SEC Report:

Top Gator to critics: Butt out

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, September 4, 2014
In this Nov. 2, 2013, file photo, Florida head coach Will Muschamp holds his hand on his head as he watches the final moments of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. Muschamp came to his own defense Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, ripping critics who questioned his decision to reinstate three players suspended for a season opener that lasted just 10 seconds. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
In this Nov. 2, 2013, file photo, Florida head coach Will Muschamp holds his hand on his head as he watches the final moments of an NCAA college football game against Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. Muschamp came to his own defense Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, ripping critics who questioned his decision to reinstate three players suspended for a season opener that lasted just 10 seconds. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Florida Coach Will Muschamp offered a strong defense in his decision to have defensive tackles Darious Cummings and Jay-nard Bostwick and wide receiver Demarcus Robinson reinstated to play in Saturday's game against Eastern Michigan after they were suspended last week for the scheduled opener against Idaho.

The Florida-Idaho game was suspended after the opening kickoff because of severe weather that included numerous lightning strikes and heavy rains that turned Florida Field into a swamp.



1;(1);same;Alabama;1-0;QB Sims has solid starting debut

2;(2);same;Auburn;1-0;Jeremy Johnson could start for most teams

3;(3);same;Georgia;1-0;Gurley runs all over Clemson

4;(10);up;Texas A&M;1-0;Hill breaks Manziel’s passing yards record in first start

5;(5);same;LSU;1-0;Rallies from 17-point deficit to beat Wisconsin

6;(7);up;Ole Miss;1-0;Big fourth quarter clinches victory over Boise State

7;(6);down;Florida;0-0;Only got in kickoff vs. Idaho before weather suspended game

8;(8);same;Missouri;1-0;Pinkel playing his old Toledo team on the road

9;(9);same;Mississippi State;1-0;No problems in pounding Southern Miss

10;(10);down;South Carolina;0-1;Looked defenseless against the Aggies

11;(11);same;Tennessee;1-0;Taking on Arkansas State after rolling over Utah State

12;(12)same;Arkansas;0-1;Played one good half at Auburn

13;(14);up;Kentucky;1-0;Will equal last year’s victory total if it beats Ohio

14;(14);down;Vanderbilt;0-1;Derek Mason era starts with a dud in loss to Temple


21 True freshmen Tennessee played against Utah State

99 Offensive plays for Texas A&M at South Carolina

211 Rushing yards for Georgia in the fourth quarter against Clemson


No. 15 Ole Miss at Vanderbilt

3:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN

• How can this be the game of the week? Easy. It’s the only SEC game of the week. The conference’s other 12 teams are playing opponents from the Southland, Sun Belt, Mid-American, American Athletic, Mountain West and Conference USA. So Ole Miss-Vandy has to be the marquee matchup, crazy as that sounds. The Commodores will be looking to bounce back from a 37-7 loss to Temple in which they committed seven turnovers. Ole Miss should be feeling confident after pulling away in the fourth quarter to beat Boise State 35-14.

"It's not just about suspending players for games," Muschamp said Wednesday on the SEC coaches' teleconference. "There's a lot of things that go into discipline. It's about altering and changing behavior, which we've done.

"I think our discipline speaks for itself and how we've handled our football team, OK? If it was about suspension, you'd never have an issue. Right?

"At the the end of the day, it's more than that. There's a lot of things that go into those situations, a lot more than people know. And it's very frustrating for me as a coach ... to have someone being critical and you don't even have all the information."

Of course, media members and the public don't have all the information about what disciplinary action the suspended players faced because Muschamp hasn't provided details.

"At the end of the day, I make the decisions in this program," Muschamp said. "I handle the discipline in this program, and it's been handled very well."

See you in 2017

Florida said Wednesday that last week's game against Idaho, which was suspended by severe weather, won't be played this season.

Florida will provide ticket refunds, with most of those costs covered by insurance, meaning the Gators won't lose the revenue from a home game.

Florida and Idaho wanted to keep their open date Oct. 25 -- when the Gators and Vandals will be in the midst of conference play -- rather than play 10 consecutive games without a break.

Rocket return

Missouri Coach Gary Pinkel, who had a 73-37-3 record in his 10-year tenure at Toledo (1991-2000), agreed to a home-and-home series with the Rockets when Missouri was still in the Big 12. The return game for the No. 24 Tigers is a noon kickoff Saturday.

"They asked me at Toledo if I'd do it," Pinkel said of the rare visit by a Power 5 conference team to a Mid-America Conference opponent. "I thought I'd be gone, that I'd be fired by now. Just kidding. Not true."

