Watch: SEC Spreecast replay

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
2:50
PM ET
ESPN.com reporters Edward Aschoff, David Ching, Greg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough got together to debate the hottest topics in the SEC as well as preview this weekend's biggest games, including Auburn-Kansas State, Florida-Alabama and Mississippi State-LSU. Get ready for this week's big games by watching now.

Speedy Noil won't play vs. SMU

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
2:29
PM ET
videoCOLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M Aggies freshman receiver Speedy Noil will not play Saturday against SMU because of an unspecified injury, coach Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday.

"He won't play this weekend," Sumlin said.

Noil, a five-star recruit from New Orleans, limped to the sideline and left in a golf cart during the Aggies' 38-10 win over Rice on Saturday.

Sumlin did not disclose why Noil left the field or what will prevent him from playing this weekend.

"I'll update you next week," Sumlin said.

Noil, who also returns punts and kickoffs, leads the No. 6 Aggies with 324 all-purpose yards and is second with 197 receiving yards on 12 catches. He scored his first career touchdown Saturday.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Noil, who enrolled in January, won a starting receiving job during preseason training camp in August. He was ranked as the No. 7 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 and the No. 1 athlete overall.

Sophomore receiver Edward Pope is expected to start in Noil's place vs. SMU.

Aggies' Myles Garrett living up to hype

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
12:00
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — On the first day of preseason training camp, Texas A&M freshman defensive end Myles Garrett stalked around the Bright Football Complex in a tight Superman shirt.

Bold? Sure. But so far, Garrett has done plenty to live up to superhero status for the Aggies’ defense.

Garrett, from Arlington, Texas, quickly made his presence felt for the No. 6 Aggies. A five-star recruit who was ranked No. 4 overall in the ESPN 300, Garrett was an impact player, collecting 5.5 sacks in Texas A&M’s first three games, tying the school’s freshman record held by Sam Adams and Damontre Moore.

[+] EnlargeMyles Garrett and Dylan Thompson
Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY SportsTexas A&M freshman Myles Garrett has 5.5 sacks in his first three college games.
“I guess he's doing all right,” coach Kevin Sumlin said jokingly.

No recruit had more hype and expectation in the recruiting process than Garrett. At 6-foot-5 and 255 pounds, he was physically ready to join the lineup immediately and showed up this summer as one of the strongest players on the team, thanks to a strong weight-room work ethic that dates to his days at Martin High.

He began to open the eyes of the coaching staff during preseason training camp. The Aggies have one of the country’s best offensive lines, and when he started beating the guys across from him, Sumlin, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder and defensive line coach Terry Price knew they had something special.

“We've got two pretty good tackles in Germain Ifedi and Cedric [Ogbuehi],” Sumlin said. “Our line is pretty good. For a guy to walk in here and have the success he had during two-a-days [is impressive]. Did he win all the time? No. But against those guys, a lot of time, guys don't win any. He's had his moments with every guy on that offensive line.”

Price said the biggest deficiency on the 2013 defense – and thus, the biggest priority in 2014 recruiting – was adding speed to the edge.

“So we went out and tried to find the best we could find,” Price said.

Garrett has that speed, along with a host of pass- rush moves. He’s not being asked to do everything just yet – the Aggies have a healthy rotation of defensive ends that includes sophomore Daeshon Hall, junior Julien Obioha and freshmen Qualen Cunningham and Jarrett Johnson. The staff is doing its best to keep Garrett fresh, so he stays effective.

But he’s on his way to making a permanent mark. Garrett is on pace to break Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC record for sacks by a freshman (eight).

There is still much ahead for the Aggies’ prized recruit of the 2014 class. But so far, so good for Garrett.

“He's still a work in progress and he still has a lot of work to do,” Snyder said, “but boy, is he talented.”

Speedy Noil won't play vs. SMU

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
11:27
AM ET
video

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M Aggies freshman receiver Speedy Noil will not play Saturday against SMU because of an unspecified injury, coach Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday.

"He won't play this weekend," Sumlin said.

Noil, a five-star recruit from New Orleans, limped to the sideline and left in a golf cart during the Aggies' 38-10 win over Rice on Saturday.

Sumlin did not disclose why Noil left the field or what will prevent him from playing this weekend.

"I'll update you next week," Sumlin said.

