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Florida announces hiring of strength and conditioning coach Nick Savage

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Dan Mullen continues to add to his football staff.

Florida on Monday announced that Mullen has added Nick Savage as the Gators’ director of football strength and conditioning. Savage changed his Twitter avatar earlier in the day to a Gator logo.

Savage has six years of experience as a strength coach at the college football level. He spent the past four years at Mississippi State under Mullen, including the final two as the Bulldogs’ head strength and conditioning coach. Prior to that, Savage spent time at Bowling Green, Toledo and Ohio State in 2013 and 2014.

Savage joins a long list of new assistants that have worked under Mullen, including defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive assistants Billy Gonzales, John Hevesy and Brian Johnson.

The strength and conditioning program was one that both Mullen and athletic director Scott Stricklin emphasized as a need for improvement during Mullen’s introductory press conference.

“I think it’s critical. It’s the backbone. I think any successful program has a really strong strength and conditioning program that builds accountability, and I think programs that aren’t as successful usually are lacking in that area,” Stricklin said.

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Jordan McPherson – SEC Country

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Florida football: A closer look at Brian Johnson’s success as a QB coach

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Brian Johnson knows what it’s like to be a successful college football quarterback because he was one during his time at Utah from 2004-2008.

Johnson passed for 7,853 yards, 57 touchdowns and 27 interceptions with 848 rushing yards and 12 scores during his career at Utah’s starting quarterback. He finished his playing career with the most wins by a Utes starting QB, going 26-7. The biggest of those wins came at the close of the 2008 season and the close of Johnson’s playing career when his sixth-ranked Utes defeated fourth-ranked Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to cap an undefeated season. Johnson threw for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 65.9 percent of his passes against the Crimson Tide.

After a year playing professionally with the New York Sentinels of the United Football League in 2009, Johnson is now making a name for himself as a college football quarterbacks coach, helping groom the up-and-comers of the game at a position where he excelled.

His next stop: The Florida Gators, where he will be reunited with coach Dan Mullen, who recruited him to Utah. The Gators are a team that desperately needs consistency and continuity at the quarterback position after going through 11 starters the past eight seasons.

Here’s a closer look at Johnson’s resume and how he has fared with developing quarterbacks and passing games at his previous three stops.

Houston (2017)

Johnson most recently served as Houston’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the 2017 season under first-year coach Major Applewhite. The Cougars went 7-4 on the season, but Johnson’s offense ranked 35th overall in yardage (436.1 per game) and 38th in passing offense (260.6 yards per game). Houston sustained its success in the passing game despite using three different quarterbacks throughout the season.

Junior Kyle Allen, a Texas A&M transfer and former top-ranked pro-style quarterback recruit according to the 247Sports composite, opened the season as the starter and threw for 751 yards, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in three games before being benched in favor of senior Kyle Postma. Postma started the next four games of the year and led Houston to a 2-2 record while throwing for 975 yards, 4 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.

Postma was benched early in his fifth start against USF in favor of sophomore D’Eriq King, who led the Cougars to a 28-24 come-from-behind victory and afterward was named the starter for the remainder of the year. In the final three games of the regular season, King completed 73 percent of his passes for 832 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception while averaging 11.2 yards per pass attempt.

Mississippi State (2014-2016)

Johnson served as Mississippi State’s quarterbacks coach during the final two years of the Dak Prescott era (2014-2015) and, with Mullen, helped morph Prescott into an eventual NFL talent. Prescott threw for 7,242 yards, 56 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in those two seasons while leading Mississippi State to a 19-7 record overall in that time span. Prescott also rushed for 1,574 and 24 touchdowns in those two seasons.

In Johnson’s final year at Mississippi State and lone year without Prescott behind center, redshirt sophomore Nick Fitzgerald completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 2,423 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also ran for a team-best 1,375 yards and 16 touchdowns that season, joining Louisville’s Lamar Jackson and South Florida’s Quinton Flowers as the only quarterbacks with at least 2,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards that season.

Utah (2010-2013)

Johnson’s coaching career started at his alma mater after his playing career ended. He served solely as the quarterbacks coach from 2010-2011 before assuming offensive coordinator duties for the final two years.

In his coaching debut, Johnson helped the Utes finish 47th in passing offense, averaging 236.1 yards per game through the air to go along with 24 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions as the Utes finished 10-3 overall and 7-1 in the Mountain West Conference.

