Monday, September 24, 2007

Random Thoughts about Week 4 Games

Florida QB Tim Tebow turned in his best performance of the season Saturday against Ole Miss, accounting for 427 yards of total offense and all 4 Gator TDs. You have to wonder how much punishment his body can take handling hte ball as often as he does... The Gators' youth showed with 14 penalties for 127 yards. Florida is far and away the most penalized team in conference, averaging 87 ypg. They can get away with that on the road against a team like Ole Miss, but what about in Columbia or Lexington or Baton Rogue?

The Rebels had one of their best performances in 2+ seasons under HC Orgeron, but just couldn’t keep up with Tebow and Co. QB Seth Adams continues to exceed expectations, while preseason All-SEC RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis continues to struggle.

LSU HC Les Miles took a page from Steve Spurrier’s book Saturday, scoring a TD on a nifty fake FG. Even Spurrier had to grin after the play. LSU’s offense struggled a bit against a solid South Carolina defense, but in the end, there was just too much Glenn Dorsey and the rest of the LSU defense for the Gamecocks to handle. This was the 3rd game in a ridiculous 5-game homestand for the Tigers.

Gamecock back-up QB Chris Smelley got significant playing time in place of Blake Mitchell after Mitchell was ineffective. Smelley has been named the starter for this weekend's game against Mississippi State. Their defense did play well, holding LSU to a season low in points, but an inefficient offense and 3 turnovers doomed the Gamecocks in the end. As an aside, I know Spurrier is 1000x smarter than you or me when it comes to football, but there were a couple of calls I really questioned. Going for it on 4th & 1 inside your own 30 in the 3rd quarter is one thing, but handing the ball off 4 yards deep in the backfield, so your back needs 5 yards to pick up 1? And why kick that FG late in the 4th? USC still needed 3 scores after that, which is the same number they needed before they kicked it…

Even watching the Kentucky/Arkansas game on TV, you could just feel the air sucked out of the stadium late in the first half when Kentucky scored a TD on a fumble recovery. Arkansas had been in control of the game the majority of the first half until Trevard Lindley rumbled 66 yds for a TD to cut the Razorback lead to 20-14. Arkansas will be favored in their next 5 games, but until they shore up their passing defense (11/12 in conference) and generate a more consistent passing game (11/12) of their own, they’ll continue to struggle against legitimate opponents. They’ll be playing for a while with out third string RB Michael Smith, who was suspended indefinitely after running up ~$100 in charges on a stolen credit card.

I thought Kentucky was a basketball school… The Cats have jumped up to #14 in the new AP poll and QB Andre Woodson is a legitimate Heisman candidate, as long as the Cats continue to win. While UK’s defense hasn’t been spectacular – 9/12 ppg, 9/12 ypg – they have been opportunistic, forcing 11 turnovers through 4 games, which is 2nd in the conference behind LSU.

The Nicktatorship hit its first speedbump Saturday as Alabama dropped its first game of the season to Georgia. It looked the Tide would score a second straight come from behind win, but the Dawgs scored a TD on their first play of OT to win by 3. Spurrier may have gotten the Dawgs fired up by talking about them after South Carolina beat them 16-12 in Athens a couple of weeks ago. He said – among other things - “It wasn't like they were some big, powerful team”. The UGA D responded, holding Bama to 164 yds rushing and the offense generated 377 yds.

As for Bama, QB John Parker Wilson returned to earth after slicing up a porous Arkansas secondary for 327, completing less than 50% of his passes for 185 yds against UGA. This was the 3rd time in 4 games that Alabama has failed to complete a TD pass.

Tennessee QB Erik Ainge continued to dominate lesser opponents, throwing for 334 yds and 4 TDs against an overmatched Arkansas State team. UT has a off day this Saturday, before playing 4 straight conference games, including UGA, @Bama, and South Carolina. While the offense rolled up 523 yds against Arkansas State, the defense continued to struggle, giving up nearly 400 yards to the Indians. You have to wonder if their inconsistencies on both sides of the ball will be too much for them against conference foes.

Apparently, all Auburn needed to get rolling was a visit from NMSU. Auburn nearly doubled their season point total (55 Saturday, 68 first 3 games) against the Aggies, and the defense pitched a second half shut out. QB Brandon Cox played his best game of the season as well, completing 68% of his passes and no turnovers. The Tiger defense meanwhile forced 6 turnovers of their own. This week’s trip to Gainesville will shed a little more light as to where this team actually is.

Mississippi State matched their win total from each of the past 3 seasons with their 31-15 win over 1AA Gardner Webb. RB Anthony Dixon had another 86 yds rushing and 2 TDs. Backup QBs Josh Riddell and Wesley Carroll filled in admirably for starter Michael Henig, who miss the game with a broken hand. Mississippi State will be big underdogs in 4 of the next 5 games, so it will be interesting to see how this team continues to improve.

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