SEC: Jeff Owens

SEC combine report: Tate sparkles

March, 1, 2010
3/01/10
9:35
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The NFL combine wraps up Monday and Tuesday, and already several former SEC players have helped themselves.

A few might have hurt themselves, too.

Auburn running back Ben Tate had a super workout session. Weighing 220 pounds, he turned in the third fastest 40-yard dash time among the running backs (4.43), was second among the running backs with a 40.5-inch vertical leap and tied for the most reps on the bench-press among running backs with 26. He also had a 10-4 broad jump, which tied Tennessee's Montario Hardesty for first among the running backs.

Hardesty, who had bulked up to 225 pounds, ran a 4.49 40-yard dash and did 21 reps on the bench.

The defensive linemen and linebackers are working out on Monday, and Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens set the bar pretty high on the bench-press with 44 reps. His teammate, Geno Atkins, did 34 reps. As a comparison, Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh did 32 reps.

Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson put up 31 reps Monday morning.

The strongest former SEC player of the combine was Arkansas offensive guard Mitch Petrus, who did 45 reps over the weekend. That tied a combine record (since 2000).

The fastest former SEC player was LSU return specialist Trindon Holliday, who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow didn't throw at the combine. He'll show off his new delivery at the Gators' pro day on March 17, but he did demonstrate what kind of athlete he is. He ran a 4.72 40-yard dash, fourth fastest among the quarterbacks, and tied Josh McCown's record for quarterbacks with a 38.5-inch vertical leap. Tebow's hands (10 1/8) also measured the largest of the quarterbacks.

One of the biggest surprises of the combine so far was that Ole Miss' Dexter McCluster didn't turn in a faster 40 time. Weighing 172 pounds, McCluster ran a 4.55, but did show off his strength with 20 reps on the bench-press.

LSU receiver Brandon LaFell also had a disappointing 40 time (4.6), while Ole Miss' Shay Hodge was even slower (4.63).

Some players chose not to run the 40 and/or work out because they were injured or simply wanted to wait until their school's pro day. Florida tight end Aaron Hernandez had a strained back and didn't run.

The defensive backs work out on Tuesday.

Ten from SEC on Outland Trophy watch list

August, 11, 2009
8/11/09
4:57
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC will have its share of muscle this season.

Ten of the 40 players on the watch list for the Outland Trophy, which goes annually to college football's top interior lineman, are from the SEC.

Alabama, Florida and Georgia each has two players on the list. Nose guard Terrence Cody and offensive guard Mike Johnson made it for the Crimson Tide, center Maurkice Pouncey and offensive guard Mike Pouncey for the Gators and defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Jeff Owens for the Bulldogs.

Others making the list were Ole Miss offensive tackle John Jerry, Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard, LSU offensive tackle Ciron Black and Tennessee center Josh McNeil.

Georgia spring wrap-up

May, 5, 2009
5/05/09
9:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Georgia Bulldogs
2008 overall record: 10-3

2008 conference record: 6-2

Returning starters

Offense: 7; Defense: 6; Kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Joe Cox, WR A.J. Green, OT Clint Boling, OT Trinton Sturdivant, C Ben Jones, DT Geno Atkins, DT Jeff Owens, LB Rennie Curran, FS Reshad Jones

Key losses

QB Matthew Stafford, RB Knowshon Moreno, WR Mohamed Massaquoi, DT Corvey Irvin, LB Dannell Ellerbe, CB Asher Allen, P Brian Mimbs

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Knowshon Moreno (1,400 yards)
Passing: Matthew Stafford (3,459 yards)
Receiving: A.J. Green* (963 yards)
Tackles: Rennie Curran* (115)
Sacks: Rennie Curran,* Jarius Wynn and Corvey Irvin (3)
Interceptions: Reshad Jones* (5)

2009 Schedule
Sept. 5 at Oklahoma State
Sept. 12 South Carolina
Sept. 19 at Arkansas
Sept. 26 Arizona State
Oct. 3 LSU
Oct. 10 at Tennessee
Oct. 17 at Vanderbilt
Oct. 31 Florida (Jacksonville)
Nov. 7 Tennessee Tech
Nov. 14 Auburn
Nov. 21 Kentucky
Nov. 28 at Georgia Tech
Spring answers

Confidence in Cox: Any doubts about fifth-year senior Joe Cox getting his first chance to lead the Georgia offense haven't resonated with the players. They believe in Cox's ability, believe in his ability to lead a team and believe that he gives them the best chance to win next season, even though highly touted freshmen Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger are already on campus and went through spring practice.

