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Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Five
Cramp!
Cramp!
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Sep 30, 2010


Every Thursday, CFN's Brian Harbach and Russ Mitchell break down the SEC games you need to watch, the SEC questions you want answered, and of course, the SEC Power Rankings. All things SEC from two different SEC writers, with two different SEC points of view. One of 'em always right. Now y'all play nice


Russ Mitchell covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. Please follow him on Twitter @russmitchellsec or email him at russmitchellsec@gmail.com
Brian Harbach covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. Please follow him on Twitter @harbabd or email him at harbachcfn@gmail.com



3 SEC QUESTIONS THAT NAG MORE THAN YOUR EX

(i) Who had the best SEC performance this past weekend (Team or Player)?

Russ Mitchell:

We could go with LSU’s super-talented CB/PR Patrick Peterson… ‘cept that it was against an overrated West Virginia squad. Or we could go with Alabama’s RB Mark Ingram, who put his Tide teammates on his back in the fourth quarter and said ride me… Actually, no ‘cept; that was a pretty good road performance, and in a normal week might have got the best performance nod. Or we could go with Florida’s freshman sensation QB Trey Burton, who scored 6 TDs, which has only been done four times in conference history… Hm, another one that we don’t really have an exception for – anytime you break a Tim Terrific record it stands out. But is there really any doubt – Auburn’s QB/RB/Mr. Everything Cameron Newton was magnificent in a clutch Tigers’ home victory against South Carolina. 334 total yards (176 rushing/158 passing) and accounted for all five of Auburn’s touchdowns, in a fourth quarter comeback. He WAS Auburn’s offense.

Brian Harbach:

One loss does not diminish the degree to which South Carolina has improved in its sixth year under Steve Spurrier. The common misconception is that Carolina is Carolina and it will never be any different; but if not for Spurrier being Spurrier, Stephen Garcia would have finished the game against Auburn and the Gamecocks might have won. This deserves attention because of the performance of Cameron Newton against a good South Carolina defense. In Newton’s fourth start, he dominated what was the best statistical defense in the SEC and the best defense against the run. Newton completed passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns, and at a 16/21 rate – a pretty good clip for someone who is supposed to have accuracy issues against a pretty good secondary.

However, Newton did his real damage with his legs. It was supposed to be SC’s Marcus Lattimore demoralizing folks with the run, but Newton rushed 25 times for 176 yards and three touchdowns. Time after time Auburn ran the Zone Read play and Newton, who has the best fake in the country, buried the ball in the running backs stomach only to take it back out and run for ~7-8 yards. The South Carolina defensive line was owned by Auburn; it was an embarrassing effort from the entire Gamecock defense, but Newton is going to make a lot of defenses look bad this season. Against a very good defense, Newton took the game over with his legs, arm and leadership. Newton’s ability to lead was questioned by some earlier this year… We can all get over that thought now.

(ii) What’s the best moment of the first third of the 2010 season?

Mitchell:

Wow. How to narrow this down... Watching Trent Richardson eviscerate the Penn State defense was special, as was watching his colleague Mr. Ingram in the fourth quarter at Fayetteville. LSU’s Peterson has virtually won two games for the Tigers with punt returns for TDs (UNC & WVU), not to mention INTs, shutdown corner play and aggressive tackling. You have to be on Lipitor to be watching Auburn right now – they’re reminding us more and more of LSU circa 2007 – if only they had more depth on defense.. And the Arkansas vs. Georgia game was special – not just for a stellar 1H performance by Ryan Mallett, but a gutsy comeback by the Dawgs, only to lose it in the final seconds to a brilliant drive by Mallett. That was a road win we just might look back on at season’s end and say, “That was the moment the Hogs leaped forward.” If Hogs leap.

But the most special performance of the season so far was Marcus Lattimore’s conference debut against Georgia. Yes, we pointed out many times prior to that game the flaws in UGA’s defense, and Lattimore showed glimpses of just how special he was in the earlier contest against Southern Miss. But his 182 yard and two TD day on nearly 40 carries was spectacular. Perhaps we’re jaded, but there have been few true freshman RBs that have impressed us as much. It wasn’t just the yards and number of carries, but the manner in which he did it. Up the middle, breaking tackles, refusing to be stopped. And literally ripping the heart out of the Georgia defense. We watched a true freshman RB carry his team, quietly, with little bravado, and it was a joy. More to the point, we were all fortunate enough to witness the birth of a future star.

