Monday, September 21, 2009

Around The SEC

ALABAMA:  Alabama looks to be on par with Florida at the top of the SEC.  Things are clicking for the Tide right now and they whacked North Texas 53-7 on Saturday.  Mark Ingram looks to be the league's top running back at this point in the season, averaging 6.8 yards per carry.   Freshman Trent Richardson had another big day with 87 yards and a touchdown and is making an early bid to be the SEC Freshman of the Year.   Their defense will be tested this week as they face a potent Arkansas offense. 

ARKANSAS:  The Hogs lost a shootout at home against Georgia by a score of 52 - 41.   Quarterback Ryan Mallet passed for 375 yards and five touchdowns and with an offensive performance like that, at home, you would think a win would be a certainty.  However, this game shows us that while the Hogs' offense is potent, their defense still has a long way to go before the team can really compete for championships.   The Hogs only rushed for 77 yards against Georgia.  They now travel to Alabama trying to avoid an 0-2 SEC start. 

AUBURN: Auburn played in a very entertaining game against West Virginia last week and came away with a 41-30 win. Their offense continues to roll under new coordinator Gus Malzahn. But while the Tigers rolled up 400 yards of offense, they only managed 100 on the ground at just 2.4 yards per carry. The ground game had been their bread and butter but struggled when facing a solid defense for the first time. With the offense doing well, the defense has had some issues. They surrendered 509 yards to West Virginia and rank 10th in the SEC in scoring defense, allowing over 22 yards per game. They get a tune up with Ball State before entering the meat of their SEC schedule.

MISSISSIPPI STATE:  The Bulldogs turned in a good performance by traveling to Nashville and beating a decent Vanderbilt team 15 - 3.  Their defense was the story of the game, holding Vandy to just 157 total yards.  They were able to get running back Anthony Dixon going with 123 yards.  State didn't do much passing the ball again but quarterback Chris Relf continues to be a running threat.  They host LSU this week. 

OLE MISS:  Ole Miss rolled up a 52 - 6 win against Southeastern LA in a total mismatch.  The Rebs racked up the offensive yards and got a lot of people involved.  Surprisingly they allowed just over 300 yards to Southeastern, most of which likely came with backups in the game.   True freshman Pat Patterson, a future star, caught four passes for 79 yards.  Ole Miss now faces a difficult Thursday night game at South Carolina. 

FLORIDA:  The Gators looked vulnerable against a mediocre Tennessee team on Saturday en route to a ho-hum 23 - 13 victory.  Florida's defense once again looked dominant, allowing just 210 yards.  But their offense could not get in sync.  Perhaps some pre-season questions about how the Gators would fare without Percy Harvin and offensive coordinator Dan Mullen were legitimate questions to ask.  Florida really leaned on Tim Tebow against Tennessee.  He ran the ball 24 times for 76 tough yards.  They couldn't get much going in the passing game, and they have struggled to establish any consistency with their wide receivers to this point.  The Gators travel to Kentucky this weekend. 

GEORGIA: In a surprising (to me) offensive output, Georgia went off for 52 points and 530 total yards on the road at Arkansas. More surprising to me was that Joe Cox, who I previously didn't think much of, tied a school record with five touchdown passes. Georgia needed Cox to match Arkansas' Ryan Mallet, and he answered the call. The Dawgs' Richard Samuel rushed for 104 yards to lead their effort on the ground. Stud sophomore receiver AJ Green had seven receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns. He's off to a blazing start, and I'm looking forward to seeing Patrick Peterson match up with him in a couple of weeks. Georgia hosts Arizona State this weekend.

KENTUCKY:  Kentucky won a very good game at home against Louisville on Saturday 31 - 27. The rivalry game was very even and went back and forth before Kentucky pulled ahead late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Mike Hartline played well, completing 20 of 27 passes. Derrick Locke also ran the ball real well for them. The Wildcats have the makings of a solid team that could make another bowl game. They host Florida and Alabama in consecutive weeks and might have enough in them to give one a scare.

SOUTH CAROLINA:  The Gamecocks took longer than expected before finally pulling away from Florida Atlantic 38 - 16.   The score was just 17 - 16 at halftime.   The Cocks played real well on offense for the second straight week, logging over 500 total yards.  Quarterback Stephen Garcia completed 20 of 27 passes and true freshman running back Jarvis Giles ran for 113 yards.   They host Ole Miss on Thursday night this week. 

TENNESSEE: The Vols earned a bit of respect by not getting blown out at Florida. Tennessee played tough and went toe to toe with the Gators. Despite losing the game, their effort has given their program something to rally around for now. I still think they face some tough times ahead because they are getting horrible quarterback play which is handcuffing the entire offense. The Vols can get well this week against Ohio before hosting Auburn and Georgia back to back.

VANDERBILT:  After an impressive offensive explosion in Week 1, the Dores' offense has been stuck in mud ever since.  After scoring just seven offensive points against LSU, Vandy could only manage three against Mississippi State.  That's not a good sign for Vanderbilt, who is now last in the SEC in scoring offense.  They play a winnable game at Rice next week before hitting the gauntlet of the SEC schedule. 


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