Adam joins to talk about South Carolina’s loss to Auburn and we run down the rest of the top 25 matchups for the weekend.
It usually takes fours games of a season to learn enough about a team to be able to form an accurate ranking. Now let’s look at the SEC from top to bottom, starting with the defending national champions and 4-0 Alabama Crimson Tide.
- Alabama (4-0, 1-0) – This is the most obvious choice in the entire list. The Crimson Tide rank first in the SEC in scoring offense and defense, putting up 39.5 points per game, while only allowing 9.8 points. They showcase the top running back tandem in the conference lead by 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and sophomore sensation Trent Richardson. Also, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, quarterback Greg McElroy simply doesn’t lose. He has not lost a game he has started since the eighth grade.
- Auburn (4-0, 2-0) – Led by transfer quarterback and former Florida Gator Cam Newton, Auburn has the SEC’s top rushing offense, averaging 278 yards per game. Newton leads the team, and conference in rushing with 485 yards in just four games. And while he is not lighting up the passing game in yardage, he does have the highest pass efficiency, with a 182.5.
- Arkansas (3-1, 1-1) – Head and shoulders above all other SEC pass offenses, Arkansas is led by one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, Ryan Mallett. Mallett is seen by many scouts as a dominant force and easy first round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He leads the conference in passing offense, averaging 359.5 yards per game, which is over 120 yards more than Kentucky’s Mike Hartline who sits in second. Arkansas pushed Alabama to the limit last Saturday, but Mallett’s three interceptions kept the Razorbacks from closing it out.
- Florida (4-0, 2-0) – The story with the Gators’ season centers on quarterback John Brantley replacing the legend of Tim Tebow. Unfortunately for him, he is not sitting at the top of statistics like Tebow did. Brantley is currently eighth in the SEC in passing yards with 700, and tied for fourth with six passing touchdowns. But another quarterback story has emerged, that of freshman Trey Burton, who was responsible for six touchdowns against Kentucky this weekend. Burton also played some receiver, where he had five catches for 37 yards and one of his touchdowns.
- LSU (4-0, 2-0) – While they have not been impressive in the eyeball test, LSU has established a setting in the top five teams of the SEC with quality wins and a stout defensive performance. The Bayou Bengals are ranked second in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing only 12 points per game and first in total defense, allowing just 254 yards per game. They may not be dazzling, but wins over North Carolina, Mississippi State and West Virginia cannot be overlooked. Their road to Atlanta (or back to Atlanta if you count the game with North Carolina) only gets tougher as they travel to Florida and Auburn, and face Alabama at home before the trip to rival Arkansas to close out the regular season.
- South Carolina (3-1, 1-1) – The Gamecocks have been impressive for the first 15 quarters of the season. However, the fourth quarter in Auburn was, in a word, embarrassing. Junior quarterback Stephen Garcia lost two fumbles and was replaced by freshman Connor Shaw. Shaw then proceeded to throw two interceptions, both of which were caused by his inexperience in the SEC. Inconsistency in the offensive line didn’t help matters either. However, the bright side for Carolina is their young core of talent, including the freshman phenom running back Marcus Lattimore and the SEC’s leader in receptions and receiving yards Alshon Jeffery. If they can toughen up in the trenches, the Gamecocks could push Florida for the top spot in the East.
- Kentucky (3-1, 0-1) – Even after a 48-14 thrashing by Florida, Kentucky sits high in my power rankings. They have two of the more dynamic offensive players in the SEC, running back Derrick Locke and wide receiver Randall Cobb. The duo combines for 586 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, as well as Cobb’s 227 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. While Kentucky hasn’t played a particularly difficult schedule, they have taken down rival Louisville and beat opponents Western Kentucky and Akron by a combined score of 110-38.
- Mississippi State (2-2, 1-2) – Dan Mullen’s Bulldogs are a little better than most people, including myself expected. They took Auburn to the end in week two, but fell short by just three points. This was followed with another loss, this time at the hands of LSU. However, they came roaring back with a 24-12 win over the Georgia Bulldogs. This win gives them a few power points in my book. While they won’t compete for the West crown, they will play spoiler down the road. Don’t be surprised by a few upsets in conference play from the Bulldogs.
- Georgia (1-3, 0-3) – The loss of wide receiver AJ Green has hurt Georgia. We can all agree on that. However, I am a firm believer that losing one player (except a veteran, proven winner at quarterback) cannot cost a good team three wins. Losing a skill position player shouldn’t be a reason for losses. By that, I mean Georgia is not a very good team. They newly inputted 3-4 defense has been serviceable, but nothing stellar. Quarterback Aaron Murray has had a good season, but can’t do everything on his own. The rushing offense, the bread and butter of Georgia every year, is tenth in the SEC with only 124.2 yards per game. Georgia, once thought to compete for the SEC East, has dropped to having to fight for a bowl bid.
