MSU Schedule: Game by Game Confidence Rankings

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vs Oklahoma State 40% – It’s a big game on a neutral field in Houston. A lot of MSU fans say we have no shot. I disagree. I think they will be favored and I give them a slight edge due to offensive firepower.

vs Alcorn 100%- I know you are never supposed to say 100% but I don’t care. You destroy Alcorn at home, no questions asked.

at Auburn 66.6 %- I think MSU will be favored and depending on the OSU game, this can almost be a must win. I think they’ll be ready. Catching Auburn early will be beneficial. I think they will be much improved by midpoint of the season.

vs Troy 99%- Last years scare at Troy should force MSU to take them more seriously this year. At home this game should be no issue.

vs LSU 15%- I love the renewed chorus every year that “this is the year we beat LSU”. The fact is that in my lifetime that I remember football, MSU has beaten them once. I always count LSU as a loss. I gave a %15 chance since its in Starkville.

vs Bowling Green 85%- An interesting OOC matchup for MSU. They play good football in the MAC. Why not some MACtion in Starkville? Should be a pretty easy win.

vs Kentucky 80%- I think the Wildcats will be much improved under Stoops. They will give a tougher game than lately. I really like our chances at home and give us a big edge.

at South Carolina 19%- I’ve got the Gamecocks winning the east and being a BCS bowl type team. I just can’t give the Bulldogs much chance on the road. They are very talented and MSU has traditionally given Spurrier fits so I do t think he’ll take this one lightly.

at Texas A&M 40%- Another game many don’t think MSU has a chance but I think there is a shot. Last years effort against the Aggies was pathetic and I look to give them a run. They’ll be favored and it will be in their house so I give them the edge.

vs Alabama 10%- Bama is Bama and Saban is on a roll. Not much a chance here but if Mullen gets them to play the best game of the year and they play their worst, it’s possible. It’s in Starkville so I gave MSU a 1 in 10 chance.

at Arkansas 75 %- This is my most brash pick to me because MSU doesn’t win at War Memorial Stadium. I think Bielema will have the Hogs much improved but they lack the offensive firepower to compete next year.

vs Ole Miss 70%- After last years shellacking in Oxford, I expect renewed vigor. The facts are that MSU has won 9 of the last 10 in Starkville with the one exception being Eli’s farewell. I’m pretty confident MSU returns the Egg.

Quick Analysis- By the %’s I feel good about 7 wins. Just going off of the numbers though it is a decent possibility to only get 6 of the 7 I feel good about. Now to the games I’m not confident in. I’m basically throwing Bama, LSU, & USC out the window to start. There is a slight possibility but it would be a huge upset. I only gave a slight edge to OSU and A&M. There is a pretty good chance MSU can get one of those. All in all I think MSU’s most probable range is 6-8. I feel really good about 7. I would be surprised with 5 or 9.

No Hargrave, No Problem: Enter Jireh Prep

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In the football crazed south our passion goes further than on the field outcomes. We even obsess over the recruitments of high school athletes before they arrive at the schools we root for. In this recruiting crazed environment, SEC football fans are well aware of postgraduate programs or prep schools, as they are better known. These institutions offer kids the opportunity to gain entrance to the 4-year universities without burning any eligibility as they would at a traditional junior college.

Last week Andrew Bone, of rivals, was the first I saw to report the closing of Hargrave’s postgraduate football program. While it may be just a blip on many football fans’ radars, it immediately caught my eye as big news going forward for SEC recruiting. There are other programs such as Georgia Military but no other postgraduate institution has been able to become ingrained in the southern recruiting fabric as Hargrave.

I immediately made a comment on my twitter about the news and not soon after was informed by Jireh Prep linebacker coach Ryan Williams that they were out there and ready to fill the void left by Hargrave. If you aren’t familiar with how twitter works, Coach Williams did not previously follow me, nor did I follow him. His immediate reaction to me regarding the news showed that the Jireh staff is working hard through all mediums to promote their program.

After exchanging a few tweets with Coach Williams and being impressed with how friendly and responsive their staff was, I reached out to Jireh Prep head coach Scott Smith. Coach Smith was kind enough to give me some of his time and discuss the Warriors program and what they are about. The first thing I brought up was how impressed I was with how proactive they were in using the opportunity of Hargrave closing to promote their program and how they are striving to take the next step.

