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SEC Report: Foucha suspended at LSU
LSU defensive back Joe Foucha (13) runs though drills during their NCAA college football practice in Baton Rouge, La., Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Safety Joe Foucha, who transferred from the University of Arkansas to LSU in the offseason, is still waiting to play his first game for the Tigers.
Foucha, who played in 44 games at Arkansas with 33 starts, missed LSU’s season-opening 24-23 loss to Florida State in his hometown of New Orleans because he’s serving a four-game suspension for an academic issue, The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge reported Sunday night prior to kickoff.
“It really has to do with some technical issues relative to credit hours and transfer credit hours,” LSU Coach Brian Kelly said on Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference. “So it’s really difficult for me to get into the specifics of it, but it’s really unfortunate.
“Joe has done everything we’ve asked him to do. But sometimes in the transfer process, credit hours are earned and lost.
“He was put into a very difficult position relative to gaining hours.”
The Advocate reported the athletic department is appealing to try to get Foucha’s suspension reduced from four games.
“We’re in that process,” Kelly said. “We’re hoping to get him back as soon as we can.”
Foucha was expected to be a starter after having 231 tackles and 5 interceptions in four seasons with the Razorbacks.
“He’s a mature guy, but obviously anybody that loses games, those are so precious,” Kelly said when asked how Foucha is handling the suspension. “He certainly wants to be with his teammates and wants to be able to play.
“But he’s a guy that obviously has dealt with some adversity in his life, and he’s dealing with this the best he can right now.”
Senior defensive back Greg Brooks Jr., another Louisiana native who transferred from Arkansas to LSU after last season, started at nickel back and had five tackles against Florida State.
Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and South Carolina Coach Shane Beamer, who were assistants at Georgia under Coach Kirby Smart, face each other Saturday when the Gamecocks play the Razorbacks in Fayetteville.
Pittman and Beamer were part of Smart’s first Georgia staff in 2016 and helped the Bulldogs win the SEC title in 2017 when they reached the College Football Playoffs and beat Oklahoma 54-48 in double overtime in a seminal game in the Rose Bowl and lost to Alabama 26-23 in overtime in the title game at Atlanta.
Beamer left Georgia to be an Oklahoma assistant in 2018. Pittman stayed at Georgia until leaving for Arkansas after the 2019 regular season.
“Both great people,” Smart said. “I enjoyed having both those guys on our staff here. They both helped us get the thing started.
“Sam was here a little longer and certainly was part of the foundation that was built here in terms of getting it off the ground and going.”
Pittman took over an Arkansas program that was 8-28 from 2017-19 and has led the Razorbacks to a 13-11 record — including 18 games against SEC teams — and No. 16 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll after they finished 9-4 and ranked No. 21 last season.
Beamer is 8-6 at South Carolina after taking over a program that was 2-8 the season before against an All-SEC schedule.
“I’m really proud of what each one of them is doing,” Smart said. “They’re doing a good job and it should be a great matchup.”
Altmyer gets start
Ole Miss Coach Lane Kiffin will start sophomore Luke Altmyer at quarterback against the University of Central Arkansas on Saturday after starting sophomore Jaxson Dart — a transfer from Southern California — in the Rebels’ 28-10 victory over Troy last week.
Dart and Altmyer competed throughout the preseason to replace Matt Corral as the starter, and they’re still competing.
Kiffin said it’s not ideal to have different starting quarterbacks in the first two games, but he feels it’s the fair thing to do with Dart and Altmyer.
“It gives both guys an opportunity to go first and see how they play,” Kiffin said. “You want to make sure you find the best guy. So this is what we think gives us the best chance long term to win, to evaluate the situation to get the best player.’
Dart completed 18 of 27 passes for 154 yards and 1 touchdown with 1 interception and had 4 carries for 40 yards against Troy, including a 36-yard run.
Altmyer came off the bench in the fourth quarter and completed 1 of 2 passes for 13 yards.
No. 1 … for now
Missouri, which ranked 124th in rushing defense last season when opponents gained an average of 227.9 yards per game, is No. 1 nationally after holding Louisiana Tech yo 8 rushing yards in the Tigers’ 52-24 victory in last week’s opener.
Louisiana Tech’s 22 rushing attempts included 4 sacks by Missouri that lost 30 yards.
Missouri’s defense will face a much greater challenge Saturday at Kansas State, which rushed for 297 yards in beating South Dakota 35-0.
Wildcats junior Deuce Vaughn had 18 carries for 126 yards for his seventh consecutive game rushing for more than 100 yards. He rushed 235 times for 1,404 yards last season.
“It’s a totally different challenge and mentality,” Missouri Coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “Obviously Kansas State prides itself on being a tough, physical football team.
“They’ve got one of the best running backs in the country in Deuce Vaughn. They’ve got a hard-nosed approach with a fullback and tight ends.
“What happened last week really doesn’t have anything to do with this week.”
