SEC: Brad Wing

A Decade of Les: All-Miles team

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
10:00
AM ET
BATON ROUGE, La. -- With Les Miles opening his 10th season as LSU's head coach this week, we’ll use each day to review the decade with Miles helming the Tigers' program. Today we take a swing at naming a roster of the best players from the Miles era.

Let's break down the picks by offense, defense and special teams and discuss some of the tougher decisions.

OFFENSE
Among the most difficult positions to settle on were running back and wide receiver.

We went with Jeremy Hill (who set a record for a back with at least 200 carries by averaging 6.9 yards per carry in 2013) and Jacob Hester at running back. Because of his ability to play fullback, Hester -- the leading rusher on the 2007 BCS championship club with 1,103 yards and 12 touchdowns -- gets the nod over a host of talented alternatives like Charles Scott, Joseph Addai and Stevan Ridley.

[+] EnlargeJarvis Landry
AP Photo/Gerald HerbertJarvis Landry had 77 catches for 1,193 yards last season before being drafted by the Dolphins in the second round.
Receiver was an even more difficult position to evaluate. Wideouts such as Dwayne Bowe, Early Doucet and Rueben Randle all belong on the list, but we went with Jarvis Landry, whose 2013 (77 catches, 1,193 yards, 10 TDs) was the best single-season effort in the Miles era, and Brandon LaFell, a two-time All-SEC pick who is LSU's career receiving leader (2,517 yards) under Miles. We added Odell Beckham Jr. as an all-purpose player thanks in large part to a standout 2013 season (59 catches, 1,152 yards, eight TDs) when he won the Paul Hornung Award as the nation’s most versatile player and ranked second nationally in all-purpose yardage (178.1 yards per game).

There are quarterbacks worth mentioning aside from JaMarcus Russell, namely Matt Flynn and Zach Mettenberger, but Russell completed one of the best seasons by a quarterback in LSU history in 2006 (232-of-342, 3,129 yards, 28 TDs) before becoming the top overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft.

La'el Collins gets the nod at one offensive tackle spot over candidates like Andrew Whitworth and Joe Barksdale, so he needs to prove he deserves that distinction this season. He has the potential to be the best pro prospect LSU has had at tackle under Miles.

LINEUP
QB: JaMarcus Russell
RB: Jeremy Hill
RB: Jacob Hester
WR: Brandon LaFell
WR: Jarvis Landry
TE: Richard Dickson
OT: Ciron Black
OG: Herman Johnson
C: Rudy Niswanger
OG: Will Blackwell
OT: La'el Collins
AP: Odell Beckham Jr.

DEFENSE
Defensive line and secondary have been loaded positions under Miles and John Chavis, so picking just two players at those positions wasn't easy.

[+] EnlargePatrick Peterson
Kim Klement/USA TODAY SportsPatrick Peterson won the Thorpe and Bednarik awards during the 2010 season.
At defensive end, we went with two-time All-SEC pick and eventual No. 3 overall draft pick Tyson Jackson and Sam Montgomery, LSU’s sack leader under Miles with 32.5 between 2010 and 2012, over alternatives like Barkevious Mingo and Melvin Oliver.

One tackle position was easy with 2007 Outland, Lombardi, Nagurski and Lott award winner Glenn Dorsey claiming one of the spots. The other tackle was a tough call, but we went with 2012 first-round pick Michael Brockers over a ton of great options such as Drake Nevis, Al Woods, Bennie Logan, Claude Wroten and Kyle Williams.

It would have been awfully difficult to pick just two cornerbacks if we hadn’t added a nickelback spot for Tyrann Mathieu to occupy. One of the SEC’s leading defensive playmakers of the 2000s, he definitely belongs on the roster, but Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne feel like no-brainers at corner, too.

At safety, it wasn’t much fun leaving All-American Craig Steltz off the list, but Eric Reid and LaRon Landry both made All-America teams, too -- and both of them became first-round draft picks, while Steltz went in the fourth round in 2008.

Linebackers Kevin Minter (130 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss in 2012) and Kelvin Sheppard (116 tackles in 2010) posted the top single-season tackle totals of the Miles era, while Ali Highsmith earned one All-America designation when he totaled 101 tackles and nine tackles for a loss on the 2007 BCS championship club.

