A perfect week five and the first time I’ve managed to pull off the perfect week this season. It’s a trend that I can assure you won’t keep going. So before I screw it up, let’s move on to what happened over the weekend.
Alabama 38, Kentucky 20
Alabama certainly showed they could run the ball, pounding Kentucky into dust to the tune of 204 yards. From what I saw, the Tide came out with a strategy to destroy Kentucky on the ground and wait for the Wildcats to turn the ball over, which they did four times. Mike Hartline, who has thrown his name into the running for SEC interceptions leader with six on the year (his competitors include: Joe Cox-6, Jevan Snead-5 and Jonathan Crompton-8), was about as awful as you could imagine a below average quarterback playing against a good defense to be. I was only able to see the first half and the best description I could come up with for Hartline was that his performance made JaMarcus Russell look sharp.
With the way Kentucky and Vanderbilt are playing, would everyone be okay with just going ahead and canceling that game? No one deserves to be subjected to that hell, even the fans of both schools. Yes, I know that game is over a month away, but what else I am supposed to say about Kentucky? There’s only so many ways you can say someone stinks.
LSU 20, Georgia 13
Has the paint finished drying yet? Or has the grass reached three inches yet? If not for the final minutes, this would be in the running for the worst game I’ve ever watched. Both offenses were horrible, which is made worse since both defenses have not played very well this season, both quarterbacks lived up to their average-to-below-average status and incompetence reigned throughout the game. I mentioned last week that these teams were almost identical statistically and that’s exactly what we got, two teams that were very good at playing bad and boring football.
A week after Anthony Dixon ran through LSU’s defense, Georgia followed up with an outstanding 45 yards on the ground. That’s just 12 yards more than Charles Scott’s 33-yard touchdown run that won the game. And Joe Cox spent the better part of his afternoon throwing incompletions. If not for A.J. Green, how bad would Cox be? A short, average-arm quarterback without a receiver that’s almost undefendable. Now, I say this knowing nothing about Georgia’s depth at quarterback, and I find it’s always more fun to make ridiculous claims without knowing anything about a situation, but I think we’re getting close to the time they need to take a look at someone else. In the next two weeks, they play Tennessee and Vanderbilt, which would be a perfect time to give some playing time to QB number two, especially Vandy. If not then, perhaps after Florida blows them apart at the end of October.
Ole Miss 23, Vanderbilt 7
I know Vanderbilt stinks, but Ole Miss did what allegedly good teams do to bad teams, they dominate them. Even though Vandy had a few moments of feistiness, especially after a Snead interception that led to a touchdown, I never once thought they had a chance to even get back in the game, much less win it. I was looking for dominant offensive line play, which we got (and a kudos to Bradley Sowell for gaining a fraction of a percent of redemption), I wanted another outstanding defensive performance, got that too, and I wanted Jevan Snead to not play like an idiot, and we got a half check mark there.
In the first half, Snead played like November 2008 through January 2009 Jevan Snead. He carved up Vandy’s pass defense, which was second in the conference coming into this game. Then the second half started. Passes started being thrown to no one in particular, except Vandy defenders, and the offense started to grind to a halt. Had we not been able to run the ball, things might have been a little dicier in the second half. But a win is a win, and that it didn’t come in excruciating fashion is good enough for me in this annual battle of mediocrity.
South Carolina 38, South Carolina State 14
A moral victory for the MEAC as SC State was only down 10-7 at half.
Georgia Tech 42, Mississippi State 31
A game pregnant with Mississippi State turnovers and Georgia Tech passing yards, which I’m sure no one expected. For the second straight year, Mississippi State was able to rack up some offensive yards (and this year they even scored), but turnovers killed them again. State is now -6 in the turnover margin department, ranking only ahead of Georgia in the SEC. And the interesting thing about all their turnovers is that only six of them have come as a result of the magical arms of Tyson Lee and Chris Relf, which I find unbelievable. I had that duo penciled in for at least 10 by this point in the season. The Bulldogs have now lost eight fumbled on the year and have a stellar nine turnovers in the last two games.
If you’re wondering why I’m rambling on about all these turnovers, it’s because they have kept State from a potential 4-1 start and I didn’t see any of this game at all so I have nothing to really discuss. I can tell you that Georgia Tech quarterback Josh Nesbitt had thrown for just 446 yards coming into this game, and during this game he threw for 266, which is about 60% of his previous total. I’m no mathematician, but I can tell you State’s pass defense stinks.
