3 SEC QUESTIONS THAT NAG MORE THAN YOUR EX
(i) What was the best performance from last weekend (Team or Player)?
We could go with Greg McElroy, but since the Arkansas defense has played two conference games and provided not one but two career best days for the opposing QBs, we're leaning more against their D than GM's O. We could go with LSU's S Chad Jones, who did everything but drive the bus in the Tigers' win (?) against MSU; but he also fielded a punt on the three yard line with 5:38 left – and that bonehead move enabled MSU to end up knocking on LSU's goal line. But is there really any doubt: Georgia's uber-talented WR A.J. Green had last weekend's best performance. With you, me and every Devil knowing he was the go-to Dawg, Green still had 8 catches, 153 yards, a blocked 4Q FG, and a determined 3rd down, 36 yard reception that set up the game winning FG as time expired. No truth to the rumor A.J. stands for "Thank God he's only a sophomore."
This one is going to be short and sweet: Alabama was the most impressive thing I saw last weekend. The offense looked dynamic and explosive, Greg McElroy was calm and precise with his passing, and the defense was exactly what we expect a Nick Saban defense to be. Even after Donta' Hightower went down with a season-ending injury, the defense barely blinked, and continued to make Ryan Mallett look like a freshman. While Florida remains the team to beat, failing to mention Alabama as a threat to win the conference is crazy. They look as good as last year, and with a road trip to Lexington this Saturday, and a trip to Oxford the next, there is plenty of time to get more publicity. With the Gators having played at Kentucky last week, it will be an interesting comparison to see how the SEC's two best teams do against a common opponent.
(ii) What does Tim Tebow's concussion mean for CFB?
We wrote more on this topic Sunday morning, but if YPN hears one more coach/player tell us how "terrific" Tim Tebow looks, we're going to puke! THIS JUST IN!! It's not his body that's the issue – it's his brain. His brain doesn't lift weights. It doesn't do wind sprints, and it doesn't have a cape. At least we don't think it has a cape. It doesn't matter one iota how great he looks, nor how much he wants to play, nor even how much YOU want him to play.
Bottom Line: CFB should have a mandatory waiting period for our young men that suffer a Grade II or III concussion. Period. It can't be left up to the player, the coach – not even the school's trainers. There's too much pressure / machismo / money involved in our sport to ensure that the right decision – the health of the player – stands out first and foremost. We're not talking about playing with a broken arm or a fragile knee. Yes, football is an ‘unhealthy' sport in many facets, and the risks that players (and ultimately their families) take are calculated and accepted. But following a serious brain injury, those risks are magnified exponentially. Perhaps the most telling point is we simply don't yet know exactly how dangerous these injuries are. The book's still out; as is the treatment. Five days after Tebow was knocked out, throwing up on the sideline and rushed to the hospital, he "looks terrific!", and we're preparing to bang heads with the always violent LSU Tigers in Death Valley. In 9 days. Not my son.
The most interesting part of the Tim Tebow concussion has absolutely nothing to do with College Football's Superman and everything to do with the nation's new favorite public enemy. Urban Meyer has quickly become the most hated man in the SEC (and maybe college football) because of his actions the past 9 months. It began with his p*ssing contest with Lane Kiffin in the offseason, and continued after the Gators defeated Tennessee. But now in a blatant attempt to increase Tebow's stats he risked his player's health in a game that was over before it started. The only reason Tebow's in the game at that point is because Meyer's trying to run up the score and beef up Superman's (and the team's) stats. Neither of these things help Florida win a National Championship, which should be Meyer's number one goal.
Get him off the field, Urban. We get that you didn't score as many points against Tennessee as you wanted because of the flu, the weather, the fans not wearing enough orange in the stands, but make it up in a game that you really need Tebow, not in freaking Lexington. Due to their last HC, Alabama fans know first hand how stupid it is to play kids in games that are well out of hand. Crimson Tide players were injured late in games that were already decided: Tyrone Prothro had his career ended on a needless play and Brodie Croyle blew out his knee in the 4Q against Western Carolina. Tebow isn't some freshman to whom you need give extra reps because he doesn't know every formation. He is a two time National Champion and Heisman trophy winner. Get him off the field when you're up by more than three touchdowns late in a game.
(RM NOTE: A different take along this vein – if we had a playoff, Tebow's not in that game. He was in to run up the score for style points, because our sport (just the Div. 1 variety, mind you) is a beauty contest. And after the stature-reducing loss to the Vols, Meyer was feeling the pressure to run up the score, for the USA Today Coaches' Son-in-Law poll voters reading Sunday morning newspapers. Our champion is determined by a gravely flawed fashion show of a rating system that ultimately protects the private promoters (Read: private businesses) that make millions off their bowl system.)
(iii) What every SEC fan should be talking about after Week Four, but isn't?
