Around the SEC
By Nick Roush on ©July 16th, 2019 @ 11:15am
Each year Steve Shaw announces rule changes and new points of emphasis for officials at SEC Media Days. This year the conference’s coordinator of officials did not bring forth earth shattering news.
The targeting rule remains the same. Defenders cannot launch into a defenseless opponent, lead with the head, neck or shoulder or lower the head to create contact with the crown of the helmet. There’s plenty nuance to the reviewable penalty, but that’s the nuts and bolts.
This year things change once they go to replay. Previously officials had three potential outcomes following a targeting review:
1. The call is confirmed and the player is ejected.
2. The call on the field stands.
3. The call is overturned, waiving the 15-yard penalty and ejection.
To remove any ambiguity, “the call stands” is no longer an option for officials. All elements of targeting must be confirmed by replay to eject a player from the game. If any element cannot be proved, the call will be overturned. By removing any ambiguous potential targeting, there should be fewer erroneous ejections.
There are two other rule changes you need to remember. Blind-side blocks are now illegal. If a player wants to earhole somebody, they’re going to get a 15-yard penalty. Also, once teams reach a fifth overtime, the game becomes a two-point conversion contest.
By Nick Roush on ©July 15th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
Folks, he’s done it again.
Dan, The Man with the Plan, Mullen has returned to SEC Media Days with the coolest sneakers this side of the Mississippi. Gator-skinned Jordans? Wow! I can’t believe it.
Not only does he wear cool sneakers, he’s great on the golf course. He opened SEC Media Days by sharing a story from the links. Last month he knocked in his first ever hole-in-one. Mullen now only needs five more to catch up with the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier.
The slick shoes and smooth swing are good enough to give Dan the Man a 10-33 record vs. Top 25 teams, one less than the 11 Florida football players who entered the transfer portal this offseason. Keep up the great work, Coolhand Dan!
By Nick Roush on ©July 15th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
Of the ten Kentucky football wins in the 2018-19 season, the most improbable happened in Columbia, Missouri. A quick recap of what had to happen for UK to overcome a two-touchdown second half deficit:
- UK’s defense surrendered zero second half first downs.
- Lynn Bowden subbed himself into the game to score a punt return touchdown.
- Terry Wilson had to drive UK 80 yards into the end zone with 1:24 to play.
- A fade to Ahmad Wagner as the clock expired drew a pass interference penalty.
- Wilson connected with C.J. Conrad on an untimed down for the win.
Naturally, that loss left a bad taste in the mouths of Tiger fans. After winning the first three meetings, Missouri has now lost four straight to Kentucky. A team that returned a ton of talent from 2018 and added a few pretty pieces to the collection will be the SEC East’s preseason darling, even though they are currently appealing a one-year bowl ban by the NCAA.
Barry Odom kicked off SEC Media Days in its return to Hoover, Alabama. Enjoy the first installment of a series on UK’s 2019 opponents.
The Best Thing Barry Odom Said — Odom believes this is the best team he’s coached at Missouri.
There are a lot of questions around @MizzouFootball regarding NCAA Sanctions / the program's appeal
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) July 15, 2019
The Best Thing Barry Odom Said (Out of Context) — “They took an opportunity when we were dealt some information from the NCAA.”
Coach Speak 101 — Few use more coaching cliches than Odom. “We over Me” is the corniest of the bunch.
Same Face, New Place — After leading a team into the CFB Playoffs, the next step for a quarterback is typically to the NFL. For Kelly Bryant, it was to Columbia. Formerly Deshaun Watson’s backup at Clemson, the heir apparent did not disappoint, taking the Tigers to the Playoff after an ACC Championship in 2017. Bryant lost the job four games later to future No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence. He could have picked any school in the country to play one more year of football, but ultimately chose to trade in his purple stripes for black and gold.
“For me, it was like OK, I have one year, and I want to put myself in a position to be able to have a chance to get to the next level,” Bryant said. “I looked at Missouri, Coach (Derek) Dooley’s been at the Cowboys; he has pretty much the same offensive staff, the terminology that they’ve had. So, now having to learn a whole new offense at the pace they do in the NFL, I’m up for that challenge, see where I can be at the end of the day.”
Bryant was the only talented transfer the Tigers picked up from the portal. Wide receiver Jonathan Nance transferred from Arkansas after leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2017.
Missouri’s Scariest Player — Many expected Damarea Crockett to transform into Missouri’s featured back after an exceptional rookie season. Instead, Larry Rountree took over. One of the SEC’s only two 1,000-yard rushers returning to action in 2019, Rountree is a the kind of back that will make opposing fans say, “How can they not tackle that guy?”
How Do I Say That? After earning All-SEC honors in each of his first two seasons, I still can’t correctly pronounce Albert Okwuegbunam’s name. I’ll simply leave it at “Albert O” and let the SEC’s top tight end do all the talking.
Good News for UK — Over the last two years, Missouri’s loss to Kentucky has been the turning point in the Tigers’ season, finishing a combined 10-3 to reach consecutive bowl games. Things don’t seem to click until after they learn their lessons against UK.
Bad News for UK — Missouri could enter Kroger Field undefeated, tagged as “the hottest team in college football and the SEC’s biggest surprise.” Unlike previous years, their schedule is backloaded. The only two road trips before the excursion to Lexington are at Vanderbilt and Wyoming. UK’s home field advantage will be the only thing that can shake the Tigers’ confidence.
Fear Factor — 8.1
Aside from the matchup with Georgia, this is the most talented team on UK’s schedule. Before you stop me to say Florida, Bryant > Franks. This game reminds me of the lead up to last year’s matchup against Miss. State, albeit with differing styles of play. With revenge in mind, and maybe nothing to play for but regular season glory, it will be a 60-minute war at Kroger Field.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 15th, 2019 @ 1:19pm
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey announced the initiative during his opening remarks, prompting @SECOfficiating to send out its first tweet.
Hello, world ?
