August 24, 2012

Around the SEC: Friday, August 24

Our look around the SEC through the eyes of the Rivals.com network of sites.

SEC WEST
Alabama
Alabama officially debunked a rumor that RB Eddie Lacy had torn his ACL. The 'Tide's No. 1 running back remains out of practice, but hopes to be ready by the end of the week. Freshman receiver Amari Cooper, who should contribute, remains sidelined with turf toe. In the feel-good story of the week, starting long-snapper Carson Tinker, a senior, has now earned a scholarship.

More Alabama coverage: TideSports.com

Arkansas
Starting LBs Alonzo Highsmith and Tenarius Wright and starting SS Eric Bennett finally went through full practices on Wednesday. True freshmen LBs Ortha Peters and A.J. Turner have practiced well and are expected to play this fall. With the new kickoff rules (kickoffs are from the 35 now, and a touchback brings the ball to the 25), the Razorbacks feel confident that K Zach Hocker will consistently have opponents starting from the 25.

More Arkansas coverage: HawgSports.com

Auburn
QB Clint Moseley is getting treatment on his sore shoulder twice a day, but it's still not working. Moseley said this week that the Tigers would have to change the playbook to compensate for his injury if he plays. It appears that Kiehl Frazier would be the starter since he's working exclusively with the first-team offensese, but coach Gene Chizik says he's looking for "leadership" from one of his QBs before he designates one to start. Auburn is still awaiting an eligibility decision from the NCAA on a pair of freshmen, WR JaQuay Williams and TE Darrion Hutcherson. School started last week, and the Tigers need a positive ruling by the end of the week for them to be eligible.

More Auburn coverage: AuburnSports.com

LSU
All-American DE Sam Montgomery has gained 30 pounds and now checks in at 260. LSU has closed scrimmages, but it appears that QB Zach Mettenberger's outstanding camp continues. According to coach Les Miles, the junior was 26-of-36 for 336 yards and "several scores" in the final preseason scrimmage on Tuesday. WR Odell Beckham caught four balls for 100 yards, and Alfred Blue rushed six times for 70 yards. It marked the first time the entire starting OL worked together for a scrimmage. Miles also praised the No. 1 defense, especially for its work against the run.

More LSU coverage: TigerBait.com

Ole Miss
Coach Hugh Freeze says the Rebels are in a "wait-and-see" pattern with starting S Charles Sawyer's health. Sawyer tore a quad on August 6 and was on a 4-to-6-week recovery timetable at that point. He's probably Ole Miss's best defender. But the Rebels have gotten a pleasant surprise in the defensive backfield from JUCO walk-on Louis Covington, who joined the team this fall. Covington has been running with the first team a good bit. Freeze has yet to make a decision on when starting TE Jamal Mosley returns from suspension after being arrested this summer.

More Ole Miss coverage: RebelGrove.com

Mississippi State
With receivers coach Angelo Mirando's resignation, head coach Dan Mullen is coaching the position until a solution is found. Mullen also held the door open for Mirando's return. The Bulldogs have their top four WRs back from last year, but look for 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman Joe Morrow to contribute also. Junior RB LaDarius Perkins seems to have won the starting job, but since three other RBs were also in contention, it's unknown how reps will be split.

More Miss. State coverage: BulldogBlitz.com

Texas A&M
Oklahoma RB transfer Brandon Williams won't be eligible this year after the NCAA denied him a waiver to make him eligible this season. The former five-star recruit transferred to A&M to be closer to his daughter. The Aggies are still strong at the position with Christine Michael (6.0 ypc in '11) back along with five-star recruit Trey Williams, who's been explosive in practice. A pair of true freshmen CB DeVante Harris and WR Thomas Johnson, may have won starting jobs.

More Texas A&M coverage: AggieYell.com

SEC EAST
Florida
Depth at TE is an issue, but the Gators got a boost with the recent return of starter Jordan Reed to practice. However, freshman TE Colin Thompson is out eight weeks after foot surgery. Even though the Gators' base offense appears to be a three-wide set, offensive coordinator Brent Pease reiterated this week that it's not a spread offense. Of those receivers, Pease and head coach Will Muschamp said that senior Frankie Hammond, Jr. has been the most consistent.

