SEC West Updates As Fall Camps Come to a Close

Douglas WebbCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 22:  Javier Arenas #28 of the Alabama Crimson Tide carries the ball against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bryant-Denny Stadium September 22, 2007 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Georgia defeated Alabama 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Week two of Fall Camps is over and with it comes the end of two-a-day practices. Teams will now turn to focusing on their opening day opponents. So with the season rapidly approaching we'll take a look around the West and see how everyone progressed in week two.


The Tigers continued to battle problems with depth, particularly on defense. Things reached a low point when the Tigers couldn't field three healthy scholarship linebackers for one practice. Defensive coordinator Ted Roof's biggest challenge between now and the start of the season is in building depth at linebacker and to a lesser degree in the secondary.

Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has been impressed with the improvement of recently-named starter Chris Todd. His focus now is in finding a backup quarterback and developing his wide receivers. Kodi Burns has been working in the Tigers "Wildcat" package. Head coach Gene Chizik feels it's important to find a way to get his athleticism on the field.

Tyrik Rollinson seems the odds on favorite for the backup job, at least by most Auburn fans. Malzahn and head coach Gene Chizik will have to decide whether having him as a backup is worth using up a year of his eligibility. There other option is to go with junior Neil Caudle.

Mississippi State

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The quarterback battle between Tyson Lee and Chris Relf has yet to yield a solid No. 1. Head coach Dan Mullen feels the battle is still too tight to call at the moment.

The Bulldogs offensive line seems to be taking shape, at least as far as starters are concerned. Junior college transfer Phillip Freeman is battling Addison Lawrence, last year's backup at right tackle, for this year's starting role. The winner will join four returning starters that, if they can stay healthy, have the makings of a solid SEC offensive line.

Defensive coordinator Carl Torbush feels his defensive unit is coming along nicely. The Mississippi State defensive line could get a boost in depth and size from the incoming freshman class.

At linebacker KJ Wright has stepped up big in practice. Torbush hopes to be able to use him in several different ways this fall to take advantage of his size and speed. The rest of the Bulldogs linebacker corps help to make up the strength of the Miss. St. defense.


The long awaited SEC debut of quarterback Ryan Mallet continues to take shape in a very positive way. Mallet and his receiving corps continue to work on route timing. If practice results are any indication they seem to be progressing nicely. The Razorbacks have a chance at having one of the most productive passing games in the league.

Arkansas did lose receiver Lucas Miller to a broken collar bone. Miller will be out at least four to six weeks. Cornerback Issac Madison also suffered an injury. His knee injury will force him to miss the entire 2009 season.

Coaches are still hopeful concerning the improvement of the Arkansas defense. Overall, they've done a very good job of stopping the run, something they struggled with last season. Their biggest question lies in the secondary. Their corners have struggled against the Razorbacks first string offense in scrimmage play.


One of the biggest concerns headed into fall camp for the Rebels has been to find a replacement for left tackle Michael Oher. It appears they've found their man with Bradley Sowell seeming to lock down the job.

Newcomer Bobbie Massie was probably the highest rated member of the Rebels most recent recruiting class. Many thought he would earn significant playing time this fall, possibly as a starter. At this point, though, Massie has been slow in making the adjustment from junior college to SEC competition.

The Rebels defense has been impressive in recent practices. Defensive coordinator Tyron Nix feels they have a chance to be a much improved unit from 2008. Going up against a high powered Rebels offensive unit everyday in practice only helps in preparing them for the upcoming season.


The one thing the Tigers offense needed to improve this season was their quarterback play. Poor quarterback play was the key to their offensive struggles last season. Coaches feel both starter Jordan Jefferson and his backup Jarrett Lee have shown significant improvement since the end of last season.

Whoever is under center will have top notch receivers to throw the ball to.  Freshman phenom Rueben Randle has stood out in practice showing what made him the No. 1 recruit in the country according to several recruiting services. Joining him are returning starters Brandon Lafell and Terrance Tolliver.

There are several position battles on defense that are yet to be decided. Defensive tackles Charles Alexander and Al Woods continue to battle for the starting spot next to defensive tackle Drake Nevis. Woods may hold the current advantage but the battle is too close to call right now.

The other big battle lies at right cornerback between Jai Eugene and Chris Hawkins. Hawkins holds a significant size advantage at 6'1'' compared to Eugene at 5'10''. Many consider Eugene to be the better athlete however. Regardless of who wins the spot initially, the two will likely battle each other throughout the season.


The Crimson Tide offensive line continues to take shape. Though Alabama head coach Nick Saban admits to no current depth chart, it appears as though the line is close to being set. The final spot at right guard appears to have been won by red shirt freshman Barrett Jones.

The battle for the backup quarterback job continues on with Star Jackson trying to hold off true freshman AJ Mccarron. The two are likely to spend more time with the first team offense during Alabama's second scrimmage this coming Saturday. The results are likely to go a long way towards determining who wins the job.

Freshman receiver Kevin Norwood had an impressive fall camp and appears to be putting himself in position for possible early playing time this season. Norwood had three catches for 60 yards in the Tide's first scrimmage.

The Tide has remained mostly injury free with the exception of running back Jeramie Griffin who suffered a season ending knee injury. True freshman Kenny Bell is in an air boot with shin splints. He will likely miss a week of practice as a precautionary measure.

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