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 the Hogs signal caller Ryan Mallett and his 63% completion rating for 271 yards and four TDs, on the road against A&M in Arlington, TX. Or Auburn RB Ben Tate, who racked up 128 yards and a TD on the road against a solid D in Knoxville. But is there really any doubt: LSU RB Charles Scott’s pounding style sealed the deal for the Tigers in their big road W in Athens. Scott accounted for 65 yards and 2 TDs in the 4Q alone, leading the Bayou Bengals to their first win between the hedges since the Reagan administration.
John Chavis was brought to LSU to shore up a defense that had lost a lot of its swagger after Bo Pelini left for Nebraska. Miles is an offensive guy, so the Defensive Coordinator has to be the man to set the tone and drive that side of the ball. Chavis had his best game at LSU against Georgia; his team manhandled the Bulldogs in Athens all game last week, especially in the first half. His defense gave up 45 rushing yards in the game against the highly overrated Georgia offensive line. LSU gave up only 49 yards of offense in the first half, while allowing UGA just one first down. In SEC games Georgia was averaging more than 40 points per game, and was scoring at will against the likes of Arkansas and South Carolina. Remember, they knocked around a very good USC defense between the hedges. It says a lot about how well John Chavis had his team prepared to play against an offense that not only had success against a top SEC defense, but also against this very Tiger D last season. It was an impressive performance and a good tune up for the Gators.
(ii) Celebration penalties?
We wrote about this in detail after the game Saturday. No one likes this rule – not the players, the coaches, not even the refs. There’s too much ambiguity; not to mention that it's named incorrectly... We want celebrating, we don't want taunting/unsportsmanlike conduct. We’d be shocked if this rule isn't changed materially or scraped entirely this offseason. But that’s not the issue anymore. The issue is every whiny Georgia fan (writer) complaining that AJ Green’s penalty was the difference in the LSU/UGA game. Green’s penalty was exactly what it was – 15 yards. UGA lost that game for three specific reasons: (i) they inexplicably lined up only three men on the right side of the line on the ensuing kickoff, and then K Brandon Walsh missed – kicking it down the center of the field instead of to the left. LSU’s senior KR specialist Trindon Holliday saw this, and ran right at the weak side for 44 yards, (ii) that unbalanced line was a penalty – tack on another 5 yards, and (iii) LSU’s Scott barreled over not one but TWO Georgia LBs for the winning TD. LSU then had the same penalty, but executed properly on its KO coverage, and UGA started on its… 33. Gee, ~15 yards from the 20. Stop whining for crying out loud; leave that for the Pac 10. Between Georgia fan and Urban Meyer, we'll all soon have a zip code that starts with a 9.
This is probably not going to make too many Georgia fans happy, but no matter how stupid and unnecessary a penalty may seem, it rarely ever costs a team the game. And certainly not this one. The last couple minutes of the Georgia/LSU game was a refereeing nightmare. The SEC has come out and admitted the call against AJ Green was a mistake, but it was not the reason UGA lost the game. The loss to LSU has to be on the shoulders of the special teams that gave up a 40 yard kickoff return after the penalty and the defense that let Charles Scott run for a thirty yard score. The most ironic thing I read all week was that when the excessive celebration penalty was created in 1995, the man who was in charge of the NCAA Rules Committee was Vince Dooley.
The problem with the rule is that it is a penalty is very subjective. A hold is a hold, a false start is pretty obvious. But excessive celebration is an opinion. The throat slash is an obvious taunt, but when a player makes a game winning play and wants to celebrate with the team and salute the crowd there has to be some discretion from the officials. The play, the time, and the game all have to take part in the decision as well as the question if what the player was doing was actually unsportsmanlike. It hurts that calls like this are going to have to happen in order for change to come about. Last year we had the Jake Locker situation which was an awful call and it cost Washington a win, this year A J Green gets an unnecessary flag and the question starts all over again. Penalties need to be black and white; there can’t be any room for interpretation. As sad as it may seem, this call is College Football’s pornography. I don’t know how to define it, but I know when I see it and we just can’t have that kind of rule in our sport. Until the officials are able to tangibly define excessive celebration these kinds of moments are going to happen.
(iii) What every SEC fan should be talking about after Week Five but isn’t?
