Friday, July 27, 2012

SEC Game of The Day: Notre Dame vs Tennessee 2004

Auburn D-Line Big & Fast

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

AUBURN, Alabama -- Auburn's defensive linemen have been buying into everything Brian VanGorder has been selling since he arrived as defensive coordinator, and why not?

He has promised to turn them loose, allow them to be more aggressive, to go after the quarterback in 2012. All that sounds good All-SEC defensive end Corey Lemonier.

"I'm impressed. He came in here with a really strict regime," Lemonier said. "I don't really know how to say it, but he came in with a lot of details, attention to detail, come in, work and be physical."


We're looking at the experienced defensive line today in this continuing peek, position by position, at Auburn heading to the start of fall practice next Wednesday.

All these names should be familiar by now, yet only one is a senior.

Lemonier has received most of the preseason publicity, mainly because he spends so much time in opposing backfields. He had 47 tackles last season, and 13.5 of those were for a loss and 9.5 of those were sacks. But the Tigers have plenty of other experience in the line, and that could make the front a strength this year. They certainly received a lot of attention in the spring, especially the likes of Dee Ford, who is returning from a back injury that cost him all but three games last season.

ESPN: Tyler Russell (Video)

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

ESPN caught up with Tyler Russell to discuss the upcoming season.

Tyler Russell Chats With ESPN

One Good Thing: Miss State

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

Mississippi State will get double-digit wins: The first half of the schedule works in the Bulldogs' favor.

The key to an exceptional run by Mississippi State this fall hinges on Week 2 of the season. That's when the Bulldogs host an Auburn team that barely slipped by this group a year ago. That game changed everything for the Bulldogs last year, and it could do the same again this time around. A win in Starkville over the Tigers would probably ensure that Mississippi State will leave September unblemished. Jackson State, Troy and South Alabama round out the first month of competition. October then features the likes of Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, two teams Mississippi State should be favored against, but the Bulldogs also must play Tennessee (at home) and at Alabama. Certainly, these aren't guaranteed wins by any means, but that game against Tennessee should be fun to watch.

If the Bulldogs, who return a handful of solid pieces on both offense and defense, can knock off the Vols at home, they could be 7-0 heading into the month-ending bout with Alabama. That's a tough road game for Tennessee, and by that time we might truly know what the Vols will offer this fall.

A 7-0 start means Mississippi State needs just three more wins, including the bowl game, to reach a double-digit win total for the first time since 1999. With Alabama rounding out the month, Mississippi State has to beat Tennessee if it plans to reach this goal.

Why it won't: The teeth of the schedule reside in November.

Even if the Bulldogs make it to the Alabama game unbeaten, November is just around the corner, and it brings some tough games. Texas A&M heads to Starkville to start the month. We still aren't sure what the Aggies will do in their first year in the SEC, but it's likely they won't be pushovers for anyone. Mississippi State could be favored in this one, but as of now, it could go either way. Still, let's say the Bulldogs do win, well, they'll then get back-to-back games against LSU (on the road) and Arkansas. Those are two legitimate SEC contenders and possible national championship contenders. Can the Bulldogs at least split them? It's going to be hard, especially if both are barreling toward the SEC West title at season's end.

Then there's Ole Miss. The Bulldogs haven't lost to Ole Miss since 2008, and the Rebels are limping into the 2012 season. But this game is in Oxford and the program is under a new regime. Hugh Freeze will be looking to generate some sort of momentum for the program. What better way than beating your arch-rival? While I still think Mississippi State will be favored and has the upper hand in the talent department, this isn't exactly a given.

Getting to November 7-1 means the Bulldogs have to win three of their next five to get to 10 wins. That probably means that they'll have to beat Texas A&M and Ole Miss. Mississippi State might have the better team both weeks, but neither can be considered locks right now and a slip up is quite possible.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Tennessee Preview From

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

Sal Sunseri was hired from Alabama and he's installing a new 3-4 defensive scheme. Which players do you think are the best fit for that system?

Vols in the Fall: To answer that, let’s look for a moment at what the 3-4 defensive scheme is constructed to do and what makes it work. First, the 3-4 is a philosophy designed primarily to stop run-based offenses. The SEC is first and foremost a run-based conference. Second, it is a scheme that relies primarily on the linebackers, usually four of them, to do that.

Thus, the reliance isn’t so much on four monster-sized, athletic defensive front men, which are very hard to find. Instead, the key is the smaller and quicker linebacking corps who can read (offenses). Right now, Tennessee probably has a better crop of linebackers than defensive linemen. Senior Herman Lathers, Sophomores A.J. Johnson and Curt Maggitt should be good fits for Sunseri’s defense.

Two defensive ends are also crucial – DE’s that are strong and athletic. Juniors Jacques Smith and Marlon Walls are coming into their own. The guard position (a nose-guard-type in the classic 3-4) is up for grabs however.

This defense will be a lot more active and attacking than the last two years’ defenses. They may give up some big plays, as we did last season, but we most certainly will make more of them.

Orlando Sentinel College Football Countdown: Texas A&M # 22

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

Texas A&M was ranked in the Top 10 in national polls early in the 2011 season, but the Aggies struggled in big games and finished with a disappointing 7-6 record. The Aggies went 5-2 during the first half of the season, including a narrow 30-29 home loss to Oklahoma State. Texas A&M then went on a three-game losing streak, falling 38-31 in overtime against Missouri, 41-25 at Oklahoma and 53-50 in four overtime periods at Kansas State. The string of close losses likely contributed heavily to the decision to part ways with then-head coach Mike Sherman. The Aggies, who went 25-25 during his tenure, simply weren’t showing signs they were moving toward dominating games. Texas A&M closed out the year winning two of its final three games, including a 27-25 loss to Texas in what could be the final game of the rivalry series for a while and a 33-22 win over Northwestern in the Meineke Bowl.

Off the field, Texas A&M announce the big news it was leaving the Big 12 behind and jumping to the Southeastern Conference. The move will allow the Aggies to earn a lot more money from conference agreements and break away from Texas and Oklahoma, but the new competition Texas A&M faces in the SEC will be intense. The Aggies hired Houston coach Kevin Sumlin to take over as head coach and lead the program into the SEC.

College Football News: Vanderbilt Preview

By Shawn Bridwell
Follow me on Twitter @SBCFNews

Can Vanderbilt really come up with a great year in the SEC by playing it straight?

Despite having fewer top recruits and less top-shelf talents than everyone else in the SEC, and even with several built-in reasons to struggle that come from being Vanderbilt, the team might be able to win this year simply by being good.

Head coach James Franklin said from the moment he took over the job last season that there wouldn’t be any excuses. The Commodores were going to win football games and they were going to be a factor in the SEC. Period.

However, they weren’t going to do anything funky. They weren’t going to go to a triple-option offense and they weren’t going to come up with some sort of different defensive style to become the team that no one wants to prepare for. That worked well last year with a defense that did its part against several mediocre SEC offenses, while the offense made some nice strides forward in a stepping-stone season.

Okay, so the best win of the six might have road blowout of Wake Forest, but Vandy had Georgia in trouble in a 33-28 loss. It was a missed kick away from forcing overtime against Arkansas, lost to Florida by five, and lost to Tennessee in overtime. Five of the seven losses came by a touchdown or less with chances to be had in each of those games, and now this year’s team should be able to capitalize on more of the opportunities. 

College Football News Vandy Preview