Sidelines with John Clay

BBL: Shannon Dawson excited by Southern Miss quarterback situation

Former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, now with Southern Miss, hugged Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops after Southern Mississippi’s 44-35 win over UK on Sept. 3, 2016.
Former offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson, now with Southern Miss, hugged Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops after Southern Mississippi’s 44-35 win over UK on Sept. 3, 2016. palcala@herald-leader.com

Big Blue Links for Thursday:

Duke players dunks on Kentucky fans’ house in Durham, reports Steve Wiseman of the Durham Herald-Sun. “While David and Laura Ades enjoyed lunch at Pompieri Pizza on Tuesday, their home and driveway hoop became part of Duke basketball lore. Unbeknownst to the Ades, Duke basketball players Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen drove up to their house and executed a #DriveByDunkChallenge in their driveway. Allen threw a basketball through a car’s sunroof to Duval, who slammed it home on the Ades’ hoop, while an unknown party recorded the whole thing.”

Shannon Dawson fired up about Southern Miss quarterback competition, reports Patrick Magee of the Biloxi Sun-Herald. “Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson has about five weeks to settle on his starting quarterback for the Sept. 2 season opener against Kentucky. It will likely one of two men – redshirt junior Kwadra Griggs or sophomore Keon Howard. Beginning fall camp without a starting quarterback is usually cause for heartburn for a coordinator/quarterbacks coach, but Dawson isn’t concerned with the predicament.”

Ex-Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze speaks for first time since resignation, reports Josh Peter and Antonio Morales of the Clarion-Ledger. “Although Freeze has not been seen publicly since he resigned Thursday, he indicated he is getting out. He wore a baseball cap, T-shirt and shorts while clearing brush at his home in an affluent subdivision near the lake where he is known to fish. During a brief interview with USA TODAY Sports Wednesday, Freeze said he planned to take his daughters to volleyball and meet with his pastor.”

Tennessee is not as good as its fans think, argues Jimmy Hyams for Gridiron Now. “Some have argued that Tennessee has more quality SEC players on its roster this year than last. Some have argued that’s one reason the Volunteers will be as good or better than last season’s 8-4 regular-season record. Tennessee might match last year’s win total. It might even get to nine wins. But reaching eight wins will be a tough task because I don’t see the talent being as good.”

Better quarterbacks should help SEC make up ground, writes Gene Sapakoff of the Charleston Post and Courier. “No coincidence that ACC quarterbacks were collectively better than SEC passers in 2016. But to keep The Deshaun Watson Era from becoming an aberration, the ACC will have to match SEC quarterback strides. That’s possible in the long run; Clemson has consensus top-rated high school quarterback Trevor Lawrence committed for the 2018 recruiting class to follow ESPN’s top 2017 quarterback Hunter Johnson.”

Is Florida’s quarterback drought finally over? asks Jordan McPherson of SEC Country. “Matt Corral walked into Florida’s indoor football practice facility during the Gators’ Friday Night Lights recruiting camp and headed straight for midfield. The 5-star quarterback prospect didn’t compete that night, or even throw a single pass. Instead, he spent the night talking with Florida coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, building a bond that he’s hoping will last for the next few years and help propel him to the college football spotlight and, eventually, the NFL.”

How good can Georgia’s defense be? asks Jason Butt of the Macon Telegraph. “Georgia’s unit ended the 2016 season fourth in the SEC in total defense at 327.5 yards per game. With head coach Kirby Smart and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker in their second season at Georgia, the combination of returning players and scheme familiarity should bode well.”

Six SEC basketball transfers who should make a mark, according to Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. “Daniel Giddens, Alabama — The former Ohio State center sat out last season per Division I transfer rules. He gives the Tide a scoring threat inside that they have lacked in prior seasons. The 6-foot-11, 236-pound Giddens averaged 3.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 18.2 minutes per game in his freshman year with the Buckeyes. A top 50 recruit coming out of high school, Giddens will team with returning sophomore Braxton Key and returning junior forward/center Donta Hall to form a formidable frontline for Alabama this season.”

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