Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A SECond look at Week 1

It's not easy coming up with new things to say about to say about SEC games that have all been well picked-over by now, but before we get to this week's SEC Power Poll ballot and the ballots of the future, I'm going to try anyway:

I promise I'll stop after this. But if you couldn't tell from the snark at the end of this post or the versificiation in this one, I think I ended up the only observer out there (well, the only one besides a handful of Dawg or Vol diehards, anyway) who felt we didn't learn any more from Florida's 56-10 demolition of Hawaii than we did from Georgia's or LSU's wins? Yes, it was a 56-10 demolition, but:

1. Hawaii is an awful team. Take the same crew Georgia murdered last January, then take away their quarterback, top four wideouts, head coach, and nine other starters. I watched both the Florida game (most of it, anyway) and the Auburn game and have no doubt in the following statement whatsoever: UL-M is every bit as good as Hawaii if not better.
2. Hawaii was playing at 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time.
3. 21 of Florida's points came from punt or interception returns.
4. The first quarter was scoreless and the first half competitive until its very end, with Hawaii forcing punts on two of Florida's first three possessions and putting together two three-first-down drives. But then they kicked to Brandon James like a buncha eejits and the bottom fell out.

I'm not saying it wasn't a good performance. I'm not saying it wasn't better than Auburn's, even if Florida and Auburn both gained exactly 406 yards (Florida did it in only 55 plays whereas Auburn took 73.) But it doesn't mean their defensive problems are solved or that the offense is already the unstoppable machine it's been reputed to be just yet.

Kickers, better get some extra tackling practice in. Friend-o'-the-blog J-Bug Big D passed on some sharp preseason thoughts via e-mail recently, and I thought I'd share this particularly prescient one:
As good as the offensive linemen are (in the SEC) the return specialists are just as talented. Tristan Davis, Robert Dunn, Javier Arenas, Captain Munmerlyn, Brandon James, Trindon Holliday, Derek Pegues. Apologies to anyone left off, but that is a pretty sizable list of guys that we KNOW are dangerous game changers.
Dunn and James already got their first TD's of the year and Arenas in particular (in my humble opinion) looked terrifying as ever. Just one more reason UT's loss isn't any reason to stop the SEC conference war drum thumping. (Well, OK, it is, but just not for very long.)

Yep. OTS already pointed this out, but it's not coincidence that the only two SEC losses from this week struck the two teams who had been consistently labeled statistical overachievers from last season. Phil Steele strikes again.

Look out. I'll go ahead and spoil the suspense by telling you Georgia's going to stay No. 1 on my Blogpoll ballot and the SECPP ballot below (I know you're disappointed) despite the loss of Jeff Owens. Why? Because a) the ball Matt Stafford threw to Kris Durham for the second Dawg TD was a frozen rope, a true thing of beauty b) A.J. Green is pretty clearly going to be ready to catch a bunch of frozen ropes in the very near future. Between those guys (UGA: 17 completions for 323 yards), Moreno and King, and Stacy Searels continuing to patch things up on the line, I'll come out and say this: Georgia has the best offense in the league right now.

On with ...

1. Georgia. Yes, the loss of Owens might hurt. But better in mid-game against GSU than against one of the SEC big boys, and the middle of the Dawg d-line isn't going to be tested anyway until 'Bama comes to town in Week 5 (no, somehow I don't think Central Michigan-South Carolina-Arizona St. have the potential to power their way of the Georgia defense), so Richt's got some times to figure things out.

2. Florida. I'd pay up upwards of 100 bucks to watch Will Demps and Trindon Holliday have a footrace in helmets and pads. For serious. I think.

3. Auburn. No, they weren't as impressive in Week 1 as the two teams beneath them here, but after saying they'd top the West, it wouldn't do for an Auburn fan to go dropping them after a performance in which their defense and run game were as good as they were, would it?

4.LSU. Apparently Miles has decided to short-circuit the tailback race early and declare Charles Scott the winner--he carried 16 times to Keiland Williams's 6 against Appy St. I can't decide if this should make me happy (Oh boy! We won't have to face Keiland williams!) or sad (Oh no! We're going to have to face more Charles Scott!).

5. Alabama. Man, I can't remember the last time Tide fans were this giddy. Oh, wait, yes I do: right after the throat-stomping of Tennessee last year. Hell of a win, credit where it's due, but 'Bama can't move higher until one of the above loses (or maybe just really stinks out the place one week?) or the Tide beat a team who isn't coached by a staff who takes the ball out of their Heisman candidate running backs' hands and hands it to Cullen "So Much Worse Than You Think" Harper.

6. Ole Miss. Dispatched Memphis with unusual (for the Rebels) authoritah, meaning four of the top six teams in the SEC--sorry, SC--are in the West. Been a while since we could say that, huh?

7. South Carolina. The chatter that Chris Smelley's gaudy stats only came about because the N.C. State defense has thrown in the towel is dead-on--go watch Smelley's first touchdown pass again, and you can see it's a hideous wobbler only caught because his target was open by half a mile. Now he's going to face Vandy's secondary, far and away the 'Dores strongest unit and one of the better ones in the league. Fun.

8. Vanderbilt. Eh, Kentucky's win might have been a little more impressive given the opponent, but a) Vandy will always get the benefit of the doubt here b) the 'Dores got their beatdown on without nearly so much help from the Redhawks as UK got from the pathetic Cards. Also: if Chris Nickson is going to play like that, who knows?

9. Kentucky. I'm not sure I'm ready to live in a world where Kentucky has an above-average defense. I'm just not.

10. Tennessee. I'd say Vol fans have been surprisingly level-headed about Monday's debacle, seeing as how I haven't seen any bounties yet issued for the heads of either Lincoln or the idiot replay official who cut UCLA the break on the safety. The only bounties have been issued for the coaches, and you'd think Fulmer at least would be used to it by now.

11. Arkansas. The irony behind the Hogs being wholly dependent on Casey Dick to ride in and save the day is too much to handle. It overwhelms me. I can't think straight about this team.

12. Mississippi St. After being shut out in '06 and '07 and losing to LaTech in '08, maybe in '09 State can just start the season with an automatic 0-1 record and skip the actual playing of the game? Seems like they'd avoid some of the embarrassment that way.


Joshua Snable, B'ham, AL said...

I've been checking in on your blog for around a year now and have become quite the fan. Living in Bammerham, you have become a voice of reason. THREE POSTS IN ONE DAY...are you now jobless! All kidding aside, keep up the good work and War Eagle!

Jerry Hinnen said...

jobless? Well, um ... I'm "freelance." Feel free to take that however you like.

In any case, Josh, thanks for reading.