Utah transitioned to the Pac-12 at the start of the 2011 season and the offensive numbers took a hit as a result over Johnson’s final three years. After two seasons ranked in the bottom 20 in total offense, the Utes finished 76th nationally in 2013 (397 yards per game) and 62nd in passing offense (236.3 yards per game).

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Jordan McPherson – SEC Country

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Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze: RB Jordan Wilkins poised for ‘a special year’

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Looking back at a disastrous 2016 season for Ole Miss, you can choose from a slew of factors that triggered the collapse: injuries, coaching and dismal defense among them. The absence of a decent running game cracks the top 5.

For the second time in three years, the Rebels rushing attack finished 11th among SEC in yards per carry, at 4.25. Only twice did Ole Miss running backs combine for 200 yards rushing in a single game — one of those was against Memphis. And coach Hugh Freeze’s pass-heavy system didn’t help produce balance. Ole Miss rushed the ball 35 times a game, the 12th-lowest rate of any Power 5 team last season.

Still, was the dip in rushing production that surprising? Not really. Ole Miss said goodbye to four senior starters on the offensive line, including first-rounder Laremy Tunsil, after the 2015 season. Then running back Jordan Wilkins learned he would have to sit out the 2016 season because of “an administrative error” related to his academic eligibility.

“The way he handled it made you proud,” Freeze said of Wilkins. “He’s been listening to us about how to handle adversity in life. The leadership role he provides having gone through that gives him even more credibility.”

As the season went downhill, so too did the offensive line’s injury situation. At one point tackle Sean Rawlings became the starting center out of necessity. So, yeah, none of this really set the Rebels up to succeed in rushing.

That could change in 2017, for a couple of reasons.

Number one: Freeze expects big things from Wilkins, a junior who showed great promise in his first two years on campus.

“With the disappointing news of not going to a bowl game next year with our self-imposed deal, I was curious to see how he’d react,” Freeze said. “And he immediately took the charge on, ‘This is how we’re going to handle it.’ I’m just so proud and praying he has a healthy year, because I think he’s going to have a special year.”

Freeze also cited progress he saw across the offensive line, which returns most of its starters from last season. Left tackle Greg Little, a former 5-star recruit, gained valuable experience as a true freshman. Upperclassmen Jordan Sims, Javon Patterson and Daronte Bouldin should anchor the interior.

“I said from Day 1 it would take us four to five years to get the offensive line the way we wanted it,” Freeze said. “I believe if we stay healthy, we’re going to have one of the better offensive lines in the country.

“The job [offensive line coach Matt Luke] has done in recruiting and being able to redshirt finally has paid off for us. Really excited about the comfort level and the chemistry those guys have up there. We’ve got most everybody back.”

It’s hard to gauge whether Ole Miss will show more balance under new coordinator Phil Longo, a disciple of Mike Leach and the Air Raid offense. For what it’s worth, Longo told SEC Country that his philosophy on running the ball differs from other Air Raid gurus including Leach and Kliff Kingsbury.

“At some point I feel like it’s important to have an emphasis on the run game,” Longo said. “I don’t particularly care if we throw or run it 70 times to win a game … As long as it’s what the defense is giving us, I’m all for it.”

However often the Rebels hand the ball to a running back this fall, they’ll at least have the tools to be better on the ground — and that will help sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson and his young receivers.

Read more:

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Alec Shirkey – SEC Country

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Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson sends wake-up call to Crimson Tide

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama basketball coach Avery Johnson decided to send his team a wake-up call, and not just in the figurative sense.

The Crimson Tide had a 6 a.m. practice on Thursday in preparation for it regular-season finale at Texas A&M (Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN2).

“Just try and wake them up,” Johnson said. “We’ve done that before and hopefully it’ll carry over to the game.”

It’s not the first time the coach has called for an early-morning practice at Alabama, the last being two days before the four-overtime 90-86 win against South Carolina in 2017.

The Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9 SEC) have lost four straight games including the 73-52 drubbing by Florida in their final home game on Tuesday. Sophomore forward Braxton Key called the loss “embarrassing.”

Since then the team has hit the film room and has changing things up during the past couple of days. Instead of maybe trying to take a mental break and push a mental reset button the Crimson Tide have gone in the other direction.

