Kenneth Harrison

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Lurking Gators

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Florida (6-1) is back in familiar territory as a top 10 team and national championship contender. The Gators beat No.7 Auburn about two weeks ago.

The Tigers came into the game as the favorites but left Gainesville with a convincing 24-13 loss. Florida was feeling great after that win and headed to No. 5 LSU the following week.

UF won the game in Gainesville last season, 27-19. The Tigers had revenge on their mind and pulled away in the second half. The game was tied at 21 at halftime. LSU won 42-28.

LSU coach Ed Orgeron declared that holding Florida’s defense without a sack was “the biggest stat of the night,” noting how the Gators’ defensive ends had “destroyed” opposing offensive lines in previous games.

Kyle Trask was 23-of-39 passing for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception.

“There’s two ways you can go: You can either lose and start pointing fingers or you can lose and start coming together,” Trask said. “We have a great group of guys and at the end of the day; it’s just going to make this team better.”

This is the toughest part of Florida’s schedule. So far, they are 1-1 during these four games. The remaining games are at South Carolina and Georgia at a neutral site (Jacksonville).

Previously I did not think the USC game would be difficult. The Gamecocks were under .500 prior to this weekend.

They shocked the college football world by beating No. 3 UGA in Athens. The Bulldogs turned the ball over four times and South Carolina did not have any. Now this game in Columbia looks like a heavyweight matchup.

South Carolina (3-3) gave up 468 yards to Georgia but forcing the turnovers was the difference. The Gamecocks also lost freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski to a knee injury. He’s actually a backup and has been playing since senior Jake Bentley suffered a mid-foot sprain in the season opener.

Third string freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner played several snaps against Georgia. Currently, it does not sound like he will start the Florida game because Hilinski is expected to return.

“He’s got a sprained knee,” Muschamp said of Hilinski. “It’s nothing serious. I’ll know more Tuesday. He’s a little sore, obviously, today. But again, it’s nothing serious. We expect him to play on Saturday.”

So far, I give the early advantage to the Gators. They are ranked 20th nationally in total defense but they have played at least one more game than all of the teams ranked higher. That means they are actually better than many of them.

The Gamecocks are not good on offense and they are led by an injured true freshman QB.

If he cannot make it through the game, the third string QB will come in and they were not effective with him. They should be able to stop them and hold them to under twenty points.

I don’t think they will overlook this game since they know Carolina is capable of beating them. After that, they will go in to the bye week with two weeks to prepare against Georgia.

Time to Rise Up

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Atlanta Falcons are off to a 1-3 start. The beginning of the Dan Quinn era started great but it’s been all downhill since the Super Bowl LI debacle.

On Sunday, the Falcons lost to Tennessee (2-2) 24-10. The Titans are not a good football team and this was a home game, so this is a bad loss. The question is who is to blame for this terrible start? Can Atlanta turn this season around?

“It is a tough loss, and we’re as disappointed as our fans are,” Quinn said. “You better believe we’re going to look at everything. When you’re sitting at 1-3, you want to make sure you’re finding the answers.”

The first person to start with is head coach Dan Quinn. He took over as the HC in 2015. He’s a former defensive coordinator and so far he has not produced a good defense in Atlanta. They ranked 28th in total defense last season. This season they make every team look like super stars.

Marcus Mariota has been a bust thus far in his NFL career. He’s consistently injured and his play is inconsistent. He played poorly in the previous two losses before they broke that streak against the Falcons. He had 227 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 66% of his passes.

Rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown had 3 receptions, 94 yards and 2 TD’s. Derrick Henry rushed for 100 yards. You can see the defense didn’t stop the run or pass.

The talent on the roster has been built by Quinn over the last 5 years. Sadly, they are in the same position they were in back in 2015.

“When you see Atlanta, what bothers you is if they don’t get to the quarterback, it’s all about speed (in the secondary),” Phil Simms said on “The NFL Today” studio show. “They play one defense. Guys wide open.”

