SEC: Tony Franklin

SEC viewer's guide: Week 9

October, 24, 2014
Oct 24
10:00
AM ET
A look ahead to Saturday's games in the Southeastern Conference. All times Eastern:

Noon

UAB at Arkansas, SEC Network: Bret Bielema will have to wait at least one more week before notching that first SEC victory, but after three straight losses, this Arkansas team needs a win in the worst way. It’s not like the Razorbacks are playing poorly. Even Saturday, after falling apart in the first half, they didn’t give up. They responded in the second half and outplayed Georgia the final 30 minutes. That first conference win is coming. In the meantime, Arkansas can’t afford to overlook UAB. The Blazers put up 34 points on No. 1 Mississippi State earlier in the season, so they’re at least capable of getting in the end zone.

[+] EnlargeDak Prescott
AP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisDak Prescott threw for 268 yards and ran for 33 last season in a 28-22 home victory over Kentucky.
3:30 p.m.

No. 1 Mississippi State at Kentucky, CBS: What happened to Kentucky? This game was shaping up to be one of the biggest games in program history – a top-25 matchup, a chance to take down the No. 1 team in the country – and then it all fell apart at LSU on Saturday. Losing close is one thing, but the Wildcats were dominated in Death Valley. The good news is that they can still take down No. 1 this weekend as this will be Mississippi State’s first game since taking over the top spot. For the Bulldogs, it’s a chance to prove they’re worthy of No. 1 and it’s another opportunity for Dak Prescott to shine in front of a national audience.

4 p.m.

Vanderbilt at Missouri, SEC Network: A week after everybody left Missouri for dead, the Tigers are back in the SEC East race and rolling after a 42-13 win at Florida. The defense feasted on the Gators’ offense, forcing six turnovers and taking two back for touchdowns. That’s bad news for Vanderbilt quarterback Johnny McCrary, who will be making his first start for the Commodores. In his first action since the season opener, McCrary went 10-of-16 for 169 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday against Charleston Southern. But that was Charleston Southern. This is Missouri. Good luck Mr. McCrary.

7:15 p.m.

No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 24 LSU, ESPN: Don’t assume that Ole Miss is going to just go to Baton Rouge and handle its business. Yes, the Rebels have arguably the top defense in the SEC. And yes, they’re ranked No. 3 for a reason. But winning on the road at LSU is no easy task. Just ask Les Miles, who is 45-4 as LSU coach in night games at Tiger Stadium. There’s something special about when the sun sets over Death Valley. So don’t be surprised if this game is close in the fourth quarter, and it’s up to Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace to make a play. Wallace did account for more than 350 yards and four touchdowns at LSU two years ago.

7:30 p.m.

No. 4 Alabama at Tennessee, ESPN2: Thank you, Lane Kiffin, for infusing a little life back into this rivalry. He made it interesting back in 2009 when his Tennessee team nearly knocked off the eventual national champs, and he’s doing it again this year with his return to Knoxville as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. You can bet the fans will be a little more rowdy in welcoming Kiffin back to Neyland Stadium on Saturday. But despite all the hoopla surrounding Kiffin, there’s still a game to be played. Alabama comes in as a heavy favorite, and the Vols could be in trouble if quarterback Justin Worley isn’t able to play.

South Carolina at No. 5 Auburn, SEC Network: Gus Malzahn admitted this week that he wears a visor every game because of Steve Spurrier. That’s how much respect and admiration he has for the Head Ball Coach. On Saturday, Malzahn will face Spurrier for the first time as a head coach in a game that Auburn has to win for its playoff hopes. The Tigers are coming off a loss to Mississippi State, and this is their first of four SEC games in four weeks. Meanwhile, South Carolina has not delivered on the preseason hype. A top-10 team before the season, the Gamecocks are barely above water at 4-3.

SEC players on Hall of Fame ballot

March, 5, 2013
3/05/13
5:10
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The National Football Foundation has announced 77 players and five coaches who are on this year's ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, and the SEC is well represented.