LINEUP
DE: Sam Montgomery
DT: Glenn Dorsey
DT: Michael Brockers
DE: Tyson Jackson
LB: Ali Highsmith
LB: Kevin Minter
LB: Kelvin Sheppard
CB: Patrick Peterson
S: Eric Reid
S: LaRon Landry
CB: Morris Claiborne
Nickel: Tyrann Mathieu

SPECIAL TEAMS
LSU has had a bunch of electric kick returners under Miles. Peterson, Claiborne and Beckham would have been among the top options among kickoff returners, but since they're already on the roster, we went with Trindon Holliday, LSU's career kickoff return yardage leader under Miles (1,806 yards between 2006 and 2009). Peterson, Beckham, Holliday and Mathieu were phenomenal punt returners, so let’s add another new name to the list in Skyler Green, who ranks second all-time among LSU punt returners with 1,064 yards between 2002 and 2005.

It's tough to ignore LSU's single-season and career kicker scoring leader Colt David, but Josh Jasper is the most accurate field goal kicker in school history (83.9 percent) and trails only David on the kicker scoring list with 120 career points.

Brad Wing posted two of the top five seasons by a punter in school history in 2011 (an All-America season where he averaged 44.37 yards per punt) and 2012 (44.8), so he gets the nod over Derek Helton, Patrick Fisher and Chris Jackson.

LINEUP
PK: Josh Jasper
P: Brad Wing
KOR: Trindon Holliday
PR: Skyler Green
Now that you've seen Mel Kiper Jr.'s updated Big Board, take a look at where his position rankings stand Insider after the NFL combine. In his last batch of rankings, 28 SEC players made the cut, and the league was represented by at least one player at every position, except fullback.

In Kiper's post-combine rankings, 26 SEC players were listed. Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, Tennessee offensive guard Dallas Thomas, South Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger, and Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden were left off this time. The head-scratcher to me is the absence of Gooden, who was ranked fourth at outside linebacker in Kiper's pre-combine rankings. He blew up the combine and proved to have the best speed of any of the linebackers working out and showcased tremendous strength and athleticism.

Making it on Kiper Jr.'s list this time were Texas A&M running back Christine Michael, Arkansas tight end Chris Gragg and Tennessee wide receiver Justin Hunter.

Here's where Kiper put SEC players in his post-combine position rankings:

Quarterbacks

4. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Running backs

1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama

3. Christine Michael, Texas A&M

Fullbacks

None

Wide receivers

2. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

4. Justin Hunter, Tennessee

Tight ends

3. Jordan Reed, Florida

5. Chris Gragg, Arkansas

Offensive tackles

2. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

4. D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Offensive guards

1. Chance Warmack, Alabama

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky

Centers

3. Barrett Jones, Alabama

Defensive ends

2. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Defensive tackles

1. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

4. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

Inside linebackers

2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia

3. Kevin Minter, LSU

5. Jon Bostic, Florida

Outside linebackers

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

5. Cornelius Washington, Georgia

Cornerbacks

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama

4. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Safeties

2. Matt Elam, Florida

4. Eric Reid, LSU

Kickers

2. Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Punters

2. Brad Wing, LSU

Lunchtime links

February, 22, 2013
2/22/13
12:00
PM ET
It's Friday. Can't really top that.
Players are gathering in Indianapolis, so that means this year's NFL combine is officially underway. The first two days are all about the interviews and eye tests, while the on-field workouts begin Saturday.

But before any of them stepped foot in Indy, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. released his pre-Combine Big Board Insider. Naturally, it's loaded with SEC players. Twelve of the 25 players on Kiper's Big Board are from the SEC, including six of the top 10 players.

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones kept his place in the No. 1 spot, while Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel jumped in front of teammate Damontre Moore to move from No. 3 to No. 2.

Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd made a major move up Kiper's rankings, moving from No. 15 to No. 8.

Here's where all 12 SEC players ranked on Kiper's Big Board heading into the Combine:

1. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia

2. Luke Joeckel, OT, Texas A&M

3. Damontre Moore, DE, Texas A&M

6. Dee Milliner, CB, Alabama

8. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Florida

10. Chance Warmack, OG, Alabama

12. Barkevious Mingo, DE, LSU

15. Sheldon Richardson, DT, Missouri

16. D.J. Fluker, OT, Alabama

18. Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia

21. Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee

25. Matt Elam, S, Florida

Kiper also updated his position rankings Insider this week. Twenty-eight SEC players made Kiper's position rankings, and the league was represented by at least one player at every position, except fullback.