Well that leaves out anything to do with the greatest team in the history of college football – 2009 Alabama, Tebow's noodle, or the end of Florida football as we know it: (i) Did you see the UGA game last Saturday, Tennessee? THAT'S how you protect the conference's honor, (ii) Sticking with Tennessee, no truth to the rumor that co-eds are wearing "We'd like to, but we have Cramp(ton)" t-shirts, (iii) Everyone's focused on his head, but thankfully there were no complaints about Tebow's carbon footprint, (iv) Sticking with Florida, no truth to the rumor that Tebow piloted the plane to and from Lexington, (v) The Vols hard charging TB Montario Hardesty looks to be sidelined for this weekend's contest with Auburn in Knoxvegas; welcome to the bright orange lights, Mr. Brown, (vi) LSU, the most overrated #4 team in the history of the flawed ranking system (or at least since Ole Miss), played four teams in September, each today with a 2-2 record; now the Tigers face UGA, Florida and Auburn, with a combined 11-1 record. Yup. Lace ‘em up and fasten those chin straps tight, boys, (vii) Arkansas's Pass Efficiency Defense is ranked dead last – 119th in the nation. Way to strive for excellence, fellas, (viii) Florida's is ranked #1, (ix) Georgia is dead last in the conference in Fumbles Recovered (1) and worst in Fumbles Lost (7). Ouch, and (x) With the fastest man to ever play CFB, LSU is no longer dead last in the nation in KRs! The Bayou Bengals are now third-to-dead-last. Happy Days!
One of the most exciting football games I have ever watched was the 2005 National Championship game in the Rose bowl between USC and Texas. Everyone has a memory from that game: the Reggie Bush lateral, Vince Young rushing for the winning score, and many more. One thing that seems to be lost this week is that Texas's Defensive Coordinator was Gene Chizik, and the Southern Cal Offensive Coordinator was Lane Kiffin. The moment these two coaches were hired, I circled the Auburn/Tennessee game because of how much I loved that National Championship. Are we going to get a classic like that game? Nope. But it is a more exciting match-up than the media is giving it credit.
No matter how soft the Auburn schedule and how underwhelming the Tennessee offense has been, it is exciting to see the new breed of SEC coaches match up for the first time; and with some serious history behind them. Don't think for one second I expect Jonathan Crompton to turn into Matt Leinart or Kodi Burns to do his best Vince Young impression Saturday (unless Kodi starts throwing incompletions). But Ray Ray and I are traveling to Knoxville to be there to see it in person, and as this is Mr. Ray's first SEC game, it should highlight my interest in this battle of coaches. Not a bad way to pop your SEC cherry: 7:45 PM, between two teams with a ton to prove, and ready to make a statement on national television. It should be a battle, and this game is not getting nearly the attention it should.
IN FOCUS: Which SEC Coach / Player is in the Spotlight this week?
Jordan Jefferson, LSU QB. This was a toss-up with Tiger OC Gary Crowton, but at the end of the day, it's the youthful Jefferson who must make the plays. This game's not about UGA's passing attack. LSU's Pass Efficiency D is ranked #10 in the nation, and is second in the conference in Passes Intercepted. Moreover, with the rapidly emerging star-that-is shutdown corner Patrick Peterson gagging at the chance to cover Green, this game will come down to LSU's O. The Tigers have struggled since midway through last season, when teams decided to put 7-9 men in the box and force LSU to win with the pass – something the Tigers and their top man abhor. Jefferson (and Crowton) must force opposing DCs to respect the pass. And it has to be painful, or Georgia won't back off the line. Throughout September, LSU's NFL-in-waiting WRs Toliver and LaFell have been wide open on crossing/slant routes 20-30 yards down field, but Jefferson has been far from crisp; shocking, given the seasoned vet he is. Nevertheless, Jefferson better hit those passes on Saturday, or it's going to be a long afternoon between the hedges for him and the Bayou Bengal faithful. Fortunately for Jefferson, Georgia's pass rush has been anemic, tied as it is for last in the conference in Sacks and Tackles for Loss (with LSU, btw). Keep your eyes focused here on Saturday.
AJ Green, Georgia WR. Georgia fans, you can stop emailing me about AJ Green because I am about to talk about him. Last year against LSU Green average nearly 30 yards a catch to go along with a score. He has become Joe Cox's go to guy and he is quietly have a huge season. Green has 428 receiving yards on the season and he has to have a huge game in order for UGA to beat the Fighting Tigers. The LSU secondary is really special, but Green has the size and speed to make plays against any defense. If LSU can keep him out of the end zone and under 100 yards receiving, I like Georgia's chances, if not I am not sure they have the weapons to score on LSU.