Below are the candidates who played or coached at current SEC schools:
  • Brandon Burlsworth, OG, Arkansas: 1998 first-team All-America and first-team All-SEC selection … Helped Arkansas to two postseason berths and to SEC Western Division titles in 1995 and ’98 … Former walk-on who later started 34 consecutive games.
  • Tony Franklin, PK, Texas A&M: Two-time first-team All-America (1976-consensus, ’78) … Led A&M to four bowl appearances … Set seven NCAA records, including most 50 yards-plus field goals made (15) and most points scored by a kicker in a career (291).
  • Leotis Harris, OG, Arkansas: 1977 consensus first-team All-America who led Razorbacks to wins in the 1976 Cotton Bowl and ’78 Orange Bowl … First African-American All-American player at Arkansas … Led Arkansas to 1975 SWC co-championship.
  • Bobby Majors, DB, Tennessee: 1971 unanimous first-team All-America … Led Vols to wins in 1971 Sugar Bowl and 1972 Liberty Bowl … Holds school records for punt returns in a career (117 for 1163 yards, 4 TDs) and season (42 for 457 yards, 2 TDs).
  • Buddy McClinton, DB, Auburn: Three-time All-American who earned consensus first team honors in 1969 … Auburn’s all-time leader in interceptions (18) and holds record for interceptions in a season (9 in 1969) … Set SEC career interception record (18).
  • Paul Naumoff, LB, Tennessee: Named first-team All-America and all-conference in 1966 … Named team MVP in 1966 … Played in the College All-Star Game and Senior Bowl in 1967.
  • Sterling Sharpe, WR, South Carolina: 1987 first-team All-America … Two-time first- team all-conference … Set nearly every school receiving record by career’s end, including career receptions (169), single-season receiving yards (1,106) and career receiving yards (2,497).
  • Art Still, DE, Kentucky: 1977 Unanimous first-team All-American … Two-time first-team All-SEC performer who led Cats to 1976 SEC championship … 1977 SEC Defensive Player of the Year who set school record with 22 TFL in 1977 (still standing).
  • Matt Stinchcomb, OT, Georgia: Two-time first-team All-America selection (consensus-’98) … Two-time first-team All-SEC and 1998 recipient of Jacobs Blocking Trophy … 1998 NFF William V. Campbell Trophy recipient and NFF National Scholar-Athlete.
  • Derrick Thomas, LB, Alabama: 1988 unanimous first-team All-America and Butkus award winner… Led Tide to four consecutive bowl berths, earning 1988 SEC Defensive Player of the Year … Set SEC record for sacks in a season (27) and finished career with 74 TFL.
  • Jackie Walker, LB, Tennessee: 1970 and ’71 first-team All-American … Set NCAA record for career interceptions returned for TD by a linebacker (5) … Two-time first-team All-SEC selection who helped Vols to 1969 SEC championship.
  • Wesley Walls, TE, Ole Miss: 1988 first-team All-America and first-team All-SEC selection … Played as a two-way player his senior season (DE-TE) … Tallied 36 receptions for 426 yards and three touchdowns in one season at tight end … 1988 NFF National Scholar-Athlete.
  • Scott Woerner, DB, Georgia: Named first-team All-America, all-conference and team Most Valuable Back in 1980 … Twice named Georgia’s Outstanding Special Teams Player of the Year (1977, 1980) … Led team to the 1980 national championship.
  • Danny Wuerffel, QB, Florida: 1996 winner of NFF Campbell Trophy, Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp, Maxwell, and consecutive Davey O’Brien awards … Two-time SEC Player of the Year who led Gators to 1996 national championship and four SEC championships.
  • Jim Carlen: Coach at West Virginia (1966-69), Texas Tech (1970-74) and South Carolina (1975-1981). Led teams to eight bowl games and 13 winning seasons in 16 years as head coach … 1973 National Coach of the Year …Three-time Southwest Conference Coach of the Year … Coached Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers at South Carolina.

 

Kicking it with Auburn's Chris Todd

August, 28, 2009
8/28/09
5:31
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

It's Chris Todd's show. Finally.

After the circus that was Auburn's offense last season, shoulder problems that admittedly made Todd a hesitant quarterback and then shoulder surgery in December, he came from the back of the pack to win the Tigers' starting quarterback job this preseason.

It might be a surprise to some that Todd emerged as the victor in a quarterback race that appeared jumbled when practice began. But it's not a surprise to the persistent senior from Elizabethtown, Ky.

It's been a whirlwind for him. He started his career at Texas Tech, moved on to junior college from there, followed Tony Franklin to Auburn and then became the forgotten man after Franklin was fired at midseason last year.

But here he is, still standing and poised to lead Auburn's spread offense.

