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. After Week Three we take a look at Tennessee playing over their head, Florida playing under their capabilities, the lack of defense in Fayetteville and more.
The Weekend That Was
There are no such things as moral victories in college football and the Tennessee loss to Florida was simply put, a loss. But no one expected Tennessee to hang with Florida like they did yesterday and after months of waiting for the massive revenge that was going to be inflicted upon the Vols per Urban Meyer, it never materialized. For all of the smack and silly comments that Kiffin had been spewing since his hiring, it really didn't hurt him that much. You could almost argue that it helped him because it brought Tennessee a ton of national attention for a game that they were likely going to lose by 10 points anyway. After the loss in Gainesville more questions have come up with regards to Florida than Kiffin's bunch and it seems the only loss for Tennessee was the game.
Kiffin really did a masterful job preparing for this game and his gameplan was the only way that Tennessee could have won the game. They had to run the ball and play good defense, it still wasn't enough, but it was all he could do. That should show the SEC that Kiffin is smarter than some may think because he looked at his team's strengths (Defense) and weaknesses (QB) and devised a plan that was the only option. Tennessee is not ready to defeat the top teams in the SEC, but they look to be moving in a positive direction with regards to recruiting and a coaching staff that knows how to prepare. Tennessee fans should not feel good about losing the game but they should fell a little better about their coaching staff going forward.
The Weekend That Wasn't
The downside of addressing the Kiffin situation was the pressure that was put on the Gators after "under-performing" and only winning by ten points. Any double digit SEC win should be viewed as a success, but there is quite a bit of skepticism towards the Gators after a pretty awful performance against a team they owed something special. After last year's revenge against UGA it was expected that the same type of punishment for showing up the Gators was coming to Tennessee. Since it was a lethargic performance the questions shift away from a Tennessee loss and focus on why did the Gators not play better. The problem with the Florida offense comes down to one issue and that is the lack of playmakers at the receiver position.
Riley Cooper is good, Deonte Thompson needs experience and Aaron Hernandez can only do so much. The Gators need to find playmakers on the outside fast because they looked very beatable Saturday. Now Tennessee played well over their head, Florida played badly and still was able to win by 10 points. There are going to be tougher games on their schedule and they will not win an SEC championship unless they get better play from the receivers. Tebow is a special player, but they need more to survive the rough and tumble SEC. There is so much talent on those sidelines and Urban Meyer will find a way to use it, they just need more work.
The Weekend That…What the Heck
For a team that is ranked in the top 25 and is 2-1, UGA is extremely fortunate to have won any of their 3 games and after this weekend the defense once again fell apart and the Bulldogs continue on their trend of last year by playing undisciplined and sloppy football. The Georgia secondary was a mess with random Razorback receivers running wild and open in the defensive backfield all night long. UGA gave up 41 points, 485 yards and the team had 155 penalty yards. Those stats alone will make anyone wonder how they won the football game but the Arkansas defense was equally terrible. Georgia gets the harsher statements here because they are better than that.
In the last two weeks against SEC opponents the UGA defense has given up 78 points, 900 yards of offense and the team had 250 yards in penalties. Against better SEC competition this will simply not get the job done. It is pretty amazing that they are 2-0 in the SEC after giving up those kinds of numbers, but none the less they are 2-0 in the SEC. The positive thing about this is that this team has not put together a complete game yet and with the offense that showed up against Arkansas and South Carolina plus the defense they are capable of playing they will be a tough out for anyone.
The Weekend That Will Be
It seems like another ho-hum week in the SEC, but we get it started off a couple days early with the Thursday nights favorite SEC team South Carolina once again showing up for a home game against Ole Miss. This will be the first real game of the year for Ole Miss considering they are playing as many FCS teams as possible this year. Arizona State makes the return trip to Athens after UGA went out west last year and Arkansas goes east to Tuscaloosa for a match up against top 5 Alabama. There are two other SEC games with LSU traveling to MSU and Florida makings its way to Lexington.
Big Man on Campus (BMOC)
Joe Cox, Georgia QB
The offenses were racking up all kinds of numbers this weekend in Fayetteville and while Ryan Mallett and Joe Cox both tossed 5 touchdown passes, to the winner goes the spoils and Cox gets this week's award for BMOC. Completing 18 of 26 passes for 375 and 5 touchdowns on the road is a pretty big accomplishment for a QB who was questioned pretty seriously after a week one disaster in Stillwater. Cox has good command of the office and has improved his decision making since week one, if Cox can continue to limit mistakes and put up points against SEC defense the Bulldogs have a chance to win every game left on their schedule.
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).
