Milliner comes up big for Bama D
Notes: Smith says Arkansas needs work; big debuts coming
No. 2 Alabama certainly seemed like a team fully focused on defending its national title on Saturday, not only offensively, but also on the defensive side of the ball. Much of that defensive credit goes to junior cornerback Dee Milliner.
Milliner, from Millbrook, Ala., recorded five tackles and an interception while breaking up four passes. He returned the interception 35 yards to the Michigan 17-yard line, setting up the Tide's third score of the first quarter and helping give the Crimson Tide an early 21-0 lead.
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In its 41-14 victory, the Crimson Tide held Michigan to a paltry 69 yards on the ground and 268 yards of total offense.
For his effort, Milliner was selected as the Walter Camp Foundation National Defensive Player of the Week
"He did a really good job," head coach Nick Saban said of Milliner. "We flip flopped corners. He played into the boundary. He'll do whatever we need him to do as a team. Dee is an outstanding player for us and hopefully will continue to play well throughout the year."
Junior C.J. Mosley intercepted a pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown with 4:31 left in the second period. The touchdown was the third interception return for a score for Mosley in his Alabama career, tying Antonio Langham’s (1990-93) school record. Mosley had two touchdown returns in 2010.
In all, Alabama has now scored 26 non-offensive touchdowns in the Saban era.
"This was really a good team win for us," Saban said. "And the expectation that we have and the standard we want to play to in business or in sports is about who you are. You know, it's good to look good. It's good to wear the jersey, but it's the guy in it and the character that you have and who you are that probably makes the biggest difference."
No. 10 Arkansas goes on the road for the first time this season Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe. Despite his team's 49-point outburst last weekend against Jacksonville State, head coach John L. Smith said his team has a lot to work on, particularly with Alabama looming on Sept.15.
"We have to do a better job of making sure we have ball security and taking care of it," Smith said. "We are going to have to tighten up in our pass coverage."There are a lot of things we need to work on and a lot of things we need to get better at."
It won’t get any easier for the inexperienced Auburn Tigers next weekend as they travel to Mississippi St. to play their first conference game of the season. Another week of practice likely won’t hurt the Auburn offensive line, which started three players making their first career starts. It's probable that the line will get better as the season unfolds, especially when All-American center Reese Dismukes returns from suspension.
Gators coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that sophomore Jeff Driskel will be the starting quarterback Saturday at Texas A&M when the Aggies will make their SEC debut. Driskel started the season opener against Bowling Green at receiver as fellow sophomore Jacoby Brissett took the first snap of the game. Driskel then moved to quarterback and played the rest of the first quarter.
Jacoby Brissett played the second quarter. However, Driskel played the entire second half in Florida's 27-14 win against Bowling Green and finished 10-for-16 for 114 yards and one touchdown Saturday. He threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Frankie Hammond in the second half that helped the Gators win their 23rd consecutive season opener.
Georgia heads west to face the Missouri Tigers in Missouri’s first SEC conference game since transferring over from the Big 12. After giving up 243 yards in the first half, the Bulldogs finally tightened the clamp on the Buffalo offense in the second half. Along side senior QB Aaron Murray’s solid opener, freshman running back Todd Gurley started his college career off with a bang scoring on two of his first three touches. Georgia will look for consistency from Murray and Gurley in Missouri.
At the end of a short week, Kentucky takes the field for its home opener Saturday against Kent St. Among its points of concern include the offensive line, which found little room against a Cardinals defense that had sophomore quarterback Maxwell Smith covered in many facets. On the other hand, The Wildcat offense totaled 373 yards, its best performance since totaling 398 yards last season versus Ole Miss on Nov. 5, 2011.
The absence of the dismissed Tyrann Mathieu was noticeable for the Tigers last weekend as North Texas’ fast wide receivers opened up a few holes in the LSU secondary. The Tigers may have a to be a little less conservative offensively, with a much better Washington team coming to Death Valley this weekend.
• The Huskies will make their the first time the Huskies have played a road game in the Southeastern Conference since the UW visited Baton Rouge in 1983. Washington opened the season Saturday night by beating San Diego State 21-12.
Mississippi St. (1-0)
An 0-1 Auburn team is on its way into town this week and if Mississippi St. is going to win, they need to play much like it did last weekend, featuring a balanced attack which included two defensive touchdowns.
• Mississippi State has outscored its opponents 121-25, in the first half during its last five wins. The Bulldogs have also won their last 25 games when holding a lead entering the fourth quarter.
After blowing out Southern Louisiana last weekend, Mizzou will have a much tougher task ahead of them this weekend the Georgia Bulldogs come to Columbia.
• Sophomore tailback Marcus Murphy missed the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury but came back strong last weekend, returning two punts for touchdowns in his first game back.
• More good news for Missouri fans is the fact that the Georgia defense had trouble with Buffalo’s QB Alex Zordich.
Ole Miss (1-0)
Head coach Hugh Freeze has to somehow convince his team not to look past UTEP when it comes into town next week with the Texas Longhorns coming to Mississippi the following week.
• Bo Wallace will look to add on to his impressive FBS debut in his second week at quarterback. Wallace was 20 for 24 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception off a tipped pass but offset that with 82 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. Wallace will need help, however, as he led the team in both passing and rushing in Week 1.
South Carolina (1-0)
The ninth-ranked Gamecocks play their home opener on Saturday as East Carolina travels into town. South Carolina may have to play without starting QB Connor Shaw. Shaw injured his right shoulder last Saturday against Vanderbilt and according to coach Steve Spurrier, Shaw can barely lift his arm.
“He won’t play if he’s not healthy,” Spurrier said.
South Carolina will most likely go with sophomore Dylan Thompson if Shaw is unable to go.
The Vols’ welcome in Georgia State this weekend for their home opener. It'll be interesting to see what Cordarrelle Patterson does for an encore. Patterson scored twice in Friday's victory against NC State, once on the rushing side and once on the receiving side. Patterson could be the WR that coach Derek Dooley has been searching for since top wide out Da’Rick Rogers left the program earlier this month.
Texas A&M (0-0)
A&M had to wait an extra week to make its SEC debut as Hurricane Isaac got in the way of its first scheduled game last Saturday. A&M will get a much tougher opponent for the opener than originally expected as Florida pays them a visit.
• Redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel is set to become the first freshman QB to start an A&M season-opener since 1944.
After a hard-fought loss to South Carolina last weekend, Vanderbilt travels to Northwestern on Saturday, looking to get its eighth win in 28 games against teams from the Big Ten.
• The two teams have played three times. The overall record is 1-1-1. Northwestern won the most recent contest 23-21 in 2010.