Harbach:

A question like this makes you greedy… There are several moments that stand out in my mind, but they start with the return of Mark Ingram. A lot of people forgot about Ingram after his surgery; of course Trent Richardson had a lot to do with that because Richardson himself is an amazing back. But he isn’t Ingram. Mark Ingram’s first run of the season is what stands out, for all it represented. Sure it was against Duke, but who cares. How many backs are going to take their first carry of the season to the house when the entire defense knows the guy is getting the ball? Again, Duke is as terrible as the rest of the ACC, but how could you not watch that play and immediately feel stupid for saying comments like “Richardson is the better back” and “Alabama really doesn’t need Ingram.” Alabama is talent-laden, but Ingram is their best player. And every team needs their best man.

(iii) What every SEC fan should be talking about after Week Four, but isn’t?

Mitchell:

Well that leaves out anything to do with UGA’s woes (take two), whoss seat is hotter: OC Mike Bobo or OC Gary Crowton, and just how bad of an interception can Ryan Mallett throw… (i) No truth to the rumor that LSU’s Jordan Jefferson is still waiting for (what he thinks is) an open receiver, (ii) There’s been an Andre Debose sighting in Florida!, (iii) “Wow, so that’s what a rushing attack looks like.” What we imagine Bobby Petrino said to himself during the car drive home Saturday, (iv) One game against an offense with a pulse, and Arkansas’ defense drops from #10 in the nation to #28, (v) One game against an offense with a pulse, and Kentucky’s defense drops from #13 in the nation to #39, (vi) Prior to the Florida game, Kentucky’s offense had been averaging 44 points per game; even that wouldn’t have been enough, (vii) Batten down the hatches! The conference has only two teams ranked in the Top 25 of the nation’s best overall defenses: LSU (9) and Bama (24), (viii) That’s quite unusual, though it’s early, (ix) More Bizarro Superman – the conference has five teams ranked in the Top 25 of the nation’s best overall offenses: Bama (6), Auburn & Arkansas (tied 17), Kentucky (22) and ole miss (25). Yes, ole miss, and (x) that’s reason enough for you to think twice before putting too much weight into statistics.

Harbach:

If you haven’t heard the phrase “Third and Chavis” than you probably haven’t been reading this column very long. That phrase has stuck with LSU’s DC John Chavis throughout his coaching career, and frankly it really isn’t fair. He is one of the best defensive coordinators in the country, and hopefully this LSU defense will help him gain back some of the respect he deserves; particularly after an ignominious exit from Knoxville. We bring up Chavis this week first because his defense is amazing and second because Chavis’ former employer, the Tennessee Volunteers, will be facing their old coordinator for the first time. Vol fans were never in love with Chavis, even though he took good/great talent and coached them up to elite nearly season.

If you don’t believe me, please look at some of the players that were dominant at Tennessee and see how well they turned out at the next level. The list of stars that Chavis developed at Tennessee is both long and impressive, and now he has a ton of stars on the LSU sideline this year. Young and old. Drake Nevis has turned into a beast, Kelvin Sheppard might be the best linebacker in the league, and Patrick Peterson has drastically improved after two years under Chavis. Yes, all of these guys were talented high school players, but Chavis makes them better. (RM Note: Some people focus on the few red lights they hit on the way to work, and miss all the greens. LSU’s defense this year is indeed special, and has begun taking on a Chavis personality).


IN FOCUS: Which SEC Coach/Player is in the Spotlight this week?

Mitchell:

Trey Burton, QB/RB/WR, Florida – Some may consider it a leap to put a freshman into this spot who’s really only played one game, and a backup at that. But prior to Saturday’s explosive performance by Mr. Burton, the Florida offense had been at best inconsistent, and at worst anemic. Sure, it had worn down opponents in the fourth quarter – but opponents of lesser ability. Entering last week, there were considerable doubts about this Gator offense and its ability to compete against the better teams lying in wait on its schedule. Those questions still exist, but thanks to Burton’s dynamic outing they’re somewhat muted. Only four times in SEC history has a player scored six touchdowns. We’d call that dynamic. A game changer. So which Florida gets off the bus Saturday night in Tuscaloosa: the Florida offense that struggled to find its rhythm in its first three games, or the one where Burton makes this contest his own personal video game? It’s the first time that Florida has been an underdog since playing LSU in 2007, and once again we find yet another SEC team this season leaning heavily on a freshman.