This account will serve as your source for rules, videos, statistics and activities inside the SEC Video Center.
Go easy on us!
— SEC Officiating (@SECOfficiating) July 15, 2019
Ha! Immediately the Twitter account was bombarded by complaints about bad calls:
Can I ask how this was ruled "no good" pic.twitter.com/xWCnnhUUzJ
— Andrew Cummings (@apcg8tor95) July 15, 2019
EXPLANATION STILL NEEDED pic.twitter.com/56pLnf3KKa
— Tyler Mallams (@tyler_mallams) July 15, 2019
What’s your explanation for this egregious failure in officiating? I’ll hang up and listen, thanks. pic.twitter.com/3v7Qgu3l4W
— Poppa Juan Foggy (@HudsonHawk88) July 15, 2019
There were lots of “Alabama pays the refs” jokes:
I’m an Alabama fan. Has my check to you guys cleared? Looking forward to another productive season!
— Will Elliott (@Will_Elliott22) July 15, 2019
— RepublicanDore (@RepublicanDore) July 15, 2019
Buffalo Wild Wings even got in on the fun:
Keep our arrangement under wraps please
— Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) July 15, 2019
I’m all for transparency, but this is going to be a hot mess. As the kids say, RIP to your mentions.
SEC Media Days is on the move again.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey just announced that the four-day media spectacle will return to the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta in 2020, and in 2021, will travel to Nashville, taking place at the new Grand Hyatt hotel.
SEC Media Days in Music City? Bring it on.
By Drew Franklin on ©July 15th, 2019 @ 11:15am
With SEC Media Days taking place down in Birmingham this week, we will soon learn the media’s preseason poll for the league’s upcoming football season. And while we wait to see where the media ranks Kentucky among its opponents in the SEC East, let’s look back to last year when the media completely butchered its preseason prediction for the Wildcats.
2018 SEC Football Preseason Media Poll
|SEC EAST||SEC WEST|
|Georgia (271)||Alabama (263)|
|South Carolina (8)||Auburn (19)|
|Florida (4)||Mississippi State (2)|
|Tennessee (1)||Ole Miss|
|SEC EAST||SEC WEST|
|Georgia (11-3, 7-1)||Alabama (14-1, 8-0)|
|Kentucky (10-3, 5-3)||Texas A&M (9-4, 5-3)|
|Florida (10-3, 5-3)||LSU (10-3, 5-3)|
|South Carolina (7-6, 4-4)||Mississippi State (8-5, 4-4)|
|Missouri (8-5, 4-4)||Auburn (8-5, 3-5)|
|Vanderbilt (6-7, 3-5)||Ole Miss (5-7, 1-7)|
|Tennessee (5-7, 2-6)||Arkansas (2-10, 0-8)|
Keep this in mind when the media disrespects Mark Stoops’ program again.
Today marks the beginning of SEC Media Days down in Birmingham, Alabama, where the conference’s four-day football media marathon takes centerstage. In today’s events, we will hear from coaches and players from two of the SEC East teams on UK’s schedule — Florida and Missouri — in addition to Coach O and LSU on the podium. SEC commissioner Greg Sankey will kick things off this morning with his remarks on the state of the league.
You will have to wait until later in the week to hear from Kentucky. Mark Stoops and the trio of players representing UK — Kash Daniel, Lynn Bowden and Logan Stenberg — aren’t scheduled to appear until Thursday.
KSR will of course have all you need to know from Birmingham here on the site, all week long.
It’s almost time for the Barbasol Championship.
The PGA Tour will take over Lexington this week for the Barbasol Championship, the tournament’s second run in the Bluegrass. I will have a breakdown of the field and all kinds of fun from the tournament in the days ahead. In the meantime, get your tickets here. It is going to be a blast.
Julius Randle stopped by Sunday’s basketball practice.
Randle was in Kentucky over the weekend to celebrate his wife’s birthday, and he made a stop by the Joe Craft Center to check in on his old team:
Randle joked that he gave Calipari “early recruiting dibs” on his young son, Kyden.
John Calipari is excited about “positionless” basketball next season.
It is “truly a positionless team with length, Cal said in a tweet Sunday evening:
This is what I enjoy most – having a great workout with a group of players who wanted this culture, wanted to be challenged, wanted to be made uncomfortable. They all have big dreams and aspirations and wanted to be in an environment with other good players.
This is truly a positionless team with length. We’re only just beginning this journey and I’m liking what I’m seeing. (@UKCoachCalipari)
And we are liking what we’re hearing, Coach.
You should catch up on all of Jack’s work from the Peach Jam.
The Peach Jam concluded Sunday evening with MOKAN Elite, a Nike EYBL program out of Kansas, winning the championship. Led by UK target N’Faly Dante, who had 22 and 18 in the title game, MOKAN beat Jalen Green’s Team WhyNot in overtime, 85-84, to take the trophy. Dante also took the tournament’s MVP award.
Read all of KSR’s coverage from the Peach Jam, including exclusive interviews with several elite prospects on UK’s radar, here under the Basketball Recruiting tab.
No former Wildcats in the NBA Summer League championship.
None of the thirteen summer league teams with a former Kentucky player made today’s championship game, but you can still tune in for one more game from Las Vegas to see how it all wraps up. Memphis and Minnesota will play for the league’s trophy at 9 p.m. on ESPN 2.
The second week of KSR’s Blue Lights Across The Bluegrass Summer Tour begins today.
We are in Barbourville at the Appalachian Children’s Home, a place with a special connection to KSR, for today’s show.
