Monday, October 8, 2007

Random Thoughts about Week 6 Games

South Carolina’s defense made a huge statement Thursday night, holding Kentucky to about half their scoring average and forcing the ‘Cats into 4 TOs. In one the no-brainers of the year, USC DE Eric Norwood was named this week’s SEC Defensive Player of the Week, after he returned not 1, not 3, but 2 fumbles for TDs. While HC Spurrier will certainly take the win, only grinding out 87 rushing yds (2.4 ypc) against a UK defense surrendering 184 ypg (4.6 avg) must be somewhat discouraging.

But not as discouraging as the night was to the Big Blue Nation. Heisman hopeful QB Woodson looked rattled from the opening quarter, completing a season low 57% of his passes, with a long of only 18 yds. RB Little has the only 20+ yd-play for UK, which has thrived on big plays all season. While Woodson is certainly not out of the Heisman race yet, something tells me he will be after LSU comes to town next week.

Someone forgot to tell Auburn that most people had them written off for dead a couple of weeks ago. They steamrolled Vanderbilt Saturday morning like the Commodores weren’t even on the field. 404 yds of offense, 239 rushing yds, 6.1 ypc average, QB Brandon Cox completed 82% of his passes, and, not to mention, Brad Lester made his return to the tune of 77 yds and 2 TDs on 13 carries. Probably a few too many penalties for HC Tuberville’s liking (11 for 87 yds), but he’ll take the dominant win.

And what’s happened to the ‘Dores? Many predicted a breakthrough season this year, but they’ve looked terrible in 2 of 3 SEC games. Only Mississippi State averages fewer yards per game than they do. They’ve got to find a way to get WR Earl Bennett the ball more. His 4 catches for 31 yards last weekend aren’t going to beat anyone. He did move up to 3rd in SEC history in career receptions with 202, and needs only 6 for the all-time conference record. He’ll need to break the record in the first half for VU to knock off a revenge-minded UGA team this weekend…

Kudos to the Ole Miss defense for proving they can stop somebody. Granted it was Louisiana Tech, but for a defense that has been rung up for 30+ points in 4 straight games (0-4), any shutout is reason for excitement. The Rebels also returned a blocked kick for a TD for the second time this season. Not so good was QB Adams’ tossing 3 interceptions on the day. It was nice for Rebel fans to see a win when their offense struggled like it did. It was the first goose egg put up by the Rebel D since 2003 when they shutout Arkansas State and Mississippi State.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, they continue to defy logic, winning with nothing short of horrid QB play. QBs Carroll and Henig combined for 55% passing for 119 yds and 2 INTs. A great game from RB Dixon (152 yds rushing, 3 TDs) provided all the offense needed to beat the Blazers. MSU actually trailed after 3 quarters before 21 unanswered points in the 4th, capped by their league-leading 4th defensive TD scored this season. With high-powered offenses in UT, WVU, and UK looming the next 3 weeks, it’ll be very interesting to see if that stout D can hold up.

The 1st quarter of the Alabama/Houston game on Saturday was a thing of beauty for Tide fans – 23-0 lead and the offense and defense clicking on all cylinders. So how did that turn into a scant 30-24 victory that involved an interception in the end zone as time expired to ice the game? QB Wilson was less than spectacular – again – with just 157 yds passing. RB Coffee paced the Tide with his career day – 121 yds, 1 TD – and D.J. Hall caught 3 passes to become Alabama's all-time receptions leader with 153, breaking the old mark set by Freddie Milons. The Tide did snap a 2-game skid, but certainly left doubt in the Tide Nation’s collective hearts.

Tennessee HC Phil Fulmer is one of the best when his back is against the wall. After being dominated by good competition earlier in the season, UT blew out Georgia from the opening kickoff. Coming off their off weekend, the Vols ran to a 28-0 halftime lead, then coasted in with a 21 point victory. With back to back games against Mississippi State and a struggling Alabama team, the Vols could be right back in the mix of the SEC East race by the end of next weekend.

Georgia HC Mark Richt dropped his first game in Knoxville as Dawgs’ head coach, and UGA stumbled to an embarrassing loss on the banks of the Tennessee River. The run game – after gouging Ole Miss last week for 300+ yds – was non-existent, amassing only 69 yds. QB Stafford, who has to be one of the streakiest guys in the country, was off target, hitting on less than 50% of his passes for just 174 yds. The defense hadn’t given up more than 23 points all season, gave up more than that by halftime and surrendered 411 yds to the Vols.

Things were ugly in Fayetteville for a while Saturday night. Arkansas only led 1-AA UTC by 5 at the half. While they won by a comfortable margin, the Hogs managed to turn the ball over 3 times, convert just 36% of 3rd down attempts, and give up 161 yds rushing. On the bright side, they held UTC QB Miller to 11 yds on 4/22 passing. That’s gotta be good for your passing efficiency defense. It’s a win, but not exactly what Arkansas fans wanted to see this weekend. And HC Nutt probably didn’t enjoy seeing this...

It’s great win big games actually live up to their hype, like LSU/Florida did Saturday night. Some of the luster has certainly come off of UF QB Tebow after the last two weeks. He struggled against LSU’s pass defense, completing less than 50% of his passes for just 158 yards. He also led the team in rushing attempts again, and on the season, he leads the Gators in attempts by 37 over RB Kesthan Moore. He did convert several 3rd down attempts Saturday though. He may want to hold off taunting the Tiger fans next time though… Tebow and the Gators have an off week to rest before trekking to Lexington, KY next weekend.

As for LSU, not much left to say about them. They were challenged again and they answered the bell. The D will be put to the test again this weekend with a game against UK, but the way USC’s defense handled the ‘Cats, no reason to think that LSU won’t do the same, particularly in light of last year’s 49-0 massacre. And I know they’re #1, and undefeated, and all that jazz, but I still wonder if HC Miles isn’t going to cost them a close game somewhere down the line. Risking his final timeout on that kickoff return to knock UF back 7 yds was a ridiculous call that could have changed the game had it not gone his way…

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