SEC INSIDER

SEC Notebook: Chubb to undergo left knee surgery

The Sports Xchange

October 11, 2015 at 5:47 pm.

Sep 19, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb (27) runs against South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore (10) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs running back Nick Chubb (27) runs against South Carolina Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore (10) during the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

What was looking like a rather ordinary day in the SEC, what with four teams taking the weekend off and two stepping out of conference play, suddenly took some dramatic turns Saturday.

We should know better. There is no such thing as an ordinary day in this conference.

The bigger doings involved East Division teams.

Florida took a commanding position in the division race to get to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta with its 21-3 domination of defending division champion Missouri, and Georgia saw control of its fate taken from its hands with a 38-31 loss at Tennessee.

More costly to the Bulldogs, however, was the left knee injury tailback Nick Chubb sustained on his first carry of the game. He didn’t return and the school announced that he will require surgery. Chubb had a string of 13-consecutive 100-yard rushing yard game working.

Here’s the statement the school released Sunday on the injury:

“University of Georgia sophomore tailback Nick Chubb suffered a significant left knee injury on the first play from scrimmage in Saturday’s Georgia-Tennessee game in Knoxville. According to UGA Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Medicine Ron Courson, the injury involves damage to multiple ligaments and cartilage; however, the damage does not include the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Neither does the injury involve arteries or nerves.

“Courson said all the damage is repairable and a full recovery is expected following surgery and rehab. Chubb is currently in the hospital for observation and surgery would be expected sometime in the next two weeks.”

“He was in pain, physical and mental pain, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to finish out this game,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said after the game. “He put so much work into it.”

Chubb’s replacement, sophomore Sony Michel, had a good day rushing for 145 yards at Tennessee, and to be fair, it was a collapse on defense that cost the Bulldogs against the Vols.

The Bulldogs had a 24-3 lead late in the second quarter but gave up two key fourth-down plays, and that swung the momentum Tennessee’s way the rest of the day.

The second consecutive conference loss puts the Bulldogs in the hole in the division race and, coupled with Florida’s win over Missouri, puts the Gators alone at the top of the division standings.

But the Gators still have some business to take care of before planning for a trip to Atlanta. First up is a game against unbeaten LSU this coming Saturday in Baton Rouge.

If the Gators lose that one, it would make for an interesting situation when they head to Jacksonville two weeks later to take on the Bulldogs.

To state it again, there is no such thing as a routine weekend in the SEC.

ALABAMA (5-1, 2-1)

Game: Alabama 27, Arkansas 14. The Crimson Tide overcame a 7-3 halftime deficit when senior QB Jake Coker’s 81-yard touchdown pass to freshman WR Calvin Ridley ignited the offense in the second half. Coker was 24-of-33 passing for 262 yards and added a three-yard scoring pass to senior WR Richard Mullaney to give the Tide a 10-point cushion, 17-7, early in the fourth quarter.

Takeaway: With the offense sputtering, defense kept things from getting out of control in the first half for Alabama. The Razorbacks never took a snap on Bama’s side of the 50 in the first two quarters until an interception late in the second quarter set them up at Bama’s 12-yard line following an unsportsmanlike penalty against the Tide. The Tide held the Hogs to just 44 net yards rushing and came up with three sacks, limiting Arkansas QB Brandon Allen to just 176 yards passing. “I thought we didn’t play poorly in the first half,” coach Nick Saban said. “We just turned the ball over and didn’t finish drives in the red zone.” Saban thought the big play was stopping Arkansas on a fake punt late in the third quarter with the Tide up just 10-7. “I think our players did a good job,” Saban said.

Next: At Texas A&M, Oct. 17.

ARKANSAS (2-4, 1-2)

Game: Alabama 27, Arkansas 14. The Razorbacks took advantage of their second interception, this one deep in Alabama territory, to take a 7-3 lead into the halftime locker room on the strength of QB Brandon Allen’s four-yard pass to WR Drew Morgan with 1:29 left in the second quarter. But the Hogs never could get their offense moving with any consistency, rushing for just a net 44 yards and passing for just 176 against the tough Bama defense.