Here's where Kiper put SEC players in his position rankings:

Quarterbacks

4. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas

Running backs

1. Eddie Lacy, Alabama

5. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina

Fullbacks

None

Wide receivers

1. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee

Tight ends

3. Jordan Reed, Florida

Offensive tackles

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

3. D.J. Fluker, Alabama

Offensive guards

1. Chance Warmack, Alabama

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky

4. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee

Centers

2. Barrett Jones, Alabama

Defensive ends

1. Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

4. Barkevious Mingo, LSU

Defensive tackles

2. Sharrif Floyd, Florida

3. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri

Inside linebackers

1. Alec Ogletree, Georgia

3. Kevin Minter, LSU

5. Jon Bostic, Florida

Outside linebackers

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia

4. Zaviar Gooden, Missouri

5. Cornelius Washington, Georgia

Cornerbacks

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama

3. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State

Safeties

2. Matt Elam, Florida

4. Eric Reid, LSU

5. D.J. Swearinger, South Carolina

Kickers

2. Caleb Sturgis, Florida

Punters

2. Brad Wing, LSU
Now that all of the early entries for this year's NFL draft are in, we decided to take a closer look at some of the players who decided to leave school early.

We're checking in on how teams were affected and who some of the winners and losers were from all of these early departures:

[+] EnlargeJoeckel
Brett Davis/US PresswireIt was a no-brainer for Luke Joeckel to take his talents to the NFL.
1. Biggest winners: Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel flirted with staying in school for his senior year, but it appears that would have been a major mistake for the nation's top left tackle. He was a guaranteed top-10 pick for most of the season, but with the draft creeping closer, Joeckel has a great chance of being the top pick come April. He definitely made the right decision to leave school early, and so did his teammate Damontre Moore. After a monster 2012 season, Moore could follow Joeckel as the second player taken off the board. He moved to defensive end last fall and is a very attractive pick for teams because of his versatility. Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner could also hear their names called very early in April, as they too could both be top-five picks.

2. Biggest loser: LSU was ravaged by the NFL draft, as ten underclassmen declared early. Some were pretty obvious, but others left people confused. It didn't shock anyone that defensive linemen Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan declared. Montgomery and Mingo could be first-round draft picks, while Logan could go within the first three rounds. Safety Eric Reid and linebacker Kevin Minter made sense as well, but seeing punter Brad Wing, cornerback Tharold Simon, offensive lineman Chris Faulk and running backs Spencer Ware and Michael Ford all leave was pretty surprising. The Tigers will be losing seven quality starters and basically their entire defensive line. LSU has a lot of quality youngsters who will be vying for major playing time, but losing all that experience will hurt the Tigers in 2013.

3. Head-scratchers: Ware, Ford and Simon could all have benefited from another year in Baton Rouge. Neither Ford nor Ware hit the 400-yard rushing mark and combined for just four touchdowns on the season. Maybe the emergence of freshman running back Jeremy Hill helped influence their decisions. South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders shocked everyone when he decided to turn pro at the last minute. Sanders was one of the league's top multipurpose weapons, and while he isn't going to get any taller (he's a generous 5-foot-8), he could use another year to improve his receiving skills. He'll be looked at as a returner first in the NFL and won't likely be drafted very high at all. Also, Florida linebacker Jelani Jenkins could have used another year of school as well. He was banged up in 2012, only playing in nine games, and registered just 29 tackles. He's a very smart player, but another year could have helped his draft status even more.