“Something you believe in wholeheartedly, you want to push it. It’s good for kids academically. We’re different than the military schools. We focus on the academics first, then the sports. We’re using twitter and Facebook to help build faster.”

One of the main reasons so many SEC fans were familiar with Hargrave is because of how often it was used by the conferences coaches. It would seem that a certain level of trust with coaches like Nick Saban, Dan Mullen, and Hugh Freeze would be essential to getting your foot in the SEC door. We spoke about what it takes to cultivate these relationships.

“We definitely reach out to as many of those guys as possible. The main thing they hold against us is that we haven’t been around that long. I’ve been here for five years now. Getting to that level takes time. We’re getting there. We have already had ACC and Big 10 kids. We want to get those SEC kids. We’ve gotten those SEC types of kids but getting to that level just takes time. It’s starting to happen. ”

In the beginning of my conversation with Coach Smith I noticed that academics was one of the first things he mentioned. When you look at Jireh Prep’s website, ( jirehprepwarriors.com ), you’ll quickly notice that their mission statement contains the phrase that they “prepare student athletes to become lifelong learners in the classroom…” Coach Smith explained that academics truly are the #1 goal at his program.

“Our academics are under so much scrutiny; so many people watch everything. The guys cannot do anything without us knowing. I get a weekly report on my desk to know who is they’re eligible on a weekly basis. That’s what we want. We want that retention. Weights, film, and everything else is built in but based first on academic performance.”

Most prep school kids are only with their respective institutions for a year. One thing I’ve always been curios about is how much better developed the players get football wise from their 1 year of prep school as opposed to a high school player. I asked Coach Smith how much these kids can absorb in that short time and how advanced they are from a true freshman who came straight from high school.

“There are a lot of benefits on and off the field. The biggest thing is the time management issue. That’s the number one thing college coaches tell us that our kids are much better at their time management. We work that in to everything that we do. It’s all based like a college program on a schedule. I tell people it’s just like college but with a 24-hour chaperone. A kid can also develop academically and increase his chances to go to a better college.”

I thought the time management issue was pretty interesting because of how true it rings. It’s not just athletes but all freshmen that have to adjust to being on their own and wisely managing their time for school and social activities. The kids having a year at Jireh Prep really has to help ease that transition to a 4-year institution. Coach Smith also touched on a few things unique to Jireh Prep.

“We have a 36,000 square foot workout facility just like many of the major colleges. We can really help them get better athletically. We also play a lot of better competition. We play juco level competition. Every aspect of our program has kids better prepared.”

We had been talking for a bit and I was really getting the feel for what I thought about Coach Smith and the Jireh Prep program. They really seemed to stress the academics first then athletic and personal development. I wanted to end our conversation with a better look a Coach Smith personally. There are a myriad of reasons that a kid ends up at a postgraduate program. Many kids in high school just don’t get the individual academic support they need to succeed may it be overcrowded classrooms, under funded districts, tough family situations, etc… I asked Coach Smith about what kind of feeling he gets when a kid like that comes to Jireh Prep and gets the help they need to get eligible and further pursue their dreams at the next level.

“It’s a better feeling than winning football games. Wins and losses come and go. Getting a kid qualified excites me more than anything. There are kids that have odds against them, like learning disabilities, and come here and get qualified. Those are the one’s we root for. It’s the best feeling in the world. When you go out recruiting, they don’t ask what the record was. They ask how many kids you got in to school. When I can walk into a quarterbacks home and tell him our last 2 quarterbacks are playing at a 4 year college, that sells.”

Throughout our conversation I was constantly struck by how honest Coach Smith sounded. I’m generally pretty good at picking up coach speak but I really believed what he was saying. Since there now is a hole in the prep school chain as far as SEC recruiting is concerned, I’d keep my on Jireh Prep in North Carolina. Their open eagerness to sell me their program shows that they are serious because lets face it; I’m not ESPN or SB Nation. The Warriors are definitely a program that I will be keeping my eye on. I would love to be the one who told you in the future, “I told ya’ll no Hargrave, no problem.”

