SEC: Jason Barnes

Georgia and South Carolina held scrimmages Wednesday and the Gamecocks certainly excited their fans with some big plays on offense and defense.

With several thousand fans watching inside Williams-Brice Stadium, the Gamecocks reeled off a seven-touchdown performance. And things got off to a great start for the offense and quarterback Connor Shaw when he hit senior Jason Barnes on the first play of the game for a 70-yard score. Shaw later connected with freshman Damiere Byrd for an 80-yard touchdown. Shaw finished the scrimmage 6-for-11 passing for 192 yards and the two touchdowns before leaving the game with a right thumb injury.

Coach Steve Spurrier said he thinks Shaw's thumb might have hit someone's helmet during a play and should be fine.

“His thumb sort of popped out of joint briefly, but they got it back in," Spurrier said. "He says that’s happened before and it shouldn’t bother him. So hopefully he’ll be OK in two or three days, but we’ll just have to wait and see. But other than that, he threw some good long balls.”

Stephen Garcia completed 8 of 13 passes for 128 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ace Sanders. Sanders also threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to DeAngelo Smith.

“Stephen threw some good balls there at the end,” Spurrier said, “so we had some encouraging plays and we had some sorry plays also.”

South Carolina's defense recorded four turnovers Wednesday, including when Jadeveon Clowney picked up a Garcia fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown.

Here is more information on the Gamecocks' scrimmage on South Carolina's official website. And here are some more notes.

GEORGIA

Even with running backs Isaiah Crowell and Richard Samuel out with injuries, the Bulldogs were able to hold their second preseason scrimmage Wednesday.

Former walk-on Brandon Harton led all rushers with 51 yards on 12 carries, and Ken Malcome registered 10 yards on five carries, while working with the first team.

In the passing game, Aaron Murray completed 11 of 16 passes for 108 yards, with a touchdown and an interception, while Hutson Mason hit 13 of 27 passes for 125 yards.

"I thought it was a pretty good scrimmage," Murray said. "The offense made a lot of plays here and there. There were some lulls, but that's going to happen. I'm very proud of both sides of the ball and how they played today."

As the Bulldogs search for another receiving threat outside of receiver Tavarres King and tight end Orson Charles, they got some solid play out of receiver Rantavious Wooten, who caught five passes for 61 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown. Israel Troupe also had five receptions for 50 yards.

Defensively, linebacker Alec Ogletree led the team in tackles for the second consecutive scrimmage, notching eight, including a sack and tackle for loss.

"'Tree' is playing good," coach Mark Richt said. "He's playing fast and physical. He likes football and has had a very good camp. I don't have any doubt it was the best move for him and for Georgia."

Safety Shawn Williams recorded seven tackles, and cornerback Bacarri Rambo registered six tackles and an interception.

You can read more about Georgia's scrimmage on the team's official website.
Believe it or not, Alshon Jeffery didn’t catch all of the 252 completions by South Carolina passers last season. And chances are that he won’t come close to catching all the completions the Gamecocks have this fall, either.

[+] EnlargeAce Sanders
Dale Zanine/US PresswireAce Sanders is among the receivers USC will use to take pressure off No. 1 wideout Alshon Jeffery.
Jeffery is human and the Gamecocks have more weapons in the receiving corps. They might not be as big and intimidating, but they have the skill to frustrate opposing defenses this fall.

“We’ve got plenty of guys other than Alshon,” coach Steve Spurrier said.

Those weapons are smaller -- some are much smaller -- but have a little extra quickness and speed to make them dynamic options in the passing game.

The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Ace Sanders returns as the second-leading wide receiver on the team. The sophomore, who reported to Columbia last season at a mere 160 pounds, recorded 25 catches for 316 yards and two touchdowns last season. He’s a speedster in the slot and understands that it’s time for other receiving threats to take pressure off Jeffery and running back Marcus Lattimore in order to keep the offense less predictable.

“There are going to be a lot of double-teams on Alshon, stacking the box on Lattimore,” Sanders said. “Somebody has to step up and I look at myself to be that person to step up.”

