Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

After a weekend spent with rain, mist, cold, little to no sunshine, a football team falling apart faster than an Ed Orgeron recruiting class, two fantasy football teams that can’t do anything right, incorrectly picking SEC games and an immediate regret from reintroducing Krystal to my body, I’d like someone with connections to place a phone call to the Pacific Northwest and tell them to come take their weather back. This is getting ridiculous. I’d like to see the sun before December starts.


Arkansas 44, Auburn 23
That loud sound you heard early Saturday afternoon was not the collapse of the Ole Miss house of cards (that actually came later in the afternoon), but reality colliding headfirst with the Auburn bandwagon. As predicted, the Arkansas offense obliterated the Auburn defense and got just enough out of their defense to remind everyone that Auburn, while better than last year, isn’t that good.

The Hogs ran up 495 yards of total offense, held the ball for over 38 minutes and at one point led 34-3. If they had any form of defense, they would have won this one by an even larger margin. But give credit to the Auburn offense for finally recognizing that Arkansas’ defense is terrible and they were able to at least make it an interesting game headed into the fourth quarter.

The absurdity of Chris Todd being considered a good quarterback finally came into the light for the masses that really believed in him. A 15 of 28 for 133 yards and 0 TDs, while averaging an outstanding 4.8 yards per pass attempt, performance should be enough to remind even the most blind loyalist that this was Chris Todd we’ve been talking about all season, not Joe Montana (by the way, is Joe Montana a dated reference now? He was just the first guy that popped in my head. I really think he might be. Anyway, Chris Todd would be along the lines of a Jay Schroeder.).

Fortunately for Auburn, Kentucky comes to town next weekend and that should get them at least bowl eligible this year, which I never thought would happen, and they’ll be able to get away with Todd playing another game at quarterback. I’ll be interested to see how this Auburn offense plays the rest of the year now that Arkansas has shown teams that have defensive talent how to defend Auburn.

As for Arkansas, this was a huge win for them. They’re sitting at 3-2 with Florida, Ole Miss and South Carolina coming up in three of their next four games. They won’t beat Florida, Ole Miss is certainly a winnable game, but road games in the SEC are always hard, and South Carolina will thoroughly enjoy playing against that awful defense. If they had lost this game, they’d be looking at 2-3 with three really tough games coming up. Now a bowl game is almost a certainty, barring a collapse, and they have another seven weeks with which to lecture Ole Miss fans on the shortcomings of Houston Nutt.

Army 16, Vanderbilt 13
Ole Miss’ lone conference win came against a team that was beaten by a team whose other two wins were over Ball State and Eastern Michigan.

Tennessee 45, Georgia 19
I don’t know where the real Jonathan Crompton went but his rental is due back tomorrow by noon. In a performance that shook me to my core, Rental Jonathan Crompton went 20 of 27 for 310 yards and four touchdowns. But just to throw everyone off the scent that this might not actually be Jonathan Crompton, the rental version did throw one interception. This offensive output by Tennessee give Arkansas fans legitimate material with which to argue that Georgia’s defense, not theirs, is the worst in the conference. I heard this score in the bathroom at the Ole Miss game and assumed the guy who reported it was a fifth deep in Kentucky Gentleman or whatever cheap brand of whiskey that was oozing out of him.

And for everyone but Georgia fans’ entertainment, Joe Cox has thrown his hat in the ring for the worst quarterback in the league and is putting up a strong effort for the 2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy (I’ll be unveiling this later in this post) with another two interceptions. Unfortunately for the rest of us, I’m not sure how much longer we’ll get to watch Cox disappoint the Bulldog faithful. Surely he’s nearing the end of Mark Richt’s patience with him and a change will be coming soon (Richt, by the way, is reeking of mediocrity). For my benefit, I hope he hangs around.

As for Tennessee, they’ll get to enjoy this win for another two weeks before going to Alabama and ending what tiny shred of confidence Crompton had built for himself. I suspect we’ll get another Florida-like gameplan from the Vols in that one, but I fully expect a handful of poor to quite poor decisions.

South Carolina 28, Kentucky 26
Our first casualty for the Awww-Shit Trophy, Mike Hartline is out for a few weeks with a knee injury. Hopefully, he’ll return and make a solid late season push to claim the trophy for which he was the leading candidate.

