Our twice-weekly look around the SEC through the eyes of the Rivals.com network of sites.
Good news in Tuscaloosa: all is well with starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandijo. The true sophomore, a former five-star recruit, said this week that he's back to full health after tearing his ACL last year. However, he won't be joined on the line by freshman Brandon Hill, who's been ruled ineligible and will attend Hargrave Military Academy. Four-star freshman wideout Chris Black is also sidelined with a shoulder injury.
Different coach, same results: judging from Tuesday's scrimmage, UA's offense will pick up where it left off from a year ago. In an 82-play scrimmage, the offense gained 587 yards and scored 57 points. Quarterback Tyler Wilson was especially sharp, hitting 15-of-20 throws for 224 yards and three scores. Freshman MeKale McKay caught two of those scores in a four-catch, 63-yard day. Meanwhile, All-SEC running back Knile Davis is back at full strength, but still being held out of contact for precautionary reasons. Starting linebacker Alonzo Highsmith was also out of practice again on Wednesday with a minor injury.
Auburn's offense was plagued with inconsistency and ineffectiveness a year ago, and its first August scrimmage this year showed more of the same. Excepting a long touchdown run by Onterio McCalebb, the first-team defense dominated the 65-play day. Reviews on quarterback Kiehl Frazier were mixed, and the guy who'll likely be his backup, Clint Moseley, is feeling shoulder pain again and completed just one throw on the day.
LSU marched to the national title game in spite of a mediocre passing offense, but early in camp, it appears that quarterback Zach Mettenberger may give the Tigers a big-play dimension this season. Mettenberger wowed offensive coordinator Greg Studwara with a 60-yard, right-on-the-money touchdown throw to a well-covered teammate earlier in the week. He also has the ability to make plays with his feet. Studwara also feels that his offensive line "is as deep and talented as it has been the past six years." On the defensive side, coordinator John Chavis is hoping to solve his linebacker issues by cross-training them for different spots. Freshman Deion Jones has worked his way onto the two-deep chart there.
The injury bug continues to bite the Rebels' best players. All-SEC safety candidate Charles Sawyer is out 4-6 weeks after pulling a quad (which will force a freshman into a starting slot. Starting running back Jeff Scott appears to have suffered a concussion on Wednesday, and there's no word on the severity yet. Backup receiver Collins Moore also tore a labrum and will be out a while. However, some good news: converted quarterback Randall Mackey is beginning to show promise at running back, helping the Rebel offense get the best of the defense (at least where the running game is concerned) earlier in the week.
Two-a-days are underway in Starkville, and MSU's four senior defensive backs - Johnathan Banks, Corey Broomfield, Darius Slay and Louis Watson - have been outstanding. Coach Dan Mullen had particularly nice words for Slay, who's in his second year in the program, and hinted he could even move to corner while bumping Broomfield to safety. On offense, it appears that that Mullen wants to replace departed 1,000-yard rusher Vick Ballard's production from a committee of LaDarius Perkins, Nick Griffin, Josh Robinson and Derrick Milton.
Coach Kevin Sumlin said that "he's starting to see some guys come to the forefront" on offense, and while he hasn't committed to a quarterback, Jameill Showers ran with the No. 1 offense in a Wednesday scrimmage. Meanwhile, tailback Christine Michael, who tore his ACL last year, ran with aggressivness and power this weekend. He's able to cut well and busted a big run in a scrimmage. Sumlin also said that backup offensive lineman Jarvis Harrison is "behind" after missing much of the spring. Harrison is in a battle with Cedric Ogbuehi for one of the starting guard spots. Sumlin pointed to "establishing the guard spot" as something the Aggies need to do in the coming weeks.
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease is "ecstatic" about how much the Gator offense retained in the way of learning the offense between spring and fall. It's still unclear whether Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett will be UF"s quarterback, but tailback Mike Gillislee has separated himself from the pack as the No. 1 player there. Meanwhile, some good news on defense: former starting cornerback Marcus Roberson, a sophomore, appears to be fully recovered from a serious neck injury after missing all of last year.
One of UGA's biggest offensive questions would be whether an offensive line that returns two starters - neither of them seniors - would perform. In a Wednesday scrimmage, the first team allowed no sacks and performed well in the running game against the second-team defense. With all the secondary suspensions, coach Mark Richt has gotten a nice surprise in the secondary, where converted linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons has picked off four balls in practice.
Marcus Coffey was supposed to be one of UK's starting corners, but this week it was learned that he's academically ineligible this year. That means that Martavius Neloms, one of the Wildcats' better defensive returnees, moves from safety to corner. Kentucky signed eight defensive backs in its 2012 recruiting class, and defensive backs coach Mike Cassity earlier this week mentioned that at least five could play now. On offense, the 'Cats are splitting reps between five guys, with incumbent starter CoShik Williams appearing to have the early edge.
Missouri lost three starters from last year's offensive line, and now some of its returning players are getting banged up. One of the returnees, guard Travis Ruth, hurt his triceps tendon and will have surgery. Backup tackle Taylor Chappel tore his ACL this week. However, there's some possibility both could return this year. Starting tight end Eric Waters also hurt the same knee that he tore this spring, and is day-to-day. On defense, a three-way battle between Ian Simon, Matt White and Braylon Webb for a starting spot continues.
Standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney hasn't practiced at middle linebacker, but there are talks that the Gamecocks may give him some reps there, moving him around from one place to another as they did with Melvin Ingram a year ago. Clowney says he likes the idea. Redshirt freshman quarterback Tanner McEvoy, arrested earlier in the month for speeding and underage consumption of alcohol, will transfer. He was fourth on the depth chart.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney continues to praise his team's effort in the running game. The biggest reason seems to be that the Vols' experienced offensive line (106 career starts) is coming into its own. New offensive line coach Sam Pittman has praised his guys for being physical and "playing fast." One player on the rise seems to be left tackle Antonio Richardson, who was a coveted recruit. On the defensive side, end Darrington Sentimore has pleased the coaches with his work ethic, and claimed a starting spot.
Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers needed to improve his accuracy on shorter throws, and with the help of several running backs and tight ends Dillon VanderWal and Kris Kentera, he was much better in that area on Wednesday. VanderWal looks to be developing into a dependable short-yardage option, while Kentera, a converted quarterback, broke through for two long plays. The Commodores still have depth questions at receiver and linebacker (and maybe at quarterback, too, if Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels continues to struggle) but its depth along both lines appears to be as good as it's been in at least a decade.