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. A day late but there is plenty to talk about starting with the LSU Tigers big win, the Tennessee passing game, what is wrong at Georgia and more.
The Weekend That Was
The biggest win of the week had to be LSU going on the road to beat the Georgia Bulldogs and once again the nation doubts a talented LSU team and calls them overrated before Les Miles and crew makes those statements look foolish. Once is lucky, twice is a coincidence, but the Fighting Tigers make it a habit of winning close games and making plays when it matters. That isn't luck, it is coaching. When Miles first started at LSU I was guilty calling him over his head and I thought he would get the team into trouble with his cocky play calling and brash attitude, but his team feeds off of it. The seniors love playing for him as evidenced by all the players that returned for their senior year and passed up NFL millions.
John Chavis finally started to earn his paycheck with a dominant first half against a pretty potent passing game and they ran the ball when they had to. Charles Scott, who has struggled a little this season, came up with a 95 yard rushing performance and two scores. Jordan Jefferson looks like he is getting more accurate, Russell Shepard had a couple nice runs and the offense is a play or two away from waking up and putting up some huge points. Going into the huge game against Florida with Tebow's status up in the air LSU could make a statement at night in Baton Rouge. A win over the Gators would make LSU a true national title contender and the game against Alabama the most anticipated game of November.
The Weekend That Wasn't
Once again if you have read this column before you know this is the spot where I discuss something negative, but today I want to start by mentioning something positive regarding the University of Tennessee. I made my first trip to Neyland this weekend for the game and was told by a co-worker that the fans are easy going and fun to be around. Of course every fan says that about their team so I took his comments with a grain of salt, but after tailgating, walking to the stadium, watching the game and heading home I have to say that my experience was one of the best I have had. The fans were incredible before and after the game, the stadium was rocking and it was one of the best overall game-day experiences I have had in the SEC. Hopefully those kind words will help cushion the blows I am about to give regarding the performance of the football team and the coaches.
There were two huge problems that I witnessed from the Volunteers; they were the receiving game and the lack of coaching during timeouts from the staff. The passing game is just terrible from quarterback to receiver and the play calling is not helping either. Tennessee receivers must have dropped at least 10 catchable balls from Jonathon Crompton and not until the last catch of the game did a WR actually make a play for Crompton. Of course Crompton's inconsistency as a passer was obvious from the first drive. He was overthrowing receivers, under-throwing receivers, throwing into the line, leading them too much and passing well behind players. The passing situation is a team issue, not a Crompton issue and while Jonathon is not a good SEC QB, the whole team needs to step up.
The other item I want to hit on was every TV timeout or possession change the Volunteer players stood in the middle of the field by themselves while the Auburn players huddled on the sidelines with coaching learning and being coached up. The entire game Auburn spent time preparing the players going in and Kiffin stood on the sidelines looking at a clipboard. It was a little surprising that the Tennessee coaching staff was not taking the opportunity to discuss with the players strategy during the breaks, I think that is a fundamental coaching problem in Knoxville right now and it should be addressed.
The Weekend That…What the Heck
Ole Miss has a huge game this weekend against Alabama which will give them the opportunity for redemption after failing in Columbia two weeks ago. After seeing Jevan Snead play on the road for the second straight week I am now convinced that Ole Miss is not ready to win this kind of football game and Snead still needs a lot of work before he becomes an All-SEC player like the man who turned in Steve Spurrier's preseason ballot thinks. After another multiple interception performance, Snead once again struggles with accuracy and decision making. He looked visibly shaken playing against the South Carolina defense, which is good, but Alabama is a whole different type of team.
The Crimson Tide have the best linebackers in the country and they all can run and blitz. Snead continues to make poor decisions under pressure and it is impossible to imagine him playing the perfect game this weekend. Against Vanderbilt this weekend Snead threw another three interceptions, putting him on pace for 15 this year which is two more than the thirteen he threw in 2008. Snead has all the physical tools to play well in the SEC and the NFL for that matter, but his decision making and accuracy have been serious questions this year. I don't believe that right now Ole Miss has the players to beat Alabama and I don't believe they can play mistake free football for four quarters. To steal a phrase from Pat Dye, Ole Miss isn't man enough to beat Alabama.
The Weekend That Will Be
I owe a thank you to CBS Sports because earlier this year I was adamant that the Florida vs. LSU game needed to be played at night and not in an early time slot. This is not because I think it gives LSU an advantage, it is because this could very well end up being the SEC regular season game of the year and it belongs in prime time. The last two Gator trips to Baton Rouge have been epic with LSU winning both by four points and both games have left us with lasting memories. If we get one moment this weekend that is half as close as the Jacob Hester winning touchdown or the Tebow faking a phone call then we are in for a treat. But of course this is not the only big game in the SEC with Alabama traveling to Ole Miss, Auburn's second road trip of the season to Arkansas, UGA heading out to Knoxville and a Kentucky trip to Columbia. The SEC slate is starting to heat up and we are only in the second weekend of October.