4. The replacements:

  • LSU loses a lot, but that doesn't mean that the Bayou is void of talent. Wing will be replaced by sophomore-to-be Jamie Keehn, who started in Wing's place for the Chick-fil-A Bowl. With Ware and Ford gone, Hill will be helped out by Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard in the run game. Junior-to-be Anthony Johnson should get more reps at defensive tackle with Logan gone, and he'll also be helped by Ego Ferguson. Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins both had solid seasons at corner, so expect more of each with Simon gone.
  • With Eddie Lacy leaving Alabama, rising sophomore T.J. Yeldon will now be the guy at running back for the Crimson Tide. With his 1,000-yard season, he's already proven that he can more than handle himself in this league. He'll also be helped by Dee Hart and Jalston Fowler, who are both returning from knee injuries, and Kenyan Drake, who looked impressive in mop-up duty last season. Also, keep an eye on incoming freshman Derrick Henry, who is already on campus and should be a factor in the run game.
  • Sanders' departure at South Carolina means Bruce Ellington is now the top returning receiver for the Gamecocks, and it also puts more on the shoulders of Shaq Roland, who was expected to make an immediate impact during his freshman year. Roland has the skills to be a big-time threat in the passing game.
  • Georgia lost some key juniors on defense, but no one will be missed more than Jones. Jordan Jenkins came on strong in his first year last fall, and will do his best to replace Jones' pass-rushing ability.
  • Florida only lost three underclassmen to the draft, but replacing safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd will be tough. There are a host of youngsters who could vie for Elam's spot (keep an eye on freshman Marcus Maye), while Damien Jacobs will help man the middle of Florida's line with Leon Orr.
Well, Nick Saban and his gang of future NFL ballers proved to us once again that it is indeed Alabama's world, after claiming their second consecutive national title and third in four years Monday night. That ringing in your ears is just the sound of "Roll Tide" being repeated over and over in your head. I've learned there's nothing we can do about it.

But will 2013 bring college football a team that can really stop the Tide? I mean, REALLY stop Alabama from winning a third straight national championship? Well, ESPN's Mark Schlabach seems to believe that the road to Pasadena is paved in crimson and white, as he has Alabama No. 1 in his Way-Too-Early-Top 25 for 2013.

It's hard to blame him at this point. Sure, Alabama's offensive line won't be nearly as good with Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack leaving. And it will take even more of a hit if/when D.J. Fluker decides to turn pro. But with quarterback AJ McCarron, running back T.J. Yeldon (we're assuming Eddie Lacy and his sweet spin move are headed to the NFL), wide receiver Amari Cooper and a host of studs on the defense returning, Alabama will again be the team to beat.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
John David Mercer-USA Today SportsJohnny Manziel and Texas A&M, ranked fifth by Mark Schlabach, host way-too-early No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 14 in the SEC opener for both teams.
Oh, and a not-so-tretcherous schedule won't hurt the Tide's chances either.

But there are some quality teams in the SEC that will fight to dethrone Alabama, and Schlabach has four in his top 10. Texas A&M, which returns the Heisman-winning Johnny Football, ranks fifth, Georgia is sixth, South Carolina is seventh and Florida is 10th. The thing about all those teams is that they all return their starting quarterbacks, with Georgia's Aaron Murray being one of the best in the country alongside Johnny Manziel.

South Carolina will be one of the more balanced teams in the SEC next fall, and if Florida can actually find a passing game in 2013, watch out because that defense will still be fierce, even with a few junior defections.

LSU, checking in at No. 13, is the only other SEC team in Schlabach's top 25. The Tigers are expected to have a better offense, especially with Zach Mettenberger finally finding his comfort zone under center, but a poor offensive showing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl defeat to Clemson and the loss of junior running backs Michael Ford and Spencer Ware create an uneasy feeling around the offense. Plus, the defense just took a beating as a result of juniors departing for the NFL, especially up front. All-American punter Brad Wing also left.

The good news for LSU is that running back Jeremy Hill is returning, and he'll only be a sophomore.

It's a good list to start off with, but where in the world is Vanderbilt? The Commodores are coming off of a historic season in Nashville. There were nine wins that included a bowl victory, five conference wins and a seven-game winning streak. The quarterback and running back spots might be up for grabs, but Jordan Matthews is coming back, along with fellow receiver Chris Boyd. And most of the rest of the offense remains intact.

The defense will lose a lot up front, but linebacker Archibald Barnes and cornerback Trey Wilson are the only other significant losses.

There was room for Vandy in there somewhere ...

SEC weekend movement

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
10:30
AM ET
All the attention is on tonight's Discover BCS National Championship, but eyes were all over the SEC over the weekend, with a handful of players making decisions about their futures.

Here's a look at some of the movers and shakers from the weekend to check up on:

FLORIDA

Backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who was beaten by Jeff Driskel for the starting spot at the beginning of the season, and reserve running back Chris Johnson, who was primarily used on special teams, have decided to transfer. Brissett's decision didn't shock anyone. He was behind Driskel all year and played in just five games and his only start came late in the year when Driskel was out with an ankle injury. Johnson arrived at Florida as a safety, but moved to running back, where he was buried on the depth chart. His lasting image with the team was being ejected in the Gators' loss to Louisville in the Allstate Sugar Bowl for punching a Louisville player.

