alabama State 7-2 7-4 Alabama A&M 6-3 7-4 Miss. Valley State 5-4 5-6 Alcorn State 4-5 4-7 Western Division SWAC All Arkansas-Pine Bluff 8-1 10-2 Southern University 3-6 4-7 Prairie View A&M 3-6 3-8 Texas Southern 2-7 2-9 Grambling State 0-9 1-10
Championship: UAPB 24, Jackson State 21(OT)
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
MVSU hopes to build on recent success BY DAVID BRANDT
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
1. KEEP THE GOOD TIMES GOING: Valley’s program was in the dumps for Mississippi Valley coach Karl several years, capped by a 1-20 stretch Morgan is trying to keep his proin 2010 and 2011. Last year’s 5-6 gram’s newfound momentum. record gave the program some much The fourth-year coach led the needed hope and momentum. Delta Devils to a 5-6 record last 2. FIND SOME OFFENSE: The Delta season to gain some respect in Devils had a good defense last year but the Southwestern Athletic Conwere simply brutal on offense, espeference after some struggles. cially in the passing game. All five wins came in league Coach Karl Morgan hopes one of his play, after going 1-17 in the prethree likely options at quarterback – vious two league seasons. Patrick Ivy, Carl Davis and Grant Sims – The Delta Devils return sevcan emerge as an offensive threat. eral key players, including pre3. BIG MAN UP FRONT: Mississippi MARK ALMOND | AL.COM Valley’s Robert Simpson, a native of season All-SWAC selections like defensive lineman Robert Simp- Karl Morgan is targeting Valley’s Gulfport, is one of the league’s best defirst winning season since 2006. fensive linemen. At 6-foot-3 and 267 son, defensive back Kevin Eugene and wide receiver Julian pounds, he’s versatile and will be exStafford. ily the league’s worst passing pected to anchor the Delta Devils in the MVSU had one of the league’s team a year ago and have a trenches. best defenses a year ago, but three-man race for the job this 4. GIVE STAFFORD THE BALL: Julian must continue to improve on of- fall between Patrick Ivy, Carl Stafford caught 51 passes for 779 fense. The Delta Devils were eas- Davis and Grant Sims. yards and four touchdowns last season, ASSOCIATED PRESS
remarkable numbers considering MVSU struggled to throw the ball most of the year. He needs the ball even more this season. 5. IMPORTANT GAME: Mississippi Valley visits state rival Alcorn State on Sept. 14 in a game that will probably show which team is a serious candidate to make some noise in the SWAC’s Eastern Division.
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Florida A&M (Orlando), 10:45 a.m. Delta State, 1 p.m. at Alcorn State*, 2 p.m. Southern*, 1 p.m. at Alabama A&M*, 2 p.m. Jackson State*, 2 p.m. at Prairie View A&M*, 2 p.m. Ark.-Pine Bluff*, 2 p.m. at Grambling State*, 2 p.m. Texas Southern,* 1 p.m. Alabama State*, 1 p.m. *-SWAC game
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Corinth native calls shots for West Alabama’s defense Having previously served three seasons as the school’s offensive coordinator, Hall took More than 30 years into the over as head coach for the 2011 game, Robert Henry is still moti- season and has led the Tigers to vated to coach college football. two Division II playoff berths It doesn’t matter to him that and the school’s first outright it’s not on the biggest stage. Gulf South Conference champiHenry is beginning his third onship in 2012. season as defensive coordinator “I think we’ll be right back in at Division II West Alabama the thick of it,” Henry said. under head coach Will Hall. The Tigers were successful on There’s a good thing brewing both sides of the ball but were in in Livingston, Ala., where sucthe midst of density last year due cess has Northeast Mississippi largely Henry’s defense. fingerprints. UWA led the GSC in virtually Henry, who played at Ole Miss every defensive category, led the in the mid 1970s and coached nation in pass defense and there under Billy Brewer, is a ranked third in total defense Corinth native, while Hall played while producing the GSC defenquarterback at Amory for his sive player of the year in end dad, Bobby Hall. Ridge Wilson. UWA’s offensive coordinator is Three players from that unit former Amory offensive lineman advanced to NFL camps. Sam Gregg, Hall’s high school “We didn’t have many weak teammate. spots,” Henry said. “We had guys BY PARRISH ALFORD DAILY JOURNAL
that had played for me before, and we were really experienced in our package. It just went well.” Things could go well again for West Alabama, which begins the season ranked No. 16 in D-II. The GSC’s other representative, defending national champion Valdosta State, is No. 1. Wilson will be hard to replace, but Henry is hopeful that newcomers and veterans will mesh to the point that his defense won’t lose a step from 2012. “We hope we’ll be able to develop as the season goes along and get better,” he said.