Versatility up front: The benefit of all the injuries in the offensive line last season is that offensive line coach Stacy Searels should have more flexibility and more depth than ever before next fall. Searels already cross-trains his players at different positions, and with Trinton Sturdivant coming back from a knee injury, the offensive line should be one of the strengths of the team.

No more stars: No knock against Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, but the star system wasn't real successful last season in Athens. Everybody sort of stood around and waited for Stafford and Moreno to do their thing. Georgia coach Mark Richt will gladly tell you that the star next season will be the team.

Fall questions

Finishing the job: The Bulldogs are still looking for finishers on defense, guys who can get to the quarterback and finish the job. Sophomore defensive end Justin Houston looks the part. He had three sacks in the spring game, but other pass-rushers need to emerge. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman Cornelius Washington in the fall.

Looking for a King: It wasn't the most productive spring for sophomore tailback Caleb King, who's more talented than he's shown to this point. The Bulldogs are still waiting for him to turn it loose. Richard Samuel will be back after sitting out the spring with a wrist injury, and the star of the spring was redshirt freshman Carlton Thomas. So the race is on to replace Moreno.

Full bill of health? The number of green jerseys on the practice field this spring at Georgia was staggering. At last count, the Bulldogs have had 37 surgeries since preseason of last year. Just about all of those players are supposed to be ready to go in time for the start of preseason practice, but it's never ideal to have so many guys coming off surgery.

SEC's all-injured team for the spring

April, 14, 2009
4/14/09
5:02
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's not uncommon for players to miss all or most of spring practice while recovering from offseason surgery or trying to rest a particular injury.

But the list of players sitting out this spring in the SEC is a virtual who's who. You could almost put together an all-conference team with the guys who've been sidelined or at least limited.

In fact, we will. How would this partial lineup strike you?

  • Quarterback/receiver -- Randall Cobb, Kentucky
  • Running back -- Michael Smith, Arkansas
  • Running back -- Jeffery Demps, Florida
  • Running back -- Mark Ingram, Alabama
  • Running back/return specialist -- Brandon James, Florida
  • Receiver -- Montez Billings, Auburn
  • Offensive lineman -- Trinton Sturdivant, Georgia
  • Offensive lineman -- Vince Vance, Georgia
  • Offensive lineman -- Mike Pouncey, Florida
  • Offensive lineman -- Lee Ziemba, Auburn
  • Tight end -- Tommy Trott, Auburn
  • Defensive end -- Greg Hardy, Ole Miss
  • Defensive tackle -- Jeff Owens, Georgia
  • Cornerback -- Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt
  • Safety -- Eric Berry, Tennessee

Berry heads 10 SEC players on Lott Watch List

April, 9, 2009
4/09/09
10:17
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The SEC placed 10 players, more than any other conference in the country, on the 2009 Lott Trophy Watch List.

The list is made up of 42 of the nation's top defensive players who've had the biggest IMPACT on their teams on and off the field. IMPACT stands for Integrity, Maturity, Performance, Academics, Community and Tenacity.

Alabama and Georgia each had two players to make the list. Linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive tackle Terrence Cody were the Crimson Tide's representatives, and linebacker Rennie Curran and defensive tackle Jeff Owens were the Bulldogs' representatives.

Tennessee safety Eric Berry, who was a semifinalist for the award last season, is a repeat nominee.

Others on the list include Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes, Vanderbilt linebacker Patrick Benoist, Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, LSU safety Harry Coleman and South Carolina outside linebacker Eric Norwood.

This is the sixth year of the Lott Trophy. SEC players have won three of the previous five awards -- Georgia's David Pollack in 2004, Alabama's DeMeco Ryans in 2005 and LSU's Glenn Dorsey in 2007.

There were a couple of surprising omissions on this year's list with regard to SEC players.

Where is Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley? Where is Arkansas defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard? Where is Auburn defensive end Antonio Coleman? Where is Mississippi State linebacker Jamar Chaney?

And how is it that nobody on Ole Miss' defense is nominated?

Injuries hit Georgia's defensive line hard

March, 20, 2009
3/20/09
11:50
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

ATHENS, Ga. -- The rash of injuries Georgia suffered last season has been well-documented.

The Bulldogs had 11 different starters to miss games, not to mention six other players who were in the two-deep to start the season.

