SEC: Chris Hughes
- Georgia freshman safety Paris Bostick will redshirt this season after undergoing toe surgery.
- Mississippi State linebacker Chris Hughes, facing a domestic violence charge, has been dismissed from the team.
- A three-hour meeting with Gus Malzahn convinced Rodney Garner to come back home to Auburn.
- It might be time to slow down on the Nick Marshall hype, writes Joe Medley of The Anniston (Ala.) Star.
- Cecil Hurt of The Tuscaloosa News wonders if more discipline would have helped former Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez.
- LSU gets little respect in the preseason college football magazines.
- Tennessee commitment Vic Wharton's hardest sell might be his teammate, defensive back RaShaan Gaulden.
- Former Georgia athletic director Damon Evans is not a candidate for the Southern Miss job.
- Matt Hayes of The Sporting News takes a closer look at the SEC's nonconference schedules in 2013.
- A look at the over/under on win totals this season for all SEC schools.
Mississippi State's linebacker unit should be pretty strong this fall, but filling the middle is one of the goals for the spring.
The Bulldogs are rotating a lot at the linebacker positions, but especially in the middle, where Ferlando Bohanna and Benardrick McKinney are getting a lot of reps. Bohanna entered spring No. 1 on Mississippi State's two-deep, but McKinney has really impressed thus far.
Word out of Mississippi State's camp is that McKinney has taken full advantage of his time this spring, showcasing great field instincts and speed in the middle. If he's a player who can cover a lot of ground on defense, that will be a major plus for Mississippi State's defense, as the Bulldogs look to replace some key parts in the secondary and up front. McKinney redshirted last season, while Bohanna played in 10 games, registering nine tackles, including one for loss.
Middle linebacker is wide open in Starkville this spring, but the chatter coming out of practice is that McKinney is making a strong push to get some playing time this fall and is making the battle for that spot in the middle pretty interesting for the coaches. Having younger players compete can be worrisome when it comes to experience, but it's a positive in the sense that younger players tend to absorb more, take to coaching much better, and try to soak up as much knowledge as they can get.
That process needs to continue for both players as spring continues.
- Mississippi State backup linebacker Chris Hughes was arrested on Aug. 31 and charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in his hometown of Mobile.
- Victims and witnesses testify in the case involving LSU players. Jordan Jefferson is expected to testify in his defense next week.
- Vanderbilt backup quarterback Jordan Rogers feels more confident in the offense after his recent playing time and is ready to see the field more if called upon.
- Conference realignment could hurt prominent SEC rivalries.
- Defensive tackle Angelo Blackson and cornerback Jermaine Whitehead are looking for more snaps on Auburn's defense.
- Derek Dooley says Tennessee's offensive line can and will play better from here on out.
- Continuity has South Carolina's offensive line playing well this season.
- For Ole Miss, the defense needs much more help from the offense.
- Kentucky's Rick Minter and Florida's Charlie Weis both say that history won't factor into Saturday's game between Florida and Kentucky.
- Georgia's defense has been applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but the Dawgs need more production in the sack department.
- Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley is "dancing" his way to a good start to his second season.
- Arkansas' wide receivers are very confident heading into their matchup with Alabama's defensive backs.
- Alabama's wide receivers feel like they're a cohesive unit heading into the Arkansas game.
Biggest reason for hope: The offense could be even better
The Bulldogs ranked fifth in the SEC in total offense a year ago, averaging 401.3 yards per game, but with their main parts returning in 2011, the offense figures to be much improved. Quarterback Chris Relf showed during the latter parts of the 2010 season that he's not only a talented runner, but he can be quite dangerous with his arm. He continued to make strides in the passing game this spring, but was heavily pushed by backups Tyler Russell and Dylan Favre. Both showed they're capable of leading this offense, which is a good thing. Whoever directs the offense will have the luxury of solid depth at wide receiver. Mississippi State returns star Chad Bumphis, but the coaches are convinced Arceto Clark, Chris Smith and Ricco Sanders can be just as reliable. The Bulldogs also return running back Vick Ballard, who nearly had 1,000 yards rushing and had 19 touchdowns.
Biggest reason for concern: Uncertainty at linebacker and no element of surprise
Mississippi State set out to replace three starting linebackers this spring. While the defense performed well in practices under new defensive coordinator Chris Wilson, no one is quite sure how the unit will fare against real opponents this fall. Last year, the Bulldogs ranked fourth in the league in stopping the run (119.1 yards per game), but that was with experience at linebacker. For now, Cameron Lawrence, the most experienced linebacker, will have the job of directing the group. Brandon Wilson and Chris Hughes combined for 30 total tackles last season, but are still a bit unproven. Then there's the issue of everyone knowing what the Bulldogs are capable of. Last year, Mississippi State crept up on a few teams (see Florida on Homecoming) before blowing out Michigan in the Gator Bowl. Teams will be taking the Bulldogs very seriously this fall.
Mississippi State linebacker Chris Huges is the latest player to be suspended for his hit in last week's UAB game with 26 seconds to play in the second quarter. The SEC deemed that he was in violation of Rule 9-1-4 of the NCAA Football Rule Book, which reads, “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.”
South Carolina linebacker Rodney Paulk was suspended for the first half of last week's Vanderbilt game for a helmet-to-helmet hit against Kentucky's Randall Cobb the week before.
The SEC constitution says a student-athlete can be suspended if it's determined that player committed a flagrant or unsportsmanlike act.
Hughes took responsibility for his actions, calling it a "silly mistake." He said he will learn from it.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said the Bulldogs' players are taught to lead with their shoulder and see the front of the jersey when they're tackling, as much for their own safety as the player they're tackling. When a player initiates contact with his head down, he's much more susceptible to a neck injury.
"This is a teachable moment for Chris and our entire team," Mullen said. "He'll face the consequences for his actions and learn from it."