Thursday, September 22, 2011

What we think we know ... Week 4

Is it just me of is the college football season having trouble getting out of the gate?

We've had one truly memorable game -- the Toon Town final minutes of Notre Dame and Michigan -- but even that highlight reel can't hide the fact that two mediocre team were playing the worst defense since the Maginot Line. Besides, too much of the season's energy has been siphoned off by scandal and its endless variations, or the unholy conference alliances drummed up by greed that could turn the sport into a total made-for-TV ersatz spectacle. Let's hope Alabama-Arkansas, among other games, seizes the microphone this weekend.

Does Auburn need to change its slogan from "All In" to "All Fall Down"?

We are watching a defensive collapse on the Plains of Biblical proportions. The defending champs weren't statistically great in stopping other teams last year, but they played harder and better in the second half, and never stopped attacking. This year they're lucky to be 2-1. The "God Thang" has quickly become a "Ted Roof Thang." The beleaguered defensive coordinator was let off the hook last year by the ferociousness of Nick Fairly and Cam Newton's knack for singlehandedly scoring a few more points than Roof's players allowed. Auburn is young, ridiculously young. And the kids weren't helped when last year's team ticked off so many opponents on their way to the streaming confetti. It's payback time, with interest, in the SEC. Will The Family get stronger from the experience or will it crumble altogether?

Should Marcus Lattimore have a chair to use between plays?

As Steve Spurrier gets older, he's getting harder and harder to figure out. I know Lattimore is a big time player, and it's clear he plays a disproportionate role in his team's chances week after week. But he is being steadily chewed up like a cheap pencil -- on pace for more than 300 carries this year. Here's a suggestion: Why doesn't the no-longer Boy Genius fix his passing game? Unless, of course, a three-year starter at quarterback and an all-American receiver leave him criminally short-handed. Get coaching, coach. If Stephen Garcia isn't working, coach up Connor Shaw. Figure out a way to get Alshon Jeffery the ball. Teach all those future NFL draft picks on your defense to guard and tackle. Otherwise, at the end of the year, you'll have a beaten up Lattimore, nothing to fall back on, and only yourself to blame.

The Book of Revelations -- Chapter 2

The Enigma Bowl kicks off in Tuscaloosa at 3:30 Saturday afternoon. Alabama and Arkansas are SUPPOSED to be really good. Defensively, Alabama is SUPPOSED to have perhaps the country's best unit. Offensively, Arkansas is SUPPOSED to be as creative and explosive as anyone. But neither school appears to have found its form. In Tuscaloosa, the believers say the Tide will play up to the level of its competition. In other words, the offensive line will try blocking for a change, and the defensive line might actually put some pressure on the quarterback. Like Alabama, the Hogs are undefeated, but they've played the weaker of the two schedules. They've been hit by key injuries. Tyler Wilson has been good enough, but he and his teammates weren't sharp last week against undermanned Troy. So will the real teams please stand up! If the Arkansas lines holds their ground, we're in for a dilly. If Alabama can run the ball and pressure Wilson, the Hog killing will commence shortly.

If not Nutt, whom and when?

The state of Mississippi has a long proud tradition of falling for the silken words of charlatans. Houston Nutt is the latest, and now he's the architect of the worst football team at Oxford in ages. Will he last the season? It would be the gentlemanly thing for Ole Miss to do. Not that manners has much to do with SEC football or with losing to Vanderbilt for the second consecutive year.

Book of Revelations Revisited

Florida is better than I thought, and the Gators could be scary by the time they play Georgia and South Carolina. Tennessee? The EXPATS prescribe a mild sedative to take the edge off the entire coaching staff and roster. The whole place is a tad too manic right now.



Anonymous said...

I'm not worried about my team. The Clempson game was the first game in the Chizik/Mahlzon/Roof era to feature no good halftime adjustments, or at least halftime adjustments that were dwarfed by the adjustments of the opposition. I don't think the defense is any worse than last year. It isn't any better, but I don't think it's worse. The future is very bright on offense with Trotter, Frazier, Dyer, Mason and Stallworth as playmakers. You may also recall that in the middle of the Pixie dust run last year, I was questioning how a guy that went what, 4-96 as a head coach got the job as our DC. I still wonder about that. If we can recruit some real players for the D, we'll be in the national conversation for years to come.

I'm not buying the "Lattimore is gonna be dead by December if TOBC doesn't stop running him so much" mantra. It's not like he's old like us. The kid is 20 years old. He can handle the work.

On the other hand, I do buy the theory that 'Bama hasn't been sharp mainly because they have been bored. I'd be bored silly too if I was on one of the nation's top teams playing the schools they have. Given the low level of competition, I can see Mr. CBC having a much lower-grade coniption fit about it. I'm sure he has been coaching the boys up this week in his best form, hair clinched, foaming at the mouth and inventing new cuss words. 'Bama will be fine.

Michael said...

J, you're defense has taken two steps back this year.

College and the NFL is littered with the carcasses of young horses ridden too long. Lattimore got beaten up last year, and the meat of the SEC schedule has not even arrived.

Thirdly, could it be that Alabama's lines are just mediocre. They were mediocre last year. The same groups are back. Maybe the learning curve has flat-lined.

MichaelProcton said...

J, citing Roof's record as a head coach when he was at friggin' DUKE is ridiculous. And I'm a Duke fan!