Guilty until proven innocent.

Athletes and the justice system should be a topic if its own. Colleges classes, books, TV shows…. The possibilities are endless

Get The Picture

Gee, maybe now we know why Isaiah Crowell was nervous during that arrest.

The charges that were leveled against former Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell last summer and ultimately led to his dismissal by the Bulldogs were dismissed by the State of Georgia this week.

According to court documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Thursday, the felony charge of possessing a weapon with an altered ID mark and misdemeanor charges of possession and carrying a concealed weapon without a license and carrying a weapon within in a school zone, were dropped by Athens-Clarke County District Attorney Kenneth Mauldin.

In the dismissal document filed by assistant D.A. James Chafin, it was explained to the court while the gun was found under the driver’s seat of Crowell’s car, which belonged to his mother, “the state would be unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant actually possessed the weapon…

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Coaches Get Canned At High Cost

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While leisurely reading other blogs leading me to USA today articles on coaching changes, I came across this gem. I did not remember that USM actually sold a home game to raise the required funds to fire Ellis Johnson. That is just unbelievable.

I like USM and support them in most things they do. My original plan for college included USM because they had a major that MSU didn’t. I finally decided that I wouldn’t feel right not going to MSU and a degree from the College of Business was just going to have to do. One thing that SEC fans, regardless of school, take for granted is the unbelievable booster support they receive. If a seat gets hot we usually talk about the big buyouts like they are an issue but in reality they aren’t. When the big boosters want a change, they get change.

I was shocked at first by the lengths USM went to fire Johnson. I then wondered again why their fanbase doesn’t give back like others do. It’s an interesting situation that doesn’t make sense and probably never will. The link to the USA today article outlines many other costly firings in CFB.

For as short as Embree’s tenure was, Ellis Johnson got even less time at Southern Mississippi after going 0-12 in his first season. Faced with growing fan unrest, interim president Aubrey Lucas and Southern Miss’ administration confronted a dilemma: find a considerable sum to fire Johnson or potentially lose more money if he couldn’t turn the program around. In response to a fan’s request to terminate the first-year coach and his staff, Lucas wrote, “To do as you recommended, I will need to raise $3million. Can you help? This is not intended to be a ‘smarty’ reply, but a sincere request for assistance.” The fan offered $1,000 and vowed to reach out to his family for help. Many other fans wrote saying they were willing to give from $100 to $1,000. But in the week leading up to Johnson’s firing, Southern Miss sold a home game vs. Nebraska for more than $2.1 million, according to letters between the schools’ ADs obtained by Deadspin. A longtime assistant, Johnson took over in 2012 after Larry Fedora parlayed a 12-2 record into a job at North Carolina. But Southern Miss followed the best season in school history with its worst, ending a run of 18 consecutive winning seasons. Richard Johnston, president of the USM Athletic Foundation, wrote to say that he was part of the mistake as a member of the search committee that chose Johnson. “I thought we made a good hire, even though he was our second choice,” Johnston wrote. “We need to cut our losses and salvage our supporters by showing them we acknowledged making a mistake and will, with their help, begin to rebuild this historical successful program.” He pledged $50,000 to help with the buyout. One fan summed up Southern Miss’ situation — as well as that of the other schools that fired coaches — better than others. “Whatever the cost now, it will be so much more if he’s allowed to coach another season,” he wrote.

2013 MSU football schedule posters released

You gotta like the posters for the 2013 season. Who is ready for football? More good work from Hail State Beat

HailStateBEAT

2013 Poster - Final

If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, the picture above is your sign that football season is slowly but steadily creeping closer, waiting for us on the other side of a hot Mississippi summer.

Spring practice, of course, wraps up this weekend with the Maroon-White Game in Davis Wade Stadium, our last chance to watch Dan Mullen’s football team until the calendar hits August.

However, it’s not Mullen you see on this year’s football schedule poster, but the players and leaders of the team. Senior quarterback Tyler Russell and his center Dillon Day, senior running back LaDarius Perkins and his offensive guard Gabe Jackson and a pair of defensive linemen in senior Denico Autry and junior Kaleb Eulls.