The defense under Quinn consistently has gaping holes in the zone coverage, poor angles to pass-catchers and lack of speed in the secondary. The first two things can be attributed to Quinn’s defensive design and poor technique by his players.

The strength is supposed to be on the offense and they are playing poorly. Dirk Koetter is back in his second stint as offensive coordinator in 2019.

He previously held the OC position in Atlanta from 2012-14. Some of the growing pains might be from him trying to get familiar with the new talent on the roster.

Atlanta also has a poor offensive line they tried to fix in the offseason. They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round and guard Chris Lindstrom broke his foot in the season opener.

Guard Jamon Brown left the Titans game with a concussion in the first half and could not return.

Center Alex Mack has never missed a game in his Falcons career but he had to leave Sunday’s game with an elbow injury. He was able to return later in the third quarter.

Because of the poor line play, Atlanta cannot run the ball or protect Matt Ryan. The Falcons are ranked 27th in rushing offense with 70 yards per game. Ryan has 8 TD’s and 6 interceptions this season.

He’s second in the league in passing yards behind Patrick Mahomes by less than 200 yards. The difference is Mahomes has 10 TD’s and no INT’s.

There are two division rivals playing with backup quarterbacks and Atlanta still will not win the division. Hopefully they end up with a top 5 pick at the end of the year.

The Best Of The Best

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The season has been somewhat unpredictable for 7A teams.

Marietta started the season ranked No. 1 in Georgia and they were nationally ranked. They lost at Grayson 28-14 on September 13. The Blue Devils (3-1) had a bye week after that and they play Edgewater (FL) this week. Marietta dropped to No. 4 in the polls.

Grayson (4-0) is the new top team in the state. They beat Westlake 32-21 last week. The Rams trailed 14-7 at halftime but scored three touchdowns in the third quarter.

Lafayette Gurvin rushed for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns and had a fourth TD receiving. They play at Colquitt County this week.

No. 2 McEachern (4-0) beat Collins Hill 30-14. The Indians led 30-0 in the third quarter, and Collins Hill got most of its 220 yards in the fourth quarter.

Jordon Simmons rushed for 73 yards on 12 carries. They have a bye week now but the next game is 10/4 against East Coweta (1-3).

No. 3 Lowndes (5-0) beat Miami Northwestern (FL) 48-21. The Vikings led 35-7 at halftime, held Northwestern to minus-12 yards rushing and routed a team that entered ranked No. 22 nationally in MaxPreps’ Xcellent 25. Northwestern was Florida’s Class 6A champion last season.

Lowndes QB Jacurri Brown rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Gary Osby rushed for 83 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. They play their archrival Valdosta Friday.

No. 5 Colquitt County (3-1) beat Warner Robins at home 31-14.

Jaycee Harden passed for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns, three to Lemeke Brockington.

The Packers lost the game before that at Valdosta 50-49. Colquitt has played an extremely tough schedule before the region play begins. No. 1 Grayson comes to town this Friday for another battle of top teams.

No. 6 Archer (3-1) demolished Norcross 31-0. The Tigers led 10-0 at halftime, then scored three third-quarter touchdowns and shut out Norcross for the second consecutive season.

Archer rushed for 190 yards with no player over 70. This week’s game is at Buford (4-0) and the Wolves are the top ranked team in 5A.

Buford just beat an undefeated 7A team (Newton) 42-14 last week so this is a heavyweight matchup.

No. 7 North Gwinnett (3-1) blew out a good Walton team 35-0. Devin Crosby rushed for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns on 13 carries. Walton was shut out for the first time since 2014 and just the third time this decade.

No. 8 Camden County (5-0) beat Brunswick 48-20. It is impressive to see the Wildcats back in the top 10. Their next game is at Glynn Academy.

No. 9 Hillgrove (4-0) won a close game against Etowah 27-24.

Jose Chaires kicked a 27-yard field goal in overtime after Reuben Lowery got a hand on Etowah’s field-goal attempt in the first OT possession.

The Hawks forced four turnovers and took a 17-7 lead in the third quarter when Jourdan Smith returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown.

