Saturdays in Athens
George Somerville. Saturday
31st october 2020
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the Southeastern Conference.
Well folks, it’s Halloween or Trick or Treat depending on where you are in the world – and this week we have definitely seen the good, the bad and the ugly across the SEC.
In this week’s SIA, Crimson Tide’s Jaylen Waddle suffered a season ending injury, Lane Kiffin is livid at the officials who missed the call to give Auburn a victory, Florida is back!……to practising, and it’s a Tiger who picks up our SEC player of the week – but which one?!
Here are this weeks headlines….let’s get started y’all!
Starting off with some bad news out of Bryant Denny at the weekend, that Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle broke his ankle against the Tennessee Vols.
On the opening kick off, the Crimson Tide return specialist collected the ball in his own end zone and took off before being tackled around the 15 yard line.
In what seemed an innocuous tackle Waddle was slow to get up and was eventually carried from the field.
Sadly, Alabama head Coach Nick Saban confirmed after the game that Waddle had been taken to hospital and that the injury was season ending.
Nick Saban said directly after the game to the waiting press,
“He’s got a very similar injury to what Kenyan Drake had (at Alabama in 2014), the high ankle sprain but also a fracture. They’ll probably have to do surgery on him. We’ll fly him back privately with the doctors and take him right to Birmingham and see what we have to do right away.”
In only four games so far this season Waddle leads FBS as a receiver, averaging 22.3 yards per catch with 25 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns, and was fast becoming WR1 ahead of next April’s NFL Draft.
Waddle underwent surgery to repair the broken ankle straight after the game. According to Saban the surgery was a success. Saban had this to say during Monday’s press conference,
“I talked to him after the game. They did the surgery that night. He’s been in the hospital since.. He’s been pretty groggy. He was going to see me today but he just got back. Surgery was very, very successful, long term prognosis is very good”.
Wishing Jaylen a full and speedy recovery.
Kiffin In Hot Water
Not for the first time this season, an Auburn game ends in controversy.
On Saturday with a little over 5 minutes left, an Ole Miss kick off appeared to touch Auburn’s Shaun Shivers on the way into the end zone.
However, head referee Marc Curles believed no contact was made and ruled a touchback.
At that point in the game Ole Miss led 28-27, but shortly after regaining the contested possession Auburn scored through Seth Williams on a 58-yard touchdown reception. The Tigers went on to win the game 35-28.
Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin remained incensed several days after the game.
Kiffin said this at his weekly press conference on Monday,
“well I was late to this (press conference) because I was on the phone with (SEC Coordinator for Officials) John McDaid and the SEC and so, I’ve really struggled with this a lot.
I just had the conversation with him. He called to explain what happened.
You know I really wish for our players, for our fans that they could hear what I was just told….. They made sure to tell me that there’s a policy that I can’t tell you, the players or the fans – what they called an explanation – for that situation and how the TV, copy and everyone in the country can see that it hit him.
I asked the side judge, why aren’t they replaying it? Do I need to challenge it…he said “they’ve already looked at it, there’s nothing there”.
So, I’m not allowed to say anything about the conversation but I really wish that our fans and players could hear what I was told”.
Kiffin – clearly emotional – went on to say,
“I’ve had to take, like a five minute power yoga class before I walked in.
You know what I would really like? I would really like when you guys ask me questions about managing the game or how I play players to just say that’s a personal thing and I can’t discuss it with you. I would really like to answer those questions like that”.
By Monday the SEC had heard enough and fined Kiffin for using social media to publicly criticise the game officials. The SEC’s statement read,
“The SEC Office conducted a review of the play and appropriately communicated its findings above to Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin and other athletics department personnel per conference protocol. However, Mr. Kiffin’s use of social media Saturday following the game to publicly criticize officiating is in violation of Conference Bylaws and Commissioner’s Regulations that govern Sportsmanship and communication with the Conference Office on officiating issues.”
Kiffin responded via – of course – social media to enquire where he could get 25,000 pennies from to pay his fine. The Twitter-verse quickly corrected his math to which he tweeted, 250,000 and then subsequently
“after further review it’s 2.5 million pennies. Thanks for stopping to get it right”.
Never change Lane Kiffin, never change.
