Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and a voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year twice.
Crockett: Tide not cyborgs
Alabama head coach Nick Saban jogs from the dressing room with his players during warmups prior to the NCAA college football game against Mississippi on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Oxford, Miss. Alabama won 62-7. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Damarea Crockett, Missouri's junior running back from Little Rock Christian, said the Tigers need to keep their game at No. 1 Alabama on Saturday in perspective.
"It'll be tough, man, but I feel like everyone's like, 'Ahhhhh, it's Alabama!' " Crockett said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Take a deep breath.
"It's another game. It's a football game."
Crockett said the Crimson Tide are made up of college football players, just like the Tigers.
"They're human. They're not cyborgs or terminators," Crockett said. "They definitely are a great team. They're disciplined and execute very well.
"They're not going to make very many mistakes. We just have to make sure we do the same thing."
Crockett, who missed the final seven games last season because of a shoulder injury, had 20 carries for 154 yards against South Carolina last week. On the season, he has 70 carries for 353 yards.
"I think he's done a better job of seeing and hitting his holes and his cuts," Missouri running backs coach Cornell Ford told reporters. "For whatever reason he was a little slow, but he's starting to hit his groove. I knew he would, it just takes a while."
Missouri, which never has beaten a No. 1 team in 14 tries, is looking for its first victory over Alabama since a 20-7 victory at Birmingham to open the 1975 season. The Tigers, 2-3 all-time against Alabama, also beat the Tide 35-10 in the 1968 Gator Bowl.
Auburn receiver Will Hastings, from Little Rock, will have to undergo another knee surgery and miss the rest of the season.
Hastings had knee surgery last spring, but he played in the second and third games this season against Alabama State and LSU.
"He just had a setback," Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said. "He's a great competitor. He was wanting to come back and help the team."
The good news for Auburn and Hastings is that he can redshirt and be eligible to play as a fifth-year senior in 2019 because he played in only two games this season. A new NCAA rule allows a player to participate in up to four games and still redshirt.
"Will's planning on coming back next year and being healthy," Malzahn said. "That'll be a big plus for us."
Hastings had 26 catches for 525 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. He didn't have a catch this season.
Banister catches on
Missouri receiver Barrett Banister, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Fayetteville, made his first career catch in the Tigers' 37-35 loss at South Carolina.
Banister caught a pass from Drew Lock for an 18-yard gain on the first play of Missouri's final possession to help the Tigers drive for a field goal that put them ahead 35-34.
Injuries have forced LSU to use six different starting offensive line combinations in its first six games going into Saturday's matchup against Georgia.
Tigers Coach Ed Orgeron said it's been a tough situation, especially for offensive line coach James Cregg.
"Coach Cregg, I think, gets home at 12 o'clock at night and is back in here at 3:30 in the morning," Orgeron said. "So he's been working very hard."
Eight different linemen have started this season.
"The communication and the continuity is the toughest part," Orgeron said. "Hopefully, we have the same line this week as we had last week and we can play better."
LSU's starting line in last week's 27-19 loss at Florida was Saahdiq Charles at left tackle, Adrian Magee at left guard, Lloyd Cushenberry at center, Damien Lewis at right guard and Austin Deculus at right tackle.
Tide lose Diggs
Alabama starting cornerback Trevon Diggs suffered a broken foot against Arkansas and will undergo season-ending surgery, AL.com reported.
Diggs, a junior, made 20 tackles and had 6 pass breakups and 1 interception through six games before his injury.
Mississippi State senior Nick Fitzgerald is the SEC's career leader in rushing yards for a quarterback.
Fitzgerald has 2,999 rushing yards on 478 carries. He broke the record with 28 rushes for 195 yards against Auburn last week.
"I think this past game against Auburn really was representative of his ability to run the football successfully, particularly against the opponents in this league," Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead said. "He showed good decisiveness, showed good physicality. A lot of yards after contact.
"Certainly when you can compile that many yards over time in this conference, it speaks volumes about his ability."
Florida Coach Dan Mullen coached Fitzgerald the previous three seasons at Mississippi State. He also coached Tim Tebow -- the quarterback who held the SEC's rushing record -- as the Gators' offensive coordinator.
Tebow, who played at Florida from 2006-09, had 692 carries from 2,947 yards.
Fitzgerald is averaging 6.3 yards per carry compared to 4.3 yards for Tebow.
"All this success is a blessing," Fitzgerald said after the Auburn game. "It feels good to know that after all the hard work you put in that you'll be remembered.
"That was huge, and I honestly wouldn't have gotten it without my teammates. It's an achievement to me but a huge compliment to them."
Gus vs. Pruitt
Auburn's Gus Malzahn and Tennessee's Jeremy Pruitt will face each other as head coaches for the first time Saturday, but Pruitt previously played Malzahn's Tigers five times as a defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama.
Pruitt's teams are 4-1 in those games, including FSU's 34-31 victory in the 2013 national championship game at the Rose Bowl. Pruitt's Georgia teams went 2-0 against Auburn, and his Alabama teams were 1-1, including a 26-14 loss to the Tigers last season.