Todd sat down with me last week to discuss where he's been and where he's going:

Were you even close to being able to throw the football like you wanted to last season because of the shoulder?

Chris Todd: It was more a deal where you had to be smart with what you were doing, making sure you threw the ball on time and getting the ball placement just right. It wasn't always going to come out the way I wanted it to with any pop, especially down the field.

Were you hesitant on certain throws?

CT: Yeah, a lot of times you question yourself whether you can make the throw. No quarterback wants to go through that.

What was your mindset going into preseason practice, and how open did you think the competition would really be?

CT: I knew I was going to be behind the eight ball. It was going to be a deal where there was a very short window of opportunity, just because spring's a big deal along with the summer, and I was so limited in the summer. I knew whatever opportunity I got that I was going to have to take advantage of. I knew that going in and knew that I would have less of an opportunity than some of the others that had been there.

What did you do to separate yourself?

CT: Really, it was the first time I could get out there and show this coaching staff what I could do throwing the ball. My arm was back. They hadn't been able to see me throw it the way I can, and I wanted to make sure they got to see that.

You were Franklin's guy. When he was fired at midseason last year, did you think you had much of a future here?

CT: The whole situation was tough, but I've gone through some trials. Even going from Texas Tech to junior college was a whole different world. Getting there and then dealing with my (shoulder) injury during the season. But I'm a strong believer that obstacles are going to come at you, and there are situations you have to deal with. But it makes you stronger when you make it through those things. Sometimes you feel that nobody else believes in you. But as long as you believe in yourself, you can make it through any situation.

Making it through the ordeal you did sort of goes hand-in-hand with what it takes to survive at the quarterback position, doesn't it?

CT: I think playing with a bad arm might have helped my decision-making just because I had to be so smart with the ball. That just sort of sticks with you.

What is this offense going to look like?

CT: We're going to use a lot of different parts of the game. We're going to have a strong running game, a good passing game. I think we'll do a lot of short stuff, some intermediate stuff and take quite a few shots down the field with play-action out of the shotgun. There are a lot of different ways to exploit a defense. This offense brings together a lot of different aspects.

Did it ever cross your mind last year about leaving and going somewhere else?

CT: That was an option, but it was one I didn't really consider that much. The biggest thing was that I wanted to get in there and get the surgery done and really just try to focus on getting back to where I was healthy. I knew if I did that, there was still a chance for me to play here.

Lunchtime links: Smith follows in dad's footsteps

August, 14, 2009
8/14/09
1:25
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Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

A few SEC links for your lunch hour consumption:

  • Challenged by Lane Kiffin and the new Tennessee staff, senior center Josh McNeil has finally bought into the program.
  • There's another twist in the legal saga of Ole Miss freshman Tig Barksdale. The woman who accused him of stealing her car was convicted of false reporting of a crime.
  • It looks like Vanderbilt will have its own version of the Wildcat package this season. The Commodores used it several times during Thursday's scrimmage, and a couple of the freshman running backs made big plays.
  • LSU coach Les Miles is considering closing his practices completely to the media because of all the injury information that's getting out.

SEC lunchtime links

June, 8, 2009
6/08/09
12:00
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Former Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin, now at Middle Tennessee State, had some harsh things to say about his old employer in a lengthy interview with Josh Moon of the Montgomery Advertiser.

"It was the most unusual place I've ever been," Franklin said of the Auburn program. "No one liked anybody else. There was this deep distrust of everybody. The coaches didn't trust the administration, the administration didn't trust each other or the coaches. It was very strange and very unnerving. You would walk down the halls and there would be tension you could just feel

Tennessee's 22-man recruiting class cost more than $1 million to assemble, Dave Hooker reports in the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

• Greg Johnson of the News-Sentinel wonders if Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin can really be this clueless when it comes to following NCAA recruiting rules.

• The Sporting News' Matt Hayes has a Q&A with the South Carolina's Steve Spurrier.

Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon, who was suspended by the NCAA for using a banned supplement, will try the NFL's July supplemental draft, Chip Cosby writes in the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The SEC's new rule against oversigning won't help academic standards, Randy Kennedy writes in the Mobile Press-Register.

Mississippi State is looking for a new PA announcer, Kyle Veazy notes in the Clarion-Ledger.

