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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Five Questions From Around the SEC

It seems like the season just got started, but it's also worth noting we're now one-fourth of the way through the year. With most teams (not named Georgia) opening against some weak competition, however, we really don't know too much yet about how the SEC is going to shake out.

With that in mind, here are five questions I'm curious about as we head into Week 4...

1.) How much does Florida miss Percy Harvin?

Tim Tebow certainly didn't look all that special against Tennessee, throwing for just 115 yards, and he was responsible for 24 of the Gators' 44 runs. Rainey, Moody and Demps had their moments, but the Gators have really not yet identified that true playmaker on offense, and while I've said this before and been wrong, I just can't believe that Tebow can survive a full season of punishment trying to be the entire offense.

I don't think the win over Tennessee was anything Florida fans should light up message boards about, but I do think it showed that the Gators are more vulnerable than a lot of people may have previously assumed.

2.) Why is the media so stupid?

Remember when Notre Dame almost beat USC and for the next two years everyone thought the Irish were great, Charlie Weis was great and Brady Quinn was great? Well, yeah, Tennessee didn't get blown out by Florida, but the game was never particularly in doubt, the Vols offense mustered just 210 yards and Johnathan Crompton is still terrible (93 yards!). Oh, and remember nine days ago when the Vols lost AT HOME to a middling Pac-10 team that had to fly cross country?

This is a classic case of a team simply exceeding incredibly low expectations. The Vols have Monte Kiffin and Eric Berry, and it was stupid for people to assume Florida would score 70 on them to begin with, but this was hardly a performance for the ages.

But think about this for a second: A two-score loss to a top-10 team in which your offense struggles to fewer than 250 yards total, the QB looks bad, but the defense is surprisingly effective.

When Tennessee does it, it means every pundit in the country loves them and Lane Kiffin is the next big thing.

When Georgia did it three weeks ago, it was the death knell of the Mark Richt era in Athens and perhaps the end of the world as we know it.

Amazing. And the Vols fans can only wish Crompton was suffering from the flu.

(As a side note: THIS is great, and I hope it continues for the rest of the season. Keep talking, Lane. Keep talking.)

3.) How good is Ole Miss?

It's hard to have many questions about a team that has outscored the competition 97-20 through two games, but I can't help but have sort of a nagging feeling that the Rebels just aren't all their cracked up to be. Maybe it was watching that lackluster three quarters of action in the opener against Memphis. I don't know. But this just doesn't feel like a great team. That's the least analytical thing you'll probably ever read here on this site, but I can't shake that impression. Am I wrong here?

4.) Will the real LSU please stand up?

Rushing offense for the Tigers? Tenth.

Passing offense for the Tigers? Ninth.

Total offense? Twelfth.

Um, I thought this O was supposed to be really good.

I'll give LSU some credit, however. The Tigers are 3-0, won against a clearly improved Washington team on the road and have won pretty easily the past two weeks. But it looks like Vandy is clearly the worst of the SEC this year and Louisiana-Lafayette is probably the fourth best team in the state of Louisiana.

Worse yet, the defense is allowing 320 yards per game without having played anything resembling a strong offensive attack.

Hard to say for sure what to expect out of the Bayou Bengals, but Georgia fans will find out firsthand in two weeks.

5.) Who will push Florida in the East?

Blame the Georgia defense if you must, but Stephen Garcia has made some serious strides. Mike Hartline has done the same at Kentucky. And once again, say what you want about Georgia's defense, but the O looks pretty solid. The East is looking like it might be a bit more stout than we might have thought before the season.

So… what's intrigued you around the rest of the SEC so far?


Anonymous said...

Question: Do you think Evans is the answer at safety and can you blame him for the problems? Isn't Willie a secondary coach so what is going on in that area? Is he spending too much time worrying about the overall defense and not enough with the secondary to prevent the open receivers?

jferg said...

Anon 12:16, I don't think you can blame Evans--sure he's gotten beat, but he's also made some great plays. For his first year starting at Safety, I'd say he's about where you could expect him to be given his lack of experience at this position. The "time" question for Willie and the DB's is interesting though. You may have a dog in that fight...

DH, to your questions. Nothing intrigues me that won't be answered by the end of the day Oct 10th. UGA will have played LSU and UT. LSU will have played us and UF. Ole Miss will have played 'Bama. Aub will have played UT and Ark. Everyone will have a pretty good idea about the SEC at that point.

DWH said...

I'm with you on Ole Miss. Why that team is in the top 5 is beyond me.