Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From the Weekend That Was

This weekend was one of discoveries. We found out that one dominant team isn’t so dominant, one dominant team doesn’t really need its quarterback and a once hot team does indeed stink. But most importantly, we found out that, and I know I said I’d never talk about women’s basketball on here but this is too good, the 2008 WNBA champion Detroit Shock is leaving Detroit for the high-powered TV market that is, drum roll please…..Tulsa, Oklahoma!!! If we had a live satellite feed into his house, we could see NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is vigorously applauding this move right now (For those of you who don’t know what the NHL is, it was a growing league of a sport called hockey in the early 90s. It is now found on the Versus Network and ranks behind the Rodeo Clown Olympics in terms of major sports in America.). And even more bizarre than the move is that former Arkansas Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson is set to become the team’s coach and GM. Who says the WNBA is in trouble?


Georgia 34, Vanderbilt 10
I watched about ten minutes of this game before I realized I actually wasn’t watching a public access channel and the teams I was watching were actually not high school teams. The crowd, the 60-minute barrage of incompetence and the general disinterest from everyone involved in the game made this contest one of the leading candidates for the worst game of the year. I’m sure I’ve made that claim about multiple games this season, and I will go back and get the list together, but this really was one of the worst. Had the Oklahoma/Texas game also not been so miserable, I would have only seen the 10 minutes I thought this was a high school game. I’d really like to never watch either of these teams play again the rest of the year.

Mississippi State 27, Directional School 6

Nice job by State for finally completing a game without giving the ball away in large quantities. In fact, they had zero turnovers for the game. I’ve really got nothing to say here, other than kudos to the photographer who managed to get this shot of quarterback Tyson Lee on the sidelines. He’s a little taller than I make him out to be.

Florida 23, Arkansas 20
Another masterfully, poorly officiated game in the SEC. Whether it was a bad pass interference call or a personal foul that wasn’t a personal foul, Arkansas never did catch any breaks with the bad calls. The Hogs finished with 10 penalties for 92 yards while the Gators had only three for 16 yards, which is fairly absurd. I find it hard to believe there’s ever legitimately 76 yards worth of penalties difference in any college football game. But Arkansas fans should take comfort in the statement released by the SEC yesterday in which they said, “Whoops. They shouldn’t have called that personal foul on Malcolm Sheppard.” I know that makes it all better.

Instead of a stupid apology of sorts, how about giving the schools on the receiving ends of terrible calls something they can use? Like maybe cold, hard cash to help cover their travel expenses. Or an old jalopy and a sledgehammer like they have at a fair so they can beat the living hell out of the car and their frustrations with a conference that employs part time referees and refuses to spend some of the eleventy billion dollars it makes on properly training and paying full-time officials. Or a commemorative plaque the school could hang on the wall, or throw through the wall when it actually arrives. Throw these guys a bone after you just potentially cost them large sums of money that come with going to a bowl game.

As for the playing of the game, we found out Florida’s offense really isn’t that good. They have no vertical passing game to speak of, and outside of Cooper and Hernandez, I can’t name another receiver. Yes, they did manage to hit a long pass play for their first touchdown, but that seemed to be the result of the Arkansas defensive back blowing coverage. When Florida meets a better defense than the worst one in the conference, things like that won’t happen. Of course, if Florida doesn’t turn the ball over four times (and twice inside the ten), this game probably isn’t close, but Florida has some serious questions about their passing offense. And their defense was a little shaky as well. I don’t know if that had to do with Brandon Spikes not playing most of the game, but Arkansas showed you can run right at them and they’ll struggle to stop it. If Florida and Alabama played tomorrow, Alabama would win by two touchdowns.

On the Arkansas side, Ryan Mallet really has problems against fast, aggressive defenses. Take away his 75-yard touchdown pass, which was a great throw and play by him, and he finishes 11 for 26 and 149 yards. He missed a couple of touchdowns, one to a receiver and one to a fullback, and generally seemed off all day. So future opponents (ahem, Ole Miss) take note, pressure, pressure, pressure ruins this guy’s day.

As much grief as I give the Arkansas defense, I thought they played really well. They made running the ball very hard for Florida (only average three yards a carry) and other than the long touchdown pass they gave up, did a pretty solid job against the pass. That’s two straight weeks that they’ve been able to make life very difficult for teams that rely heavily on the run. Again, Ole Miss, take note.

Ole Miss 48, UAB 13
It took six games and a defense that is one of the country’s worst, but the Ole Miss offense finally looked like a well-run operation for an entire game. Yes, they blew out Memphis and SELA, but even those games had no consistent offensive flow. I’m not sure how much of that should be attributed to UAB’s awfulness, but it was a pretty mistake-free performance by Ole Miss. Much like the State/MTSU game, there’s not much to say here. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture that represents Jevan Snead’s poor decision-making and incomplete passes, but if I did I would post it here.

Kentucky 21, Auburn 14

Welcome back to the rest of the pack known as reality, Auburn. I wrote last week that Kentucky would lose because they had the worst run defense in the SEC and Auburn would have a field day against them. This was true to a degree. Auburn did run for 220 yards, but I failed to realize that Auburn too had an atrocious run defense and that without its starting quarterback Kentucky would do nothing but run. And they did to the tune of 282 yards and had two guys that went over 100 yards.