The tour dates ahead are as follows:
7/15 – Barbourville @ Appalachian Children’s Home
7/16 – Middlesboro @ Downtown (presented by JR Hoe and Sons)
7/17 – Pikeville @ Buffalo Wild Wings
7/18 – Ashland @ Blazer’s Restaurant and Bakery
7/19 – Lexington @ Douglass HS for The Tournament
7/22 – Somerset Golf Outing @ Woodson Bend Resort
7/23 – Somerset @ Associates in Eye Care
7/24 – Monticello @ Conley Bottom Resort
7/25 – Campbellsville @ Mr. Gatti’s Pizza
7/26 – Lexington @ Lexington Legends
8/5 – Bowling Green @ Overtime Sports Bar and Grill
8/6 – Hopkinsville @ Hopkinsville Sportsplex
8/7 – Benton @ CFSB Bank
8/8 – Paducah @ Royal Oaks Chevrolet
8/9 – Louisville Golf Outing @ Glen Oaks Country Club
8/12 – Elizabethtown @ Kentucky Jeep and Truck
8/13 – Danville @ The Discount House 2.0
8/14 – Fort Wright @ Dickmann’s
8/15 – Lexington @ Kentucky Branded
8/16 – Louisville @ TBA
Come out and see us!
By John Reecer on ©July 14th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Throughout this entire summer, 2020 five-star center N’Faly Dante has been considering reclassification into the 2019 class. He is currently considering Kentucky as a possible destination regardless if he reclassifies or not.
So this leads us to the million dollar question: How bad does Kentucky need N’Faly Dante for the 2019-2020 season? Would it possibly be better if Dante waits until next season to commit to the Wildcats? Kentucky is going to be a top-five team in the preseason poll, so I believe this is a very serious question to answer.
First, just how good is Dante? 247Sports has Dante ranked as the 12th best player in the 2020 class and the third-best center. However, it seems like he is a bit better than that ranking. As our own Jack Pilgrim reported, Dante received the MVP of the Peach Jam Classic today as he scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds.
MoKan Elite defeats Team WhyNot to win the 2019 Nike EYBL Peach Jam. Kentucky target N’faly Dante finishes with 22 points and 18 rebounds en route to MVP honors. Jalen Green finishes with 27 points. UK had three coaches in attendance.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) July 14, 2019
N’Faly Dante goes and gets it. pic.twitter.com/1zlWfuZQaT
— Chris Fisher (@ChrisFisher247) July 14, 2019
Dante projects as a powerful big man who can be both a good lob-catcher and a dependable rim-protector. I won’t pretend to say that I’ve researched the 2020 class that much yet, but I can’t imagine there being anyone else like Dante in it. It’s very rare to see such a strong center have such a long wingspan, but Dante has it.
Seeing him dominate the Peach Jam as he did helps to reaffirm that he can play college basketball this fall. However, it isn’t just the fact that he played well, it’s the fact that Dante has a body that can withstand the wear and tear of a full college basketball season. He already has the size if he chooses to reclassify so the move would work for him.
Now that we have established that Dante is both very good and ready to play right now, how bad do the Wildcats need his services? The answer is short and sweet. Kentucky badly needs Dante.
Quite frankly, it has nothing to do with how good Nick Richards, E.J. Montgomery, or Nate Sestina are. What’s really important here is that only one of those three players is an actual center (Richards). Yes, Montgomery is very long, but he fits best as a stretch-four that causes huge mismatch problems. Sestina, on the other hand, is your typical power forward. Neither are both tall and strong enough to be a traditional, dominant center that can protect the rim.
That leaves the Wildcats with just one true center in Richards. Even if Coach John Calipari wants to play a lot of small-ball lineups, that still isn’t enough depth at that position. Adding Dante gives the frontcourt more depth and flexibility. Having two traditional centers that could play at any time with any other four players would be dangerously good.
Of course, this isn’t even taking into account how good Dante actually is. Rolling out a starting lineup that includes Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Kahlil Whitney, and Dante has the potential to be the most dominant defensive lineup in college basketball.
Yes, Kentucky would still be a good team without him. But would it be a “great” team? It’s hard to say that they would be with the frontcourt depth being so light, but it’s possible. Dante could easily not reclassify and commit to the Wildcats as a member of the 2020 class. However, I think the time is now. Dante is ready and his addition would make Kentucky one of the best teams in college basketball.
It wouldn’t be the end of the world if he did not commit and reclassify, but it would certainly be the start of something special if he did.
For the next few weeks leading to the start of the College Football season, I will be previewing different teams, players, and more from the SEC. This week, I preview the most important position on the field for each team: quarterback. Here I rank each team’s projected starter at the position.
1. Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
This was a bit of a no-brainer here, but Tagovailoa is, of course, the best quarterback in the league entering the season. He narrowly lost the Heisman Trophy in one of the closest races ever after passing for almost 4,000 yards and over 40 TD’s (despite not playing in the majority of fourth quarters).
Believe it or not, there is still room for improvement. Against the three toughest defenses he faced last season, Tagovailoa had a 4-5 TD/INT ratio, only passed for an average of 207 yards per game, and a 57.5% completion percentage. If Alabama wants to get back to winning national titles then their quarterback must play better when it matters the most.
All in all, Tagovailoa is still one of the favorites to be the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The Crimson Tide’s schedule this year is surprisingly (and disappointingly) easy so I expect possibly even better numbers from him. Remember, Tagovailoa was still just a true sophomore last year. I expect the Heisman race between him and Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence to be very close.
2. Jake Fromm, Georgia
Fromm really proved me wrong last season. I wasn’t all that high on him coming into 2018 as I thought that uber-talented Justin Fields would eventually take over at the position. That obviously is not what happened as Fromm started all season and tallied a 30-6 TD/INT ratio.
Jake Fromm is the perfect “win now” QB prospect. https://t.co/db2BfcBXtb
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) July 6, 2019
The biggest question facing Fromm as he returns for his senior season is who will he be passing to? Gone are Riley Ridley, Mecole Hardman, and Issac Nauta – Georgia’s leading receivers. De’Andre Swift is a reliable pass catcher out of the backfield and Jeremiah Holloman notched over 400 yards receiving and five TD’s last season. But who else will step up?
