Tag Archives: SEC

Fortune Telling the Future of Tennessee Football

Coach Butch Jones has finally found his sea legs among the powerhouse coaches and teams of the Southeastern Conference, but the future of Tennessee Volunteer football remains unclear.

After a few expected wins and a couple slaughters, the Vol program finally smoothed out most of the bumps that undoubtedly arise under new management and with a new roster of players. They nearly pulled out a win against Georgia at home before falling in overtime. The momentum continued from there to propel them to a close (23-21) but still upset-inducing win over the 11th-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.

This year marks a transition in Tennessee football. Butch Jones was called in to completely turn around the program after several lackluster seasons. Upsetting the Gamecocks awarded Jones his signature win. It was the first triumph over an SEC team since 2009 and the first against a ranked team in four years. Pair that with the fourth-ranked recruiting class according to 247sports.com and the Vol fans have much to hope for in the future.

The past two games have made it clear the team is rallying behind their new coach in preparation for what appears to be a strong future. The question is this: can the Vols stay afloat after facing the army of ranked SEC opponents that stand before them?

Over the next three weekends, Tennessee will go head-to-head with No. 1 Alabama, No. 5 Missouri, and No. 11 Auburn, respectively. The South Carolina game may not even be remembered afterwards if the Vols are crushed by any or especially all of these teams. How they respond to such high-caliber opponents will greatly effect the propulsion of the program from here.

While this year’s chances of a title are all but out of the question, the future of the Tennessee Volunteers appears to be bright.


SEC Second Day Story


This post on Saturday Down South had all of the necessities of a good story in terms of context. The author, Kevin Duffey, set the scene and then proceeded to make it relevant. First, he outlined what made the Tennessee win specifically important to the Vols, and then he broadened the picture to include the conference implications as well. Duffey made the story about the win’s effect on their future success, but it also included the future outlook for the “Big Three” teams in the SEC East.

SEC Championship Prediction

Despite it only being week 6 of the college football season, two teams may have already punched their tickets to the SEC Championship game.

The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) is the heavy favorite to win the West, having already beaten Texas A&M, and go on to a third consecutive BCS National Championship. Meanwhile, after facing three top-ten opponents in their first four games and winning both of the conference games, the seventh-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (4-1, 3-0 SEC) have a much easier path to Atlanta with only one top-25 opponent in their way, the arch-rival Florida Gators.

There are other contenders, of course, but, for No. 10 LSU (5-1, 2-1 SEC) to win the West, they will need to beat the undefeated Tide and hope that Alabama drops another game -which would be hard to foresee seeing as Saban and co. don’t have another ranked team on their schedule. No. 9 Texas A&M’s (4-1, 1-1 SEC) chances are even more unlikely seeing as they lost early to Alabama; their road to Atlanta would have to include two conference losses by Alabama and a win over LSU.

In the East, the secondary contenders are less menacing, but have a better chance of dethroning the Bulldogs. No. 17 Florida (4-1, 3-0 SEC) just needs to win out to stamp their ticket to Atlanta, but that is much easier said than done. The rest of the Gators’ conference schedule includes #25 Missouri, #10 LSU, #7 Georgia, and #14 South Carolina. But, if Florida does drop one of those conference games, as long as they beat Georgia they will own the tiebreaker, but they can only lose one. Speaking of Mizzou (5-0, 1-0 SEC), the dark horse candidate Tigers have a tough road ahead as well -playing Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina in the next three weeks, but winning out would put them on top of the East. However, dropping just one of those three games would more than likely put them out of the race. The Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 SEC) just have Missouri and Florida to contend with, but neither are pushovers. And, for South Carolina to make it to Atlanta, they need to win out and Georgia would have to lose at least one conference game.

It may be early, but its safe to say that the Tide and the Bulldogs have the easiest path to the Georgia Dome. The view from the top isn’t easy, but its manageable. As long as they don’t screw up.

Future uncertain for the injury plagued Bulldogs

Marshall Morgan’s foot landed squarely and the ball soared upward through the goal posts to secure Georgia’s 34-31 overtime win against Tennessee on Saturday. The Bulldog nation exploded in cheers, many fans and players jumping wildly with excitement. A handful of key players remained firmly on the ground though after a string of injures left coach Mark Richt digging deep into his depth chart to pull out able bodies. With championship dreams on the line, the Georgia’s future is uncertain.

Three of Georgia’s top offensive players fell to knee injuries against the Vols. Sophomore running back Keith Marshall’s season came to a bitter end when he took a low hit in the first quarter. Marshall  shed some tears as his teammates hugged him when he was unable to return to the field with an ACL tear. He came into the game having rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown. With fellow running back Todd Gurley sidelined for the game after an ankle injury against LSU, Marshall was expected to lead the rushing game. Gurley’s condition remains day-to-day, but CBS Sports reports that his return is “doubtful” for this Saturday’s game against No. 25 Missouri.

In the third quarter, wide receiver Michael Bennett suffered from an injury to his right knee, the knee in which he tore his ACL early last season. Bennett has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus and underwent surgery today. His return date has not been set, but Missouri is out of the question and even the November 2nd game against Florida is questionable. Both games hold big stakes on the road to the Southeastern Conference championship.

