SEC: Asher Allen

Thoughts on Georgia's pro day

March, 19, 2009
3/19/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

ATHENS, Ga. -- After choosing not to throw at the NFL combine last month, former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford did his best Thursday to prove that he should be the top pick in April's draft.

A couple of the NFL people I talked with said Stafford certainly did nothing to hurt his chances. His arm looked as strong as it ever has, and he made all the different throws. I only saw a handful of incompletions, and a couple of those looked like they should have been caught.

The thing that's most impressive to me about Stafford is how he's totally reshaped his body. Remember how he almost looked pudgy when he first came to Georgia? Not anymore. He looks like a different guy and said he's in the best shape of his life. Stafford said he really hasn't lost that much weight. He played at 228 pounds last season and said he's now 225, but he's totally redistributed that weight.

Stafford's sidekick in the Georgia backfield last season, tailback Knowshon Moreno, failed in his bid to run a faster 40-yard dash than he did at the NFL combine. Moreno turned in a 4.63, which is slower than I thought he would run.

Then again, Moreno is not one of those guys who simply runs away from everybody. His blend of power and acceleration, along with his endless supply of moves, are what make him so special.

Cornerback Asher Allen helped himself by running a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash. That's after running a 4.47 at the NFL combine.

Top cornerback Reid headed to Florida State

February, 3, 2009
2/03/09
7:46
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Cornerback Greg Reid, who had backed out of an earlier commitment to Florida, announced Tuesday night that he would sign with Florida State.

Reid, who's from Valdosta, Ga., and is considered the state of Georgia's top prospect, had narrowed his choices to Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. He's rated the No. 2 cornerback prospect in the country by ESPN's Scouts Inc. Reid is the No. 15 prospect overall in the 2009 class.

The Bulldogs, in particular, need cornerback help after losing Asher Allen early to the NFL draft and were hopeful of landing Reid, who visited Georgia officially last weekend.

SEC loses 15 underclassmen to draft

January, 16, 2009
1/16/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The unofficial count on SEC underclassmen leaving school early to enter the NFL draft this year is 15, which is nearly one-third of the total number of players leaving school early around the country.

Here's a breakdown by school of the SEC players declaring for the draft. The deadline to declare was Thursday, although players have 72 hours to change their minds as long as they don't sign with an agent:

  • ALABAMA: Running back Glen Coffee and offensive tackle Andre Smith.
  • AUBURN: Defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and cornerback Jerraud Powers.
  • LSU: Defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois and receiver Brandon LaFell.
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Safety Emanuel Cook, tight end Jared Cook and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
  • VANDERBILT: Cornerback D.J. Moore.

It's worth noting that only six of the 15 underclassmen coming out made my postseason edition of the 25 best players in the SEC, which was based on their performances this season through the SEC Championship Game. They were Coffee (20th) and Smith (2nd) at Alabama, Harvin (6th) at Florida, Moreno (5th) and Stafford (8th) at Georgia and Moore (9th) at Vanderbilt.

As I look back on it, Auburn's Marks should have been on that list. That's one I missed, and LSU's LaFell was borderline with his eight touchdown catches.

Lunchtime links: Newton leaving Florida

January, 14, 2009
1/14/09
1:16
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

We take a stroll around the SEC to see what others are writing and saying about the league:

  • Florida backup quarterback Cam Newton's legal problems are being cleared up, but he won't remain with the Gators, Florida Today's David Jones reports.
  • Columnist Kevin Scarbinsky of The Birmingham News writes that Nick Saban and Alabama will face something in 2009 the Crimson Tide didn't face to start last season -- lofty expectations.
  • South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier hopes some new blood on his offensive coaching staff will help revitalize the Gamecocks' offense, columnist Ron Morris of The State newspaper writes.
  • LSU coach Les Miles says the Tigers' difficulties in recent years against Tennessee's defense is what led him to John Chavis.

Lunchtime links: Alabama signee Murphy eligible

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
1:31
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Making the rounds to see what else is making headlines in the SEC:

SEC rich in talented defensive backs

November, 5, 2008
11/05/08
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

This might be one of the best years in a long time for defensive backs in the SEC.

