SEC report:

QB answer still elusive for Aggies

By: Bob Holt
Published: Thursday, September 14, 2017
Texas A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak (10) hands the ball off to running back Trayveon Williams (5) during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Nicholls State Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 24-14. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)
Texas A&M quarterback Jake Hubenak (10) hands the ball off to running back Trayveon Williams (5) during the third quarter of an NCAA college football game against Nicholls State Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M won 24-14. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

Texas A&M might have its third different starting quarterback in three games when the Aggies play Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday at Kyle Field.

Redshirt freshman Nick Starkel started the opener at UCLA, but he suffered a fractured left ankle. He underwent surgery and could be out for the rest of the season.

True freshman Kellen Mond replaced Starkel against the Bruins, who rallied to win 45-44 after trailing 44-10 in the third quarter.

Mond started last week against Nicholls State and completed 12 of 21 passes for 105 yards and 1 touchdown.

Senior Jake Hubenak -- who didn't play at UCLA -- relieved Mond in the third quarter against Nicholls State and helped the Aggies pull away to win 24-14.

Hubenak completed 12 of 15 for 93 yards and directed a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter after Nicholls State had tied the game 14-14.

Hubenak and Mond are listed as co-starters on the depth chart this week, and Aggies Coach Kevin Sumlin said both will play.

"For us, that plan is still in place," Sumlin said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "We have to continue to develop both of them, in my opinion, not just one guy."

LINDSEY HEADED UPSTAIRS

Chip Lindsey, Auburn's offensive coordinator, will call plays from the press box against Mercer on Saturday night after being on the sideline for the Tigers' first two games.

The move comes after Clemson held Auburn to 117 yards in total offense and quarterback Jarrett Stidham was sacked 11 times.

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said the move upstairs was the idea of Lindsey, who is in his first season as the Tigers' offensive coordinator after holding the same position at Arizona State.

"Chip brought it up, and I totally supported it," Malzahn said at his weekly news conference. "He just feels like he can get a better feel for the defenses and everything that goes with that."

Malzahn taking Lindsey off the sideline isn't an overreaction to the offense's struggles at Auburn.

"It's just more of a reaction to what's best," Malzahn said. "Really, Chip's comfort zone just being able to see the field, see the defenses, and that was his comfort zone.

"Originally he felt pretty strongly he needed to be down there with the quarterback and look him in the eye and all that. But you learn, and you look at things and what's best. He feels very confident that's going to help, and I know it will."

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele also is in the press box on game days.

MULLEN ON OLE MISS

Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen couldn't resist taking a shot at Ole Miss when he was asked on the SEC coaches teleconference Wednesday about media reports that Bulldogs linebacker Leo Lewis testified this week at the NCAA Infractions Committee hearing on Ole Miss held in Covington, Ky.

Lewis told NCAA investigators that someone representing Ole Miss offered him and his family cash to sign with the Rebels.

"We're not going to comment on major violations that other institutions have," Mullen said. "But Leo's done a good job of preparing for this week."

The committee ended its hearing with Ole Miss officials Tuesday.

Ole Miss must wait to see whether the NCAA hits it with additional sanctions in addition to self-imposed penalties that include a bowl ban this season.

KENTUCKY BLUES

South Carolina went 13-1 against Kentucky from 2000-2013, but the Wildcats have beaten the Gamecocks in the past three seasons -- 45-38, 26-21 and 17-10.

Kentucky never has won four in a row over the Gamecocks, who will try to stop the bleeding against the Wildcats when the teams play Saturday night in Williams-Brice Stadium.

Bryson Allen-Williams does not want to see it come to pass.

He has been part of four South Carolina football teams. The first three lost to Kentucky. The fourth will play the Wildcats this week.

"I don't want to go out being 0-4 against Kentucky," the senior linebacker told The State newspaper. "We're talking about it. We're making sure that we're focused. We're making sure that we're locked in."

Will Muschamp, in his second season as the Gamecocks' coach, addressed Kentucky's recent domination of the series immediately after his team's victory at Missouri last week.

"I told the guys in the locker room after the last ballgame, our seniors haven't beaten these guys," Muschamp said at his weekly news conference. "That's not something we need to allow to happen."

KEY RETURNEE

LSU junior outside linebacker Arden Key, who set a school record with 12 sacks last season, is expected to make his 2017 debut against Mississippi State on Saturday night.

"It's a big upgrade, just because you're getting a guy that's 6-6, 260 coming back and one of the best pass rushers LSU has ever seen, and that's saying something," junior center Will Clapp told The Advocate newspaper. "He's electric. He's a big play waiting to happen."

Key, a junior All-American edge rusher, is cleared to play in the Tigers' SEC opener Saturday at Mississippi State, Coach Ed Orgeron announced Monday, ending a drama-filled offseason for LSU's most decorated player.

Key missed spring practice with an excused absence for undisclosed personal reasons, then underwent shoulder surgery in May.

Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen isn't surprised Key has been cleared to play in time for the SEC opener.

"I assumed that he'd play in our game the whole time," Mullen said at his weekly news conference. "It seemed like he was setting up to come play in our game through those first couple of games where they were resting him.

"He's probably one of the most dominant players in our league. It's a mismatch. He has the speed and physicality to be a run stopper, but he's extremely disruptive as a pass rusher and can change the game.

"He can make things happen all by himself."

GEORGIA TAKEOVER

Georgia quickly sold out of its allotment of 8,000 tickets for the Bulldogs' game at Notre Dame on Saturday night, but based on media reports, about half of the announced crowd of 77,622 was wearing red and black.