Another wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley was sidelined for the season later in the third quarter after suffering a non-contact injury to knee while covering a punt. To round out the quickly depleting first team, punter Collin Barber suffered a concussion after Tennessee blocked a punt to tie the game. Pair the casualties from Tennessee’s game with the list of previously injured Bulldogs, and you have a doghouse full of problems.

With many of quarterback Aaron Murray’s favorite targets downfield and rushing gone, those who are able have to step up to cover the holes if Georgia hopes to remain favorites for the SEC East crown.

Part of that task falls to junior wide receiver Chris Conley to maintain his forward momentum and become a major playmaker for the Bulldogs. He had five catches for 64 yards and an amazing one-handed catch for a touchdown against the Vols. Rantavious Wooten must also continue playing like he did against Tennessee where he caught a career-high six passes for two touchdowns including the two-yard pass that sent the game into overtime.

“It’s sad,” Richt said. “You see them work so hard to put themselves in position to play for Georgia, and realize their dreams of wanting to play in big games like that, and championships, and try to win championships and all that. … And one play like that, it’s taken away from them. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t know what hurts more, the pain of the injury or the pain of knowing you’re not gonna be able to play again for awhile.”

The win against the Volunteers in Knoxville was not a pretty one, but with Murray’s continued confidence and playmaking ability and a lot of handwork from the unseasoned end of the depth chart, the Bulldogs can still hope to make a return trip to Atlanta for the SEC title game.

Now, they just have much less room for mistakes.

Tyler Murphy: Sidelines to Headlines

The story of No. 19 Florida’s new starting quarterback Tyler Murphy’s debut after Jeff Driskel’s leg injury contains all the elements of a classic underdog tale. The key player is tragically injured just to be replaced by the inexperienced man keeping the bench warm for years waiting patiently for his chance to step into the spotlight. Sounds a lot like the plot line of Varsity Blues.

Excluding a 2-point pass attempt against Miami two weeks ago, Murphy was a rookie on the field having never thrown a pass in college. He was resigned to the sidelines as three quarterbacks, a tight end and all-purpose utility man got their hands on the ball before he did.

“It was always in the back of my mind that I might never play,” Murphy said to the Associated Press.

Though heartwarming, the standout performance by Murphy means significantly less since it was against the unranked crew of Tennessee Volunteers that took the field on Saturday in Gainesville. Some people have even suggested the redshirt junior deserved the top spot as quarterback from the beginning.

Murphy competed for the position by practicing against the third best defense in the nation according to The Bleacher Report. On Saturday, the two-star recruit from Connecticut faced off against a defense ranked number 90. So while Tennessee still falls among teams like No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 LSU in one of the country’s toughest conferences, the SEC, they do not carry quite the weight of their highly-ranked counterparts.

Driskel had earned his stature though leading the Gators to a Top 10 finish in 2012, defeating seven SEC teams along the way. Saying that Murphy deserved his spot after watching just three quarters of that incredibly sloppy game against UT is unfounded.

That is not to say Murphy’s first crack at heading the offense does not deserve credit though. After he returned to the field following halftime, the jitters were gone, and he led the team to a 31-17 win completing 8-of-14 passes with one touchdown pass and another rushing.

Driskel himself congratulated his teammate on his performance in a tweet.

The future of Florida’s already struggling offense may not be quite as fairytale-worthy as the movies, but it does hold some promise. Murphy poses a larger rushing threat than Driskel did as evidenced by the game against the Vols, and his confidence will only grow in the next two games against Kentucky and Arkansas before he has to face a team representative of the rough and tough SEC in the LSU Tigers on Oct. 12. If he can shake the skepticism, Murphy may prove a valuable player can indeed be found buried in the roster.

SEC Weekend Advances

http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/2013/texas-am-vs-alabama-five-factors/ http://www.saturdaydownsouth.com/2013/alabama-vs-texas-am-five-factors/

Saturday Down South looked at the different factors at play in Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Alabama. They presented the five things that could be in favor of each team on two separate posts bringing up things like best players, fans, coaches, and stats. In short it is similar to a notes page about all of the potential outcomes and storylines, but it works to show fans what could happen in the game and why it is important.


This article by Bleacher Report explores the implications of a Mississippi State win on Saturday for head coach Dan Mullen. They look at his record as well as speak with him directly. For future ramifications, the article suggests that Mullen could be “coaching for his job” in 2014 if the program does not move forward this year. This type of story does happen with some regularity, as it did with Mark Richt in recent years, but in many ways, it holds more significance than a single season impact because a failure at the coaching position could have repercussions for many years to come.

SEC and Sun Belt Blogs

One of my favorite blogs for keeping up with SEC football is Saturday Down South because they cater specifically to SEC football fans. They produce original content as well as aggregate news then ship it out to all of the major social media platforms so it is easy to keep up with. The editor in chief is also a former Division 1 athlete.

The Sun Belt Conference is not as large a force in college football, so coverage in the blogosphere is somewhat limited. Bleacher Report has a designated section about the conference with the same type of news updates and opinions that it has come to be known for in the sporting world.