Garrett Wilds rushed for 86 yards, and Matthew McCravy passed for 242. Their next game is at South Forsyth (3-1).

No. 10 Parkview (2-1) beat Tift County 20-7. Tift County is only 1-4 so this is not impressive.

Cody Brown was held to less than 10 yards rushing in the first half. He finished with 142 and his 92-yard run in the fourth quarter put the game away. The one good team they played is Lowndes and Vikings thrashed the Panthers 38-7.

Lifting Off?

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We are only 2 weeks into the NFL season so there are still many questions that have not been answered.

The team I’m specifically referring to is the Atlanta Falcons. They lost the season opener at Minnesota. Then they rebounded and won a Sunday night game against Philadelphia.

They looked like two different teams. In the first game, the Vikings ran all over Atlanta and won 28-12. They only threw the ball 10 times, which is unheard of in 2019.

What I find troubling about this is head coach Dan Quinn. He is a former defensive coordinator from the Seattle Seahawks. He was there during their last Super Bowl run. Logically, we expected him to turn the Falcons into an elite defense and that has not happened yet.

There were several key injuries last season to players like Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen and Deion Jones. All of those players returned to start the season and the defense gave up 111 yards and 2 touchdowns to Dalvin Cook.

Minnesota missed the playoffs last season and they are not a contender this year. A loss like that makes me scratch my head.

The next game against the Eagles is completely different. They just won the Super Bowl in 2017 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs in 2018. They are considered the best team in their division.

Atlanta won the game 24-20. They forced Carson Wentz to throw 2 interceptions. They also held Philly to only 49 yards rushing. That’s impressive but the Eagles are not a good running team so we have to take that into account.

Matt Ryan threw for 320 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 picks. They rushed for 57 yards. Julio Jones scored 2 touchdowns and had 106 receiving yards.

He became the franchise’s career leader in receiving yards with his winning score, passing Roddy White.

“He’s had a lot of great ones, that’s for sure,” said quarterback Matt Ryan. “It’s special for him to break a record that way, in such a critical situation, in such a clutch moment. That’s pretty cool.”

Calvin Ridley had his second 100-yard receiving game of his career, hauling in 8 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.

Falcons rookie tackle Kaleb McGary was injured in the second quarter with a left knee injury. He did return in the fourth quarter.

That’s good news because he should be able to continue playing for the rest of the season. He’s one of the two linemen drafted by Atlanta in the first round. The other, guard Chris Lindstrom broke his foot in the first game and was placed on IR.

Last season the team struggled to protect Ryan and that might be an issue this season. The team also cannot run the ball. That means Ryan will have to throw more so the chance for interceptions goes up.

Previously Atlanta has played to the level of their competition and that has not changed. The next four games are against Indianapolis, Tennessee, Houston and Arizona. They should be favored to win all of those games.

The schedule gets tougher Week 7 with home games against the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle. Week 9 is the bye week.

Drew Brees has ligament damage in his right thumb and he will undergo surgery. He could miss 6 weeks. That means the team that was the favorite in the NFC South is now just as bad as Carolina and Tampa Bay.

By default, the Falcons are the best team in the division. Let’s see if they take advantage and build a big division lead.

Week 3 Matchups

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The college football season is underway.

So far, the best matchup was with top-10 teams LSU and Texas. Let’s take a look at some of the best Week 3 games.

No. 9 Florida @ Kentucky: Both teams are 2-0. The Wildcats got the first win in the series last season since 1986. Star running back Benny Snell left for the NFL after his junior season. Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson will miss the remainder of the season with a torn patellar tendon in his left knee.

Feleipe Franks can keep the other team in the game with turnovers. I’m expecting him to play well and the Gators just have more talent. They should get revenge and start a new 30 plus year win streak in this series.

Stanford @ No. 17 UCF: Notre Dame transfer QB Brandon Wimbush started the season opener, a 62-0 win over Florida A&M. He did not play in the last game against FAU and true freshman Dillon Gabriel started. Coach Josh Heupel was vague, saying Wimbush was not 100% after game 1.

