Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Six
3+4, carry the 1...
3+4, carry the 1...
Posted Oct 7, 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


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

Russ Mitchell:

Last week there were at least three deserving candidates for this honor, but this week as they say is another story. We could go with LSU's Steven Ridley and his 22 carries for 123 yards, and one crucial TD… ‘cept everything you're thinking. After that, who? You can't take M. Hartline or R. Cobb, as they lost. Nor J. Masoli, who's too inconsistent. LSU's J. Lee did nice off the bench, but not nice enough. And as we point out below, you can't take anyone off the Bama offense, which had an offensively off night. But is there really any doubt – Alabama's remarkable defensive performance stymied the Gators at every turn. No TDs. Four turnovers. This was a team that was averaging 38 points per game heading into Tuscaloosa. Play like that on the road consistently for four quarters and you'll be eating tacos in Glendale come January.

Brian Harbach:

The most dominant performance of the weekend was Kirby Smart and Alabama's defense. Courtney Upshaw had a dominating performance (7 tackles, four for a loss, two pass break ups and a fumble recovery). Nick Saban and Kirby Smart were obviously prepared for whatever Florida tried, and the interception on the attempted Jump-Pass by Trey Burton was foiled thanks to the the coaching the defense got earlier in the week. Alabama forced four turnovers, stymied the Florida rushing game, and stopped every comeback attempt the Gators brought forth. A lot of people questioned Alabama's ability to replace so many starters on defense, but what they seemed to be ignoring was Saban and Smart. As long as Saban is coaching Alabama, it will have a salty defense. How they played against Florida served notice to the SEC and the nation that in order to beat the Tide you will have to play the perfect game.

(ii) With all that Les Miles has accomplished should he be on the Hot Seat?


Ok. No. By what measure do you grade a coach? Wins? Recruiting? Fashion? If it's the latter, then yes. If it's wins, Miles has the highest winning percentage of any coach in LSU's history. And he didn't do it with another coach's players – Yawn. No more than Saban won in 2008 with Shula's players, or Tressel won with Cooper's, etc. He's the only LSU coach to beat Florida, Auburn and Alabama in a single year, and he's done it twice. He's won a National Championship. Two SEC West Championships. He's only lost two night games at home. He has four convincing bowl victories, and the other was a joke of a game (yes you, Capital One Bowl). He's only lost to one non-conference opponent (the aforementioned Penn State slopfest). And the Tigers have been in virtually every single game he's coached; you can count the blowouts on one hand. (Of course, his detractors will argue that knife cuts both ways.)

Now, here's where the rubber meets the road… If Les had simply pulled a Meyer and kept Ryan Perrilloux on the roster, there's a good chance his 2009 team wins another SEC Championship. What? You don't think so Bama fans. You barely beat LSU, at home, without its starting RB, QB and the Peterson INT no call. You think you win that game with a dynamic 23-year-old, two year starter, and SEC Championship Game MVP, Perrilloux leading the charge? Interesting, isn't it. At the very least, it's good for another 1-2 wins in 2008 and 2009.

So, you want to hang Les for doing the right thing and kicking Perrilloux off the team? Should he have signed another QB in recruiting classes between 2004-6? Yes. He's made the same mistake again, btw – with Zach Lee taking the Dodgers' millions and skipping off to LA, LSU once again finds itself light on QBs (two juniors and then, crickets). Miles can't read a clock, and yes that can be at times embarrassing. But no more embarrassing than Mack Brown calling a shuffle pass with his shell-shocked freshman on the "last" play of the 1H of the National Championship game. And for every embarrassing Miles moment, you can point to 3-4 gutsy calls that went in his favor. Four alone on one drive against Florida in the championship year, 2007.

Still, his detractors argue he's had two consecutive seasons of losses to Florida, Alabama and, egads, ole miss. And then there's the matter of QBs. And he's too slow to make changes – he's too "Bo Schembechler-ly" loyal in an era where some argue you have to make changes quickly, particularly with coordinators. Then again, (i) you're talking about the two last national champions (and ole miss), (ii) this appears to be Miles' first year giving meaningful playing time to underclassmen, and (iii) as for replacing coordinators, do you think LSU is 5-0 with Jefferson or Lee learning a new scheme right now? Exhibit A: UGA's Defense. Maybe, just maybe, Les knows what he's doing… And he's been doing it with sub-par production from his QBs.

For all those Tiger fans arguing for Miles' displacement, be careful for what you wish. CFB is littered with teams who replaced good coaches in a delusional thirst for the Holy Grail. Sometimes it can take years to recover. Ask Nebraska, or Georgia, or Alabama… Or even yourselves. Every program has ups/downs – that's a fact of our sport. No program stays on top forever. Not Florida. Not even Bama. Yes, not even you. As long as you're recruiting top ten classes, winning, with a chance to grab the conference title, and a program that graduates its players and is out of the police blotters… Be careful what you wish for, Tiger "fans".


