NCF Nation: Zach Rogers

Vols unleash new version of Double Trouble

September, 13, 2012
There’s a reason Tennessee used to be known as Wide Receiver U.

The Vols cranked out explosive deep threats in the passing game the way the Hawaiian Islands did world-class surfers.

That pipeline to the NFL has slowed somewhat over the years, but it looks like it’s about to pick back up with the game-changing tandem of Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson making an early claim to being the two best receivers in the SEC.

[+] EnlargeCordarrelle Patterson
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireCordarrelle Patterson has already had three plays of over 40 yards this season.
“It’s like being a kid in a candy shop with two guys like that to throw to,” Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray said. “You drop back and know that nine times out of 10 the defense isn’t going to be able to cover them both.”

The Vols’ passing game was supposed to be a three-headed monster this season, but Da’Rick Rogers was dismissed from the team in August after failing multiple drug tests.

Rogers led the SEC with 67 catches last season and was second with 1,040 receiving yards.

But in Patterson, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound junior college transfer who’s been clocked at 10.3 in the 100 meters, the Vols have essentially replaced Rogers with somebody who’s just as big, just as sure-handed and even faster.

On his 67-yard reverse for a touchdown against North Carolina State in the opener, Patterson cut back across the field with his galloping strides and made everybody on defense look like they were running backward.

“From the first day I saw him in seven-on-sevens, I knew what we were getting,” Hunter said. “I just looked at our DBs and said ‘Good luck.’”

As dynamic as the Hunter-Patterson combo has looked the first two weeks, the real test comes Saturday against Florida. The Gators shut out Texas A&M in the second half last week on the road and aren’t shy about manning up against receivers and letting their front seven go get the quarterback.

The Vols’ reaction this week has been predictable: Bring it on.

“I’ve always been taught that if somebody plays you man-on-man, you’ve got to go out there and beat them,” Hunter said. “So your eyes have to light up when you get that kind of coverage.”

Patterson also expects to see Florida cornerbacks pressing him, although he’s not sure that’s a very good idea.

“If they key in on me, they’re going to leave Justin open,” Patterson said. “I don’t think they want to do that.

“This is what everybody is waiting for, the game everybody wants to play in. Either it’s going to expose you or let everybody know you’re ready for this.”

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Hunter has been counting down the days to Saturday’s game ever since going down with a torn ACL on the fourth play of the game last season against the Gators.

[+] EnlargeJustin Hunter
Jim Brown/US PresswireJustin Hunter showed he was back in a big way against Georgia State, scoring three TDs.
“I just wished I could have been there for my team,” Hunter said. “It seems like this game came the fastest, even faster than the first game this season. I’m ready, just ready to get out there and do what I didn’t have a chance to do last year.”

Patterson, who’s originally from Rock Hill, S.C., took a circuitous route to Tennessee. His last year of high school ball was the 2008 season, and he went to North Carolina Tech from there, although he didn’t play football during the 2009 season. He spent the next two seasons at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College and blossomed into one of the top junior college prospects in the country.

When he arrived on Tennessee’s campus this summer, the hype surrounding him was circus-like.

Even Patterson laughs about it now.

“Yeah, I heard it, but I didn’t pay any attention to it,” he said. “I knew I had to come in here and compete. I wasn’t going to let it go to my head.”

It didn’t take Patterson long to show that the hype was warranted. He scored twice from long distance in the opener against NC State and is averaging 18.2 yards per catch on nine receptions through the first two games.

Hunter caught three touchdown passes last week against Georgia State after being shut out in the opener. He has 17 catches in his first two games and looks like he’s shaken off any rust that might have been there from missing most of last season.

“I think it was just that I was anxious to get out there the first game and try to do too much and show people that I was back,” said Hunter, who has 12 touchdown catches in 18 career games. “The second game, I was more confident and more comfortable.”

The loss of Hunter so early in last season’s game was a huge downer for the Vols. Bray still finished with 288 passing yards and three touchdowns in the 33-23 loss, but ended up throwing it 48 times and was intercepted twice in the second half. The Vols finished with minus-9 rushing yards.

Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said it’s important that the Vols find some more balance than they did a year ago in Gainesville, but they’re not going to get away from what they do best.

“We’ve got to do a good job of mixing it up, but we’ve got to throw and catch pretty good, too,” Dooley said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to score points.”