Harbach:

Carl Moore and Deonte Thompson, WRs, Florida – There is one spot where Florida has an opportunity to make put up points against Alabama and that’s in the passing game. John Brantley should be able to put the balls where they need to be, but can Carl Moore and Deonte Thompson catch them? Thompson has been underwhelming as a starter; a disappointment. He drops far too many passes, and dropped passes will likely cost Florida a win this Saturday. They can’t punt opportunities to Bama. The Florida passing game is averaging roughly 200 yards a game; it will need to be closer to 300 yards this weekend for a shot at the W. With Demps hurt and Alabama good enough up front to contain the rushing attack, the Alabama passing defense is the weakness Florida must exploit. Are Moore and Thompson capable of doing that?

SEC POWER RANKINGS

Mitchell

1 Alabama – Florida’s Passing O is only 10th best in conference. Who cares; why pass?
3 Florida – Who wants to bet that UF runs for more yards against UA than passes?
4 Auburn (up from 6) –Balance, schmalance; Cam 1st, 2nd & 3rd
5 LSU (down from 4) – It’s gotta be more than just your PR, Tigers
5 South Carolina (down from 2) – Cut off your what to spite your what?
5 Arkansas (down from 4) – Still a good chance; Hogs match up well against rest of West
7 Miss State (up from 8) – A few more like that and you’re bowling
8 Kentucky (down from 7) – Welcome back!
10 Vanderbilt – A winnable road game this weekend; make the conference proud!
11 Tennessee – Y’all know it’s a 4 quarter game, right? (Take two)
11 ole miss – Way to beat up an out of conference team
12 Georgia (down from 9) – Time to start thinking about next year

Harbach

1 Alabama – Not many thought Ingram would be back in Heisman race… Wrong
2 Florida (up from 4) – UK wakes up offense; Gators fall back to earth Sat
3 Arkansas (down from 2) – If not for a Mallett-to-Childs pass late in Athens, how much heat would Petrino be taking for two straight 4th quarter disasters?
4 Auburn (up from 5) – Cam Newton is too much of the running game
5 LSU (up from 6) – Peterson on O won’t help if the ball is thrown over his head
6 South Carolina (down from 3) – Pulling Garcia was the worst decision Spurrier has made in Columbia. And that’s saying something
7 Mississippi State (up from 9) – Guess the other Bulldogs have been reading their press
8 Kentucky (down from 7) – They shouldn’t drop too far for losing in the Swamp, but weak early schedule again makes us weary…
9 Georgia (down from 8) – Future bright; current forecast's cloudy with a chance of DUI’s
10 Vanderbilt – An extra week to enjoy the win over Ole Miss and prepare for UConn
11 Tennessee – Not sure what to say here; OT against UAB? This ain’t your daddy’s Vols
12 Ole Miss – Can the Rebels start 0-2 in the SEC against Vanderbilt and Kentucky?


THREE GAMES TO DVR

Mitchell:

1) Florida vs. Alabama; Saturday, October 2nd. If this game were being played in the Swamp, we’d take Florida in a nail-bitter. But it’s not. Recently, Alabama has done a particularly good job of wearing teams down in the fourth quarter with hyper-physical defensive play, which we love, and a pounding rushing attack. Expect to see more of that formula Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The Tide’s defense has still yet to allow a second half touchdown this season. You hearing that Mr. Burton? Harbach pointed out the Tide’s “weakness” – Pass Defense, currently ranked 52nd in the nation. And Florida does lead the conference in protecting the QB. Brantley should be able to pick them apart, right? But remember, all Pass Defense identifies is the total number of passing yards one’s opponent have generated, and the Tide’s opponents this season have been Arkansas and teams trying to come from far behind. That’s a lot of passing. Given that, one might argue the more pertinent statistic would be Alabama’s Pass Efficiency Defense, which takes into consideration many factors like completion percentages, interceptions and percentage of INTs thrown, yards per pass attempt, passing TD total and rate, etc. And how does Alabama rate there, you ask? First in conference. Fifth in the nation. Oh...
Pick Alabama 24, Florida 17