“The intensity went higher, we know what’s at stake,” junior guard Avery Johnson Jr. said. “We know that that last game should never happen again.

“It’s March. Everyone’s fighting for the same thing. Nobody’s fighting to go for the NIT.”

After missing 19 consecutive shots in the first half against the Gators, the practice began with some layups.

“It’s a life lesson,” the coach said. “Life is not always going to go as planned, but do you get up the next day with the same motivation, same passion to respond. That’s just the way it is. The season has been very cyclical for a lot of teams.

“We can come out of it. It’s crystal clear of how we can come out of it. It’s just a matter of if we’re going to do it or not.”

Alabama was set to practice again Friday before heading to College Station.

Freshman guard Herbert Jones (head) did not practice on Thursday. His status for the Texas A&M game remains uncertain.

When asked about his team’s chances of still making the NCAA Tournament, Avery Johnson sent another message during his press conference.

“Talk is cheap,” he said. “We have to go play.”

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Christopher Walsh – SEC Country

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Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin takes shot at Kentucky in bizarre press conference answer

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For some reason, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin brought up Kentucky, Louisville and Indiana in his postgame press conference on Sunday. His team played Tulsa.

Following the Bearcats’ 82-74 win, Cronin was asked about his team’s defense slipping a little bit in recent games. The Bearcats have the No. 2 defense in the country per KenPom defensive rankings, and defense has long been the calling card for Cronin’s teams.

But it’s clear that the coach didn’t like the question, especially after a win. So Cronin gave one of the strangest answers to a question in some time.

“I don’t know what people expect,” Cronin said. “I’m allowed to answer you however I want and I’m going to give you a stat. Kentucky, Indiana and Louisville this year combined for 32 losses. Tell me how long it’s taken us to lose 32 games.”

Why Cronin would lump in three teams within a three-hour drive from Cincinnati and say how long it would take for his team to match their collective loss total (which is actually 33, not 32) makes little sense. Yes, Cincinnati is in the midst of a great season, and to this point has had a better year than the three schools he listed. But Indiana is in its first year with Archie Miller, Louisville had to replace Rick Pitino shortly before the season started because of his involvement in the college basketball corruption case, and John Calipari has one of the youngest teams in college basketball.

Kentucky-Missouri analysis: ‘Right before your eyes,’ Cats turning into NCAA Tournament threat

And while Cincinnati is having a great season, it looks like Kentucky is figuring it out. The Wildcats have won their last two games, against likely NCAA Tournament teams Missouri and Arkansas, and looked very impressive in doing so. And Kentucky is playing in a much more difficult conference than Cincinnati, as the Wildcats play in the SEC, which is projected to get eight teams in the NCAA Tournament. The American Athletic Conference, which the Bearcats play in, is only pegged to get three in.

Cincinnati is 25-4 on the season, while Kentucky is 20-9 on the season. The Wildcats take on Ole Miss and Florida to close out the regular season. Kentucky and Ole Miss play on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2).

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Connor Riley – SEC Country

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Alabama football announces hiring of Josh Gattis at wide receivers coach

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football continued to fill out its coaching staff on Thursday as Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban announced the hiring of Josh Gattis as wide receivers coach.

“Josh Gattis is an outstanding addition to our coaching staff,” Saban said. “He is a sharp, young coach who did a great job at Penn State and Vanderbilt before that, and we believe he will bring great energy to our program. He is an excellent recruiter and knows what he is doing in terms of coaching wide receivers and building relationships with the players. We are happy to welcome his wife Tesa and their son Jace to the Crimson Tide program.”

Gattis brings eight years of experience to Alabama, spending six of those seasons working under James Franklin. The last four seasons, Gattis has served as the wide receivers and passing game coordinator along with leading the offensive recruiting efforts for Penn State. During his time in Happy Valley, Gattis helped the Nittany Lions secure four consecutive top-25 recruiting classes, including a pair of top-15 classes in two of the last three seasons. He was selected by Scout.com as the 2015 Big Ten Recruiter of the Year.

Under his tutelage, Chris Godwin broke the Penn State record for juniors with 11 touchdown catches in 2016. During that same season, Godwin amassed 982 receiving yards on his to way to earning Second Team All-Big 10 accolades in 2016. Godwin would finish his career ranked fourth in Penn State annals for career receiving yards (2,404) and touchdowns (18), while ranking sixth in receptions at 153.

