football

Twitter Tuesday: Justin Fields, SEC, Mike Riley, Tennessee, Pac-12

Our weekly #TwitterTuesday file continues this week where you ask National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell your football questions via social media. Here are five questions we chose, including Farrell’s take on five-star QB Justin Fields taking another visit to Georgia.

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Justin Fields to Georgia has been something many have talked about since May or even April with rumors of a silent commitment swirling in June at our Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas. In fact, I have heard everything from him recruiting other prospects to Georgia to him secretly filming a Georgia commitment video. But until it happens, this is still a battle.

Auburn is fading and were always a darkhorse anyhow, while Georgia and Florida State remain the two main contenders. Fields took an official visit to LSU, but the Tigers' anemic offense this past weekend couldn't have helped their chances much and they were also a long shot. Fields' presence at the Georgia game this past weekend is certainly a good sign for the Dawgs as he was seen chatting up Jacob Eason for a bit and seemed to enjoy his time there.

You can’t count out the ‘Noles, though. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again -- if it comes down to simply a business decision, it will be Florida State, especially with Jake Fromm playing so well. If it comes down to family, with his sister heading to Georgia, it will be the Bulldogs.

More often than not in these cases, family wins, so this will be interesting.

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Nick Saban
AP Images

The SEC looks to be bad for the second-straight season. Alabama is far-and-away the best team in the league and I might as well rank the rest with a huge drop off from the top-ranked Crimson Tide to No. 2…

2. Georgia

3. Mississippi State

4. Auburn

5. LSU

6. Vanderbilt

7. Kentucky

8. Tennessee

9. Florida

10. South Carolina

11. Ole Miss

12. Texas A&M

13. Arkansas

14. Missouri

How bad is that?

There are massive questions marks in the league after Alabama and Georgia, and the conference is behind the ACC and Big Ten once again when it comes to elite football teams. The Big 12 is clearly better as well this year despite Kansas State's loss to Vanderbilt.

The SEC has a problem and it appears to start again under center at many programs.

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Mike Riley
AP Images

When I did my Big Ten preview a few weeks back, I listed Mike Riley as having the hottest seat mainly because there aren’t a lot of other coaches in the conference, if any, truly in distress.

The Nebraska brain trust will see how this season goes and, ultimately, Riley will get another year to show he can win with all of his recruits. However, that same brain trust will be looking for Riley to make adjustments and improvements from week-to-week this season. Eventually, as part of those, Tanner Lee has to take a seat. I know the offensive line play has been poor and he’s been under duress a lot, but that can be said for many quarterbacks who haven’t made nearly as many costly mistakes as Lee has in the last two weeks. Northern Illinois is not a good football team, and there is no way Nebraska loses the game Saturday without those two awful, telegraphed throws.

In watching Lee a bit this season, he tends to lead defensive backs and linebackers with his eyes. That means he shows them exactly where he’s throwing quite often and allows them to break on the ball. Good quarterbacks can look off defenders, and Lee can do that, but it has to be done consistently. If your quarterback is costing you points and key possessions, you have to make a change and you’ll see one sooner than later.

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Butch Jones
AP Images

There were a lot of questions about Butch Jones' job status this week for obvious reasons. A loss is a loss but, when you lose like the Vols did on the last play of the game this past weekend, seats get hotter. Now Jones will be under scrutiny for the rest of the season.

Most Vols fans felt he would get another year if he went 7-5 and that could still happen, but if he has another loss like this one 7-5 might not be enough.

Les Miles is a good coach, I’ve always liked him as a coach and recruiter, but I don’t think he’s the solution in Knoxville. With such a great recruiting advantage in Louisiana and so many talented rosters but only one national title on his resume, do we really think he’s going to be the guy to take Tennessee to the next level?

The guy I’d make a strong push for if I’m the Vols is Mississippi State's Dan Mullen. Someone is going to open up the checkbook and hire him away and the Vols should be that team. He can lead them to the SEC East title and eventually to compete for a national title. He’s that impressive as a coach.

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Sam Darnold
AP Images

I honestly don’t see a Pac-12 team in the title game for one reason: defense. I didn’t like what I saw at times from the USC defense against Western Michigan and Texas. The secondary has been erratic, the pass rush is good overall but there have been too many missed tackles and they have had trouble handling big receivers. Washington, meanwhile, doesn’t look as explosive as last year. Those are clearly the two best Pac-12 candidates to make it to the playoff at this point.

Both teams have excellent quarterbacks, a solid running game and are developing new stars at wide receiver, but the defenses concern me.

I have no problem projecting Oklahoma State with a weak defense over USC or Washington because the Pokes' offense is much more potent. A team like Oklahoma, with an improved defense, could also make it over a Pac-12 team. Assuming the SEC, ACC and Big Ten will all have playoff teams, either the Big 12 or the Pac-12 will be left out and I think right now it will be the Pac-12.

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