Losing "Star" Power?
If Auburn's defense is going to take the next step and become more of a power than a punch line, it could be doing it with one of its stars.
Robenson Therezie, last year's starter at the hybrid linebacker/safety "star' position, might not be available early in the season for undisclosed reasons, according to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson (via: Joel A. Erickson of AL.com).
"With Therezie right now, we're not sure he's going to be able to play early," Johnson said.
Big loss for Auburn? Perhaps. Therezie had 57 tackles, three for loss and four interceptions last year, one of which he returned for a touchdown. His absence—however long it may be—creates more of a depth issue than anything else.
Justin Garrett had won that job exiting spring practice in 2013 and was in line to be a key contributor to the 2013 Tigers before a foot injury cost him the majority of the season. Behind Garrett, though, there are some questions.
Mackenro Alexander moved from safety to "star" last year, T.J. Davis moved over from defensive back and newcomer Nick Ruffin has been practicing at the position as well, according to Alex Byington of the Dothan Eagle and the Opelika-Auburn News.
This is nothing new to Johnson or head coach Gus Malzahn. Therezie was thrust into the position last year and played well. If Garrett returns to form, the Tigers should be fine in Therezie's absence. If that foot injury nags him, however, the Tigers could be trotting out a very unproven player out there at a position that is critical to Johnson's defense.
It worked last year. Two times in a row? Auburn would rather not find out.
Stepping in For a Legend
The battle to replace Johnny Manziel as Texas A&M's starting quarterback is winding down, apparently, and the winner will be known by the end of the weekend.
Head coach Kevin Sumlin said on the SEC Network (via: Brent Zwerneman of Chron.com) that he should decide on a starting quarterback—either sophomore Kenny Hill or freshman Kyle Allen—this weekend.
“I’d look for us to name somebody this weekend,” Sumlin said. “We’ve got to get moving, and get the starter used to playing with the No. 1s and really get the game snaps. We’ve got a big scrimmage (Friday) night, and after that we’ll sit down as a staff and make some decisions, and go from there.”
Who will it be? Put me in the camp for true freshman Kyle Allen.
I love what Allen can do through the air, and with all of the weapons he has around him, he should be able to slide right into the starting role after participating in spring practice and keep that Aggie offense cooking.
A true freshman on the road in the SEC in the opener? That's fine with me.
The rest of Allen's teammates and his head coach know what they're getting into at South Carolina on Aug. 28, and it wasn't too long ago when Sumlin trotted out some kid named "Manziel" against the vaunted Florida defense. Granted, the opener against Louisiana Tech in 2012 was postponed due to a hurricane, but he isn't afraid to throw a young player out there if he's earned it.
"Worley Ball 2"
The sequel to last August's quarterback battle at Tennessee ended in the same way as the original, with Justin Worley being named the starter heading into Week 1.
Head coach Butch Jones chose the senior—who threw for 1,239 yards, 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games last year—over sophomores Nathan Peterman and Joshua Dobbs
JONES: @WorleyBird_14 has earned the right to the be starting QB. I believe Justin is playing the best football he's played in a long time.— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) August 14, 2014
JONES: @WorleyBird_14 has been a leader, he's been very vocal. When you manage the football, it's a matter of seconds. He's managed that.— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) August 14, 2014
It's the right move.
With five brand new offensive linemen, Worley is going to be forced to make quick decisions, check down to his safety valve and not take risks when pressure is in his face.
Does he have the upside of Dobbs or Peterman? Maybe not.
But that isn't what's important for this Vols team. It has the skill position weapons with running backs Marlin Lane and Jalen Hurd and receivers Marquez North, Josh Malone, Jason Croom, Von Pearson and Pig Howard. When the protection breaks down, the quarterback needs to live another day, and Worley is most likely to do that.
As I wrote earlier this week, Jones wised-up in year two in the SEC by making this decision quickly. Now Worley has a better chance to hit the ground running and help stabilize a Vols program that's been littered with instability since 2007.
Don't Ask Nick Saban About the QBs
After participating in the SEC Network launch and other ESPN hits over the last few days, Alabama head coach Nick Saban isn't interested in discussing his ongoing competition between senior Blake Sims and junior Jake Coker anymore.
When asked after Thursday's practice what he will be looking for from them during Saturday's scrimmage, Saban fired back with a brief and animated response:
"Nothing. Nothing," Saban said at the 16:02 mark of the video released by Alabama. "I mean, I don't know what you want me to say. They're both going to take an equal number of snaps, just like they did last week. And if you keep asking questions about it, we probably won't give you their stats again."
Should you read into Saban's fiery response?
If you didn't think it was a real battle before, now you probably should. Beyond that, though, it's not anything to get concerned about.
It's an odd situation for Alabama during fall camp choosing between a veteran senior with limited playing time and a fresh-faced transfer who also has limited mop-up experience. He's only received limited time with Coker and has West Virginia, Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss to tune up for the Florida defense.
He will take his time. He should take his time. If the battle bleeds into the season, that's fine too. It worked out well in 2011, when AJ McCarron eventually beat out Phillip Sims for the job.
A Fine Debut
After more than a year of buildup, the SEC Network finally launched on Thursday.
A few thoughts on its debut:
- If you haven't read Viv Bernstein's feature "The Birth of the SEC Network," you should. It's incredibly well done, gives you a glimpse of the Network's buildup, hiring processes and future.
- No, the SEC Network isn't slanted one way or the other. Yes, it gave former Florida quarterback/current SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow a birthday cake within 15 minutes of flipping the switch, and former Alabama quarterback/current SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy's first appearance was Crimson Tide-centric. What do you expect those guys to do, ignore their experiences in the conference.
- Going to sleep Thursday night with the "Kick Six" and waking up to Alabama at Texas A&M from 2013 is really going to screw up sleep patterns in the South.
- The opening montage to SEC Now—the first program on the network—was incredibly well done. Here's a look:
In what has become a summer tradition in Athens, Georgia, head coach Mark Richt took his team to the Ramsey Student Center for a swim on Wednesday afternoon.
Richt, as is his tradition, showed off a nice back flip—er, back fall? Either way, the video published on Instagram by Georgia's football account is pretty awesome.
Freshman defensive end/linebacker Lorenzo Carter wasn't just prepared, he was an innovator.
I teased Lorenzo Carter about being scared of the water. He wasn't. He just figured out the best way to float. pic.twitter.com/gNnWpUCGW1— Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) August 14, 2014
It wasn't just the players who got into the action, Georgia's administration did too.
Radi Nabulsi (@RadiNabulsi) August 14, 2014
A fun way to break up fall camp, indeed.
Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. All stats are courtesy of CFBStats.com, and all recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.