Around The SEC: SEC Shorts
Across The SEC
Starkville, MS: According to AL.com, Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill is expected to opt out of the remainder of the 2020 season to focus on the 2021 NFL Draft. Another blow for Mike Leach and his under pressure Bulldogs. #HailState
Baton Rouge, LA: LSU Head Coach Ed Orgeron confirmed this week that starting left tackle Dare Rosenthal has been suspended indefinitely. While no reason has been given for his suspension, Orgeron confessed that “I don’t know when he’s going to be back”. #GeauxTigers
Lexington, KY: According to Seth Emerson of the Athletic, The Kentucky Wildcats are expected to start Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood at Quarterback on Saturday against Georgia. #GoWildcats
Gainesville, FL: Four star recruit linebacker Jeremiah Williams declared his intent to commit to the Florida Gators this week. Williams, from Birmingham Alabama, is thought to have chosen the Gators over Auburn. #GoGators
Columbia, MO: News out of Mizzou is that Tigers wide receiver Maurice Mossey has been dismissed from the team following his arrest on suspicion of domestic assault and property damage. Mossey had previously decided to opt out of the season but a statement from the athletics program confirmed that he had been dismissed. #GoTigers
Tuscaloosa, AL: The No.1 Cornerback in the 2021 class Ga’Quincy McKinstry committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide this week. McKinstry, from Pinson Alabama, was the No. 24 ranked recruit (per 24/7 sports) in the country and ranked the best player in the state of Alabama. #RollTide
Gators Back To Practice
Following an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus throughout the Florida Gators roster, the Gators shut down it’s practice facility on October 13th.
The Gators had hoped that following an NFL-type protocol and shutting the facility would curb the spread of the virus, but this wasn’t as successful as they hoped. In the end, 25 players and two coaches (as well as Head Coach Dan Mullen) tested positive, meaning that the Gators were unable to field a side to face LSU in their scheduled fixture last weekend.
But finally some good news emerged from Gainesville this week with the news that Florida had been able to reopen its practice facility and restart football practice.
Dan Mullen said this of returning to practice ahead of their game against Missouri this coming weekend,
“Everybody’s really excited to get back to football and get back playing, I think that’s something that is big within the team right now is that ability to get back out on the field.
This year’s been a unique year like no other, with stops and starts and different schedules. Our guys have handled everything extremely well throughout the year. I think they’re going to be really excited to get back out there on the practice field”.
“I don’t expect us to come out there and have our sharpest, most crisp practice of the year, but I expect us to have great energy, excitement and enthusiasm to be back out there to get going as we build up to Saturday.”
Sia : SEC Player Of The Week
Despite the controversy surrounding Auburn’s victory over Ole Miss – the one that got Lane Kiffin in trouble – the Auburn defense clicked on Saturday.
Much was made of the sideline tiff between QB Bo Nix and WR Seth Williams the week before, but there was no such ill feeling this week.
In fact, Auburn are producing two offensive stars in Williams and running back Tank Bigsby who both picked up SEC awards this week.
But it’s hard to see beyond Williams who excelled against the Rebels, catching eight passes for 150 yards and scored the winning touchdown from a 58-yard reception from Nix.
Auburn Head Coach, Gus Malzahn said this of his star receiver,
“He’s an impact player. The sign of a really, really good player is when they have a tough week the week before, and they come back and they rebound. It doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s an impact player for us. He made a lot of good third-down catches. He made a really good catch on that one where he went up and high-pointed the ball. And then of course the last play was classic.”
A footnote on Bigbsy as I don’t think this will be the last time he is mentioned in this column:
Against Ole Miss, freshman running back Bigsby rushed for over 100 yards for the third straight week, which takes him into celebrated company. Bigsby joins Bo Jackson and Michael Dyer as the only freshmen in Auburn history with three 100-yard rushing performances against SEC opponents. And what’s more important is that this has been achieved three weeks in a row.
A GLASWEGIAN LIVING IN LONDON, GEORGE IS A COLLEGE FOOTBALL FAN WHO FOLLOWS THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE. HE PROVIDES CFB CONTENT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN AND IS ONE THIRD OF THE COLLEGE CHAPS PODCAST.