Henry was a part of 28 wins and two bowl games as Ole Miss defensive coordinator from 1988-1991. He’s had Division I stops at Baylor, Wyoming and Tennessee, among others, before settling
into Division II. Along the Division II path he and Hall connected. “He was on a staff that I was on. We became friends and kept in touch, and he was the guy that brought me over here,” Henry said. Together they’ve helped create excitement for football in rural West Alabama not far from the Crimson Tide. UWA officials have responded with facility enhancements and plans for more. “We’re moving in the right direction,” said Henry, who just wants to hold off retirement and keep moving along with West Alabama. “I really love college football. I’ve been in it along time, and I WEST ALABAMA want to coach it as long as I Robert Henry, a former Ole Miss can.” defensive coordinator, has helped revive West Alabama’s program. firstname.lastname@example.org
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BLAZERS FAST FACTS
Affiliation: NAIA Conference: Mid-South Conference Head coach: Joe Thrasher 2012 Record: 6-5 Top 3 Returning Players: RB Kadero Edley, OL Matt Hall, DL Victor Byers Locals: Jr. DB Gregory Goree (Shannon), Jr. DB Deisman Robinson (West Point), Jr. WR Jamarius Tallie (West Point), So. DB Li’Erick Walker (West Point)
The Blazers rallied from an 0-3 start in 2012 to win six of their last eight games, and they feel like they left wins on the table. Three of Belhaven’s five losses came by a combined 13 points. That has left the Blazers hopeful of a run at the Mid-South Conference title this season. Thrasher was really pleased with the spring progress of his defensive line, which should anchor a unit that ranked sixth nationally in total defense, 10th in scoring defense, allowing just 17.1 points a game. There is experience at key positions on offense, though quarterback isn’t one of those.
The Blazers set a school record with 2,488 rushing yards in 2012, shattering the previous record by more than 700 yards. They did that with one key player injured. Now the return of Aaron Spikes, an NCAA Division I transfer from Louisiana-Lafayette, gives Belhaven a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield. A healthy Spikes will be joined by Kadero Edley who ran for 942 yards and seven TDs a year ago. While quarterback remains unsettled, there is experience up front and high expectations for Ole Miss transfer Matt Hall. He was first-team All-MidSouth Conference last year. A four-star prospect coming out of Russellville (Ark.), Hall signed with Arkansas before transferring to Ole Miss.
Thrasher calls the front line in his 4-2-5 the best he’s seen at Belhaven. That comes not with a senior-dominated group. Victory Byers is a junior who showed up around most big plays a year ago when he had three sacks, two pressures and a forced fumble. Sophomore Joshua Aldrin gained some experience last year, and senior Roy Williams Jr., only began playing defense in the spring. Senior linebacker Darius Wren returns after totaling 73 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss last year. Senior cornerback Justin Mims had 16 pass break-ups and four interceptions last year. That helped the Blazers allow just 137.1 passing yards a game, second in NAIA.
