I defer to no one in my disdain for preseason polls, but I think Chris Low is off the mark with this observation:
… this is the first time in history, dating back to the advent of the AP poll in 1936, that a defending SEC national champion has been left out of the top 10 in that next season’s preseason poll.
The closest was Georgia in 1981. Coming off their unbeaten national championship season in 1980, the Bulldogs were ranked No. 10 in the 1981 preseason AP poll.
For what it’s worth, they finished 10-2 in 1981 and won their second of three straight SEC championships.
The Auburn players have continued to shrug off the lack of respect they’re being showed in the polls and predictions. They were picked fifth in the Western Division at the SEC media days.
I’m wondering how many of those teams lost both a Heisman Trophy winner and a Lombardi Award winner from one season to the next. Or went into the following season with the greenest team in D-1. Or played what Phil Steele says is the second toughest schedule in the conference (and ninth toughest in the country).
I don’t think Auburn’s going to implode this season. But given the above, it’s not a sign of disrespect to expect a significant drop off from a perfect season, either.
Seth Emerson (one of his readers, more accurately) raises a question I hadn’t thought of, but now that I have, one to which I’m not sure what the answer is.
So Cameron Jordan asks on Twitter: “Any info on who’s on the field from LBs and DL in the nickel passage? Robinson and Ogletree in the middle? Who at DE?”
Cameron, I think you’ll see Robinson and Ogletree on the middle in almost any formation, especially because of the latter’s safety experience. In nickel, I’d also expect Jarvis Jones, since he plays the Sam (strongside) spot that usually stays on the field on passing downs. But Cornelius Washington was the nickel-package linebacker too, so I wouldn’t rule him out; but it’s hard to see them taking Jones off the field. Finally, the DE will probably be a rotation of Tyson and Abry Jones, depending (I’m guessing) on how quickly Tyson develops into the type of edge rusher they’re hoping he can be.
If the two nose tackles live up to expectations, this gets even tougher, as I can see Grantham deploying Geathers and Jenkins as the tackles in a 4-2-5 set now and then. Interesting problem, no?
Ordinarily I’d pass this off as part of the usual preseason happy talk/buzz…
Part of the reason the Bulldogs have decided to allocate more time focusing on these areas was after a meeting head coach Mark Richt had with Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith earlier this year.
“I followed up on a suggestion they had of looking at the season and looking at, percentage-wise, how many situations do you truly have in a game of redzone, goal-line, third-and-whatever, all of the different situations and one-minute drills,” he said, “and so we have scripted our practices to have the right amount of situations. Hopefully it will help us.”
… except that there’s a certain logic to it that appeals to me, especially in light of how porous Georgia’s third-down defense was last season.
Speaking of help, I wonder if Richt heard anything about this from Smith and his staff when they met:
Former Georgia and Westlake High standout Kiante Tripp, an undrafted rookie free agent defensive tackle, is off to a good start.
He’s had to make a major adjustment from Georgia’s read-and-react 3-4 to the Falcons’ attacking 4-3 defensive scheme.
“Whenever you come out of that system, you’re kind of reluctant,” Hamilton said. “You can see him improving a little bit each day. He’s still inconsistent, but he’s getting off the ball more.”
With less than two weeks to go until the Dome, I thought it might be worth checking out a little news about the opponent:
- OBNUG has a summary of Boise State’s fall scrimmage game. The impression left is that the defense, particularly the defensive line, was ahead of the offense. There are some interesting notes about special teams play (one area where the Dawgs should enjoy a sizeable advantage over the Broncos) and drops by the wide receivers.
- College Football Zealots Boise State preview is a good mix of stats – “During that 24 game win streak the Broncos played just four teams that were ranked in the Top 25 due to them playing in the WAC. If you take out those four games against ranked opponents the combined winning percentage of the Broncos foes during that 24 game win streak was just 41%.” – and a Q&A with someone from OBNUG.
Speaking of that Q&A, here’s a nice example of Preseason Homerism to chew on:
In our exit survey you discussed the importance of the season opener against Georgia. Where do you see the Broncos having the match-up advantages?
The Broncos defensive line should match up well against Georgia’s offensive line, especially with the recent spate of Bulldog drama at the position. Generally, I think the Bronco defense is set up well against the Georgia offense. BSU may be able to take away the run with its front six or seven and let the secondary hang back and take away passing options for Aaron Murray. I would expect Georgia’s defense to have some early success against Boise State’s offense (size advantage on the line, first game of the season, etc.), but as the game goes on, that matchup should even out.
Funny how it works out like that.
I expect preseason doom and gloom from Larry Munson, so when Larry frets about everything from quarterback inexperience to the lack of depth at long snapper, I take it in context.
But when the usually sunny Loran Smith pens a column entitled “Tough to tell what to expect from Bulldogs”, well, that’s a cause for concern.
The Miami Sun-Sentinel channels its inner Pork Rind Jimmy, does a little judicious Googling, and comes up with this choice tidbit from a 2007 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette piece on the best of Houston Nutt’s cellphone conversations:
… On Dec. 7, Nutt had a 30-minute call with prominent Miami booster Nevin Shapiro. When he hung up, Nutt called his agent, Jimmy Sexton of Memphis, and then called Shapiro back.
Nutt also called Miami senior athletic director Tony Hernandez four times that day.
There are so many layers of wow here I hardly know where to begin. Nevin Shapiro had the juice to be part of the evaluation process for the new Miami head coach? And Houston Nutt knew that? And Jimmy Sexton added something that caused Nutt to call Shapiro again?
The only thing that would have made this more awesome would be if Miami had gone ahead and hired Nutt. Can you imagine the shitstorm the Nuttster would be dealing with today had that happened?