Don't believe so?

Take a look at the 13 semifinalists named this week for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes annually to the nation's top defensive back.

The SEC has five of the 13 players on that list. The Big Ten is next with three players.

Here's the other thing: All five players from the SEC are underclassmen, and all five will almost certainly be around again next season.

On the list are Tennessee sophomore safety Eric Berry, Vanderbilt junior cornerback D.J. Moore, Georgia junior cornerback Asher Allen, Kentucky junior cornerback Trevard Lindley and South Carolina junior safety Emanuel Cook.

Berry leads the SEC with six interceptions. Lindley leads the league with 13 passes defended and also has four interceptions. Moore is one of the best multi-purpose players in the country. In addition to playing cornerback, he's also played receiver and returned punts and kickoffs this season.

Cook leads all SEC defensive backs with 72 total tackles, and Allen is one of the best cover cornerbacks in the league.

You could put together a pretty fair secondary with those five players.

Still plenty to prove for Georgia's defense

October, 29, 2008
10/29/08
3:26
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez describes his defense as a "scratch and claw group."

And that's been good enough for the Bulldogs to claw their way to No. 6 in the BCS standings and stay in both the SEC and national championship races.

 
 AP Photo/Bill Haber
 Darryl Gamble took two interceptions back for touchdowns last week against LSU.

Will it be good enough to beat a Florida team that's putting up Xbox-like offensive numbers with the kind of speed you usually find at the Olympic track-and-field trials?

That's one of the key questions looming as the Bulldogs and Gators get set to play the most anticipated game in this rivalry in a long time.

"We've got talent at every position, and everybody understands their role," Martinez said. "But we're at our best when all 11 guys are playing. That's been our identity."

For much of this season, that identity has been hard to define.

The Bulldogs have looked dominant at times defensively. Then at other times, they've looked pretty average.

As Georgia coach Mark Richt correctly points out, the Bulldogs wouldn't have won at South Carolina had it not been for the defense, and they held Arizona State to 4 yards rushing and Tennessee to 1 yard on the ground. They're also starting to force some turnovers. Five of their 11 turnovers this season have come in the last two games, and linebacker Darryl Gamble took two interceptions back for touchdowns last week against LSU.

But against the best two offenses the Bulldogs have faced this season, it hasn't been pretty.

Alabama was up 31-0 before anybody could blink back on Sept. 27 and wound up winning 41-30. The Crimson Tide had three touchdown drives of 60 yards or longer in the first half and rolled up 286 yards of total offense by halftime, so it wasn't like the Bulldogs were coming onto the field with their backs to their own goal line.

"Definitely, we'd like to take back that first half against Alabama," Georgia junior cornerback Asher Allen said. "But from the second half on in that game, we've been playing well, getting turnovers, getting pressure on the quarterback and making teams one-dimensional.

"But we still have some things to prove out there. There were some games we needed to make some stops, and we were able to do that some. Being able to do that the whole game is the identity we want."

(Read full post)

Georgia's Green and Stafford emerge together

September, 21, 2008
9/21/08
1:37
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Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

TEMPE, Ariz. -- It's not the Two Stooges and it's not the Two Blind Mice and everyone knows that three -- not two -- is the magic number.

So it probably bodes well for Georgia that its talented offensive duo of Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno appears to have found a third big Dawg with which to attack defenses.

"Want to ask about A.J. Green?" Georgia coach Mark Richt queried reporters a few moments into his post-game comments.

 
  Chris Morrison/US Presswire
 The combination of true freshman receiver A.J. Green and junior QB Matthew Stafford is working wonders for the Bulldogs.

Green, a true freshman, hauled in eight passes for 159 yards with a TD in the third-ranked Bulldogs 27-10 beatdown of Arizona State.

Those numbers eclipsed his totals from the previous three games, and announced that Georgia has a new weapon as it begins its SEC schedule next Saturday against Alabama.

What did it mean for Green to slice and dice the Sun Devils coverage and become the Bulldogs first receiver to have more than 100 yards receiving since 2006 and post the team's best tally since 2004?

Well, Stafford, maybe the most physically talented QB in the nation, threw for a career-high 285 yards.