Despite questions facing the receiving core of the Bulldogs, Fromm is one of the most experienced QB’s in the conference, and it shows. While the passing yardage numbers won’t “wow” anyone, Fromm can make every throw on the field, and he absolutely knows how to win big games.
3. Kellen Mond, Texas A&M
In 2018, Mond was possibly the most improved player in the SEC. In just eight starts as a freshman, he passed for only 1,375 yards. In 13 starts as a sophomore, he threw for over 3,000 yards while earning a TD-INT ratio of 24-9. The work that Jimbo Fisher has done to this quarterback is just outstanding.
Mond is also a lethal runner with the football as well. He notched seven rushing touchdowns while also rushing for almost 500 yards on the ground. As Mond enters his junior season, I expect him to take another leap as his entire receiving core returns with the exception of tight end Jace Sternberger.
As far as improvements, the talented quarterback still needs to work on his accuracy. He only completed 57% of his passes in 2018. His accuracy is what’s keeping him from making the jump to “elite college quarterback.” If he takes another step and gets his accuracy up to around 63%, then Mond could find himself selected in the early rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Kellen Mond throws a LASER to Kendrick Rogers for the @AggieFootball TD!
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 9, 2018
4. Joe Burrow, LSU
Burrow was fascinating to watch in 2018. While he was the definition of a game manager, he made several incredible throws in critical moments to get the Tigers off to a fast start to the season. Similar to Fromm, the passing yardage numbers were not incredible, but Burrow knows how to win games.
Just like with Mond, Burrow’s 57.8% completion percentage needs to be better. He played terribly against the likes of Florida and Alabama in hostile environments so there is certainly room for improvement there as well.
The good news is that LSU’s offense returns its entire receiving core and four starters on the offensive lineman. Burrow is going to be even better in 2019, and the Tigers will be a legitimate title contender. If Burrow can take a significant step forward then I could easily see them winning it all. This is an incredibly tough quarterback that won’t go down easily.
This was Joe Burrow's 29th carry of the game.
Twenty. Nine. Carries. pic.twitter.com/tLhXsBUDFN
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) November 25, 2018
5. Kelly Bryant, Missouri
Here is the first wildcard of the bunch. Bryant, who famously transferred from Clemson, will be Missouri’s replacement for Drew Lock. In 18 starts for the Tigers over the last few years, Bryant was actually more accurate than Lock (66% completion percentage compared to Lock’s 62.9% last season).
The big difference between the two is that Lock has a much better arm than Bryant. The former Clemson standout is best at completing short-to-medium routes on the run. During his time there, Bryant also ran for almost 1,000 yards.
Bryant will be a good quarterback for the Tigers because that’s what he’s always been. He just got stuck on a team that had a better quarterback (Trevor Lawrence). The Tigers return their leading rusher and four of their top five receivers so Bryant will have plenty of weapons at his disposal.
Former Clemson QB Kelly Bryant was in a "real bad place" when he lost his spot to Trevor Lawrence after having already been stuck behind Deshaun Watson.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 12, 2019
6. Jake Bentley, South Carolina
Bentley is officially the Perry Ellis of SEC football. He is the player that everyone asks, “How is he still in college???” All jokes aside, Bentley does return for his final season in Columbia. Say what you want about him, but the guy has been consistently above average his entire career and that’s why he is at No. 6 on this list.
His career record as a starter is 19-13, he has thrown for 7,385 yards, and his career TD-INT ratio is 54-30 in three seasons. Yes, he is definitely slightly above average, and that’s exactly what I expect from him in his last season. Without Deebo Samuel to throw to anymore, I think Bentley has reached his respectable ceiling.
7. Feleipe Franks, Florida
This was possibly the hardest quarterback to rank on this list (along with Terry Wilson). The numbers point to a respectable season (2,457 passing yards, 24-6 TD-Int ratio, 58% comp. percentage), but Franks was just flat-out bad against top-tier opponents in 2018.
Don’t forget that Franks was actually benched against Missouri and only got the job back because Kyle Trask broke his foot. Franks was often booed by the home crowd as well. Overall, I can’t rank him any lower than 7th because, despite his struggles, he did take a big step forward in just one season with quarterback whisperer Dan Mullen. Frank should improve in 2019 and become more of a dependable leader in year two under Mullen.
Feleipe Franks just went 79 yards in 20 seconds.
Is that good? pic.twitter.com/C11n17U12A
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 15, 2017
8. Jarrett Guarantano, Tennessee
I think Guarantano is a good quarterback. I said what I said. Despite playing behind terrible pass protection in 2018, he still managed to set a school record for most passes without throwing an interception. That is undeniably impressive no matter how you try and spin that.
He did struggle at times last season as he failed to even pass for 2,000 yards in his 12 starts. However, it was a rebuilding year for the Volunteers, and everyone on the team struggled. 2019 will be a different story for Tennessee. The entire offense returns with the exception of one starter. Guarantano will be much, much better as a big, accurate pocket passer. Don’t be surprised if he ends up being the most improved player in the SEC this year.
During the 2018 season, @Vol_Football quarterback Jarrett Guarantano threw 166 consecutive passes without an interception – a Tennessee program record.
Guarantano finished the season with a 4:1 TD-to-INT ratio, the best by a UT starting quarterback since Peyton Manning in 1995. pic.twitter.com/iFMjGMTHM0
— Tennessee Stats & Info (@Vol_Stats) July 10, 2019
9. Terry Wilson, Kentucky
If you are angry with Wilson being ranked this low, just know that I’m actually higher on him than the national consensus. Many have him at the very bottom of the conference, which is absurd. Overall, I think Wilson is a great leader, a very good runner, and a winner. However, none of those three things make him a good passer.
Yes, he had a better completion percentage than Guarantano did and their passing yardage is similar, but Wilson’s stats are a bit inflated. Remember that a hefty portion of his passing stats are counted in with all of the shuttle passes Kentucky ran. When it comes down to it, Wilson just wasn’t good at passing the ball down the field and his pocket presence was lacking, to say the least. He was also unplayable against the likes of Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee.
