DESTIN, Fla. - On one of the biggest plays of the 2008 SEC football season, Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt yielded to the expertise of defensive coordinator Tyrone Nix. He's glad he did.
With Florida facing a fourth-and-1 and the game on the line, the Rebels knew they would have to stop Heisman Trophy quarterback Tim Tebow. But they didn't know exactly what they would have to stop.
"I was talking to Tyrone," Nutt said at the SEC spring meetings last week. "I said, 'Watch out for the jump pass.' I was scared to death of the jump pass.
"He said, 'Hey, Coach, I can't play both.' "
So Nix ordered his defenders to crowd the line of scrimmage as Nutt sweated out the other option.
"We had populated the line and our ears were pinned back," Nutt said. "I was thinking about the jump pass. (A receiver) could be running downfield by himself."
But Nix made the right call. Ole Miss turned back Tebow on a fourth-down run and held on for a 31-30 victory.
Versatile Cobb: Kentucky football coach Rich Brooks said there's no question Randall Cobb of Alcoa is his most dynamic pass receiver. But even if quarterback Mike Hartline is effective, the Wildcats also will have an offensive package for Cobb at quarterback.
Brooks said Cobb spent about 80 percent of his spring-practice reps at wide receiver and 20 percent at quarterback.
As for Hartline, who started the bulk of the games at quarterback last season, Brooks is succinct in how he can improve: "He's got to complete a higher percentage of his passes."
Hartline completed 55.3 percent of his passes last season.
Olympic Effort: Tennessee Olympic swimmer Christine Magnuson contributed to SEC commissioner Mike Slive's speech at the conference awards dinner Thursday night.
"She told me that if the SEC had been a nation, it would have finished fourth in the last Olympics," Slive told the crowd.
Magnuson, who was honored as the SEC H. Boyd McWhorter female scholar-athlete of the year, added to the medal count. She finished second in the 100-meter butterfly and 400-meter medley relay.
Uncertain Gamecocks: South Carolina basketball coach Darrin Horn has no idea whether point guard Devin Downey and forward Dominique Archie will go pro.
"I don't want to guess," he said. "Because I'm going through the process with them."
He said he expects their decision "will go down to the wire." They have until June 15 to decide.
It wouldn't be surprising if Downey left, even if it means playing overseas. He might be weary of the college experience.
He committed to former Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins and played for interim coach Andy Kennedy after Huggins left Cincinnati. Following his transfer to South Carolina, Downey first played for Dave Odom, who was fired; then played for Horn last season.
Reduced Workload: Arkansas 5-foot-7, 175-pound running back Michael Smith proved he wasn't too small for the SEC by rushing for 1,072 yards in 10 games last season. But coach Bobby Petrino wants to reduce his workload this fall.
"He got beat up at the end of the year," Petrino said. "We just wore him out."
Bigger running backs like Dennis Johnson, Brandon Barnett and freshman Knile Davis will be counted on for depth.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284.