It was a game so exciting that both teams combined for 170 yards passing, with Auburn’s Chris Todd leading the way with a 10 of 24, 80 yards and one interception showing. Again, when you hear analyst types lamenting the struggles of Todd, remember he’s not struggling, this is who he is. He stinks. I can’t emphasize this enough because in three weeks, he’s going to light Furman up and people will claim he’s getting back to form for a final push against Georgia and Alabama. Do not be fooled by this nonsense.

I mentioned penalties in the Arkansas/Florida game and I’ll mention it here. Auburn had 10 for 76 yards and Kentucky had, get this, zero for zero yards. I didn’t watch any of this game, so I have no idea if Auburn has any beef with the calls against them, but I do not believe for one second a team composed of 18-22 year old did not make one mistake all night.

And one final thought, Auburn has an outstanding chance to finish the season 6-6 after a 5-0 start. They have LSU, Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss and Furman to go. They’ll beat Furman and probably their best chance to win another is at Georgia (thanks to their offensive and defensive incompetence) and at home against Ole Miss. I doubt they win both of those and at this point I think the best they can hope for is 7-5, which is two more wins than Gene Chizik had when he started this season.

Alabama 20, South Carolina 6
As this game was ending, Todd Blackledge made a statement that he was obviously very impressed with Alabama’s defense, but would be a little concerned with a team that takes away their ability to run. And this is true. As I’ve said before, Greg McElroy is a very average SEC quarterback and he showed it in this game (10 of 20, 92 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT). But, to Blackledge’s point, does it really matter if they struggle running the ball against a good team? With the defense they have, Alabama just has to be bad at the run. If they can churn out 100 yards on the ground and have a few decent pass plays without any turnovers, they’ll win every game. I said it last week, but until you see the Alabama defense in person, you can’t appreciate how big and fast they really are.

Unfortunately for South Carolina, Alabama didn’t struggle running the ball. Mark Ingram, doing his best to become the next Darren McFadden of the SEC, ripped off 246 yards and AVERAGED 10.3 yards a carry. Had Alabama been able to mix in any success by way of the pass, they would have won by a couple of more scores.

All things considered, I thought Stephen Garcia played pretty well. He had no running game to support him and was under constant pressure, and even though he only completed 20 of 46 passes, he looked the least incompetent of any quarterback I’ve seen play Alabama. This, of course, is sad news to me because I enjoyed the irresponsible, reckless Stephen Garcia era and I think it’s now a thing of the past. I know he’ll still show a few flashes of the good ol’ days, but it won’t ever be the same again.


Purdue 26, Ohio State 18
Even though Ohio State lost to one of the many terrible Big Ten teams, it still has a legitimate chance to win the Big Ten and go to a BCS game. If they win out, which includes beating Iowa, who is currently undefeated, the Buckeyes will go to a BCS game (most likely the Rose Bowl). For the love of all things holy, is it possible to not see Ohio State in a BCS game for just one freaking year? I think as punishment for a team that has clogged more TVs with bad football than any other team I can remember, the Buckeyes should be shipped to Boise for the always cold and depressing Humanitarian Bowl. There, they’ll be out of everyone’s way, no one will have to watch their game since no one knows when that bowl game is and they might actually win a game in December or January outside the state of Ohio.


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

Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
As mentioned above, Ingram destroyed the South Carolina defense and allowed Alabama to continue its march to Atlanta unscathed. While not as visually appealing and smooth as Darren McFadden, Ingram is making a push for us to get an apartment together. Seven games into the season and he’s already sitting at 900 yards and eight touchdowns. With the remaining Alabama schedule (Tennessee, LSU, State, Chattanooga and Auburn), he could easily hit 1600 yards at 15 touchdowns.

(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.)

Chris Todd, QB, Auburn
To put his miserable showing in an even more miserable light, Todd averaged 3.3 yards per pass attempt, which is about as far as a small child can throw a football. For comparison, and again this was against UAB, but Jevan Snead averaged 10.9 yards per attempt on 22 tries.


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

Nick Saban, Alabama
This was a winner more by default than anything else, although credit was earned by Saban for dominating the team that had the last real chance to upset this Alabama team. I don’t know how he does it, but the man can really coach defense. Yes, he has outstanding talent, but even the LSU defenses of a few years ago that were loaded with NFL talent weren’t this good.

2009 SEC Awww-Shit Trophy Leaderboard

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 in the SEC who throws the most interceptions. A more prestigious award I cannot recall.

Week 7 Standings
1. Jonathan Crompton 9
1. Jevan Snead 9
1. Joe Cox 9
4. Larry Smith 7
5. Tyson Lee 6
5. Mike Hartline 6


Arkansas at Ole Miss
Houston Nutt will always want revenge and Arkansas fans will always want to explain how horrible Houston Nutt is/was. Put the two together in the same state, stadium and an 11:20 AM start time and we should have some surly people.

Tennessee at Alabama
Brace yourselves for the potential worst quarterback rating in modern history when Jonathan Crompton is forced to throw 20+ times against the Alabama defense.

Florida at Mississippi State
Florida’s last three trips to Starkville resulted in fans running all over the field and tearing down anything they could get their hands on. Will the curse continue or will Tyson Lee prevent it from happening?

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