Words with — and about … Gators running back Valdez Showers

Sophomore Valdez Showers, who wears No. 10 to honor his late grandmother’s birthday of Oct. 10, showed his versatility in the opener that likely will be on display again today after catching four passes for 23 yards and rushing twice for 31 yards. He was in a battle to start at safety till preseason camp.

Q: How nervous were you making the switch from defense to offense?

Showers: I wasn't nervous at all. Offense always seemed kind of easy to me, so it was just a matter of making sure I got the concepts down. The more we install, the more I need to learn … It's always a good thing to have the ball in your hands.

Q: Why the sudden switch?

Florida coach Will Muschamp: Watching his film from (Madison Heights, Mich.) high school … he was a guy that was pretty special with the ball in his hands, could do a lot of things that are very natural to him.

Q: What does Showers bring to the table at the scatback position?

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease: He's a really good athlete. You put the ball in his hands, he's going to run. He can catch the ball. … He's got a great awareness of just being natural and having football intelligence on the field.


Miami has won four of its past five games against Florida and leads the series 28-26:

Year; Results; Site; Comment

2008; No. 5 Florida 26, Miami 3; Gainesville; Tim Tebow, national championship season

2004; No. 14 Miami 27, No. 19 Florida 1; Atlanta; Devin Hester stars in Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

2003; No. 3 Miami 38, No. 21 Florida 33; Miami; ’Canes, Brock Berlin score 28 consecutive points

2002; No. 1 Miami 41, No. 6 Florida 16; Gainesville; Willis McGahee rushes for 204 yards

2000; No. 2 Miami 37, No. 7 Florida 20; New Orleans; Florida outscored 24-3 in final third of Sugar Bowl

Sam Houston State at No. 7 Texas A&M, 7 p.m.

Aggies await suspended defenders

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder worked wonders a season ago with an undersized unit in the Aggies’ first swing through the SEC.

Now it’s time for Snyder, charged with reviving a defense once dubbed the Wrecking Crew, to see if he can turn mere wonders into flat-out miracles.

The Aggies’ tattered defense is trying to regain its footing not just in time for Alabama in a little more than a week — but for Sam Houston State.

“What’s hurting us now will help us in the long run,” Snyder vowed, trying to accentuate the positives regarding a slew of suspensions in the first two weeks. “We’ve just got to live with that.”

Rice, leaning heavily on the run, sliced A&M’s sparse defense for 509 total yards (23 more than the Aggies gained) in the course of A&M’s victory. Seventh-ranked A&M was missing about half of its starters on defense because of suspensions: defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, linebacker Steven Jenkins, cornerback De’Vante Harris, safety Floyd Raven and cornerback Deshazor Everett (half a game), along with reserve Gavin Stansbury (a defensive lineman).

“I’m a rhythm guy, and on Saturday I couldn’t get in a rhythm on the field,” Snyder admitted of calling the defense. “We had a lot of moving parts, and different pieces.”

Eleven freshmen played in the opener, and coach Kevin Sumlin said: “We had plenty of time to get those young guys ready and get them lined up, but there’s no way to duplicate the tempo and the emotion (of a game). The players know what they’re doing, but the pressure to perform in that environment can be very difficult on a young guy.”

Snyder said of the suspensions: “Is it disappointing? Sure … But they’re still practicing with us, and they’re still tackling and all of those things.”

— Brent Zwerneman, San Antonio Express-News

UAB at No. 9 LSU, 7 p.m., ESPNU

Tigers keep the running backs coming

The unexpected emergence of Terrence Magee with 95 yards in the opener has made it clear that LSU’s running game can be productive even if Jeremy Hill’s disciplinary benching lasts several games.

What remains to be seen is how Magee’s playing time sorts out once Hill, the Tigers’ leading rusher last season, is back on the field for LSU.

“I am fortunate because I have an opportunity to play now,” Magee said. “It felt good to be out there. I hadn’t played a full game in two years. I was just thankful for the opportunity. No matter when you get in there, you have to make every snap count.”

Coach Les Miles won’t say if Hill, punished in connection with his offseason arrest for throwing a punch outside a bar, will return against UAB.

Magee, a former high school quarterback, has bounced back and forth between the roles of reserve running back and receiver since arriving at LSU in 2011.

“The toughest part of the last two years was when I was moved to receiver,” Magee said. “I viewed (the change) as a negative. I wasn’t used to playing there. I knew I was not going to get to the next level as a receiver.

Arkansas State at Auburn, 7:30 p.m., SPSO

Malzahn knows about Red Wolves

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn might as well sing his own praises when he calls Arkansas State “one of the hottest teams in college football.”

Malzahn led the Red Wolves through most of their current nine-game winning streak and to a Sun Belt Conference championship last season. “They know how to win, and they expect to win,” Malzahn said.

