Monday, September 27, 2010

What we learned from Week 4 . . .

1. If Alabama makes it back to Atlanta, it will be the offense driving the bus.
The Tide's Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram, Trent Richadson and Julio Jones overcame their teammates' glaring defensive breakdowns in the first half to rally past Arkansas, 24-20. The defense did play better after halftime for two reasons: Ryan Mallett threw his two worst interceptions of his career at the worst possible times, and the Alabama offense marched up and down the field, keeping Mallett on the bench.
The Alabama line finally began hitting Mallett in the second half - and boy did he start whining - but not nearly enough. The linebackers have been slow to react all year. And all those 5-star recruits playing defensive back have done a mediocre job in coverage and don't like to tackle. Bottom line: That must change if the Tide expects to get through its next two games: Florida and especially at South Carolina, which will be coming off a bye week when Alabama rolls in Oct. 9.

2. Let's be honest: Does anybody really want to play Auburn? The Tigers sliced up and beat up previously undefeated South Carolina by attacking on both sides of the ball on every play. Yes, Auburn has defensive weaknesses. But one of them is not effort and a willingness to deliver the wood. On offense, and led by SEC Player of the Year front-runner Cameron Newton, AU has an endless array of plays that are both creative and low-risk. The result: more than 500 yards against what was supposed to be one of the SEC's best defenses. Most of those ran through Newton, a freak of nature when he carries the ball and a much better thrower than advertised. It's early, true, but who has better odds arriving at the Iron Bowl undefeated, Alabama or Auburn?

3. Will we see a change of quarterback at South Carolina? Maybe Steve Spurrier will calm down, but his decision to pull veteran Stephen Garcia late in the fourth quarter with the game on the line could have been the Rubicon in the relationship between the coach and player. Garcia played marvelously for three quarters before reverting to his "I'll win this game by myself" pathologies in the fourth. That led to two killer fumbles that erased a Gamecock lead and put Auburn in control. Connor Shaw came in cold and made some good things happen with his feet and his arm. But he consistently threw into traffic, sometimes to his own players, sometimes to Auburn's. The EXPATS' odds makers put it at 55-45 that Garcia will be out of the dog house before the Alabama game. But has anyone ever made money trying to guess with Spurrier?

4. Let's hold off for a week before announcing the emergence of the real Florida. For the first time all year the Gators put points on the board in its lopsided win over Kentucky. But this week, also for the first time, they will leave the state of Florida to play a formidable opponent -- and it's Saturday night at Alabama. Florida's strength has been its defense; Alabama, its offense. Both teams are young and extremely talented, but Alabama has the experience where its needed most -- in its skilled positions. Tide by 9.

5. The chat boards in Georgia sound like the Humane Society at meal time. The Dawg faithless, who have never fully appreciated the gap between talent and performance, are winless in the SEC and are baying for blood. For good reason. Their team seemed largely lifeless Saturday night in Starkville. Georgia is just not very good at anything outside of their kickers. That changes when A.J. Green comes off his suspension this week. But it hard to see Green making that much difference, given the way Mississippi State pushed the Dawgs around when they were supposedly playing to save their season. Georgia capped off its lovely weekend with another arrest of a player early Sunday morning in Athens. Clearly this is a program in free-fall. Mark Richt deserves another year, but we have officially entered the realm where he may not get it.

What say y'all?
MG

4 comments:

bama brother said...

The question is, who is going to derail an Auburn express that, barring an injury to you know who, should have a huge head of steam by the time it rolls into Tuscaloosa? You would think Alabama would get better, too, simply because the coaching staff will demand it. Gotta wonder what has happened to Georgia. When Richt first got there, it looked like a meaner, tougher, second coming of the Vince era had arrived. (Remember Larry Munson's "broke their nose" assessment of a Dawg touchdown in Knoxville?) Weird, weird, weird.

R. Trentham Roberts said...

Jeez, your alma mater beats UGA (an outcome not all that surprising, given the state of the programs) and all you see are headlines like "A new low for Georgia?" (www.presnapread.com). Georgia fans are welcome to chime in with other "new low" moments. Meanwhile, we're off to get ready for Alcorn State.

J said...

My observations:

* J should not make a career at picking upsets. I called for 3 big upsets in the SEC this week and whiffed at all of them. I also didn't see Misipi State's drubbing of Georgia coming.

* At the rate I am losing hair watching Auburn's defense, I will be completely bald by the Georgia game. Games 1-3 it was the run defense, this week it was the pass defense. If Garcia doesn't regress to his freshman year in the 4th quarter, we lose by 14.

* Someone should remind Mark Richt that Vandy needs a new coach, since he's done at Georgia. Looks to me like he's completely lost the team. SEC coaches like to make their next job at another SEC school, so why not?

* While some might think the Iron Bowl will feature 2 undefeated teams, I'm sure both will have a loss, and Auburn probably will have 2. There is 1 game between now and the Iron Bowl where we are at a talent disadvantage (Ar-Kansas) and we ALWAYS lose at least 1 game we have no business losing. Kentucky (Cobb) and Georgia (Green) are possibilities, as each will have a playmaker that could give Auburn's defense fits.

* I think all of us who post and comment on this blog know more about quantum physics than we know how to figure out Misipi.

Rick said...

mg, you clearly missed your calling....bamawannabe