It's a problem that has spilled over into the spring as several guys are still recovering from surgery.

Georgia coach Mark Richt said 26 players were unable to practice in the Bulldogs' first workout of the spring on Tuesday and that 14 of those guys have no chance to do anything this spring.

"The good news is that we get all those guys back in June and get a whole new class in, so that's about 40 new guys," Richt said. "It's not stopping us from practicing and getting our good practice habits going. I'm very excited about what's going on with these guys right now."

Similar to a year ago, one of the hardest hit areas has been the defensive line, particularly at end.

Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said ends Roderick Battle, Neland Ball and Cornelius Washington are all out this spring with injuries. Martinez was especially anxious to see what Washington, who redshirted last season, could do.

The Bulldogs desperately need to find somebody to rush the quarterback. They finished with an SEC-low 18 sacks in 12 regular-season games last season, but bounced back with six sacks in the Capital One Bowl win over Michigan State.

The only healthy scholarship ends practicing this spring are Demarcus Dobbs, Justin Houston, Jeremy Longo and Kiante Tripp, and Tripp is moving over from offense. The Bulldogs also have freshman Montez Robinson coming in this summer.

Tackles Jeff Owens and Brandon Wood are also out this spring. The good news is that Wood is the only one of the defensive linemen that the Bulldogs might not get back in time for the start of the season.

"It's hard with so many guys out," Martinez said. "You've got to be creative in how you do it and accomplish your goals of trying to get guys ready that need to get ready, the young guys. But you've got to be careful with the volume you have, because you have a lot of defensive linemen out. It's challenging, but you don't have to play a game this spring.

"As a whole defensively, what we have to do is get back on track and playing solid, consistent football the way we have in the past. That's what we're concentrating on this spring, doing the little things right from an attitude standpoint and from a work ethic standpoint. Those are the things we're talking about the most, not letting the little things slip by."

Kicking it with Georgia's Jeff Owens

February, 25, 2009
2/25/09
10:41
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Georgia's Jeff Owens was like any other Bulldog a year ago. He couldn't wait for the season to begin.

 
  Doug Benc/Getty Images
  Jeff Owens is hoping to bounce back from a torn ACL.

The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 in the country, and Owens was one of the anchors of the defense from his tackle position. He was primed for a big senior season.

But in the first quarter of the opener against Georgia Southern, his season was over. He tore the ACL in his right knee while running to make a play. He jumped over a player, landed awkwardly on his right knee -- and just like that -- was done for the season.

Because Owens hadn't previously redshirted, he was eligible to return to Georgia for the 2009 season and elected to do so rather than test the NFL waters. Projected as a high NFL draft pick before his injury, Owens will team with Geno Atkins to give Georgia the best tackle tandem in the SEC.

Owens is still working his way back to full health, but said he's getting close.

Here's my conversation with the 6-foot-3, 298-pound senior, who had started in 15 straight games before his injury and will be an integral part of the Georgia defense in 2009:

What percentage are you right now coming off that knee injury?

Jeff Owens: I'd have to say I'm about 75 or 80 percent, around that area. I'm doing close to everything. I'm running now, and that's a big plus. I'm getting my strength back, and everything is coming along well.

How difficult was last season, especially watching the defense struggle at times?

JO: It was rough; your senior year and you get hurt and you know you could have helped your teammates out there. But you've got to bounce back and weather the storm. Injuries always happen. They happen every year, and it unfortunately happened to me. It wasn't just me, either. We had a lot of guys get hurt last year.

When was it the hardest for you?

JO: When they'd get ready to go on the road and I couldn't travel with the team. I'd just have to sit back at home and watch. That hurt me more than you will know. I think it was the lowest point in my life so far. I knew I just had to have the courage to get back out there and work hard. There's nothing fun about rehabbing an ACL tear.

(Read full post)

Georgia's Owens adds blogging to his repertoire

February, 12, 2009
2/12/09
12:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Georgia defensive tackle Jeff Owens has joined the blogosphere.

That's right, he's got his own Web site -- Jeff Owens: The Real Deal -- where you get, in Owens' words, all there is to know about Georgia football. For those Georgia fans who haven't already visited the site, you might want to.

One of the latest items Owens has up is a Q&A with former Georgia middle linebacker Marcus Washington. Owens also recently did a Q&A with Joe Cox, the frontrunner to be the Bulldogs' starting quarterback next season.