STATESMEN FAST FACTS
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
MAJORS FAST FACTS
CHOCTAWS FAST FACTS
Affiliation: NCAA Division II Conference: Gulf South Conference Head coach: Todd Cooley 2012 Record: 3-7 Top 3 Returning Players: OL Dominique Hersey, WR Patrick Bethley, LB Diego Lubin Locals: Sr. RB Richard Freelon (Bruce), Rfr. TE Vic Rather (Lafayette Co.), Sr. TE Reed Falkner (Oxford), Fr. DB Cody James (Ripley), Jr. OL Collin Stubblefield (New Albany), Sr. DL Jasper Williams (West Point)
Affiliation: NCAA Division III Conference: Southern Athletic Association Head coach: Aaron Pelch 2012 Record: 7-3 Locals: Jr. OL Blake Brownlee (Nettleton), So. OL Hunter Coleman (North Pontotoc), Fr. DL Austin Cunningham (East Webster), Fr. WR William Harrell (West Point) Top 3 Returning Players: RB Mike Barthelemy, WR Trevor King
Affiliation: NCAA Division III Conference: American Southwest Head coach: Norman Joseph 2012 Record: 2-8 Top 3 Returning Players: WR Alex Archer, LB Doc Ward, QB Jonathon Redd Locals: Fr. RB Alexander Fancher (Belmont), FR LB Cross Caldwell (Walnut), Sr. RB Damario Brown (Oxford)
The Majors had the offensive and defensive players of the year and won the championship in the inaugural season of the Southern Athletic Association, but the new league did not have an automatic bid to the Division III playoffs. Reaching the playoffs in Aaron Pelch’s second season may depend on development at QB. Garrett Pinciotti, a three-year starter and SAA player of the year, led an offense that produced league highs of 430 yards and 36 points a game. “Replacing Garrett will be a key,” Pelch said. The SAA expands this season and welcomes first-year programs in Hendrix College (Conway, Ark.) and Berry College (Mount Berry, Ga.).
Entering his eighth season as coach, Norman Joseph seeks to get the Choctaws to the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He faces a major rebuilding job on both sides of the ball and has a new defensive coordinator to help with the process. MC has made application with the NCAA to return to Division II, where it would once again compete in the Gulf South Conference.
New head coach Todd Cooley led a successful fast-paced offense as coordinator at Northwestern (La.) State. He has brought back to Cleveland a name familiar to Delta fans, offensive coordinator Joel Williams, who held the same positions under former coach Rick Rhoades from 2002-04. Cooley says offense at Delta State “will be totally different from what Statesmen fans have been used to seeing.” That has a nice ring for fans who watched their team finish last in scoring offense in the five-team, transitioning GSC.
New playmakers need to emerge. The Choctaws averaged 4.6 yards per play but only 18.3 points, not enough to keep pace as opponents rolled through a struggling defense. Success in Joseph’s spread offense is dictated OFFENSE by quarterback play. The Choctaws return three New coordinator Jason Guthrie comes over who gained extensive playing time a year ago, but from rival Trinity (Texas). Gone is not only Pinciotti none could find the end zone consistently. OFFENSE Junior Jonathon Redd completed 58 percent of While the scoring was last in the GSC, it wasn’t but also his backup, Keegan Joplin. The Majors will remain an up-tempo unit but his passes and threw seven touchdowns but also terrible. Delta averaged 24.7 points a game and will be ground-oriented. They return running backs eight interceptions. Cutting down on his turnovers returns seven starters on offense. Mike Barthelemy and Taz Watson, both well south will be a big key for the Choctaws. Cooley believes the strength of the unit will be of 6-foot and 200 pounds. The leading returning rusher averaged just 3.1 in its linemen and receivers. Barthelemy narrowly missed 1,000 yards last yards on 62 attempts and scored only two TDs. Senior Andre Lucious moves his feet well while year and led the SAA with 14 rushing touchdowns. The quarterbacks do have a sure-handed recarrying 340 pounds on a 6-foot frame. Athletic Junior WR Trevor King returns after leading the ceiver in senior Alex Archer, who averaged 15.4 tackle Dominique Hersey (6-2, 260), also a senior, was moved to center. team with 47 catches last year. Junior Zander Ro- yards on 48 catches and scored five touchdowns. The receivers are young but talented. Sophomano, a big target at 6-2, 205, is back after postDEFENSE more Patrick Bethley averaged 17.1 yards on 16 ing 39 catches and five touchdowns a year ago. New coordinator Zach Wilkerson has helped recatches and had two touchdowns last year. Small but quick Charlie Strauss (5-9, 175) build defenses before. turned heads in the spring. At running back, Bruce native Richard Freelon He arrives in Clinton after