Sanders won’t be alone. He’s actually taken it upon himself to make sure he isn’t. During the offseason, Sanders worked with fifth-year senior Jason Barnes, who moved to the “Z” receiver. Barnes had never played there, so Sanders tutored him on it, improving his route running and coming out of breaks.

Another player making strides has been sophomore Lamar Scruggs, who caught just three passes last season. He has elevated his practice play and was even publicly complimented by Spurrier and given the practice ball one day after he made a couple of diving catches on plays.

But two players who could really have an impact on this offense and Bruce Ellington and true freshman Damiere Byrd.

For you basketball fans out there, Ellington’s name should ring a bell or two. He was the starting point guard for the Gamecocks last season, leading the team with 12.8 points per game. He approached basketball coach Darrin Horn about playing football and once he was given approval, he met with Spurrier.

Per NCAA rules, he wasn’t allowed to participate in spring football practice, but returned from the summer with his playbook almost memorized, and while he hasn’t played football since high school Spurrier admired the 5-foot-9, 197-pound athlete’s quickness and called him “a natural.”

As for Byrd, he was a track star in high school, winning the indoor 60-meter dash at nationals as a senior and being clocked at 10.36 in the 100m. He also represented the US at a track event in Japan this spring.

He’s very slender, barely touching 167 on a scale, but the 5-foot-9 Byrd expects his speed to give him an advantage.

“Speed really helps me with my size,” he said. “If a guy really kind of gets a hold of me, it’s definitely not going to be in my favor. With the speed, I’ll usually be able to get around him and make plays.”

South Carolina’s interior receivers aren’t expecting to win wrestling matches, but they do intend to get by opponents.

Sanders said his extra bulk gives him more confidence to go out and be physical with defenders, but when it comes to lining up against linebackers he suggests he and his fellow miniature receivers let their feet do the work.

“If he [the linebacker] misses at the line, then nine times out of 10 we’re open,“ he said, “so all we have to do is make the play.”

SEC position rankings: WRs/TEs

June, 16, 2011
6/16/11
9:16
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Today we take a look at the wide receiver/tight end positions in the SEC. This one gets tricky since we’re basing rankings on two different positions.

Let’s take a look at what we came up with:

[+] EnlargeJoe Adams, Jarius Wright, and Greg Childs
AP Photo/April L. BrownJoe Adams, Jarius Wright and Greg Childs combined for 2,260 yards last season.
1. Arkansas: The Razorbacks could have the best wide receiver corps in the country. Making things even better for Arkansas is that each member of its tremendous trio is a senior. First, there’s Greg Childs, who would have taken part in the NFL draft this year had he not suffered a knee injury late in the season. Childs is Arkansas’ best receiver when he’s healthy. Joe Adams really came on strong last year, especially after Childs went down. He’s the best when he gets the ball in open space and will command the slot. Then there’s Jarius Wright, who is the fastest of the three and got even stronger this spring as well. The three have 324 combined career receptions for 5,404 yards and 41 touchdowns.

2. LSU: The Tigers might have lost Terrence Toliver, but they’ll still have weapons at receiver. Junior Rueben Randle is expected to be the go-to guy in LSU’s offense and is coming off a season where he caught 33 passes for 544 yards and three touchdowns. Russell Shepard was right behind him last season, catching the same amount of balls, but only totaled 254 yards and one touchdown. He looked sharper this spring and is looking to break out this fall. Tight end Deangelo Peterson should also get more attention this fall. He only caught 16 passes, but that number should increase.

3. South Carolina: For starters, the Gamecocks have the league’s best receiver in Alshon Jeffery. The 6-foot-4, 233-pound freak snatched just about everything that came his way last fall and registered 1,517 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s nearly impossible to stop in one-on-one situations. Senior Jason Barnes didn't make a major impact in 2010, but he does have 60 career receptions under his belt. The smaller Ace Sanders should be even better after bursting onto the scene with 25 receptions for 316 yards and two touchdowns. D.L. Moore, who caught 17 passes in 2010, should have a more expanded role as well.

