Kentucky coach Joker Phillips said it best after his team finished scrimmaging on Saturday.
“There are guys competing for jobs,” Phillips said. “You have to play this game like you’re competing for jobs. We have guys doing that. Again, the last game we played here (the win over Tennessee) has given us a lot to teach off of – how important all three phases are. You have guys wanting to be on special teams … begging to be on special teams. We have some special returners that guys want to make blocks for.
“What we have in these 16 practices gives us a chance to start figuring out who’s going to make the bus (for the Louisville game),” Phillips said. “It’s time for us to start cutting down and start getting ready for the game. We’ll have two more training camp type practices (Monday and Tuesday) and we’ll start working on Louisville (game plan) Thursday.”
Yes, it is time that coaches start making those final choices on players who are battling for starting spots. They then must turn their thoughts to the first game, whether it be Michigan (Alabama) or a Clemson (Auburn) or a Central Arkansas (Ole Miss).
“We need to start making decisions on who is going to be getting turns and reps as we start to prepare because we are going to have a two-a-day Monday and a situational scrimmage on Tuesday,’’ Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “Wednesday is the first day of school. We’re going to give them off Wednesday, start prepping for Bowling Green on Thursday.”
Florida has been the scene of much speculation as to the starting quarterback and which receivers are going to take the first snaps when Florida opens against Bowling Green.
“It’s been a very healthy competition,’’ Muschamp said of the quarterbacks. “We still have another good situational scrimmage on Tuesday to put them through. They are very even to this point. Both quarterbacks looked good and did some nice things [in Friday’s scrimmage]. Very even in what they are doing and how they are managing our team.”
“The battle at quarterback is between Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, but the wide receiver position is among several — Frankie Hammond, Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose and true freshmen Latroy Pittman and Ralph Andrades. There is also tight end Jordan Reed, Solomon Patton and running backs/receivers Trey Burton and Omarius Hines also figure into the equation.
“I think we’re better [than a year ago in camp],” Muschamp said of the receivers. “Frankie is very consistent. Quinton is more mature than he was a year ago and understands what it takes down in and down out. It’s about getting guys in the right spots so they can be successful.”
Alabama coach Nick Saban gave the Crimson Tide Sunday and Monday off before he tries to get his depth chart in order.
“I was really pleased with the way the ones played in the scrimmage,” Saban said following Saturday’s scrimmage. “From there on, we have a very young team and have a lot of work to do to try to improve some of these guys, so we develop the kind of depth we need to be successful.”
That depth will come in handy for the defending national champions when they take on Michigan in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas on September 1 in a meeting between two of college football’s most legendary programs.
Nation believes in the SEC
The release of the first Associated Press poll of the year confirmed that the rest of college football agrees with football fans in the southeast believe — the SEC is the best college football conference in the country. Three of the top six teams, and five of the top ten, are from the Southeastern Conference.
The first AP poll has Alabama No. 2, LSU No. 3 and Georgia comes in at No. 6. The Tigers were running at No. 1 until Les Miles booted Tyrann Mathieu and the Tigers dropped three spots.
South Carolina is ranked No. 9 and Arkansas rounds out the SEC contingent at No. 10. Florida is the sixth ranked team from the conference at No. 23 while five other teams—Auburn, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Missouri and Mississippi State—also received votes in the AP poll.
Freeze excited by young Rebel running backs
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze is still trying to get re-acquainted with his new team and one area he has been impressed with most has been his true freshmen running backs I’Tavius Mathers, who scored three touchdowns in the Saturday scrimmage, and Jaylen Walton.
“We weren’t bad. I’d like to watch the film. To finish up what we’ve put them through for two straight weeks it was pretty sound,” said Freeze. “We had some good lanes for quarterback runs. I continue to be impressed with the running backs.
“I’m crazy about our two young backs. Jaylen (Walton) and I’Tavius are phenomenal competitors. They have not missed a snap of fall camp. They have been beat on and hit and they bounce back up after every one.”