Noil, who also returns punts and kickoffs, leads the No. 6 Aggies with 324 all-purpose yards and is second with 197 receiving yards on 12 catches. He scored his first career touchdown Saturday.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound Noil, who enrolled in January, won a starting receiving job during preseason training camp in August. He was ranked as the No. 7 player in the 2014 ESPN 300 and the No. 1 athlete overall.

Sophomore receiver Edward Pope is expected to start in Noil's place vs. SMU.


(Read full post)


SEC Freshman Tracker: Week 3

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
10:00
AM ET
Here are five true freshmen in the SEC who stood out (and five more worth mentioning) from the Week 3:

Myles Garrett, Texas A&M
What he did: Another week, another sack (or two) for Myles Garrett. In Texas A&M’s 38-10 win over Rice, the 6-foot-5, 255-pound Garrett tallied 2.5 sacks, 3.5 tackles for loss and eight total tackles. He continues to live up to the hype that surrounded his recruitment and is now second in the country in sacks with 5.5 this season.

What it means: Garrett has already tied the Aggies’ school record for sacks in a season by a freshman and he is on pace to shatter Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC record for sacks by a freshman (eight). If Garrett continues to play the way he has as competition stiffens on A&M’s schedule, we're now talking about an All-SEC-caliber season. (Sam Khan)

Garrett Johnson, Kentucky
What he did: Johnson led the Wildcats with six receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns. He had three of UK’s biggest plays of the game: A 60-yard touchdown in which Johnson danced between two Florida safeties before running to the end zone; a back-breaking third-down conversion when he beat his man on a 30-yard catch and absorbed a big hit from the safety; then on the next play, Johnson gave Kentucky a 17-13 lead back when he streaked past a confused secondary and hauled in an easy 33-yard touchdown.

What it means: Johnson was Patrick Towles' favorite receiver in a triple-overtime game that opened a lot of eyes. Although the Cats lost, Johnson must have been especially pleased with his performance in The Swamp. The three-star recruit from Winter Garden, Florida, was rated the No. 84 prospect in the state and didn’t have a committable offer from the Gators. (Jeff Barlis)

Jalen Hurd, Tennessee
What he did: Although Oklahoma’s defense completely shut down the Tennessee running game in the first half, Hurd broke runs of 43 and 29 yards after halftime as the Volunteers tried to stay in the game. Oklahoma ultimately pulled away for a 34-10 win, but Hurd gave a standout performance with 97 rushing yards on 14 carries, plus 24 receiving yards on two catches. It was the best rushing outing by a Tennessee true freshman since Bryce Brown in 2009.

What it means: Although he hasn’t started yet, Hurd is Tennessee’s leading rusher with 48 carries for 209 yards and one touchdown. Each week he emerges a bit more as a star in the Vols’ backfield. Up next for Hurd and the Vols’ young offensive line will be a Sept. 27 trip to Georgia in Tennessee’s SEC opener. If the Bulldogs don’t clean up the run defense that South Carolina exploited last Saturday, Hurd might have a field day. (David Ching)

Armani Watts, Texas A&M
What he did: Watts had six tackles against Rice, but perhaps most notable was a play that won't end up on the stat sheet. After a blocked field goal, Watts raced to his own 7-yard line to pick up the ball and run across the width and length of the field for a 93-yard touchdown return. The only problem? A&M was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct as players on the sideline entered the field.

What it means: Though Watts' return didn't count, he has had three good games in an Aggies uniform. He has been one of the pleasant surprises at a position the Aggies sorely needed help: Safety. He's fifth on the team in tackles, leads in pass breakups (three) and has made an interception and two tackles for loss. He has been an impact player with a nose for the football, huge for an A&M defense trying to improve. (Sam Khan)

Darrel Williams, LSU
What he did: Williams took the fewest carries of anyone in LSU’s four-man tailback rotation, but he scored twice -- once on a nifty fullback dive where he broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage and broke away for a 22-yard scoring run -- and again showed off a powerful running style. Williams finished the game against Louisiana-Monroe with seven carries for 37 yards and is now tied with senior Kenny Hilliard for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with three.

What it means: Williams has been impressive in limited work in the Tigers’ last two nonconference games. While he won’t become LSU’s No. 1 running back this season, he has flashed some versatility by contributing at both tailback and fullback. He and Hilliard took the bulk of LSU’s short-yardage carries against ULM, so Williams has clearly done enough to expect to see more of him once the Tigers open SEC play this weekend against Mississippi State. (David Ching)

Other notables:

OLB Lorenzo Carter, Georgia: Carter recovered a Brandon Wilds fumble at the South Carolina 26-yard line to set up a field goal that gave Georgia a 10-7 lead in the first quarter. He finished the day with three tackles, a fumble recovery and a quarterback pressure.