Arkansas 47, Texas A&M 19
If you could go ahead and clean up your office for Coach Tuberville’s arrival in December, that would be great. Thanks a bunch.
Everyone at Texas A&M
Auburn 26, Tennessee 22
A few things we learned from this game:
1. Auburn’s defense still stinks. 400 yards to Tennessee? That’s Jonathan Crompton throwing the ball around, not Rick Clausen. Wait, I mean Casey Clausen. No, that’s still not right. Tee Martin? No, someone else. Who was the guy who won a lot of games, but never could beat Florida? Ah, yes. Peyton Manning is the guy I wanted to name.
2. This was Crompton’s first game of the year NOT to throw an interception. It only took five weeks, but we made it. And what’s more impressive is that he threw 43 times.
3. Defenses are usually better when they aren’t missing five starters, like Tennessee’s. Auburn has far exceeded any expectations I had for them, but I’m not ready to buy into this team yet. Wake me up when they play a team with a legitimate (or uninjured) defense and a competent offense.
4. Gene Chizik has now doubled his career win total. He began the season at five and is all the way up to ten. Never in a million years would I have believed that.
5. The Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron experience has been a little disappointing in terms of buffoonery and general coaching stupidity. However, with the recent dismissal of wide receiver Brandon Warren (who got in a shouting match with an assistant) and the losses that will start mounting, I expect things to really take off in the next few weeks.
GAME I DIDN’T PICK BUT DESERVES MENTION HERE
UTEP 58, Houston 41
I love watching Houston’s offense. It’s sort of a take-off on Mike Leach’s offense at Texas Tech (I can’t remember the assistants connection between the teams, but it’s there. Trust me.) with a little more running back involvement (passes out of the backfield and such). Saturday night the Cougars put up 664 yards of offense and let their quarterback throw the ball 76 times. Most teams don’t even run 76 plays in the course of a game (Houston ran 103 in this game). Unfortunately for Houston, their defense, particularly their run defense, is non-existent. UTEP was able to grind out 305 yards on the ground at a staggering 7.4 yards per carry. Perhaps “grind out” is selling their effort short. How about run freely until they reached the endzone multiple times?
Houston’s dreams of making a run at a BCS game have come to an end, but they should take solace in the fact that they’d be tied for first if they played in the Big 12 South.
DEUCE MCALLISTER OF THE WEEK
(Given to the player who dominated with or without the help of his teammates and coaches.)
Shay Hodge, WR, Ole Miss
Hodge came out of the witness protection program and dominated the Vanderbilt pass defense for eight catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns. Outside of A.J. Green, I don’t think there’s another receiver in the SEC I’d like to have at this point. Hodge runs great routes, catches anything thrown to him and is extremely strong in going for the ball. If only his quarterback could put a complete game together, Hodge could have a game where he makes a run at 200 yards.
ERIC OLIVER OF THE WEEK
(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.)
Mike Hartline, QB, Kentucky
17 of 31 for 168 yards, 1 TD and 3 INTs. Ugh. Hartline is consistently producing games which seem to give every reason in the world he should not be playing quarterback. Apparently, Kentucky has no desire to give Randall Cobb another shot at quarterback so it’s Mike Hartline or bust. I look forward to seeing his work down the stretch.
JOHN VAUGHT OF THE WEEK
(Given to the coach who dominated whatever task was in front of him.)
Bobby Petrino, Arkansas
After seeing his team get thumped at Alabama, Petrino rallied the troops and obliterated a Mike Sherman-coached team, which is both easier said and done.
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO THIS WEEK
Alabama at Ole Miss
The first real test for the Alabama offense (no, not Virginia Tech, they stink) and the best defense Ole Miss will see all year.
Florida at LSU
Get ready for Tebow watch all week. Will he or won’t he. Even without him I think Florida still has to feel pretty good going into this one.
Auburn at Arkansas
Upset alert. If Arkansas fans can stop clapping for Gus Malzahn’s success as Auburn’s offensive coordinator since in some messed up way his success helps further stoke the fire that Houston Nutt really was evil, they might see their team put the first loss on Auburn.