"Y'all [can] say it's a breakout game, but I just try to make plays every game," Green said.

Green, 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, did almost all his damage in the first half, catching seven passes for 150 yards before the break. Richt said that Green exploited soft, man-to-man coverage on the wide side of the field.

"We definitely wanted to make sure we kept it coming his way," Richt said. "He basically changed the game for us."

Added Stafford, "He was alone out there a lot and it's a good matchup."

Arizona State quieted Green in the second half by rolling coverage toward him with extra safety help. But the damage was done.

"My guess is the next team will have a better plan," Richt said.

That might be true, but extra attention for Green means an opposing defense won't be able to focus its efforts on Moreno. And wide receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, no slouch himself, figures to find the going easier.

Green's teammates didn't seem terribly surprised by Green's evening. He's shown flashes in previous games, but he'd already raised more than a few impressed eyebrows in practices.

"What you saw today was what I think a lot of the team was waiting for to come out," cornerback Asher Allen said. "He most definitely changed the game today."

The Bulldogs defenders seemed to take particular relish in the youngster's breakthrough. Perhaps they enjoyed watching an opposing defense look bad trying to contain the Parade All-American from Summerville, S.C.

"He makes crazy catches no matter how bad the pass is," linebacker Rennie Curran said.

That translates to: Green can increase Stafford's margin for error.

Consider the Bulldogs touchdown drive that gave them a 21-3 lead right before the half. The 5-play, 70-yard drive featured passes of 23, 31 and 14 yards to Green, the final one for the score on third-and-8.

It was basically Stafford and Green effortlessly playing pitch and catch.

"He's a special player," Stafford said. "You can see it in practice. We knew he had to get a couple of touches."

Now, with Alabama coming to town with its freshman phenom receiver, Julio Jones, the big question is: Who's the best freshman wide receiver in the SEC?

Bulldogs realistic in narrow escape

September, 13, 2008
9/13/08
8:41
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The steam still rising off his uniform, Georgia junior cornerback Asher Allen shook his head slowly at the question.

 
  AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain
  Georgia's Asher Allen (2) recovers a fumble in the end zone by South Carolina's Mike Davis (25) that ended a touchdown drive for the Gamecocks in the fourth quarter of the Bulldogs' 14-7 win.

The No. 2-ranked Bulldogs had just escaped with their life in a 14-7 win over South Carolina in a muggy, nasty sauna known more commonly around here as Williams-Brice Stadium.

The question: You guys play like the No. 2-ranked team in the country?

"Um, no ... nah," Allen said. "Hopefully we'll be able to, but you've got to play four quarters to be thought of like that. We were able to push through and win. But it was a sloppy win, considering that we had to fight, fight, fight. But it was also a great win as far as confidence, because you've got to make plays to win a game like this, and a bunch of guys did."

Allen had one of the biggest plays of the game when he pounced on a fumble in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter when it appeared that South Carolina was about to tie the game. The Gamecocks' Mike Davis went airborne from the 2-yard line and was popped by Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran. The ball squirted into the end zone, and Allen was there to recover.

"It's never easy against these guys," Allen said. "It's never easy in the SEC."

Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) found out plenty about itself Saturday against a gallant South Carolina team that was still smarting after losing to Vanderbilt more than a week ago.

For one, the Bulldogs aren't the unstoppable juggernaut they looked like in their first two cakewalks against Georgia Southern and Central Michigan. Pass protection, in particular, is a problem. They also discovered what the rest of the SEC will find out soon enough, and that is that South Carolina's defense is one of the better units in the league.

But most importantly, they answered a question that faces all teams with visions of winning a championship: Can you win in a tough environment against a highly motivated team when you don't have your best stuff?

"A game like this is only going to prepare us for the rest of the season, because nothing's going to be easy for us," said Georgia tailback Knowshon Moreno, who was held to 79 yards on 20 carries, but scored Georgia's only touchdown on a gorgeous 4-yard run. "We knew this wasn't going to be easy. This is the SEC."

With a second straight trip looming next weekend, all the way across the country at No. 13-ranked Arizona State, the Bulldogs are ready for more of the same.

"We'll be better ... and we'll have to be better," Moreno said.

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