Well that leaves out anything to do with Tim Tebow’s melon, un grande Fiesta!, and is there some game happening in Baton Rouge this weekend? (i) LSU’s HC Les Miles has now beaten all 11 SEC teams in a little more than four years. Luck, (ii) Two weekends ago in Kentucky, a Florida player was knocked back with a crushing blow, resulting in a concussion. The player: third string CB, and special teams player, Moses Jenkins. Care to guess where Mr. Jenkins will be this Saturday? Here’s a clue – he won’t be eating any gumbo, (iii) During a 4Q play many in the viewing audience missed, LSU’s back-up safety Karnell Hatcher delivered a crushing hit to Georgia’s Caleb King, breaking the tailback’s jaw and causing a concussion that will sideline the talented but often-injured King. Did we mention Hatcher is the back up? Hellooooo, Mr Tebow, (iv) 1937. That’s the last time UGA and Tennessee played each other where both were unranked. Wonder if the rankings were as flawed in 1937 as they are today?, (v) Auburn has scored in every quarter it’s played this season, (vi) Auburn's playing Arkansas, (vii) Arkansas has allowed 116 points in four game (including Missouri State), (viii) The worst passing game in Tebow's career was... 2007 in Tiger Stadium (12/26, 158 yrds, 2 TDs/1 INT), and (viii) Georgia is out of the polls for the first time since 2006.
Looking back over the 2009 recruiting class, it is hard to find the players we expected so much from actually making an impact. After last season, we were spoiled by players breaking into the league like Julio Jones, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, and a slew of others. This year the freshmen class of stud players has kind of fizzled, and the marquis players have yet to stand out and make us take notice. Tennessee’s Bryce Brown started the first game with 100+ yards rushing but hasn’t done much since. Receivers like Auburn’s Deangelo Benton, LSU’s Rueben Randle and Georgia’s Marlon Brown are getting some playing time but not doing enough with it. Sadly, Florida's Andre Dubose was injured before he got a chance to fill in Percy Harvin's shoes, and the Gator passing game has been missing something without that type of speed on the outside.
Not to say this year’s freshmen class is not without success stories. There are some truly special players that have hit the ground running on their teams. The freshmen that are standing out so far this year would be Alabama’s Trent Richardson, Auburn’s Onterio McCaleb, and the most impressive true freshmen, Georgia’s WR/TE Orson Charles. It is hard to judge high school players, but with such an amazing class of players signing in 2008, how can we not want to make comparisons. There is plenty of football left to be played, and with the physical nature of the SEC, some of these young players will be given a chance yet during the next eight weeks. The guy I would keep an eye on was mentioned above: UGA WR Marlon Brown. UGA has been hit by the injury bug a little at WR, and with teams already focusing on Charles and Green, there is a place for Brown to come in contribute. Freshmen are a huge part of most teams, and there are some success stories on every team this season. Just not what we expected back in August.
IN FOCUS: Which SEC Coach / Player is in the Spotlight this week?
Tim Tebow, Florida QB. What happens if the (arguably) greatest player in college football history is irrevocably hurt Saturday night in Baton Rouge? What impact will that have on our sport? Say what you will, but Tebow suffered a significant brain injury 12 days ago – knocked out and hurling on his way to an all expenses paid ambulance ride and night at county. Since our sport has no rule governing mandatory rest for concussion, there’s a very good chance Tebow plays in Death Valley. If I was LSU DC John Chavis, I would spend most of the first quarter blitzing everyone in purple! Like a bombing raid, at least one or two of those 220+ lb missiles will break free with 20 yards of pent up stem behind them and find their target. I’m not suggesting cheap shots, but I’d go hunting. What? Did that offend your delicate sensibilities? Well you better wake up; if you want to send this kid back on the field – if YOU WANT TO SEE HIM PLAY – then at least have the stones and be adult enough to recognize completely what’s coming. ‘cause it's coming.
Charles Scott, LSU RB. One week after his break out game in Athens, Charles Scott is ready for an even bigger stage. He has been quiet for much of the season, but the 95 yards and two scores last week puts him in the spotlight this week. Scott’s ability torun the ball on first down to keep the down and distance positive will be huge against UF. If he can get 4-5 yards on first down it will keep the fantastic Gator defensive ends honest and give Jordan Jefferson more time to throw the ball downfield. If LSU struggles to run the ball, they won’t win, Scott has to be big for LSU to have any shot to upset Florida.
