Monday, September 21, 2009

What We Learned -- Week 3

The week that was: Florida-UT is surprisingly un-murderous, Auburn fans start to pop their collars, Georgia and Arkansas play pinball, Mississippi State shows some friskiness, and Kentucky wins the Bourbon Bowl. (SEC vs. The Rest of the Universe this year: 19-2.) What we learned:

Peter St. Onge: Auburn 41, West Virginia 30 - You know those games where you can't figure out how the final score shows you winning? Uh huh. But while everyone in Tiger nation is talking about heart and gut checks, this one was mostly about coaching. For the third straight game, Auburn put together a fine second half, but unlike La Tech and Mississippi State, the difference didn't come from superior athletes. West Virginia remained as quick and lethal in the third and fourth quarter as it did in that 290-yard first half, but Auburn's defense began surrounding instead of attacking the Mountaineer QB and RB - and contained those big plays. The offense? It took what the Mountaineers gave, then took something different when WVa adjusted.

Yes, Auburn is thin. Our QB makes at least two or three flag football, see-what-happens passes a game. But this from a Tommy Tuberville fan: We are very well-coached.

Michael Gordon: Alabama 53, North Texas 7 - With Arkansas coming to town this week, Big Boy SEC Football begins for the Tide. If Greg McElroy stays at his current level, it won't matter. Since the second half of the Va. Tech opener, he's clearly been the top-performing quarterback in the conference (among those born with original sin, that is). Even with Julio sitting out, McElroy picked out receivers like he was handing out presents to needy kids. Trent Richardson and Mark Ingram took care of the ground game, and the Alabama defense hardly broke a sweat.

What to watch this week: Can Alabama pressure Ryan Mallett? Can the secondary hold its ground against Petrino's offense? Will kicker Leigh Kiffin suffer flashbacks from his horrendous freshman performance at Fayetteville? (He got a good head start Saturday, missing two PATs against North Texas.)

Those notes aside, Bama Nation is gulping wading pools of high-potency Crimson Kool-aid these days. If Alabama skewers the Hogs this week, I'll join them. Kool-aid and Basil Hayden goes great with ribs.

Bonnie Kunkel: Florida 23, Tennessee 13 -- I learned that Florida (and Tim Tebow) can be slowed.. not stopped.. but slowed. Tennessee's defense played a great game. You never know how big SEC rivalry games are going to turn out. Often, ranking and record have nothing to do with the outcome. This was not the rout us Gator fans wanted.. but it's a win.. and we'll take it.

R. Trentham Roberts: That while you can't spell GENUFLECT without the UF, there's no reason to make it part of your weekend ritual just yet. Tennessee cooked up a pretty good formula for beating the Gators: Run the ball. Play some defense. Catch a couple of breaks. And try like hell not to let the other quarterback (or your own, for that matter) do any real damage.
* That Arkansas really needed that Georgia game to give their season some traction. Here's what they're looking at in the next month: Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida, Ole Miss.
* That no matter what happens the rest of the year, Washington's Steve Sarkisian is the coach of the year: Inherits 0-11 team. Loses opener by 8 to LSU. Two weeks later beats Southern Cal.
* That the state of Mississippi could have laid claim to the best head coaches' names anywhere if only MSU hadn't cut loose Sylvester Croom. Imagine hiring this law firm for your next divorce: Fedora, Nutt and Croom.

Tommy Tomlinson: UGA 52, Arkansas 41 -- I thought Joe Cox would be pretty good. I had no idea this would be the most entertaining Georgia team since the Eric Zeier Era in the early '90s. And by "entertaining," I mean "could score 50 and/or give up 50 in any game."

I was cruising the fan sites Sunday and the hardcore Dawg fans were calling for the head of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez. But here are the lengths of the Georgia scoring drives Saturday night: 2:27, 2:47, 0:54, 7:11, 0:35, 1:46, 0:41, 3:47, 2:09. It's hard to play defense when you never have time to catch your breath. Plus: We scored 52 points! Be happy! I am suddenly giddy about the rest of the season. Florida might score 106 points on us... but we might be good for 105.

Side note: It really pains me to say this, but... Lane Kiffin and his all-star coaching crew are legit. Tennessee is going to be good again.

Your thoughts on the weekend's games?


Anonymous said...

I'm not saying UT didn't play a good game but they had help from the flu that is going around the UF campus.

Observer Sports said...

The flu hit Tuscaloosa before Virginia Tech did.

Not sure that fully explains the Gators' performance


Anonymous said...

I am not giddy or strutting, but I am getting excited. It sure is nice to have a real offense for a change. I'm not ready to give any credit to Chizik yet (he's got some coordinators making him look really good) - not until I see some coaching moves that help us beat a real SEC team. But I am now convinced this team will win enough games to get to a decent bowl - perhaps an 8-4 record and one of the New Year's Eve bowls. If you told any Auburn fan 8 months ago that is how '09 would turn out, we would all have said, "Thanks, I'll take that!"