Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

August 1, 2013

Manziel, Clowney headliners in SEC's bid for No. 8

ATLANTA — The players are providing the star power in the Southeastern Conference's drive for an eighth-straight national title not those millionaire coaches.

Hop in the backseat, Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier, and enjoy the ride.

There's plenty of headliners on the field, starting at quarterback with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Alabama's AJ McCarron and Georgia's Aaron Murray plus a bounty of dangerous receivers. Tailbacks Georgia's Todd Gurley and `Bama's T.J. Yeldon are superb sophomore runners.

Defensively, South Carolina end Jadeveon Clowney and Crimson Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley lead the way.

That bounty of talent gives the SEC ample hope that the league can maintain its seven-year grip on the BCS title.

Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy as a freshman, and Clowney are regarded as favorites to claim the league's fifth Heisman in seven years.

But like Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said of his team, it's time to "hit the reset button.'' Or at least the challengers of Saban and the two-time defending national champion Tide are hoping that button is working. So are the other power conferences, for that matter.

Saban's peers aren't backing down.

LSU's Les Miles: "I like us in any game.''

South Carolina's Spurrier, in humble-confident mode: "We may fall flat on our face but that's what we're going to try to do, try to win the conference.''

Win the SEC, and a national title shot seems likely to come.

Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith's take on the SEC: Crystal balls don't win crystal trophies.

"There's no telling which team is going to come from where with the amount of talent,'' Smith said. "Nobody can predict the future.''

5 THINGS TO WATCH

1: CHASING THE TIDE: Alabama might be the team to beat nationally after claiming three of the past four championships, but navigating the competitive SEC is a challenge for any team. Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M are in pursuit, and so are Georgia, South Carolina and Florida. All four finished last season among the nation's top nine teams. It's hard to count out still-talented LSU, even after 11 underclassmen departed for the NFL. The Crimson Tide, though, remains loaded with talent and has a talented group of tailbacks and receivers to go with the always sturdy defense led by the All-America linebacker Mosley.

2. MADE-FOR-TV GAMES: This list clearly begins with the Sept. 14 rematch in College Station between Alabama and Texas A&M, the only team to beat the Tide last season. That game was a Heisman moment for Manziel. Alabama gets a bye week to change gears for the no-huddle offense. A week earlier, defending East champion Georgia tries to avenge a 35-7 loss to South Carolina. Florida and LSU, perhaps somewhat overlooked in the preseason, meet on Oct. 12 a year after Will Muschamp's team managed to end the Tigers' 18-game regular-season win streak, 14-6. The season gets started Aug. 29 with Mississippi visiting Vanderbilt, not ordinarily a scintillating matchup but a chance for both to make an early statement.

3. SEC NEWBIES: Arkansas nabbed a proven winner in Bret Bielemma, Auburn landed offensive whiz Gus Malzahn, Kentucky got a spark with Mark Stoops and Tennessee turned to Butch Jones, who is already making waves on the recruiting trail. Now, if only all four of the league's new head coaches can find a starting quarterback. In the meantime, it's no coincidence that those teams had the SEC's four most generous defenses before the bosses made changes at the top. The result: A combined mark of 3-29 in league play, $15 million in buyouts and fresh starts.

4. RISING STOCK: Vanderbilt is coming off its best record since 1915, going 9-4 two years after a second straight two-win season led to the hiring of James Franklin. Back-to-back bowl game is also a first for the Commodores, who have gone from doormats to respected foe under the ever-confident coach. They're led by one of the SEC's top wide receivers in Jordan Matthews. Mississippi's turnaround in Hugh Freeze's first season was impressive, too. The Rebels won seven games, including the BBVA Compass Bowl. Freeze then made even bigger waves with a highly touted recruiting class. Back are quarterback Bo Wallace and linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche.