coaching at Northwas All-GSC two years ago but struggled with inThe Majors return three starting linemen. west Community College last season. Prior to his juries last year. He’s an experienced hand in a DEFENSE stop in Senatobia he helped Division II Southwest group that adds Gulf Coast CC transfer Anton The loss of middle linebacker Jeb White, a tack- Baptist University rank among the nation’s top 10 Thornton, who rushed for 804 yards and six touchling machine, will be felt, but the Majors return the in big plays such as third-down defense, fumbles downs at the juco level in 2012. conference player of the year in defensive back forced and fumbles recovered. The quarterback has not been named. Zach Bell, who had 15 tackles for loss and eight He runs a 4-2-5 scheme and will be tasked with DEFENSE sacks a year ago. improving a defense that allowed 40.5 points and Last year’s Statesmen were also last in the GSC The Majors led the league in sacks and forced 484.2 yards a game last season. in scoring defense, giving up 31.2 points a game. 18 turnovers. Lineman Jeff Milner had six tackles Seven starters are gone from last year’s squad, Nine starters are back in a 3-3 scheme includfor loss and five sacks and earned first-team allbut back is linebacker Doc Ward, a transfer from ing first-team All-GSC performers in Diego Lubin conference honors. Southeastern Louisiana, who had 67 tackles, 3.5 (14.5 tackles for loss) and Rory Island (56 tackles). Linebackers Dustin Harscher and Eric Martin re- tackles for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovNortheast CC transfer Devon Slate will be exturn, and there's solid experience in the secondary ery. pected to contribute early along the defensive line. with safety Nick Arnold and cornerback Jonathan LB Brooks Villareal saw extensive playing time Moore, who led the team with pass break-ups and as a freshman and totaled 6.5 tackles for loss. Capsules compiled by Parrish Alford SMALL-COLLEGE SCHEDULES: See Page 20F picked off two passes.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
blazers.belhaven.edu Date Opponent Kickoff 2012 result A31 Texas College 7 p.m. S7 at Louisiana College 7 p.m. L, 24-13 S14 Cumberlands (Ky.) 6 p.m. L, 21-10 S21 Cumberland (Tenn.)* 1:30 p.m. L, 36-30 (OT) S28 at Campbellsville (Ky.)* 1:30 p.m. W, 70-28 O6 Open date O12 at Bluefield (Va.) College 12:30 p.m. W, 66-10 O19 at Reinhardt (Ga.) Univ.* 11 a.m. O26 Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 1:30 p.m. W, 35-7 N2 at Faulkner (Ala.)* 1:30 p.m. W, 35-0 N9 Pikeville (Ky.) 1:30 p.m. W, 26-14 N16 Bethel (Tenn.)* 6 p.m. L, 21-17 *-Mid-South Conference game
Date A31 S7 S14 S21 S28 O3 O12 O19 O24 N2 N9 N16
Opponent 2012 result at Mississippi Valley State 1 p.m. at Texas A&M-Commerce-$ 5 p.m. at North Alabama* 6 p.m. L, 20-12 Florida Tech* 6 p.m. at West Alabama* 7 p.m. L, 37-7 Open date Tarleton State 6 p.m. W, 38-35 at Shorter* 6 p.m. L, 32-21 Valdosta State* 4 p.m. L, 59-41 Concordia (Ala.) 2 p.m. at West Georgia* 6 p.m. W, 33-24 *-Gulf South Conference games $-Played at Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Date A31 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N2 N9 N16
Opponent 2012 result at Mississippi College 7 p.m. W, 23-17 LaGrange 1 p.m. W, 54-7 Point University (Ga.) 1 p.m. W, 54-28 Open date Hendrix* 1 p.m. at Trinity 1:30 p.m. L, 35-24 at Birmingham Southern* 1 p.m. L, 35-21 at Sewanee* 1:30 p.m. W, 42-28 Berry* 1 p.m. Centre* 1 p.m. W, 33-16 at Rhodes* 1 p.m. W, 47-13 *-Southern Athletic Association games
Date A30 S7 S14 S21 S28 O5 O12 O19 O26 N2 N9 N16
www.gochoctaws.com Opponent Kickoff 2012 result Millsaps 7 p.m. L, 23-17 Huntingdon 6 p.m. Open date at Webber International 2 p.m. W, 31-24 Hardin-Simmons* 2 p.m. L, 31-0 at Sul Ross State 1 p.m. L, 75-42 Howard Payne 1 p.m. L, 27-14 Texas Lutheran 3 p.m. W, 24-21 at East Texas Baptist 2 p.m. L, 34-24 at Louisiana College 1 p.m. L, 70-28 Mary Hardin-Baylor 1 p.m. L, 59-0 *-American Southwest Conference games
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Memphis in transition to new league BY BRAD LOCKE DAILY JOURNAL
Justin Fuente isn’t looking to make Memphis a name brand. He’s just trying to take the program to a better place. The Tigers made progress last year, Fuente’s first as head coach. After winning just five games in its three previous seasons, Memphis went 4-8 last year, including a 4-4 mark in Conference USA. Now, the improvement must continue in a new setting. Memphis is part of the newly formed American Athletic Conference, a 10-team league that features teams like Louisville, USF, Rutgers and SMU. Fuente is drawing on his time as a TCU assistant, when head coach Gary Patterson made a name for the program in the middle of Big 12 country.