The loss of Brissett is significant when it comes to depth. After Driskel, the Gators will have three scholarship quarterbacks entering the 2013 season, but basically no experience. Tyler Murphy will be a redshirt junior, but has never thrown a pass at the college level, while Skyler Mornhinweg will be a redshirt freshman and Max Staver will be a true freshman. That means Driskel's health becomes the top priority in 2013 for the Gators.

GEORGIA

While Florida lost a quarterback, Georgia kept one, with Aaron Murray deciding to stay for one last year with the Bulldogs. Murray seriously considered leaving school early for the NFL, but will return for one final attempt at making a run to a championship. With the defense Georgia had in 2012, this past season felt like the best chance Murray had at winning multiple championships with the Bulldogs. Next year's defense will be gutted, so it will be back to the drawing board for that side of the ball.

One thing that has been counted against Murray when it comes to the pro level is his height. At 6-foot-1, he doesn't have ideal height for a quarterback, but what might have helped him in this year's draft was the play of Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who stands just 5-11, but has had a tremendous rookie year. Murray isn't going to get any taller, but he does have a chance to break even more records in a Bulldogs uniform and could improve his stock for the 2014 NFL draft.

On Friday, linebacker Jarvis Jones decided to enter April's NFL draft. No shocker at all, as he's No. 1 on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board. Jones is a two-time All-American and has been right at the top of the list for the nation's best defensive player for the past two years. He would have been silly to come back for a final year at Georgia, and he's going to make himself -- and his family -- a ton of money. He was one of the league's most exciting players to watch, but it was his time to move on.

LSU

There was a mass exodus from LSU over the weekend, as eight underclassmen decided to leave the Bayou. It started with linebacker Kevin Minter last week. Then, safety Eric Reid, cornerback Tharold Simon, running back Spencer Ware and punter Brad Wing decided to leave LSU early Friday. On Sunday, sources told ESPN's Joe Schad that defensive linemen Sam Montgomery, Barkevious Mingo and Bennie Logan would also enter the NFL draft.

Losing those linemen wasn't much of a surprise, as Mingo and Montgomery are projected to be first-round draft picks, and Logan is rated as Kiper's fifth-best defensive tackle among juniors. Wing's time in Baton Rouge seemed to be coming to an end, and his bowl suspension didn't help, but Simon and Ware could have benefited from another year of football. With the emergence of freshman Jeremy Hill, Ware saw his carries decline in 2012, while Simon still has some room to improve. He's rated the No. 15 cornerback by ESPN Scouts Inc., but didn't blow a ton of people away in 2012. He has great size and instincts, but it was surprising to see him leave early.

Another one of LSU's top defensive weapons is leaving, as the school announced Friday that junior safety Eric Reid will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL draft.

It's hardly a surprise that the All-American decided to throw his hat into the draft, but the Tigers will really miss their leader and ball hawk. Reid is ranked third among junior safeties by ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. and is No. 42 overall by ESPN's Scouts Inc. He joins linebacker Kevin Minter and cornerback Tharold Simon as the LSU juniors leaving early for the NFL, but he probably won't be the last with all the top junior talent sitting on LSU's defense.

As the only returning starter in LSU's secondary this year, Reid finished the season with 91 tackles and two interceptions. During his three-year career, Reid started 29 games and recorded 194 tackles with six interceptions.

Reid wasn't just an outstanding player for the Tigers, he was a top-notch individual as well. The Baton Rouge native bled purple and gold long before he stepped on LSU's campus and he was the ultimate leader for the Tigers during his career. LSU will certainly miss that aspect of Reid's game and the Tigers will definitely miss his tremendous play as the last line of defense for them.

"I've been very fortunate and blessed to have been able to play football at LSU," Reid said in a news release. "It was always my dream to go to LSU and play football."

LSU's defense is expected to also lose junior defensive ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Defensive tackle Bennie Logan and punter Brad Wing also are considering making the jump to the NFL.