Larry Smith, Vanderbilt QB
The MSU/Vandy game could have been given this honor just as much as Larry Smith, but since Auburn 3-2 wasn't worthy last year, the 15-3 MSU win won't. Smith had a miserable game; he completed 12-32 passes for 124 yards and a pick. The Auburn offense took this defense apart last week and at home the Commodores should have played much better, but when the quarterback plays so terrible it is hard for the team to overcome.
4 Downs with the SEC
First Down – Comeback Kids
One sign of a good team is their ability to recover from adversity and Auburn has been tested in every game so far this year trailing in each one of them and requiring a comeback for the Tigers to come out with a win. No game more than Saturday night was Auburn's chance to overcome adversity when five minutes into the game West Virginia punched them in the mouth and broke out to a 14-0 lead. Auburn trailed all night long until late in the fourth when Jake Ricks picked off a WVU screen pass and three plays later Darvin Adams caught his third TD pass of the night and Auburn went on to win the game.
Gene Chizik has to be thrilled with how the first three games have gone; the Tigers have gone through a lot and come out unbeaten. They have run the ball for huge numbers, they have had the run stuffed and forced to have Chris Todd win the game, they have run a two minute drill before half twice to score points and they have been forced to play great defense to hold onto a lead. Chizik would say there is room for improvement, every coach would, but he knows a lot about his team and how they handle tough situations. This will be valuable later in the season when late in a game Auburn needs to make a play on offense or a stop on defense. They have that experience now and they will know what to do when the situation comes up again.
Second Down – Note to Mark Richt, Call out Your DC
With that lead in you would think that this section is about Georgia, but Dan Mullen may have accidentally created a blue print for playing better defense in the SEC. Call out your defensive coordinator after a poor showing and suddenly the MSU defense that gave up nearly 400 yards rushing looks like world beaters and gives up only 157 total yards to Vanderbilt. The Vanderbilt offense is obviously not as talented as the Auburn team MSU played last week, but it was their second straight road SEC game and the Commodores present a number of problems for teams with a quick passer in Larry Smith and some talented young running backs.
After the Auburn loss, Dan Mullen "subtly" called out DC Carl Torbush for his lack of adjustments in a 49 point debacle at Auburn and his response was to wake the defense up against Vanderbilt. The Bulldog defense had two sacks, forced two turnovers and most importantly had only one penalty late in the fourth quarter. Georgia fans please pass this on to Mark Richt so he can pull the same stunt on Willie Martinez who seems to need all the motivation he can get to coach the UGA defense. If it worked for Dan Mullen, why can't it work for Richt?
Third Down – Not Ready for Prime Time yet
Hog fans, I really thought you had this one, but while Bobby Petrino has the program moving the in right direction it seems the hope for a big year will have to be held back until 2010. The offense is stellar, but the defense isn't ready for prime time and they made a QB that half of the UGA fan-base wanted benched look like Matthew Stafford. If your offense puts up 485 yards and 41 points and the game did not go into overtime you should win every time. The Razorback offense did its job and the defense let Bobby Petrino down. Georgia racked up 530 yards of offense and 52 points. How does that happen?
Looking at the Arkansas side of the box score it is hard to see how they lost the game, the offense was mentioned above, but UGA turned the ball over two more times than the Hogs and had 78 more penalty yards (155 to 77). The defense just didn't do their job Saturday night and it could very well end up being the Achilles heel for Petrino. The next five games are brutal with Arkansas playing at Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, at Florida and at Ole Miss. All of those teams have formidable offenses and better defenses than Arkansas so if they don't get their act together quick they could find themselves wondering what happened to a very promising season.
Fourth Down – Lighting Up the Polls
When the polls were released early yesterday I couldn't help but laugh at some of the ridiculous rankings that were part of our process to choose national champion opponents. I know, I know, this should be an SEC column but this kind of lunacy directly affects the conference and when upset wins are given the kind of acknowledgement that happened this weekend it needs to be pointed out. Starting with the ACC, which could be the worst BCS conference in the country there is Miami who is somehow ranked 9th in the AP Poll. Considering their two wins are over ACC teams can anyone convince me they deserve to be a top 10 team? They struggled to defeat a bad FSU team who spanked a mediocre BYU team who beat an Oklahoma team minus their starting QB.
Honestly Miami should be the only team in the ACC that is ranked right now but the madness does not stop there. The AP loves Southern Cal so much that I guess any team that defeats them deserves to be ranked. A Washington upset over a USC makes the Huskies worthy of a spot in the top 25 when they will likely be underdogs for their next three games. Please wake up voters, I know it is early and we still have a ton of football left to play, but we would appreciate if you take it a little more seriously. The top 25 in the AP looks like a joke and we have played three games already, maybe preseason, but now there is a little more substance to be voting stupidly.
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me Brian Harbach