Category Archives: SEC Football

Another targeting call success story

I’m not saying the decision to overrule the targeting call on Texas A&M’s Ricky Seals-Jones during Auburn’s 26-10 win last weekend was incorrect, but when Steve Shaw has to explain the decision by saying,

“The players’ safety trumps everything, and we want guys — just like it happened in that game — to put the marker on the ground and then replay has to look at the forcible versus incidental component on that…”

on a hit that resulted in the defender suffering three torn ligaments in his right knee and a severe dislocation of that knee, I’d say you’ve done a pretty good job of sending a mixed message.  Which was supposed to be the opposite purpose of coming up with the targeting penalty in the first place.

Well played, all.


Filed under SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple

First thoughts on Auburn

This article on Texas A&M pondering changes on its coaching staff after the season ends caught my eye in sort of a misery loves company way, but I found the analysis of what happened in the Aggies’ game against Auburn more interesting.

Texas A&M is not a bad football team. However, when you get this deep into the season desperate teams can work hard to ascertain your weaknesses, analyze them, and figure out a way to exploit them.

Saturday afternoon, you saw a Arkansas team fighting to make a bowl game pull out a stunning overtime victory on the road over an Ole Miss team that had more incentive to win and should have been better across the board. It just speaks to how motivated coaching staffs can be when jobs are on the line because a team is perceived to have underperformed and how players feed off of that energy from the top down.

Saturday night you saw the same thing happen with A&M and Auburn. Auburn had to have that win in College Station or else they were not going to make a bowl game which is quite a fall for a program that was rated in the top five before the season and had made the publicized staff hire in the country in defensive coordinator Will Muschamp…

“When jobs are on the line…”.  Hmmm.  That do sound familiar.

The article breaks down TAMU’s shortcomings, which were temporarily masked by the South Carolina win (that, too, sounds familiar).  On offense,

… Thus, for all of the talent in A&M’s offense, where do the explosive plays come from? Early on, they came from Kirk’s legs. Against South Carolina, Murray either generated them or was such a threat that he opened up the field for others. Outside of Josh Reynolds and Speedy Noil, who both go up and get the ball, A&M really doesn’t have anyone to generate explosive plays, especially unscripted ones. A&M had one long play over 20 yards versus Ole Miss and just two against Auburn.

It also doesn’t help that when A&M has made changes this season that they lose patience if those things start to slow down and revert back to things that don’t work, particularly those rollouts and bootlegs where they pull a lineman or H back. Those players lack the mobility and coordination to make those blocks on the perimeter which means that quarterbacks come under duress and turn the ball over.

A&M gets little push in the running game or misses blocks on a consistent basis. Running back Tra Carson is playing the best ball of his career. He’s running hard and his pass protection is very good. He’s even doing the best he can going outside even though he’s between the tackles runner. Even so, A&M had a second and one near the end of the first half the other night, ran three straight plays, and didn’t gain a yard. They missed multiple blocks in the process on the three plays and even couldn’t make the first down when they had Auburn outnumbered in the box and used a H back and running back to block for the quarterback.

I hear him on the lack of explosive plays and the blocking problems.  As I’ve already mentioned this morning, I don’t know if last week is a sign that Georgia is getting a handle on the latter, but there’s a chance that running for 300 yards against a Kentucky defense that isn’t very different statistically from what the Dawgs face this Saturday is a good sign.

As for the defense,

Defensively, A&M has had issues against the run all season but for some reason they really weren’t noticed until the South Carolina game at home. The Aggies have been giving up almost 250 yards a game since the Arizona State game and it was always blamed on something that they hadn’t seen before or the linebackers (which have been a convenient scapegoat all season).

Unfortunately, when you give 311 yards rushing, it finally seemed to hit home with people that the lack of defense has been a team effort. A&M used six people in the box less than ever the other night versus Auburn but it didn’t matter. Their containment, run fits, and punch have been lacking all season as a group, not just at the second level of the defense. In addition, A&M’s opponents are all using different means to run the ball (Alabama’s power rushing, South Carolina’s quarterback run game, and Auburn’s wing T principles out of the spread) and continue to pile up their best or second best efforts of the season running the ball. That doesn’t happen if you are doing what you need to do.

As a result, A&M’s safeties have been called upon to make tackle after tackle and it culminated in a 39-tackle effort at the Ole Miss game between Armani Watts, Justin Evans and nickel Donovan Wilson. Not only do they rank as the leading, second leading, and fourth ranked tacklers on the team but Watts is the only defensive back in the top 15 tacklers in the SEC.

Fortunately, that hasn’t been Georgia’s problem for the most part this season.  On average in conference play, Georgia’s defense is far stouter against the run than is A&M (3.87 vs. 5.54).  As inconsistent as Georgia’s tackling has been this season, it’s nothing compared to how poor TAMU looked in that department against Auburn.

I mentioned in my SEC Power Poll that there’s a real question about how much of Auburn’s win last weekend could be attributed to its own improvement and how much was a mirage built on the Aggies’ sagging fortunes.  This is what I’m talking about.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, SEC Football

“If we were 9-0, this wouldn’t be happening.”

Gary Pinkel is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  He issued a statement of support for his black players’ stance on the school president.

But he’s also got this to contend with.

A Missouri Tigers player said Sunday night that the entire team is not united over the decision to stop practicing until grad student Jonathan Butler ends his hunger strike.

“As much as we want to say everyone is united, half the team and coaches — black and white — are pissed,” the player, who wished to remain anonymous, told ESPN…

… The player, who is white, spoke on the condition of anonymity because coaches told the team not to talk to the media as they thought the situation “would blow over eventually.”