Aggies' Damontre Moore entering NFL draft

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
1:25
PM ET
No big surprise, but Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore plans to give up his senior season and will enter the NFL draft.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has the 6-foot-4, 248-pound Moore rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in April's NFL draft. Moore is tied for second in the SEC with 12 sacks and ranks third with 20 tackles for loss. He proved this season that he could be effective in a 4-3 scheme after playing previously as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Moore's two teammates -- offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews -- have yet to make their decisions on the NFL draft. Both are projected as first-round picks, and Joeckel has been pegged as a top-5 selection by some analysts.

Here's an updated list of SEC underclassmen who've already declared for the NFL draft:
Below is another list of SEC underclassmen expected to turn pro or seriously considering doing so:

LSU keys for the Chick-fil-A Bowl

December, 31, 2012
12/31/12
12:30
PM ET
Here's a look at three keys for No. 8 LSU's matchup with No. 14 Clemson in tonight's Chick-fil-A Bowl:

1. Contain Clemson's passing game: Quarterback Tajh Boyd had another solid season for Clemson. He was second in the ACC with 3,550 passing yards and led the league with 34 touchdowns through the air. Two other reasons LSU's defense has to be on its toes when it comes to Clemson's passing game? How about wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins? The two combined for 125 catches and 1,922 yards with 19 touchdowns. Watkins came in with all of the hype, but Hopkins had the tremendous season, leading the ACC with 1,214 yards and 16 touchdowns. He has 10 touchdown receptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer, which leads the nation, while Watkins has gained 422 of his 708 receiving yards after the catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Clemson owns one of the most explosive offenses in the country, and LSU surrendered more than 300 passing yards in the last three games of the season after not allowing more than 276 through the first nine games.

2. Bring that November offense to Atlanta: LSU has been able to run the ball all season, but only really started throwing the ball well in November. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger finally felt comfortable in the Tigers' offense during the bye week leading up to the Alabama game. He then threw for a career-high 298 yards against Alabama and finished with three consecutive 200-yard games after not registering back-to-back 200-yard games through the first eight games of the season. If LSU brings the balanced offense that helped it go during the last month of the season, it'll present a host of problems for Clemson's defense, which has continued to struggle. Remember, LSU has four backs with more than 350 yards, and all four are averaging more than 32 yards per game. Stopping the run will be tough enough, but now having to worry about Mettenberger's arm is just another obstacle for Clemson.

3. Don't put pressure on Keehn's leg: With starting punter Brad Wing suspended, freshman Jamie Keehn will take the field. The one thing you don't want to give Clemson is good field position to work with, and Wing had the leg to get LSU out of any difficult situation. Keehn has punted just three times this season, and that was in the opener. Although he averaged 41 yards on his three punts, the pressure will certainly be on him inside the Georgia Dome. LSU's defense has shown some bend in the past few weeks, so having Clemson work with a short field could be trouble.

SEC lunch links

December, 21, 2012
12/21/12
12:25
PM ET
Linking our way around the SEC on a Friday:
LSU will be without one of its most recognizable players when the Tigers take on Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31.

The school announced on Thursday that redshirt sophomore punter Brad Wing has been suspended for LSU's bowl game after he violated team rules. Specifics weren't given about what Wing did to earn his suspension.

The Melbourne, Australia, native has been one of the nation's best punters over the past two seasons, and averaged 44.8 yards on 59 punts for the Tigers this year. Freshman Jamie Keehn of Miners Rest, Australia, will replace Wing. Keehn has averaged 41 yards on three punts this year and has a long of 51 yards.

Wing already missed the opener this season with what coach Les Miles said was a hamstring injury.

While Wing hasn't been as dominant booting the ball this year like he was last year, he still has the ability to change a game with his leg. He has tremendous power and accuracy and has gotten the Tigers out of plenty of jams over the past two years by blasting the ball deep into opposing teams' territory. When the Tigers have needed to completely change the field position game, Wing has been there countless times.

He has a long punt of 69 yards this year, has punted 21 inside opponents' 20-yard line and has 19 punts of 50 or more yards this season.

It's unusual for kickers or punters to leave early for the NFL draft, but with Wing being draft eligible, it wouldn't be out of the realm of possibility that he would heavily consider leaving school early. He's more than proved what he can do when the ball touches his foot and there has been word that he's at least contemplating it.

Lunchtime links

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
12:00
PM ET
Ending the week with some SEC links.

Did you know?

