SEC: Marquel Wade
That means receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey, and tight end Andrew Peterson won't have a chance to help the Hogs as they look to go on multiple title runs this year. All three were charged with felony residential burglary after, according to arrest reports, they were accused of stealing textbooks, DVDs, laptops and more than $4,800 in cash from a university dorm.
"Apparently I was not clear the last time," Smith said. "I said, 'Read the press guide. If you see his name in the press guide he would have a chance.' If you don’t see it there then you won’t see him. Read the press guide, right?"
The biggest hit is the loss of Wade, who had the potential to be a dynamic player both on offense and special teams. Wade could have lined up in multiple spots on the field for Arkansas on offense, but figured to do most of his damage in the slot. He's fast and slippery, making him a valuable target for Tyler Wilson, who watched as three of his top receivers from last year departed for the NFL. He was also first in line to replace Joe Adams at punt returner.
While Wade bided his time last year, he made significant strides this spring and was one of the stars of Arkansas' spring game, catching six passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. He would have been a great complement to Cobi Hamilton in the offense and would have provided the Hogs with a very dangerous option over the middle and down the field.
But Wade, along with Humphrey and Peterson, couldn't commit to following the plan Smith laid out for the three to follow if they planned to return to the team this fall.
"That's what they're going to have to do," Smith said during the 2012 SEC meetings in Destin, Fla. "It's a matter of you getting up -- you're not a member of this football team -- and you earn your way back onto this team. It's going to be very, very hard and they understand that. And it's going to be demanding."
Apparently, it was too demanding.
Smith never elaborated on what the players would have to do, but he made it very clear that they would have to follow the plan precisely if they wanted to sniff a chance to play this fall. That didn't happen and this now becomes yet another distraction that Arkansas' football team has to deal with in a year in which the Hogs could be a major player in the SEC title race. Losing Wade certainly wasn't what Arkansas wanted, but finding some closure to this is something the team needed heading into fall camp.
They won't avoid the questions about all three, but at least they can devise game plans without having to wonder if any of the three would be back this fall.
It's not like Arkansas doesn't have the talent to replace Wade, but he was expected to be a special part of this offense because of his versatility. His absence certainly will be felt, but all Arkansas can do now is move on.
Smith left the door open for all three to return at some point, but when that will be is unknown.
"There's always a possibility down the road [next year] but I would not expect any of those guys to be here," he said.
With more than 10,100 votes cast in our SportsNation poll, Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray and Arkansas' Tyler Wilson were both picked to pass for the most touchdowns in the SEC this fall after each grabbed 30 percent of the vote.
Honestly, it's no surprise the voters were torn between the two. Wilson returns as arguably the league's top passer, while Bray has all the talent and weapons around him to have a field day with opposing defenses this fall.
Before Bray went down with his thumb injury last year, he passed for 14 touchdown passes in the first four games of the season. He also has 35 touchdowns in 14 career games. And when you have guys like Justin Hunter, Da'Rick Rogers and junior college transfer Cordarrelle Paterson to throw to, your chances of tossing a good amount of touchdowns increases dramatically.
Wilson isn't short of talent around him either. He might have two of the best at their respective positions in wide receiver Cobi Hamilton and tight end Chris Gragg. There is also a slew of young talent for Wilson to work with at receiver. And if Marquel Wade's legal issues get worked out and he can return to the team, Wilson should be more than fine in the passing department.
Georgia's Aaron Murray, who led the SEC with 35 touchdown passes last year, grabbed 20 percent of the vote. I guess the thought of Malcolm Mitchell getting some work at cornerback has people unsure about Murray's production this fall. Still, he has 59 career touchdowns and could own the SEC record for career touchdown passes if he makes it four years as a starter.
Alabama's AJ McCarron was next with 10 percent of the vote, while Missouri's James Franklin was last with nine percent.
McCarron could have a bigger year for the Crimson Tide this fall with some more explosive weapons at receiver. Plus, Nick Saban would like to air it out a little more, and he knows McCarron has the tools to do that.
Franklin's success will rely on how well Missouri's spread works in the SEC. He's also looking to be more of a pass-first threat and he's confident that he as the personnel to help him with that. Also, keep an eye on that shoulder that he had surgery on this spring. Re-injuring it could be detrimental to his season.
On to the league's wide receiver/tight end groups:
1. Tennessee: The Vols are equipped with two of the top wideouts in the league with Da'Rick Rogers, who was second in the SEC in receiving last year, and Justin Hunter, who might be the SEC's top deep threat. It sounds like Hunter will be 100 percent this fall after his ACL injury last year. Junior college transfer Cordarrelle Patterson is big, fast and possesses the big-play gene. The speedy Zach Rogers is back and is so is talented tight end Mychal Rivera.
2. Arkansas: Cobi Hamilton is now Arkansas' primary receiver, and he might be the league's most complete wideout. He can make the big-play and elude defenders along the way. While Marquel Wade's status is still unclear, if he does return, he'll be a major lift for this offense because of his playmaking ability in the slot. Julian Horton and Javontee Herndon have always impressed coaches in practice and now will get their chances to in games. Tight end Chris Gragg should be even more involved and is the league's top tight end.
3. Georgia: While Malcolm Mitchell could go back and forth between receiver and corner, when he's at receiver he's Georgia's top offensive threat and was one of the league's best as a rookie. There are vets behind him, starting with reliable senior Tavarres King, who had a very good spring, senior Marlon Brown, who seemed to take a big step in his game this spring. Sophomores Michael Bennett and Chris Conley combined for 48 catches for 608 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Unproven tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome will replace Orson Charles and Aron White.
4. Texas A&M: This isn't the fastest group out there, but there are some pretty reliable weapons, starting with star Ryan Swope, who could have left for the NFL after catching 89 passes for 1,207 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Uzoma Nwachukwu was third on the team with 50 catches for 639 yards and three tight ends -- Nehemiah Hicks, Michael Lamothe and Hutson Prioleau -- return. Keep an eye on junior Nate Askew, who could be a downfield threat this fall.
5. LSU: Odell Beckham Jr. was one of the top rookies last year and could be even better in Year 2. He'll be joined by potential deep threat and big-play target Jarvis Landry, who developed some good chemistry with quarterback Zach Mettenberger this spring. Russell Shepard is talented, but he's been wildly inconsistent. Keep an eye on junior James Wright and incoming frosh Avery Johnson, who is the younger brother of Patrick Peterson. Also, tight end Chase Clement is on the John Mackey watch list.