Jacob Karam was an efficient passer last season for Memphis. “He used to say to us, ‘Guys, we don’t have to be the big brand.We can be our own niche.’ We don’t have to be, to use an example, Coke or Pepsi. We can be Sprite.” For now, Fuente isn’t focused too much on the new league and how his team might compare to
others. Outsiders expect the Tigers to struggle this season, but Fuente doesn’t pay much mind to the expectations of others. “We’re just solely focused on ourselves,” he said. “We made large strides last year. We’ll make large strides this year. Where it all
ends up, I don’t know.” Memphis returns a lot of experience on a defense that was respectable last year. The Tigers ranked 50th nationally in total defense, allowing 383.6 yards per AP game, and were 32nd against the Justin Fuente, Memphis coach. run (138.0 ypg). Linebackers Charles Harris and Anthony Brown, the top tacklers SCHEDULE last season, are back. The defensive line returns all four starters, S7 Duke, 3:30 p.m. including end Martin Ifedi, who S14 at Middle Tenn., 6 p.m. S21 Arkansas State had 7.5 sacks last season. Jacob Karam returns to lead the O5 UCF offense. He completed a school- O12 at Houston, 11 a.m. record 64.2 percent of his passes O19 SMU for 1,895 yards, 14 TDs and three O30 Cincinnati, 7 p.m. N9 UT-Martin interceptions. The offense could take a step N16 at South Florida forward if the rushing game con- N23 at Louisville tinues its improvement. Top two N30 Temple rushers Brandon Hayes and Jai D7 at UConn Steib return after combining for Note: Memphis returns to the Ole Miss schedule on Sept. 27, 2014 in Oxford. 1,003 yards and 12 TDs.
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
INDIANS FAST FACTS
2012 record: 6-3, 4-2 division Coach: Jon Williams (7th season) Returning starters: 7 off., 7 def.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Darius White, So., CB Just a competitor, great mental attitude. Cameron Wiggins, So., DE Has speed off the edge and strong against the run. Tobias Lofton, Fr., RB Runs well on the perimeter, and between the tackles.
The first two contests on the schedule – East Central on Aug. 29 and Southwest on Sept. 5 – against against teams with new coaches. “I look for at some point in each of these games something bad to happen to us,” Williams said. “I’m going to look for us to have composure, and fight through it.”
Williams eager to put ‘great mix’ on field BY DAVID WHEELER SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL
The right mix of sophomores and freshmen are an important factor in the success of many junior college football teams. ICC head coach Jon Williams likes the combination of his 2013 squad. “We have a great mix of veterWilliams ans and newcomers,” said Williams, who is in his seventh season at the helm. “We didn’t sign a high quantity, but I feel we did sign a high quality.” Williams hopes that mix will aid the Indians in their quest for a successful 2013 season. “We want continuous improvement in Weeks 1 and 2,”
Williams said. “In Week 3, we need to be clicking on all cylinders for our North schedule, and have a team identity.”
Williams will have to decide between a trio of quarterbacks, who all have a year of experience in the Itawamba system. Andrew Goodman from North Carolina and Griff Loftis from Mooreville each saw playing time a season ago, while Chase Watson (Saltillo) will be a redshirt freshman. Loftis passed for 1,716 yards and 13 TDs; Goodman (632 yards, 5 TDs) is recovering from a shoulder injury. Brandon Jones, Tony Holmes, Greg Hadley (Amory), Tabarrius Coffey (Calhoun City) and Quadzing Rogers (Mooreville) will anchor the offensive line. The receiving corps was hit
with graduation, but returning sophomores Jarious Bentley (37 catches for 297 yards last season), LaDarrell Hunt (Noxubee County) and Shante’ Rogers (Itawamba AHS) provide stability. The run game should feature Chris Ingram of Southaven, Tobias Lofton (365 yards, 1 TD last season) and even the quick Hunt.