Overall, I think Wilson will improve in his second season with Kentucky. He is the best running quarterback in the SEC, but this is his ceiling until he becomes more confident as a passer.
10. Ben Hicks, Arkansas
Like with Missouri and Kelly Bryant, the Razorbacks will also be starting a transfer at quarterback. While former Texas A&M starter Nick Starkel is also competing for the starting job, Hicks is widely seen as the favorite. Hicks actually played for Arkansas head coach Chad Morris at SMU. In that system, Hicks passed for 3,569 yards, a 33-12 TD-INT ratio, and a 58% comp. percentage.
Of course, SMU did not play in the SEC West so Hicks will have his hands full. However, this is an experienced quarterback who has no fear in slinging the ball around the field. Arkansas will be much improved in 2019, and I see a path where Hicks easily outplays this ranking.
For those of you that believe the misconception that Ben Hicks isn’t very mobile, here’s a highlight of him getting away from a salty TCU D line in 2017 to find his open receiver and make a big play. pic.twitter.com/Swz6vQlmja
— Woo Pig Dustino (@DustinoTheGreat) January 14, 2019
11. Bo Nix/Joey Gatewood, Auburn
This is the must-watch quarterback competition in the SEC this season. Both Gatewood and Nix were highly ranked coming out of college, and both are very athletic. While Gatewood did redshirt in 2018, both have no in-game experience at this level. Auburn is projected to field a good team once again.
No matter who starts will be playing underneath a ton of pressure as Auburn has one of the toughest schedules in the country. Gatewood has a much bigger body and a year of experience with this team, but Nix is widely seen as the savior of the program. I expect Gatewood to start game one, but there is a very, very slight chance that Nix takes the college football world by storm in 2019. He has the talent to do so.
Bo Nix showing the wow factor pic.twitter.com/lUvUBV6iSz
— Skye Underwood (@SkyeUnderwood) January 3, 2019
12. Riley Neal, Vanderbilt
Here is the third quarterback transfer on this list. Formerly of Ball State University, Neal is projected to be the starter after the departure of Kyle Shurmur. In 32 starts with his former school, Neal passed for 7,393 yards and a 46-25 TD-INT ratio.
He is incredibly experienced, and at 6’5, 218 pounds his body can stand the wear and tear of the SEC. The Commodore offense projects to be its best in Mason’s tenure this season, so Neal will have weapons to throw too. He will be a step down from Shurmur, but Neal will be fine for Vanderbilt.
13. Matt Corral, Ole Miss
Corral was ranked as the third best quarterback in his class out of high school, but he was redshirted last season as the Rebels had a reliable quarterback in Jordan Ta’amu. Corral is widely seen as the future of the program now and the clear-cut starter for 2019. However, I’m just not sure this season will go favorably for him. The receiving core is almost entirely gone, and the offensive line will have to be rebuilt. Only three total starters return on offense.
In summary, this is a rebuilding year for Ole Miss. They don’t expect to be all that great, therefore they will be patient with Corral while he struggles as most young quarterbacks do. I believe that Corral has elite-level talent, but he is a year or two away before it fully translates.
An elite group
An elite competition
80% of NFL QBs started here@corral_matt is a name of the future
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 27, 2017
14. Tommy Stevens, Mississippi State
I have the very, very sneaky suspension that Mississippi State is not going to be very good this season, and its quarterback play will be a huge reason why. Gone is Nick Fitzgerald. Keytaon Thompson returns, but he was just simply terrible in 2018. Enter our final transfer on this list: Tommy Stevens.
Stevens played underneath MSU head coach Joe Moorhead at Penn State, so it seems pretty plausible that he will win this competition. Either way, I just don’t see the passing game being very good. They disappointed big time in 2018, and without Fitzgerald’s leadership, I’m willing to bet they disappoint again.
By Kindsey Bernhard on ©July 14th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Texas A&M is the only school in the SEC that has confirmed they will be selling alcohol this upcoming season.
Could Tennessee be next?
Tennessee athletic director Philip Fulmer told 104.5 The Zone in Nashville that the school is having discussions about alcohol sales at Neyland Stadium for this upcoming season.
“We’re in the process,” Fulmer said. “Aramark is our vendor, and they’re the professionals. I can assure you our chancellor and president and everybody concerned is trying to make sure that our I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed from security, from making sure that we can manage the numbers of people and all that goes with it.
“We’re headed down that road, but I can’t sit here and tell you that we’re gonna do it … or exactly what we’re gonna do with it. We’ll know more later.”
If I am a Tennessee fan, I am hoping for sooner than later.
By Nick Roush on ©July 13th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Next week hundreds of media members from throughout the southeast will make the annual pilgrimage to Hoover for SEC Media Days.
SEC Media Days is filled with timeless traditions. You’ll always find Alabama fans in the lobby screaming, “ROLL TIDE!” Copious amounts of Sunkist and Dr. Pepper will be consumed. Just like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the media will pick Kentucky to finish near the bottom of the SEC East.
If you’re looking for proof of media bias, it’s not hard to find. CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee compared preseason predictions to final regular season standings. In 27 years the media has only correctly predicted the champion seven times. Since expansion to 14 teams in 2012, Kentucky has consistently outperformed the media’s predictions.
Over the last seven years, only Mississippi State has done a better job of debunking the preseason media poll. On average, UK finishes one spot higher than predicted for a total of +7 over the last seven years.
The media has either been right or has undervalued the Wildcats every year since expansion. The real jump came over the last two years. They out-preformed their preseason pick by two games in 2017 and three in 2018 — when they won 10 games and the Citrus Bowl.
When you’re picked at the bottom, there’s really only one direction you can go, up. Despite last season’s success, the SEC Media will still likely select UK to finish at best fourth in the East.
You will be shocked to learn which two programs are overhyped more than any other: Tennessee and South Carolina. Visit CBS Sports to see where each team finished compared to their preseason projection.
