Monday, September 28, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

While watching SportsCenter Saturday night, I heard Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit say something that was actually useful as they recapped the day in college football. Musburger pointed out that it appears the top three teams in college football, Florida, Texas and Alabama, appear to be legitimate teams, while everyone else is sort of up in the air. Herbstreit went on to mention that now that these September games are over, we know the flaws of everyone after the top three (the top three teams have some perceived flaws, but they haven’t been exposed as such). And now that we know these flaws, we won’t be so surprised when, say another SEC team’s right defensive end records five sacks against Ole Miss.


South Carolina 16, Ole Miss 10

Given that the Rebels had a matador playing left tackle, a quarterback who was more skittish than Romaro Miller in 2000 against Auburn and an offensive game plan that made David Cutcliffe seem innovative, it was pretty amazing they still had a chance to win the game. All of that credit of course goes to the Ole Miss defense, which was as good as advertised. They were certainly helped out by South Carolina’s sloppiness and penalties, especially inside the 10, but for the most part they did their job.

The same cannot be said for the Ole Miss offense. First, the game plan. The only explanation for this conservative atrocity I could come up with was that the coaches must have known how bad our offensive line was at pass blocking, and thus kept it simple. Even then it still doesn’t explain why the best player in the whole damn stadium, Dexter McCluster, touched the ball once in the first half. ONCE. Why they waited until we were elbow deep in shit to start giving him the ball made no sense at all. I understand his body can’t handle 25 touches a game for a season, but perhaps he should get more than one touch a half. Just a thought.

Second, Jevan Snead. It’s pretty obvious he has no faith in his offensive line and is rarely comfortable when he drops back to pass. He failed to step up into the pocket several times, which led to a sack or getting hit as he was throwing, and often danced around and threw on the run when it wasn’t necessary. Of course, it’s hard to throw into coverages of seven and eight, which South Carolina was able to have since they were getting pressure with only three and four (and sometimes JUST TWO) rushers. Had they blitzed more they might have set a sack record. Snead went through this problem early last year and one would think he would be over it by now, but clearly he is not. He has to settle himself down and remember how to operate in a pocket.

And third, the offensive line. Remember when I said I thought Ole Miss’ offensive line would be a little more stable than Alabama’s? I’m not sure if I’ve ever been more wrong in my life. We’re getting nothing with Bradley Sowell at left tackle and John Jerry, one of the returning starters, decided to take the night off. The other three spots played okay for the most part, but as a whole this group is just bad right now. And to be honest, I didn’t see anything that gave me hope they might turn it around over the next few games. Also, I’ll get more into Sowell and his now infamous quote later.

As for South Carolina, Stephen Garcia showed flashes of competence and is firmly entrenched himself in the slightly above average category. I thought he played pretty well considering the beating he was taking. He didn’t make any killer mistakes and made the simple throws that were required of him. I would have like to seen him operate a drive in which a score was absolutely needed, but thanks to the Ole Miss offense, I didn’t get that chance. Also, I keep hammering the Ole Miss offense, but part of their lack of success was the South Carolina defense. They played really well, especially up front, which after the Georgia debacle, I never would have believed.

And finally (seriously, this is it), I’ve never seen more media outrage over Ole Miss being ranked number four (or five depending on the poll) after losing a road SEC game on a Thursday night to a team that won seven games last year, including four SEC games. Now, I’m not saying Ole Miss didn’t deserve some criticism because they did, but such a vicious attack on Ole Miss and virtually no credit to South Carolina was ridiculous. And last time I checked, no one that plays, coaches or works for Ole Miss voted or hyped Ole Miss up to be the number four team in the country. That was done by the same assholes who couldn’t believe Ole Miss was number four.

I’m also still waiting for the same attacks on Penn State, California and USC. Penn State lost AT HOME in front of 100,000 people by 11 to another shitty Big Ten team. All I’ve heard here is how great Iowa is. Guess what? Iowa sucks, just like the rest of the Big Ten. California at least went on the road to get annihilated, yet no cries of how overrated they are when they do this same crap EVERY YEAR. And let’s not forget USC, then ranked number three, lost on the road to a Washington team that last won a game in 2007. 2007. Their biggest win was over another overrated Big Ten team that has been consistently destroyed when playing outside the conference. Please, let me know when the crucifixions of these teams take place.

LSU 30, Mississippi State 26
Speaking of overrated, welcome to the club LSU. A team that can’t run, can’t stop the run and whose quarterback is at best average. Even a Chris Todd-led Auburn offense racked up 500 yards on this Mississippi State defense. But if I cared at all about LSU, my biggest concern would be this is now two years running of below average defense. Yes, the goal line stand was involved a huge play by a great athlete, but the fact Mississippi State even got into that position is embarrassing. A five-foot nothing quarterback led three scoring drives of 66 yards or more, and was able to get down to the four-inch line in the final minutes. That can be best described as not good.