RB Leonard Fournette, LSU: Fournette ran 10 times for 52 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown, caught a 20-yard pass and returned the opening kickoff 40 yards in a win against Louisiana-Monroe.

WR Speedy Noil, Texas A&M: Noil caught three passes for 71 yards and scored on a 14-yard touchdown pass against Rice before leaving the game in the third quarter with an injury.

CB Henre' Toliver, Arkansas: Toliver started for the first time and helped the Razorbacks put the finishing touches on an enormous win over Texas Tech by intercepting a Davis Webb pass at the Arkansas 15-yard line on the Red Raiders’ final possession.

RB Stanley Williams, Kentucky: Williams made one of Kentucky’s plays of the night against Florida. On the Wildcats’ first overtime possession, he ran right after catching a pass, then reversed field all the way to the opposite sideline and dove to the pylon for a 25-yard touchdown that put Kentucky up 27-20.

SEC morning links

September, 17, 2014
Sep 17
8:00
AM ET
Much was made of offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's hire at Florida this offseason. He was brought to inject life into a struggling unit and so far, he has done that -- hiccups in the first half against Kentucky notwithstanding. The true measuring stick for the Gators' offensive progress will come this week at Alabama. Fortunately for the Gators, Roper has experience against the Crimson Tide, though it wasn't a good experience (Duke lost to Alabama 62-13 in 2010 when Roper was with the Blue Devils). These are different circumstances and Roper has Will Muschamp -- who knows Nick Saban well from his days as an assistant on his staff -- as a resource. While Florida still has plenty of room for improvement, Saturday's clash in Tuscaloosa will be revealing when it comes to understanding how far the Gators' offense has come in a short time.

Texas A&M hasn't taken a step back -- like many thought they would in the post Johnny Manziel-era -- and contributions from the Aggies' freshmen is a big part of that equation. So far, 14 true freshmen from the Aggies' fourth-ranked 2014 recruiting class have seen the field and several have become impact players immediately: defensive end Myles Garrett, safety Armani Watts and receiver Speedy Noil, just to name a few. The Aggies' move to the SEC did quite a bit for the program in terms of visibility, fundraising, image but the impact has probably been felt most in recruiting, where the Aggies have hauled in two consecutive top-10 recruiting classes and are on track for a third straight this fall.

Vanderbilt started three different quarterbacks in their first three games, and suffice it to say, it has been an adventure. Against Massachusetts, true freshman Wade Freebeck started but Patton Robinette -- the Game 1 starter -- came in later to lead a comeback victory. What to make of the way coach Derek Mason has handled quarterbacks? It certainly has been a guessing game for fans and observers. This week, Mason said Robinette is starting and he's sticking with him until there's a reason to go another direction. Here's hoping that is the case. Robinette was pulled quickly in the opener against Temple but perhaps gained confidence from his relief performance last week. Confidence can be a fragile thing with a quarterback since it's a position of high visibility. Hopefully Mason can help Robinette keep that confidence up and stick with him through thick and thin, which would show the rest of the team that it should be confident in him as well.

Around the SEC
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Heather Dinich gives her week 4 playoff predictions.

SEC Heisman watch: Week 3

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
12:00
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Despite Saturday's loss to South Carolina, Todd Gurley is still among the favorites to win the Heisman Trophy this season.

Georgia's stud running back did just about everything he could have to win that game Saturday. He broke through tackles, changed the field on a dime during a wild 17-yard gain, drug Gamecocks -- likely kicking and screaming -- on his back and legs, and flattened guys in his way inside Williams-Brice Stadium.

[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesTodd Gurley did everything he could do to get Georgia a big road victory at South Carolina. Although the Bulldogs lost, he's still a top Heisman candidate.
Call this hyperbole if you want, but it wouldn't shock me if the lightning that delayed Saturday's game and the thunder heard in the distance that day wasn't linked to Gurley's presence in Columbia.

Still, it wasn't enough, but who knows what would have happened if he'd been given the ball on that first-and-goal from South Carolina's 4-yard line with 5:24 left in the fourth quarter. I know Bulldogs fans are wondering how the Dawgs went away from their workhorse back at such a critical moment ...

