SEC Bachstory - Week Four Review
Willing to lose at all costs?
Willing to lose at all costs?
Posted Sep 27, 2010

The SEC Bachstory will be THE SEC column to catch up on the big events from the past weekend. Each Monday morning the best and worst of the SEC will be dissected and discussed.

By Brian Harbach

The SEC Bachstory will be a weekly SEC recap posted every Monday morning breaking down all the big events from the previous weekend. In order to eliminate all confusion, the Bach in Bachstory is pronounced like back (Back to the Future, The Empire Strikes Back, Back in Black), you get the picture. A day late but there is plenty to talk about starting with Spurrier being Spurrier, Alabama being Alabama, Lazy Commentators and the game of the year.

The Weekend That Was

For the small percentage of people who last week didn't feel that Alabama was the best team in the SEC and the best team in the country…your seat on the bus is now ready. If anyone does not have Alabama ranked first in their poll it is because they are not paying attention or they are flat out stupid (the third option could be bias but we will just go with the first two). Mark Ingram is playing like a man possessed, the defense has turned from dominant to opportunistic and Greg McElroy knows how to lead when the game is on the line. There may not be a better duo in the country when it comes to crunch time. If I need a yard to win a game…take Mark Ingram. If I need a quarterback to lead my team on a game winning drive…give me Greg McElroy.

The scary thing is that the defense is still not as dominant as it was a year ago but they keep getting better. Alabama isn't putting the pressure on the quarterback they were last year, but they are so disciplined in their assignments it hasn't hurt them too much. The Florida game will be there biggest test of the year but how can you pick against them? The media is hyping up the Gator win over Kentucky like it wasn't their 24th time in a row beating the Wildcats. Are we supposed to believe the Gators have fixed all their problems after destroying Kentucky? Alabama should be favored big this weekend and frankly it looks like the game could end up being similar to the last time Florida walked into Bryant Denny…they walked out 31-3 losers.

The Weekend That Wasn't

Playing to win or playing to not to lose will be something that Arkansas fans will be thinking about a lot during their bye week. The crowd was prepared for the big stage, the team showed up big in the first half but like the Georgia game a week ago…they just seemed unprepared to hold a lead. The fourth quarter against the Bulldogs gets forgotten because of the amazing play by Greg Childs and Mallett leading the Razorbacks on a game wining touchdown drive with less than a minute in the game. The previous 14 minutes were filled with mistakes on defense, sloppy blocking by the offensive line and Arkansas' inability to run the football. Give Georgia credit for fighting back at home so the defense I am willing to give a pass on, but the inability to run the ball was something Bobby Petrino was lucky to overcome last week and was their downfall this week.

In the SEC if you can't run the ball when you need to control the clock, you can't win against SEC teams. This weekend there were multiple examples of losses where teams could not win with their rushing problems. Arkansas rushed for 64 yards on 20 carries (3.2 ypc), Georgia rushed for 113 yards on 34 carries (3.3 ypc), Kentucky rushed for 99 yards on 28 carries (3.5 ypc) and South Carolina rushed for 79 yards on 28 carries (2.8 ypc). All three teams lost and the biggest reason was the lack of a rushing attack. Arkansas is going to win some games this year and they are not out of the race in the SEC West but even with a Heisman candidate at quarterback they will not get where they want to go until the offense is complete. The rushing attack is going to hold them back until they can fix it.

The Weekend That…What the Heck

As I was standing in Jordan Hare with South Carolina down by eight, six minutes left in the game everyone knew the end was going to be special and the stage was set for Garcia to be the player he is capable of but never seems to become. It was Garcia's chance to make up for two fumbles, win a game on the road over a good opponent and take South Carolina to the next level. With so much opportunity in front of Garcia, Steve Spurrier put in true freshmen Connor Shaw. With the best team in Spurrier's tenure at South Carolina needing authority and leadership at the quarterback position…the HBC put in a player who had neither. Spurrier quit on his team by pulling this stunt proving his ego is larger than South Carolina's need for that win against Auburn.

