Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What we think we know ... Week 5

Nov. 5 will be the SEC's Election Day. Lots of games still to be played, of course, but it's appeared from the start of the season that LSU-Alabama will be a winner-takes-all affair. "All" being not only the SEC West, the SEC Championship but a shot at the conference's sixth national championship in a row as well. LSU toyed with Kentucky, like a big cat coughs around a kitten. As for Alabama, for the second week in a row, the Tide went Dexter all over a highly ranked opponent. In fact, the Swamp needed a few more plastic curtains hanging behind the Gator bench to keep the blood from spewing into the front rows. Now the two teams are ranked 1 and 2 in the polls. The numbers and order are meaningless until the two teams settle things in a month.

Let's hear it for the other Tigers. Yeah, I know, the cynics say all Gene Chizik and his staff can do is recruit and offer sound investment counseling. But fair is fair. The Expats' AU representative, Mr. St. Onge, came down from the Ivory Tower of the Observer's editorial board this week to make this point: The Tigers' defense that rooster-tied joyless South Carolina exceeded expectations for a reason: Chizik told defensive coordinator Ted Roof to play his kids. And play they did. South Carolina got a few yards, but nothing like the cartoon numbers Auburn's defense had been giving up week after week. Chizik et al has brought in talent. Saturday in Columbia they decided to turn it loose. Sure the kids will make some mistakes, but they played fast and hard. Georgia and Alabama fans take notice: By the time late November rolls around, this could be an entirely different Tiger team.

As for South Carolina, where can one start? How about with Jungian Psychology 101. Coach Steve Spurrier and quarterback Stephen Garcia have what Carl Jung would call an "enmeshment," an unhealthy relationship that chains them together and plays to the worst in each. The two have only synced in spurts. Then Garcia self-destructs off the field or makes a key on-field mistake and Spurrier starts to publicly needle and mock the player. The pair's hijinks over the off-season were well chronicled. This year, Garcia seems to have finally learned to behave out of uniform. But whatever drove him to his private excesses appears to have also fueled his occasional brilliant performances. Last year, Garcia unleashed The Perfect Game against Alabama. This year, after coming off the bench in the opener, he has labored through a season-long fog. Which is astounding, given that Garcia was handed the playbook just after Ronald Reagan left office. Spurrier's problems don't end there. His veteran, talent-laden team played at three-quarters speed on Saturday against an inferior opponent and before a national audience. Now Garcia is back on the bench, South Carolina's season is at the crossroads and Spurrier needs a new scapegoat. Your move, coach.



J said...

MG - send your Auburn-SC analysis to your buddy Jess Nicholas. You will recall that I spent the entire month of August railing against his "if I have never heard of you, by definition, you suck" analysis of all the freshmen and sophomores that would be playing significant roles on their respective teams this year, especially Auburn's. I didn't get to post my predicitons for this week here due to some ongoing Bizarro World issues with my home PC. What I wanted to say heading into the SC game was that the formula for stopping SC is very simple - put 9 in the box and wait for the QB - either of them - to screw something up. Further, if teams are going to continue to let Auburn hang around and leave the Flying Dutchman open in the end zone in the last 2 minutes of the game, Trotter is going to look like an all-conference QB and we'll have no problem making a 1/1 bowl appearance. At this point, I still expect the Iron Bowl to be an exact replica of Iron Bowl 2009, but I'm gaining hope we can actually win.

Another thought - can we make the SEC an even number of teams by kicking out Misipi? I know the Grove (and the co-eds therein) are fabulous, but Misipi Valley St could win the Egg Bowl this year. They'll be irrevelant as long as Nutt is still coaching.

Let's see... SC beats UGA, UGA beats Lizards, Lizards beat Vols, Vols beat SC... How's that for a plausable East mess? Gawd, I hope Mizzu comes to the SEC and Auburn goes to the East so we can play all these chumps every year. Much more enjoyable scenario than the 40-point can-kickings we're going to get from Ar-Kansas and LSU....

Bud said...

Based on the current AP rankings, here's how the SEC breaks down at this point in the season. It's probably as good a measure as any.

Tier 1 (AP Ranks 1 & 2) : Bama & LSU

Tier 2 (AP Ranks 10 – 18): Ark, Auburn, Florida & So Caro

Tier 3 (Not in Top 25 but got some votes): UGA & TN

Tier 4 (No AP votes): Vandy, KY, Ole Miss and MS St

The loser of the Ark-Aub game this weekend could drop into Tier 3 by Sunday. But most definitely the loser of the game between the Tier 3 also-rans in Knoxville should drop into the bottom feeder tier.

Michael said...

J, did you expect your defense to display all the resolve of the French Army in those first few weeks?
Based on those performances, Jess looked like a genius.

How do you think your New and Improveds will stand up to Putrido's legions?

J said...

I am MUCH more nervous about Ar-Kansas, because their QB is about 400% better than either SC QB. I don't think we'll have a big enough barrel of Pixie dust for this one.

The problem I had with JN was that he was predicting Auburn to be awful all year - he predicted we will lose to UGA, and even with our first 3 games' defense I'll take AU and whatever points we get in the men's room - er, uh, I mean, between the hedges. Beating Coastal, Misipi and Misipi St doesn't lessen the degree to which UGA is overrated.

My main contention was that, in spite of the youth, we would win enough games to get to a 1/1 bowl (which, if you think about it, isn't as hard to do as it used to be, witnessed by the mediocre Big 11 teams that made 1/1 bowls last year only to get pasted by SEC teams). Now that we have 4 wins, with overrated Lizards & Dawgs and 2 JV games (Samford, Misipi) remaining, 8 wins is becoming more and more possible.

And I still don't think the defense has been any worse than last year. Last year, Ted & Gene made halftime adjustments after first-half torch jobs from Clemson, SC, Ar-Kansas, UGA and 'Bama. The adjustments weren't nearly as effective the first 3 weeks this year.

Bama Brother said...

I think MG's Auburn assessment may be on target. Talented kids do get better, and oftentimes,they bring their coaches along with them. Still, it's hard to see them emerging unbloodied from the rough road that awaits them.