Monday, September 14, 2009

What we learned - Week 2

Turns out Georgia and South Carolina have offenses, after all. Tennessee, not-so-much.

What else did we learn from a week of conference matchups, non-conference softies and inexplicable early season vacations (Ole Miss, Arkansas, Kentucky)?

Tommy Tomlinson: Georgia 41, South Carolina 37 - Here's what we know: Georgia can put up 41 points on a USC defense that gave up just 3 the week before. Georgia can also give up 37 points to a USC offense that scored just 7 the week before. If not for a blocked PAT and a tipped pass at the end, we'd be 0-2. And the team that beat us in Week 1 laid an egg at home to Houston.

Yikes -- I'm turning into one of those nothing-is-good-enough SEC fans. OK. Deep breath. Joe Cox looked great, mostly. We won the game. And we sent Spurrier home with a fresh round of ulcers. Not a bad weekend, all in all.

R. Trentham Roberts: That Auburn's got itself a little bit of firepower, but that the West Virginia game will be a better barometer.

* That I'm not even sure what an upset is anymore (though I'm pretty sure Jacksonville State over Florida State would have qualified). Too many good players, coaches and programs out there. I say put a bunch more of those teams that aren't from the biggest conferences into the bigger bowl games. Don't think they can hang? Ask the state of Oklahoma before you answer.

* That Vandy's program is getting to the point where the Commodores can stay with pretty much anybody for a good long while. They'll be back in a bowl game.

* That if I'm a coach in need of a good game plan on offense, I could do worse than having Miss Serena Williams enunciate it for me.

* That Lane Kiffin has absolutely everything going against him this weekend -- a dispiriting loss, folks ragging on his quarterback, and now a trip to the Swamp against a pretty good team that he's royally ticked off. This should be fun.

* That I'm starting to like Southern Cal to win it all -- they got the "Lean on Me" man on their side. (Check it out here.)

Peter St. Onge: Auburn 49, Mississippi State 24 - Auburn officially has an offense that can put 21 points up at the half on an SEC defense and feel like it's kinda grinding things out. Yes, another day of 550-plus yards is fun, and yes, I suppose that was an SEC defense that was supposed to test us. But Auburn's big numbers are diverting eyes from a defense that needs to firm up in the middle for the real SEC offenses to come, and our QB threw a few too many floaters that won't come down in the right hands a month from now - or perhaps even next week against West Virginia. But still, for now, giddy.

Michael Gordon (enthusiastically posted Sunday): That as good as their defense and running backs looks, the Vols are in a fix until J. Crompton gets better or is replaced.

That Florida will beat the Vols just as badly as they can, but it should be interesting for a quarter or two to watch the Pretty Boys actually play a defense somewhat their own size.

That Stephen Garcia may turn out to be the best quarterback Spurrier has had in more than a decade. Yet the OBC's South Carolina teams' greatest strength is beating themselves. They've shot themselves in the foot so often it's a miracle they aren't playing on goat carts. For too many plays, Spurrier's defense looks like it does.

That the Georgia's defense, and I expect Mr. Tomlinson to wade in here, has real problems -- even with their pint-sized linebacker making more plays than the other 10 kids combined. Amazing that the Dawgs couldn't put more heat on Garcia, given how often he was slinging. On the other hand, Joe Cox's performance certainly eased the anxious drooling of the sensible faction of his fan base.

That LSU still sputters along on one piston. All that ability and size hasn't come close to playing as a team yet. Talent doesn't always turn the talented into good college football players, but it ain't a bad place to start. Pretty soon, Les and his boys have to start owning up to their performances or the growling already bubbling up out of the bayou will drown out Mike the Tiger.

That Auburn's momentum is building. Forty-nine points, even against the Maroons, can make for a crowded bandwagon. A win next week against West Virginia will have the Chizikians standing on each others shoulders. (Despite a few, um, small personal biases against the Plainsmen, I do believe the conference is better when both Alabama and Auburn are playing well. Just so you know, that will be the last civil comment I make to or about them for the next calendar year.)

That Alabama can gain 500 yards, give up only 1 defensive touchdown, have their rookie quarterback set an all-time consecutive completion record and still look so-so. Bright spots? A couple: The Tide's defensive intensity in the second half was scary, as was true freshman Trent Richardson's performance with the ball in his hands. The lack of consistent run blocking is beginning to be a concern. Saban's to-do list this week didn't get a whole lot shorter.