SEC: Brandon Gibson

Third quarter: Alabama 15, LSU 0

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
10:57
PM ET
NEW ORLEANS -- It might be time for Les Miles to hand the ball off to Jarrett Lee.

Fans booed Jordan Jefferson after he returned to the field following a terribly thrown ball that was intercepted by Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and those boos got even louder after he was sacked to end that drive.

Jefferson now has 48 passing yards, an interception and 3 yards rushing. Alabama's defense hasn't given him much to work with at all, but Jefferson has been awful tonight.

Jefferson returned to the huddle just before the fourth quarter and received more boos from the LSU fans

So, will Miles think of going with Lee, who began the year as the starter? He struggled mightily last time he played against Alabama, but he couldn't do any worse than Jefferson, right?

As the fourth quarter started, LSU's players trudged over to its side of the field with absolutely no emotion.

Alabama continues to take the ball out of Trent Richardson's hands inside the 30-yard line, but kicker Jeremy Shelley has been bailing the offense out on LSU's side of the field. He has now hit five field goals in this one.

We came close to our first touchdown, but Brandon Gibson dropped AJ McCarron's pass at the goal line.

Honestly, with the way LSU's offense is playing, 15 points might be enough for Alabama. The Crimson Tide has all of the momentum and all of the emotion. LSU also has just 66 yards of offense.
It came as no surprise to Alabama’s players that Jim McElwain wouldn’t be back in 2012.

With what he had done in his four seasons as the Crimson Tide’s offensive coordinator, it only made sense that some school would lure him away.

That school was Colorado State.

What also didn’t surprise Alabama’s players was that McElwain decided to coach the Tide through next week’s Allstate BCS national Championship Game. Since his arrival, McElwain has always supported his players, and there was no reason to stop now.

Players admit he’s had plenty of opportunities to take the heat off of himself and blame them for mistakes, but hasn’t. He’s only tried to encourage.

“He’s the captain of the offensive ship and he’s our leader,” senior center William Vlachos said.

“He’s got our backs and it’s always about us. He’s there for us and we really appreciate that.”

Added junior tackle Barrett Jones: “That’s the kind of guy Coach Mac is. He’s the kind of guy that, no matter what, always has our backs. That’s why we love him, because he’s never going to throw us under the bus. If anything happens, it’s always his fault first, and that kind of thing. Not that it actually is his fault. That’s just what he would say.”

Players have dumped praise onto McElwain since his exit was announced, but the outside perspective hasn’t always been great. Opinions have ranged from Alabama’s offense is too stale to it can getting too one-dimensional.

McElwain’s Alabama offenses have never really been tremendously flashy, but they also haven’t cost the Tide many games in the last four years.
  • Alabama leads the nation by committing only 57 turnovers since the 2008 season.
  • Since his arrival, the offense has averaged 59.6 more yards per game and bettered its scoring by 8.9 points per contest.
  • Quarterback Greg McElroy set single-season passing records in 2010 with a 70.9 completion percentage, 20 touchdown passes and 2,987 yards, and the offense averaged more yards from scrimmage (435.6 per game) than all but one team in school history (480.7 in 1973).
  • He had two Heisman finalists in running backs Mark Ingram, who won it in 2009, and Trent Richardson this season.
  • Alabama enters the national title game against LSU with the SEC’s No. 1 rushing offense (219.8) and the No. 2 overall offense (433.4).

So, maybe that criticism is a little undeserved.

“He comes up with some great stuff every week,” Vlachos said. “His play calling has been exceptional since he’s been here and it’s really been strong.

“If that means running the inside zone with Trent every play, if that’s what’s going to work, then that’s what we’re going to do, even if that doesn’t draw the national attention.”

Alabama isn’t just losing a pretty good coach but Vlachos said it’s losing a pretty good person. McElwain has become more than just a coach to a lot of players. He can coach with some powerful intensity at times, but Vlachos said he’s still someone he plans to crack a beer or two open with in the future and chat about things other than football.

That’s one of the many reasons why these players are proud to see McElwain take this next step. That’s why there are no ill feelings toward him. McElwain had every opportunity to audition for coaching jobs and impress college presidents, but he always put Alabama first.

Now, his players are looking to put him first.

“He told us we put him in that position to have that opportunity,” senior wide receiver Brandon Gibson said. “Actually, he gave back to us so hopefully we're going to send him off hopefully with another national championship.”

Lunchtime links

December, 30, 2011
12/30/11
12:30
PM ET
SEC bowl season officially starts today. Check out these links as the year comes to a close. I hope everyone has a great weekend of football, food and fun. Happy New Year, everyone!
With spring officially over in the SEC world, it’s time to take another look at some of the guys who surprised this spring.