What to watch in the SEC: Week 3

September, 13, 2012
We're heading into Week 3 in the SEC, so here's what to watch:

1. Quarterback health: The statuses of Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and South Carolina's Connor Shaw are still unknown. Wilson suffered a head injury against Louisiana-Monroe, while Shaw is still nursing a bruised shoulder from Week 1. For the Gamecocks, losing Shaw for the second straight week won't really hurt South Carolina's offense. It was just fine without him against East Carolina. However, Arkansas isn't in the same position. Brandon Allen completed just 6 of 20 passes against Louisiana-Monroe in place of Wilson. Not having Wilson will make Saturday's game against No. 1 Alabama that much tougher for the Razorbacks.

[+] EnlargeJohn L. Smith
AP Photo/Danny JohnstonCoach John L. Smith and his Razorbacks face a formidable foe in No. 1 Alabama this week.
2. Arkansas' defense: Speaking of the Razorbacks, what has happened to that defense? It was supposed to be more aggressive and more disciplined under Paul Haynes. We saw neither in the second half against Louisiana-Monroe, as the Razorbacks blew a 21-point lead. The defense was shredded against a lesser opponent and now has to play one of the most balanced attacks in the SEC. Last year, Alabama wore down this defense. If Arkansas is going to pick itself up, it has to play much tougher than it has in the first two games. Alabama has far more talent than Arkansas' first opponents and has the capability to really beat this unit down.

3. Tennessee’s passing game vs. Florida’s secondary: This game always comes down to the running game, but the difference this time will be Tennessee's passing game against Florida’s secondary. The Gators are loaded with talent back there and made tremendous strides during the second half of the Texas A&M game, while Tennessee might have the best passing game in the SEC, led by quarterback Tyler Bray. The matchups between Justin Hunter and Marcus Roberson and Cordarrelle Patterson and Loucheiz Purifoy should be great. Zach Rogers is another deep threat the Gators have to be careful about, but Matt Elam has the ability to take the deep ball away for Florida. Should be fun.

4. Must-wins: Both Auburn and Vanderbilt are 0-2 and are coming off tough losses. The Commodores blew a halftime lead at Northwestern, while Auburn was overmatched across the board at Mississippi State. The Tigers are struggling with or without the ball this season, and that's a major concern. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier has to get going, and he's facing the team that just knocked off Arkansas. Vandy just can't get anything going on offense. The explosion we expected to see has been mostly absent through two games and the Commodores have to generate some sort of offensive momentum this weekend against Presbyterian.

5. Mississippi State keeping its edge: Now that Dan Mullen and his Bulldogs have gotten over the hump of beating a West opponent not named Ole Miss, the Bulldogs can’t get complacent. That was just one win, and this team has far bigger goals than just beating Auburn. With the schedule Mississippi State has, it’s very possible the Bulldogs could be 6-1 or 7-0 heading into the Alabama game at the end of October. But this team has to focus on Troy and come out strong against a team that won’t be a pushover.

6. Showdown in the Grove: It’s been a long time since a game in Oxford got attention like Saturday’s showdown with Texas has been receiving. It’s eerily similar to the 2003 game with Eli Manning and LSU, although there isn’t hatred in the air. The Grove is gonna be poppin’ and Oxford is expected to double in size. There’s more confidence around that town because Ole Miss is 2-0 for the first time since 2009. The talent difference between Ole Miss and Texas is obvious, but the Rebels have some momentum and some conviction. Can the Rebels stop that burnt orange wave coming to town?

7. The newbie's returns: Missouri and Texas A&M got a nice taste of what life will be like in the SEC last weekend. Now, it's time for both teams to regroup. Both teams lost a lot of steam in the second half, which was expected. Missouri has the challenge of playing Arizona State and its high-flying offense. The Sun Devils have averaged 54 points through two games, averaging 532 offensive yards in the process. The Tigers got into a shootout with Arizona State last year, but can they handle another one after that physical loss to Georgia? The Aggies are taking on SMU in Dallas, and are also recovering from a tough loss to Florida. This is a game where Texas A&M should try to get more out of its running game, which has to generate more production up the middle.