The answer to this question is obvious, but the reasoning behind the discussion is quite interesting. Les Miles has no business being on the hot seat since he has two SEC West Championships, two BCS bowl wins and a BCS National Championship. He has won fewer than nine games just once in his five full seasons at LSU, and this year he has the team undefeated (5-0) and ranked in the top ten. Not pretty maybe, but there it is… His overall record at LSU is 56-15. Compare that to his current "Hot Seat" buddy Mark Richt, who everyone seems convinced will be back at Georgia next year. Richt was 58- 13 through his first five seasons and five games, without the national hardware. Not a lot of difference, but here we sit discussing Miles on the hot seat. Yes, some LSU fans are furious and want him gone, and Mark Richt is sure to get another year… But just for argument's sake, Richt's record in his last 71 games is 50-21.

If you look at Miles' accomplishments it's ridiculous to have him on the hot seat, but he's there not because of his losses but because of the nature of those losses; that and his lackluster wins. The Tennessee debacle was just one of the many fiascos that have occurred on Miles' watch. The Ole Miss game clock mismanagement last year was a train wreck, the Auburn victory in their BCS Championship season was a bounce away from ripping defeat from the jaws of victory, and the last two losses to Arkansas (2007 and 2008) were colossal failures. Wins under Miles have not been easy to watch either; for every 31-10 beat down of Auburn there's a 40-31 victory over Troy (ask an LSU fan). Still, a win's a win – unless apparently you're Les Miles. His 15 losses look even better when one realizes that eight of those were by six points or less… More than half of the games he's lost have been filled with drama, and perhaps that's why fans are up in arms.

Regardless, Miles is one of the most polarizing figures in college football; no one wants to miss an LSU game because of the madness that can ensue at any moment. That drives LSU fans crazy. Opponents and sideline reporters loathe his arrogance, but he is a car wreck that you can't turn away from. That and he's just plum exciting. Should he be on the hot seat? Well, of course he should… He is after all an SEC coach; they're all two consecutive losses away from the hot seat. But when you look at his record and frankly his entertainment value, he needs to stay in LSU. Just look in the stands – it's obvious he's as nutty as the fans.

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


Well that leaves out anything to do with the UT/LSU tango, Florida's disappearing offense, or whether or not Georgia will ever win again… (i) Sorry, I just can't let it go. No truth to the rumor Dooley is against human cloning, (ii) I'm thisclose to losing my noodle here… Yes, it might not be the smartest move to substitute on the goal line with (a) less than thirty seconds, (b) no time outs and (c) a QB that makes Carrot Top look calm/composed. However we – you and I – have witnessed coaches in college/pro football make similar personnel changes dozens of times under similar time constraints. The error in the second to last act of the UT/LSU chaos had nothing to do with LSU, its players/coaches, nor the refs. Bottom Line: the first thing they teach you as a Pop Warner coach – keep track of the number of players you have on the field. Period. (iii) Before we leave, no truth to the rumor that LSU's Basketball coach offered Jordan Jefferson a scholarship – so impressed is he with the junior's ability to deliver a bounce pass, (iv) Someone explain how Alabama's defense is so dominant, yet ranked near the bottom in both the SEC and nation in Sacks? (v) I will – so far this year they don't have to sack QBs. Perhaps Saban stumbled across this early while protecting his (supposedly) inexperienced secondary, but with a Top 20 Scoring Offense, combined with (as we pointed out last week) a Pass Efficiency Defense that's ranked #3 in the country and a Rushing Defense that's #19, let them come to you. String these facts together and Bama doesn't need to put pressure on the QB this year to get its turnovers (currently ranked #8). The Tide's O is doing a good job of scoring when it needs to, which means opposing QBs are usually playing from behind. With a front seven that's more than respectable at stopping the run, and a young secondary sporting a #3 PED, again, why take risks? It's not the "Saban way", but it's working just fine, (vi) Not surprisingly, Georgia's PED is #100, (vii) BOOM! (viii) How sad is it going to be watching Tennessee and Georgia duke it out for the bottom of the East? (ix) This week, in a textbook example of spin, Saban and Alabama pointed out that in the last five years the other 11 teams have gone 29-29 when facing a team that's coming off a bye week. That's great coach, but what was the other 11 teams' record when playing virtually six consecutive teams coming off a bye week? (ix+, off topic) Remember the good ol days when Mel Allen (Bama boy) greeted us each weekend with "This Week in Baseball"? Sigh… He could almost make baseball interesting, and (x) We have four teams in the nation ranked in the Top 25 for Total Offense (Auburn, Arkansas, Alabama & Kentucky) and four for Total Defense (LSU, Florida, Alabama & Arkansas). That's still unusually low for defense…


For those who were unaware, Georgia is a 13 point favorite at home against Tennessee this weekend. That's so shocking it has to be written twice: Georgia is a 13 point favorite against Tennessee. I am not one to argue with the men who make the odds in Vegas, but that deserves a double take. UGA has lost four straight games, the most recent loss to a Colorado team that will at best finish 5-7 this year. There is a decent chance that Boulder loss could end up being worse than Ole Miss' loss to Jacksonville State (RM Note: Stop it.). The Vols are not the Tennessee of old, but they are only marginally worse than the Bulldogs at this point, even banged up coming out of Tiger Stadium.