7. Alabama: There is more speed out wide in Tuscaloosa, but there's a lot more youth. The Tide could turn to freshmen Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams to help develop a more downfield passing game. More will be expected from veterans Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, while sophomore DeAndrew White possesses a ton of speed. Still no word on Duron Carter. Tight end Michael Williams was solid last year, but will be used even more this fall.
8. Mississippi State: There is a lot of experience here, but this group has still underperformed at times, especially senior Chad Bumphis, who has yet to live up to all the hype that followed him from high school. Seniors Chris Smith and Arceto Clark combined for 65 catches last year, while the staff is very excited about the big-play potential redshirt freshman Joe Morrow possesses. Tight end Malcolm Johnson serves as a very reliable tight end target, as well.
9. Missouri: The Tigers lost two starting receivers and stud tight end Michael Egnew, but three of the top five pass catchers are back, including inside threat T.J. Moe, who led Mizzou in receiving last year. Big things are expected from Marcus Lucas, who can stretch the field with his speed and physicality, and the coaches think L'Damian Washington can also be a downfield threat. Also, Dorial Green-Beckham, last year's top recruit, should make an immediate impact. Eric Waters is replacing Egnew, but has just two career catches and suffered a knee injury this spring.
10. Auburn: Emory Blake is one of the league's top downfield threats and has been one of Auburn's most consistent offensive weapons. So has tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen, who should be more of a passing threat with the addition of transfer fullback Jay Prosch. There is a lot of depth, but it's unproven. Trovon Reed was supposed to be a star, but had a lackluster second year. Seniors Travante Stallworth and DeAngelo Benton have 15 and 14 career catches, respectively. Quan Bray has shown potential and could have a bigger role this season and keep an eye on freshman Ricardo Louis.
11. Florida: The Gators have struggled here since 2009 and still lack proven playmakers. Andre Debose is probably the best bet to be one, but he's been very inconsistent. Quinton Dunbar has the speed to be an outside threat, but caught just 14 passes last year. And the coaches are still waiting for senior Frankie Hammond Jr. to turn things up. True freshman Latroy Pittman had a great spring and the coaches are excited about his potential. Tight end Jordan Reed is one of the most athletic players in the league and will be a bigger target with two young quarterbacks throwing the ball.
12. South Carolina: Now that Alshon Jeffery is gone, the Gamecocks have questions and inexperience here. The fast, athletic Ace Sanders is the only returning pass catcher with at least 20 catches from last year (29). The hope is Bruce Ellington will be more of a factor this fall. Tight ends Justice Cunningham and Rory Anderson combined for 26 catches and four touchdowns. Damiere Byrd has blazing speed, but caught just one pass last year. DeAngelo Smith had a solid spring, and the coaches hope he can be a downfield threat. A lot will be expected from incoming freshman Shaq Roland.
13. Ole Miss: Sophomore Donte Moncrief is a budding star in this league and thinks he'll be even better in Hugh Freeze's spread offense. Ja-Mes Logan caught 20 passes last year, but had a very good spring. But Nickolas Brassell was an academic casualty and Randall Mackey had to move over from quarterback. The coaches are looking for consistency from Terrell Grant and Vince Sanders, who are both pretty unproven. Tight end Jamal Mosley is expected to do more in the spread and averaged 13.8 yards per catch last year.
14. Kentucky: Joker Phillips' goal this spring was to find more playmakers and he thinks he did with sophomore Demarco Robinson, who had five receptions last year, and redshirt freshman Daryl Collins. The hope is that they'll take some pressure off of La'Rod King, who is really the only proven receiving threat on the team. Tight ends Ronnie Shields and Tyler Robinson did well this spring, but combined for just 10 catches last year.
Arkansas will win the SEC: That offense is still very good.
Sure, quarterback Tyler Wilson lost three NFL wide receivers from last season and stud Marquel Wade's status for the upcoming season is unclear. But as a whole, this team is still very talented and very explosive on offense. Wilson is the SEC's top quarterback and could have easily been a first-round draft pick in this year's NFL draft if he had decided to leave school early. But he's back and so is that cannon of a right arm. Oh, and who will be by his side? None other than the dynamic Knile Davis. He's one of the best running backs in the country and it sounds like he's going to be 100 percent this fall after that gruesome ankle injury he suffered last fall. This is the league's best QB/RB duo.
At receiver, Cobi Hamilton should be in contention to be the league's best. We always knew he had talent, so now he'll really get to show it as the primary receiver for the Razorbacks. It sounds like he and Wilson developed some pretty good chemistry this spring, too. Tight end Chris Gragg, who is on the John Mackey Award watch list, is one of the top tight ends in the SEC and the coaches expect him to be an even bigger part of the offense this fall. Rising juniors Javontee Herndon and Julian Horton have had to bide their time, but impressed coaches in practice all of last year and should step right in and contribute more this fall.
The offensive line is still a bit of a concern, but there is still some decent experience there and that goes a long way in this league. Paul Petrino certainly isn't his brother, but don't expect too much change, if any, when it comes to how the Hogs' offense is run.
Why it won't: Bobby Petrino's absence will be too much. Defensively, there are still some questions and Arkansas still plays in the toughest division in all of college football, but the real concern is how this team will respond without Bobby Petrino. His embarrassing exit was a real slap in the face to a team that he heralded as arguably his best during his tenure. Sure, the Hogs have rallied around interim coach John L. Smith, but we haven't seen this team with him as the head coach in a pressure situation during a big game or during the season. We haven't seen him as the leader during two-a-days. What happens if adversity strikes this fall? Could an early-season loss cause this team to lose some confidence?
Petrino injected a ton of confidence and edge into his past Arkansas teams. You could see the same confidence he carried every second of the day in his players, and that's one thing that made Arkansas so good and gritty the past couple of seasons. He was also an exceptional playcaller, so the loss of that will surely be felt at times.
It'll be interesting to see how players react to Smith this fall, considering he has that 10-month interim tag attached to his name. Will he be able to command the same sort of respect that Petrino did and will he be the same sort of leader and motivator that Petrino was? Honestly, we aren't sure, yet.
The players entered their pleas on Wednesday in Washington County Circuit Court.
Interim coach John L. Smith released a statement on Wednesday concerning the three players:
“Marquel Wade, Maudrecus Humphrey and Andrew Peterson are not members of our football team and once the legal system has ruled on their status we will determine their status with the team.”
Smith is staying consistent with what he said during the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Fla., when he stated that the statuses of the three players wouldn't change until the legal system played out.
