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SEC Preseason Report: Eli’s coming, and so is Kentucky

Jul 9, 2002 5:03 AM

TENNESSEE:

Head coach: Philip Fulmer, 11th year.

Player to watch: WR Kelley Washington (65 rec)

2001-02 ATS record: 6-5

Victory margin: +12

Comments: Only three of 12 games outside state of Tennessee”¦ Recruiting class ranked among Top 3 in USA”¦Fulmer 95-20 (.826) in first 10 years”¦ Lost Travis Stephens (RB), Donte Stallworth (WR) and Albert Haynesworth (DL) to NFL.

 

FLORIDA:

Head coach: Ron Zook, 1st year.

Player to watch: QB Rex Grossman (34 TDs last year)

2001-02 ATS record: 8-4

Victory margin: +30

Comments: Eight players taken in NFL draft, third highest in school history”¦Only team besides Nebraska to win at least nine games the past 12 seasons. WR Taylor Jacobs (Orange Bowl MVP) returns. Must play both Miami and FSU this year.

 

LSU:

Head coach: Nick Saban, 3rd year.

Player to watch: RB LaBrandon Toefield (1,200 yds, 7 gms)

2001-02 ATS record: 6-6

Victory margin: +9

Comments: Must find a replacement for SEC’s best receiver Josh Reed and QB Rohan Davey”¦Offense set six school records last year”¦Saban is 61-33-1 at LSU, Michigan State and Toledo”¦Injury-prone Toefield rushed for 1,200 yards in just seven games last year.

 

GEORGIA:

Head coach: Mark Richt, 2nd year.

Player to watch: OT Jon Stinchcomb

2001-02 ATS record: 5-7

Victory margin: +9

Comments: Stinchcomb and LB Boss Bailey were nominated for The Sporting News Preseason All-American team”¦TSN ranks the Bulldogs rated No. 5 in the nation”¦Georgia has won at least eight games for a school-record five straight years.

 

AUBURN:

Head coach: Tommy Tuberville, 3rd year.

Player to watch: RB Carnell Williams (5.1 ave as FR)

2001-02 ATS record: 4-8

Victory margin: —2

Comments: Jason Campbell and Daniel Cobb have yet to establish themselves as a pure No. 1 QB”¦Could bolt to 3-0 start if victorious in rare West Coast game at USC. 62 of the 80 roster players are sophomores and freshmen. Was 7-0 SU at home last year.

 

S. CAROLINA:

Head coach: Lou Holtz, 4th year.

Player to watch: QB Corey Jenkins

2001-02 ATS record: 5-5

Victory margin: +5

Comments: Jenkins, ex-No. 1 pick of the Red Sox, was third on USC in rushing last year. With luck, could be 7-0 SU heading into Oct. 19 game at LSU. Defense allowed 17 points or less in 10 of 12 games. Top KR/WR Ryan Brewer recovering from ankle surgery.

 

ARKANSAS:

Head coach: Houston Nutt, 4th year.

Player to watch: DB Ken Hamlin.

2001-02 ATS record: 8-3

Victory margin: —1

Comments: Nagurski candidate Hamlin was suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules. QB Zak Clark, who started 10 games last year, transferred to Central Arkansas”¦ Won 7 OT thriller over Ole Miss. Six of first eight games at home.

 

OLE MISS:

Head coach: David Cutcliffe, 4th year.

Player to watch: QB Eli Manning

2001-02 ATS record: 4-6

Victory margin: +8

Comments: Less than 10,000 season tickets remain in a rebirth of interest in Oxford”¦ Manning, who set 16 school records last year, was picked to Playboy preseason All-America team”¦Ole Miss 23-13 SU under Cutcliffe”¦Rebels return 53 players, including 14 starters.

 

ALABAMA:

Head coach: Dennis Franchione, 1st year.

Player to watch: 5-8 RB Shaud Williams

2001-02 ATS record: 5-7

Victory margin: +8

Comments: Williams came over with Franchione from TCU”¦Need freshman redshirt Freddie Roach to replace LB Saleem Rasheed, who left Bama early for the NFL”¦Early acid test in Week 2 at Oklahoma”¦NCAA banned Tide from bowl games for two years”¦

 

KENTUCKY:

Head coach: Guy Morriss, 2nd year.

Player to watch: QB Jared Lorenzen

2001-02 ATS record: 5-6

Victory margin: —9

Comments: After Oct. 20, the Wildcats led the SEC in passing offense (376 YPG) and averaged 29.8 PPG”¦Morriss is more comfortable at UK and will use a number of redshirted players from last year on defense”¦Glenn Pakulak (44.5) is an All-SEC punter.

 

MISSISSIPPI ST:

Head coach: Jackie Sherrill, 12th year.

Player to watch: QB Kevin Fant

2001-02 ATS record: 6-5

Victory margin: —8

Comments: With Spurrier gone, Sherrill (70-56-2) is now dean of SEC coaches”¦Normally stingy defense allowed 24 points or more six times, including final four games”¦ Fant threw four TDs in spring game and could quickly make Bulldogs forget Madkin.

 

VANDERBILT:

Head coach: Bobby Johnson, 1st year.

Player to watch: WR Dan Stricker

2001-02 ATS record: 4-6

Victory margin: —16

Comments: Stricker has posted over 2,000 receiving yards over the past two years 6-foot-4 freshman QB Jay Cutler, 15-0 in high school, may emerge as the starter in a pass-option offense. Opener at Georgia Tech is first meeting between the schools in 34 years.