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
10:00
AM ET
It's time to take a look at some weekly notes from the SEC and ESPN Stats & Information:
  • Alabama and LSU are tied for the longest active streak of being ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 poll at 22 weeks each. Georgia is fifth at three weeks.
  • Alabama and LSU are tied for the longest active streak of being ranked in the top 10 of the AP Top 25 poll at 23 weeks each. South Carolina is fourth at eight weeks and Georgia tied for fifth (with Florida State) at six weeks.
  • On offense, the SEC teams run the ball 56.0 percent of the time, which is the third highest percentage of all FBS conferences. The Mountain West runs the ball 59.6 percent of the time while the Big Ten is at 56.6 percent. In the SEC, teams run the ball an average of 38.1 times per game and pass the ball 29.9 times per game.
  • SEC teams are scoring an average of 33.2 points per game, which is third among all FBS conferences. The Big 12 leads the nation at 41.0 points per game and the ACC is second at 33.9 points per game. Last year, the SEC scored at an average of 27.3 points per game, which was the lowest since 2008 (25.6 points per game). After five weeks last season, SEC teams were scoring at a 31.2 points per game clip.
  • SEC defenses are allowing an average of 20.86 points per game, which is third among all FBS conferences. The Big Ten leads the nation at 19.84 points per game and the Big East is second at 20.33 points per game. Last year, the SEC defenses gave up an average of 20.7 points per game, which was the lowest since 2008 (20.5). After five weeks last season, SEC teams were giving up an average of 20.0 points per game.
  • In nonconference games this season, SEC defenses are allowing 17.03 points per game.
  • Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson became the SEC career record holder for kickoff return yardage last week. In his career, he has 2,755 yards (on 115 returns), which surpassed Brandon James of Florida’s total of 2,718 yards (112 returns).
  • Zach Mettenberger has completed 60.7 percent of his passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield and has been worse than 50 percent in only one game (Auburn). The Tigers are 13-0 since the start of 2010 when they complete more than 50 percent of their throws of 15 yards or more.
  • LSU’s defense has pressured the quarterback on 59 of 161 (36.6 pct) of opponents’ drop-backs this season. Barkevious Mingo leads the Tigers in pressuring the opposing quarterback 13 times. Sam Montgomery is second with eight. Of those 59 plays, 41 of them (69.5 pct) came when the Tigers sent four or fewer pass-rushers.
  • Jeff Driskel has at least one rush that gained 20 yards or more in each game this season. Driskel gained two of the four 20-yard runs on bootlegs. For the season, Driskel is averaging 11.1 yards per carry on designed running plays and 9.4 yards per rush on scrambles.
  • Georgia already has 11 touchdowns of 30 yards or longer this season which is one fewer than they had all of last season. The Bulldogs have 43 plays that have gained 20 yards or more, six more than any other FBS team.
  • Todd Gurley has eight rushes of 20 yards or longer this season, tied for the most in FBS. Fellow freshman, Keith Marshall, has five such runs. Last season no Georgia player had more than six rushes of 20 yards or longer and as a team they had a combined three 20-yard rushing touchdowns. Gurley (four) and Marshall (three) have a combined seven 20-yard rushing touchdowns already this season.
  • Georgia has run the ball on 62.8 percent of its first-down plays, averaging 6.9 yards per rush.
  • Marcus Lattimore has run for 358 yards and three touchdowns in two games against Georgia in his career. Lattimore is averaging 3.2 yards before contact against Georgia and has more 10-plus yard rushes against the Bulldogs than any other opponent.
  • Mississippi State’s opponents have converted a first down on third and at least 7 yards on just 3 of 28 attempts this season (10.7 percent), tied for the lowest percentage in FBS.
  • Tyler Russell completed 7 of 9 passes for 143 yards and a touchdown after a play-action fake last year against Kentucky.
Arkansas at Auburn
Auburn holds an 11-9-1 advantage in the series … Teams have split the last 10 meetings with Arkansas winning four of the last six matchups … Auburn is tied for fourth in the nation in kickoff returns with Onterio McCalebb third in the nation … Tiger linebacker Daren Bates leads the SEC and is tied for fifth in the nation in tackles per game … Arkansas wide receiver Cobi Hamilton is ninth in the nation in receiving yards per game and Dylan Breeding is ninth in the nation in punting … Arkansas ran 98 plays on offense at Texas A&M last week, the most by an SEC team since 2007 and tied for the ninth-highest single-game total in SEC history.

