Three & Out appears every Sunday to recap the week that was in the SEC. In our Week 11, we look at the Georgia defense, South Carolina’s SEC season and Alabama’s performance vs. Mississippi State. Three & Out still endorses a “no rematch” policy.
TAKING IT BACK TO THE OLD SCHOOL
Georgia fired former defensive coordinator Willie Martinez after the 2009 season because it had lost its fire on defense. That GATA attitude was long, long gone. Todd Grantham was brought in for the sole purpose of bringing that attitude back. 2010 was a rough transition. Grantham’s defense 30 or more points in four of its last five regular season games.
In 2011, it’s been a different story.
Georgia came in with nation’s fifth-best rushing defense that was allowing just 87 yards per game. It allowed just 51 yards rushing to Auburn on Saturday afternoon. This was an Auburn team that still has Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb on the roster. Granted, Michael Dyer - who, the last time I checked, was still an All-SEC caliber running back - only rushed six times in the first half for four yards - but Georgia still shut down the Tiger running game from the opening kick.
I don’t care that the competition has been a little weak, Georgia is a solid football team. If it beats Kentucky next week, Georgia will make it SEC Championship Game. Nobody is saying that Georgia is good enough to consistently beat LSU, but its defense is good enough to do it once. In the SEC Championship Game, that one is all that matters.
IN THE CLUBHOUSE
For South Carolina, this season is a let down. In all likelihood, the Gamecocks will not be making a return trip to the Georgia Dome to play for the SEC Championship. But considering the trials and tribulations that this team has gone through this season, finishing the season with six conference wins and a season sweep of the SEC East - the division it probably won’t win - is still a big accomplishment.
This team lost quarterback Stephen Garcia mid-season. Say what you will about Garcia, but when he was on, he was a pretty darn good quarterback. This team lost Marcus Lattimore - a Heisman Trophy candidate - mid-season and was still able to rebound and win three of its final four games per season. Alshon Jeffery has been a non-factor for virtually the whole season, and the Gamecocks simply couldn’t win with its defense all season long.
But the Gamecocks did it. They’re sitting in the clubhouse at 6-2 and rooting for the unlikely Kentucky upset over Georgia next week. Even if that doesn’t happen, at 8-2 overall, South Carolina still has a chance to post only its second 10-win season in program history.
Considering all that team has gone through, that’s a pretty solid consolation.
HOW DO YA LIKE MY STYLE?
Alabama, you can’t win like you used to. After last week’s loss to LSU, you need style points - whether you like it or not.
You didn’t get any on Saturday night.
Sure, the 24-7 final over Mississippi State certainly looks, on paper, like Alabama dominated the game. In reality, it did. Alabama did it in the same way its other eight games this season, running the ball and playing defense.
That’s not good enough.
Now that Stanford and Boise State have stumbled, a rematch between LSU and Alabama for the crystal football is more likely. It’s still a long shot, because Oklahoma State looks like a machine these days. But it’s still possible, especially since one of the other primary options might be LSU vs. Oregon - which would also be a rematch.
Human polls still constitute two-thirds of the BCS equation. Since that’s the case, Alabama needs style points. More specifically, Alabama needs to prove that it can win football games in ways other than its typical ground and pound style. People unfamiliar with SEC football generally regarded the Alabama/LSU “Game of the Century” as a complete let-down. While that sentiment is ridiculous, some of those people still have votes in BCS equation, and need to be convinced to put Alabama in that game.
Style points matter for Alabama. With the Iron Bowl left as the only real test for the Tide, it might want to consider changing its style to impress voters. Otherwise, its chance at the crystal football will fade.
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 – November 13, 2011
Three & Out – November 6, 2011
Three & Out – October 30, 2011
Three & Out – October 23, 2011
Three & Out – October 16, 2011
Three & Out – October 9, 2011
Three & Out – October 2, 2011
Three & Out – September 25, 2011
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
Click Here for the 2011 offseason column archive
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