SEC: Terrell Zachery

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.

The 10 plays that got Auburn here

January, 9, 2011
1/09/11
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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Well, here Auburn is, unbeaten and playing in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game two years removed from suffering through a losing season.

If you’re an Auburn fan, the Tigers weren’t easy on the old ticker this season. They rallied from two-touchdown deficits four different times to win games, including the epic 24-point comeback at Alabama.

[+] EnlargeCam Newton
Paul Abell/US PresswireQB Cameron Newton (2) gets past LSU safety Brandon Taylor (15) for a wild touchdown run during Auburn's 24-17 win on Oct. 23.
It was truly a thrill-a-minute ride, and here’s a look back at the top 10 plays (in reverse order) that paved the way for Auburn to meet Oregon on Monday night on college football’s grandest stage:

10. Everything counts in a championship season, even good “field-goal defense.” Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, a walk-on redshirt freshman, missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt in overtime. He had just made a 27-yarder to seemingly send the game into a second overtime, but the Clemson center, Dalton Freeman, double-clutched the snap. Clemson was moved 5 yards back, and Catanzaro hooked his kick wide left, giving Auburn a 27-24 win in overtime in a game the Tigers trailed 17-0 late in the first half.

9. Speaking of field goals, Auburn’s Wes Byrum has five game-winning field goals during his career. One of those came as time expired this season against Kentucky, a 24-yarder allowing the Tigers to escape 37-34 on the road the sixth week of the season. Byrum’s game-winner came on the tail end of a 19-play, 86-yard drive by the Tigers that consumed nearly seven and a half minutes of the fourth-quarter clock.

8. In the first South Carolina game, the Gamecocks turned the ball over on each of their last four possessions. The final one came when freshman quarterback Connor Shaw lofted a pass to Alshon Jeffery in the end zone. Jeffery got his hands on the ball, but was hit by Zac Etheridge. The ball popped out, and Demond Washington made a diving interception with 54 seconds to play, preserving Auburn’s 35-27 win.

7. Cam Newton made so many spectacular plays this season that they all run together. But his 49-yard touchdown run against LSU to put Auburn ahead 17-10 on its first possession of the second half was in a class all by itself. He broke tackles. He showed tailback-like moves in the open field. He accelerated. He wasn’t going to be kept out of the end zone on a run they will be talking about on the Plains for years to come.

6. The offenses were scoring at will, and the defenses almost seemed helpless when Arkansas visited Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 16. The Tigers led 44-43, and the Hogs had a third-and-1 at their own 43. Broderick Green motored around right end for the first down, but fumbled after being hit by Craig Stevens. Etheridge picked up the ball and raced 47 yards for a touchdown. It was close as to whether or not Green was down before the ball came loose. The play was reviewed, and the replay official confirmed the call on the field. Auburn went on to dominate the fourth quarter and win 65-43.

5. Etheridge’s fumble return for a touchdown was just the first of several big defensive plays by Auburn in the fourth quarter of that Arkansas game. On the Hogs’ next offensive play following Etheridge’s return, Tyler Wilson threw a ball over the middle that senior middle linebacker Josh Bynes read perfectly and intercepted. Bynes returned it 33 yards to the Arkansas 7-yard line, setting up Newton’s 3-yard touchdown run to break the game wide open. Bynes intercepted another Wilson pass three offensive plays later to seal the deal.

4. The Tigers knew they had to make something happen right out of the gate coming out of halftime against Alabama, and that’s exactly what they did. Trailing 24-7 at the half, Auburn got a 70-yard touchdown pass from Newton to Terrell Zachery on the Tigers’ second offensive play of the second half. It was a deep ball down the left sideline, and Alabama safety Mark Barron appeared to be in position to make a play. But Barron had torn his pectoral muscle in the first half and was unable to pick his arm up and knock the ball away. Zachery made the catch and raced to the end zone. Just like that, what was once a 24-0 lead had been cut to 10 points with an entire half to play.

3. Auburn piled up a staggering 440 rushing yards against LSU in its 24-17 win. But with just under six minutes to play, the game was deadlocked at 17-17. Somebody needed to make a play. Onterio McCalebb was that somebody. He showcased his speed by racing 70 yards for a touchdown on a jet sweep. McCalebb got key blocks from Kodi Burns and Zachery on the play, made one cut and was gone. It was the knockout blow for Auburn in a game that was teetering up until that point.

2. Antoine Carter didn’t score a touchdown. He didn’t ring up a key sack. But he did save the Tigers’ season with the kind of hustle that epitomizes why you never give up on a play. Alabama was leading 21-0 in the first half, and running back Mark Ingram caught a pass and broke loose for what looked like might be another touchdown. Ingram stumbled briefly, which allowed a hustling Carter just enough time to get to Ingram and poke the ball away. Carter, a senior defensive end, had to run nearly 50 yards from where he started. He got to Ingram at the Auburn 18-yard line and knocked the ball loose. Instead of going out of bounds, it squirted through the end zone for a touchback. A 28-0 lead there would have probably been insurmountable, but Auburn had new life thanks to Carter never giving up.

1. Auburn junior defensive tackle Nick Fairley was to the Tigers’ defense what Newton was to the offense. He led the SEC with 10.5 sacks, and none were any bigger than his sack of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. The Crimson Tide, leading 24-7, had the ball second-and-goal at the Auburn 8-yard line and were about to salt the game away for good in the final minute of the half. On the snap, Fairley exploded off the ball and got to McElroy in a flash, forcing a fumble. Fairley was on the ground by that point, but saw the ball rolling around. He was able to beat all of the Alabama players and pounce on the fumble at the Auburn 12. It was a huge momentum swing going into halftime, keeping the Crimson Tide from scoring any more points. If they score there and go up 31-7, the game’s over. Fairley had other ideas with his version of a hat trick -- sack, forced fumble and recovered fumble -- and Auburn rallied in the second half for an improbable 28-27 victory.