Wade was expected to be a very important part of Arkansas' offense this fall. He didn't put up a ton of numbers as a freshman in 2011, but there's no denying that Wade has a chance to be a very dynamic player in the Razorbacks' offense, which lost three wide receivers to the NFL. He has tremendous speed and athleticism and could be used all over the field, including the return game.
If these players are found not guilty and do return to Arkansas' football team, you can expect some sort of punishment from Smith, both publicly and behind closed doors. He's already said that he's devised a plan that the three will have to agree to and abide by if they do make it back onto the team.
Here's what Smith said in Destin about the plan for the players:
"That's what they're going to have to do. It's a matter of you getting up -- you're not a member of this football team -- and you earn your way back onto this team. It's going to be very, very hard and they understand that. And it's going to be demanding."
But if they are found guilty, Smith will have a big decision on his hands. Dismissing these players would leave holes on Arkansas' roster, especially with Wade, but it would show that Smith isn't going to tolerate such foolishness while he's in charge. He won't be taken advantage of.
Regardless of what happens with these players and Arkansas, this should be a pretty interesting situation for the Razorbacks.
DESTIN, Fla. -- For three suspended Arkansas players, interim coach John L. Smith isn't going to make coming back to his team very easy.
While in Destin for the 2012 SEC spring meetings, Smith said he's still waiting for the legal process to run its course for wide receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey and tight end Andrew Peterson, who were arrested and charged with burglarizing dorm rooms in mid-May, but has already devised a plan that the three will have to agree to and abide by if they intend on playing for Arkansas this fall and beyond.
"That's what they're going to have to do," Smith said. "It's a matter of you getting up -- you're not a member of this football team -- and you earn your way back onto this team. It's going to be very, very hard and they understand that. And it's going to be demanding."
According to arrest reports, the three stole textbooks, DVDs, laptops and more than $4,800 in cash from a university dormitory. Hearings are set for June 15.
Smith, who is under a 10-month coaching contract with Arkansas, wouldn't go into detail about what the plan for the three players would entail, but he didn't have to. He made it perfectly clear that even if the legal process goes well for his three players, they'll still have a ways to go in his book before they can suit up this fall.
Some fans questioned Smith's hire, but in his short time back in Fayetteville he's made sure that his interim tag doesn't get in the way of his job as a disciplinarian. Players might have voiced their sincere pleasure in having Smith back, but with the interim label next to him, there are bound to be players that hold back some respect. Smith isn't naive to that so he's had to take action in order to show his power. When he indefinitely suspended these three players, he sent a clear message to his team that he wasn't going to put up with anymore nonsense.
As if Arkansas could really take anymore at this point. Six players have been arrested since March and then there's the whole Bobby Petrino scandal. This program has been through enough in only a few months and Smith knows that if he's going to make things right this fall he has to cut out any and all distractions that come his way.
So far, he's done a pretty good job of that.
Of the three suspended players, Wade is by far the most important. While he didn't generate a ton of production on offense last year, there's no question that he entered the spring as one of Arkansas' top potential playmakers. Cobi Hamilton will lead Arkansas' receiving corps, but Wade was a player who was expected to get plenty of chances to strut his stuff.
He's one of the better athletes on the team and can line up all over the field for the Razorbacks. The fact that Arkansas lost three NFL draft picks at receiver made Wade that much more important to the offense. The dynamic receiver was also expected to be a big-time threat in Arkansas' return game.
Like all coaches, Smith is waiting for the legal process to run its course before making any sort of final decision. But if the legal process doesn't work in these players' favor, Smith will have the chance to make an even more significant statement by completely dismissing them.
If the time comes, I think Smith will know what to do.
- Running back
- Wide receiver
- Tight end
- Kickoff returner
The SEC returns six of the top 10 punt returners from 2011. Unfortunately for all those interested in watching one of the most electrifying plays in football, the SEC's top returner won't be back. Arkansas' Joe Adams must have had a blast returning punts last year. If you don't believe me just look here. He led the nation with four punt returns for touchdowns and led the SEC with an average of 16.9 yards per return. His moves will be missed, but the top player returning (we're going by average per return) isn't too bad either:
Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU: He averaged 15.6 yards on 27 returns, had a long of 92 yards and recorded two touchdowns. If Adams was the most exciting punt returner in the country, Mathieu was a close second. He completely turned the Arkansas and Georgia games to LSU's favor with three huge returns. The first came on a 92-yarder against the Razorbacks to tie the game at 14 in the second quarter and helped spark a 34-3 run for the Tigers. Against Georgia in the SEC championship game, he gave LSU its first points of the game with a 62-yard touchdown return in the second quarter, but his most exciting return came on a scintillating 47-yarder in the third that he took down to Georgia's 17-yard line. Mathieu is a game-breaking returner and the best thing teams can do is just kick away from him.
The SEC returns five more of the top 10 punt returners from 2011:
Johnthan Banks, CB, Mississippi State: He averaged 10.4 yards on 16 returns, had a long of 65 yards and recorded one touchdown.
Ace Sanders, WR, South Carolina: He averaged 9.3 yards on 12 returns, had a long of 68 yards and recorded one touchdown.
Marquel Wade, WR, Arkansas (currently not a part of Arkansas' team): He averaged 8.2 yards on 12 returns and had a long of 19 yards.
Quan Bray, WR, Auburn: He averaged 7.4 yards on 13 returns and had a long of 24 yards.
Jonathan Krause, WR, Vanderbilt: He averaged 4.1 yards on 19 returns and had a long of 18 yards.
Teams will likely kick away from Mathieu more this fall, so he could have a tougher time going for the crown in 2012. One player who could really push for the top spot in this category is Wade. But with him not currently being with the team following his recent arrest, he might not have the chance. Wade is a very dynamic athlete and got to learn from the best in Adams. If he comes back, he'll definitely compete for the throne.
Banks could have competition from his own teammate in Chad Bumphis. Bumphis only returned eight punts last fall, but returned one 82 yards for a score and averaged 16.6 yards per return.
Krause is someone to keep an eye on. Coach James Franklin was very pleased with how his spring went, but he might have to battle incoming freshman Brian Kimbrow here as well.
Texas A&M's Dustin Harris could certainly challenge for the crown after the season he had in 2011. He led the Big 12, averaging 18.6 yards per return, had a long of 72 yards and registered a touchdown. Last season against Kansas, Harris set the school record with 162 punt return yards, including that 72-yard score.