Firing Franklin was no quick fix for Auburn

November, 3, 2008
11/03/08
9:41
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Somewhere, Tony Franklin is probably laughing. OK, maybe he's not laughing, but he's at least smiling a little bit.

Since his ouster at Auburn, the Tigers have actually been worse on offense, if that's possible. They've lost three straight games since Tommy Tuberville fired him and four straight games overall.

If it's not one thing, it's the other. Quarterback Kodi Burns threw for 319 yards against Ole Miss last weekend, but he threw three interceptions. He's thrown six interceptions since taking over as the starter three games ago.

The offensive numbers the last three games have been pretty telling:

Auburn Offense: By the Numbers
 First 6 gamesLast 3 games
Points per game 18.7 1 15.3
Total yards per game 309.2 276.7
Rushing yards per game 148.5 92.3
Won-Loss 4-2 0-3

Lunchtime links: Ousted Franklin speaks

October, 23, 2008
10/23/08
1:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

We take our daily stroll through the SEC to see what else is out there:

  • For the first time since being fired as Auburn's offensive coordinator two weeks ago, Tony Franklin gives his version of what happened and says things are not right on the Plains. 
  • Lifelong friends will be on opposite sidelines Saturday when Alabama and Tennessee clash in their annual rivalry. Kevin Steele and John Chavis have been like brothers ever since the 10th grade.
  • Chip Towers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quips that maybe a little Florida voodoo may be working against Georgia with all of its injuries this season.
  • Once in Houston Nutt's doghouse, Ole Miss linebacker Allen Walker has been given a second chance and is making the most of it.
  • For Duke defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre, it will be a homecoming of sorts when the Blue Devils take on Vanderbilt in Nashville. His father, George MacIntyre, was the last Vanderbilt coach to take the Commodores to a bowl game.  

There's no blaming Franklin in this one

October, 11, 2008
10/11/08
8:47
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Can't you hear Tommy Tuberville now?

"That cursed Bobby Petrino!"

Petrino once secretly interviewed for Tuberville's job back in 2003 when Auburn officials unsuccessfully tried to run Tuberville out of town.

But what Petrino did to Tuberville on Saturday night may have been even more damaging.

Petrino's Arkansas Razorbacks, who had lost their last three games by a combined 139-31 margin, stunned Tuberville's Tigers, 25-22, at Jordan-Hare Stadium just three days after Tuberville abruptly fired offensive coordinator Tony Franklin and said he would take a more active role in the offense.

There were some at the time who thought it was an act of desperation by Tuberville, to make such a move in the middle of the season just a day after endorsing Franklin.

Wonder what those same people are thinking now after a home loss to the Hogs where the offense was held to 193 total yards, threw three interceptions and converted just 4-of-15 third downs?

And one other thing: Franklin isn't around to blame this time.

It doesn't get any easier for the Tigers (4-3, 2-3 SEC). They get a week off before traveling to West Virginia and still have conference games remaining on the road against Ole Miss and Alabama and a home date with Georgia.

Worst of all, they have an offense that's hit rock bottom.

Ensminger gets another shot at Auburn

October, 9, 2008
10/09/08
3:46
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The offensive play-calling duties at Auburn have come back full circle to Steve Ensminger.

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville confirmed Thursday that Ensminger would call the offensive plays and coach quarterbacks for the remainder of the season with this little caveat: Tuberville will also be heavily involved.

Ensminger is only a stand-in and isn't a candidate to replace Tony Franklin after the season, Tuberville said. Franklin was fired Wednesday as the Tigers' offensive coordinator.

Ensminger, who was coaching tight ends and inside receivers for the Tigers, will be in the coaches' box calling the plays on Saturdays. But Tuberville, whose background is on defense, said he would converse with Ensminger over the headset about which plays are called.

Wouldn't you like to be on that headset?

This is not Ensminger's first rodeo when it comes to calling plays for Tuberville. He was Auburn's quarterbacks coach in 2003 and also called the plays that season. He and Hugh Nall essentially shared the offensive coordinator duties, but they were demoted after the Tigers struggled on offense that season. They finished eighth in the SEC in scoring offense and 10th in passing offense.

Remember, too, that was the season that Tuberville was nearly pushed out when school officials and boosters took a secret flight two days before the Alabama game to meet with Bobby Petrino about replacing Tuberville.

Tuberville survived and brought in Al Borges to be his offensive coordinator that next season. The Tigers went 13-0 and shot up to first in the SEC in scoring offense, second in total offense and third in passing offense.