As for Owens himself, he will be a key cog on Georgia's defense next season. He's back after tearing the ACL in his right knee in the opener last season against Georgia Southern and receiving a medical redshirt. The 6-foot-3, 298-pound Owens was a starter in both the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

His return means Georgia heads into the 2009 season with what should be the best and most experienced defensive tackle tandem in the SEC. Geno Atkins is back alongside Owens for his senior season after leading the Bulldogs in quarterback hurries last season and finishing third on the team with 7.5 tackles for loss.

Here's the other thing: Teams won't be able to double-team Atkins the way they did last season once Owens went down.

Georgia digs deeper into depth for title run

September, 5, 2008
9/05/08
8:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Football coaches by nature are worriers.

And when it comes to depth on the offensive and defensive lines, they can be downright basket cases.

That's where you win championships and where you can lose championships if you're not strong enough or deep enough in the line of scrimmage.

The margin for error can be razor thin.

"You never have enough depth up front," said Rodney Garner, Georgia's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator. "Just when you think you do, you realize you don't."

Garner speaks from experience. He looked at his rotation of four defensive tackles before preseason practice began and felt like he had four that could match up with most anybody in the country.

But then Kade Weston had arthroscopic knee surgery during the preseason, and Jeff Owens tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the Bulldogs' opener last week against Georgia Southern.

"That's when you sort of wonder what comes next," said senior Geno Atkins, who was starting at defensive tackle alongside Owens. "But that's what the coaches preach every single day in practice: Are you ready to step up and take that next guy's place when he goes down?

"If you're going to play here, you've always got to be ready."

It's a theme that will echo over and over again for the No. 2-ranked Bulldogs. They've already lost Owens, as well as left offensive tackle Trinton Sturdivant for the season to knee injuries. That's two of the three best linemen on their team.

"Some teams, if they lose a starting offensive lineman or starting defensive lineman, it all goes downhill for them," said junior Vince Vance, the Bulldogs' starting left offensive guard. "But that's the difference with Georgia. When one person goes down, everybody keeps pushing. Our season doesn't end right there. You keep moving forward."

It also means that younger players are indoctrinated that much quicker.

Garner had hoped to redshirt true freshman tackle DeAngelo Tyson. That all changed when Owens' season ended in the first quarter of the first game.

"I hated that because I wanted to bring [Tyson] along slowly and let him develop, but you've got to play the hand that you're dealt," Garner said.

He won't get Weston back in time for the Central Michigan game this Saturday, but there's a chance that Weston will be healthy enough to play in the SEC opener against South Carolina on Sept. 13.

Senior Corvey Irvin, a junior college transfer a year ago, filled in for Owens last week.

"Corvey came in and played outstanding. He was our player of the game," Garner said. "But that was one game. Hopefully, he can have that type of impact from game to game. That's still going to be determined."

Georgia offensive line coach Stacy Searels, who doesn't talk to the media, also had to do some shuffling following Sturdivant's injury. He wound up moving Kiante Tripp from right tackle to left tackle and he gets Clint Boling back this week after a one-game suspension. Boling will slide out to right tackle after starting most of last season at right guard.

"Thankfully, this didn't happen last year, especially on the offensive line," Georgia coach Mark Richt said. "I don't know if we could have really handled it very well. Last year, we had no injuries at all on our offensive line and we did start three freshmen, Trinton being one of them.

"This year, we've just got a little bit more depth to handle that situation. We also moved Kiante Tripp from defense to offense last year. He wouldn't have been ready. This year, he is ready. We're just better equipped to handle it. We're still starting a true freshman this year, Cordy Glenn, and our top three backups are freshmen right now. So we're young, very, very young up front, but we do have enough quality people that I think we'll be OK."

SEC in the headlines: Miles takes swipe at Tide

July, 22, 2008
7/22/08
8:30
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

  • LSU coach Les Miles fired a shot Alabama's way. Think he might be asked about his latest dig at the Crimson Tide this week in Birmingham, Ala., at the SEC media days?
  • Don't look for Florida's Tim Tebow on the Playboy All-America team. Florida media relations officials didn't even bother to submit the deeply religious Tebow as a nominee for the annual preseason team.
  • Veteran Georgia beat writer Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution catches up with senior defensive tackle Jeff Owens for a Q&A.
  • Tuscaloosa News columnist Cecil Hurt weighs in on former Alabama great Kenny Stabler's legal problems and whether we'll see him back in the Crimson Tide radio booth anytime soon.

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