8. Mettenberger’s arm: Through the first two games of the season, we’ve been anxiously waiting to see what Zach Mettenberger could really do in LSU’s offense. So far, he’s yet to eclipse the 200-yard passing mark in a game and has just two touchdowns -- pedestrian numbers compared to what everyone expected. But the Tigers have utilized their running game flawlessly and haven’t needed to send the ball downfield much. Saturday, that should change. It’s time to unleash Mettenberger and get him going more in the offense before LSU gets into conference play.

9. Lattimore’s workload: If Steve Spurrier wanted to push Marcus Lattimore anymore last week, he would have. But the Head Ball Coach gave his workhorse a bit of a rest against East Carolina, running him just 13 times. Maybe Spurrier just wanted to get his new quarterback, Dylan Thompson, a chance to show his stuff in place of Shaw. But as Lattimore continues to return from his knee injury, he’ll need to get more reps and get more comfortable on the field before league play revs up. UAB should provide him the opportunity to do that.

10. Florida’s winning streak: The Gators have had Tennessee’s number for seven straight years now. Not since Dallas Baker’s infamous slap in Knoxville have the Vols bested Florida. This might be Tennessee’s best shot since. There’s no question that this is the best and most complete Vols team Derek Dooley has had. The Vols have cruised through the first two weeks, while Florida’s offense stumbles in with a lot of uncertainty concerning the passing game. Florida might have the edge on defense, but Tennessee’s offense knows how to put up points. Is this the year Tennessee finally gets the Gator off its back?

SEC Heisman Watch: Week 2

September, 4, 2012
Each of our preseason Heisman candidates did well in their openers. Sure, there was some rust for both running backs, who both returned from season-ending injuries, but that was to be expected. We even added a new face to the list after his arm guided his team to a big win in the Georgia Dome last Friday.

Here's how our Heisman watch list looks heading into Week 2:

1. Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas: He was arguably the SEC's top returning quarterback, and he proved as much by setting an Arkansas opening-day record by passing for a league-high 367 yards and had three touchdowns against Jacksonville State. People respect Wilson's game, but he's still not getting a ton of publicity nationally. That will change if he continues to perform like this.

2. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: There certainly was some rust that Lattimore had to shake off in his return from his ACL injury. You could tell that he wasn't truly at 100 percent, but that didn't stop him from being a bully out on the field against Vanderbilt. In his first game since last October, Lattimore carried the ball 23 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the Gamecocks with three catches for 21 yards.

3. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: Murray started the Buffalo game with a few poorly thrown balls, but he rebounded to have a pretty solid afternoon. Murray connected on 15 of his 26 passes for 258 yards and three touchdowns against the Bulls. Murray also did a good job of taking care of the ball, as he left the game with zero turnovers Saturday.

4. Tyler Bray, QB, Tennessee: The loss of Da'Rick Rogers at wide receiver didn't seem to both Bray, as he threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns in Tennessee's win over NC State. Bray's night looked even better as he continuously abused All-American cornerback David Amerson. He burned Amerson with a 41-yard touchdown pass to newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson and then went at him again on a 72-yard bomb to Zach Rogers for another score.

5. Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas: Like Lattimore, Davis had to get his football legs back Saturday. In his first game back after a devastating ankle injury that cost him all of his 2011 season, Davis carried the ball 18 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. The explosive Davis only averaged 3.9 yards per carry and his longest run went for just 13 yards, but he said after the game that he felt he did well in his return. There's no question that there's more to come from Davis this fall.
Tennessee receiver Da'Rick Rogers has been indefinitely suspended from the team and his status for the rest of the season is yet to be determined, the school announced Thursday.

The junior led the SEC with 67 catches and was second in the league with 1,040 receiving yards in 2011. He also caught nine touchdown passes.

Rogers had run-ins with the coaching staff during the offseason, but from all accounts he was having a very productive fall camp. His absence now puts more on the shoulders of Justin Hunter, who is returning from a season-ending ACL injury and junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson.

Tennessee released its depth chart for the season opener against NC State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff on Thursday, with senior Zach Rogers and freshman Cody Blanc behind Patterson and Hunter.

Stay tuned to the SEC blog for more on Rogers and the Vols.
Justin Hunter and Da'Rick RogersAP Photo/Wade PayneJustin Hunter (11) and Da'Rick Rogers (21) are considered to be the best receiving duo in the SEC.
Our SEC position rankings continue with a look at schools' wide receiver and tight end groups.