Through two games, Gurley is second in the SEC with 329 rushing yards on 35 attempts. He's averaging a whopping 9.4 yards per carry and has four rushing touchdowns. He also has a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Gurley is your leader in the Heisman clubhouse nationally and the unquestioned one when it comes to SEC candidates. He has that special, rare blend of power, speed and agility that Playstation footballers wish they could compute.

But we already knew all that. So today, I thought we'd talk a little bit about the quarterbacks.

We can't have 10 legitimate Heisman candidates in the SEC. It's just not logical. But we can talk about a handful of guys who could throw themselves into the mix as the season goes on.

  • Kenny Hill, Texas A&M: Obviously, he's the leader out of the quarterback gate. He leads the SEC with 1,094 passing yards and has 11 passing touchdowns with zero interceptions. It doesn't matter who he's played since that phenomenal performance at South Carolina, the kid deserves Heisman love.
  • Dak Prescott, Mississippi State: He's the SEC's best dual-threat quarterback with his 696 passing yards and 273 rushing yards. Prescott has accounted for 11 touchdowns and looks much sharper as a passer in the pocket. The next step is seeing how he performs in SEC play. Oh, hello road trip to LSU.
  • Bo Wallace, Ole Miss: OK, so we never really know which Wallace we'll get in games, but when he's on, he's not too shabby. He's second in the SEC with 1,023 yards and has nine touchdowns to four interceptions (three in the opener). With his 316 yards in a blowout win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, Wallace tied Eli Manning's mark of 10 300-yard passing games at Ole Miss, which is a school record. Wallace will break that record soon enough.
  • Maty Mauk, Missouri: It's pretty obvious that the Tigers are just fine at quarterback with Mauk. All he's done as the full-time starter is throw for 647 yards and a league-high 12 touchdowns. Mauk can run if he needs to, and has really improved his pocket footwork, but he'd rather just stand and throw down field, which he does really well.

Now, will all of these guys be in the Heisman discussion in November? No. In fact, there's a good chance that by October most of this list will be eliminated from serious contention. But at this early part of the season, it was necessary to mention what these guys had done so far.

Here are a couple of other players to watch when it comes to SEC Heisman chances:

  • Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama: Still the best receiver around. Leads the SEC and the nation with 33 receptions and has a conference-leading 454 yards with two touchdowns.
  • Arkansas RBs: Alex Collins leads the SEC 411 rushing yards and has five touchdowns. Jonathan Williams is third with 322 yards and leads the league with six rushing touchdowns. Honestly, just take your pick with either back because they are both averaging more than 8 yards per carry.
  • Cameron Artis-Payne, RB, Auburn: He was off this weekend, but is still fourth in the SEC with 289 rushing yards and has four touchdowns.
  • Travin Dural, WR, LSU: He was finally kept out of the end zone against Louisiana-Monroe, but is still second in the SEC with 370 receiving yards and has a league-leading four touchdowns.
  • Demarcus Robinson, WR, Florida: Through two games, he has 21 receptions for 339 yards and three touchdowns. If he's not on the field, Florida doesn't beat Kentucky Saturday.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
10:00
AM ET
video
As always, there was a ton of recruiting news from around the SEC this past weekend. Ole Miss picked up a commitment, while the Rebels, Gators and Gamecocks all had big visitors for their games Saturday. Here’s a closer look at the top recruiting news from around the conference.

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The SEC West schools combined for a record of 18-0 against non-division opponents.

Aggies still have room for improvement

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
2:00
PM ET
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M is becoming a more popular pick currently when it comes to projecting things like the SEC championship game participants or the four teams who will make the College Football Playoff field.

[+] EnlargeMalcome Kennedy
David J. Phillip/AP PhotoMalcome Kennedy and the Aggies are sitting at 3-0, but there's still plenty of course corrections to be made on the field this season.
There's valid reasoning for it: the Aggies have a quality win on their résumé, a convincing road victory over South Carolina. They are ranked sixth in the country, first in our SEC power rankings and the general consensus is that more success is ahead for Kevin Sumlin's crew.

But every team has flaws and the Aggies are no exception. And several of those flaws were visible in Texas A&M's most recent game, a 38-10 win against Rice.

Texas A&M had fewer total offensive yards, rushing yards, first downs and ran only 59 plays to Rice's 91 on Saturday.