Yeah, that last part’s chickenshit.  If his statement about half the team being pissed were true, I doubt Mr. Anonymous would have had to speak on his lonesome.  But I also doubt that there’s a complete unanimity on the team, human nature being what it is.  How that division gets dealt with, especially if a significant part of the team refuses to suit up for this Saturday’s game, is a real challenge.

And not just in terms of keeping this team together.  There is the potential for this to become an explosive issue on the recruiting trail.  Just ask anyone who’s coached at Ole Miss if that’s any fun.


Filed under SEC Football

SEC Power Poll, Week 10

Saturday was a very, very good day for Nick Saban.  In fact, it was close to perfect.

  1. Alabama.  To borrow one of my favorite lines, if you’re a Tide fan, the world is once again spinning in its properly greased groove.
  2. LSU.  The loss to Alabama was bad enough that Les was talking about next year after the game.
  3. Florida.  Scoring nine points and winning an East game is the new black.
  4. Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs just keep quietly rolling on.  At least until this Saturday, after which they either won’t be quiet or won’t be rolling along any more.
  5. Mississippi.  So much for controlling your destiny.
  6. Tennessee.  It’s November, Vols.  You can relax now.
  7. Arkansas.  Based on Petrino and Bielema, it appears that coaching the Hogs is good for your libido.
  8. Auburn.  There’s a real question about how much of that win against Texas A&M was a mirage.
  9. Georgia.  Of course, the most Georgia thing that could happen at this point would be for the Dawgs to win out.
  10. Texas A&M.  Funny thing happened on the way to making sure the Aggies defense didn’t suck so much this season – somebody forgot to pay attention to the offense.
  11. South Carolina.  That makes two moral victories since Spurrier quit.
  12. Kentucky.  How fast have the ‘Cats fallen?  This fast:  Vanderbilt is a 4.5-point favorite this week.
  13. Vanderbilt.  If only this team had an even mediocre offense.
  14. Missouri.  A player strike really cements this as Gary Pinkel’s season from Hell.


Filed under SEC Football

Tweet of the day



Filed under SEC Football

SEC Power Poll, Week 9

Lots of teams with bye weeks means not too much movement in my latest Power Poll ballot.  The coming week, however, boasts a schedule that’s all SEC, all the time.

  1. Alabama.  Relax, world.  No matter how the Alabama-LSU game plays out, there won’t be a rematch.
  2. LSU.  In this corner, an Alabama team facing another must win game.  And in this corner, Les Miles.
  3. Florida.  I think Jim McElwain is winning his argument with Will Muschamp.
  4. Mississippi.  It’s easy to forget, but it’s this team that controls its destiny, not Saban’s.
  5. Mississippi State.  The Bulldogs have had such a quiet season that I almost didn’t recall they were off this week.
  6. Texas A&M.  The Aggies ended a two-game losing streak, but didn’t exactly dominate a weak South Carolina team in doing so.  Progress of a sort, in other words.
  7. Tennessee.  I was skeptical of the Vols in August, but this team appears to be picking up steam as the season progresses.
  8. Arkansas.  Curb stomped a FCS team.  Isn’t that what SEC West teams are supposed to do?
  9. Georgia.  After the first four games, how many people thought after this week, Georgia still wouldn’t be bowl eligible?
  10. Auburn.  The Tigers gave up well over 500 yards of offense to Ole Miss, even with Carl Lawson’s return.  Obviously the Will Muschamp era is going swimmingly.
  11. Kentucky.  Another year, another great start followed by a collapse.
  12. South Carolina.  Showing a little more life post-Spurrier, but I’m not sure that says much.
  13. Vanderbilt.  Losing 34-0 to an AAC team?  If that’s not the most embarrassing loss by an SEC team in 2015, it’s gotta be in the top two.
  14. Missouri.  After Vandy’s showing, I’d move you up, Mizzou… except you lost to Vanderbilt.


Filed under SEC Football

SEC Power Poll, Week Eight

Consolidation at the top and fluidity at the bottom. Life in the SEC, mid-2015 season.

  1. Alabama.  Alabama didn’t play its best in a rivalry game, hunkered down late and did what good teams do to win.  That’s why it’s Alabama.
  2. LSU.  These guys grind out wins as well as anybody in the country.
  3. Florida.  It’s against Florida’s religion to play a game the week before the Cocktail Party.
  4. Mississippi.  A dangerous team, in the Jekyll and Hyde sense of being dangerous.
  5. Mississippi State.  A competent, below the radar team with the most below the radar quarterback in the conference.
  6. Texas A&M.  Gee, I thought it was the Aggies’ defense everyone questioned.
  7. Tennessee.  Ironically, the last Tennessee head coach to earn a moral victory against Alabama was Lane Kiffin.
  8. Georgia.  Any way you look at it, Georgia won’t be occupying the same spot in next week’s Power Poll.
  9. Arkansas.  Is a four-overtime game that did little more than show which team is less mediocre a big win?
  10. Auburn.  The Gus Bus threw another engine rod.  All Auburn can do now is try to get the vehicle fixed for next season’s race.
  11. Kentucky.  After being undressed by MSU, Kentucky is beginning to look like it’s going to replay last season.
  12. South Carolina.  From a transitive property standpoint, the bottom of the conference is a jumble.  But the ‘Cocks are this week’s recipient of a bye week bounce.
  13. Vanderbilt.  An ugly win?  Ugly is in the eye of the beholder, and I doubt Derek Mason’s beholding it like that.
  14. Missouri.  To be the worst, you’ve got to lose to the worst.


Filed under SEC Football