SEC POWER RANKINGS
1 Florida – Hope Tebow’s not hurt in BR; crazy vantage point for a game this big
2 Alabama – Who cares about offense; D like this wins championships
3 LSU (up from 5) – Keep your eye on the Tigers’ O-line Saturday
4 Auburn (down from 3) – So far, so many TDs
5 South Carolina (up from 6) – MUST beat Kentucky in Columbia with this D
6 Ole Miss (up from 7) – 3 INTs against Vandy bodes badly against ‘bama
7 Georgia (down from 4) – No O early, bonehead mistakes late
8 Arkansas – Better find a Secondary before Auburn shows up in Fayetteville
9 Tennessee – This is the honeymoon year, Lane; play your 2010 QB
10 Kentucky – Snap the ball to Cobb every play
11 MSU – Run the ball 50 times against Houston’s porous front seven
12 Vanderbilt – You hear that? Vandy’s expectations crashing to earth (x3)
1 Florida – To be the best, you have to beat the best; & no one has beaten UF
2 Alabama – Tide should take another big step forward this weekend in Oxford
3 LSU – After years of watching Les Miles coach, can we stop it with the luck BS?
4 Auburn (up from 5) – Chris Todd looked cool and calm on the road in Knoxville
5 Georgia (down from 6) – Dawg fans dying for a complete game
6 South Carolina – Always seems to have a lull in their schedule mid-season; what time is it?
7 Ole Miss – The Rebs aren’t man enough to beat Alabama this weekend
8 Arkansas – Really good Arkansas O or really bad A&M D?
9 Tennessee – Another test for UT; which Vols show up this Sat.?
10 MSU –Turnovers continue to be a problem for MSU
11 Kentucky – Those freshmen QB’s are a game away from playing
12 Vanderbilt – They can’t lose on the road to Army. Can they?
THREE GAMES TO DVR
1) Florida at LSU, October 10th. Were this game played any other time than at night, LSU loses. At home, under the lights, LSU takes on another edge. LSU hasn’t lost a conference Saturday night game in Death Valley since Saban was coach. And it won’t happen here, whether or not Tebow plays. We hope for Superman’s long-term sake, he sits. Keep an eye on LSU’s O-line and the running game – they’ll need it to bring Florida’s talented DBs up to help defend the rush. If so, BOTH Toliver and LaFell score on deep passing plays.
LSU 21, Florida 17
2) Auburn at Arkansas, October 10th. We really struggled on this, and went down to deadline. But in the end, we just don’t have any faith in the Arkansas D. Mallet & Co. may indeed light up the Tigers, but in a track meet, we take Gus Malzahn – with an ax to grind.
Auburn 49, Arkansas 34
3) Alabama at Ole Miss, October 10th. This is not the #2 game of the weekend. Jevan Snead has been living off Michael Oher for most of the past 10 months, and that’s about to come to a screeching halt. This game's a blowout. 3 INTs to VANDY? No truth to the rumor the Tide front seven have forwarded their mail to the Ole Miss backfield for the weekend; ‘bama’s going to be back there THAT often. If Snead threw 3 INTs to Vandy, how many do you think he chucks up against this D? The over/under is 3.5… I’ve got the over.
Alabama 37, Ole Miss 17
1) Florida at LSU, October 10th. Do I think Tebow is going to play, no. Would I have picked Florida to lose this game even if he was starting and healthy, yes. Florida has been underwhelming all season long despite Urban Meyer’s attempts to blow teams out and then use the flu as an excuse. The last two trips to Florida have ended with 4 point losses to the Fighting Tigers, this year will be the same.
LSU 24, Florida 20
2) Alabama at Ole Miss, October 10th. Ole Miss looks like the overrated SEC team for this season, everyone loved them preseason and they have already completed phase one of their collapse in Columbia, phase two comes this weekend against Alabama and the final phase will be a loss to Auburn at the end of the month. Jevan Snead has been very sloppy and with the Crimson Tide defense is destroying QB’s and picking off passes left and right, things do not look good for Snead. This one could get ugly, but Alabama shuts it down the same way they did against Arkansas two weeks ago.
Alabama 35, Ole Miss 21
3) Auburn at Arkansas, October 10th. If you enjoyed the Georgia/Arkansas game from a couple weeks ago, this one is going to be a carbon copy. There will be very little defense played here and there are two small reasons to like Auburn, the first is that their defense is a little bit better and the second is that it is a 11 AM central time kickoff. The stadium is never the same in the SEC early in the morning and the lack of crowd noise will help Auburn control the ball and drive for the winning score late in the fourth.
Auburn 42, Arkansas 38
Yell at Brian: Brian Harbach
Yell at Russ: Russ Mitchell
Y'all Play Nice. SEC Week Five, October 1, 2009
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