If you’re Mississippi State, you had a chance to beat the number seven team in the country despite turning the ball over four times and allowing an absurd 93-yard punt return for a touchdown (these stats are also a great indicator as to how bad LSU’s offense was). Yes, it was a sucky way to lose a game, but it was a sign of great progress for a team that was totally outmatched at Auburn just two weeks ago. We’ll find out more about this team and Dan Mullen if he can get them to carry over this success in the next two weeks against Georgia Tech and Houston, which now look like winnable games. But, damn, four inches. That’s going to be hard to get over.

Alabama 35, Arkansas 7
As Ryan Mallett found out, it’s much easier to throw against crappy defenses than good ones. Alabama made life miserable for Mallett and the Arkansas offense, exposing their offensive line as below average (which they might do to many offensive lines this year). The only thing that really surprised me about this game was Alabama’s inability to generate much offense outside of big plays against a bad Arkansas defense. Of their five scoring drives, only one was over five minutes and the scoring play was not over 50 yards (one of the drives was a short field drive of 35 yards). Obviously, they took a shot at some big plays and they hit, but I doubt the result would be the same against a more legitimate defense. And the Trent Richardson 50-yard touchdown run was a classic example of how to miss tackles, although credit him for running hard and through one or two of them. I’m still not sold on the Alabama offense, but when they play defense like they do, tons of points and yards aren’t needed.

Florida 41, Kentucky 7
I take back all those nice things I had to say about Rich Brooks. A more unorganized, unprepared team has not taken the field in Lexington since Ed Orgeron took the Ole Miss Rebels there in 2006. The first quarter of Saturday’s game was just awful across the board. The offense was confused, the defense was confused and Rich Brooks was mainly just pissed off. After that though, the Wildcats did settle down, not surrendering 80 points and not getting shutout.

The big story here of course is the Tim Tebow injury. No doubt 40-year old media types wept when they heard their guy was injured and taken to a hospital. And I think most Florida fans stopped breathing until sometime Sunday afternoon. However, what really irritated me about this whole thing was after the play was over and ESPN’s moronic Bob Davie tried to breakdown what happened, he made up what he thought happened and stuck to his guns when it was obvious he was wrong. Watch this:

Davie claimed Kentucky rushed six players when in fact they rushed five. He said the reason for the hit was that Florida had one less blocker in than Kentucky had rushers, which was wrong (five blockers, five rushers). Florida’s left tackle (not sure if he’s related to Bradley Sowell) either screwed up his blocking assignment or Tebow just misread who was actually rushing. From watching the video over and over, I lean in the direction of the offensive lineman since the guy who hit Tebow was in a rush stance. Either way, Bob Davie continued to add evidence to the case that he’s a moron.

Georgia 20, Arizona State 17
And Joe Cox comes crashing back to mediocrity. I think I’m going to create some chart that lists all the mediocre quarterbacks who suddenly turn into Greg Zolloman when he used to play against Ole Miss whenever they play Arkansas. We’ll call it the Joe Cox Effect.

Tennessee 34, Ohio 23

I was off by two passes. Crompton hit 17 instead of 15. Give yourselves $20 for my mistake.

Auburn 54, Ball State 30
I’ll now give myself $20 for correctly predicted Kodi Burns would complete less than five passes. In fact, he attempted no passes.

Vanderbilt 36, Rice 17
No one wants to read a recap of this game.


Virginia Tech 31, Miami 7
So the U is not back. Sorry, Luther. As I thought they would, Virginia Tech didn’t let Jacory Harris sit back and throw and as a result, they dominated the Hurricanes. Let’s hope all the future Miami opponents took note of this strategy.

(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)

Anthony Dixon, RB, Mississippi State
Dixon pounded away at LSU and scratched out 106 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He ran hard, looked lean and even showed flashes of some speed, which I never knew he had. Unfortunately for him and his team, he was not given the ball when it was four inches away from the end zone.

(Given to the player who caused his team’s fans the highest degree of wailing and gnashing of teeth due to blown assignments and generally piss poor play.)

Bradley Sowell, LT, Ole Miss
"I'm glad it's over with so everybody can stop talking about it and we can just play ball.”

I had nothing against him after the game other than just being angry that he was the best we could trot out at left tackle. It’s not necessarily his fault he’s playing when he sucks. But then he opened his mouth and said this. I hope someone on the defense went over and punched him in the balls for stealing the victory they earned. Instead of embracing the high ranking and wanting to prove everyone else wrong, he acted like it was some giant burden or cross he had to carry, much like a teenage girl who doesn’t like the situation in which she finds herself. Seriously, that’s what he thought. With another performance like the one in Columbia, the name of this weekly award might be changed to his name.

(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)

Urban Meyer, Florida
Destroying a relatively hostile environment in 15 minutes was quite impressive. I assumed it would take the better part of two and a half quarters, but in just 15 minutes he was up 31-0 over Kentucky.


LSU at Georgia
A battle of mediocre teams, one of which is disguised as the fourth ranked team in America. Despite the reeking of mediocrity, I think this should be a good game.

Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
Surely the Ole Miss offensive line isn’t as bad as I think it is. If the Vandy defensive line is terrorizing the Ole Miss backfield, this is going to be an incredibly long year.

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