Monday, September 13, 2010

What we think we learned. Week II

1. It's a simple game. Dems who gots quarterbacks win. Dems that don't trail Harry Reid in the polls. Alabama-Penn State, Ohio State-Miami, Michigan-Notre Dame, Auburn-Miss. State ... in most of the marquee matchups, the team with the edge behind center carried the day.

What happened to Va. Tech defies any explanation -- besides the curse that's haunted the ACC since it flew too close to the sun, its grandiose expansion melted before its very eyes, and it's been in a free-fall ever since.

2. While on the subject . . . Has there ever been a worst weekend in ACC football history? Given how often it comes up, that question has become a cliche. But when the week's highlight is North Carolina's bye week, which, we're proud to add, the Heels survived without word of another NCAA investigation or another Marvin Austin tweet, well . . . that's a pretty bad week.

3. Some things to keep an eye on: The punches landed on Marcus Lattimore -- those blows add up; the pass completion percentage against that outrageously fast Gamecock secondary; Arkansas' surprising offensive difficulties; the clear loss of speed by Alabama linebacker Dontae Hightower; the ups and downs of the Auburn defense (which was clearly on its game against Mississippi State); how Georgia responds; how the great Tide runningbacks share the ball with the expected return of Heisman winner Mark Ingram; how many media members will maintain the "right attitude" given Tennessee's second-half collapse Saturday night; Florida's continued struggles against inferior opponents. So far the Gators look very soft.

4. This is not last year's Alabama defense. Sure the Tide won, and easily. But facing a true freshman quarterback, the Tide gave up almost 300 yards and lost the time of possession to the Nittany Lions. Three turnovers deep in Alabama territory made this game seem more a mismatch than what actually occurred on the field. The good news: All-American lineman Marcel Dareus returns from his two-game suspension. (As does Ingram) The bad news: Hightower, the leader of the defense, was stellar in the middle but looked sluggish pursuing sideline to sideline, raising questions about his surgically repaired knee. Is Nick Saban still holding cards? Possibly. Can the breaks in the line and secondary be exploited by a veteran quarterback? Stay tuned. Mallet and Arkansas loom on Sept. 25.

5. Boy Bozo and USC accomplished one thing: They were the only Division I opponent that made an ACC school look competitive Saturday. It's early, sure, but the Probationers of Troy don't look like a very good football team. Funny, that's what they said about Kiffin's team at Knoxville. Funny, that's what they said about Kiffin's team in Oakland. In other words, Kiffin is plowing ahead toward his next promotion.

mg

2 comments:

J said...

MG - aka Chicken Little - I'm not buying your laments about your defense, particularly your qualifier about red zone turnovers making the game appear more lopsided than it was. Creating turnovers is a basic function of a defense. I called game over after your first scoring drive. There was little evidence that Penn State was going to do much scoring.

I'm with you on Kiffin though. Watching him lead USC to irrelevancy is very entertaining.

Michael said...

Jay,

Maybe I'm a pessimist -- the newspaper industry can do that to a man.

But mark my words. There's a torching ahead for the Alabama secondary. Whether it costs us a game remains to be seen. Still, unless the pass rush improves, the DBs need loads of improvement for Alabama to get to Atlanta and beyond.