At best this game should be a pickem; there is no way anyone can assume the outcome of this game. Tennessee has blown out Georgia three of the last four games, and 13 points just makes my jaw hit the ground. Both teams don't look good right now, but the intrigue in this game is signficant. How will Tennessee bounce back after heartbreak? Will Georgia finally put a complete game together and beat a BCS opponent? Is the 13 point spread crazy or accurate? For a game against a 1-4 Georgia and a 2-3 Tennessee team, there are a lot of reasons to watch.

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


John Brantley, Florida QB – We'd like to take Jarrett Lee here, but there's no guarantee how much Miles will play him. So we'll go with the QB we know will play. At least we think… Not that your performance in Tuscaloosa was horrific, kid (16/31 for 202 yards, 0 TDs and 2 INTs), but you simply have to do better. This team, this year, needs you to be more efficient. It needs you to lead, and you can't lead from the sideline. There just aren't that many playmakers on this Florida offense as we've grown accustomed to seeing in recent years. Perhaps they're in jail. Correction – they're there, they're just not making plays. In order for you to lead this team to victory Saturday, you'll need to put together at least one solid scoring drive – two if Lee takes a meaningful number of snaps. That likely means turning around that Turnover/TD ratio. You can't afford to give LSU the ball – the key to this game is steady, time eating drives, wearing out that solid Tiger defense, and that means no turnovers. (Postscript – Oh yeah, John. LSU's defense? Ranked #5 in the nation in Scoring.) (Nod to Marcus Lattimore, USC RB… Are you the Georgia back or the Auburn one?)


John Brantley, Florida QB – Injured or healthy, it doesn't matter… The bottom line is that Brantley has to play better than he did against Alabama. The Alabama defense had a lot to do with his poor play, but Brantley wasn't doing the team any favors with poor passes and bad decision making. That is understandable from a young guy like Aaron Murray, but not good coming from a fourth year junior. LSU's defense is experience and aggressive; even with the loss of starting DE Sam Montgomery, LSU will be able to get pressure on Brantley. LSU has linebackers and defensive backs that can force turnovers, so sloppy play by Brantley will cost Florida the game.



1 Alabama – Need a better offensive performance than last Sat.
3 Auburn (up from 4) – Cam didn't rush once last week
5 LSU – Les found the one second he lost in Oxford
5 South Carolina – Need seasoned QB for this Bama D; keep your pride out of it, coach
5 Arkansas – Could have six takeaways this weekend in Dallas
5 Florida (down from 3) – Don't throw it towards Peterson
7 Miss State – Payback's a bitch!
9 ole miss (up from 11) – LSU's not the only one who can make winning ugly
10 Kentucky (down from 8) – What do you mean those first 3 teams were cupcakes?
11 Tennessee – Y'all know it's a 4 quarter game, right? (Take three)
12 Vanderbilt (down from 11) – Is it basketball season yet
12 Georgia – This marks the first week I haven't heard from an UGA fan


1 Alabama – Battle of the bye weeks starts up in Columbia
2 Arkansas (up from 3) – Ahead of a couple unbeatens, but it feels right
3 Auburn (up from 4) – Screw Pat Forde's Boise Bus; get on the Newton Bus
4 Florida (down from 2) – Will we see another UGA Blackout or Florida jump-pass first?
5 LSU – Les Miles: great entertainment for the SEC, ulcer-forming for Tiger fans
6 South Carolina – Calling another coach a dummy not smart with Bama rolling in
7 Mississippi State – Slowly hiding under the radar but getting better each week
8 Kentucky – Joker Phillips acting pretty confident this week, can he back it up?
9 Vanderbilt (up from 10) – Vandy gets a break after four very challenging games in a row
10 Ole Miss (up from 12) – A good sign when your team wins a game it has to have
11 Tennessee – He needed to shake hands twice, not stamp off like a child
12 Georgia (down from 9) – If you think the Colorado loss looks bad now, wait until you see the Buffaloes record in November



