Sidelines with John Clay

SEC quarterback battles continue around league

Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio throws during spring practice Friday, March 11, 2016 in Gainesville, Fla. Del Rio, a transfer from Oregon State, is competing for the Gators’ starting quarterback position.
Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio throws during spring practice Friday, March 11, 2016 in Gainesville, Fla. Del Rio, a transfer from Oregon State, is competing for the Gators’ starting quarterback position. Gainesville Sun

Assorted SEC football notes:

▪ Florida’s quarterback race is still too close to call, but Jim McElwain thinks he will name a starter soon. Luke Del Rio and Austin Appleby, both transfers, are the top two contenders. Del Rio, son of Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, came from Oregon State. Appelby arrived in Gainesville from Purdue.

▪ Mississippi State lost one its quarterback candidates on Friday when Elijah Stanley announced his plans to transfer. Dan Mullen will now choose among junior Damian Williams, sophomore Nick Fitzgerald and redshirt freshman Nick Tiano.

▪ New coach Kirby Smart hasn’t settled on a quarterback at Georgia. Holdovers Greyson Lambert and Brice Ramsey, plus highly-touted freshman Jacob Eason are still in the hunt. Sources say all three were up-and-down in Georgia’s scrimmage on Saturday.

▪ This may sound like a broken record, but South Carolina has also not picked a starting quarterback. Head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper said after Saturday’s scrimmage they aren’t ready to pick from among senior Perry Orth, freshman Brandon McIlwain and freshman Jake Bentley.

▪ John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel thinks Tennessee’s football season can be divided into three parts. He sees the “Warm-Up,” followed by the “Main Event,” with the “Style Section” wrapping things up. The Vols are the pick to capture the SEC East crown.

▪ The Vols are motivated by the close losses suffered last year. Just 25 points separated Butch Jones’ team from what was a good season from what could have been a great year.

▪ Auburn coach Gus Malzahn doesn’t have a timeline for naming a starting quarterback. He held contender Jeremy Johnson out of the team’s second pre-season scrimmage on Saturday.

▪ Marcell Frazier thinks he can make an impact on Missouri’s pass rush. The junior defensive end will be needed to step up on a line that recently lost a pair of players.

▪ Ole Miss has one of the nation’s better tight ends in Evan Engram, but coach Hugh Freeze thinks true freshman Octavious Cooley may be even better than Engram.

▪ Arkansas is happy with the depth on its defensive line. The Razorbacks think they have eight players who will see time up front.

▪ Texas A&M is trying to sort through its running back candidates to replace featured runner Tra Carson, now in the NFL. Carson got almost 50 percent of the Aggies’ carries last season.

▪ Tony Barnhart of Gridiron Now says that the Maurice Smith saga shows a need for rule change with regards to transfer policies. Smith was finally allowed to leave Alabama and transfer as a grad student to Georgia last week.

▪ Now-retired LSU play-by-play broadcaster Jim Hawthorne and his wife had to be rescued from the intense flooding that hit Louisiana over the weekend.

ESPN opening weekend football schedule

Thursday, Sept. 1

Time (ET)

Game

Network

7 p.m.

Charlotte at Louisville

ACC Network Extra*

Tulane at Wake Forest

ACC Network Extra

Presbyterian at Central Michigan

ESPN3

Tennessee-Martin at Cincinnati

ESPN3

Maine at UConn

ESPN3*

7:30 p.m.

Appalachian State at No. 11 Tennessee

Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Laura Rutledge

SEC Network

Indiana at Florida International

Mike Couzens, Clint Stoerner

ESPNU

William & Mary at NC State

ACC Network Extra

8 p.m.

South Carolina at Vanderbilt

Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich

ESPN

9 p.m.

Montana State at Idaho

ESPN3*

Friday, Sept. 2

Time (ET)

Game

Network

6 p.m.

Mississippi Valley State at Eastern Michigan

ESPN3

7 p.m.

Colgate at Syracuse

ACC Network Extra

Albany at Buffalo

ESPN3

Ball State at Georgia State

ESPN3*

8 p.m.

Colorado State vs. Colorado from Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.

Adam Amin, Mack Brown, Molly McGrath

ESPN

9 p.m.

Toledo at Arkansas State

Roy Philpott, Clint Stoerner

ESPNU

Saturday, Sept. 3

Time (ET)

Game

Network

7:30 a.m.

Georgia Tech vs. Boston College from Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland

Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Paul Carcaterra

ESPN2

Noon

2016 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff: No. 5 Oklahoma vs. No. 18 Houston from NRG Stadium in Houston

Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill

ABC

Hawaii at No. 3 Michigan

Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch

ESPN

Western Michigan at Northwestern

Clay Matvick, Dusty Dvoracek

ESPNU

South Alabama at Mississippi State

David Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan

SEC Network

Eastern Kentucky at Purdue

Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley

ESPNEWS

Boise State at Louisiana-Lafayette

ESPN3*

12:30 p.m.

Liberty at Virginia Tech

ACC Network Extra*

1:30 p.m.

Villanova at Pittsburgh

ACC Network Extra

3:30 p.m.

No. 6 LSU vs. Wisconsin from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay

ABC

Miami (Ohio) at No. 23 Iowa

Eamon McAnaney, John Congemi

ESPNU

Richmond at Virginia

ACC Network Extra

4 p.m.

Louisiana Tech at Arkansas

Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman

SEC Network

5:30 p.m.

2016 Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game: No. 13 Georgia vs. No. 19 North Carolina from Georgia Dome in Atlanta

TV: Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams

Radio: Marc Kestcher, Tom Ramsey

ESPN and ESPN Radio

6 p.m.

North Carolina Central at Duke

ACC Network Extra

Florida A&M at Miami (Fla.)

ACC Network Extra

Western Carolina at East Carolina

ESPN3

6:30 p.m.

VMI at Akron

ESPN3

7 p.m.

Southeast Missouri State at Memphis

ESPN3

South Carolina State at UCF

ESPN3

Towson at South Florida

ESPN3

Rhode Island at Kansas

ESPN3*

Oklahoma Panhandle State at Sam Houston State

ESPN3

7:30 p.m.

Southern Mississippi at Kentucky

Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks

ESPNU

UMass at Florida

Tom Hart, Andre Ware, Cole Cubelic

SEC Network

8 p.m.

No. 12 USC vs. No. 1 Alabama from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder

Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, and Ian Fitzsimmons

ABC and ESPN Radio

Coastal Carolina at Lamar

ESPN3*

9 p.m.

No. 2 Clemson at Auburn

Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung

ESPN

Sunday, Sept. 4

Time

Game

Network

1 p.m.

2016 MEAC/SWAC Challenge: Alcorn State vs. Bethune-Cookman

Eric Clemons, Jay Walker

ESPN

6 p.m.

Texas Southern vs. Prairie View A&M

Mark Neely, Forrest Conoly

ESPNU

7:30 p.m.

No. 9 Notre Dame at Texas

Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe

ABC

Monday, Sept. 5

Time

Game

Network

8 p.m.

2016 Camping World Kickoff: No. 14 Ole Miss vs. No. 4 Florida State from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.

TV: Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder

Radio: Bill Rosinski, David Norrie, Ian Fitzsimmons

ESPN and ESPN Radio

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