Ole Miss' Jeff Scott still has some academic hurdles to get over, but when he's fielding punts, he's one of the most fun to watch in the SEC. He averaged 17.2 yards per return on just eight returns last year and returned one for a touchdown.
Receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey, and tight end Andrew Peterson were arrested May 12 and have been charged with felony residential burglary. According to arrest reports, the three stole textbooks, DVDs, laptops and more than $4,800 in cash from a university dormitory.
Hearings are set for June 15.
"It's a felony and it's a serious, serious thing," Smith said. "They're not a part of this football team until this thing gets cleared up, or they never (will) be a part.
"If they can't correct it, then you have to correct it for them; that's the way it is going to be. It's in the legal channels, and we're just going to have to wait and see if they can correct the issue."
Smith, who was given a 10-month contract after taking over for Bobby Petrino, might have the interim tag next to his name, but he's making sure his players know just how much power he truly has. And he's using it appropriately.
Of the three players suspended, Wade was expected to make the biggest impact in Arkansas' offense this fall. The Razorbacks lost three NFL wide receivers, but having Wade and potential All-SEC performer Cobi Hamilton back meant the passing game wasn't expected to take much of a step back at all.
While Wade only caught eight passes for 62 yards, the coaches tabbed him as one of the more dynamic receivers on this roster. He's speedy and slippery, and is a very nice complement to Hamilton in the offense. Last fall, he was primarily used in the return game, but Arkansas' offense is certainly better with him in the lineup, and Smith knows that. But he also knows he has to send a message that this sort of behavior won't be tolerated, and he won't be taken advantage of.
Kudos to Smith.
Three other Arkansas players have been arrested since March, and Smith has made it clear to the team that this off-field silliness just won't fly under his watch.
"We tried to explain to them what's going to be accepted and what's not going to be accepted, and what are going to be the consequences," he said. "We're going to demand that they do the right things.
"If (the message) hasn't got across, it certainly will before it's all said and done."
We're putting spring behind us and looking toward the fall with our post-spring power rankings:
1. LSU: The Tigers had one of the best springs around. Things were quiet off the field, and the offense rallied behind quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Coach Les Miles was very impressed with Mettenberger's play and maturity, and expects LSU's offense to be more balanced with him under center. LSU can still use four or five running backs, as well. Defensively, the Tigers are stacked once again, especially up front with two potential first-rounders in ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo. Questions surround the inexperienced linebackers, but Kevin Minter had a tremendous spring in the middle. On paper, LSU is equipped with the talent to make another title run, and gets Alabama at home this year.
2. Alabama: While the defending national champs saw a lot of "new" faces on defense this spring, coach Nick Saban left happy with where his players were -- but not satisfied. There is still work to be done, especially in the secondary, where the Tide must replace three starters. Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw are gone at linebacker, but the coaches were impressed with how Nico Johnson, C.J. Mosley and Adrian Hubbard played this spring. Some think Hubbard, a redshirt sophomore, could be Bama's top pass-rusher. Offensively, quarterback AJ McCarron is back, more mature and surrounded by a very veteran line. He has a group of younger receivers to throw to, but has at least four quality running backs. Alabama's road to repeating is tougher, with games at Arkansas and LSU.
3. South Carolina: A healthy Marcus Lattimore (knee) at RB makes South Carolina an even better contender for the SEC East crown. His status is uncertain, but the pieces around him are pretty impressive. Quarterback Connor Shaw had an impressive spring, and looks ready to be the passer coach Steve Spurrier wants him to be. The defense is once again stacked, especially up front with ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. There are questions in the secondary, with two new, young starters in Victor Hampton (cornerback) and Brison Williams (safety), while senior Akeem Auguste returns after missing last season with a foot injury. Still, Spurrier is chirping about his SEC counterparts, so you know he thinks he's got a good team this year.
4. Georgia: The Bulldogs should be higher on this list, but when you take into account the suspensions of four defensive starters at the beginning of the season, they slide a little. Georgia returns nine defensive starters, including one of the nation's best linebackers in Jarvis Jones, and some firepower on offense, led by veteran quarterback Aaron Murray, who could get some early Heisman love. It also sounds like enigmatic running back Isaiah Crowell is slowly turning things around. Yet again, the Bulldogs have a favorable SEC schedule, with no games against Alabama, Arkansas or LSU, so their road to the SEC championship is easier than South Carolina's, but keep an eye on that inexperienced offensive line.
5. Arkansas: If not for Bobby Petrino's embarrassing dismissal, the Razorbacks might be ranked higher. Offensively, it doesn't get much better than what Arkansas has. Tyler Wilson returns as arguably the league's best quarterback, and he'll get to work with one of the most complete backs around, Knile Davis, who is returning from a devastating ankle injury. An older and more improved offensive line returns, and so does a talented receiving corps led by Cobi Hamilton. But there are questions. How effective will interim coach John L. Smith be, especially if something goes wrong? Will Marquel Wade's suspension leak into the fall after his spring arrest? And will the defense improve and be more aggressive under new coordinator Paul Haynes? The good news is that Alabama and LSU play in Fayetteville this fall.
6. Florida: The chemistry is much better in Gainesville. Florida returns 10 starters from a defense that ranked eighth nationally in 2011. Matt Elam looks like a budding star at safety, and Florida's linebacking group is solid. Buck/defensive end Ronald Powell could be out after tearing his ACL this spring, but coach Will Muschamp recently said Powell is off crutches. Stud defensive tackle Dominique Easley is also walking fine after tearing his ACL in last year's season finale. The Gators have their third offensive coordinator in three years, and unproven sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are still battling. Florida has unproven running backs and receivers, but the offensive line toughened up tremendously.
7. Auburn: The Tigers welcomed two new coordinators, Scot Loeffler and Brian VanGorder, this spring, and by all accounts players were very receptive. Coach Gene Chizik is still dealing with a lot of youth, as close to 70 percent of his roster is made up of underclassmen. One of those underclassmen is quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who made strides as a passer this spring and seems to have the edge in the quarterback race with Clint Moseley, who missed some of the spring with a sore shoulder. The defensive line will be the team's strength, with end Dee Ford exploding this spring and Corey Lemonier returning. There is a lot of depth up front on defense, which will go a long way for the Tigers.