"We know each other very well," Malzahn said. "I think he's got a talented set of defensive guys. It looks very similar to what it has in the past."
Georgia has trailed for 15 seconds this season.
It happened last week when Ryley Guay kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead over the Bulldogs with 10:30 left in the first quarter.
Georgia responded with a 75-yard touchdown pass from Jack Fromm to Terry Godwin on the next offensive snap, and the Bulldogs rolled to a 41-13 victory.
The Bulldogs were the last SEC team that hadn't trailed this season.
What about Alabama? The Tide fell behind at Ole Miss 7-0 on Sept. 15 before coming back to win 62-7.
Alabama will take a 21-game winning streak against SEC East teams into Saturday's game against Missouri.
The last East team to beat the Tide was South Carolina, 35-21, on Oct. 9, 2010, at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Alabama started its winning streak against the East two weeks later with a 42-10 victory at Tennessee.
The Tide's East winning streak includes four SEC Championship Game victories -- over Georgia in 2012, Missouri in 2013, and Florida in 2015 and 2016 -- and last year's 26-23 overtime victory against Georgia in the College Football Playoff title game.
Overall during the streak, Alabama is 8-0 vs. Tennessee, 4-0 vs. Florida, 3-0 vs. Georgia, and 2-0 vs. Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
South Carolina junior quarterback Jake Bentley, who missed last week's game against Missouri because of a sprained knee, is practicing and expected to play against Texas A&M. He is practicing with a knee brace and will wear it in the game.
"I didn't have anything that felt off, so I think I'm ready to go," Bentley told reporters after a practice. "I need to be able to show that I can escape the pocket and make things happen on my feet if I need to.
"It feels great right now. Wearing the brace, I'll have to work through that, but nothing too serious."
Bentley had started 24 consecutive games before missing last week.
SEC TOP TO BOTTOM
1;(1);Alabama;6-0;Saban has 60-7 record with No. 1 team
2;(3);Georgia;6-0;First nationally ranked opponent in LSU
3;(2);LSU;5-1;Georgia will be third top 10 opponent
4;(5);Kentucky;5-1;Open date after slugfest at Aggieland
5;(6)Florida;5-1;Like old times in the Swamp with victory over LSU
6;(7)Texas A&M;5-2;Jimbo beats former assistant coach Stoops
7;(9);Mississippi State;3-2;Open date before road trip to LSU
8;(4);Auburn;4-2;Offensive struggles continue for Gus
9;(10);South Carolina;3-2;Last-second win over Mizzou
10;(9)Missouri;3-2;First time to play a game at Tuscaloosa
11;(11);Ole Miss;4-2;Has lost four in a row to Arkansas
12;(12);Vanderbilt;3-3;Looking to upset Florida
13;(13);Tennessee;2-3;Might just be what Auburn needs for ailing offense
14;(14);Arkansas;1-5;First SEC night game in Little Rock since 1999
Player to watch
LSU senior running Nick Brossette didn't have a rushing touchdown coming into this season. Now he's tied for the SEC lead with eight rushing touchdowns.
Brossette, 6-0 and 220 pounds, has become LSU's feature back with 118 carries for 576 yards through the first six games.
Considering LSU is 14-0 under Coach Ed Orgeron when someone rushes for 100 yards, the Tigers are counting on a big game from Brossette against Georgia, which ranks 20th nationally in rushing defense at 113.2 yards allowed per game.
Game of the week
Georgia at LSU
WHEN 2:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)
WHERE Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge
RECORDS Georgia 6-0, LSU 5-1
RANKINGS Georgia is No. 2 in The Associated Press poll, LSU is No. 13
LINE Georgia by 7½
Georgia will face its first major test of the season in the Bulldogs' first game at Tiger Stadium since 2008 when they beat LSU 52-38.
The Tigers, who lost 27-19 at Florida last week, are 6-0 after a loss under Coach Ed Orgeron.
By the numbers
0-14 -- Missouri's record vs No. 1-ranked teams. The Tigers will try and break through against Alabama.
41:53 -- Mississippi State's time of possession in a 23-9 victory over Mississippi State.
159 -- LSU record of passes without an interception by Joe Burrow before Florida safety Brad Stewart had a 25-yard return for a touchdown in the Gators' 27-19 victory.
"I know our fan base is frustrated. Our players are frustrated. Our coaches are."
-- Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn on his team's 1-2 SEC start.
"We don't want them to stop scoring. We want them to light it up every week."
-- Alabama safety Deionte Thompson on whether the Crimson Tide's quick-scoring offense doesn't allow the defense enough of a break.
"I took my coaching pills this week. I'd forgotten them the past two weeks."
-- Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead after the Bulldogs beat Auburn. Moorhead lost his first two SEC games against Kentucky and Florida.
"We have libraries of them."
-- Florida Coach Dan Mullen on trick plays.
Sports on 10/11/2018
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