1) LSU vs. Florida; Saturday, October 9th. This game's going to be close. Both teams are close in Total Offense and Total Defense, with Florida getting the slight nod in the former, and LSU in the latter. However, there are two things that skew this in favor of the road team – first, defense usually trumps offense (especially in our conference), and second, most of LSU's offense statistics are with Jefferson under center. That's unlikely to be the case this Saturday; J2 might start, but expect to see Jarrett Lee getting plenty of snaps. When folks think about Lee, they remember the redshirt freshman's penchant for throwing Pick Sixes (kind of hard to forget) and his babe-in-woods expressions from 2008. What they forget is that LSU averaged 31 points a game that year – it was the defense that killed the Tigers. This year's defense is exponentially better. In his first meaningful action of the season, Lee was… Ok, not great – he threw a 4Q INT in the end zone. But he was 16/23 for 185 yards, had a couple clutch throws and a 128 passer efficiency rating. Mr. Jefferson? His fourth straight game tossing under 100 (3/10 for 30, 2 INTs) in earning a 15 passer efficiency rating. Yes, 15. Wow. Given that, it's hard to predict what offense LSU will run out in the Swamp this Saturday – but we know exactly what Florida's looks like against a tough defense. With both squads Special Teams canceling each other out, and if Lee gets material playing time (and thus points on the scoreboard), we call for another cardiac win for the Tigers. And Patrick Peterson will once again provide the difference in this, his final trip home to the Sunshine state before the NFL beckons…
Pick LSU 17, Florida 16

2) Alabama vs. South Carolina; Saturday, October 9th. Want to know the difference between Florida and South Carolina? SC is ranked higher in Total Offense (#55/#84). Want to know another difference? SC is ranked higher in Passing Offense (#63/#83). Want to know another? SC is ranked higher in Rushing Offense (#54/#65). Another? They're QB has experience (we think – Spurrier, you bonehead). Perhaps the biggest difference? They're playing the Tide at home, with a week off to prepare. Think Alabama is invincible do you. Did you look at that box score from the game last Saturday? McElroy: 11/17 for 84 yards. Ingram: 12/47. Richardson: 10/63 yards (half on one carry). Julio: 4/19 yards… Not exactly breathtaking – at least not in the positive way. Bama's defense continues to shine, and Spurrier's troops have a lot of drama in their own right to navigate. But the week off, the home crowd, and a solid defense will be the difference in this game…
Pick South Carolina 21, Alabama 19

3) Auburn vs. Kentucky; Saturday, October 9th. Welcome back to the conference, Kentucky! In its first three games against JV schools (sorry Louisville, but y'all have to try harder), the Wildcats pounded the ground for more than 200 yards. In SEC play, well, you get the picture. Enter Auburn, coming off a bye week (UL Monroe), feeling pretty spry, with a rested Cam Newton (didn't take a single rush last week), against a battered/bruised Kentucky program. In the past two seasons, Kentucky has started hot by feasting on OOC patsies, then gone 3-5 (2009) and 2-6 (2008) in conference play. And Auburn has a chip on its shoulder from last year (21-14 Kentucky). Take the team playing materially better, even on the road…
Pick Auburn 31, Kentucky 21

Record: 13-3


1) LSU vs. Florida; Saturday, October 9th. After their trip to Tuscaloosa, Florida is beaten up both mentally and physically. Hm... The last time they were beaten up by Alabama in the regular season they lost to LSU two weeks later. The difference is that this year the game is the Swamp instead of Death Valley, and the LSU quarterback situation is a complete mess. Both Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are going to play against Florida… Advantage Gators. Lee has already thrown one pick in the end zone this season during his limited play; Mr. Pick Six makes his triumphant return as the LSU defense does all they can…
Pick Florida 14, LSU 12

2) Alabama vs. South Carolina; Saturday October, 9th. To put it mildly, Russ and I differ greatly on this game. It doesn't look like South Carolina has any chance to stay with Bama, especially after the Auburn offense had their way with the Carolina defense. The Gamecocks looked incapable of making adjustments to the Auburn run game and were physically dominated. There is not a more physical team in the SEC than Alabama, and Carolina is going to get knocked around on both sides of the ball. Expect Connor Shaw to get his chance in this game and give Spurrier some thoughts about going with him the rest of the year…
Pick Alabama 31, South Carolina 13

3) Auburn vs. Kentucky; Saturday, October 9th. Kentucky at home should get a bump from the crowd and play inspired for the first half but they don't have anyone who can stop Cameron Newton. Auburn has handled the running game from every opponent well and this week will be no different. Auburn's weakness is the pass defense and Kentucky will exploit that enough to score but there defense will have no answer for anything Auburn throws at them. The Wildcats have given up 90 points in back to back SEC games, there defense won't change much agains the best offense in the SEC…
Pick Auburn 38, Kentucky 21

Record: 14-2

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 Five, September 30, 2010
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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