The question is not whether Garcia was deserving of being pulled, after two drives that ended in him turning the ball with fumbles it was worth talking about. However, it was not worth doing. Hindsight is 20/20 but after watching Shaw's gutsy but failed performance and two interceptions you have to ask if Garcia would have done better? It was pretty obvious that Garcia was holding onto the ball too long with pass plays that were developing down field. Is Spurrier so off his game that he didn't see that and couldn't have Garcia throw 3 step drops or bubble screens? The Auburn defense was stopping no one in the Carolina passing game, which is why even Shaw was having success moving the ball.

There is no way that Garcia throws that ball to Josh Bynes as he dropped back in coverage, the second pick Shaw threw was in triple coverage but it was going to the best receiver on the team (Alshon Jeffrey) and that was the right throw. I understand Spurrier is frustrated with Garcia and anything that comes out of the Carolina athletic department saying he was hurt or groggy is complete BS. It was another quarterback mistake made by Spurrier at South Carolina and it cost his team the opportunity to win a game. With two weeks to prepare for Alabama, the situation is a complete mess and the Gamecock's chances at Atlanta are hanging by a thread.

The Weekend That Will Be

The first regular season meeting in five years between Alabama and Florida happens this weekend in Tuscaloosa. SEC fans will be inundated with this game all week because it is the SEC game of the year and there is not a single other interesting game happening in the league this weekend. Alabama is the hottest team in the country right now after their huge win over Arkansas, Florida finally got some mojo back after beating up on Kentucky but both teams will face their toughest test of the year this weekend. This gives me another opportunity to rail against anyone having a fall wedding in the south and thank technology for Smart Phones.

To all those getting married this weekend in the south…you are just flat out mean. Do your guests a favor and have a TV set up in the reception hall, the restaurant or the house you are celebrating in. Just because you are selfish enough to take away a game like this from family and friends doesn't mean there is not a chance at redemption. This Saturday should be about Florida and Alabama, not the love between two people who want to spend the rest of their lives together. For shame wedding people, for shame (I am required to write good luck to all those who are getting hitched…I don't hate you, I just think fall weddings should be made illegal). The other wedding appetizers for this weekend include Auburn/Louisiana Monroe, LSU/Tennessee, MSU/Alcorn State, Ole Miss/Kentucky, Georgia/Colorado and Vanderbilt/Connecticut.

Big Man on Campus (BMOC)

Cameron Newton, Auburn Quarterback
Newton is becoming one of the most entertaining players in college football and after a five touchdown performance against South Carolina he is becoming one of the best as well. His 50 yard TD run on Auburn's first drive was fun to watch as he dove into the end zone, Newton has great energy and is starting to show himself as the leader many questioned him being capable of. South Carolina took away the deep ball from Auburn all night, but Newton was accurate with short passes completing 16-21 with two touchdowns and no picks. Pretty good effort from the two time SEC Offensive Player of the Week.

Player Now Doing Charlie Work (PNDCW)
As a note to those who do not know what "Charlie-Work" is, do yourself a favor and start watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the episode called "Dennis and Dee go on Welfare" explains it perfectly).

Ryan Mallett, Arkansas Quarterback
Things change fast in the SEC, a week ago Mallett was the BMOC after an amazing game in Athens and this week he has done a complete 180 after throwing for a ton of yards but three interceptions against Alabama. Two of his three picks came in the fourth quarter, the first was returned to the Arkansas 12 yard line and Alabama took the lead 3 plays later. The second was picked at the Alabama 35 as Arkansas was driving to win the game. Both were costly and as good as Mallett felt last week, he feels the complete opposite today.

4 Downs with the SEC

First Down – Richt will be fine unless…
For all of those who think Mark Richt's job is in danger please look at their schedule the rest of the year and ask yourself if they can still make a bowl game. It looks like there are seven wins on that schedule, which would give UGA a disappointing 7-5 record but it is enough to keep Richt in Athens. This year for Richt is eerily familiar to Tommy Tuberville's swan song at Auburn. Tuberville fired a coordinator (Al Borges) who had been successful leading the Auburn offense to an SEC Championship and brought in a new OC that came in with a totally different philosophy that Auburn did not have the personnel to run and it failed quickly. Richt fired Willie Martinez who had success leading the Georgia defense to an SEC title in 2005. In comes Todd Grantham who runs a system that Georgia does not have the personnel to run successfully and Georgia is now 1-3.