8. Missouri: Coach Gary Pinkel and his players have made it clear they aren't intimidated by the move to the SEC. These new Tigers return solid offensive firepower, but there has to be some concern about quarterback James Franklin, who missed most of the spring after having surgery on his throwing shoulder. Plus, Mizzou's backup QB could miss games this fall after his recent arrest, so the Tigers' offensive success will be riding on Franklin's health. The Tigers are replacing a few starters on both lines, but feel confident about both areas. Mizzou will face a Georgia team down a few defensive players in Week 2, but must travel to South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
9. Tennessee: A lot is different in Knoxville, as the Vols welcomed seven new assistant coaches. Coach Derek Dooley insists the changes were for the best, but there's still going to be some adjusting to do this fall. The good news is that Tennessee returns a lot on both sides of the ball, starting with quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. A healthy trio there makes Tennessee's passing game one of the best in the league. Questions remain on the offensive line and at running back, but improvements were made this spring. New defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri would like to run more 3-4 this fall, but players aren't totally comfortable, leaving some concerns.
10. Mississippi State: Quarterback Tyler Russell finally looks ready to take over as the guy in Starkville, and he'll have a veteran receiving corps to work with. However, that group still has a lot to prove, especially senior Chad Bumphis. The running game looks solid with LaDarius Perkins and Nick Griffin, and the offensive line got help from the junior college ranks. Defensively, there are a few holes to fill up front and in the secondary, but Johnthan Banks and Corey Broomfield are a solid cornerback tandem and linebacker is set with a few vets back, including stud Cameron Lawrence. Junior college defensive end Denico Autry has to perform early to help a line with a couple of holes.
11. Texas A&M: The Aggies have some holes to fill this year, but the offensive line will be a strength. Left tackle Luke Joeckel, a future first-rounder, leads a line that returns four starters. Star wide receiver Ryan Swope is back, and running back Christine Michael should be healthy (knee) this fall, but quarterback is an issue. Sophomore Jameill Showers has the edge right now, but like all of his competitors, he lacks experience. The defense will lean on linebackers Sean Porter, Steven Jenkins, Jonathan Stewart and converted end Damontre Moore, but the secondary has depth and experience issues, and the team will still be adjusting to a new staff led by coach Kevin Sumlin.
12. Vanderbilt: There is some solid offensive talent in Nashville, starting with running back Zac Stacy and receivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd, but coach James Franklin is still waiting for quarterback Jordan Rodgers to be more consistent. The offensive line is very thin and could barely get through spring. The defense must replace a handful of starters and leaders, but Franklin felt better about guys like linebacker Chase Garnham, defensive end Walker May and cornerback Trey Wilson. Vandy's schedule will be tough this fall, and if that offensive line doesn't hold up, getting back to a bowl will be tough.
13. Kentucky: Coach Joker Phillips was pleased with how spring practice ended, especially when it came to finding offensive playmakers, like receivers Demarco Robinson and Daryl Collins. Quarterback Maxwell Smith had a solid spring, but struggled during the spring game, meaning the battle with Morgan Newton and freshman Patrick Towles should go into the fall. The offensive line is still trying to get by after losing three starters, and the Wildcats must replace six starters at linebacker and in the secondary. Given the Wildcats' schedule, they will need to sweep their nonconference games to be in bowl shape.
14. Ole Miss: The arrival of coach Hugh Freeze brought a lot of positive change to Ole Miss, especially off the field, but there are still a lot of concerns. There are depth issues at just about every position, especially running back and defensive tackle. Even one of the most experienced groups, the offensive line, has struggled mightily with picking up Freeze's spread offense and is the team's biggest weakness. Academic issues are also worrying Ole Miss' staff, and top running back Jeff Scott and cornerback/receiver Nickolas Brassell are in that group. Quarterback is still up for grabs, but progress was made on defense, especially in the secondary.
2011 conference record: 6-2
Returning starters: Offense: 8; defense: 6; kicker/punter: 2
QB Tyler Wilson, RB Knile Davis, RB Dennis Johnson, WR Cobi Hamilton, TE Chris Gragg, OG Alvin Bailey, LB Tenarius Wright, LB Alonzo Highsmith, S Eric Bennett, P Dylan Breeding
WR Jarius Wright, WR Joe Adams, OT Grant Freeman, DE Jake Bequette, LB Jerry Franklin, LB/S Jerico Nelson, S Tramain Thomas
2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Dennis Johnson* (670 yards)
Passing: Tyler Wilson* (3,638 yards)
Receiving: Jarius Wright (1,117 yards)
Tackles: Jerry Franklin (101)
Sacks: Jake Bequette (10)
Interceptions: Tramain Thomas (5)
1. Wilson’s Air Show: After throwing for more than 3,600 yards in his first season as a starter a year ago, Tyler Wilson is back for more and looked better than ever in the spring. He’s been through the league gauntlet once now and will have experience on his side. When he gets hot, there are few quarterbacks any better in the college game, and he should be even more consistent as a senior. Wilson can beat you from the pocket, but he’s also capable of moving around and making plays. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, either. In 438 passing attempts last season, he only threw six interceptions.
2. Seniors take charge: One of the most comforting things for everybody in Arkansas this spring following Bobby Petrino’s ouster was the way the leaders on the team rose to the occasion and took charge. Knile Davis, Tenarius Wright and Wilson made sure the focus remained on the field and reminded their teammates, quite pointedly, that none of their goals had changed. It’s that kind of senior leadership the Hogs are going to need in the fall when it starts for real in the SEC.
3. New playmakers: Jarius Wright and Joe Adams combined to score 20 touchdowns last season for the Hogs, so they will definitely be missed. But there wasn’t any shortage of newer faces making big plays this spring. Sophomore Marquel Wade looks like he’s ready to move into Adams’ role as a return specialist and a guy who makes plays after the catch in the passing game. Wade's status could be iffy, though. He was arrested this past weekend and charged with burglarizing dorm rooms along with two other players. Wade has been indefinitely suspended. Senior tight end Chris Gragg might not be new to the Arkansas fans, but he’s another player who’s poised for a big season. He’s a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
1. Petrino fallout: The players have said all of the right things, and the hiring of John L. Smith was exactly what the players and assistant coaches on this team wanted. They didn’t want to bring in an outsider after Petrino’s firing and have to start all over this summer. Even so, the Hogs still have a huge mountain to climb emotionally and mentally, especially when things get tough, as they seek to navigate their way through the 2012 season without the guy who got them to this point (Petrino) on the sideline.
