Monday, October 1, 2007

Random Thoughts from the weekend…

Things were interesting for a while in the Superdome this weekend, and I'm not talking about the uniforms. Tulane actually led LSU 9-7 until a very late FG in the first half put the Tigers up for good. The defense was awesome - as usual - forcing 3 TOs and holding Tulane to 227 total yards. They'll face Florida this weekend as the #1 team in the country according to the new AP poll.

South Carolina righted themselves a bit with a solid win over Mississippi State Saturday morning. Freshman QB Blake Smelley was solid in his first SEC start, garnering SEC Freshman of the week honors, with 279 yds and 2 TDs. Most encouraging for Gamecock fans has to be the solid showing from the defense, playing its first game without All-America LB Jasper Brinkley. They seemed to struggle for an identity early on, but fed off the blocked punt in the 3rd quarter and dominated the last part of the game. They’ll need that same type of effort for 4 quarters Thursday night against Kentucky if they want to win that one.

As for the Bulldogs, they hung with a ranked team on the road for much of three quarters before falling to a more talented team. If they can get any kind of consistent QB play to go with their solid running game and defense, they could spell trouble for some remaining teams on their schedule. Until they do though, it’s hard to not see a 3-game losing streak coming starting next weekend against Tennessee.

5-0, #8 in the country, arguably the best QB in the country. Fairly common traits of a team from the SEC East, but not Kentucky. QB Woodson finally threw an INT - his first in 326 pass attempts, but the 5 TDs he threw made it okay. That's one less thing for him to have hanging over him heading into Thursday's game against South Carolina. His leadership will be mandatory as the Wildcats will underdogs in their next 3 games against USC, Florida, and LSU.

Okay, so the Nicktator can't walk on water like many Alabama fans would have you to believe. The sporadic Tide offense continued its up and down season, mustering only 89 rushing yds against Free Shoes U F$U Florida State. QB Wilson threw a TD pass for the second game this season, but barely completed 50% of his passes. Saban and staff have a get healthy game against Houston this weekend, before diving back into SEC play next week.

The score of the Ole Miss/Georgia game is very misleading. Georgia won, and is easily the more talented of the two teams, but the Rebels played well... for a while. Much like good teams find ways to win, bad ones find ways to lose. And you don't need to find a way to lose to UGA, particularly if you're Ole Miss. A fumbled snap on 1st and Goal at the 1, a pointless personal foul, an inability to stop 3rd and longs... the list of things goes on. Hats off to WR Mike Wallace though, who's emerged as one of the league's best this season. His 462 yds receiving ranks him second in conference behind only VU stud Earl Bennett's 466. Bennett has 37 receptions compared to Wallace's 19.

As for the 'Dawgs, if they run the ball like they did against the Rebels, they'll be very tough to beat. They had 328 yds rushing, including 180 by Thomas Brown to steamroll the Rebels. With the game tied 17-17 in the 3rd quarter, HC Mark Richt rode his stable of backs to 28 unanswered points. A victory over Tennessee this weekend would vault them right back into the SEC East race.

Arkansas took advantage of North's Texas' porous D, gouging them for 713 total yds, including 446 rushing. DMac had 138, and Felix Jones had 132.. on just 7 carries! The Mean Green suck. No other way to put it. The Hogs host more suckage this weekend as Chattanooga comes to town.

The aforementioned Earl Bennett caught 9 passes for 93 yards and TD last weekend for Vanderbilt and moved within 10 of the all-time SEC record for most receptions. While the defense played well - 173 total yards allowed, 6 TOs forced - it couldn't have made HC Bobby Johnson happy to see his QB Nickson throw for 4 picks of his own. Vandy's half way to bowl eligibility, but 3 straight conference games loom, starting this weekend on the plains.

Auburn was able to take what the Ole Miss coaching staff exploited against Florida, add their own touch to it, and parlay it into a stunning victory that let everyone know that they're not quite ready to phone it in this season. It will be interesting to see what the mood is in the state of Alabama this weekend, as after week 3 - Bama: 3-0, Auburn: 1-2 - many were convinced the balance of power had shifted to Tuscaloosa. Now, we're not so sure.

And what about the Gators? One week after struggling against Ole Miss, they get beat at home by Auburn, and now travel to Baton Rouge to take on the #1 team in the country. Didn't HC Urban Meyer express concern about QB Tebow carrying the ball so much against Ole Miss? One week after 27 carries against the Rebels, Timbow carried it 17 times against the Tigers. WR Percy Harvin had the second most carries with 4. If they can't find a 3rd consistent offensive weapon, they may find themselves involved in many tight games down the stretch.

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