Past rankings:
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:

1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.

2. Arkansas: Cobi Hamilton is now Arkansas' primary receiver, and he might be the league's most complete wideout. He can make the big-play and elude defenders along the way. While Marquel Wade's status is still unclear, if he does return, he'll be a major lift for this offense because of his playmaking ability in the slot. Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon have always impressed coaches in practice and now will get their chances to in games. Tight end Chris Gragg should be even more involved and is the league's top tight end.

3. Georgia: While Malcolm Mitchell could go back and forth between receiver and corner, when he's at receiver he's Georgia's top offensive threat and was one of the league's best as a rookie. There are vets behind him, starting with reliable senior Tavarres King, who had a very good spring, senior Marlon Brown, who seemed to take a big step in his game this spring. Sophomores Michael Bennett and Chris Conley combined for 48 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Unproven tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome will replace Orson Charles and Aron White.

4. Texas A&M: This isn't the fastest group out there, but there are some pretty reliable weapons, starting with star Ryan Swope, who could have left for the NFL after catching 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Uzoma Nwachukwu was third on the team with 50 catches for 639 yards and three tight ends -- Nehemiah Hicks, Michael Lamothe and Hutson Prioleau -- return. Keep an eye on junior Nate Askew, who could be a downfield threat this fall.

5. LSU: Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the top rookies last year and could be even better in Year 2. He'll be joined by potential deep threat and big-play target Jarvis Landry, who developed some good chemistry with quarterback Zach Mettenberger this spring. Russell Shepard is talented, but he's been wildly inconsistent. Keep an eye on junior James Wright and incoming frosh Avery Johnson, who is the younger brother of Patrick Peterson. Also, tight end Chase Clement is on the John Mackey watch list.

[+] EnlargeJordan Matthews
Don McPeak/US PresswireWide receiver Jordan Matthews is one player the Commodores will be counting on this fall.
6. Vanderbilt: This group surprised last year and returns most of its components, starting with Jordan Matthews, who was fourth in the SEC in receiving last year. Sophomore Chris Boyd was solid last year, hauling in 31 catches and eight touchdowns. Jonathan Krause is very good in space and should see his role increase this fall after a solid spring. The coaches are excited about former QB Josh Grady moving to receiver. Replacing tight end Brandon Barden won't be easy.

7. Alabama: There is more speed out wide in Tuscaloosa, but there's a lot more youth. The Tide could turn to freshmen Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams to help develop a more downfield passing game. More will be expected from veterans Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, while sophomore DeAndrew White possesses a ton of speed. Still no word on Duron Carter. Tight end Michael Williams was solid last year, but will be used even more this fall.

8. Mississippi State: There is a lot of experience here, but this group has still underperformed at times, especially senior Chad Bumphis, who has yet to live up to all the hype that followed him from high school. Seniors Chris Smith and Arceto Clark combined for 65 catches last year, while the staff is very excited about the big-play potential redshirt freshman Joe Morrow possesses. Tight end Malcolm Johnson serves as a very reliable tight end target, as well.

9. Missouri: The Tigers lost two starting receivers and stud tight end Michael Egnew, but three of the top five pass catchers are back, including inside threat T.J. Moe, who led Mizzou in receiving last year. Big things are expected from Marcus Lucas, who can stretch the field with his speed and physicality, and the coaches think L'Damian Washington can also be a downfield threat. Also, Dorial Green-Beckham, last year's top recruit, should make an immediate impact. Eric Waters is replacing Egnew, but has just two career catches and suffered a knee injury this spring.

10. Auburn: Emory Blake is one of the league's top downfield threats and has been one of Auburn's most consistent offensive weapons. So has tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who should be more of a passing threat with the addition of transfer fullback Jay Prosch. There is a lot of depth, but it's unproven. Trovon Reed was supposed to be a star, but had a lackluster second year. Seniors Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton have 15 and 14 career catches, respectively. Quan Bray has shown potential and could have a bigger role this season and keep an eye on freshman Ricardo Louis.