2013 Schedule Card - Final (Perkins)The significance of the players is obvious; a group of stars, veterans and leaders.

The understated but quite-important part of the poster is the short, declarative sentence in the bottom-left corner. “Fight…

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Top 10 Combine Fueled NFL Draft Fails

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Today is the day of the NFL draft and many dreams will be made. One of my favorite happenings are the guys who kill the combine and their stock skyrockets. The workout warriors if you will. These guys showed freakish athleticism that teams drooled over and they used their top picks to acquire them. Many of these guys never live up to the hype and are labeled as a “bust”. Here are the top 10 NFL draft bust brought to you by The Lost Letterman http://www.yardbarker.com/author/article_external/13455118?no_yb=true&mailing_id=2341&linksrc=mb_main_col_8 . Great work by him as usual.

10. Adam Archuleta (2001)

How a college player performs in workouts after their college career often has just as much (if not more) bearing on their draft stock as their college careers themselves. Yet Brian Urlacher or Chris Johnson, many other “workout wonders” have failed to deliver in the NFL. We rank the NFL Draft’s Top 10 Workout Warrior Busts.

Archuleta’s size (5-foot-11 and 215 pounds) raised doubts about his draft stock. He rendered those concerns moot by running a 4.42 40-yard dash, posting a 39-inch vertical leap and benching 225 pounds 31 times (staggeringly high for a DB).

Archuleta was actually solid in five seasons with the Rams after they drafted him 21st overall. The dreaded b-word only became attached to him after he failed to live up to the six-year, $30 million contract the Redskins handed him following the 2005 season. Benched in D.C. and then traded, Yahoo’s Jason Cole recently ranked Archuleta the 10th-worst free agent signing ever.

9. Darrius Heyward-Bey (2009)

In defense of Heyward-Bey, he was likely just as shocked as everyone else when Oakland (now infamously) took him seventh overall four years ago.

Although the Maryland WR wasn’t a bad player by any means — he had 138 receptions and 13 TDs in three seasons with the Terps — most pundits predicted that Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree and Missouri’s Jeremy Maclin would be off the board before DHB.

At this point, the late Al Davis’ infatuation with speed (Heyward-Bey ran the fastest 40-yard dash [4.25 seconds] at that year’s combine) is largely to blame for this epitome of a reach pick. DHB managed just 11 TDs in his four seasons with Oakland before being released this past March. The Colts inked him to a one-year deal on April 1st and are hoping for better results.

8. Mike Mamula (1995)

If the phrase “workout wonder” ever finds its way into an actual dictionary, they might as well put Mamula’s picture next to it.

The former All-Big East defensive end from Boston College was one of the first players to train specifically for the drills at the NFL combine and it showed with his eye-popping performance: A 4.58 40-yard dash, 28 reps on the 225-pound bench press, a 38.5-inch vertical leap and 10-feet, 5-inches on the broad jump. For “good measure,” he also scored a 49 out of 50 on the Wonderlic — the second-highest score ever recorded by an NFL player.

So what did the Philadelphia Eagles get out of Mamula after investing the eighth overall pick in him? Six seasons and a disappointing 31.5 sacks. By 2000, at the age of 27, he was already out of the league.

7. Matt Jones (2005)

After spending four years as Arkansas’ starting quarterback, Jones had scores of draft pundits — among them ESPN’s Chris Mortensen — gushing about the physical potential he possessed as a converted receiver/H-back.

It’s easy to see why Jones was referred to as “The Freak.” The 6-foot-6, 242-pounder turned in a gaudy combine performance: 4.37 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 39.5-inch vertical leap and a 10-foot, 9-inch broad jump.

Jacksonville surprised many by drafting him 21st overall, only to watch Jones start just 15 games over the next four seasons. He never caught over 65 balls or had over 800 yards receiving in any one season. What was really Jones’ undoing with the Jaguars was his pair of substance abuse-related arrests, which led to his release in March 2009. He is now out of the league.

6. Charles Rodgers (2003)

Rogers inspired comparisons to Randy Moss both in high school (he was Tom Lemming’s top recruit in the Class of 2000) and at Michigan State, where he won the 2002 Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top wideout and set a still-standing school record for career TD receptions (27).