5. YOUTH MOVEMENT: From five-star newcomers to talented players with a year under their belt, the SEC is full of youngsters with the potential to emerge as stars. Missouri wide receiver and prized 2012 signee Dorial Green-Beckham racked up 21 catches for 267 yards and four touchdowns in the final five games. Alabama's Yeldon ran for 258 yards in the SEC and BCS championship games plus freshman runner Derrick Henry, linebacker Reuben Foster and tight end O.J. Howard could develop significant roles. Ole Miss defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, defensive tackle Lavon Hooks and wideout Laquon Treadwell are freshmen to watch, along with Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves and defensive ends Carl Lawson (Auburn) and Chris Jones (Mississippi State)- among others.

Predicted order of finish:

EAST

1. Georgia

2. South Carolina

3. Florida

4. Vanderbilt

5. Missouri

6. Tennessee

7. Kentucky

WEST

1. Alabama

2. Texas A&M

3. LSU

4. Mississippi

5. Auburn

6. Mississippi State

7. Arkansas

Title game winner: Alabama



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • MLB: Rangers struggle in 9-3 loss to A's

    A rough month didn't get any better for Texas on Sunday night, even though the game-time temperature of 100 degrees would have seemed to be in the Rangers' favor against Oakland.

    However, they trailed 5-0 in the second inning en route to a 9-3 loss to the Athletics. Texas has lost 15 of its last 18 and dropped to 4-19 in July.

    July 28, 2014

  • Lost Red Sox title ring returned by Yankees fan

    A lost Red Sox World Series ring is back on the finger of its owner, thanks to a nifty pickup by an ardent New York Yankees fan.

    Manhattan restaurant owner Luigi Militello could hardly believe it when he found the shiny 2013 championship ring on a restroom sink at his Luke's Bar and Grill on Thursday night.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: First-place Dodgers complete sweep of Giants

    Manager Don Mattingly hardly considers a late-July sweep in San Francisco a turning point to put his Dodgers in the driver's seat atop the NL West.

    Yet coming off consecutive series losses at St. Louis and Pittsburgh, Los Angeles needed some sort of spark as August approaches. The Dodgers found it in the ballpark of their biggest rival, and left the Bay Area in first place following an emphatic three-game swing.

    Carl Crawford hit an RBI triple to back Hyun-Jin Ryu's third straight victory, and division-leading Los Angeles beat the Giants 4-3 Sunday night to establish some momentum behind their pitching and offense.

    July 28, 2014

  • NBA: Lakers set on hiring Byron Scott for new coach

    The Los Angeles Lakers have waited nearly three months to hire a new coach, and they're apparently making Byron Scott wait a few more days.

    Scott said this weekend that he has been hired by the Lakers, but the club insisted Sunday that no deal has been reached.

    July 28, 2014

  • NASCAR: Jeff Gordon claims fifth Brickyard 400 title

    With a tinge of gray hair at his temples, his hat on backward and his two young children by his side, Jeff Gordon celebrated as if he was 23 years old again.

    Gordon won a NASCAR-record fifth Brickyard 400 on Sunday, eight days before his 43rd birthday and on the weekend Indianapolis Motor Speedway celebrated the 20th anniversary of his first Brickyard victory.

    July 28, 2014

  • MLB: Thomas, Torre highlight HOF class

    Frank Thomas choked back tears, Joe Torre apologized for leaving people out of his speech and Tony La Russa said he felt uneasy.

    Being enshrined in the Hall of Fame can have those effects, even on the greats.

    Thomas, pitchers Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, and managers Bobby Cox, Torre and La Russa were inducted into the baseball shrine Sunday, and all paid special tribute to their families before an adoring crowd of nearly 50,000.

    July 28, 2014

  • Blackmon a 'big deal' for the wrong reasons

    The sports world is littered with gifted athletes whose self-destructive tendencies derailed what should have been promising careers. Ex-Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon appears to be on that well-worn path with his latest arrest.

    July 27, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Three Rivers Bandits notch 8th-straight win

    The Three Rivers Bandits seem to be getting hot when they need to be, heading into next week’s state tournament.

    The Bartlesville Indians were victims of the heat as the Bandits swept a doubleheader from them, 2-0 and then 9-2, on Saturday at Connors State College for their eighth straight win.

    July 27, 2014