Takeaway: The Razorbacks tried just about everything to ignite their offense, including a fake punt late in the third quarter from their own 41-yard line. Needing five yards for the first down they got only two. Bama took over and drove for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead. Coach Bret Bielema said he thought the way Bama was defending the punt gave the Hogs a chance to run a sweep. “We didn’t want to go to it unless we couldn’t get anything going,” Bielema said. “We continued to stall out offensively, and I could feel the momentum starting to slide the other way.” Bama went on to build a 27-7 lead before the Hogs got their second touchdown on Allen’s second touchdown pass, a 54-yard toss to WR Dominique Reed with 1:37 left in the game. “I felt offensively we just couldn’t find that groove, couldn’t find things that were working,” Allen said of his overall play.

Next: Vs. Auburn, Oct. 24.

AUBURN (3-2, 0-2)

Game: Idle.

Next: At Kentucky, Oct. 15.

FLORIDA (6-0, 4-0)

Game: Florida 21, Missouri 3. Junior RB Kelvin Taylor rushed for 99 yards and a couple of first-half touchdowns, and the Florida defense made them stand up for the win. The Gators also got a touchdown on sophomore CB Jalen Tabor’s 50-yard interception return in the third quarter, and their defense remained in charge throughout the night, limiting the Tigers to 257 yards in total offense.

Takeaway: Defense allowed the Gators to remain unbeaten and take control of the SEC East. Not only did it limit the Tigers to just 257 yards of total offense, it also provided the sealing touchdown on Tabor’s second interception return for a touchdown of the season. Seven of Mizzou’s 15 possessions were three-and-outs. “They are fun to watch when they focus and don’t get silly,” coach Jim McElwain said of his defensive players. “And what do I mean by that? Sometimes they lose focus on the prize, the prize being what we do on Saturdays, and I haven’t seen much of that lately. They are tuned in, they are locked in, challenging each other, and challenging the offense. It is fun to watch. I have to tell you man, they play the game fast, too.”

Next: At LSU, Oct. 17.

GEORGIA (4-2, 2-2)

Game: Tennessee 38, Georgia 31. The Bulldogs seemed to have things well under control after taking a 24-3 lead into the second quarter, but a fumbled kickoff return gave the Vols an opportunity for a second touchdown in the space of 37 seconds and the Bulldogs never could get momentum back. They had two possessions to try to tie up the game in the fourth quarter, but were forced to punt from their 44-yard line on the first after WR Reggie Davis, who had a 48-yard touchdown reception, dropped a potential second long scoring pass, and the final possession ended with QB Greyson Lambert’s pass from Tennessee’s 27-yard line falling incomplete as time ran out.

Takeaway: Even without TB Nick Chubb, Georgia was able to build an early lead and got 145 yards rushing from Chubb’s backup, sophomore TB Sony Michel. “It changes to a certain degree, but Sony ran it in there between the tackles,” Richt replied when asked about changes to the game plan following Chubb’s injury. “We called the same plays that we would have called for the most part.” The Bulldogs had two non-offensive touchdowns, getting one on LB Leonard Floyd’s 96-yard fumble return and a second on Davis’ 70-yard punt return. “He was playing his tail off,” Richt said of Davis. “His shoulder got knocked down a little bit. He was kind of debating whether he could keep going. He sucked it up and kept going. I am really proud of the effort he gave throughout. I’m sure he’s as sick or sicker than anybody that he dropped that ball at the end there.”

Next: Vs. Missouri, Oct. 17.

KENTUCKY (4-1, 2-1)

Game: Idle.

Next: Vs. Auburn, Oct. 15.

LSU (5-0, 3-0)

Game: LSU 45, South Carolina 24. LSU amassed 624 yards in total offense, its most against an SEC opponent since gaining 630 against Ole Miss in 1987, with 396 yards rushing and a career-best 228 passing from sophomore QB Brandon Harris, and got plenty of support from its defense. The Tigers held the Gamecocks to just 74 yards rushing and 283 yards in total offense as the Gamecocks got their three touchdowns on two long pass plays and a kickoff return.