“It is a tremendous opportunity to work for Coach Saban and The University of Alabama,” Gattis said. “Coach Saban’s program is the epitome of success and consistency, and to have the chance to be part of that and learn from him is truly a blessing. I am also excited for the chance to work with an outstanding group of players, and I look forward to getting out on that field and coaching.”

Prior to his time with the Nittany Lions, Gattis spent two years on the Vanderbilt staff with Franklin starting in 2012. Serving as the wide receivers coach for the Commodores, Gattis helped Jordan Matthews to All-America accolades twice. Matthews would end his career as the SEC’s leader in receptions (262) and receiving yards (3,759) while also setting the single-season mark for receptions with 107 in 2013.

Before pairing up with Franklin, Gattis spent one season at Western Michigan as the wide receivers coach, where he coached Jordan White to All-America honors in 2011. White led the NCAA in receptions with 140 totaling 1,911 yards during that season and broke numerous Mid-American Conference receiving records.

Gattis began his coaching career as an offensive graduate assistant at North Carolina in 2010.

As a player at Wake Forest, Gattis was twice selected as an All-Atlantic Coast Conference safety in 2005 and 2006. He went on to be selected in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gattis spent part of the 2007 season with Jacksonville before moving on to the Chicago Bears, where he would spend the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

Gattis and his wife, Tesa, have one son, Jace, and a daughter, Reece. Gattis earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wake Forest in 2006.

All such employment contracts are subject to approval by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees.

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Marq Burnett – SEC Country

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Big 12-SEC Challenge: Kentucky coach John Calipari says Big 12, SEC ‘probably the best two leagues’

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — In four years of the Big 12-SEC Challenge, the latter league has never posted a winning record. The former went 20-10 in the first three years before the Southeastern Conference scratched out a 5-all split last season.

But now the SEC finally might have the firepower to take out the Big 12 in this thing. The league has earned a measure of respect since putting three teams in the 2017 Elite Eight and opening this season with several key nonconference victories.

In fact, the SEC is already 4-4 against the Big 12: Back in November, Arkansas beat Oklahoma, Texas A&M took out West Virginia and Oklahoma State, and Missouri beat Iowa State.

The Big 12 has eight top-50 teams in Ken Pomeroy’s metric-based rankings, while the SEC has seven. ESPN’s latest bracketology (updated Thursday) has seven Big 12 teams and eight from the SEC projected in the NCAA Tournament field.

“Look, both leagues are really strong this year,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “I would say right now when you look at RPI and all the other things, probably the best two leagues.”

Calipari’s Wildcats, unranked for the first time since 2014, have arguably the most difficult matchup this year: Saturday night at seventh-ranked West Virginia. The Aggies have a tough one, too, with a trip to fifth-ranked Kansas.

“We probably have the challenge of challenges playing who we’re playing and how they’re playing, on their court where they just don’t lose. Great challenge,” Calipari said. “I’m excited for the challenge and I’m excited for our team to see where we are right now.

“And thank goodness we’re still in January — we still have a solid month and a half to get this thing right.”

RELATED: Calipari’s latest tweak is, essentially, pass the ball

One unfortunate stroke of scheduling luck for the SEC: First-place and 19th-ranked Auburn, which no one predicted would be either of those things, is not participating in the challenge. Instead, on Saturday the Tigers will play LSU, which owns five RPI top-50 wins but also wasn’t invited to the challenge.

So what if the SEC can’t topple the Big 12 this year?

“I don’t think this does anything to hurt what’s happening in our league,” Calipari said. “The only thing that kind of gets me is we have some teams lose a couple games and all of a sudden you start dropping like a rock — not just us. But in other leagues, you lose two or three in a row and it doesn’t really affect you. That’s just the dregs from the old SEC. That’s just the dregs. It’s just not believable.

“We’ve got really good teams in this league right now with really good coaches, and dudes are performing. There are no bad teams in this league — none. [South Carolina coach] Frank Martin and I were talking the other day and he said to me, ‘Cal, there is no game where you walk in and say, OK, we can play bad and still win this.’ No, you’re losing.”

