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SCRC Preview

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SCRC Preview

The SCRC is getting ready to kick off its 4th season as a conference.  

As a whole the conference has been very competitive with three different teams winning in three years.  Florida won the inaugural year followed by Tennessee
in year two; last year South Carolina took the title and finished with a nice run in the national tournament.

This season should make for some great rugby particularly in the East where all five teams come off strong seasons and have legitimate hopes of finishing in the
top two. South Carolina comes in as the favorites after a strong showing last season and a great recruiting class, but Florida and Tennessee have been powerhouses for more than a decade and do not show any signs of slowing down. Kentucky, Georgia and Vanderbilt have all made huge strides over the last 3 years, each time they play the top three the scores get closer and closer. Look for this season to be a real grind and don't place any bets on who finishes in the top two

The West has been dominated by LSU for the last three seasons and the experts expect much of the same this season.  LSU runs a very aggressive punch-you-in-the-mouth style of rugby which wears down their opponents.  The middle of the conference has been the real battle with Alabama, Ole Miss and Auburn all swapping wins last season.  As we go into the season it is real coin flip to see who fills that second spot in the West and makes the playoffs.
 
Pre Season Rankings
East
1. South Carolina
2. Florida
3. Tennessee
4. Kentucky
5. Georgia
6. Vanderbilt

West
1. LSU
2. Alabama
3. Auburn
4. Ole Miss
5. Miss St
 
South Carolina
USC has a talented group of freshmen this year from several of the top high school programs and are eyeing another run to the DIAA playoffs. They are a fast-paced team with a high-pressure defense based on producing turnover opportunities they use to start counter-attacks.

USC's Rugby program is on solid footing losing only five seniors last season and the majority of the team being mainly juniors. They will expect tgose juniors to form the core of their leadership group - a group that has played in two conference championships in the last two years.

Players to Watch
Tim Hamill, Junior, Winger (5’7” 145)
Brian Keown, Junior, Scrumhalf (5’9” 165)
Mike Mahon, Junior 8-Man (6’0” 205)
Zac Gorman, Senior, Lock (6’3” 205)
 
Florida
After enduring a rebuilding year in 2012, the Gators finished as the No. 2 seed in the East last season thanks in part to some new blood. Scrumhalf Kyle
Burnett shined in both 7s and 15s action as a freshman and is poised for a big sophomore season. Florida lost its most experienced player, flyhalf/outside center Lucas Baistrocchi, to graduation and must replace his production and leadership in the backline. It’ll be up to the coaching trio of Ken Simmons, Gary Byrne and Todd Streeter to find the right combination of players to replace Baistrocchi in the backline.
 
With a solid mix of veterans and exciting young talent, including a group of experienced freshman, the Gators look to win the SEC Championship after
making it to the semifinals a year ago. Florida has a strong mix of speed in its backline with power in its pack. They’ll have to break in some new
bodies in the scrum, but the pack looks to be more athletic. The backline has excellent playmaking ability and returns a ton of experienced talent.
 
Players to Watch
Stephen Sheehan, Grad Student, No 8 (6’1” 185)
Ben Patterson-Webber , Grad Student, Prop(6’0” 250)
Ryan Gilbert, Senior, Flanker (6’1” 205)
Paul Rick, Senior, Winger, (6’1” 180)
Kyle Burnett, Soph, Scrumhalf (5’10” 165)
Jose Fernandez, Soph, Center (6’2” 205)
 
 
Tennessee
One year removed from the SCRC championship, departing senior leaders, recurring rashes of injuries, and poor decisions under pressure led to a
substandard Spring 2014 season for Tennessee.  This fall, Tennessee looks to rebound and reverse its recent disappointing performances. Tennessee will rely upon more experienced leadership, and will benefit from several players who return from 2013, having missed this past spring season.

Tennessee’s strength is in its forward pack, which scored the majority of Tennessee’s tries in the spring.  This fall, an improved scrum will
complement a well-disciplined lineout, and Tennessee intends to use its set-piece power to create space and points.  A young backline has a hard
season of experience behind it, and will improve with a tighter defensive pattern, a relatively experienced deep three, and more consistent
decision-making.
 
Tennessee’s goals are unchanged: compete for the SCRC East Division, the conference championship, and the D1-AA national championship.

Players to Watch
Ryan Roper, Senior, Flanker
Lee Bogitsh, Senior, Fullback
 
Kentucky
Last season Kentucky had an up and down year, they played well against the big three UT, UF and USC, but struggled against Vanderbilt and Georgia. With
that being said they have worked hard over the summer and brought is a very solid recruiting class of experienced high school players.

They graduated three 
starters from last season’s squad and have built up their depth to more than 40 experienced players. They look to play a quick style of ball that starts
with their pack controlling the flow of the game and letting the backs use there athleticism to exploit holes.  

Their coaching staff backs the KU athleticism, but it's perfecting the skills that will tell their story this fall.

