Friday, September 10, 2010

Week Two SEC Picks

We shall dissect the Auburn/State clash of marginally inept offenses with a slightly sharp but rusty razor blade and in obnoxiously great detail, but first we need to review this week's movers and shakers in the SEC.

Texas Pete Week Two SEC Power Poll

Carefully scored by a panel of three judges, former figure skater Scott Hamilton, current Secretary of the Navy (and former Mississippi governor) Ray Mabus, and a shadowy Russian judge, this poll attempts to rank those in the SEC who are living the good life. And by that I mean should probably go buy lottery tickets in bulk. Pronto.

1. Stephen Garcia
Still atop the Power Poll, Garcia probably didn't lose his spot because it's been a week and he has not involuntarily met with law enforcement or had Steve Spurrier give a him a backhanded compliment (or just a straight up insult). If he pulls this Georgia game off, I'd expect to see him here next week as well.

2. Les Miles
Only Les Miles can get away with dominating a vastly inferior team, nearly collapse, survive the collapse, nearly collapse again and live to tell the tale a second time.

3. Joker Phillips
I have no statistics to back this up, but I would venture to guess that it's very rare for a Kentucky football coach to win his first game.

4. Cam Newton
More on him in a few more paragraphs, but first road start in a hostile environment and he passed. Not a high passing grade, but in the 75-ish neighborhood.

5. Gene Chizik
1-0 in the SEC despite having a secondary that is Shannon Sharpe-doing-NFL-highlights awful. And not having a quarterback that can throw downfield.

6. Alabama
They get a freshman quarterback in Tuscaloosa coached by a man who can't possibly be coaching right now. Plus, they just found out Auburn isn't very good.

7. Tennessee
How can you go wrong with a group that now has been schooled in proper shower discipline? DIRT BEHIND THE EARS HAS NO CHANCE.

8. Arkansas
Nothing like some stat-padding with a healthy dose of a former directional school.

9. Joker Phillips
How many Kentucky coaches have ever started out 2-0?  I don't know, but let's say never, which is easily worth a second appearance in this week's poll.

10. Steve Addazio
He still has a job and was not demoted. The Urban Meyer I know through the television and Internet is not that forgiving. BUY IN BULK, STEVE, BUY IN BULK.

Auburn 17, Mississippi State 14
For organizational purposes, which will keep my thoughts from becoming more of a jumbled mess than usual, let's start with Auburn. Any talk of Auburn winning the West or winning 10 games should be promptly taken out back and shot. This is a very, very average team. Its defense can't stop the run (or at least the read option). Its secondary can't cover. And it can't throw the ball effectively, especially down the field. Cam Newton, a much more spectacular athlete than I imagined, is very good at running/eluding/doingthingsChrisToddcouldneverdo. However, he cannot throw down the field with any degree of accuracy, as evident by the few throws he did try and the complete lack of trust Auburn coaches had in him to do so.

Auburn's offense hopes and prays you blitz it on passing downs because they love to throw quick screens right in behind the blitz, but more importantly, it takes the decision-making out of the hands of Cam Newton. With a blitz, he has time to make only one throw, the one originally called. State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz spent most of the first half blitzing off the corner in passing downs, instantly creating numbers for Auburn on the outside. As a result, two Cam Newton touchdown passes. In the second half, he stopped blitzing as much and when he did it came from right up the middle with his linebackers, which dared Newton to throw it there and he didn't, save for a completed pass near midfield in the 3rd quarter and an incomplete pass to Kodi Burns INTERFERENCE NOT CALLED late in the fourth quarter.