2. Stopping the inside run: Arkansas finished ninth in the SEC in rushing defense last season, and stopping the power running teams right up the chute was a struggle the whole way. New defensive coordinator Paul Haynes has installed his system, and the Hogs have also moved some people around, most notably Wright going from defensive end to inside linebacker. Linebacker Alonzo Highsmith missed this spring while recovering from a torn pectoral muscle. The Hogs need him to be healthy in the fall, and they also need their interior guys up front to step it up against the run.
3. Breaking through: Nobody in the Ozarks needs to be reminded that the Hogs are just 1-5 against Alabama and LSU the past three seasons. They get both the Crimson Tide and Tigers in Fayetteville in 2012 and are going to need at least a split to have a chance to break through and get to the SEC championship game. Arkansas had Alabama on the ropes two years ago in Fayetteville, but couldn’t finish the job.
University police arrested wide receivers Marquel Wade and Maudrecus Humphrey, and tight end Andrew Peterson after security video showed the players allegedly walked into rooms where items had been taken. The police report valued the stolen property, including computers and textbooks, at almost $5,000.
"We have high standards for our student-athletes, and I expect them to conduct themselves appropriately. Poor conduct and misbehavior will not be tolerated and is not what we expect from the University of Arkansas football program."
The video that police viewed showed the three players walking the hallways, checking doors and entering rooms inside the dormitory. Police said a witness saw Peterson and Humphrey opening doors, and that another witness identified Peterson as having been in her room.
Some of the stolen items were recovered from a bookstore near campus and in Peterson's room. The report also said a store clerk identified the three as regularly selling used items.
Wade was charged with a felony count of burglary, while Humphrey and Peterson were both charged with nine felony counts of burglary.
Since March, six Arkansas players have been arrested, making 2012 even harder for the football program. Stack those arrests on top of Bobby Petrino's embarrassing exit, and this has been far from the start that Arkansas wanted.
Before the Petrino situation rocked the program, the Razorbacks were expected to be a team that contended for the SEC championship and maybe even the national championship. Since then, the road to multiple title for Arkansas seems to be a little muddier.
Saturday's arrests certainly don't help. Wade only caught eight passes for 62 yards in 2011, but the expectations are for him to be a major contributor in the passing game, especially with the departure of receivers Joe Adams, Greg Childs and Jarius Wright. Wade was also dynamic in the return game, averaging 25.6 yards per kickoff return and returning one kick 85 yards for a touchdown.
Smith was brought in to make the transition to the season easier for players after Petrino's firing. The thought was that this team would be lost if an outsider was brought in, so athletic director Jeff Long went with a very familiar face in Smith, who spent the past three seasons as Arkansas' special teams coach.
This isn't exactly rallying around your new coach. It's having no regard for him or your team. This incident is something a new coach doesn't want to deal with and shouldn't have to deal with. Obviously, Smith will have to see how things play out legally, but losing a player like Wade could put a wrench in Arkansas' plans this fall.
So once again, this team is left trying to pick itself up after yet another boneheaded incident that's brought more embarrassment. Players will no doubt say the right things and scold the wrongdoers, but this act has to be tiring in Fayetteville.
If this team really wants to show that its success isn't going to be all about the coach, it has to make sure the players are more focused going forward. Six arrests doesn't mean players have gotten out of hand, but it isn't a great number to have on your spring résumé. They also stand as more distractions.
And Arkansas doesn't need anymore distractions going forward.
The mailbag is back this week and we were bombarded with questions. The pages went on for a while, so I'm sorry if I couldn't get to all of them. Keep them coming, though, because there's always next week.
Let's get to this week's questions:
Ethan in Cullman, Ala., writes: With the recent dominance of Alabama and Coach Saban do you see Auburn and Chizik really being relevant nationally? I realize they have recruited fairly well but I think we all know without Cameron Newton the 2010 Auburn Team was a 6-7 7-5 football team and in all honesty I don't see them improving their win-losses as long as Gene Chizik is the head coach. Take away the 14-0 season and Chizik has a total record of 21-29 as a collegiate head coach. Lets just be honest in the world of college football everything runs through Tuscaloosa, Alabama and I don't see that changing anytime soon. RTR (:
Edward Aschoff: Man, Auburn fans will love you now. I'm sure the Christmas cards are being written as we speak. While I don't see Auburn surpassing Alabama this season, or really next season, I don't think Auburn is going to fall off the map without Newton. Like you wrote, Chizik has recruited well and the team he has now is pretty young. It's going to take more time for this team to crawl back up the SEC standings, but I don't think it's going to take years and years. Auburn has the young talent to challenge some teams in the West this year. Yes, even Alabama. I'm one of the few still on the Auburn bandwagon. I see improvement on the offensive line, quarterback Kiehl Frazier really came along stronger this spring with Scot Loeffler's help and the defense can only get better after a lousy 2011 showing. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Auburn made more news nationally in 2013.
Jmathews in Weslaco, Texas, writes: Do you think Kevin Sumlin is going to surprise some teams this year with his offensive plan?
Edward Aschoff: It's a little unorthodox by SEC standards, for sure, but I'm not sure if SEC defenses will be confused by that air game. Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury will have to run the ball more in order to catch some defenses off guard. I know that flashy passing game was fun at Houston, but you have to run the ball to survive in the SEC. Balance will be key because we all know that Sumlin is going to want to throw the ball as much as he can. I don't think we'll truly see what all Sumlin wants to do because he's working with such young quarterbacks. That will restrict a lot of it and could make Christine Michael that much more important at running back. Once Sumlin has the right pieces in place then you'll see some offenses have to plan differently. For now, I think it's a work in progress.
Jimmy in Pikeville, Ky., writes: Do you believe that Joker Phillips will be able to get the Kentucky Wildcats back to a bowl game this season?
Edward Aschoff: Phillips thinks he's found more offensive playmakers this spring, with youngsters such as Demarco Robinson, Daryl Collins and Ronnie Shields stepping up, and that's huge for the Wildcats. They didn't have many at all last year and that was a main reason Kentucky's offense was so bad. But we still need to see what those players can do against SEC competition in October. And a consistent quarterback has to step up. Maxwell Smith has the lead, but the race isn't over. The schedule is going to be tough for the Wildcats, as well. I think Kentucky needs to sweep nonconference play to ensure a bowl birth. That means beating Louisville to start the season. The Louisville loss was a big one for the Cats last year and right now, Louisville is still a better team. Getting those four nonconference wins will go a long way for Kentucky.
Reed in Beijing, China, writes: Ex-pat hog fan here in Beijing. I wanted to get your opinion on how Arkansas will split carries between Ronnie Wingo, Knile Davis, and Dennis Johnson this year. Also, who besides Cobi Hamilton do you think will step up to fill the void at receiver?