Houston 31, Mississippi State 24
Another four turnovers for the Mississippi State offense and another game the Bulldogs had a great chance to win. As expected State pounded away at Houston, rushing for 330 yards, and, as expected, gave up eight miles of passing yards on defense. I can’t name a single player in State’s secondary but I can believe that counting yourself and the next three people you see, the four of you would have close to the same results as State’s secondary is currently producing. To their credit, they did intercept two passes, a feat that I don’t think you and three friends could match, but you could certainly get one.

With a defense that bleeds yards and points, a two-win season is still a possibility for this State team. If they can beat Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, I can see them getting to four, possibly five, wins. If not, this could be one of the most competitive two-win teams ever.

Alabama 22, Ole Miss 3
Remember what happened to all those people in Jonestown that drank the kool-aid? They died. And for all those, including myself, who so readily swilled the Ole Miss kool-aid even when a lifetime of experience said not to, we are now all dead. Dead to Atlanta. Dead to any hope for the rest of the season. Dead to anything but our standard third to sixth place finish in the SEC West. It is our lot in life and to think otherwise is just stupid.

Now that my soul is numb, let’s talk about this game. If you haven’t seen Alabama play in person, you really don’t have a good feel for just how fast they are on defense. Oh, and they’re really big up front too. Fast and big makes it really hard to have much success on offense. They pushed Ole Miss’ offensive line around, shut down the running game and although they never sacked Jevan Snead, they did hit and harass him into a performance for the record books (the bad kind of record books). The last time I saw an offense that helpless was when the Shrimp Boat Captain hung his Red Bull on the shoulders of Seth Adams and Brent Schaeffer. To put it in perspective, the BancorpSouth Play of the Game on the JumboTron was a seven yard run by Enrique Davis, which helped lead to our lone score.

One of the startling differences in the game for me was between the two quarterbacks. Alabama’s Greg McElroy is an average college quarterback, but he doesn’t make mistakes and understands his defense is his best friend. But what really stands out between him and Snead is that he isn’t afraid or nervous in the pocket. He knows that he’s going to get hit on some plays, but he stands in, delivers the throw and takes the hit. It’s what all quarterbacks must learn to do if they want to have any kind of success.

Jevan Snead doesn’t play that way. He doesn’t like to stand in the pocket, he starts dancing around as soon as he gets the first sign the defense is closing in and rarely does he step into a throw and get a good delivery on the ball. I’m not sure exactly why that is, maybe he doesn’t trust his offensive line, maybe he’s always looking to make a big play or maybe he stinks. People seem to believe the real Snead is the one we saw in the last six games of 2008 and not the guy in the first seven games. Well, what if he is the guy from the first seven games last year? Maybe the fake Snead is the guy who played out of his mind at the end of 2008. Seriously, what has he shown this year that reminded you of late 2008? Other than the first half of the Vandy game and a few sporadic moments against Memphis and SELA, I can’t recall anything.

Now the big question is how much longer does Snead get to prove that he is the guy from the end of last year? Obviously he’ll start against UAB, but the following week we play Arkansas and that’s a game that should be won. If he struggles through the first half then, I have a hard time seeing any reason to keep him on the field. His incompletions hurt, making the offense stagnant and such, but it’s his turnovers that are absolute killers. He has to take a page from Greg McElroy’s book if he wants to keep playing quarterback at Ole Miss.

Moving along to the next target, I choose you, Ole Miss offensive line. Actually, as far as pass blocking goes, I thought they played okay. Not great, but they were serviceable considering the defense they were facing. Bradley Sowell took another step in making up for his comments after the South Carolina game, looking much less like a matador and more like an actual offensive lineman. As far as run blocking though, they were dominated. I’m sure some of it had to do with Alabama not being afraid of Snead’s ability to throw incompletions, which means they could stack eight or nine guys near the line, but even so, you expect to get a few decent runs instead of about zero.

