There was no hangover effect for No. 14 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) this week. After handing Missouri their first loss of the season last week on the road, the Gamecocks returned home to face Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3 SEC). Although they fell behind early, the Gamecocks never let this one get away from them as they scored 17 straight point before halftime and then outscored the Bulldogs 17-0 in the third quarter in what ended up as a 34-16 victory for South Carolina.
Last week’s hero, Connor Shaw, was not all that accurate but he made the most of the completions he did have. Shaw completed just 10 of 20 attempts but picked up four touchdowns and 147 yards out of those 10 completions. Shaq Roland had two of those touchdowns in the first half. On the ground South Carolina had Mike Davis rush for a game-high 128 yards but Davis did not reach the end zone Saturday afternoon. It was the second game in a row Davis did not have a rushing touchdown after starting the year with at least one touchdown rush in every game of the year.
South Carolina was actually out-gained in this game, with Mississippi State’s offense recording 385 yards to South Carolina’s 307, but five Mississippi State turnovers killed any momentum that could have been had. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott was intercepted three times.
South Carolina remains in a decent position as far as the complicated SEC East race is concerned. South Carolina has now clinched their sixth winning regular season in a row. On the other side, Mississippi State and head coach Dan Mullen may be starting to feel the pressure. At 4-4 overall, Mississippi State needs to win two games against Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. That certainly will be easier said than done, and it is not all that easy to say.
Could this be Mullen’s final year leading Mississippi State? Mullen is now 33-26 at Mississippi State, which is not exactly terrible when you look back through the program’s history. But the bottom line is Mississippi State is in danger of being left behind in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss all at the top or showing strides of progress, and who knows what the future holds for Arkansas with Bret Bielema.
Things could get interesting.
An off-field incident involving alcohol has unofficially cost an assistant coach a job.
It had been reported that Gerad Parker, who served as Purdue’s interim head coach last season, decided to leave his new job at Cincinnati to take another at East Carolina. That reported move was complicated after reports surfaced that, following a going-away party in West Lafayette early Tuesday morning, the coach was pulled over and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Parker had been expected to take over the wide receivers coach job at ECU; Wednesday, multiple reports indicated that the Pirates are moving on from the coach in light of the recent development.
In a tweet that has since been deleted from his Twitter account, Parker apologized. “I’m sorry to all my friends and family,” the coach wrote. “Thanks to all that have reached out and shown support.”
Parker would’ve replaced Phil McGeoghan, who left ECU in late January for a job with the Buffalo Bills. ECU’s search for a replacement will continue.
After making some changes to the coaching staff this offseason, Kentucky is locking in offensive coordinator Eddie Gran for the next few seasons. Kentucky has signed Gran to a contract extension good through the 2019 season, according to The Courier-Journal.
According to the reported contract extension, Gran will be paid $825,000 in the 2017 season and will be given a $25,000 raise each of the next two seasons. A buyout cost of $150,000 per years is also added to the contract should he leave for another job during that span. Gran was originally under contract through the 2018 season, so his new deal tacks on an extra year in Lexington. The extended contract also bumps Gran’s pay by $175,000 compared to his previous contract.
Kentucky may have finished the 2017 season ranked 9th in the SEC in total scoring, but the Wildcats bumped up their average points per game by roughly six points in 2016 compared to the 2015 season. Kentucky also had the SEC’s third-most productive rushing attack with an average of 234.15 rushing yards per game and 30 rushing touchdowns. Only Auburn and Alabama had better averages and touchdown totals (and Alabama had two more games to pad the stats).
Kentucky has room to improve in the passing game after finishing the 2016 season ranked 13th in passing offense in the 14-team SEC. Kentucky also had an SEC-high 28 turnovers lost in 2016, with 16 fumbles and 12 interceptions thrown.
Gran joined the Kentucky program last year after a three-year stint at Cincinnati as offensive coordinator. Gran has previously been an assistant at Florida State, Tennessee, Auburn, and Ole Miss as well.
Nebraska wide receivers coach Keith Williams pled no contest to charges from a DUI incident last August. On Wednesday, he received his sentence from a county judge and learned he would be sentenced to 30 days in jail and three years of probation.
According to The Lincoln Journal-Star, Williams was also fined $1,000 for his latest DUI charge. Williams has until March 3 to apply for house arrest, although prosecutors made a push for Williams to serve his time behind bars after not being locked up for two prior DUI charges.
Nebraska opens spring football practices on March 4. If he is ruled eligible for house arrest, that would allow Williams to continue coaching in the spring. Otherwise, he could have to miss at least some of Nebraska’s spring practices depending on when his jail sentence would begin.
Williams was pulled over for driving under the influence last August with a BAC above .15. Further complicating things was the fact Williams also had two previous convictions for DUI. Nebraska head coach Mike Riley suspended Williams without pay through the end of August and was prohibited from coaching in Nebraska’s first four games of the 2016 season.
Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”
“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”
Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.