Obviously the Georgia offense is just a big a problem as the defense is right now, but like Auburn in 2008 neither unit is helping the other. People may disagree with me on this, but if Auburn had gone to a bowl game in 2008 and finished say 6-6 instead of 5-7 I believe Tommy Tuberville would still be at Auburn. He would have been given the opportunity to get a bowl win, build some momentum and keep on going. The same thing is true of Mark Richt. That 7-5 record is a must for him this year to keep his job. A bowl game is an opportunity for extra practices and finishing the season with a win is huge for any program.

Georgia can finish the year with wins over Colorado, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Idaho State and Georgia Tech. Even if you think they lose to Tech (not likely considering the best Tech team in a decade was beaten by a mediocre UGA team) they are still 6-6 and playing in Birmingham. Anything less than 6-6 and Richt will have some real problems keeping his job. You can argue how stupid that sounds, but Georgia is too talented and too good a team to be playing like this and a 5-7 record is not on AJ Green or Aaron Murray…it will be on Mark Richt. That is the only way he gets fired and for all those who think it isn't likely…the same thing about Tommy Tuberville two years ago.

Second Down – Dan Mullen finally got someone in the SEC
It doesn't matter how good or bad Georgia ends up being this season, the MSU Bulldogs game against UGA was one they were not supposed to win. UGA was going to use the MSU Bulldogs to get back on track in the SEC. Funny thing happened during the game in Davis Wade Stadium as the cowbells danced in UGA's heads. Dan Mullen's group did what many expected their opponents to do…they woke up and started playing like an SEC team in desperate need of a win. MSU did a great job against the Georgia running attack and did just enough on offense to win the game. MSU won this game despite throwing the ball a total of 14 times and converted over half of their third down attempts. Great effort by Dan Mullen's group and this win should securely put them into a bowl game in December.

Third Down – Not a lot of options for LSU
The Jordan Jefferson experiment will continue at LSU but the only reason it is not over is because Jarrett Lee is the only option behind him. LSU fans should be screaming right now for Russell Shepard to get into the bullpen immediately because he can't be any worse than the two quarterbacks taking snaps right now. Jefferson stats for a home game against the class of the "big" East were 10-22, no touchdowns and two interceptions. The offense put up 13 points, another Patrick Peterson punt return for a touchdown was the other score that LSU needed to put away WVU but the offense is getting worse each week. Jefferson's confidence is gone and for a player that has started nearly 20 games, he is not an SEC quarterback right now. Lee isn't going to be any better, be why not put Shepard back there. The NFL is still two years away and receiver may be his future but something needs to change in the LSU backfield before the big games start up in conference.

Fourth Down – Auburn's victory over lazy commentary
In case you were living in a cave without WIFI for the last week, Auburn played a physical game against Clemson two Saturdays ago and won in overtime. Every single pundit on the planet listened to Brent Musberger go on and on about how physical a game it was but when you are used to watching Notre Dame, Pac 10 teams and Boise State play on a consistent basis it is understandable that Auburn/Clemson would look physical. So all week regional professionals who watch the SEC week in and week out called for the South Carolina upset because Auburn wouldn't have anything in the tank left against South Carolina. They didn't look at the stats, they didn't look at the Auburn team…they saw two guys get carted off with leg injuries, Onterio McCalebb get clocked late in the game and a game that went into extra time.

Sure it was a physical game, but can anyone point out an SEC game that isn't physical? Are there any SEC defenses that don't have NFL players and a lot of them and is Clemson not considered as close to an SEC team that the ACC has at times? The reason Auburn won against South Carolina is because they got more physical this week in practice and that showed up on the field. They manhandled a good South Carolina defense, they ran where they wanted, when they wanted and how they wanted. It didn't look like they were tired, physically or mentally this week. They looked embarrassed with how they played a week ago and Lee Ziemba made those same comments after the game.

What were your thoughts on the past weekend in the SEC? E-mail me Brian Harbach

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