The Cardinal lost badly to USC last week. The Trojans star quarterback went down and true freshman Kedon Slovis came in and passed for 377 yards, 3 touchdowns with no interceptions.

The question is, can the same thing happen this week? Will a bigger Power 5 school regret coming to Orlando to play UCF? I don’t think so. Stanford is more talented and physical than the Knights. It will not matter who they have at QB.

No. 6 Ohio State @ Indiana: We all know Justin Fields transferred from UGA and was able to play immediately. He’s played well in his first two games, throwing for 458 yards, 6 TD’s with 0 picks. He’s also rushed for 103 yards and 3 TD’s. Both teams are undefeated but the Buckeyes are the clear favorite.

Fields is an early front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, which is why this game is important. OSU also has a great running back in J.K. Dobbins that will run for over one hundred yards and multiple scores.

No. 2 Alabama @ South Carolina: This is the first true road game for the Crimson Tide. Anything can happen going into hostile conditions. Bama has star QB and Heisman front-runner Tua Tagovailoa and the best receiving corps in college football.

The Game Cocks lost the season opener to North Carolina. They bounced back and beat FCS Charleston Southern. Starting quarterback Jake Bentley fractured his left foot and will undergo season-ending surgery.

Nick Saban snapped at the media Saturday after being questioned about playing New Mexico State. I expect him to be hard on the team this week and they will come out on fire against SEC competition. They should win by 30 plus.

No. 1 Clemson @ Syracuse: The Orangemen were ranked 21st nationally when Saturday started. They ended with a 63-20 loss to unranked Maryland. They have played Clemson close over the previous two seasons, including a home win in 2017.

Trevor Lawrence looked amazing in last season’s national championship game. He received a ton of hype coming into the season and he’s been disappointing thus far. He threw 2 interceptions and 1 TD in the season opener against Georgia Tech. On the season, he has 3 picks and 2 touchdowns with a quarterback rating of 77.3, putting him outside of the Top 20 nationally.

This should be a bounce back game for him and the Tigers will roll.

Program Killer

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

We’re all ecstatic that college football season is back.

We normally reflect on past greats and talk about their amazing performances. I think of guys that won national championships or Heisman’s like Tim Tebow, Tommie Frazier, Matt Leinart, Vince Young and Ken Dorsey.

There is another side to this, people that were highly recruited but never lived up to the hype in college. We can even go far enough to say they set their program back for several years with their poor play.

The top name that comes to mind is Chris Rix.

He was in the inaugural Elite 11 QB Camp. He led the California team to victory over Florida in the CaliForida Bowl 1 at the Rose Bowl and was one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation.

Rix arrived in Tallahassee in the Fall of 2000 and was red shirted. He got to watch Chris Wienke’s senior season, a Heisman-winning campaign that ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the national championship game.

Florida State was an amazing program during this time. The Seminoles finished the season ranked in the top five for 14 consecutive years at the end of 2000.

They won the ACC Championship 9 times, one for every year they were in the conference. They won two national championships during this time. They also played in the first three BCS national championship games from 1998-2000.

It’s safe to say expectations were high going in to the 2001 season. Rix was the only four-year starting QB Bobby Bowden ever had but that was not the plan.

Florida State typically had quarterbacks play backup for two years then play for two years, normally taking a redshirt to make that happen.

That was how it worked for Peter Tom Willis (started 1988-89), Casey Weldon (90-91), Charlie Ward (92-93), Danny Kanell (94-95), and Thad Busby (96-97). Redshirt junior Jared Jones would have been the starter but he got in off the field trouble.

Mark Richt gave him the option to sit another year and lose that year of eligibility or leave the team. Jones bolted to play minor league baseball.

Rix was forced to start and coincidentally the program took a nosedive. We can say that FSU dynasty ended September 22. 2001 against North Carolina.

Going in to that game they never lost to UNC and had only lost two conference games since joining the ACC in 1991. The year before they beat the Tar Heels 63-14.