 
Players to Watch
Erik Nason, Senior, Flanker (6’2” 225)
Kyle Peterson, Junior, Flanker (6’1” 185)
CJ Leadingham, Junior, Scrumhalf (5’11” 195)
 

Georgia
Georgia finished last season strong and plans to carry over that success into the fall, they return 12 starters from last season’s squad including both
their all conference props. They have added depth to the squad and are looking to make a strong run at the playoffs the season.
 
Players to watch
Nathan Driggers, Junior, Prop, (5'11" 230)
Casey Davidson, Junior, Prop, (6'0" 250)
Ethan Fromm, Soph, Scrumhalf,( 5'9" 170)
Will McFadden, Senior, Center, (6'2" 215)
 
 
Vanderbilt
After graduating 12 seniors, Vanderbilt University Rugby Football Club will be working to recruit new players this year and fill several vacant spots on
the first side. The team will continue to play a quick game to utilize the team's speed and agility. A primary goal for the team this year will be to
improve its open field defense and tackling.

But the loss of those senior players will be difficult to overcome early.
 
Players to Watch
Erik Allen, Senior, Outside Center (6'1" 185lbs.)
Andrew Steen, Junior, Flyhalf  (5'11" 175 lbs.)
J.R. Ridley, Junior, Fullback  (5'9" 185 lbs.)

 
Louisiana State
As the Louisiana State Men’s Rugby clubs prepares for the ensuing fall SCRC season, spirits are high and the team is taking shape. With an incoming class
full of talent and experience, expectations for a successful season are growing ever stronger. The Tigers are coming off a successful season with a disappointing end, as they lost the SCRC final to South Carolina.

Hard work 
in the off-season and the beginning of this year has returning players inspired to perform even better this season. The club has set goals for another undefeated season and the title of SCRC champions. This year the Tigers look to senior players Alexander Nadler and Cameron Falcon to lead by example and excel on the field. Nadler holds the backline together at the center position. It is not only his offensive prowess, but his superb tackling on defense that does not let the likes of the top backs in the SCRC
past him.

Falcon returns for his final season carrying experience and physical presence. He is at the core of the forwards at the hooker position keeping the pack tight and winning scrums.  Falcon is also excited to play along his younger brother, Brennan, who will be joining the Tigers this season. With a hardworking and smart style of play, the Tigers strive this season to elevate their game to the next level. Incorporating the powerful yet skilled play of the forwards with the speed and skill of the backs, they look to not only power down the field but outlast opponents with weapons on the outside.

 
Alabama
Led by a strong group of upperclassmen the Crimson Tide look to return to the top of the Southeastern Conference in 2014. Head Coach Mark Seitz is confident that his team is physically and mentally prepared for their season opener against instate rival Auburn. Seitz cited his teams strength, conditioning, and execution as keys to the season.

“It’s great to watch these guys grow as men and ruggers," said Seitz. "This is our year to put Alabama back on the map and we have the tools to do it. We just need to keep working hard to get better every day.”
 
Players to Watch
Shawn Branham, Senior, Forward (6’ 215)
Eric Johnson, Senior, Forward (5’10” 200)
Matthew Schick, Senior, Forward (6’2” 220)
Simon Bedoya, Senior, Back (5’10 190)
Nick Byrne, Senior, Back (5’10” 195)
Ross Depperschmidt, Junior, Back (6’0” 215)
Tyler Hoffman, Senior, Back (6’0” 205)

 
Auburn
Auburn is looking to speed up the pace of the game they play to the point where rugby fundamentals are second nature.  Their goals for this season are
to be to be fundamentally sound and to make it back to the SEC playoffs for 15s. To do that, they need to build their depth, which they have been doing.
 
Players to watch
Dylan Taunton: Scrumhalf, (6'0” 175)
Eugene Elliott : Inside Center/ Flanker, (5'11" 200)
John Britt Easterling:  Outside Center/ Scrumhalf,  (6', 180”)
 

Ole Miss
Since the departure of Coach David Chapman, the Ole Miss Rugby Football Club has been in a state of flux. The Rebels will return starters from last year’s team, but plenty of new players are also joining. Numbers may be thin for the Rebels this year, so conditioning for this team will be the most crucial aspect of their game.

Backline play will dominate the flow of the game for the Rebels, as that’s where they feel they have many advantages, particularly speed and tackling.
 
Players to Watch
Andrew McFann, Senior, Scrumhalf  (5’10” 145)
Mitch Esteppe, Junior, Prop (6’1” 212)
Gabriel Austin, Senior, Center (5’9” 205)
Hunter Flory, Sophomore, Flyhalf (6’3” 205)
Justin Baker, Senior, Forward (5’10” 230)
 
 
Mississippi State
Mississippi State looks to be much improved this year as they look to implement a hard running offence game with a stout defense. The depth of the roster is something that has been an issue for Mississippi St the last three years, but with a solid recruiting effort this season they look to have a good core built for the next several years.
 
Players to Watch
Jordan Speights, Scrumhalf  (5’5” 185)
Omar McClendon, Fullback  (5’5” 165)
Mason Cox, Prop (6’0” 225)
Derrick Mitchell, No. 8 (5’7” 230)