[+] EnlargeTavarres King
Dale Zanine/US PresswireWith A.J. Green in the NFL, Tavarres King should become the Bulldogs' main receiving threat.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs are still looking for a few playmakers at receiver, but there is definitely talent in Athens. Junior Tavarres King has moved into A.J. Green’s flanker spot and while he’s not Green, he proved this spring that he’s ready to be the Bulldogs' main receiving threat. Tight end Orson Charles is the best at his position and can flex out to receiver if needed. His 26 catches for 422 yards should increase this upcoming season. Marlon Brown also made strides this spring and should be the No. 2 receiver.

5. Tennessee: Neither Justin Hunter nor Da'Rick Rogers had a ton of catches last fall, but that will change with a strong passing game in 2011. Hunter caught 16 passes, but registered 415 yards and seven touchdowns in the process. He’s a solid deep threat and playmaker. Rogers also only caught 16 passes, and while he didn’t have the yardage Hunter had, he made tremendous strides this spring. Tight end Mychal Rivera caught 11 passes in 2010 and with Luke Stocker gone he takes over as the Vols’ weapon at tight end.

6. Alabama: There aren’t a lot of questions surrounding the Crimson Tide, but receiver isn’t Alabama’s best area. Seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks should get the brunt of the catches. They combined for 70 catches for 1,013 yards and six touchdowns last season. There is a long list of other inexperienced players who should grab some catches as well and former Ohio State receiver Duron Carter, who just transferred in, could be a factor this fall.

7. Florida: The Gators have talent at wide receiver, and Florida should have a more pass-friendly offense, but the group is very unproven. Frankie Hammond Jr. could be Florida’s best weapon at receiver with his speed and athleticism. Omarius Hines has the size and speed to be a major mismatch for defenders in the slot and on the outside. Freshman Quinton Dunbar was Florida’s top deep threat this spring and should get ample playing time. At tight end, Jordan Reed was called Florida’s best athlete and could end up being the Gators’ top playmaker. Trey Burton should catch a few more passes as well.

[+] EnlargeChad Bumphis
Marvin Gentry/US PresswireMississippi State's Chad Bumphis caught 44 passes for 634 yards and five touchdowns last season.
8. Mississippi State: The Bulldogs have a ton of depth at receiver, starting with Chad Bumphis. The junior has yet to really break out, but this could be the year he finally puts it together. Alongside him, Mississippi State has Chris Smith, Brandon Heavens and Arceto Clark, who all had solid springs. Those four combined for 115 catches last fall. The Bulldogs also have a host of young receivers who appear ready to compete.

9. Auburn: There is still some talent left on the Plains at receiver. Sure, Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery are gone, but the Tigers will look to Emory Blake and Trovon Reed to make up for their departures. Blake is the leading returning receiver, while Reed will be used all over the field by Auburn’s coaches. He can be a threat in the slot and on the outside. Philip Lutzenkirchen will be more of a staple in the offense as the Tigers’ trusted H-back.

10. Ole Miss: Athletically, the Rebels are fine. However, this group is very inexperienced and was inconsistent this spring. The incoming freshmen will have every opportunity to take a starting spot and Tobias Singleton could be the best option of Ole Miss’ youngsters. Of the returners, Melvin Harris did the most in 2010, catching 30 passes for 408 yards and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Vincent Sanders will also get a chance to heavily contribute after making strong strides this spring.

11. Vanderbilt: Four of Vanderbilt’s five receiving leaders return, but the group wasn’t tremendously productive last fall. The Commodores didn’t have a receiver go over 320 yards last season and tight end Brandon Barden caught a team-high 34 passes for 425 yards. Vanderbilt's top two wideouts -- John Cole and Jonathan Krause -- are back, but the Commodores might have to turn to their youngsters for help.

12. Kentucky: The Wildcats lost a lot when do-everything Randall Cobb left early for the NFL and things didn’t get any better by losing No. 2 wideout Chris Matthews. Now, it’s back to the drawing board in Lexington. La'Rod King should be the top target for quarterback Morgan Newton, but he disappointed at times this spring. Matt Roark and E.J. Fields will compete for time, but both need vast improvement. The top athlete could be Brian Adams, but he spent spring playing for Kentucky’s baseball team.

Lunchtime links: Returning to Starkville

October, 22, 2009
10/22/09
1:37
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A look at what's making headlines around the SEC:






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