Sidelines with John Clay

Links: Will Tennessee football be a surprise? Dontaie Allen update.

New Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke at a Tennessee basketball game on Dec. 9, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. Pruitt picked up a four-star wide receiver on Wednesday.
New Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt spoke at a Tennessee basketball game on Dec. 9, 2017, in Knoxville, Tenn. Pruitt picked up a four-star wide receiver on Wednesday. AP Photo

Big Blue Links makes a return:

Will Dontaie Allen receive a UK offer? asks Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. “Pretty much all of his top recruiting targets were out in Las Vegas over the weekend, but University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari spent his Friday night courtside at the Kentucky Exposition Center, watching one of the best prospects the state has seen in the past few years.”

Why Tennessee can beat West Virginia and Florida, according to John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “Football coaches often extol the virtues of playing a formidable opponent in their season opener. If nothing else, it at least gives them a fair assessment of their own team. But it also serves as off-season motivation.”

Tennessee fans have united around Jeremy Pruitt, says David Ubben of The Athletic. “They’re buying what he’s … not really selling. Pruitt famously called out fans who didn’t show up after April’s spring game. Many appreciated the bluntness after feeling like Jones sold them hard on a vision for five years that peaked with a squandered run at winning a down SEC East in 2016.”

Nine bold predictions for South Carolina football, from Josh Kendall of The State. “The Gamecocks will win nine games. South Carolina will be big favorites in two games — Coastal Carolina and Marshall — and big underdogs in two — Georgia and Clemson. That leaves eight games on the regular season schedule that can be considered toss-ups at worst.”

Four potential cures for a Lamar Jackson hangover, from Eric Crawford of WDRB. “If there’s scientific verification, it hasn’t been published. But in the air and on the streets, the phenomenon is readily visible. You can sense it. After three years of watching the most exciting player in college football (and arguably one of the most exciting players in the history of college football), University of Louisville football fans, media, and even just observers of the program are having a little trouble getting quite as juiced for life post-Lamar.”

Nick Fitzgerald adapting to new offense at Mississippi State, reports Tyler Horka of the Clarion-Ledger. “Nick Fitzgerald wore a wide smile in front of a group of local media last week. It wasn’t because he was about to embark on a four-hour merry-go-round of SEC Media Days obligations. And it wasn’t because somebody complimented him on his maroon bowtie. That didn’t happen in the media scrum – it might’ve happened later on the blue carpet.”

Fitzgerald is pumped for his senior season, writes David Paschal of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. “If Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald was down in the dumps last November when Dan Mullen decided to leave the Bulldogs after nine seasons for the vacancy at Florida, a mood adjustment was provided quickly by new head coach Joe Moorhead.”

A new season brings new challenges for Nick Saban, writes Guerry Clegg of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “In his first 11 seasons at Alabama, Nick Saban has managed just about every scenario imaginable entering a new season. New starting quarterback. New offensive coordinator. New defensive coordinator. A laundry list of players lost to the NFL. Through it all, The Process just keeps churning out one national championship after another after another.”

Is Saban paid too much? asks Ron Higgins of “When Alabama football coach Nick Saban’s latest contract extension was announced last week, an 8-year, $74.5 million deal through the 2025 season, there was the usual backlash that no coach, not even Saban, is worth that much. Kristi A. Dosh doesn’t think so.”

After arrests, Florida freshman leaves program, reports Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald. “Justin Watkins will not play a down of football with the Florida Gators. Watkins, a four-star freshman who was arrested Tuesday for the second time in three months and faces a pair of felony charges, announced Friday on Twitter that he is leaving the program.”

Missouri looking for its next great edge rusher, reports Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Missouri’s 2018 roster features loads of returning talent, but it lacks one key ingredient. Who is this team’s prime edge rusher? Missouri fans have been spoiled over the years to cheer for one productive edge rusher after another. Last season was just the second time since 1998 that a defensive tackle led or shared the team lead in sacks. Most years, an edge defender or two (sometimes three) have flourished as the team’s primary pass-rusher.”

Lovie Smith among coaches on hot seat, says Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel. “One of Josh Whitman’s first moves as athletics director at Illinois was to hire Lovie Smith as the program’s next football coach. Smith arrived at the school with an impressive mix of college and pro coaching experience on his resume including leading the Chicago Bears to Super Bowl XLI in 2006. However it’s been slow going for the Illini which are 5-19 in Smith’s first two seasons including 2-16 in the competitive Big Ten.”

Kansas basketball alums beat Missouri, reports Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star. “Former University of Kansas wing Brandon Rush, whose 10-year NBA career is in danger of ending, looked like a guy worthy of another pro contract during Saturday’s Rivalry Renewed KU-Missouri alumni basketball game at Silverstein Eye Centers Arena.”

Yante Maten signs two-way deal with Heat, reports Chris Vivlamore of the AJC. “Yante Maten has taken another step – a big one – on his journey to the NBA. The former University of Georgia power forward signed a two-way contract with the Heat on Sunday, the team announced. Maten went unselected in the NBA draft last month.”

Kentucky football schedule 2018

9/1Central MichiganHome
9/15Murray StateHome
9/22Miss StateHome
9/29South CarolinaHome
10/6Texas A&MAway
11/17Middle TennesseeHome

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