- Vanderbilt (1-2, 1-1) – The Commodores are an improved team. But the loss of Coach Bobby Johnson didn’t help the progression, from a leadership perspective. Vanderbilt will fight for a bowl bid with Tennessee and Georgia, and could make it on the shoulders of running back Warren Norman. He is tenth in the SEC in rushing, averaging just 75 yards per game. However, he is averaging 6.8 yards per carry. If Vanderbilt can stay stern on defense and avoid having to air the ball out, Norman could lead them to a 7 win season and a respectable bowl bid.
- Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) – We all expected Tennessee to be un-Tennessee-like in 2010. But not one expected this. The Volunteers hosted Pac-10 Elite Oregon in week two and held up with them for the first half. But the second half featured an offensive “nuke” by Oregon, scoring 35 unanswered points (45 going back to the end of the first half). However, the story of the season was what happened this past weekend in the disappointing win, if there is such a thing, over UAB. It took overtime and a miracle catch for Tennessee to drop the Blazers, a team that should have been demolished in Neyland Stadium. Tennessee will be lucky to pull out a six win season in 2010, as they still have trips to LSU, Georgia and South Carolina, as well as home games with Alabama and Kentucky, all which I think they will lose.
- Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1) – This one was a little simple for me too. The bottom line is this: you can’t be an SEC powerhouse and lose to an FCS opponent, Jacksonville State and yearly bottom-of-the-barrel SEC team Vanderbilt AT HOME. As surprising as the loss to Jacksonville State was, the Vanderbilt loss was officially a blowout (loss by 14 or more points). Because of this, the Rebels have dropped to dead last. Even the addition of expected Heisman contender quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, Ole Miss hasn’t proven a single thing to me. The two wins over Tulane and Fresno State mean next to nothing when compared to the two glaring home losses.
The world lost a truly great man yesterday. Denver Broncos wide receiver and former South Carolina Gamecock Kenny McKinley was found deceased in his Denver home Monday night.
I intentionally waited a few days to post this due to the fact that I felt my mind and judgment was clouded initially. This was a personally tragic moment for me. I want to put all journalistic unbiased attitudes aside and express my emotions on this unfortunate event.
As I was lying in bed last night drifting off to sleep, I received the startling news of McKinley’s untimely death.
I’ve spent my entire life as a Gamecock fan. I spent my college years studying at South Carolina, as did my father and my older brother. My time was gratefully shared with the school’s all-time receiving leader, Kenny McKinley.
I was able to witness all 207 of his memorable receptions and every single one of his 2,781 yards he gave the Gamecocks. I had the privilege of seeing a man with such passion that he made me feel like I was on the field with him for every play.
McKinley quickly became my favorite Gamecock. I felt a connection with him. He made me see myself on the field. He was an undersized player, often times overlooked by his opponents. He was never really seen as the dominant receiver that teams had to worry about. He came in a virtual nobody, just another player trying to play for South Carolina. But he had risen through all adversity to become the one man Head Coach Steve Spurrier can call “the greatest receiver” he had ever seen.
Kenny’s determination to be the best at what he did was unmatched and he played with more heart and love for the game than any player I have ever seen. He would put his body on the line ever week, but showed his grit and toughness by never giving up, no matter what injuries would come his way.
Of the many tragedies that happen in the sports world each and every year, this one has hit me harder than any in the past. Gamecocks, Broncos and every other sports fan should remember that even though his life came to an abrupt and shocking halt, Kenny McKinley was an amazing athlete and man. He was every coach’s dream player, and that’s how we should all remember him.
We talk about the death of Kenny McKinley, reactions from the Clemson/Auburn game, a preview to the South Carolina/Auburn game, and the NCAA Top 25.
Click here for the Podcast.
The fans of the South Carolina Gamecocks went to sleep last night just learning that its greatest wide receiver, Kenny McKinley, was dead. Fans woke up this morning, realizing that it was true.
McKinley, 23, was found dead in his Denver apartment yesterday afternoon, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. McKinley leaves behind a young son.
McKinley was drafted in the 5th round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He saw playing time in 8 games on special teams for the Broncos, before a knee injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season.
He entered this season hoping to get time on offense, but that ended when another knee injury forced him to be placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his season. This time, the injury was considered career threatening.
McKinley was South Carolina’s all time leader in receptions and receiving yards, among many of the records he held for the Gamecocks.
He was the one constant through all of Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina teams. There might be a flashier receiver, but McKinley was old reliable during his four years.
The last known appearance McKinley made was during the Georgia game, when he received a standing ovation from the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium.
It is truly a sad day, but it also is a day of celebration. Today we celebrate the life of a guy who energized crowds, and despite not necessarily being the most athletic receiver, he was always the best.
This also serves as a reminder that life is never a guarantee. A friend might be fine on the outside, but is struggling on the inside. That seemed to be the case with McKinley, who was all smiles when he was in town two weeks ago, according to former teammates, coaches (including Spurrier), and South Carolina Athletics Director Eric Hyman.
