NCF Nation: Tommy Beecher
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- South Carolina is 6-for-6 this season. The Gamecocks have played six quarters and have now thrown six interceptions.
Chris Smelley added to the total with two picks in the first half Thursday, as the Gamecocks managed to stagger into halftime with a 10-3 lead over Vanderbilt.
Smelley, taking over for Tommy Beecher as the Gamecocks' starter, never really found a rhythm. And a couple of his passes that weren't intercepted were dangerous throws.
Vanderbilt missed a great chance to tie the game after Darlron Spead intercepted a Smelley pass over the middle and returned it 41 yards to the South Carolina 30. The Commodores moved inside the 5, but had to kick a short field goal.
The South Carolina defense has smothered Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson, who has 18 yards rushing at the half. Nickson totaled a career-high 166 last week.
Even though the Commodores are hanging around, they likely will need to score on defense or special teams to win this game. They just haven't been able to dent the South Carolina defense.
The Gamecocks will be short-handed in the second half. Star receiver Kenny McKinley watched the second quarter in street clothes from the sideline after suffering what South Carolina officials said was a right leg injury. It looked like it might be a hamstring, because he was icing it.
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low
Here's a look at our first installment of "Hot and Not" in the SEC. We'll do this every week throughout the season after all of the games are played. We'll top it with that week's "En Fuego" award and end it with the dubious "Ice, Ice Baby" award:
Alabama's offensive line: Even without star left tackle Andre Smith for much of the second half, the Crimson Tide offensive line controlled the game and reminded us all what being physical is all about. Clemson's fannies are probably still smarting.
Vanderbilt quarterback Chris Nickson: He brings a dimension with his ability to run the ball (166 yards in the opener) that's critical to the Vanderbilt offense.
The Auburn passing game: The Tigers had just 28 yards passing at the end of the third quarter last Saturday in their 34-0 rout of Louisiana-Monroe.
Ole Miss running back/receiver Dexter McCluster: He's the Rebels' version of "Slash" and he had 125 total yards last weekend. Gotta love the Wild Rebel formation.
Mississippi State's offense: The Bulldogs' five turnovers were bad enough. But the real clincher: They didn't have a first down in the fourth quarter.
LSU's composure: The game was moved up to a 10 a.m. start and a deadly hurricane was bearing down on the Gulf Coast, but LSU never blinked and went out and took care of business.
Kentucky's defense: We knew the Wildcats would be stout up front defensively, but they're as talented and deep across the board on defense as they've ever been under Rich Brooks.
Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson: He played exactly the way the Tide needs him to in the opener. He managed the offense, didn't force things and made plays when they were there.
Tennessee tailback Arian Foster: Crippling fumbles will tarnish an otherwise stellar career. He had another one against UCLA that totally changed the complexion of that game.
ICE, ICE BABY
Tennessee's coaching staff: Not the best start for Phillip Fulmer & Co. New offensive coordinator Dave Clawson had first-year starter Jonathan Crompton throw the ball 41 times. The defense played soft in coverage and never adjusted to UCLA's short passing game in the second half. How many touchdowns do the Vols need to give up on special teams before they hire a full-time coordinator?
Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich
Not so fast, FSU fans. Those of you who have already bought your No. 14 jerseys as your vote for Christian Ponder this season might want to know Drew Weatherford hasn't conceded anything just yet.
Here's an interesting tidbit about Miami from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: The last time Miami had this much inexperience at quarterback was in 1983, when Bernie Kosar led the Hurricanes to a national title.
This just in: Resurrecting Miami's program ain't easy.
The Florida Sports Writers Association College Football Media Days are going on, hence the news from Miami. Here's the Palm Beach Post's take on it. Here are some notes and quotes that were in the Orlando Sentinel, which is getting the silent treatment from George O'Leary. And of course, the Miami Herald was there, too. And the Florida Times-Union.
For those of you Wolfpack fans paying attention to what's going on at South Carolina (Aug. 28 season opener), you might be interested in Steve Spurrier's latest vote of confidence in quarterback Tommy Beecher.
In NC State's own backyard, Tom O'Brien, Butch Davis and David Cutcliffe got together Thursday at the Triangle Pigskin Preview. These guys have a sense of humor (O'Brien's rather dry). But it's also July. The Raleigh News & Observer had a similar take on it.
Here's a belated thought on Virginia Tech starting the 2009 season in the Georgia Dome, much like Clemson is this year: Georgia Tech -- and Georgia for that matter -- can't be happy about this. Two other ACC schools coming into their recruiting turf and stealing the national spotlight out of their own backyard? Can't be good.
Oh, geez, I hate it when this happens.
Check back later for what FSU offensive line coach Rick Trickett thinks of my opinions.