Kentucky only has four away games on the schedule this season; which has the best road trip potential? As someone who loves football road trips and this great region we call the South, I’m here to help. I ranked the four away games based on five factors on a scale of 1-5 (1 being worst, 5 being best):
- Proximity to Lexington
- Stadium/tailgating scene
- Food/drink scene
- Intangibles (the one thing that makes that place unique to any other)
Here are the candidates:
- Mississippi State (September 21, Starkville, MS)
- South Carolina (September 28, Columbia, SC)
- Georgia (October 19, Athens, GA)
- Vanderbilt (November 16, Nashville, TN)
Let’s break them down one by one, starting with…
Mississippi State (September 21, Starkville, Mississippi)
Proximity to Lexington: 2
Starkville is 492 miles, or 7 hours 49 minutes from Lexington. Trust me when I say there’s middle of nowhere, and then there’s middle of nowhere Mississippi.
Last year, Mississippi State went 8-5 under first-year head coach Joe Moorhead, formerly the offensive coordinator at Penn State. This year, the Bulldogs have to replace quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and eight starters on defense. That being said, this is Kentucky’s first road game of the season, those cowbells are loud, and Benny Snell won’t be around to score four touchdowns.
Stadium/tailgating scene: 3
There’s nothing to do in Starkville other than go to the game, therefore Davis Wade Stadium is always rocking. The 61,000-seat stadium underwent a $75 million expansion/renovation in 2014 and is by far the nicest thing in Starkville. It’ll be CLANGA CLANGA with cowbells, so bring your earplugs.
Food/drink scene: 1
By now, you should know how KSR feels about Starkville. It sucks. I really tried to give it a fair shake back in 2015, but it lived up to low expectations. If you do make the trip, there are some okay bars in the Cotton District and Little Dooey has good BBQ.
You can stay on I-40 and go to Tunica instead? Nashville is in the middle? I got nothing.
Total score for Starkville: 9.5/25
South Carolina (September 28, Columbia, South Carolina)
Proximity to Lexington: 3
Columbia is 431 miles from Lexington, or a 6 hour 39 minute drive via Google Maps. That’s not bad, especially since that route takes you through Asheville, one of the coolest towns in the Southeast. I highly recommend splitting the drive up on the way down or back to spend some time exploring Asheville, specifically it’s enviable beer scene.
This one’s going to be tough. After losing to Kentucky five years in a row, the Gamecocks are beyond ready to beat the Cats, and they’re led by senior quarterback Jake Bentley (although he had a rocky junior season). I think Kentucky’s a better team than South Carolina, but knowing how badly they want this win and how crazy Williams-Brice Stadium will be, I’m calling it a toss up.
Stadium/tailgating scene: 4
I’ve yet to experience it for myself, but I hear Williams-Brice Stadium is one of the best environments in the SEC, which is saying something. Even though South Carolina announced earlier this week they’re not allowing alcohol sales outside of premium areas yet, I guarantee you Gamecock fans will prepare in the parking lot and have that place rocking at kickoff.
Food/drink scene: 4
I’ve only been for basketball games, but Columbia’s a fun town with plenty of good restaurants, bars, and palmettos. Like all South Carolinians, people in Columbia love to eat and drink to excess, so if you go, good times will be had.
Really want to make a long weekend out of it? Stop in Asheville on the way down, and after watching the Cats extend the winning streak to six in Columbia, continue on to Charleston for Sunday and Monday. The Holy City is only two hours away from Columbia and well worth the extra miles. Gospel brunch at Hall’s Chophouse is a must.
Total score for Columbia: 17.5/25
Georgia (October 19, Athens, Georgia)
Proximity to Lexington: 3
There are two routes to Athens from Lexington; I suggest taking the one that goes through the western tip of North Carolina so you can avoid Atlanta traffic. Thank me later.
As much as I love Kentucky Football, there’s no denying that Georgia’s on another level right now. The Bulldogs are the clear favorites for the SEC East and legitimate national title contenders. They return 13 starters from last year’s team, including Jake Fromm, who’s got a heck of an offensive line protecting him. Kentucky’s coaching staff has made it clear that beating Georgia is the next step for the program to take, but I just don’t see it happening in Athens.
Stadium/tailgating scene: 5
I love everything about Athens, Georgia. It is the perfect college town, with wonderful bars and restaurants, and tailgates rolling across the city from dawn ’til dusk. Sanford Stadium is big and beautiful, with a capacity of 92,746. From start to finish, Georgia does game days right, making a game between the hedges a must on any SEC bucket list.
Food/drink scene: 5
If you couldn’t tell, Athens is right up there with Oxford in my pantheon of favorite college towns. If you go, take a walk around town in the morning to see it come alive for game day and grab a Tropicália IPA at Trappeze Pub, one of my routine stops whenever I’m lucky enough to visit.
Atlanta is an hour and a half away (although on game day, double that), but Athens is so cool I wouldn’t bother.
Total score for Athens: 18/25
Vanderbilt (November 16, Nashville, Tennessee)
Proximity to Lexington: 5
Nashville is an easy three-hour drive (215 miles) from Lexington, just enough time to catch up on the radio show and one of KSR’s many fine podcasts.
The ‘Dores lost quarterback Kyle Shurmur but return running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb. Vandy has slowly and steadily improved under Derek Mason, but Kentucky’s won the last three. I don’t see that changing this year.
Stadium/tailgating scene: 1
There is nothing special about Vanderbilt Stadium; in fact, according to a study by The Tennessean, Vanderbilt fans are embarrassed by it. Vandy’s making some minor renovations this year, replacing the scoreboard and improving the restrooms, but that’s putting lipstick on a pig — a crumbling pig, at that. The debate rages on over whether to do major renovations or just build a new stadium (where?), but one thing is for certain: Kentucky fans will fill the empty seats.