Both are led by coaches who made their reputations as coordinators, Malzahn at Auburn and Tulsa; Arkansas State’s Bryan Harsin at Texas and Boise State.

Malzahn calls Harsin “one of the better offensive minds in all of college football.” He said he and Harsin visited to talk offense in 2007, when Malzahn was at Tulsa.

Both offenses kept tight reins on their new starting quarterbacks in the openers. Auburn’s Nick Marshall passed for 99 yards while Utah State transfer Adam Kennedy threw for 149 and attempted only 12 passes. Neither threw an interception, but they could be called on to do more in this game. Arkansas State is trying to match its longest winning streak since going 11-0 in 1975. Harsin is also trying to become the program’s first head coach to win his first two games.

Western Kentucky at Tennessee, 12:21 p.m., WPCH

Vols facing one of best offensive minds

If there’s a weakness on your team, Bobby Petrino will find it, exploit it and make you look foolish.

That’s the assessment from Tennessee linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen, who helped prepare a game plan for Petrino and his Arkansas Razorbacks during four consecutive years at Auburn.

After a messy breakup at Arkansas, Petrino is now rebuilding his career at Western Kentucky.

“We’re playing one of the best minds in college football,” Thigpen said. “The best word is he exploits what you do. Then schematically, he’s probably one of the best football minds when it comes to X’s and O’s. I studied him every year when I was at Auburn, and it seemed like he would get better and better every season.”

The Volunteers are favored by about two touchdowns, but that hasn’t stopped the game from being a trendy upset pick because the Hilltoppers topped Kentucky on Saturday.

If Petrino’s talent is at exploiting weaknesses — Thigpen said he goes after “the weakest player on the football field” — then the Vols could offer some intriguing defensive targets. Starting cornerback Cameron Sutton of Jonesboro High is a freshman. So is his backup, Malik Foreman. So is backup nickel corner Devaun Swafford.

— Evan Woodberry, Knoxville News Sentinel


Winningest coaches at the FBS level with 10 or more years of experience (Petrino is in his 10th season, records before Saturday’s games):

Coach;                    School; Season;            Record;    Pct.

Urban Meyer;    Ohio State; 12th;     118-23;     .837

Bob Stoops;     Oklahoma; 15th;     151-37;     .803

Gary Patterson; TCU; 13th;     116-38;     .753

Bobby Petrino; Western Ky.; 10th;            77-26;     .748

Brian Kelly;     Notre Dame; 23rd;        201-67-2; .751

Nick Saban; Alabama;        18th;            161-55-1; .744

Mark Richt; Georgia; 13th;            118-42;    .738

Austin Peay at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m., CSS

Franklin turns into huckster

James Franklin often talks about “Vanderbuild” when tweeting away as Vanderbilt’s biggest salesman in addition to his job as coach. Now he’s pushing Commodores fans for another big step for this program.

Sell out the stadium against Austin Peay.

Filling the SEC’s smallest stadium has been an issue for Vanderbilt, though the Commodores did sell out their season opener against Mississippi last week. That was their first sellout of the season opener since 1999 against Alabama and only the fourth sellout since Franklin was hired in December 2010.

“I think it would be a strong statement to this region, this conference and nationally if we can sell out a game like Austin Peay,” Franklin said. “It’s one thing when you play a SEC opponent. They’re going to travel extremely well. It’s another thing when you can sell out your own stadium and basically sell out with 40,000 of your own fans. That’s really the next step we have to take.”

As for the game, a fast start by Vandy and Austyn Carta-Samuels should give backup quarterbacks Josh Grady and Patton Robinette a chance to play and be evaluated.

Other SEC games Saturday

Southeast Missouri State at Ole Miss, 7 p.m.: The Redhawks, who play at the FCS level, bring an option offense that always puts fans and coaches on edge. "When it comes to preparation we've got a pretty mature team," quarterback Bo Wallace said. "We're not overlooking anybody. We know who we're playing this week, and we're preparing for them."

Alcorn State at Mississippi State, 3:30 p.m., CSS: Sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott, a talented runner, will get his first career start as battered Mississippi State gives Tyler Russell recovery time from a concussion he suffered against Oklahoma State. The Bulldogs also lost starting safety Jay Hughes (Achilles) for the season.

Toledo at Missouri, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU: The players in the spotlight for the Tigers are three mighty mite-sized running backs led by Russell Hansbrough, a year after Missouri finished 13th in rushing in the SEC.

Miami (Ohio) at Kentucky, noon, SPSO: Kentucky coaches say they have seen a different Maxwell Smith in practice since selecting him as the starting quarterback for the home opener. He'll have to get up to speed quickly, as the 0-1 Wildcats will face No. 8 Louisville, No. 12 Florida, No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 South Carolina in consecutive weeks.