Mississippi State at Kentucky
The Wildcats lead the series with the Bulldogs 21-18 … UK leads 13-7 in games played in Lexington … State is making the trip to Lexington in back-to-back years (State won, 28-16, last year) … Wildcats made the trip to Starkville in back-to-back years in 2001 and 2002 … State has scored 144 points through the first four games, which is the most by a Bulldog team since 1994 … Bulldogs lead nation in turnover margin (3.25 margin) and interceptions per game (2.25) … MSU’s Darius Slay leads nation in interceptions (four) and teammate Johnthan Banks (three) is sixth .. Wildcats’ Avery Williamson is tied for 19th in the nation in tackles per game.

LSU at Florida
Florida leads series with LSU, 30-25-3 … The teams have met every year since 1971 … Since 2000, the teams have split the last 12 meetings … LSU has won the last two meetings, 41-11 last year at LSU, and 33-29, in 2010 at the Swamp … Florida’s last win over LSU came in 2009 at Tiger Stadium (13-3), which is the last loss by LSU at home … Gators are fifth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and 10th in scoring defense … Florida and LSU’s special teams excel -- Gators’ Caleb Sturgis is tied for fifth in the nation in field goals and Kyle Christy is 10th in punting; Tigers’ Brad Wing is 13th in the nation in punting.

Vanderbilt at Missouri
The Tigers lead the series, 2-1-1 … This is the first meeting between the two schools since 1958 (Vandy, 12-8) … The game was the first game at Missouri for then-head coach Dan Devine … Vanderbilt’s Zac Stacy has 2,343 career rushing yards, which is third in school history … His 21 career rushing TDs is fourth in school history … The Tigers, behind Marcus Murphy, are fourth in the nation in punt returns with Murphy seventh … Missouri is also tied for ninth in the nation in tackles for loss per game … Vandy is eighth in the nation in pass defense and Carey Spear is tied for fifth in the nation in field goals per game … Vandy is one of four teams (Florida, Miss. State and Texas A&M) to lead SEC this season in least amount of passing TDs allowed (two).

Texas A&M at Ole Miss
The Aggies lead the series with Rebels, 4-0 … A&M is the third team from state of Texas to play at Ole Miss this season … Rebs looking to break seven-game loss streak in SEC home openers (last win was versus Vanderbilt in 2004) … Texas A&M leads nation in net punting … Aggies defensive end Damontre Moore is second in the nation in tackles for loss per game and tied for second in sacks per game … Texas A&M and Ole Miss are tied for third in SEC with 13 rushing TDs this season (19-UGA; 16-LSU) … A&M is tied for SEC lead in least TDs allowed (five with Alabama and South Carolina).

Georgia at South Carolina
For the first time in the Georgia-South Carolina series, both teams are ranked in the top 10 coming into the matchup … Georgia leads series, 46-16-2, and 19-8-2 in games played at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia … The Gamecocks have won the last two meetings … USC head coach Steve Spurrier is 14-5 lifetime against Georgia while UGA head coach Mark Richt is 7-4 against South Carolina … The Gamecocks have won nine straight games (Florida, Citadel, Clemson, Nebraska, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, UAB, Missouri, Kentucky) dating back to last season. It matches the longest winning streak in school history, set in 1984 … The Bulldogs are second in the nation in passing efficiency, eighth in scoring offense, 11th in rushing offense and 11th in total offense … UGA quarterback Aaron Murray is third in the nation in passing efficiency while freshman tailback Todd Gurley is fifth in kickoff returns, tied for sixth in scoring and tied for 19th in rushing and all-purpose rushing … The Gamecocks are second in the nation in sacks, sixth in scoring defense, seventh in rushing defense, eighth in passing efficiency and tied for ninth in tackles for loss … Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is 10th in the nation in passing efficiency and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is tied for 12th in tackles for loss and tied for 18th in sacks.

GatorNation links: Watch the fake

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
1:41
PM ET
Michael DiRocco writes: LSU coach Les Miles has called fakes on special teams against Florida in the past two seasons, resulting in big plays. The Gators will be on the lookout this time, to be sure, but there are no guarantees the Mad Hatter will try it again. Also: Watch a video preview of the game.

DiRocco: GatorNation hosts a Q&A with GeauxTigerNation’s Gary Laney for perspective on LSU.

DiRocco Insider: Five storylines -- Florida vs. LSU

SPONSORED HEADLINES