Malzahn doesn't wait long for his wrinkles

November, 27, 2009
11/27/09
3:08
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AUBURN, Ala. -- You knew Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn would have a few tricks up his sleeve for the Alabama defense, especially with an extra week to prepare.

But this looks like something you'd see in your back yard. Malzahn's drawing them up, and the Tigers are shredding Alabama's vaunted defense right now to the tune of a 14-0 first-quarter lead.

Auburn scored its first touchdown on 67-yard run by Terrell Zachery, who took a pitch on a reverse and weaved his way through the Alabama defense, which was uncharacteristically out of position.

But just about everything Auburn has tried to this point has included some kind of pitch back, quarterback draw, Wildcat formation, even a throw-back pass.

You name it, and the Tigers have tried it.

Their second touchdown came on a play-action pass from the 1 on third down with Chris Todd hitting Eric Smith in the end zone.

It's safe to say that Malzahn is winning his battle at this point.

Alabama hot, special teams play not

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
6:25
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


It’s Monday, which means it’s time to find out who’s hot and who’s not in the SEC:

En Fuego

Alabama: As soon as they start playing games, it’s the most popular question I get: Who do you think is the best team in the league? While I’m still not ready to pick an SEC champion (too much can happen in the way of injuries, weird bounces, etc.), the best team I’ve seen in the league through the first month of the season is Alabama. The Crimson Tide really have it going on right now, and there’s a chemistry on the team that’s unmistakable. Quarterback Greg McElroy is spreading the ball around to everyone. The running game back stable is deep, talented and diverse, and the defense is one of the nastiest in the nation. Alabama also has Nick Saban standing over there on the sideline. This is a physical football team playing with a lot of confidence and a team capable of beating you in more ways than the Crimson Tide could a year ago.

Hot

Auburn receiver Terrell Zachery: Several different threats are emerging in the Tigers’ passing game, and Zachery showed off his playmaking skills in the 54-30 win over Ball State with five catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

Not

LSU’s running game: It’s difficult to explain the Tigers’ woes in the running game. Their tailbacks were held to 35 yards on 16 carries in the 30-26 win over Mississippi State. LSU is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry in its first four games.

Hot

Tennessee running back Montario Hardesty: Shaking off the questions about his durability, Hardesty has already carried the ball 84 times in four games and is eighth nationally in rushing at 121.2 yards per game.

Not

Mississippi State’s goal-line offense: It doesn’t matter where you’re playing or who you’re playing. When you get four cracks from the 2 (and two cracks with only a foot to go), you’ve got to get the ball into the end zone.

Hot

Georgia receiver A.J. Green: The Bulldogs’ sensational sophomore receiver is answering all those questions about who’s the best receiver in the league. He had eight catches for 153 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown, in the 20-17 win over Arizona State.

Not

Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead: After the way he finished last season, who saw Snead struggling like this? He looked uncomfortable and downright jittery in the 16-10 loss to South Carolina, finishing 7-of-21 for 107 yards.

Hot

South Carolina kicker/punter Spencer Lanning: Not only has he made nine straight field goals after missing one in the opener against North Carolina State, but Lanning made a picture-perfect tackle in the open field on Ole Miss’ Marshay Green to save a touchdown.

Not

Arkansas’ confidence: When a coach says publicly that his team didn’t believe it could win the game on the heels of a second straight loss, you can’t help but wonder where that team goes from there. The Hogs are going to find out with a schedule that doesn’t get any easier.

Ice, Ice Baby

Special teams: While realizing that a return for a touchdown or a blocked kick can constitute quality special teams play depending on your vantage point, some of the gaffes we’ve seen around the league in the kicking game four weeks into the season are spoiling the positives. Name it, and we’ve seen it – snaps sailing over punters’ heads, blocked extra points, mishandled snaps on field goals, shoddy tackling on coverage units, fumbled kickoffs, kickoffs out of bounds and shanked punts.

Auburn's Adams, Zachery catching on just fine

September, 17, 2009
9/17/09
11:27
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low


Everybody wanted to know who was going to catch the ball for Auburn heading into the season.

Montez Billings had been suspended for the first four games for academic reasons, and Tim Hawthorne broke a bone in his foot during summer workouts.

There wasn’t any experience to speak of. With Billings and Hawthorne both sidelined, sophomore Quindarius Carr was the leading returning wide receiver on the team with six catches a year ago.

The prevailing theory was that freshmen DeAngelo Benton and Emory Blake were going to have to play key roles if the Tigers’ passing game was going to flourish.

Two games into the season, neither Benton nor Blake have caught a pass, but Auburn’s passing game is clicking just fine.

That’s because sophomore Darvin Adams and junior Terrell Zachery have stepped up in a big way. Adams is averaging 20.9 yards on nine catches and Zachery 27.8 yards on five catches. Zachery’s 93-yard touchdown catch from Chris Todd in the opener against Louisiana Tech was the longest in school history.

Auburn receivers coach Trooper Taylor would still like to get Benton and Blake involved, but not at the expense of Adams and Zachery.

“Right now, two guys are making plays, and if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it,” Taylor said. “Those two guys have really stood out and have earned what they’re getting.”

Benton, in particular, could get more of a chance this week. He missed some practice time last week because of a death in the family.

It looks like the Tigers could be without tight end Tommy Trott against West Virginia after Trott injured his right knee in last week’s game. True freshman Phillip Lutzenkirchen is set to step in for Todd, and the Auburn coaches are really excited about Lutzenkirchen’s ability to get open and catch the ball.

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