Borges made it four seasons before Tuberville fired him to bring in Franklin and his no-huddle, spread attack last December. Franklin only lasted six games, and now, Ensminger gets his second shot at Auburn as the chief playcaller.

Ensminger, who played quarterback at LSU, has been a member of Tuberville's staff since 2003. He's also been the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, Clemson and Louisiana Tech and was the passing game coordinator at Georgia. He was coaching high school football in Louisiana when Tuberville hired him in 2003.

The really intriguing part of this whole situation is that it sounds as if Auburn will continue to run Franklin's no-huddle, spread offense. Tuberville will decide between Chris Todd and Kodi Burns as his starting quarterback in the next 24 hours, but reiterated Thursday that he wasn't abandoning the spread.

"We're not changing anything," Tuberville said. "The difference in what we were doing last year to what we ran the last two weeks is tempo. We want to keep all that. We think all of that is good. Obviously, what I want to do over the next few weeks after [the Arkansas game] is go back and simplify it a little bit, try and do as much as your players can handle."

How much of that involves committing more to the running game? We'll just have to wait and see.

Lunchtime links: Franklin says he was told to get lost

October, 9, 2008
10/09/08
1:08
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Here's a sampling of what else they're saying and writing around the SEC:

Franklin may be gone, but the spread is staying

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
10:50
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville called it a "gut feeling" in explaining why he would fire Tony Franklin on Wednesday, only a day after voicing support for his embattled first-year offensive coordinator.

 
 AP Photo/Todd J. Van Emst
 Tony Franklin was Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville's fifth offensive coordinator in the last 10 years.

It doesn't make a lot of sense. But given the way things have gone for Auburn's offense this season, it's probably par for the course.

Here's something else that's a bit odd: Franklin is gone, but Tuberville said the spread offense is staying. Franklin was hired away from Troy last December to bring his no-huddle, spread attack to Auburn after Tuberville fired offensive coordinator Al Borges. Tuberville's rationale was that the Tigers had become stagnant on offense and needed a change.

Well, in the spread this season, they weren't stagnant. They were just plain bad, but apparently not bad enough for Tuberville to ditch it altogether.

Instead, he's ditching the architect.

"It's not going to change our philosophy," Tuberville said of Franklin's firing. "This is a good offense. Our guys like it. They understand it. They are getting better at it. Again, when I went to this, we were looking forward to going to it and we've learned a lot about it. But it's about getting the job done. I thought that over the last few weeks, we just haven't improved like we should have ... bottom line."

Make no mistake. This is a bottom-line business.

Some of what you're hearing out of Auburn is that perhaps Franklin, almost too candid for his own good at times, didn't fit in with the rest of the coaching staff and simply wasn't a fit at Auburn.

Several of the players following the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday also openly questioned the direction of the offense.

Clearly, the chemistry wasn't what it needed to be offensively for Auburn.

(Read full post)

Tuberville moves quickly in firing Franklin

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
7:06
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

The fact that Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville fired first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin on Wednesday wasn't a complete stunner. But doing it when he did after voicing support for Franklin a couple of days earlier was surprising.

It makes you wonder if there was some type of blowup between the two on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Franklin, who's spread offense never caught on this season with the Tigers, cleaned out his office Wednesday afternoon and declined to answer reporters' questions.

My take on the whole situation is that Franklin is a good football coach who knows what he's doing, but just wasn't a good fit at Auburn. I thought it was a gamble back in December when Tuberville decided to go away from his tailback-oriented power running game, and it will be interesting now to see if the Tigers completely ditch the spread or incorporate components of both.

They were so bad offensively in the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday that I thought Franklin might be in trouble, especially with players openly questioning the direction of the offense afterward. But when Tuberville gave the whole "It's no time to panic" speech the day after and reiterated that Franklin was his coordinator, it made you think they were going to work through everything together.

That all changed Wednesday, and now Tuberville is looking for his sixth offensive coordinator since taking the Auburn head job in 1999.

Lunchtime links: Tebow talks politics, NFL

October, 8, 2008
10/08/08
12:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

Florida's Tim Tebow says he can't say for sure whether or not he'll be back next season. His interview with The Sporting News' Dave Curtis tops our lunchtime links:

  • Curtis sat down with Tebow in a wide-ranging interview that included his recruitment, his NFL plans and his politics.
  • Tennessee's Arian Foster is closing in on the school's all-time rushing record, but he's not talking about it ... unless you speak Pterodactyl.