More Florida coverage: InsidetheGators.com

Georgia
Despite the emergence of freshman RB Todd Gurley, coach Mark Richt announced he's "pretty sure" that sophomore Ken Malcombe will start the opener vs. Buffalo. It'll still be a committee approach, with Keith Marshall and Richard Samuel also getting touches. QB Aaron Murray wants to improve on last year's 59 percent completion rate, and a 20-of-25, 253-yard effort in Wedneday's final scrimmage was a step in the right direction. Richt said he threw only one bad ball the whole day, but the performance was against the scout team. Richt wouldn't comment specifically on injuries, but seemed to indicate the Bulldogs are in good shape there.

More Georgia coverage: UGASports.com

Kentucky
Incumbent starter Maxwell Smith has officially won the competition at QB, coach Joker Phillips announced Monday. He'll need to inject some excitement into the offense, as season ticket sales are down nearly 21 percent. There are several other positional battles to be settled, including WLB, WR and RB. The two offensive positions are particularly interesting. E.J. Fields and DeMarco Robinson may win jobs alongside La'Rod King, but UK coaches have mentioned six tailbacks under consideration. Josh Clemons can't seem to get healthy, and freshmen Justin Taylor and DyShawn Mobley have emerged to compete with veterans Co'Shik Williams and Raymond Sanders. The latter four seem to be the best options right now.

More Kentucky coverage: CatsIllustrated.com

Missouri
Starting WR T.J. Moe finally practiced without a red jersey this week. The LG spot seems to be the only unsettled starting position on the team, as Max Copeland and true freshman Evan Boehm continue to battle there. Look for WR Dorial Green-Beckham and TE Sean Culkin to join Boehm as true freshmen who should play immediately. LBs Michael Scherer and Markus Golden are also possibilities, though it would be in a supporting role since Missouri returns several starters there.

More Missouri coverage: PowerMizzou.com

South Carolina
The injury to CB Akeem Auguste has thrown some uncertainty into the starting lineup for next Thursday's Vanderbilt game. Auguste won't even be re-evaluated for 4-5 more weeks. Junior Jimmy Legree was the odds-on favorite to take over but redshirt freshman Ahmad Christian and true freshman Chaz Elder are in the mix. Safety T.J. Gurley has also gotten some reps at corner, meaning walk-on Jared Shaw now backs up D.J. Swearinger at FS. All-SEC DE Devin Taylor has added 10 pounds from last year and likely weighs more than his listed 267.

More S. Carolina coverage: GamecockCentral.com

Tennessee
WR Da'Rick Rogers has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The SEC's returning leader in catches was neither on the field for Thursday's practice, nor was he listed on the school's two-deep depth chart. Coach Derek Dooley doesn't expect him to return.The Vols' switch to the 3-4 seems to be going well due to a wealth of experienced depth along the line due to a good fall from JUCO transfer DE Darrington Sentimore and DT Daniel McCullers. The downside: with all the new packages of different personnel, alignments and blitzes, the defense has struggled at times in practice to pick it all up. The position battle at SS continues, as Byron Moore has a chance to beat out incumbent Brent Brewer.

More Tennessee coverage: VolQuest.com

Vanderbilt
Wednesday's depth-chart release offered few real surprises. The third WR spot was open, but Jonathan Krause stepped up and grabbed it. Krause had regressed last season after a nice freshman year. With depth issues from LB Tristan Strong's departure, Karl Butler won the third starting spot there. Butler is a converted defensive back, and that position is hybrid S/LB spot. Ryan Fowler is listed as the starter at PK with Carey Spear the kickoff man. DB Andre Hal, seventh in the league in kickoff return average last season, keeps his job even though former SEC Freshman of the Year Warren Norman is back from injury. Norman was a kickoff-returning sensation before getting injured.

More Vanderbilt coverage: VandySports.com



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