The best way to honor McKinley, let’s all go play, watch, coach, observe, or however you celebrate football. It’s very cliche, but running into Auburn to play the Tigers in the Gamecocks’ biggest test of the season is the best medicine.
The South Carolina Gamecocks expected a fight against the Paladins of Furman. But they didn’t expect the strong showing they got.
Furman came into Williams-Brice Stadium as a 33 point underdog ready to follow in the footsteps of Jacksonville State and defeat a team from the mighty Southeastern Conference. Luckily for the Gamecocks, they were able to fend them off for a 38-19 victory.
South Carolina walked into this game after an immensely critical win over division rival Georgia. However, they weren’t able to carry that emotion over into this week. On the other hand, Furman showed up ready to fight and unwilling to let their foot off the gas.
Each time South Carolina would seem to get a comfortable lead and put their backup players in, Furman seemed to fight harder, making things rough for the Gamecocks.
Things started nicely for the Head Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier as he had a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. The first touchdown was a 15 yard strike to Tori Gurley from quarterback Stephen Garcia. The second was a four yard touchdown run by the phenomenal freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
After a pair of Furman field goals and a touchdown run by senior Gamecock running back Brian Maddox, the scoring continued with another touchdown pass from Stephen Garcia, this time in the third quarter to wide receiver DL Moore.
Garcia finished tonight’s game completing 13 of 20 passes for 150 yard and two touchdowns. Unfortunately for him he also threw two costly interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown by Furman freshman defensive end Shawn Boone in the third quarter.
Furman continued to scare South Carolina and its fans in the fourth quarter as running back Tersoo Uhaa completed a 72-yard pass to wide receiver Adam Mims. After missing the two-point conversion attempt, the score stood at 31-19 in Carolina’s favor.
Fans at Williams-Brice let out a sigh of relief as sophomore cornerback Stephon Gilmore returned an interception 80 yards for a touchdown to seal 38-19 victory.
The young talent shined through once again for South Carolina, only more quietly this time around. Marcus Lattimore finished the game with 97 yards rushing and his first quarter touchdown on 19 carries, while sophomore wide receiving Alshon Jeffery finished with five receptions for 97 yards.
While South Carolina didn’t put on the dominant performance fans were hoping for, they should all remember that even though Furman is an FCS program, they are one of the better ones and still a very talented team. A bigger win would have been nice, but don’t forget that it’s still a ‘W.’
In the win two players reached career milestones: Alshon Jeffery eclipsed one thousand receiving yards for his career and senior placekicker Spencer Lanning made a career long 51-yard field goal.
Furman returns home to Greenville, SC with a 1-1 record play in-state rival The Citadel in a crucial Southern Conference clash.
The 3-0 (1-0) Gamecocks will spend the next week preparing for their second SEC matchup and first road trip of the 2010 season as they travel to Auburn to face the Tigers.
Auburn, lead by transfer quarterback and former Florida Gator Cam Newton, is currently ranked #16 in the AP Poll and should pose as the biggest threat to date for the Gamecocks. The Tigers also defeated the other half of the Palmetto State Rivalry, the Clemson Tigers at home 27-24 in overtime.
After the South Carolina Gamecocks’ season-opener against Southern Miss, it appeared quarterback Stephen Garcia was taking that next step as a game manager, solid passer, and preventing turnovers.
Fast forward to after South Carolina’s game against Furman, and game manager is the only credit that Garcia deserves.
After a mediocre showing in the final three quarters of the game against Georgia, the goal against the Paladins was to gain momentum and confidence heading into a huge SEC game at Auburn.
However, in the Gamecocks 38-19 victory over Furman, this was hardly the case. Garcia had his worst game in the previous two seasons, throwing two interceptions and making some questionable decisions in the pocket.
It is just a continuation of the problem that has surrounded Garcia in his tenure as South Carolina’s starting quarterback: consistency. He can never seem to put two games back-to-back.
Garcia, if he wants to prove himself as one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks, he is going to have to pick up the pace. With all of his talents, Garcia should shine against a smaller school like Furman.
Instead, it is a game with two interceptions, under intense pressure, and poor decision making. Not exactly what you want if you are Steve Spurrier heading into Auburn.
Spurrier admitted in his press conference that he might have to find a little more playing time for freshman Connor Shaw. Some of the pressure will also continue to be removed from Garcia with the emergence of freshman running back Marcus Lattimore.
What Spurrier wants is an effective game manager. Some of his best seasons at Florida came with game managing quarterbacks such as Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews, and even Jesse Palmer. Also, some of Spurrier’s best offenses had great running games.
Everything is there for Garcia to be a successful quarterback. As it has been during his entire time at South Carolina, it all comes down to how much effort and work Garcia wants to put in, to take that next step.
The snap from center is in your hands Garcia, what are you going to do now?