Tuberville stands behind embattled Franklin

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
5:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

They're the words no football team or fan of that team wants to hear.

It's no time to panic.

That was Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's message coming out of the 14-13 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday in which the Tigers went belly-up offensively for the last three quarters.

Clearly, the spread offense that first-year offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was hired to implement at Auburn isn't cutting it with this personnel, these quarterbacks and this team.

But contrary to some of the scuttlebutt out there among fans, Tuberville isn't at odds with Franklin and insists that he's not contemplating making a change or taking the play-calling duties away from Franklin.

What has to change is the way Auburn is playing on offense, and that's the responsibility of everybody on the Tigers' staff, Tuberville said.

"We've just got to look ourselves in the eye -- all of us, not just Tony -- and find ways to score more points and win games," Tuberville said. "It's going to get better."

The Tigers have scored just five offensive touchdowns in four SEC games. They've moved away from Franklin's version of the spread and are trying to tweak it to the current personnel on this team.

The question that bugs most Auburn fans: Did nobody see these problems coming back in August or even the spring?

Chris Todd knows the offense. He's been around it since high school when Franklin was a consultant for his high school team. But it's obvious his throwing shoulder still isn't completely right. He can't make all of the throws he needs to for the spread to be effective in its purest form.

And Kodi Burns simply isn't playing with enough confidence in the passing game. When he's in the game, defenses know his first instinct any time he feels pressure is to tuck the ball and scramble.

There aren't a lot of easy answers.

The one that makes the most sense, at least at this point, is going back to the tailback-oriented, power game that was so successful for Auburn in the past and then maybe coming back to the spread next spring.

The Tigers opened with two tight ends and Ben Tate as the single back against Vanderbilt and looked like they were going to mash the Commodores. They drove it down to the 1 and were stopped on downs.

Vanderbilt loaded up the line of scrimmage from there, and Auburn was never the same offensively.

Tuberville said it's unfair to dump all of the blame on Franklin, who's been stand-up about the Tigers' struggles all season and said repeatedly that he hasn't done a good enough job coaching his system.

But Tuberville refuses to make him the scapegoat.

"I think Tony's done a good job of adjusting," Tuberville said. "I don't know whether we've done a good job of adjusting to what we've gone to. But he's our offensive coordinator. He's worked as hard as anybody here, and he's as disappointed as anybody here.

"We've got to find some answers. He knows he's the guy who needs to find those answers, and he's looking hard ... along with the other coaches."

Vandy's second-half defense hot, Clawson not

October, 6, 2008
10/06/08
3:58
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

You look around the country and see all these outrageous offensive numbers and PlayStation-like scores and wonder if the offenses in the SEC are just that ordinary, and in some case (that would be you, Auburn, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Tennessee) just that plain bad. But then you're reminded that defense in the SEC is not a lost art.

A few teams have won national championships around here lately (Florida and LSU) thanks to salty defenses. So while it hasn't been as pretty in the SEC to this point as some of the other locales around the country, it's probably premature to judge this conference based on style. With that, we go around the league with this week's edition of Hot and Not:

En Fuego
Vanderbilt's second-half defense:
If you don't get the Commodores in the first half, you're probably not going to get them. They've outscored their five opponents in the second half this season by a 58-10 margin. The last three teams to face Vanderbilt (Auburn, Ole Miss and Rice) haven't scratched after halftime. The Commodores' secret? They're in terrific shape. Their coaching staff knows how to make the proper adjustments, and the players are smart enough and savvy enough to execute those adjustments.

Hot
Alabama in the first quarter:
The 17-14 win over Kentucky was shakier than anyone at the Capstone would have liked, but the first quarter absolutely belongs to the Crimson Tide. They've outscored their opposition 88-0 in the opening quarter this season.

Not
Auburn's offense:
In four SEC games, the Tigers have scored just five offensive touchdowns. In their loss to Vanderbilt, they managed all of 82 yards of total offense over the last three quarters. That's downright offensive.

Hot
South Carolina quarterback Chris Smelley:
In terms of sheer accuracy, nobody has been better than Smelley. He's completing 63.1 percent of his passes and threw for a career-high 327 yards in the win over Ole Miss.

(Read full post)

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