Food/drink scene: 5
You don’t come to Nashville to watch the Vandy game, you come to Nashville to watch the Vandy game and party (for more, consult my flowcharts from March). That being said, I consider Nashville a party town, not a college town, so if you’re looking for a true college town experience, I’d go with Athens here.
The Titans are on bye that week, but the Predators play the Blackhawks Saturday night, which could make for a fun double header if the game’s early. Or, you can go to Top Golf, do a brewery tour, or just get drunk on Broadway.
Total score for Nashville: 20/25
The best UK Football road trip to make this fall, per my calculations…
1. Vanderbilt (November 16, Nashville, TN): 20/25
2. Georgia (October 19, Athens, GA): 18/25
3. South Carolina (September 28, Columbia, SC): 17.5/25
4. Mississippi State (September 21, Starkville, MS): 9.5/25
Basically, anywhere other than Starkville!
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©July 09th, 2019 @ 7:00pm
If you’re headed to Columbia for this year’s Kentucky vs. South Carolina game, I’ve got some bad news for you: you still won’t be able to purchase alcohol unless you’re in a premium area.
Today, South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner said the school will not expand alcohol sales at football games this year, but only because they don’t have the logistics in place yet.
“We’re not there yet. Logistically, a lot of things have to happen,” Tanner said during a radio interview, via the Post and Courier. “There’s a lot of work to be done. Probably seven of the 14 schools in the SEC are in the same spot that we’re in right now.”
Tanner didn’t rule out allowing alcohol sales at basketball or baseball games, and with major renovations on tap for Williams-Brice Stadium in 2020, a change seems inevitable; however, for now, South Carolina joins Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia in keeping the current rules in place. Since the SEC lifted its alcohol ban this spring, only Texas A&M has pledged to sell beer and wine to the general public. Like most SEC schools, Kentucky is still considering the issue.
Debate in the comments in 3…2…1…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 21st, 2019 @ 11:00am
Tennessee’s Jordan Bone torched the Cats on the court last season, but even the most diehard Kentucky fan will be moved by the video I’m about to share.
Bone, who gave up his final year of eligibility to remain in the draft, was selected 57th by the Detroit Pistons last night, but for a while there, it looked like he might not got picked, to the point that someone at his draft party started to give a concession speech on his behalf. The crowd’s reaction when they saw Bone’s name pop up on the giant screen behind him is incredible:
— NextUpRecruits (@NextUpRecruits) June 21, 2019
What a moment. Bone may have worn that puke inside of a pumpkin orange, but he’s got my support.
Here is my final big board for this year’s NBA Draft which takes place tonight. This new big board displays just how much some prospects have fallen or risen by the “+” or “-“ next to their name. Also, I’ve added “tiers” to this board to showcase the different levels of talent I believe exist in this draft. Note: the titles of each tier are not predictions of how good these players will be in their rookie season. Rather, they are how good I think each player will be for the majority of their careers. Enjoy!
Tier 1 – Perennial All-Stars
1. Zion Williamson, Forward, Duke
I’m all in on Mr. Williamson. Yes, we all know he is a hulking behemoth who can jump out of a gym. However, he is so much more than that. Combining that athleticism with his endless motor and defensive potential easily makes him the best overall prospect since Anthony Davis in 2012.
Zion Williamson's 62 dunks at Duke!
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 14, 2019
As far as weaknesses, his mechanics on his jump shot are still funky and he doesn’t get much lift underneath him when he shoots. He also needs to add a few more offensive moves into his game besides that Julius Randle spin move (which is very effective). But these are still nitpicks. Williamson actually shot better than his other talented teammates last season and his current offensive moves are borderline unguardable. Who knows just how good Zion will be, but he is a once in every decade type of talent. He is the prize of this draft.
Tier 2 – Good NBA Players, All-Star Potential
2. Ja Morant, Point Guard, Murray State
I think there is a clear second-best player in this draft, and that title belongs to the best college player from the state of Kentucky last season. Morant is an uber-athletic point guard and an elite playmaker. “Skinny John Wall” is actually a relatively close comparison. He is in the mold of De’Aaron Fox from a body-build perspective, but I think his game is closer to that of a healthy Wall due to Morant’s flashiness.
Ja Morant comparison breakdown from today’s NBA Draft Combine show. pic.twitter.com/O8OLfdnth9
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) May 17, 2019
While that is certainly high praise, Morant is not the generational prospect that Williamson is. His weaknesses are much more apparent. Morant needs to refine his jump shot as well, but more importantly, he is just straight-up bad on defense. This will make him a liability against the several great point guards in the league today. Despite those critiques I do think his complete offensive game makes him a guaranteed non-bust at the next level.
3. Jarrett Culver, Shooting Guard, Texas Tech
Many say this is a three-player draft. I just don’t see it that way. Many scouts have Duke’s R.J. Barrett here and for good reason. However, I think the more complete player is Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver.
Jarrett Culver's offensive skill set is real enticing, man. pic.twitter.com/9xeVjSNJ6e
— ? (@LifeOfABruin) May 15, 2019
Culver is easily the better shooter, arguably the better playmaker, has a better personality on the court, and is the better defender. While I’m not sure just how high his “ceiling” really is, I think his bust potential is smaller than any other player on this board. Culver also carried the Red Raiders all the way to the championship even while being the guy every team concentrated on. His role will be dependent on the team that is smart enough to pick him, but Culver is going to be good at whatever is asked of him at the next level.
4. R.J. Barrett, Guard/Forward, Duke
Before the college basketball season started, I had Barrett as the best player in this draft. I still really like his overall talent level despite him falling to No. 4 on this list. I actually think his greatest attribute is his play-making ability. Barrett brought the ball up the court many times for Duke and made some outstanding passes for his teammates. He has the ability to make those around him better.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) May 15, 2019
However, there are two big questions facing him. The first being his three-point shooting. For a guy that shoots a lot of 3’s, he is not very good at it which is a problem in a league that has made a shift to that style of play. But the biggest problem I have with Barrett is his inclination to play hero-ball at the end of games. Barrett can become an all-star in this league. However, if he doesn’t fix his shot and that over-alpha mentality then he could be someone that no one likes to play with.