Those comparisons only gained more credence after Rogers ran a 4.28 40-yard dash at the combine — a blisteringly fast time for a receiver as big as he was (6-foot-3 and 220 pounds). To the Detroit Lions, it was a no-brainer to select the Saginaw, MI, native second overall.

His drug-fueled fall from grace makes it easy to forget about the 22 receptions, 243 yards and three TDs he had during the first five games of his ’03 rookie season before a broken clavicle ended Rogers’ year. (He sustained the same season-ending injury on just the third play of the following season.)

Yes, injuries were a huge part of Rogers’ career, which he couldn’t control. But his off-the-field issues and a 36-catch NFL career is too much not to consider him a huge bust.

5. Brian Bosworth (1987)

There was a lot that made “The Boz” one of the most memorable players of the 1980s: His hatred of the NCAA, gaudy blonde Mohawk and undying love of the spotlight.

And he could play; the 6-foot-3, 240-pound linebacker was a two-time First Team All-American at Oklahoma. In preparation for the 1987 supplemental draft, Bosworth backed up those on-field credentials by running a 4.6 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 450 pounds.

In retrospect, unfortunately, the only substance to that style might have been the anabolic steroids that Bosworth tested positive for prior to the ’87 Orange Bowl. After selecting Bosworth in the first round of the ’87 supplemental draft, the Seahawks signed him to a 10-year, $11 million contract — then the biggest one in history given to a rookie — only for Bosworth’s most memorable NFL moment to be getting trucked by Bo Jackson.

Bosworth retired after just three years due to injury.

4. Akili Smith (1999)

A one-year wonder at Oregon who threw for 3,763 yards and 30 TDs in his 1998 senior season, Smith had the size (6-foot-3 and 227 pounds), speed (4.66 seconds in the 40), smarts (a 37 on the Wonderlic test), arm and athleticism (he had played two years of minor league baseball) that made scouts drool.

Smith flew up draft boards and was selected No. 3 overall, one spot behind Donovan McNabb. Alas, a long holdout impaired his efforts to grasp Cincy’s playbook fully. It didn’t help that Smith spent far too much time partying in the Queen City. He started just 17 games over four seasons with the Bengals — throwing five TDs and 13 INTs — before they released him in 2002.

3. Tony Mandarich (1989)

Before he was “The Incredible Bust,” steroid-fueled Tony Mandarich of Michigan State was “The Incredible Bulk” — a player who Sports Illustrated proclaimed to be “the best offensive line prospect ever.” His workout numbers are still the stuff of legend: 39 repetitions on the 225-pound bench press and a mind-boggling 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Taken second overall in the 1989 draft by the Packers, Mandarich was done in Green Bay after three years spent mostly in the throes of painkiller and alcohol addiction. While he enjoyed a nice three-year comeback with the Colts (1996–1998), it’s not enough to prevent him from being one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Making this selection even more painful for Packer fans, a running named Barry Sanders was taken one pick later by the Detroit Lions.

2. Vernon Gholson (2008)

In retrospect, the glowing (and lengthy) praise in Gholston’s ’08 NFL draft profile just seems silly. But at the time, most scouts really thought he was going to turn into a “legendary pass rusher.”

After all, Gholston was a stud at Ohio State, registering 30.5 tackles for loss and 21.5 sacks in three seasons with the Buckeyes. And he was even more of a stud at the combine, running a 4.58 40-yard dash (blazing for a 6-foot-3, 260-pound defensive end), doing 37 reps on the 225-pound bench press and recording a 41-inch vertical leap.

Jets fans at Radio City Music Hall were overjoyed when their team supposedly got something right, taking Gholston sixth overall. They were decidedly less pleased after Gholston recorded zero sacks in three lackluster seasons with them. Gholston hasn’t played a down since.

1. JaMarcus Russell (2007)

It’s easy to forget now, but Russell was considered a freak of nature prior to being selected No. 1 overall in the 2007 draft.

NFL network analyst Mike Mayock called Russell’s pre-draft workout “the best pro day I’ve ever seen in my life.” Weighing in at 256 pounds and running the 40 in an impressive 4.8 seconds, the 6-foot-6 Russell showed off a cannon arm with which he could reportedly throw the ball 65 yards from one knee.