After the first weekend of spring games, guys like LSU wide receiver Kadron Boone and South Carolina offensive lineman A.J. Cann drew high praise from their respective coaches.

Here’s a look at the players from the past two weeks of spring games who helped get their names out there:

Alabama

RB Eddie Lacy -- Last season, Lacy’s production was hindered because of a problem with fumbling. Lacy helped shake that stigma with a strong spring and appears to have secured the No. 2 running back spot. He finished the spring game with 74 yards (44 rushing, 30 receiving).

WR Brandon Gibson -- The fifth-year senior had a productive spring not only at wideout, but he’s becoming more of a leader for the Tide. He's always been a special-teams workhorse, but he's looking to make a name at receiver. He recorded five catches for 53 yards, including a long of 27, in Alabama’s spring game.

Arkansas

S Eric Bennett -- The sophomore from Tulsa, Okla., made it a battle this spring at the strong safety position with senior Elton Ford. Bennett was a quarterback in high school and has an edge to him that all coaches like. Whether he wins the starting job or not, he’s proved that he can help the Hogs in the secondary in 2011.

RB Ronnie Wingo, Jr. -- With the season Knile Davis had a year ago, a lot of people forgot about Wingo. But he came back this spring and showed his big-play capability both as a ball carrier and pass-catcher. He rushed for 62 yards on 11 carries in the spring game.

Auburn

DE Joel Bonomolo – The junior college transfer was injured all of 2010, and while he’s still a bit raw, he led the defense during the spring game with six tackles, three for a loss, including two sacks. He still has some things to learn, but he finished the spring on the right track heading into the offseason.

RB Anthony Morgan -- Morgan has moved all over the field during his Auburn career, but seemed to make a statement at running back this spring. He finished the spring game with a team-high 57 yards on six carries, and if he continues to improve, coach Gene Chizik said he could earn playing time this fall.

Georgia

DT Kwame Geathers -- The sophomore noseguard was one of the biggest surprises of the spring for the Bulldogs. He was named the defensive MVP for spring practice by Georgia’s coaches and had four tackles, including two for loss, in the spring game.

RB Ken Malcome -- Injured for part of the spring and seemingly buried on the depth chart, Malcome showed some of his bulldozing ability in the spring game. He's the kind of downhill runner the Bulldogs want in their offense, and if he's healthy he could contribute. He scored the game-winning, 12-yard touchdown and finished with 39 yards on the ground.

Kentucky

DE Collins Ukwu -- A starter a year ago, Ukwu only had one sack all season and none in SEC games. Look for that to change in 2011. He’s gotten bigger and stronger, adding to his great speed, and was a force this spring. He had two tackles for loss, including a sack, in the spring game.

WR Brian Adams -- The Wildcats were looking for dependable playmakers at receiver following the loss of Randall Cobb and Chris Matthews, and even though Adams split his time between football and baseball, he was as consistent as anybody. He was the star of the spring game with seven catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Ole Miss

WR Vincent Sanders -- The redshirt freshman looked like the playmaker the Rebels had desperately searched for at times this spring. Like most of the other receivers, he was inconsistent at times, but finished the spring game with a game-high 96 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches.

S Brishen Mathews -- Mathews worked his way into the No. 1 strong safety spot exiting spring. He was a pleasant surprise for the Rebels’ secondary and finished the spring game tying for a game-high eight tackles.

Tennessee

DT Daniel Hood -- After spending last season on the offensive line, Hood moved to defense and exited the spring as one of the starters at tackle. The Vols are extremely thin inside on the defensive line, and Hood gives them another big, athletic body in there.

RB Rajion Neal -- After carrying the ball just 46 times last season, Neal emerged this spring as a nice complement to Tauren Poole. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is looking for two No. 1' at running back, and Neal showed some big-play ability the Vols were missing a year ago.

Vanderbilt

DT Colt Nichter -- With the injuries the Commodores were forced to weather up front last season, Nichter stepped in and played very well. But this spring, he showed signs of becoming a star and was a disruptive presence in every scrimmage. He had two sacks and two pass breakups in the spring game.

RB Wesley Tate -- The two big names in the Commodores’ backfield last season were Warren Norman and Zac Stacy, but get ready to add a third name to that equation. The 225-pound Tate showcased power and speed this spring and will add a different dimension to the Vanderbilt running game now that he’s healthy.

SEC lunch links

April, 6, 2011
4/06/11
12:05
PM ET
Some of what's making news around the SEC:

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