Takeaway: Coach Les Miles has had praise for all of his running backs, not just RB Leonard Fournette, in recent outings, and this one showed why. Fournette got his share of rushing yards with 158 on 20 carries, but he wasn’t the leading rusher for his team. That honor went to true freshman Derrius Guice, who rushed for 161 yards on just 16 attempts. Guice scored the game’s final touchdown on a 39-yard run, his season long to date. “I think he’s pretty talented,” Miles said. “Reckless might be the best, angry — there are a number of ways to describe his running style. Efficient.” Harris was an efficient 18-of-28 passing with two touchdown passes against no interceptions. “Harris does exactly what we ask him to do and looks very comfortable,” Miles said. “We’re not going to ask him to something he’s uncomfortable with.”

Next: Vs. Florida, Oct. 17.

MISSISSIPPI (5-1, 2-1)

Game: Mississippi 52, New Mexico State 3. Junior QB Chad Kelly passed for a career-high 384 yards on a 24-of-33 day passing as the Rebels toyed with the visiting Aggies. The Rebels led 32-3 at the half despite turning the ball over twice early in the second quarter, once on a fumbled punt, and lost another fumble in the third quarter before scoring touchdowns on their last three full series of the game to complete the rout.

Takeaway: The 665 yards of total offense were the second-most in Ole Miss history — second only to the 751 the Rebels amassed against Troy two years ago — and were just the shot in the arm the Rebels needed coming off the loss to Florida and struggle against Vanderbilt the previous two games. “It was good to get back on the field and see our kids compete,” coach Hugh Freeze said. “It was good to play at home in front of our crowd in an early game. Hopefully, we can use that time to rest and recover.” The Rebels recovered defensively after allowing the visitors to run off 15 plays on their opening drive. “I really have to do a better job with some things,” Freeze said. “I think this team needs and wants me to be more passionate. I need to be full of emotion for them. Some teams don’t react to that, but these guys do.”

Next: At Memphis, Oct. 17.

MISSISSIPPI STATE (4-2, 1-2)

Game: Mississippi State 45, Troy 17. The Bulldogs wasted little time in this one, jumping out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter on junior WR Fred Ross’ 49-yard touchdown reception, junior DT Nelson Adams’ fumble recovery in the end zone, and Ross’ 77-yard punt return. It was 38-0 at the half as State’s defense was in control, throwing the visiting Trojans for 89 yards in losses on the ground with 36 of those yards coming on four sacks.

Takeaway: With senior QB Dak Prescott available for only three series because of a stomach virus, redshirt freshman Nick Fitzgerald had to fill in for State. He threw only seven passes but completed six for 141 yards and two touchdowns and netted 29 yards on eight rushing attempts (no sacks). Fitzgerald said he and Prescott are roommates and when they got up the morning of the game, Prescott told him that he had had been throwing up all night. “Then it hit me that this was time to get ready to go and I might start,” Fitzgerald said. “My mindset somewhat switched. I did the whole walk-through and got focused. I studied a little harder during our down time. I didn’t end up starting, but I got a lot of reps.”

Next: Vs. Louisiana Tech, Oct. 17

MISSOURI (4-2, 1-2)

Game: Florida 21, Missouri 3. The Tigers never could get much of anything going on offense behind freshman QB Drew Lock, rushing for just 106 yards and getting another 151 passing from Lock. Lock also threw an interception that the Gators returned for a touchdown in the second half that put the game away.

Takeaway: After going an efficient 21-of-28 passing in his starting debut the week before against South Carolina, Lock struggled big time against the aggressive Florida defense. Sacked three times, he completed only 16-of-39 pass attempts and had an earlier pick in addition to the one the Gators returned for their third touchdown. “You can point to quarterbacks all you want,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “He’s going to learn from it. It’s not going to be the first or last interception. It’s going to make him better, but that’s something you deal with as a young quarterback.” Lock himself called it part of the growing process. “The bad part about it is that I expect that out of me right now,” Lock said. “That’s just the disappointing part. I beat myself up because I truly think that I can make every throw on the field when I need to and however I need to.”

Next: At Georgia, Oct. 17.

SOUTH CAROLINA (2-4, 0-4)

Game: LSU 45, South Carolina 24. The Gamecocks were in it at the half, trailing only 17-10 thanks to freshman CB Rashad Fenton’s 96-yard kickoff return and a defense that held Tigers RB Leonard Fournette to just 49 yards in the first two quarters. But with starting QB Lorenzo Nunez out, they could never get a consistent offense working, and Fournette went for 87 yards on his second carry of the third quarter to ignite a rushing onslaught.