“We’ll have a lot of youth on defense,” Williams said. “A lot of guys will have to mature quickly. “A good thing, though, at each position group, we bring back a really talented veteran.” C. J. Jackson (Water Valley) who was second on the team with 72 tackles last season, returns to lead the linebacking unit, with D. Q. Reynolds ( Lafayette) and Randal Boyd as anchors on the line. They will be
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Williams will choose from freshmen Jeb Millender (Pontotoc) and Emmitt Dendy (Houston) in the kicking game. Aug. 29 Sept. 5 Sept. 12 Sept. 19 Sept. 28 Oct. 3 Oct. 12 Oct. 17 Oct. 24
East Central 7 p.m. at Southwest 7 p.m. Miss. Delta* 7 p.m. at Holmes* 7 p.m. Northwest* 4 p.m. at Co-Lin 7 p.m. at Coahoma* 2 p.m. Northeast* 7 p.m. at East Miss.* 7 p.m. *-North Division game
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joined up front by Malcolm Pickens and Cameron Wiggins. The secondary has leadership from Darius White from Grenada, and help from Wesley Bailey, Stanley Childs (Starkville) and Xavier Pegues (Oxford).
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NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI CC
2011 record: 3-6, 2-4 division Coach: Ricky Smither (6th year) Returning starters: 4 off., 3 def.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jeremy Liggins, Fr., DE A hard worker and huge leader of the defense. Chris Cooper, So., K Great leg strength and accuracy, and returns stronger than last season. Kortilous Ellis, So., C Started every game on the offensive line last season for the Tigers.
Northeast opens the regular season Aug. 29 against defending state champion Copiah-Lincoln. “We’ll find out if we’re contenders or pretenders that game,” Smither said.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Talented roster holds promise for Tigers BY DAVID WHEELER SPECIAL TO THE JOURNAL
The 2013 Northeast Tigers football team could be a very talented bunch. Head coach Ricky Smither feels their success will depend on their chemistry. “I’ve told the team to come together and play as one, and we should have a respectable year,” Smither said Smither. “This is probably the most talented team we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Bulldozing has all but finished as work on a new Tigers field house continues. Smither hopes the bulldozing continues on the
field by his offensive line. “We’re probably as good up front as we’ve ever been,” Smither said. “I think that will help us establish our run game.” Center Kortilous Ellis started every game last season for the Tigers, and should provide leadership in 2013. Freshmen Ross Smith (Booneville), Justin Barksdale and Shaun Rogers from South Panola appear ready to make an impact as well. The Tigers will have a trio of backs that could make an impact behind the offensive line. Mitchell Cunningham is from North Pontotoc and a transfer from Southern Miss and will be joined by Tez Lane (West Point) with Corbin White (Nettleton) showing promise. The Tigers backfield begins with potential quarterbacks Jerrard Randle, a transfer from LSU,
and Joe Kirkland, a transfer from Pearl River. A deep and tall receiving corps includes Raymond Gee, Demarrion Haynes, Ralpheal Green, along with Rashad Turner and Shaq Bush, both from Bruce. A minimum height of 6-foot-5 appears to be the formula at tight end for the Tigers with A. J. Jackson, Auburn transfer Ricky Parks, Hunter Bull, and Dustin Chandler.
Line play should be part of the strength, with Lafayette freshman Jeremy Liggins as one of the attention getters. Other contributors will include Daniel Ross, Rezean Prather, DaQuan Ivory, and Nigel Phillips. Linebackers featured should be Marcus Robinson and Nick Johnson, along with a freshmen
group of linebackers from Noxubee County, the reigning Class 4A state champions. A veteran backfield of sophomores will begin with Dequinten Spragins, Antione Wilson, and Jaquile White.
Sophomore Chris Cooper returns to handle all the kicking duties for the Tigers.
Aug. 29 Sept. 5 Sept. 12 Sept. 19 Sept. 26 Oct. 5 Oct. 10 Oct. 17 Oct. 24
at Co-Lin 7 p.m. Jones 6:30 p.m. Holmes* 6:30 pm. at Northwest* 6:30 p.m. Gulf Coast 6:30 p.m. Coahoma* 3 p.m. at East Miss.* 7 p.m. at Itawamba* 7 p.m. Miss. Delta* 6:30 p.m. *-North Division game
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SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
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