2018 Big 12-SEC Challenge schedule

(All games Saturday; rankings from KenPom.com)

No. 42 Baylor at No. 28 Florida, Noon, ESPN

No. 12 Texas Tech at No. 68 South Carolina, Noon, ESPN2

No. 77 Ole Miss at No. 40 Texas, 2 p.m., ESPN2

No. 70 Georgia at No. 31 Kansas State, 2 p.m., ESPNU

No. 19 Oklahoma at No. 58 Alabama, 2:15 p.m., ESPN

No. 20 TCU at No. 102 Vanderbilt, 4 p.m., ESPN2

No. 15 Tennessee at No. 99 Iowa State, 4 p.m., ESPNU

No. 35 Texas A&M at No. 9 Kansas, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

No. 64 Oklahoma State at No. 45 Arkansas, 6 p.m., ESPN2

No. 33 Kentucky at No. 10 West Virginia, 7 p.m., ESPN

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Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

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South Carolina’s Outback Bowl prep; plus, Gamecocks receive visit from former SEC East coach

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

From practice field

SEC Country’s Hale McGranahan was on hand for the South Carolina Gamecocks’ practice on Wednesday in preparation for the Outback Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines.

“At this point in the bowl prep, South Carolina’s got the game plan in, so most of the work on Wednesday and the next few days will be on the Gamecocks,” McGranahan wrote. “Muschamp told reporters on Tuesday afternoon the Gamecocks will have a lot of ‘good on good’ during the workout.”

The 2018 Outback Bowl between South Carolina and Michigan kicks off at 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 1 from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

‘You have to go fast’

Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin watched South Carolina’s bowl practice on Wednesday.

The former Alabama offensive coordinator gave South Carolina coach Will Muschamp his thoughts on the Gamecocks’ offensive coordinator search.

“In my opinion, whether it’s right or wrong, in the age we are in, you have to go fast and have somebody who understands how to go fast,” Kiffin said. “It’s not just snap the ball. There’s a lot to it.”

The Gamecocks relieved co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kurt Roper of his duties earlier this month. Bryan McClendon, the former wide receivers coach, will serve as interim offensive coordinator in the Outback Bowl.

The grand finale

South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore is looking forward to donning his Gamecocks uniform for one last time in the Outback Bowl.

Following the bowl game, the redshirt senior will begin prep for the 2018 NFL Draft.

“I’ve heard a couple of things from different sources, some mid-round [draft] stuff, so whatever team — it only takes one team to like me,” Moore said, “So, whatever team picks me, they’re going to get a good one, for sure.”

With a strong performance on New Year’s Day, Moore can become one just 15 players in college football history to lead his respective team in tackles for four years.

‘Buck’ talks brother’s recruiting

South Carolina “Buck” D.J. Wonnum’s younger brother, Dylan, is among the highest-rated 2018 prospects that remains unsigned. Dylan is rated as a 4-star offensive tackle and the No. 128 overall 2018 prospect by 247Sports.

Following the Outback Bowl, D.J. plans to watch his brother play in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando, Fla., on Thursday, Jan. 4.

“Basically, just seeing him play with the best, the so-called best athletes, and seeing him be able to compete with them boys,” D.J. said.

The younger Wonnum is considering South Carolina, Auburn and LSU, among others.

 

Offers incoming

Four-star defensive end South Carolina commit Rodricus Fitten has seen his offer list grow as of late.

The 2019 prospect was recently offered by Florida, Louisville and North Carolina, among others.

Fitten is one of the Gamecocks’ three Class of 2019 pledges. He’s rated as the No. 22 weakside defensive end for 2019, according to the 247Sports composite.

Priority prospect

According to Andrew Slater of The Devils Den, 4-star 2019 point guard Josiah James is a major priority for South Carolina.

The Charleston, S.C., native is reportedly also a top target for Florida State, Georgia and Virginia, among others. He’s the No. 50 overall prospect for 2019, per the 247Sports composite.

Point of pride

Very cool to see South Carolina on this list of bowl-bound program’s with a graduation success rate above 90 percent. No. 2 ain’t too bad!

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Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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3 Gamecocks earn All-SEC nods; plus, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh previews South Carolina

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Welcome to SEC Country’s Chicken & Waffles, your daily dish for all things South Carolina Gamecocks football, basketball and more. Miss a previous edition? Find every edition of SEC Country’s South Carolina Gamecocks Chicken & Waffles right here.

Conference honors

Three South Carolina players were named to the Associated Press All-SEC teams on Monday.