The only bright spot for the day, and most likely the only one for the season, was the Ole Miss defense. It’s typical Ole Miss that we’ll end up wasting what has to be one of, if not the, best defenses in the history of the school. That group was simply unbelievable when you look at what they accomplished on Saturday. Alabama had six scoring drives and FOUR OF THEM STARTED IN OLE MISS TERRITORY thanks to offensive and/or special teams buffoonery. And one of those four started at the Ole Miss four. As in four yards away from the end zone. They gave up 22 points out of the bag of shit they were constantly handed, and this was to an offense averaging 40 points a game. If not for their effort (and I read today that Alabama ran 78 plays, which makes their effort even more amazing), this game would have looked something like 48-3. I hope they gave a collective punch to the offense’s man parts after the game.

So can Ole Miss pull this season out of the freefall that’s headed towards terminal velocity if things continue as they are? It all depends on whatever is going on offensively. If we can become an average, ball control offense that relies on our defense, perhaps eight or nine wins is not out of the question. We still have the easiest schedule in the conference and have two more sure wins (I think) in UAB and Northern Arizona, and it’s not unreasonable to think that out of the last five conference games (three of which are at home) this team could win four, so eight or nine wins is doable. But I also thought going to Atlanta was doable.


Florida 13, LSU 3
Luckily for Ole Miss, LSU provided the worst offensive performance of the day. 162 yards of total offense, 77 of which came on the drive that produced a field goal. I am already excited about the defensive orgy that awaits everyone when Ole Miss and LSU play.

I was only able to see the second half of this game, but from what I saw I thought Florida played very conservatively, partly to protect a concussed Tim Tebow and partly because they knew LSU wasn’t going anywhere on offense. In defense of Jordan Jefferson and LSU, at least he (and they) did not rack up five turnovers, a blocked punt and surrender a first down off a fake punt. Had they, maybe they too would have lost 22-3.


Iowa 30, Michigan 28
As I understand it, Iowa was ranked 12th, undefeated and facing a Michigan team fresh off a loss to mighty Michigan State. Michigan was also on the road playing with two freshmen quarterbacks and turned the ball over five times. And yet, when Iowa won the game, what did its fans do? Let out a huge gasp? Curse the team for putting them through all that crap? Treat the hypothermia they were probably experiencing from freezing their asses off for over three hours? No, they did none of these (well, not sure about the hypothermia). Rather, they charged the field. Seriously. Ranked, undefeated and they all ran out on the field to celebrate beating a one-loss, shitty, led-by-freshmen Michigan team. Yet another reason why the Big Ten sucks.

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

Jonathan Crompton, QB, Tennessee
Surely you jest, Gray. Crompton? I know, I’m as stunned as you are. I was convinced he wouldn’t throw four touchdowns the rest of the year and he somehow got four in this game. And threw for 300 yards. Odds are he’ll never be seen in this space again, but for at least one week Tennessee fans don’t want to literally kill him.

(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.)

Jevan Snead, QB, Ole Miss
A 2 for 12 first half performance set the stage for this week’s winner. Snead finished 11 of 34 for 140 yards, 0 TDs and 4 INTs. It was an epic failure. In his defense, two of the interceptions were not his fault, but the other two were so bad they should have counted as two each. I’d like to think this is the last time we’ll see Snead in this spot, but I also like to think I’m going to win the Tennessee lottery.

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

Nick Saban, Alabama
Going into what was billed the biggest test yet for his team, Saban’s team, namely his defense, plowed through Ole Miss on its way to a dominating 22-3 win. The next challenge for Saban is to see that no one is injured before reaching Atlanta in December.

2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard

A new feature added to the weekend wrap-up. This is simply a way to keep track of the quarterbacks of the SEC and their interception totals. The trophy, which gets its name from the reaction of fans when their team’s quarterback throws an interception (“Awww-shit!!!), will be awarded at the end of the year to the quarterback who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

Week 6 Standings
1. Jonathan Crompton 9
1. Jevan Snead 9
3. Joe Cox 8
4. Mike Hartline 6
4. Tyson Lee 6
4. Larry Smith 6


South Carolina at Alabama
Another chance for Nick Saban to show that he consumes offenses with the ease that Jerrell Powe shows while working his way through catfish baskets.

Arkansas at Florida
I’ll be looking to see if Florida shuts down the Arkansas offense with the same degree of efficiency as Alabama.

UAB at Ole Miss
The Nathan Stanley watch has begun.

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