The 0-3 Heels destroyed No. 6 FSU, 41-9. Rix threw an interception and lost 2 fumbles. Miami snapped a 54-game home winning streak in a blowout, 49-27. Rix lost 2 fumbles and threw 4 picks against the Hurricanes.

The ‘Noles lost to NC State at home which was the first home conference loss, snapping the 39-game streak.

Rix was still named ACC Rookie of the Year in 2001. His best statistical season was in 2003 and he passed for 3,107 yards with 23 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

He was a turnover machine that seemed to really crumble in big games. He finished with a 25-11 record as a starter. He’s also the only QB to lose to the same team 5 times in his career (Miami).

He missed the 2003 Sugar Bowl because he overslept and missed an exam, which caused him to get suspended from the game.

On a positive note he ranks second in school history in passes attempted, completed, and touchdowns thrown.

The team was actually worse from 2005-2009 after he left. In retrospect maybe he was a good player in a bad situation?

Corky Kell Classic 2019

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Week 1 of the Georgia high school football season is in the books.

We’re going to take a look at the Corky Kell Classic, which matches up some of the best teams in the state.

Calhoun vs Ridgeland: The Yellow Jackets won big, 38-8 over Ridgeland. Calhoun has won 19 consecutive region titles (2001-18) and they will have another deep playoff run in AAA.

This was the coaching debut for Calhoun’s Clay Stephenson. Jerrian Hames rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

Marietta vs Rome: This is a 7A against 5A matchup with both teams ranked in the top five.

The Blue Devils won 48-14. Marietta is the most talented team in the state with 9 seniors ranked in the top 100 prospects in the state. Quarterback Harrison Bailey, a Tennessee commitment, threw 5 touchdown passes.

Five-star tight end Arik Gilbert had 9 receptions for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

Archer @ Tucker: This game was supposed to be played at Coolray Field, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers (formerly Braves). There were thunderstorms Friday that caused this game and the Milton/Buford games to get postponed.

This game was moved to Saturday and Archer, No. 4 in 7A traveled to 6A Tucker. The away Tigers beat the home Tigers, 41-7. Schmari Campbell rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown on 7 carries. Carter Peevy threw for 163 yards.

The Buford vs Milton game is rescheduled for September 6.

Mays vs Kell: This game kicked off the Saturday action at Mercedes Benz Stadium. Mays is led by three-star defensive end JaQuari Wiggles, who is committed to Georgia Tech. The Longhorns from Kell beat the Raiders 17-12 in a hard-fought game.

Walton vs Norcross: Walton is looking to improve on a great 2018 season where they finished 10-2.

Norcross won back-to-back state titles in 2012-13, but they have not had that kind of success in recent years. Walton won 21-20 making this the closest game. Norcross played three quarterbacks, which made the offense struggle at times. The Blue Devils missed two costly field goals.

Colquitt County vs North Gwinnett: This was a rematch of the 2017 7A state title game. The No.2 Packers won 17-6. The Bulldogs held Colquitt Co. to 160 yards of total offense but lost the turnover battle 2-0.

McEachern vs Brookwood: This 7A matchup featured two great programs. The Broncos won seven games last season so I expected them to be a good team in 2019.

The No. 8 McEachern Indians won big, 48-10. Carlos Del Rio-Wilson was 15-of-18 passing for 251 yards and 2 touchdowns. Javon Baker had 5 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown.

East Coweta vs Mill Creek: The Mill Creek Hawks won eight games in 2018 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. They lost to the 7A state champs, Milton.

The Indians only won three regular season games but they were all region games. They also advanced to the second round of the playoffs last year.

Mill Creek steamrolled East Coweta, 38-6.

 

Prowling Panthers

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Georgia State started their football program in 2010. They have not been around long so they have a built-in excuse to not be successful.

That is until we compare them to another local program like Kennesaw State that just started playing football in 2015. The Owls are one of the best teams in the country at the FCS level.