Texas Coach Steve Sarkisian will be the latest Nick Saban assistant to try to beat the Alabama coach when the Longhorns play the No. 1 Crimson Tide on Saturday in Austin, Texas.
Saban is 25-2 all-time against nine former assistants at Alabama, LSU and Michigan State that he’s faced as head coaches.
The two losses came last season when the Tide fell to Texas A&M and Jimbo Fisher 41-38 and to Georgia and Kirby Smart 33-18 in the College Football Playoff title game.
Saban’s former assistants he’s beaten are Fisher, Smart, Mark Dantonio, Derek Dooley, Lane Kiffin, Jim McElwain, Will Muschamp, Billy Napier and Jeremy Pruitt.
Sarkisian was Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama in 2019 and 2020.
Tying the Bear
Mark Stoops tied Bear Bryant for the most victories as Kentucky’s coach when the Wildcats opened with a 37-13 victory over Miami (Ohio).
Bryant, an Arkansas native best known for winning 232 games and six national championships in 25 seasons at Alabama, had a 60-23-5 record at Kentucky from 1946-53.
Stoops, in his 10th season at Kentucky, improved to 60-53.
“You can’t put my name in the same [sentence] as Bear Bryant, you know, in the long run,” Stoops said. “If I was competing for six national championships, let’s talk about that.
“But I am grateful to win that many games, to be here this long, and we have a long way to go. I’m excited to keep building this program.”
Stoops said after the Miami game that his focus is on preparing for Florida, where Kentucky plays on Saturday night.
Wildcats offensive lineman Eli Cox said the players didn’t realize Stoops had tied Bryant’s school record.
“[Stoops] didn’t mention it to us at any point, and he didn’t mention it after the game,” Cox said. “That’s just kind of how he is, you know?
“This week’s over — we’re moving on to next week. He’s not much for gloating or things like that.”
Four SEC quarterbacks are averaging 100 or more rushing yards per game after their season openers, or after two games in the case of Vanderbilt junior Mike Wright.
Wright is leading all quarterbacks nationally with his average of 123.5 rushing yards after he gained a combined 247 against Hawaii and Elon.
LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels had 16 carries for 114 yards against Florida State; Florida’s Anthony Richardson had 11 for 106 against Utah; and Alabama’s Bryce Young had 5 for 100 against Utah State.
Just being honest
Oregon Coach Dan Lanning, who as Georgia’s defensive coordinator last season helped the Bulldogs win the national championship, faced his old boss in his debut with the Ducks.
Georgia pounded Oregon 49-3 in Atlanta.
“He’s going to do a really good job at Oregon,” Georgia Coach Kirby Smart said. “He’s relentless, and they’ll bounce back from this.
“He’ll never say it, but he knows we’ve got better players, and I respect how he works.”
Bob Holt's SEC rankings
1. Georgia (1-0)
2. Alabama (1-0)
3. Arkansas (1-0)
4. Florida (1-0)
5. Tennessee (1-0)
6. Texas A&M (1-0)
7. Kentucky (1-0)
8. Mississippi State (1-0)
9. Ole Miss (1-0)
10. South Carolina (1-0)
11. Auburn (1-0)
12. Missouri (1-0)
13. LSU (0-1)
14. Vanderbilt (2-0)
Player of the Week: Mike Wright, QB, Vanderbilt
Wright will try to lead the Commodores to a 3-0 record when they play No. 23 Wake Forest. He’s been a dual threat in combining to complete 31 of 50 passes for 391 yards and 6 touchdowns without an interception and rushing 24 times for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns against Hawaii and Elon.
Game of the Week: No. 20 Kentucky at No. 12 Florida
The Gators have dominated the series with a 53-19 advantage, but it’s 2-2 in the past four matchups.
Kentucky ended a 31-game losing streak to Florida with a 27-16 victory at Gainesville, Fla., in 2018, then beat the Gators 20-13 last season in Lexington, Ky.
The Wildcats’ last back-to-back victories over Florida was in 1976-77, when Kentucky won 28-9 at home and 14-7 on the road.
By the Numbers
8 SEC teams ranked in The Associated Press poll
41:11 Mississippi State’s time of possession in the Bulldogs’ 49-23 victory over Memphis
1989 The last time Florida lost a home opener, 24-19 to Ole Miss. The Gators won their 33rd consecutive home opener with a 29-26 victory over Utah
14-1 Combined record of SEC teams. The lone loss was by LSU, which had an extra point blocked with no time remaining as Florida State won 24-23 on Sunday night in New Orleans
364 Passing yards by Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Haynes King against Sam Houston State after he missed the final 10 games last season with a broken leg.
“This is the best team I’ve seen in pads in my career in 30 years of coaching, and they played like it tonight. They didn’t make a lot of mistakes. Ultimately, we just got out-athleted.”
— Utah State Coach Blake Anderson after his team lost at Alabama 55-0
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