11. Florida: The Gators have struggled here since 2009 and still lack proven playmakers. Andre Debose is probably the best bet to be one, but he's been very inconsistent. Quinton Dunbar has the speed to be an outside threat, but caught just 14 passes last year. And the coaches are still waiting for senior Frankie Hammond Jr. to turn things up. True freshman Latroy Pittman had a great spring and the coaches are excited about his potential. Tight end Jordan Reed is one of the most athletic players in the league and will be a bigger target with two young quarterbacks throwing the ball.

12. South Carolina: Now that Alshon Jeffery is gone, the Gamecocks have questions and inexperience here. The fast, athletic Ace Sanders is the only returning pass catcher with at least 20 catches from last year (29). The hope is Bruce Ellington will be more of a factor this fall. Tight ends Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson combined for 26 catches and four touchdowns. Damiere Byrd has blazing speed, but caught just one pass last year. DeAngelo Smith had a solid spring, and the coaches hope he can be a downfield threat. A lot will be expected from incoming freshman Shaq Roland.

13. Ole Miss: Sophomore Donte Moncrief is a budding star in this league and thinks he'll be even better in Hugh Freeze's spread offense. Ja-Mes Logan caught 20 passes last year, but had a very good spring. But Nickolas Brassell was an academic casualty and Randall Mackey had to move over from quarterback. The coaches are looking for consistency from Terrell Grant and Vince Sanders, who are both pretty unproven. Tight end Jamal Mosley is expected to do more in the spread and averaged 13.8 yards per catch last year.

14. Kentucky: Joker Phillips' goal this spring was to find more playmakers and he thinks he did with sophomore Demarco Robinson, who had five receptions last year, and redshirt freshman Daryl Collins. The hope is that they'll take some pressure off of La'Rod King, who is really the only proven receiving threat on the team. Tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson did well this spring, but combined for just 10 catches last year.

What to watch in the SEC: Week 5

September, 29, 2011
We are starting to learn more about every team in the SEC, but there is still room for growth on every squad.

We know that LSU and Alabama are the teams to beat in the conference and are setting up for a national championship knockout game in November.

We know that Florida's defense is better than we expected and the running game is very tough to stop with all that speed. We still don't really know much about the passing game, but it has been efficient enough to this point.

We know that South Carolina has the talent and the athletes, but the focus isn't always there. We saw tremendous improvement in the defense last week and something tells me that trend will continue. We also know that running back Marcus Lattimore won't be able to continue carrying the heavy load he has had through the first part of the season.

And we know that Arkansas just isn't the same team that it was last year. The defense is much-improved, but not having Knile Davis in the backfield has held the offense back at times.

We'll know even more after this weekend, and here's what to watch in Week 5:

1. Something has to give in Columbia: Outside of ultimate workhorse Lattimore, South Carolina’s offense looked awful against Vanderbilt last week. For most of the season, the Gamecocks have struggled to get anything really going on offense when Lattimore isn’t touching the ball. Oh, and Stephen Garcia seems to be more mistake-prone than ever. Enter Auburn’s defense. The Tigers are allowing 477.5 yards per game, which is most in the SEC and 110th nationally. So, maybe South Carolina’s offense can rebound against Auburn. Or maybe it will be the complete opposite. Someone has to win this game and someone will. But which team will come to play for longer?

[+] EnlargeAJ McCarron
Jeffrey G. Pittenger/US PresswireAJ McCarron and his Gators counterpart, John Brantley, will need to open up their downfield passing games Saturday.
2. Downfield passing games: Alabama and Florida have spent most of the season cramming the ball down opponents’ throats with their running games. The two are first and second in the league, respectively, in rushing offense and are in the top three in rushing defense. Passing the ball, however, hasn’t looked as pretty. Alabama ranks 64th nationally in passing (225.25 yards a game), while Florida is 79th (202.75). With two defenses that eat up the run like Cookie Monster does Chips Ahoy, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and Florida’s John Brantley might have to look downfield more in this contest. Those passes to the flat and check downs won’t come as easily in this one for either team.

3. Jet lag: If a rough start in Oxford, Miss., isn’t bad enough, Ole Miss has to travel across the country to take on Fresno State. Last year, the Rebels hung 55 on the Bulldogs, but that was at home. Ole Miss hasn’t been able to get much done offensively this season, especially with a quarterback shuffle on its hands. The running game doesn’t have the same grit it has during the past three years under coach Houston Nutt and the offensive line isn’t playing to its potential. This trip comes at the worst time for this team. It’s a long flight and could be an even longer game with the way the Bulldogs score points, meaning the Rebels’ offense will have to step up even more.