The offense had its hiccups, such as the opening drive which consisted of a dropped pass, an intentional grounding penalty and an incomplete pass. The Aggies were only 3-for-8 on third-down attempts. Even though it wasn't a bad offensive day (477 yards, 38 points), the Aggies' standard is set so high that a day like Saturday is considered a down day (the Aggies had more than 600 yards and 50 points against both South Carolina and Lamar, their first two opponents).

"People get a little spoiled with how we play offense around here," Sumlin said. "And if we don't score right off the bat, the sky is falling. We'd like to score every time the first series of every game. Our percentage is high enough that people get frustrated and our team starts pressing a little bit. But you know what? That's football."

Defensively, the Aggies allowed a season-high 481 yards including 240 rushing yards. It was the first time this season the Aggies allowed a team to reach 100 or more rushing yards, a far cry from last season when allowing 200 or more rushing yards was the norm.

But the first two weeks provided different circumstances. In Week 1 vs. South Carolina, the Aggies raced out to a large lead, virtually taking the running game away from the Gamecocks as a long-term option, and the Gamecocks' star back, Mike Davis, was injured. In Week 2, the Aggies were simply far superior to Lamar, an FCS squad.

Rice, a well-coached squad whose head coach (David Bailiff) knows Sumlin well from their days coaching head-to-head in Conference USA, provided a viable challenge. A mix of read-option, speed option, play-action passing and a mobile quarterback (Driphus Jackson) gave the Aggies plenty to deal with, especially minus a key player, starting middle linebacker Jordan Mastrogiovanni.

Still, Sumlin was happy with what the final scoreboard read.

"Ten points," he said. "That's pretty good. If we can keep our point totals down -- we gave up some yards, a lot of yards at time -- and the time of possession deal, third down. We're not nearly where we've been the last two weeks on third down.

"I think their quarterback played very, very well, particularly in the first half, extending drives, improvising, not just the option, but dropping back and taking off."

Sumlin noted third downs, which the Aggies allowed 10 conversions on 21 Rice attempts. The biggest play allowed was the result of freshman cornerback Victor Davis biting on a Jackson pump fake, which left receiver Mario Hull wide open for a 35-yard touchdown. With a lot of youth in key positions, things like that are bound to happen.

The result on the scoreboard was positive at the end of the night. But that doesn't mean the Aggies are perfect and Sumlin acknowledged that.

"Guys weren't very happy with how they played," Sumlin said. "Rice had something to do with that. They had a great plan. Our guys were kind of ho-hum in the locker room afterward and hard on themselves because of their performance. That's good, when you get to that point, as a team, because there's a lot of guys that would have liked to have won 38-10 today and be happy with how they played."

SEC bowl projections: Week 3

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
8:00
PM ET
We're creeping closer and closer to the meat of conference season in the SEC. That just means things will get a little clearer in the bowl picture for the league.

We had a major shakeup at the top of our predictions with South Carolina's 38-35 upset win over Georgia, but we're still going with one SEC team making the College Football Playoff and 11 teams from the league making it into the postseason:

College Football Playoff semifinal (Rose Bowl): Alabama
Orange Bowl: Texas A&M
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl: South Carolina
Capital One Bowl: Auburn
TaxSlayer Bowl: LSU
Outback Bowl: Ole Miss
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Georgia
Belk Bowl: Missouri
AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl: Mississippi State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Florida
Birmingham Bowl: Tennessee

SEC Reigns Over AP Rankings

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
3:23
PM ET


video

ESPN College Football Insider Brett McMurphy discusses the latest Associated Press college football poll, where the SEC has an unprecedented seven teams in the top 15.

SEC again dominates AP poll

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
2:07
PM ET
video

South Carolina's win over Georgia vaulted the Gamecocks 10 spots to No. 14 in The Associated Press college football poll, giving the Southeastern Conference an unprecedented seven teams in the top 15.

The SEC had eight teams ranked in the poll for the third straight week and five teams in the top 10 for two weeks running. Alabama was third behind No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Oregon, followed by No. 5 Auburn, No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 8 LSU and No. 10 Ole Miss.

Georgia fell to No. 13 after losing to the Gamecocks 38-35, and Missouri was No. 18.

Florida State, which was off, had 37 first-place votes, losing one to the Ducks, who had 17.


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Aggies' Speedy Noil Out For SMU Game
Heather Dinich discusses why Texas A&M's offense should be able to overcome the absence of WR Speedy Noil due to an unspecified injury, which will prevent him from playing against SMU this weekend.
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