The Panthers had an awful 2018 season, finishing 2-10. One of the wins was against KSU, 24-20. When an FBS team barely beats an FCS opponent, you know it’s going to be a long season.

Head coach Shawn Elliott is entering his third season in Atlanta. He did well in his first season and led GSU to their first bowl win in school history.

The offense is led by senior quarterback Dan Ellington. Last season he passed for 2,119, 12 touchdowns and 5 picks. He completed 60% of his passes. He was also the leading rusher with 625 yards and 5 TD’s on the ground.

I think he can have a good 2019 season and the offense should be the strength of the team. They return their top three rushers, all but one receiver and five offensive linemen with starting experience.

The defense was awful last season and injuries played a factor. Three returning players in the secondary missed a combined 13 games. That led to freshmen having to play and they were torched.

The Panthers finished 126th in total defense, out of 130 FBS teams. They gave up 490 yards per game and 37 points per game.

Georgia State signed the No. 3 recruiting class in the Sun Belt in 2018 and the fifth in 2019. There should be players on the roster ready to step up this season.

8/31 at Tennessee: This will be a blowout loss. The Vols are an SEC team with superior talent at every position so this is expected.

9/7 Furman: This is an FCS team so GA State is favored. The Paladins are a good team, finishing 6-2 in conference play in 2018. I expect this to be a close game but the Panthers win.

9/14 at Western Michigan: The Broncos won the 2018 game 34-15. I expect a similar result and WMU wins by 20 points.

9/21 at Texas State: The Bobcats also finished Sun Belt conference play 1-7, last place in their division. This will be an easy win for the Panthers.

10/5 Arkansas State: After a bye week GSU returns home. The Red Wolves are a good team. They will win this game by double digits.

10/12 at Coastal Carolina: Coastal Carolina just moved up to the FBS level in 2017. They won last season’s game 37-34. Georgia State should get revenge this season.

10/19 Army: The Black Knights run the triple option and are hard to stop. They should rush for 400 yards and a win.

10/26 Troy: Troy was 7-1 in conference play last year and they are one of the best teams in the division. I expect them to win big.

9/9 at ULM: The Panthers thrashed Louisiana-Monroe 46-14 in 2018. They finished 6-6 so this was a big upset. GA State should beat them again.

9/16 Appalachian State: App State is the class of the conference. They will win big.

9/23 South Alabama: The Jaguars only won two conference games a season ago. They will lose this game also.

9/30 at Georgia Southern: The season ends with a rivalry game. The Eagles are very good so they will win.

I expect Georgia State to improve and win 5 games in 2019.

 

Rolling Tide

By: Kenneth Harrison

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Alabama has been the gold standard in college football for almost a century. The Crimson Tide won their first national championship in 1925 and they have more than any other program (17). They also have the best coach in the sport, Nick Saban.

Since showing up in Tuscaloosa, back in 2007 he transformed them into the best program of the past decade. They are the bullies of the SEC and outside of their own fan base most fans have grown tired of them.

They had another undefeated season and made it to the national championship game again. They play Clemson almost every year in the CFP but this time the result was shocking. They were blown out 44-16. This was the worst loss of Saban’s career since he’s been at Alabama.

Bama is led by Heisman finalist Tua Tagovailoa. He started the season off great but he started getting injured late. His play slipped, possibly because of this or maybe defenses started to adjust to him. He passed for 3,966 yards, 43 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

They normally are loaded at running back but they have a big hole to fill this season. They lost senior Damien Harris and junior Josh Jacobs. Jacobs was drafted in the first round, the 24th overall pick.

The Tide reload every season and they have the top ranked running back in last year’s recruiting class, Trey Sanders. The five-star back suffered a serious foot injury last week and he’s out indefinitely.

The schedule works in their favor. The season starts on the last day of August, a neutral site game against Duke. The game is in Atlanta and this will be an easy blow out win.

This is the first home game against New Mexico State. The Aggies are completely overmatched. The Crimson Tide should score no less than 50 points in this win.

Alabama travels to Columbia, South Carolina. The Gamecocks are an average team so this will be another easy game.