Big Man on Campus (BMOC)
Ben Tate, Auburn RB
There were a couple players that had better stats than Ben Tate this week, but Tate's 128 yards and score with 25 carries against a very physical Tennessee defense was the most impressive performance of the weekend. No player had rushed for over 100 yards against the Vols this year and on 24 carries, Tim Tebow racked up 76 yards. Tate played physical every time he touched the ball, especially evidenced by Tate chucking All American Safety Eric Berry 5 yards while Berry was trying to tackle him. The Auburn running game has been phenomenal this year and Tate is carrying that running game on his shoulders.
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).
Tennessee Wide Receivers
The Tennessee Wide Receivers did their best to make Jonathon Crompton look even worse Saturday night by dropping pass after pass. They couldn't make a play on poorly thrown balls and even when the ball hit them in the hands they dropped the pass. The score was closer than the game actually was with UT hitting a long TD pass as time expired, but it could have been an even closer game if the Vol receivers would have caught half of the balls they dropped. I expect some additional reps this week with the machines for Gerald Jones, Denarius Moore and Quentin Hancock.
4 Downs with the SEC
First Down – Apology Due to Gene Chizik
Back in December like most writers I absolutely ripped the Gene Chizik hiring and now it is time to sit down and enjoy my humble pie. After I wrote about the terrible hire Chizik was he began hiring a staff that made me think that he was moving in the right direction. After hiring Gus Malzahn and Ted Roof I began to think a little more how I might have to write something like this. Then signing day came and went and Auburn did pretty good having about 7 weeks to get the class ready and keep the kids Tuberville had already committed. Again I was impressed and this summer with Auburn's limo recruiting trip and Big Cat weekend the off-season stuff seemed to be a strong suite for Chizik, but could he coach. After a 5-0 start and an offense that has scored more points in 5 games than the 2008 Auburn Tigers scored the entire season I am ready to admit I was wrong and Chizik is going to do well at Auburn.
The reason it took so long to admit that I was wrong was because he had not won any games yet and after matching his 2 year win total from Iowa State in his first five games at Auburn it is time to say the guy can coach. He put together an amazing staff that relates to players on the team and in high school. He keeps his head down during the off-season and has not gotten into any arguments with other SEC coaches and even though he is not the most exciting person to hear speak, he is exciting and energetic on the sidelines. Auburn fans, you have a good coach on your sidelines, hopefully he stays there for a while.
Second Down – A complete UGA could be dangerous
After five games only half of the Georgia Bulldog team has showed up. In some games the offense shows up and puts on a clinic and when the offense is struggling the defense seems to be ready to pick up the slack, but the two have not been in a stadium at the same time. The Bulldog fans are beginning to get restless and their hatred is on the sidelines, but not at the head coach. Richt will have some big decisions to make this off-season regarding coaches and if he goes the Tuberville route he may not be as secure in his position as he may think. What undid Tuberville at Auburn was the inability to see his coaches had problems and he was overly loyal to the group.
There is nothing wrong with loyalty and firing coaches is not about saving his own behind, the staff just isn't getting the job done. Richt is a stand up guy and he will truly struggle with this decision in the off-season, but if he does not make significant changes there is a very good chance that he will face pressure in 2010 that he has yet to see at UGA. The defense played well last week, but overall the team is so undisciplined and that has nothing to do with the excessive celebration penalties that went on in the fourth quarter. UGA is simply not playing up to their talent and not up to their abilities. They are still capable of winning every game left on their schedule, but both sides of the ball need to show up.
Third Down – Turnovers did in MSU
If you remove the turnovers from MSU's game against Georgia Tech I really think they would have won the game. I know, I know…that is just part of the game and Georgia Tech had to take advantage of the mistakes but I have this sinking suspicion that Mullen and crew are heading in the right direction. Last week I was really hard on Mullen due to the play calling at the end of the game and fans let me know it. This week, against a good Georgia Tech game they played well enough to win, but mistakes killed them. Four fumbles and one interception were the Bulldogs undoing, but that is not a Mullen issue, that is a player issue. I am not sold on Tyson Lee, I am not sold on the offensive line, but I am starting to come around on thinking that Dan Mullen might be the second best new coach in the SEC.
Fourth Down – Alabama is not missing much
I am starting to really like this Alabama team, I like the QB play, I like the special teams and I love the defense. They have all the makings of a championship team and somehow they have managed to look better than last year's SEC West Championship team. They are better prepared to handle Florida this year if they make it to the SEC Championship and this weekend they can take a big step forward by beating up on Ole Miss. They lead the SEC in rush defense, they are second in total defense, and lead the SEC in sacks. They don't make mistakes with the ball and they are able to control the ball with their running game. They are first in the SEC in time of possession which teams me once they get a lead they are not going to give it up. They look like the team we expected Florida to be, of course like the Gators they have bigger games to play, but this weekend should help separate the SEC a lot.
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me Brian Harbach