Takeaway: Junior QB Perry Orth passed for 200 yards and senior WR Pharoh Cooper had seven receptions for 105, but the Gamecocks never could get their ground game working against the LSU defense. They ended up with just 74 yards rushing with RBs Shon Carson and David Williams getting 26 and 25, respectively. “Offensively we were trying to get a little bit here and they,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “We didn’t run the ball all that well, but it is what it is.” Orth was 14-of-28 passing after getting the start late in the week when Nunez’ shoulder injury kept him home. “Perry made a lot of good plays,” Spurrier said. “He made a lot of good ones. He did. He made a lot of good plays for a walk-on kid. He made some good passes in the second half.”

Next: Vs. Vanderbilt, Oct. 17.

TENNESSEE (3-3, 1-2)

Game: Tennessee 38, Georgia 31. Down by 21 points late in the second quarter, the Vols scored two touchdowns in the space of 37 seconds to close to within 24-17 at the break. The Vols took a 31-24 lead into the fourth quarter and broke a 31-31 tie on the strength of an eight-play, 78-yard march capped by QB Joshua Dobbs’ five-touchdown run with 5:48 remaining.

Takeaway: Two big fourth-down gambles turned the game in Tennessee’s favor. Both came on the Vols’ first touchdown drive and seemed to give the Vols a lift after they fell behind 24-3. The first was a fourth-and-four at the Georgia 47-yard line, and Dobb’s completed a six-yard pass to WR Von Pearson. The next came with the Vols facing fourth-and-eight at the Bulldogs’ 39, and Dobbs threw a 39-yard touchdown strike to WR Josh Smith. “I had confidence in the calls that we had,” coach Butch Jones said. “I thought where we were at on the field, at that point of the game, it was a gut feeling, just a gut feeling that I had, and we made those decisions. It’s really on the kids. They executed both fourth-down conversions to really gain some momentum for us, and all the credit goes to them. They did a great job of executing.”

Next: At Alabama, Oct. 24.

TEXAS A&M (5-0, 2-0)

Game: Idle.

Next: Vs. Alabama, Oct. 17.

VANDERBILT (2-3, 0-2)

Game: Idle.

Next: At South Carolina, Oct. 17.

NOTES, QUOTES

–Junior QB Josh Dobbs has had his moments early in Tennessee’s season, but had yet to follow through on the strong finish he had to his 2014 season as the Vols struggled with holding onto early leads in losses to Oklahoma, Florida, and Arkansas.

That changed Saturday in the 38-31 victory over Georgia.

With the Vols trailing 24-3 in the second quarter, Dobbs hit on two fourth-down passes to spark a touchdown drive, and that success seemed to ignite him and the Tennessee offense.

After completing just 11 of his first 23 passes on the day, Dobbs finished the game 25-of-42 for 312 yards and three touchdowns to rally the Vols to the win. He also led his team in rushing with 18 carries for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

In all, that’s 430 yards of offense of Tennessee’s total of 519 and all five of the team’s touchdowns.

“Very, very gutty performance,” coach Butch Jones said. “He made plays when we had to.”

After blowing double-digit leads in all three of their losses, the Vols hope to use this as a turning point in their season.

“Obviously, it gives us a lot of momentum going into the bye week,” Dobbs said. “It’ll definitely be a positive bye week, one to improve, and two to get healthy and rested and get ready for the second half of the season.”

The Vols host Alabama on Oct. 24 in their next outing.

–WR Amari Cooper last year became Alabama’s first winner of the annual Biletnikoff Award that goes to the nation’s top college receiver.

The Crimson Tide looks to have a second candidate-in-the-making in true freshman Calvin Ridley.

Ridley backed up his five-catch, 120-yard performance in the win over Georgia with another big day against Arkansas Saturday. He finished with nine receptions for 140 yards. His 81-yard touchdown pass from QB Jake Coker late in the third quarter gave the Tide a 10-7 lead and ignited the surge that led to Bama’s 27-14 victory.

