Gamecocks keep SEC Championship hopes alive, keep pressure on Missouri

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It was a real struggle, but South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC) managed to find their way to a home victory over Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC) in SEC play Saturday night in Columbia. With the win, the Gamecocks keep the pressure on Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC) coming down the stretch of the regular season.

Florida’s defense gave it a valiant effort against the Gamecocks but a lack of offensive fire power proved to be the downfall for the Gators. Florida was shut out in the second half, allowing South Carolina to make some big plays to rally from a halftime deficit to hold on for the win. With almost nothing to lose with just under five minutes to play, Florida faked a punt on their side of the field on 4th and 13, and it nearly worked but a pass fell incomplete as the Gamecocks pulled through.

South Carolina’s Connor Shaw passed for 213 yards and a touchdown and avoided throwing an interception in the game. The SEC’s leading rusher, Mike Davis, was limited in his production with just 54 yards. Davis was limited in the second half as well after getting banged up. Florida used Skyler Mornhinweg to try and simply manage the offense that relied heavily on the running game. The few times Mornhinweg was asked to throw he was efficient, but he was unable to rise to the occasion when Florida needed to open things up and move down field, trailing by five points with 2:16 to play. Trying to roll out and extend a play with his feet, Mornhingweg made a costly error by throwing down field. The pass was hauled in by South Carolina’s Jimmy Legree and the Gamecocks worked the clock down to triple zeroes.

South Carolina remains one game back of Missouri in the loss column. With South Carolina now done with SEC play for the season, it is up to Missouri to win their final two games of the year against Ole Miss next week and Texas A&M in the season finale. One loss will drop Missouri in to no better than a tie with South Carolina. By virtue of South Carolina’s head-to-head win a few weeks back, the Gamecocks would go to Atlanta to face Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship game.

Florida is now in the difficult situation of having to win their final two games just to be eligible for the postseason. Next week Florida will host Georgia Southern and should be able to pick up the win in that one no matter who is or is not available to play. The steep climb to the postseason will come in the season finale at home against Florida State.

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.