Edward Aschoff: If Davis is healthy, he'll get the majority of the carries. I don't think there's any debate there. He is in another league compared to the other backs. After that, I think Arkansas goes Johnson then Wingo. Johnson came on during the second half of the season, while Wingo was inconsistent in my opinion. As for receiver, I think Marquel Wade could have a big year, along with tight end Chris Gragg. Wade is a very good athlete and the coaches loved what he did in practice last year. He's someone who has that dynamic feel in the offense and can make big plays. Gragg is big, athletic and tough. Tyler Wilson will key in on him a bunch this fall. He's probably the top returning tight end in the league.
Ryan in Anaheim, Calif., writes: Is it safe to say that Vanderbilt will have one of the best offenses in the SEC this year? Returning Rodgers, Stacy, Matthews, and Boyd, while also getting Norman back and explosive freshman in Kimbrow. The only weakness I see is the O-line which will be inexperienced, but will that hold them back that much?
Edward Aschoff: That line barely got through spring practice, so it's a problem. Injuries and numbers really hurt the line. The good news is that six true freshmen will be on campus this summer. The bad news is that they are true freshmen. Jordan Rodgers still has to be more comfortable in the pocket. He can be really sporadic at times and coach James Franklin knows it. If he can't improve on the mental side, this offense will struggle. Brian Kimbrow is someone who can be used all over the field, so that will really benefit this offense. The other playmakers you mentioned are solid, no question, but there are some good offenses to battle near the top, such as Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina.
Kyle in Gainesville, Fla., writes: The Gators haven't had many people drafted in the past two years, but next year will be much better. Who do you think could be drafted in the top 2 rounds next year? Bostic, Jenkins, Powell, Easley, Floyd, Elam, Nixon, Debose, and Reed are all guys I think can if they have a big year.
Edward Aschoff: Well, if Ronald Powell doesn't come back from his knee injury don't count on him heading to the draft. NFL scouts love Dominique Easley's potential. He's so strong and athletic and just pounds his way through offensive lines. He did suffer that knee injury, so his health will be monitored closely. Elam will compete to be the top safety in the SEC, but his name hasn't been thrown out as much as someone like Eric Reid. Jelani Jenkins is someone scouts like because of his speed and strength. He isn't the biggest linebacker, but he's extremely smart and that will help him a lot. Jon Bostic is getting some attention and a big year will boost his stock for sure. Xavier Nixon has to improve on a bad 2011 and Andre Debose and Jordan Reed have to be more consistent. Of all of them, I think Easley and Jenkins are Florida's top pro prospects.
Brad in Longview, Texas, writes: If you could take one player from the SEC, outside of a QB, who would it be?
Edward Aschoff: Last year, the answer was easy: Trent Richardson. This year, it's a little more difficult. I don't think I'd go with another offensive player, so I'm going to go with Georgia's Jarvis Jones. He was one of the best players in the nation last year and was the SEC's top defensive player, after getting 13.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He's a superb athlete, has tremendous speed and has a relentless attitude. He's also a great leader. He commands respect in the locker room and on the field. It's hard to find a better linebacker out there.
Coaching controversy didn't stop Arkansas fans coming out in full force, and it didn't stop the Razorbacks from being focused or putting on quite the offensive show.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson didn't hold back at all, as he completed 31 of 41 passes for 467 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his touchdowns went to tight end Chris Gragg. One was for a 6-yard score early in the first quarter, while the second was a 60-yard score that came with 19 seconds left in the first quarter. Gragg finished the game with nine catches for 130 yards.
Wilson's top receiving target was rising senior Cobi Hamilton, who ended the day with 11 catches for 156 yards. Marquel Wade was third on the Red team in receiving, catching six passes for 136 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Knile Davis was held out of the game, giving Ronnie Wingo Jr. and Dennis Johnson the limelight. Wingo had a game-high 88 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, while Johnson carried the ball 12 times for 71 yards and another score.
As for the White team, Brandon Mitchell led the way with 72 passing yards on 8 of 13 passing. He also took snaps with the Red team, passing for 30 yards and a 15-yard touchdown to Wade early in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Keante Minor led the White team with 53 yards on six receptions.
Defensively, White team linebacker Robert Atiga recorded a game-high 12 tackles. Teammates Houston Pruitt and Alan Turner both finished with 11 tackles. Defensive ends Trey Flowers and Chris Smith each registered two sacks for the Red team. Cornerback Kaelon Kelleybrew led the Red team with five tackles and also grabbed the only interception in the game, which he returned for 44 yards.
For more on Arkansas' spring game go to the school's official website.
Who are those players who've blossomed this spring?
We've pinpointed 10 players who weren't stars last season, and in some cases, didn't even start, but players who've shown that they're poised to have big seasons in 2012.
Here's what we came up with:
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama: The Crimson Tide feel like they've found somebody to replace Courtney Upshaw as a finisher off the edge on passing downs. The 6-6 Hubbard is now pushing 250 pounds entering his sophomore season and is an excellent fit at Jack linebacker. He had three sacks in Alabama's spring game.
Byron Jerideau, DT, South Carolina: The former junior college transfer ran into trouble off the field earlier this year, but bounced back with an impressive spring. The 6-3, 316-pound senior is the strongest player on the team and has squatted 670 pounds. He's just another reason this South Carolina defensive line should be something to see in 2012.
Malcolm Johnson, TE, Mississippi State: As a freshman last season, Johnson caught 11 passes, but three of those were for touchdowns. Judging by way the he's played this spring, the 6-2, 230-pound sophomore has a chance to be one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league in 2012.
Bennie Logan, DT, LSU: Overshadowed by Michael Brockers in the middle of that LSU defensive line last season, Logan was one of the more underrated players in the SEC. In fact, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis thinks the 6-3, 290-pound junior is right there in that same class as Brockers.
Marcus Lucas, WR, Missouri: Fans in the Show Me State got just a little taste of how good Lucas can be last season. He started in three games, but caught five touchdown passes. Look for the 6-5, 215-pound junior to emerge in 2012 as one of the SEC's top big-play threats.
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee: After seeing spot duty as a freshman, Richardson has been good enough this spring that senior Dallas Thomas has moved inside to guard and Richardson has stepped in as the starter at left tackle. The Vols weren't physical enough up front last season, but the 6-6, 329-pound Richardson should help change that.