“The big play from Jake to Calvin was a big momentum changer in the game,” coach Nick Saban said, “and I think from that time on we dominated pretty well until they hit the scramble pass at the end.”

For the season, Ridley has 31 receptions for 385 yards, which rank seventh and eighth, respectively, among SEC receivers.

–Dan Mullen became just the third coach in Mississippi State history to reach the 50-win level with the Bulldogs with the 45-17 victory over Troy. He is 50-33 in the middle of his seventh season in Starkville.

“When I came here, we had a vision of what we wanted to build,” Mullen said. “Only two other people have done that here at Mississippi State, so it’s a great honor. But it’s really about the program.”

Mullen got to the 50-win level in his 83rd game at State. Hall-of-Fame Allyn McKeen did it in 63 games, and Jackie Sherrill did it in his 94th.

–South Carolina’s game against LSU was moved in the middle of the week from Columbia to Baton Rouge, costing the Gamecocks a home SEC date, because of the flooding in the state of South Carolina.

But coach Steve Spurrier said he didn’t think the circumstances had any effect on the result of the game, a 45-24 Tigers’ victory.

“Well, it was difficult for so many South Carolinians,” Spurrier said. “Our football team didn’t have it bad. We have no excuses.

“Last night our chaplain asked how many people got flooded out. Nobody raised a hand. We’ve been fortunate and blessed.”

Spurrier said his Gamecocks had a “normal week” of practice.

“I don’t know if we would have played them at home if it had been any different, to tell you the truth. A lot of people had it really tough, but most of us were spared. We’re thankful. We’re grateful.”

–Auburn had the weekend off, but the week still was an eventful one for the Tigers. Earlier in the week coach Gus Malzahn announced he was dismissing WR D’haquille Williams from the team.

“When individuals fail to meet the expectations of our program, there has to be consequences,” Malzahn said. “I gave D’haquille the chance to prove himself. I am disappointed that it did not work out.”

Williams was the leading receiver for the Tigers last year with 45 receptions for 730 yards, but he was suspended for the bowl game and again in the offseason. He worked his way from the bottom of the depth chart to start the opener, but had only 12 catches for 147 yards in five games, far off last year’s pace.

Malzahn did not given any details on the reason for his suspension, but al.com reported that Williams was in a bar fight after the team’s Oct. 3 win over San Jose State. The site reported that two sources said Williams attacked four people after a dispute at the bar, including two security guards.

The Alabama News Network reported that a source close to the program said that one of the victims was Williams’ teammate, Xavier Dampeer, a backup center.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It wasn’t pretty by any stretch of the imagination, so go ahead and pick it apart. We are going to enjoy it. Sometimes in this business you have to kind of win like that.” — Florida coach Jim McEwain, after the Gators’ 21-3 victory at Missouri.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 6 IN THE SEC:

1. Even at this early stage, the East Division race looks to be Florida’s to lose. The Gators are unbeaten, everybody else in the division except Kentucky has at least two conference losses, and the Gators hold the tiebreaker over one-loss Kentucky by virtue of their victory over the Wildcats.

2. Now we see why LSU coach Les Miles has complained about having Florida as its annual crossover opponent from the SEC East. Going into their game in Baton Rouge this coming Saturday, they are two of the conference’s unbeaten teams, and a loss would cut the Tigers’ margin of error considerably in the SEC West, where Texas A&M also is undefeated.

3. LSU RB Leonard Fournette has come a long way since striking a Heisman pose after a big day as a freshman last year, a “look-at-me” gesture that drew castigation from his coach. Fournette expressed a desire to donate his jersey after the win over South Carolina for an auction to benefit South Carolina flood victims, and The Morning Advocate of Baton Rouge has reported that the NCAA has given its OK for him to do so.

4. The Missouri magic is gone. The Tigers saw their East title defense put in jeopardy with their early conference loss to Kentucky, and now their hopes of making it to the SEC title game for a third straight season seem highly unlikely after their loss to Florida.

5. Alabama continues to lurk in the SEC West. The Crimson Tide struggled in the first half against Arkansas but regained its balance and now heads to Texas A&M, where it can make a huge statement by pinning the first defeat on the Aggies.