4. Arkansas’ pass rush: The Razorbacks will be without defensive end Tenarius Wright, who is out four to six weeks with a broken arm, and could have to play without end Jake Bequette for the third game in a row. During the two weeks in which Bequette was out, the Hogs had just three sacks. Arkansas’ inability to consistently get to the quarterback really hurt it when Troy put up 373 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air. Arkansas was better against Alabama last week, but not having both these players won’t help them against Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill, who is averaging just under 300 yards a game.

5. Life without Justin Hunter: Tennessee suffered a devastating loss when sophomore wide receiver Hunter tore his ACL very early in the Florida game two weeks ago. Now coach Derek Dooley will look to fill Hunter’s spot at the “X” position by committee. Zach Rogers will get the first shot, starting in the X, but expect Dooley to call on a few other young receivers to help out quarterback Tyler Bray. Da’Rick Rogers also needs someone else out there to lessen the double-teams he’s likely to see from here on out. Freshman DeAnthony Arnett, who had a breakout game against Florida, is listed as the backup to Rogers and so is former running back Rajion Neal, who has seven career catches.

6. Bounce-back Bulldogs: Georgia hosts Mississippi State this weekend, and both teams are in must-win situations. Georgia is already behind the eight ball in the East with both South Carolina and Florida getting early conference wins. Two SEC losses won’t kill Georgia, but this team is looking to build momentum to get through the heart of the SEC, and losing now could drain this team. Mississippi State just hasn’t looked like the team that put up 93 points and 1,176 yards through the first two weeks. Since then, this pack of Bulldogs has averaged 266.5 yards in the past two games and has scored just 32 points. Mississippi State is 0-2 in conference play and desperately needs to get in the win column in conference play.

7. Teacher vs. student: Will Muschamp might not know much about “Star Wars,” but he definitely knows that people are extremely interested in seeing him take on his former mentor in Nick Saban. Florida and Muschamp are the underdogs at home, while Saban and his Alabama team will enter Gainesville as the villains. It’s a great storyline for us in the media, but publicly neither cares too much about it. However, neither wants to be bested by the other. Expect Muschamp to unveil a few wrinkles that should frustrate Saban a bit. But don’t think Saban won’t have a few things up his sleeve to trick his former pupil.

8. Quarterback shuffle: As we’ve said time and time again on the blog, Ole Miss’ offense has really struggled this season. It’s also had three quarterbacks line up and take snaps. Barry Brunetti started off the season as the Rebels’ signal-caller, then he was benched for Zack Stoudt, and eventually Randall Mackey came in. Stoudt has taken the majority of the snaps, but Mackey took reps with the first-team offense during Wednesday’s practice. Nutt said he would like to redshirt Brunetti, but there’s a chance he could still play again this year. Nutt wasn’t made available to the media after practice, so let the speculation begin on who will line up under center first in California this weekend. Regardless of who makes the start, if things get bad, you can bet there will be a quarterback switch at some point.

9. Even more SEC flare in Arlington: Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Arkansas is a preview of even more to come from the Aggies and the SEC in the future. With Texas A&M officially making the move to the SEC in time to start athletic competition next season, expect to hear more than the normal amount of SEC chants echoing throughout Cowboys Stadium. In fact, you might hear it right when the Aggies take the field. Will that cause Arkansas players and fans to go easy on their future family members? Absolutely not. There will be handshakes and hugs early, but it will be all business after kickoff.

10. A youth jolt for Kentucky’s offense:
Freshman Josh Clemons will continue to be the guy at running back for Kentucky this weekend when the Wildcats travel to Baton Rouge to take on No. 1 LSU. The youngster is healthy and ready to take on one of the most smothering defensive fronts in the entire country. Besting LSU’s defense probably isn’t going to be something Clemons and Kentucky do often Saturday, but coach Joker Phillips is hoping that he can generate some more consistency for Kentucky’s offense. The Wildcats haven’t moved the ball well, but Clemons has been a bright spot at times. Clemons is getting ready for a major road test, but it will be good experience for the frosh, who is in charge of this running game with Raymond Sanders sidelined with a knee injury.