Marquel Wade, WR, Arkansas: As a freshman last season, Wade took a kickoff return back for a touchdown. He's showcased that same explosiveness at receiver this spring and is one of the reasons the Hogs aren't panicking about the loss of Jarius Wright, Joe Adams and Greg Childs.
Jermaine Whitehead, CB, Auburn: He came in and played as a true freshman a year ago and immediately demonstrated that he wasn't afraid to mix it up. This spring, Whitehead also demonstrated his versatility. He's somebody who could end up playing cornerback, safety or nickel in Brian VanGorder's system.
Trey Wilson, CB, Vanderbilt: The Commodores just seem to breed outstanding defensive backs, and Wilson is the next in line. The 5-11, 192-pound senior will take over for Casey Hayward as Vanderbilt's shutdown corner and has the talent, smarts and experience to be an All-SEC player in 2012.
Quarterback Tyler Wilson had yet another big scrimmage for the Razorbacks. Wilson completed 39 of 49 passes for 448 yards and three touchdowns during Friday's scrimmage. Wilson completed 20 consecutive passes at one point.
Wilson has yet to throw an interception in Arkansas' three spring scrimmages. He led the offense on scores on seven of the offense's 11 possessions Friday.
The good news for Wilson is that his production has come against the first-team defense. The bad news for Arkansas is that his production has come against the first-team defense. But maybe Wilson is just playing that well this spring.
Wide receiver Marquel Wade led Arkansas with nine receptions for 98 yards, while tight end Chris Gragg caught eight passes for 83 yards and a touchdown on Friday. Receiver Javontee Herndon added five receptions for 73 yards and two scores.
Defensive tackle Robert Thomas led the defense with four sacks, while defensive end Austin Flynn added three sacks.
Wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, linebacker Tenarius Wright and tight end Austin Tate all sustained injuries Friday, but coaches didn't feel they were serious.
Check out more from Arkansas' scrimmage here and here.
The Wildcats took part in a very spirited scrimmage Saturday. It was one that left coach Joker Phillips proud of both the offense and defense.
The 90-minute scrimmage featured the first-, second- and third-team offense and defense. The offense started things well, with quarterback Maxwell Smith leading a 70-yard drive on 13 plays. He capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver La'Rod King.
Smith finished the scrimmage completing 25-of-38 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns. King also led the offense in receiving with seven catches for 76 yards and two scores.
Kentucky's defense stepped up considerably after that, allowing just one touchdown and a field goal on the next 10 possessions, including seven three-and-outs.
You can find more info on Kentucky's scrimmage here.
Despite a fast start by the offense, the defense won Mississippi State's scrimmage Friday after forcing five turnovers late.
The first- and second-team defense held the offenses to four touchdowns and a field goal on 27 possessions. They also registered seven sacks and four interceptions.
After quarterback Tyler Russell led touchdown drives of 75 and 80 yards on the offense's first two possessions, the defense stepped up, forcing a few three-and-outs for the first- and second-team offense.
Russell had an impressive outing inside Davis Wade Stadium, passing for 310 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Wide receiver Joe Morrow had arguably the play of the day when he caught an 83-yard touchdown pass. He sprinted 50-plus yards to the house after spinning off of cornerback Corey Broomfield about 30 yards up field. Morrow finished with 103 receiving yards, while tight ends Malcolm Johnson and Brandon Hill registered 110 and 75 receiving yards, respectively.
The player of the day might have been senior cornerback Darius Slay, who intercepted three passes.
Head coach Dan Mullen missed the practice after the birth of his daughter Friday.
For more on Mississippi State's scrimmage, check here and here.
It was an air affair in Oxford, as Ole Miss quarterbacks combined for eight touchdowns in the Rebels' Saturday scrimmage.
Barry Brunetti finished the day with 119 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed seven times for 41 yards and two more scores.
But he didn't do much to separate himself from junior college transfer Bo Wallace, who threw for 113 yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball five times for 32 yards and another score.
However, both had their hiccups, as Wallace completed less than 45 percent of his passes and Brunetti threw two interceptions. Coach Huge Freeze told reporters after the scrimmage that he had mixed emotions about both, but felt Wallace played a little better Saturday.
"Standing out there it's real clear to me our quarterbacks, our personnel, we don't quite understand the game," Freeze said. "Third-and-2 we don't know those things. We have very little awareness of those at times. We get in second-and-5s and we get negative plays because we try to do more than we can do. Then it puts you in third-and-8, instead of just keeping it third-and-5. There's so many things that we have to understand."
Brunetti threw two 20-yard touchdowns, one to wide receiver Ja-Mes Logan and one to receiver Vince Sanders. Logan also caught two touchdown passes from Wallace, who also hit receiver Terrell Grant for another score.
For more on Ole Miss' scrimmage, you can go here and here.
Justin Hunter picked up right where he left off the last time he played inside Neyland Stadium.
After missing most of last season with an ACL injury, Hunter caught three passes for 70 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown pass in his return to Neyland.
Quarterback Tyler Bray completed his first seven passes of the day and finished with 180 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-23 passing.
While Hunter had a solid outing, sophomore wide receiver Jacob Carter was the top receiver of the day, catching four passes for 102 yards.
Marlin Lane, who has improved a lot this spring, had the big day that he needed with his 71 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Defensively, the Vols got sacks from defensive linemen Jordan Williams, Willie Bohannon and Steven Fowlkes. Defensive backs Justin Coleman, Izauea Lanier and Rod Wilks added six tackles.
For more on Tennessee's scrimmage, go here.
As the quarterback race continues in College Station, redshirt sophomore Jameill Showers stood out in Texas A&M's scrimmage over the weekend. He threw for more than 150 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception, but only after it was dropped by a receiver.
Showers played in seven series with both the first- and second-team offense.
Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel split snaps with Showers, throwing for more than 150 yards and two touchdowns as well, but he threw two interceptions, with one that was returned for a touchdown by junior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr.
None of the offenses' possessions reached double digits in plays. Turnovers, sloppy play and penalties hurt the offense in the Aggies' first open scrimmage of the spring.
"We just have to be more consistent in our play on both sides of the football, and that's why we're here," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "For the quarterbacks to go operate the way they did, checking plays and moving around, it's encouraging. It gives us a real starting point."
Sophomore linebacker Donnie Baggs, junior linebacker Charlie Thomas, junior linebacker Domonique Patterson and senior linebacker Jonathan Stewart all registered sacks in the scrimmage.
For more on the Texas A&M's scrimmage, go here and here.