Of course, none of that mattered when Russell got to the league out-of-shape and looking completely lost in the pocket. In three seasons with the Raiders, Russell had more interceptions (23) than touchdowns (18) before getting the boot. Russell is widely considered the co-biggest NFL draft bust ever alongside Ryan Leaf.

Now mounting a football comeback, don’t hold your breath for an NFL team to give Russell another chance.

What SEC East Players Do You Fear?

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As I did on the 23rd, I will go through all the SEC East teams and pick a player from every team. The premise is to pick a player that strikes fear into your heart. The player that your coordinators will loses sleep trying to come up with a scheme to slow them. Make no mistake that to beat these teams, you must slow these guys.

South Carolina Jadeaveon Clowney- The junior DE is a freak of nature. Whether it’s blowing up Michigan running backs (http://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2013/1/1/3825442/jadeveon-clowney-dot-gif ) or just generally striking fear into offensive players, Clowney makes USC go. He terrorized offenses last year racking up 23.5 TFL and 13 sacks on his way to being the most celebrated defensive player in the SEC (Should have been the country but don’t get me started on the Teo fraud). I think Clowney has a legitimate chance at making a Heisman run from the DE position.

Georgia Aaron Murray- The senior QB raised some eyebrows when he decided to return for his senior year with many thinking he was NFL bound. Over his career he has thrown for 10,091 yards and 95 TD’s. Not only that, he’s done it in the best conference in America. Murray is battle tested and knows what it takes to get the job done. He finished just a few yards short of what would have ended up being a national championship when they fell to Bama in the SEC title game. Make that 2 Heisman contenders in the East.

Florida Loucheiz Purifoy- With the loss of Matt Elam, the Gators have a new playmaker to lead the secondary and Purifoy did it all last year. He was 4th on the team in tackles getting 51 from his CB position. The Jr also filled up the stat sheet with 5 PBU, 3 FF, and 2 blocked kicks. In short, Purifoy makes big plays again and again and I expect it to go to the next level this year. Look out for him getting 1rst team All-SEC looks and making it on Sports Center’s top plays.

Vanderbilt Brian Kimbrow- Some may call this a surprise pick but I don’t think you’ll be surprised by seasons end. Last year he was behind star Zack Stacey and still got 66 carries for 413 yards and 3 TD’s. For those counting, that’s a 6.26 average per carry. Vandy will have a new QB and I look for them to lean on the sophomore RB’s elite speed and playmaking ability, particularly early in the schedule. He only had 3 catches last year and I expect that to be much more utilized next year. All Kimbrow needs is a crease and he can take it in for 6. This is one of the guys I’ll be telling you “I told you so” after a few games.

Tennessee AJ Johnson- The junior LB was an absolute tackling machine last year getting 138 total stops and 8.5 TFL. With Butch Jones having to replace a ton of guys on offense it makes it easy to look defense and you can’t look past Johnson. He also registered 1 sack and 8 QB hurries. After another year of training and his teammates around him expecting to perform better, I expect even more from AJ. I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him grab some All-SEC honors at seasons end.

Kentucky Demarco Robinson- This pick is based on a lot of potential and my expectations of what a Stoops offense will bring to the Wildcats. Robinson isn’t the biggest guy at 5’10 160 but he is an outstanding playmaker. Last year he was 2nd on the team with 28 catches with what could be described as a lethargic offense. Stoops will throw much more and utilize his speed guys and playmakers and I expect Robinson to be the main guy to benefit.

Missouri James Franklin- Last year was a down year for the rising senior QB. We saw a significant production decrease from the year before. On his career he has 4,533 yards through the air and 32 Td’s. I’m counting on a rebound year for Franklin. Old OC Daivd Yost is gone so look for new wrinkles and ways to use his talent more efficiently. Last year was a rough year for Missouri as a whole and not just Franklin in their 1rst in the SEC but I expect a much better year out of them led by the James Franklin of 2011 where he threw for 2,872 yards and 21 Td’s and was a dynamic playmaker.

If you missed the SEC West picks https://3rdand57.wordpress.com/2013/04/18/what-sec-west-players-do-you-fear/

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