SEC POWER RANKINGS
1 Florida – "Tebow looks Terrrrrrrrific!" Clown.
2 Alabama – As we suspected last week, here come the Mac for Heisman ads
3 Auburn (up from 5) – Until they stop scoring like a freight train, they move up
4 Georgia (up from 6) – Crowd the box + pressure on the kid QB = W
5 LSU (down from 4) – 30 yards rushing on 31 carries? Is it April 1st?
6 South Carolina (up from 8) – 1 blocked Athens pass away from a Top 10 ranking
7 Ole Miss (down from 3) – Anyone get the number of that truck?
8 Arkansas (down from 7) – Not even the word "sieve" suffices
9 Tennessee – Who knew JC could be this bad? Oh yeah, us
10 Kentucky – Guess that makes Taylor Wyndham kryptonite
11 MSU – Dixon: Sr., 106 yards, ~4 ypc, NOT getting the rock on the goal line. Dufus Mullen.
12 Vanderbilt – Not officially giving up hope just yet
1 Florida – The lead over Alabama is shrinking, but the Gators are still on top
2 Alabama – Sure they're at UK, but we're all waiting for the trip to Oxford
3 LSU – Still sleepwalking through the season; 'bout to be woken up in Athens
4 Georgia (up from 5) – UGA vs. LSU, the battle of the unknowns this weekend
5 Auburn (up from 6) – Did Barkley mention a train's coming down the tracks in Knoxville again?
6 South Carolina (up from 7) – Eric Norwood is Must See TV
7 Ole Miss (down from 4) – Nutt choking as a favorite; no, really
8 Arkansas – Expect more accuracy from Ryan Mallett than last Saturday
9 Tennessee – Another test for UT; which team will show up?
10 MSU (up from 11) – I still don't like Mullen's End of Game play calling
11 Kentucky (down from 10) – This O will struggle against good SEC teams
12 Vanderbilt – Did what they had to do v. Rice; will Ole Miss be sleeping?
THREE GAMES TO DVR
1) LSU at Georgia, October 3rd. As we noted above in the Spotlight, this game will come down to Jefferson and Crowton, and conversely, UGA's ability to pressure the QB. Georgia's going to take away the Tigers' rushing game – why change what works? If Jefferson is able to stand tall in the pocket and connect on 60% or better of his passes (AND a healthy portion of those being longer than a dump pass), LSU wins. So far this season, it's been UGA making the TOs, however, the road weary Tigers will make one at a costly point Saturday afternoon. That TO will be the difference in the game. Were this a night contest in Baton Rouge, we'd go with LSU. As it is…
Georgia 31, LSU 30
2) Auburn at Tennessee, October 3rd. 10 years of frustration for Tennessee in this match-up. (Bet that made you blink.) With Hardesty likely out – or at least far from 100%, the Vols lose a seasoned (and pounding) RB, coming off back-to-back 100 yard (and minute-eating) games. Papa K's D is solid, though given how many points Auburn's been scoring, expect the Tigers to put up at least 21 on the board. Quick – who thinks Vol QB Jonathan Crompton can score more than 21 points against a team with a pulse? ‘zactly.
Auburn 24, Tennessee 13
3) Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, October 3rd. Not a chance.
Ole Miss 38, Vandy 7
Record 9-3 (RM Note: Wow. Guess there's a first time for everything, Brian.)
1) LSU at Georgia, October 3rd. Both Georgia and LSU have been a mystery so far this season with neither team playing a complete game. The Georgia offense looks great one game while the defense looks like they are using players from Clarke Central High School. It looks like LSU has been reading into their own pub too much because they don't seem interested in being dominant. This game is a toss up but right now the home team is going to get the nod, but if LSU won this game handily it would not surprise me.
Georgia 30, LSU 24
2) Auburn at Tennessee, October 3rd. How surprising is it that Auburn has not lost to Tennessee in 10 years? The last time Auburn traveled to Knoxville it was in their magical 2004 season and Charles Barkley famously predicted an Auburn beatdown of the Vols, which is what happened. That same outcome is not going to happen this week with Auburn struggling to stop the run and UT running the ball well. The Auburn strength is the offense, but Tennessee has a very strong offense. Bottom line is that this game is going to be ugly and sloppy, but Auburn will score a little bit more.
Auburn 17, Tennessee 13
3) Ole Miss at Vanderbilt, October 3rd. Houston Nutt, redemption thy name is Vanderbilt. This game could not come at a better time for Ole Miss because believe it or not the Rebels do consider Vandy a serious rival. The Rebels need some positive momentum this week or they will go into the Alabama believing they cannot win the game. Remember when Bobby Petrino said last week that his team knew they could not beat Alabama? Well Ole Miss will be the same way unless they play well in Nashville. Houston Nutt's team wakes up in a big way Saturday and it still tells us nothing about them.
Ole Miss 42, Vandy 13
Yell at Brian: Brian Harbach
Yell at Russ: Russ Mitchell
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Four, September 24, 2009
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Three, September 17, 2009
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Two, September 10, 2009
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week One, September 3, 2009