Sidelines with John Clay

South Carolina’s thermostat, Tennessee’s uniforms, Nick Saban remembers and more SEC links

South Carolina freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain celebrates after team’s win over East Carolina last Saturday.
South Carolina freshman quarterback Brandon McIlwain celebrates after team’s win over East Carolina last Saturday. The State

SEC links for Tuesday:

Brandon McIwain takes charge of the South Carolina offense. “He’s a thermostat leader,” said former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who coached McIlwain at the prestigious Elite 11 high school camp, according to Josh Kendall of The State. “There are thermometer leaders that kind of adapt to the climate of the environment. He’s one that changes it. When he’s around everyone feels his presence. He jacks that thing up to 80 real quick. The room changes when he’s in it.”

Drew Barker’s back issues linger. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “Kentucky’s quarterback situation remains murky for the game against South Carolina. Drew Barker, who injured his back on one of the first plays against New Mexico State on Saturday, is listed as the starter at quarterback on the depth chart released Monday. But it sounds like the sophomore is quite questionable for the game against South Carolina, with Coach Mark Stoops saying Barker’s back problems are ‘chronic’ in nature.

South Carolina’s route to bowl eligibility faces a crossroads. David Caraviello of the Charleston Post and Courier reports, “The greatest misconception in college football is that it’s a long season, something you hear echoed over and over again throughout the fall. In fact, the exact opposite is true: college football is actually an incredibly short season, for most teams comprising just 12 game days (13 if they’re lucky), and it all goes by in a blur. We’re already one-quarter of the way through it, and it feels like it’s only begun.”

Tennessee fans are looking for a hero. John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel writes, “Question for the week: Who wants to be a Tennessee hero? Anyone who runs through the ‘T’ in full uniform Saturday at Neyland Stadium is eligible. All he has to do is execute the decisive plays on the same day that the Vols end Florida’s series winning streak, which has ballooned to 11 games. “

Gators, Vols limp into marquee matchup. Mike Strange writes for USA Today, “When Florida visits Neyland Stadium on Saturday, several key athletes won’t be able to play their game. Both the No. 16 Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 12 Vols (3-0) warmed up for the big game last weekend by watching teammates get helped off the field. Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio was knocked out by a North Texas pass rush. Guard Tyler Jordan is out. Receiver Antonio Callaway — last seen ... oh, never mind — is ‘questionable’ with a leg injury.”

Purdue transfer to lead Florida. Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun reports, “The focus now is on the quarterback who is going to be playing Saturday (and beyond) — Purdue graduate transfer Austin Appleby, who started 11 games in his three seasons with the Boilermakers. McElwain said Appleby is prepared to take over the offense.”

Jim McElwain’s meltdown fires up Gators. “It definitely kind of reiterated what he’s been about since he got here,” senior linebacker Jarrad Davis said, according to Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s not like we forgot, but it’s always nice to have a nice reminder. Coach Mac is a coach that is completely for us. I mean, it just speaks volumes to see him really do something like that, to really see him put himself out there and in a position like that. It lets us know that we have him and he has us and we will always have his back.”

Texas A&M emerges as threat to Alabama in SEC West. Greg Ostendorf of ESPN reports, “Don’t look now, but Texas A&M has crept into this week’s AP Top 10. After an impressive 29-16 road win at Auburn on Saturday, the Aggies are 3-0 and look like the biggest threat to Alabama in the SEC. We’ve been here before, though, haven’t we?”

Nick Saban vividly remembers Kent State shooting. “Certainly to that point in my life one of most traumatic experiences I think that I’d ever have to deal with,” Saban said, according to Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser. “To have students on your campus, shot, killed. Didn’t see it happen, but saw the aftermath right after it happened. It’s made me have a lot of appreciation for a lot of things.”

Kevin Steele wants Auburn defense to sharpen axe this weekend. Mike Niziolek of the Montgomery Advertiser reports that Auburn seeks improvement after loss to Texas A&M. “We have to develop more of a sense of urgency on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to sharpen the axe so that when we do go to chop down the tree we’re not just knocking off the bark and bruising the tree and getting real tired,” Steele said. “We’ve got to get that done.”

Ole Miss looking forward after 1-2 start. Antonio Morales of the Clarion-Ledger reports, “Through three games, Ole Miss has built a 22-point lead against No. 14 Florida State and a 21-point lead against No. 1 Alabama. And all the 21st-ranked Rebels have to show for it right now is a 1-2 record with a game against No. 11 Georgia looming on Saturday (11 a.m., ESPN) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.”

Getting to know Jacob Eason will have to wait. Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph reports that Georgia coach Kirby Smart does not allow freshmen to speak to the media. “He’s definitely confident and business-like,” fullback Christian Payne said. “I like to compare him to myself a little bit, a laid-back guy. He’s kind of goofy. Every now and then that’s kind of how he is. But when it’s game time, he’s able to turn on another switch.”

Restless Missouri eager to erase heartbreak. Tod Palmer of the Kansas City star reports, “There’s no way around the fact that Missouri’s loss Saturday against Georgia was a gut-punch. It doesn’t matter that the Bulldogs came to Memorial Stadium ranked 16th in the country or that the Tigers were a touchdown underdog. For only the 14th time in program history, an opponent snatched the lead — and victory — away from Mizzou with the game’s last score inside the final 90 seconds, according to research by MU historian Tom Orf.”

SEC football on television this weekend

12:00 - Georgia at Ole Miss (ESPN)

12:00 - Kent State at Alabama (SEC)

3:30 - Florida at Tennessee (CBS)

4:00 - Delaware State at Missouri (SEC)

4:30 - Vanderbilt at Western Kentucky (CBS Sports)

6:00 - LSU at Auburn (ESPN)

7:30 - South Carolina at Kentucky (SEC)

9:00 - Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (ESPN)

SEC FOOTBALL STANDINGS

East

SEC

Overall

Florida

1-0

3-0

Georgia

1-0

3-0

Tennessee

0-0

3-0

South Carolina

1-1

2-1

Kentucky

0-1

1-2

Vanderbilt

0-1

1-2

Missouri

0-1

1-2

West

SEC

Overall

Alabama

1-0

3-0

Texas A&M

1-0

3-0

LSU

1-0

2-1

Arkansas

0-0

3-0

Miss State

1-1

1-2

Ole Miss

0-1

1-2

Auburn

0-1

1-2

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