Tight end Hayden Hurst earned first-team honors, while linebacker Skai Moore and defensive end Dante Sawyer landed on the second team.

Hurst, a redshirt junior, was second on the team with 41 catches for 518 yards and 2 touchdowns, with an additional rushing score.

The other side

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh previewed his team’s Outback Bowl opponent, the South Carolina Gamecocks, on a teleconference on Sunday.

“In the little I’ve seen so far, what I’ve watched most is their defense, and it’s tough, fast,” Harbaugh said, via John Del Bianco of 247Sports. “Those are the things that are jumping out. Good team, well-coached. Coach [Will] Muschamp does a great job.”

Like the Gamecocks, Harbaugh’s Wolverines finished the regular season with an 8-4 record.

The 2018 Outback Bowl is the fourth all-time meeting between the two schools. South Carolina leads the series, 2-1.

From the desk of Ray Tanner

South Carolina athletics director Ray Tanner penned a letter to Gamecock fans touting the on-field accomplishments of the South Carolina football team and Muschamp.

“In two years, Coach Muschamp has directed our team to a bowl game in 2016 and a great bowl trip this year to Tampa and the Outback Bowl,” Tanner wrote. “We are the only Power 5 football team in the nation [and one of 3 in NCAA FBS] to have multiple win improvements from one regular season to the next in two consecutive years.”

In Year 2 under Muschamp, the Gamecocks (8-4) have a chance to win 9 games for just the sixth time ever.

Injury update

Muschamp expects injured players Rico Dowdle, A.J. Turner and K.C. Crosby to play in the Outback Bowl, he told reporters on Sunday.

Dowdle and Turner, two of the Gamecocks’ top 3 running backs, combined for more than 700 yards and 4 touchdowns this season. Crosby had 2 catches on the season before fracturing his fibula against Arkansas in Week 6.

Just visiting

Four-star cornerback Jaycee Horn will be among the official visitors in Columbia this weekend. Joining Horn are several South Carolina commits, including 4-star quarterback Dakereon Joyner, 4-star CB Jonathan Gipson and more.

The Alpharetta, Ga., native is ranked as the No. 209 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to the 247Sports composite.

Dropping in

Muschamp and South Carolina defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson checked in with 3-star safety Israel Mukuamu on Monday.

The onetime Florida State commitment is rated as the No. 39 overall safety in the 2018 by 247Sports.

The pitch

With major targets such as Horn and Mukuamu still on the board, one of the leaders of the Gamecocks’ 2018 recruiting class has taken it upon himself to bring more talented players to Columbia.

“Now that I’m committed, I want to get other guys, especially Israel who is from the home state, to stay in-state and come play,” Joyner told Lou Bezjak of The State.

In addition to the two aforementioned defensive backs, the Gamecocks remain in the mix for 3-star JUCO DE Dorian Gerald, 3-star DE Jarrett Jackson and 4-star LB Channing Tindall.

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Daniel Sweeney – SEC Country

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Ole Miss removes interim tag, names Matt Luke full-time coach

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Ole Miss made it official on Sunday night and officially named Matt Luke it’s full-time coach.

A press conference is scheduled for Monday morning. Luke went 6-6 as the interim, which included a win over No. 14 Mississippi State this past Thursday. Luke had met with the team on Sunday night prior to news coming out.

Luke is a former Ole Miss player and captain. He had served as an assistant under two different stretches from 2002-05. Luke was named the interim coach after the school parted ways with Hugh Freeze in July amid scandal.

The search firm Ole Miss used was the Turnkey Search, which was the same one LSU used a year ago when it promoted Ed Orgeron to full-time coach from interim status, according to Antonio Morales of the Jackson-Clarion Ledger. 

The Rebels won SEC games against Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and nearly beat Arkansas and Texas A&M as well.

Luke will be one of at least 4 new full-time coaches in the SEC West next year, as Texas A&M, Arkansas and Mississippi State all will have new coaches.

Ole Miss also picked two commitments on Sunday.

Ole Miss is still waiting to hear from the NCAA as to what their penalties will be regarding the NCAA’s investigation. On Thursday, Ross Bjork told ESPN that those penalties could come as early as this week and as late as possibly two weeks.

After Ole Miss beat Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, the players began to campaign for Luke to get the full-time job. They were pretty happy on Sunday night.

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Connor Riley – SEC Country