2) Tennessee vs. LSU; Saturday, October 2nd. Folks want to see Patrick Peterson play offense? Look, we preface what we’re about to write with the knowledge that we told you at the start of last season that Peterson was the SEC West superstar in the making, but apparently you can’t spell CRAMP without Peterson. What’s up with that kid? We don’t think Peterson has finished a game yet this season playing Special Teams. And now you want him to play offense? HELLLLLLLLLO TIGER FANS!! Your QB play is Les than Zero. You’re fortune this year is riding on the shoulders of your defense – granted, a very good defense. And Special Teams. And now you want to take your cramp-prone star CB/PR and wear him out further on routes that your QB’s not even going to be able to give him the ball? You’re going to throw away what slim chance you have to win the West so one man can pursue an even slimmer chance to win an antiquated, dare we say meaningless, trophy? Y’all deserve exactly what you get. But it won’t come this weekend… (We note that in 2000, LSU under Saban lost at home to UAB, then upset the #11 ranked Tennessee Vols in OT the following week, 38-31. Course, that was also in Death Valley.)
Pick LSU 28, Tennessee 10

3) Kentucky vs. ole miss; Saturday, October 2nd. Sorry ole miss – we’re not going back to capitalizing your name after a home win against Fresno State. You need to start beating programs that are actually names after a state. Kentucky’s offense was pretty dominate against its first three opponents, than it ran into a great Gator defense in the Swamp. It’s hard for Locke and Cobb to run in a swamp. Last time we checked, there’s no swamp in Oxford. Both teams are going to put up points, and hopefully Masoli is finally settling in. But even on the road, the Cats defense is better than the Rebels (36 to 56), and this game will come down to who plays better defense…
Pick Kentucky 35, ole miss 27

Record: 11-2

Harbach:

1) Florida vs. Alabama; Saturday, October 2nd. This is not Brantley’s first road game, the trip to Knoxville popped that cherry. Regardless, Tennessee’s no Alabama; he’ll be in a completely different environment in Tuscaloosa. Florida has the potential to throw on Alabama, but that might be its only advantage. Alabama will be able to control the Florida running game which will put the Gators in obvious passing downs, helping the inexperienced Tide secondary. The Gator secondary is good enough to slow down the Tide receivers, but its front four will not be able to handle Alabama’s line. Ingram will once again use Florida to advance himself as a Heisman contender. The Tide run away with this game…
Pick Alabama 33, Florida 20

2) Tennessee vs. LSU; Saturday, October 2nd. This is another top heavy weekend in the SEC, made pretty obvious by our second and third game selections this week. But Tennessee v. LSU has some good story lines. We mentioned the Chavis situation above, but who can forget the last time the Vols were in Baton Rouge for a game? CFB’s first Monday night delayed game that went into overtime was a classic; a huge comeback for the Vols, and one of Les Miles few night losses in Tiger Stadium. While this weekend won’t be another, it will be full of great clips from past UT/LSU matchups. The 2001 SEC Championship game, the 2005 OT game… The list goes on. Clearly still not sold on the LSU offense, but defense and special teams should put up plenty of points this week, as Tennessee is weak in both areas…
Pick LSU 31, Tennessee 3

3) Kentucky vs. Ole Miss; Saturday, October 2nd. Ole Miss may have finally woken up this weekend after knocking off Fresno State, but they still have their hands full with Kentucky. Kentucky said goodbye to its early season slate of cupcakes for a trip to the Swamp last week, and were hammered worse than Lindsey Lohan. But they should be able to match up well with the Rebels. Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke should help Kentucky move the ball, but the Ole Miss running game is better. Look for another big game from Brandon Bolden and not much from Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli needs to be a manager right now, not a game changer, and if Houston Nutt keeps up that strategy Ole Miss will win…
Pick Ole Miss 24, Kentucky 21

Record: 11-2


Don't forget to read CFN's Barrett Sallee Three & Out: SEC Thoughts, News & Notes.


Russ Mitchell covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. Please follow him on Twitter @russmitchellsec or email him at russmitchellsec@gmail.com
Brian Harbach covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. Please follow him on Twitter @harbabd or email him at harbachcfn@gmail.com



Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Four, September 23, 2010
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Three, September 16, 2010
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Two, September 9, 2010
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week One, September 2, 2010



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