"When we pulled up, we thought it was a home game," Georgia Coach Kirby Smart said after the Bulldogs won 20-19. "I am proud of this university, and I am proud of the fact that we've got a fan base that came to this game in droves."

It was Georgia's first game at Notre Dame and first against a school in the North since 1965 when the Bulldogs won 15-7 at Michigan.

"This was a special trip for our fan base, and we need our fan base to get behind this team, support this team and support this university," Smart said. "We've got a lot of projects right now that we're trying to pay for, and these are the kind of games that help you get that done, because they see the promise in the program."

TWO-MINUTE DRILL

• Kansas State is playing Vanderbilt for the first time since 1984, when the Commodores beat the Wildcats 26-14 in Nashville, Tenn.

• Jalen Hurts' 154 rushing yards against Fresno State were the most by an Alabama quarterback since Tyler Watts had 162 against South Carolina in 2001.

• Luc Bequette, a sophomore defensive end from Little Rock Catholic, will start at defensive end for California against Ole Miss on Saturday night.

• Texas A&M has five takeaways this season without a turnover.

• Auburn leads the SEC in sacks (10 for 64 yards) and sacks allowed (14 for 83 yards).

• Vanderbilt junior quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed a school-record 83.3 percent of his passes (15 of 18) for 202 yards and 4 touchdowns in the Commodores' 42-0 victory over Alabama A&M.

• LSU has been penalized 21 times for 160 yards.

SEC TOP TO BOTTOM

Rank(prev);record;comment

1(1);Alabama;2-0;Colorado State shouldn't pose much of a challenge

2(2);LSU;2-0;Getting ready for cowbells at Mississippi State

3(4);Georgia;2-0;Statement victory for Smart at Notre Dame

4(3);Auburn;1-1;Defense stout in loss at Clemson

5(5);Tennessee;2-0;Winning at Swamp would be big for East title hopes

6(6);South Carolina;2-0;Wants to stop losing to Kentucky

7(9);Florida;0-1;Hopes for some offense against Tennessee

8(10);Vanderbilt;2-0;Ready to welcome Bill Snyder to Music City

9(7);Arkansas;1-1;Open date to fix numerous problems

10(12);Mississippi State;2-0;Hoping to run on LSU

11(8);Texas A&M;1-1;Struggled to beat Nicholls State

12(11);Kentucky;2-0;Rallied to beat Eastern Kentucky

13(13);Ole Miss;2-0;Patterson putting up big numbers

14(14);Missouri;1-1;Couldn't hold 10-point lead vs. Gamecocks

PLAYER TO WATCH

Kentucky would be wise to avoid kicking the ball to South Carolina's Deebo Samuel when the Wildcats play the Gamecocks on Saturday night.

Samuel has returned two kickoffs this season, and he's gone 97 yards for touchdowns both times. He returned the opening kickoff in South Carolina's 35-28 victory over North Carolina State, then had a return at Missouri to get the Gamecocks rolling toward a 31-13 victory after the Tigers had taken a 10-0 lead.

The junior wide receiver leads the SEC in scoring with five touchdowns. He's caught 10 passes for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he's rushed 2 times for 30 yards and 1 touchdown.

Samuel's versatility on offense has some wondering whether he should be included among candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

"I don't know what else is out there, but I know the impact he's had on our football team in two ballgames," South Carolina Coach Will Muschamp told reporters. "That's not a big working sample, but at the end of the day, in two ballgames, I don't know that anyone's impacted the game more than he has for us."

Samuel holds the South Carolina career record with three kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 100-yarder against Western Carolina last season. His two touchdown returns this season tie a school record also held by King Dixon (1957) and Bo Williams (1997).

GAME OF THE WEEK

Tennessee at Florida

WHEN 2:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

WHERE Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.

RECORDS Tennessee 2-0, Florida 0-1

RANKINGS Tennessee No. 23, Florida No. 24 in AP poll

LINE Florida favored by 5 points

Tennessee beat Florida 38-28 last season to end an 11-game losing streak against the Gators.

Now the Vols will try to beat Florida in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2003-2004.

While Tennessee will play its third game in 13 days after beating Georgia Tech 42-41 in double overtime and Indiana State 42-7, the Gators are playing for the first time since their season-opening 33-17 loss to Michigan on Sept. 2. Florida's game against Northern Colorado last Saturday was canceled because of Hurricane Irma.

The Gators are looking to get their running game going after being held to 11 rushing yards by Michigan. The Vols are looking to shore up their run defense after Georgia Tech rushed for 535 yards against them.

This will be the 24th time Florida and Tennessee have met when both are ranked.

BY THE NUMBERS

489 -- Ole Miss record passing yards by sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson against Tennessee-Martin

12-1-1 -- LSU's record against Mississippi State in SEC openers

66 -- Consecutive victories by Alabama against unranked teams after the Crimson Tide beat Fresno State 41-10. Alabama's last lost to an unranked team was Nov. 4, 2007, when Auburn beat the Crimson Tide 17-10.

OVERHEARD

"We have a new coordinator, we have a new quarterback, a couple new guys up front, and I think the coordinator is learning his offense. His players are getting used to him, and I think that's really the facts of the matter right now."

-- Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn on the Tigers being held to 117 yards in a 14-6 loss to Clemson

"Everything's different. If they need me to motivate them, they've got problems. They're messed up if they need me to motivate them for a game like this. They don't need a big rallying cry this week. This is our home SEC opener against a ranked team. They know it's different. You can just feel the intensity picks up a bit with everybody."

-- Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen on opening SEC play against LSU

Sports on 09/14/2017

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