Just days before what is likely the most pivotal SEC East game left on the schedule, Georgia is down its best player with Todd Gurley suspended indefinitely: University of Georgia tailback Todd Gurley has been indefinitely suspended from competition by the UGA Athletic Association during an ongoing investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules.
"I'm obviously very disappointed," said UGA head football coach Mark Richt. "The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation for Missouri." Bruce Feldman is hearing that this is related to "whether Gurley accepted extra benefits for his likeness with memorabilia brokers". Georgia beat writer Seth Emerson is hearing the same thing.
No. 7 Alabama at Arkansas, ESPN: Like Tennessee, Arkansas has made some good teams -- namely Auburn and Texas A&M -- sweat before eventually putting away the Razorbacks. Bret Bielema's team is much improved, but it needs a conference win in the worst way. The Hogs are at home today against Alabama, which helps, but it will be a tall order to avoid an 0-3 start in SEC play. Nick Saban's Crimson Tide hobbles into the game after Ole Miss beat them 23-17 last week, with the Tide losing a few key players to injury. If Alabama struggles to contain Alex Collins, Jonathan Williams and the Razorbacks' physical rushing attack, this one could get interesting
"He's big," Jennings told reporters in Fayetteville on Wednesday. "He's basically one of the SEC versions of Calvin Johnson. He's a Megatron. He's unbelievably light on his feet. He goes up and makes tough catches. He can track the ball in the air once it's thrown downfield. He does a great job."
Cooper leads the nation with an average of 10.4 receptions per game. He trails only West Virginia's Kevin White in receiving yards per game (149.2). Cooper has already surpassed his reception, receiving yard and touchdown totals from his sophomore season.
And despite fielding a unit full of top talent, Alabama's kickoff coverage ranks 103rd nationally through five games. Tide opponents are averaging 23.2 yards per return while national leader Tulsa is surrendering 13.7. A year ago, Alabama opponents averaged 20.6 yards per return after allowing 21.6 in 2012.
That's important entering the 5 p.m. Saturday game at Arkansas. The Razorbacks have the nation's No. 3 kickoff return average of 30.9 yards per attempt.
Arkansas had teased that the Razorbacks would have a few tweaks to their uniforms to honor the 1964 team. It turns out they're going to wear near-complete throwbacks to take on Alabama.
The jerseys? Just red with white numbers. No names on the back. No "Arkansas" or "Razorbacks" on the front. There's a Nike logo and an old-fashioned Hog at the bottom of the V-neck. No Pumbaa. (Although the Hog is a different shade of red than the jerseys. Which is odd. But whatevs.)
Alabama: A compliment to Cooper Amari Cooper has been exceptional this season. Through the first five games, he leads the SEC in receptions (52) and yards (746), and is tied for second in the league with five touchdowns. But despite Cooper’s best efforts against Ole Miss, nine catches for 91 yards, the Alabama passing game still struggled in last Saturday’s loss to Ole Miss. That is because the Crimson Tide need somebody else to step up. There is no lack of talent in Tuscaloosa.
Tight end O.J. Howard is as gifted athletically as you will find at the position, but he is hardly used. Howard finally made a big play last weekend, but he was also responsible for a critical holding penalty on the last drive. The bigger surprise has been wide receiver Christion Jones. The senior was expected to play a bigger role this season, but he is averaging two catches per game, and his season-high in yards is 52 against Southern Miss.
To make matters worse, it was his fumble on a kickoff return that led to Ole Miss scoring the game-winning touchdown. The loss of Kenyan Drake didn’t help either. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin had been using him out wide in certain sets, and no other back on the team provides that type of versatility.
"He knew going in that it was going to be a waiting time, that he was going to have to put his time in, was going to learn from some good running backs in front of him," Bolding said. "He set himself back a little bit with some decisions he made, obviously, that didn't help him. The biggest with him is he learned from it."
Less than two weeks later, everything's changed for Tenpenny. Jones is out with an injured finger and Drake is gone for the season with a broken leg. Suddenly, as Alabama prepares to face the in-state school Tenpenny rejected when he signed with the Crimson Tide, he's in position to make significant contributions outside of what he's already been doing on special teams.
"Altee has done whatever we've asked him to do this whole season and done a good job of it," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "He's working hard now to be able to make a contribution to the offense when he's needed."
"This is not a really uncommon football injury," Saban said during his Thursday radio show. "He will not have any significant future issues or problems. "This is something he'll recover from." Saban, who went into great detail about the surgery Drake underwent, said Drake was in his office Thursday and appeared to be in good spirits. His rehabilitation has already begun, and he's anticipated to be "walking, jogging, doing some things" in six weeks. In eight to 10 weeks, he'll be "going full speed again."
Perhaps Saban was simply reading the room, but his prognosis seemed much rosier than it did Monday, when he said it would be eight to 10 weeks before Drake "could even think about playing football again."
Speaking on his weekly radio show Thursday, Saban made a few statements directed at McCarron's comments about leadership and Alabama's offensive philosophy.
"Contrary to what people think or what was said this week, we have good leadership on this team," Saban said. "We have good guys on this team and we have guys who work hard. Blake Sims has done a phenomenal job. Ryan Kelly has done a phenomenal job with his leadership. They're positive. They're upbeat."
On this week's episode of Hey Coach!, head coach Nick Saban discusses Alabama's upcoming game at Arkansas on Saturday at 5 p.m., and Kenyan Drake's injury recovery, among other things.