5. Brandon Clarke, Power Forward, Gonzaga
I have zero idea why more scouts do not have this guy higher on their boards. Clarke was easily the most underrated player in college basketball this season. Not only did he average 17 ppg and 8.6 rpg, but he also was fifth in the entire sport in blocks per game (3.8). He is an incredibly explosive athlete who is already an elite-level defender because of his timing in blocking shots.
The only thing holding him back from being higher on my board is that his midrange jumper needs more work for a guy that is just 6’8. Its “alright” right now, but it needs more consistency in order to make him a good offensive player at the next level. Worst-case scenario I see him being a Kenneth Faried-type at the in the league due to his high motor and competitiveness, but he has the potential to be much, much better than that.
By Nick Roush on ©June 13th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
College football’s talking season makes people say some crazy things. Like almost every year, college football prognosticators are underestimating the Kentucky Wildcats.
Brad Crawford of 247 Sports predicted the win-loss record for every single team in the SEC. After going through the schedule, Crawford believes UK finish tied for fifth in the SEC East at 6-6.
If Kentucky manages to win 10 games this fall, go ahead and give Mark Stoops national coach of the year. After heavy personnel losses, I’m projecting this team will be closer to six wins than 10. My guess here is that the Wildcats have their 5-year winning streak vs. South Carolina snapped in Columbia and a win over Arkansas on Oct. 12 equals their first SEC victory. That means Kentucky gets to a bowl game with wins over Vandy, UT Martin and Louisville to close out the regular season.
Few around the BBN believe the Cats will only win six games. The biggest sticking point in this prediction is a “guess” that South Carolina will finally beat Kentucky. You don’t need to guess to see that before UK travels to Columbia, the Cocks be coming off back-to-back losses to Alabama and at Missouri. Winning on the road in the SEC is never easy, but this UK team will not be easily intimidated by Williams-Brice Stadium
Preseason predictions will always favor the name brands, like Tennessee and Florida, and known commodities, like Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant. If Kentucky debunks this prediction, it will with players who are widely unknown or underestimated by the rest of the SEC.
“Nobody thought we had a solid team last year but I did,” Stoops said this spring. “And I feel the same way going into this year. Our guys in the program now are further along because they’ve seen what it takes. They’ve seen a good model. “
The first domino has fallen.
Texas A&M announced Thursday Kyle Field will offer beer and win to the general public beginning in 2019. A&M is the first school to approve stadium-wide alcohol sales since the prohibition was lifted by the league at the SEC Spring Meetings.
“This is another way we are enhancing the amenities at Kyle Field,” interim Director of Athletics R.C. Slocum said in a university release. “We are extending the availability of alcohol beyond the premium areas which have had this option for many years. Fans, 21 and older, will have the option to purchase alcohol, regardless of seating area.”
Kyle Field will set last call for the end of the third quarter.
A move applauded by many, it’s quite a 180-degree turn from the school’s chancellor, who said this back in 2015.
By Nick Roush on ©June 11th, 2019 @ 2:45pm
A former Kentucky Wildcat will be an SEC foe in the near future.
Offensive lineman Sebastien Dolcine announced this afternoon he will play for Mississippi State in the 2020 football season.
Dolcine was the No. 31 offensive guard in the 2017 recruiting class when he committed to UK out of Miramar High School in Hollywood, Fl. A redshirt in his first season in Lexington, he chose to pursue other options after the 2018 season. Dolcine will be a member of the Bulldogs’ 2020 recruiting class after he completes a season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College.
“Hail State has a great program and the thing is, it is low key without any distractions,” Dolcine told 247 Sports. “They care about winning games and academics and that’s it. I don’t care for all of the flashy stuff and I just want to win games and they have the same mindset as I do.
“At first I was thinking differently but when Mississippi State came through and talked to me, I thought why not go back to the SEC and make a name for myself.”
Dolcine is not lying. There are ZERO distractions in Starkville, Mississippi.
By Drew Franklin on ©June 06th, 2019 @ 10:15am
Bad news for all of you Vanderbilt basketball fans. Both of you.
Kenyon Martin Jr., the son of former NBA star Kenyon Martin, obviously, hence the Jr. at the end of his name, backed out of his commitment to Vandy this week, per Evan Daniels. Martin Jr. originally committed to Jerry Stackhouse and the ‘Dores a month ago, then signed his Letter of Intent to make it official, but has since decided he will pursue professional options overseas instead.
K-Mart leaves Vanderbilt without a Blue Light Special in its 2019 recruiting class. The 6-foot-6, 195-pound power forward was all set to join Scottie Pippen’s son and a handful of others in Stackhouse’s first recruiting haul, which ranks 12th in the SEC, prior to this news.
He has not signed a pro deal yet.
The SEC is trading Shreveport for Las Vegas. Best upgrade ever? Best upgrade ever.
Brett McMurphy reports the SEC’s bowl tie-ins will change for six years beginning in the 2020 season. The SEC will share the Las Vegas and Belk Bowls with the Big Ten. The Las Vegas opponent will be from the Pac-12 , while the Belk Bowl hosts an ACC opponent.
While one lucky fanbase will get the chance to go to the desert in December, nobody will be unlucky enough to go to Shreveport for Christmas. The SEC is cutting ties with the Independence bowl to create a new relationship with the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa.
There were a few years UK danced dangerously close to an Independence Bowl berth. Luckily, Lamar Jackson fumbled away those fears in 2016.
Unfortunately, these tie-ins will not go into effect until after the 2020 season. The Las Vegas Bowl is held on the same Saturday as the CBS Sports Classic. If the football team somehow slipped up and fell into the seven-win slot, the Big Blue Nation could have had two basketball games and a bowl in a four-day span this December. Instead, UK fans will just have to focus on the December 28th College Football Playoff Semifinal.