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Three & Out returns in 2011 to give you three SEC thoughts, news and notes. In our Week 3 wrap-up, we take a look at the state of the Ole Miss program, Tennessee’s showing in The Swamp and Auburn’s inability to tackle anyone.
TIME FOR CHANGE
Two weeks ago, following Georgia’s gutless performance in the Georgia Dome against Boise State, it became clear that the talk of Mark Richt’s job is in serious, serious jeopardy. It was a discussion that we had all prepared for, but watching the Bulldogs lay an egg in front of the whole country was enough to send Georgia fans over the edge.
Richt may have a job longer than Houston Nutt though.
If you’re in the SEC, you don’t get blown out by Vanderbilt. Ever. But Ole Miss did, 30-7, in a game that really wasn’t a close as the score indicated. Ole Miss managed just 234 total yards and turned the ball over five times against the Commodores, en route to supplanting the boys in black and gold as the worst team in the SEC. It’s time for a change.
Houston Nutt has a big-time buyout that can hinder his dismissal. Depending on when he is let go, Ole Miss would owe him somewhere in the $4-6 million range. Sure, that’s a lot. But after getting run by Vanderbilt - VANDERBILT - athletics director Pete Boone will probably be able to pass a hat around the Grove to raise enough to buy out Nutt.
Ole Miss is the same institution that fired David Cutcliffe one year after posting a 10-win season - AT OLE MISS. If the program was going in the wrong direction then, what’s the holdup now?
It’s the first thing that happens on every play, and that’s where it all went wrong for the Tennessee Volunteers against Florida on Saturday.
Center James Stone, a freshman All-American last season, switched from a left-handed snap to a right-handed snap during the offseason. Maybe he should go back to his old style. Stone routinely rolled shotgun snaps back to quarterback Tyler Bray - particularly in the second half, which got the offense out of rhythm on a regular basis.
Tennessee had the ball with momentum late in the third quarter down 17 and was driving. But two bad snaps killed the 9-play, 28-yard drive and the Vols settled for a field goal. A touchdown there would have significantly changed the game, but it didn’t happen.
There’s something about The Swamp that brings out bad snaps. Last season, former Gator Mike Pouncey routinely rolled snaps to Florida quarterback John Brantley in the Gators’ 2010 season opener against Miami (Ohio).
Tennessee showed that it’s a team on the rise Saturday afternoon. Last year’s Vols’ squad would have folded up its tent in the third quarter and gone home. This group fought for four quarters, which is a step in the right direction, but the fact that clean snaps were few and far between on Saturday is something that will limit this team if it's not corrected.
IT’S THE FUNDAMENTALS
Auburn, meet tackling. Tackling, meet Auburn. It’s amazing that these two haven’t met before.
The nation’s longest winning streak came to an end Saturday afternoon, as Auburn fell to Clemson 38-24 in Death Valley. For Auburn, there’s really only one person to blame - defensive coordinator Ted Roof.
Try these stats on for size: Clemson rolled up 624 yards of offense and converted 14-of-18 third down conversions, including 10 in a row at one point. But oddly enough, those stats weren’t the worst part. Auburn just couldn’t tackle.
Rarely, if ever, did the first Auburn defender to touch the Clemson ball-carrier make a tackle. Poor tackling is an epidemic on every level of football, but Auburn became the poster-child of the epidemic on Saturday.
This is not a new phenomenon for Auburn. The Tigers couldn’t tackle last year either, but an unbelievable pass rush coupled with one of the nation’s top offenses propelled them to the National Championship. Knowing that, it’s time for head coach Gene Chizik - a defensive-minded coach - to step in and take more control of his defense, because it’s clearly not working with Ted Roof.
Until Saturday, Auburn hadn’t lost a football game since the day that the Tiger Woods sex scandal broke in 2009. But Saturday’s poor display of tackling leads me to believe that the Tigers are going to lose a lot more between now and late November unless something is done to rectify the situation.
Barrett Sallee covers the SEC for www.CollegeFootballNews.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @BarrettSallee
2011 Three & Out Archive
Three & Out – September 18, 2011
Three & Out – September 11, 2011
Three & Out – September 5, 2011
Three & Out – August 29, 2011
Three & Out – August 22, 2011
Three & Out – August 15, 2011
Three & Out – August 8, 2011
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