Missouri beat Toledo 38-23 last Sept. 7 in Columbia, Mo.

"I love Toledo," Pinkel said. "I spent 10 years of my life there. We had a lot of success. To me it was OK down the road to do home and away. It's a big challenge, but it's a good game for us."

Hill makes name

Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill thrust himself into the Heisman Trophy race when he passed for a school-record 511 yards in the Aggies' 52-28 victory at South Carolina. He broke the record of 464 yards against Alabama last season by Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman winner, while completing 44 of 60 passes.

Manziel, a rookie with the Cleveland Browns who was nicknamed "Johnny Football," referred to Hill as "Kenny Football" after the South Carolina game, but Hill said he doesn't want to copy Manziel.

There is no shortage of other nickname suggestions.

"I heard there's Kenny Trill, Kenny Thrill, King of the Hill, Kenny Football, Kenny Chill, Kenny Touchdown," Hill told reporters this week. "I mean, there's too many of them."

Hill said his favorite nickname is "Kenny Trill." The word "trill" is often used in rap lyrics when referring to something that is true and real.

Fournette struggles

LSU freshman tailback Leonard Fournette didn't come close to living up to expectations in his college debut.

Fournette, considered by many to be the best true freshman in the county, was held to 18 rushing yards on eight attempts in the Tigers' 28-24 victory against Wisconsin. He also returned five kickoffs for 118 yards.

Still, Coach Les Miles praised Fournette.

"I liked Leonard Fournette's contributions," Miles said in his postgame news conference. "He did just what we asked him to do, ran hard, returned a couple of kicks."

Senior tailbacks Kenny Hilliard and Terrence McGee give LSU a strong running game regardless of what Fournette does, but they're helping him along.

"That's how it was for us when we were coming in," Hilliard said. "Guys like Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware and Michael Ford were able to take us underneath their wings and show us the way.

"That's what we're here for. We're here to help lift each other up and stay positive."

Malzahn approves

Auburn sophomore Jeremy Johnson looked like a veteran when he made his first start against Arkansas.

With senior Nick Marshall sitting out the first half because of disciplinary reasons, Johnson completed 12 of 16 passes for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"He was phenomenal. Phenomenal," Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said Monday night on his radio show. "Our line did a good job of giving him some time, too. He had progressions, he had reads, he knew his protections, he knew his hot (routes). He's a cool customer."

Marshall played the second half and will start against San Jose State on Saturday, but Malzahn said the coaches need to make sure and get snaps for Johnson every week, too.

"He's too good a player and he can help us," Malzahn said. "So each week we'll have different packages for him. At the same time, he can run the entire offense, so that's a good thing moving forward."

#NeverYield and follow @wholehogsports on Twitter now for breaking news and score updates.

Tough opener

South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward is working this week to get his players to improve after Texas A&M gained 680 yards -- the most ever allowed by the Gamecocks -- in the season opener.

The Aggies had 99 offensive snaps, the most Ward said he's ever seen run by an opponent.

"That's way too many plays," Ward, a former Arkansas assistant, said this week according to the Charleston Post & Courier. "We've got to get them off the field on third down, and we didn't. That's my fault. I didn't get them ready to play."

Kickoff date

Georgia junior Todd Gurley's school-record 293 yards in all-purpose offense against Clemson included a 100-yard kickoff return, but considering his importance as a tailback, there is some debate about how much Gurley should be used on special teams.

"Depending on which day you ask everybody, some days it's, 'oh, yeah' and other days, it's 'no,' " Georgia tight ends and special teams coach John Lilly told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "The good thing is he's hungry to be back there, which certainly helps it."

Gurley returned kickoffs as a freshman in 2012 but eventually was taken off the return team as he received more work at tailback.

"We decided we can't put him back there because something may happen and all that," Bulldogs Coach Mark Richt told reporters. "This year I was like, 'We're putting our best players on special teams' and Todd's one of them."

Competition ongoing

Senior Blake Sims completed 24 of 33 passes for 250 yards in his debut as Alabama's starting quarterback to help the Crimson Tide beat West Virginia 33-23, but Coach Nick Saban isn't ready to name him the undisputed starter.

Saban said Sims' competition with Jacob Coker, a junior transfer from Florida State, will continue against Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Coker was a popular choice to beat out Sims for the starting job, but he played only the last series against the Mountaineers.

Saban said at his weekly news conference Tuesday that he hasn't decided how to divide snaps between Sims and Coker in the next game.

"When I figure it out, I'm probably not going to tell you," Saban said, drawing laughs from reporters. "I don't know that it's that important, to be honest with you."

Sports on 09/04/2014