If you're still reading, we're moving on to Mississippi State. First, let's hand out a big, fat D- to Dan Mullen for this coaching performance. I had no problem with him playing Tyler Russell in the first half. It gave him a chance to see how Russell responded to a big game atmosphere and an SEC defense. However, after seeing him in the first half, he should have known Russell didn't need to see the second half, especially after Chris Relf led a dominating drive to open the third quarter. And even more improbably, after Relf comes off that 12-play, 63-yard touchdown drive in which he was involved in 10 plays, Mullen rolls the dice with an onsides kick, gets it, then chose to throw three straight passes of at least ten yards with a quarterback whose effective range is at five yards down the field. The touchdown drive saw a perfect blend of that wide receiver screen State ran so well, a roll-out pass, a play-action pass and a few rushes. Why in the hell he didn't immediately go back to that makes no sense.

After that three and out, Russell came in for the next two series and ran six plays that totaled nine yards of offense (5 passes, 1 rush). By not taking advantage of Auburn's reeling defense at that point in the game, Mullen was forced into a five-wide set with Chris Relf needing to lead a passing drive for a tying field goal or winning touchdown. The dropped pass on 2nd and 10 that would have put them in field goal range was a killer, but it should have never come to that.

As for the Bulldog defense, someone inform Manny Diaz he is allowed to play with linebackers that run faster than me getting out of bed in the morning. The majority of Auburn's offensive plays came on the outside or off the tackle because no linebacker could get out there (most notably #50, who I'm sure means well, but he stinks). We still don't know much about State's secondary considering they weren't really tested, but they did manage to intercept one deep ball and were in position to intercept another and run it back for a touchdown.

As a whole, it was a game State could have won. Less Tyler Russell, less passing, more Chris Relf, more rushing and a less aggressive defense probably would have done the trick. And if I were State, I'd also be a little concerned that so far there is no effective running back that can take the burden of running off Relf. I'm not sure he can survive an entire season taking as many hits and exerting as much energy as he does.

ARE YOU FINALLY DONE? Yes, mercifully. Let's move on.

Last week: 10-1
Season: 10-1

Georgia at South Carolina
Am I casting my lot with Stephen Garcia for a very important conference game? YOU CAN BET YOUR BRITCHES I AM. Anytime I can pick against a redshirt freshman on the road in his second college start, no matter the unpredictability of one Stephen Garcia and South Carolina in general, I make that pick. And if Steve Spurrier has any coaching ability left, he wins this game.

South Florida at Florida
Will Florida score more points than fumbled/botched snaps? Will they have five more total yards than points entering the fourth quarter? Skip Holtz strikes me as an upset-minded bastard, but until I see someone not named Houston Nutt pull off a win that makes no sense, I will take the Gators.

LSU at Vanderbilt
Worst quarterback matchup of the weekend? Jordan Jefferson and Larry Smith say yes. I look for one of these two to make a move in the standings of the Jevan Snead Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Quarterbacking Failure. I'll take LSU to win and advise America to do everything you can not to watch this game.

Penn State at Alabama
All I want out of you, Alabama fan industrious enough to get up early to get on GameDay, is a correctly spelled, highly amusing sign that will cause me to at the very least cackle out loud. Alabama wins.

Former Directional School at Arkansas (in Little Rock)
How about Craig James tonight spending the first 20 minutes of the telecast calling Dan Mullen "Dan Mullens?" Preparation, general awareness and less assholeness are overrated.

Oregon at Tennessee
Bolstered by proper shower discipline, Tennessee will at least avoid any nasty infections or body odor heading into and after this game. Not sure if that helps during the actual game, but after Oregon smashes them into a fine paste, they'll be able to adequately clean themselves after the game.

Western Kentucky at Kentucky


Ole Miss at Tulane
Even better news for the Rebels today, as starting right guard Rishaw Johnson was dismissed for the always popular crutch, "violation of team rules." This leaves Ole Miss with something just shy of the Pu-Pu Platter starting at both guard spots and center. Should it matter against Tulane? Not unless this somehow makes the defense even worse. WHICH IT COULD. I'll take the Rebels (it's embarrassing I even need to clarify who I"m taking here), but even if they lose, we're still UNDEFEATED in the SEC.

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