They return home to face Southern Miss. Bama should score 40-plus points and the starters should be able to sit on the bench in the second half.

Ole Miss comes to Tuscaloosa. The Rebels are on probation for three years. They recruited well under Hugh Freeze but that has come to an end.

The talented players from those teams transferred last year. They are a shell of themselves and don’t stand a chance.

Alabama is taking a trip to College Station. Texas A&M has not beaten the Tide since they first joined the SEC in 2012. This is a very one-sided series and that won’t change. This is a very tough environment to play in though.

Tennessee has the worst luck in the SEC. They are the team in the East that has to play Alabama every year. They’ll get demolished yet again.

Arkansas is a bottom dweller in the West. Bama will beat them by at least three touchdowns.

This is the toughest game of the year, home against LSU. Last season The Tigers lost 29-0. I think they put up a better fight but still lose by double digits.

Mississippi State has developed into a solid program over the last decade. They do not have the talent to beat the Tide though.

This is the tune up before the season finale versus FCS Western Carolina. This is another blowout victory.

The season ends at Auburn. The Tigers have so many question marks that I don’t see them being able to compete.

I expect them to finish the regular season undefeated and get back to the CFP.

Buzzing For 2019

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr.

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Paul Johnson was the head coach at Georgia Tech for 11 seasons and the program started to struggle in his final years.

There was very little excitement because he recruited poorly and ran an archaic offense that no other Power 5 school uses.

Now, we are entering the first season under Geoff Collins. Prior to becoming head coach at Temple, Collins was one of the nation’s most respected defensive coordinators, serving in the role at Florida, Mississippi State, FIU and his alma mater, Western Carolina.

He is the only coach to ever be nominated for the Broyles Award, given to college football’s top assistant coach, at three different schools.

The biggest change for the Yellow Jackets will be the offense. CPJ ran the old school triple option out of the flexbone. Tech is now an Air Raid team and they do not have the players to do that successfully.

This is basically trying to fit a square peg in a round hole because the players on the roster were recruited to run the old offense. Under Johnson, they typically passed less than 5 times per game.

Now the quarterbacks are expected to read defenses and pass regularly. Quarterbacks James Graham and Lucas Johnson played in the spring game. Tobias Oliver got significant playing time last season but he’s clearly a runner.

I do expect the offense to struggle. Under CPJ the offense was strong, and the defense was always weak. I expect the trend to continue on defense, at least for this season.

Collins is a defensive coach so he might help them improve some, but they still have a lack of talent. In 2018 they ranked 43rd nationally in total defense. They gave up 368 yards per game and 29 points per game.

That stat is frightening when you consider that Tech normally controlled the clock on offense and dominated time of possession.

The season kicks off August 29 at Clemson. This is a Thursday night game so everyone will tune in to watch the defending national champions in Death Valley.

This used to be considered a rivalry game, but it is extremely one-sided now. They haven’t beaten the Tigers since 2014 and that won’t change now.

They begin September at home against USF. The Bulls beat GT last season 48-38. They had superior speed and talent then and I cannot see that being different now. South Florida should win.

An FCS opponent, The Citadel comes to town next. This will be an easy win and it should give the team some confidence.

After a bye week, Tech goes on the road to Philadelphia to face coach Collins’ former team, Temple. The Owls were 8-5 last season. They did lose to an FCS team (Villanova) and they were blown out against the only ACC opponent (Duke) they faced in their bowl game. I think this will be a tough game but give the edge to GT.

The first conference game is against UNC in Atlanta. The Tar Heels are bad; this will be an easy win.

Next, they travel to Durham to face Duke. The Blue Devils have owned this series lately, but they lost their quarterback who was a top 10 pick. I’ll take the Ramblin Wreck.

The next five games will be difficult. They include Miami, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and NC State. I think they have a chance in only two of them, Pitt and NC State.

The season ends at home versus UGA. Unfortunately, the Dawgs will annihilate Tech.

I think it will be tough to become bowl eligible, but the future looks bright.

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