Random Thoughts From Around The SEC

With the Tide having the weekend off, today was a slow day for some nice casual football viewing. So, before we turn our focus entirely towards the LSU game, a few random thoughts from around the SEC:

  • The more I watch of Ryan Mallett, the less impressed I am. Everybody talks about him being a future NFL star, but I'm just not seeing it. Admittedly he has a huge arm and a great frame, but he is like a statute in the pocket and he has a very long, slow wind-up on his delivery. Any pressure whatsoever greatly affects him, and with his mechanics it takes a long time for the ball to come out. He reminds me of Drew Bledsoe very late in his career, and that's not a compliment. Is he a pretty good SEC QB? Yes. A future NFL star? I don't see it right now.
  • I honestly think Auburn kind of sucks, even after the win over Ole Miss, but I'll be honest... for all of the outrage over the Chizik hire, he's certainly not the problem. Those guys have basically zero top-end talent and paper-thin depth, and I think they will probably get to 8-4 with wins over Furman and Georgia. I do think the schedule has helped them out a lot, but admittedly Chizik has done a pretty dang good job on the Plains. You don't get to 7-5 or 8-4 with what he has without doing a good job.
  • Color me officially (somewhat) worried about the Mississippi State game. They aren't very good, but they kept it close with Florida, should have beaten LSU, and beat Kentucky in Lexington. That's not a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, and Dan Mullen has done a good job in Starkville. Now, after getting a big win on the road over Kentucky, those guys get an off week, and then we have to travel to Starkvegas after playing LSU, likely for an 11:21 kick. I'm not liking the sound of that game at all right now. 
  • A lot of Ole Miss fans, I see, have this reaction of disbelief that Nutt isn't taking them to the promised land, and they keep talking about how they did all they needed to do by hiring a proven SEC coach. Not really. You hired a guy who had almost a decade-long track record of mediocrity, and never won the SEC. And now he's basically doing the same thing at Ole Miss, so why the surprise?
  • Jevan Snead is probably the most overrated player the SEC has seen since Casey Clausen. This kid is clearly a below average SEC quarterback, and not six weeks ago people were touting him as a first round draft pick who was going to leave early? It's almost laughable if you think about it. If I had my fair pick of SEC quarterbacks for one day, I would take Tebow, Garcia, Mallett, Crompton, McElroy, Jefferson, and Todd over him, maybe even Cox. The only quarterbacks I would definitely take Snead over are Tyson Lee, Larry Smith, and Mike Hartline. He couldn't start at half of the programs in the SEC, which honestly is why he ended up at Ole Miss in the first place.
  • Billy Cannon is truly one of the all-time legends, but I honestly think LSU has honored him at every single home game since that punt return against Ole Miss in 1959. And at some point, I think it can diminish the legacy of what he actually did. I mean, honestly, just by watching it today, you'd swear all the guy ever did was return a punt and get honored for it a bunch of times.
  • The whole Joe Cox experiment at Georgia has basically made for a wasted year in Athens. Cox has done absolutely nothing, UGA has had a terrible year, and remember that Cox is a senior. Hindsight 20 / 20, UGA would have been in much better shape by playing either true freshmen Aaron Murray or Zach Mettenberger. The way it has gone down, now you have a really bad year in 2009, and then you still have to break in a green QB in 2010. You play to win now, but you don't, and then you still have to rebuild later. It's the worst of both worlds, really.
  • Georgia keeps killing on the recruiting trails, as they have for years now, but honestly why would a top recruit ever want to go there? Obviously it's a fine school and a great college scene, plus they do have a solid track record of turning out NFL players, but in terms of winning big on the collegiate level, why? You go there just to be Florida's bitch? And besides, for all of the NFL players they have turned out, Athens has also been a place in recent years where a lot of highly-touted recruits go to die. Remember when Caleb King was supposedly the next Herschel Walker? I bet he does.
  • And speaking of Richt, doesn't it seem like he earned his keep against a literal graveyard of coaches? Think about it... he consistently spanked a clearly out-of-gas Phil Fulmer at Tennessee. He consistently spanked Chan Gailey at Georgia Tech. He slapped around Fran and Shula. He fought to effective draws with Tommy Tuberville and Ron Zook. But again that's a literal graveyard of coaches, most of which long since gone. Can he now compete with Meyer, Saban, Kiffin, Johnson, and others? Maybe, but the early returns sure as hell aren't promising. Richt looks downright Fulmer-esque at this point.
  • Tennessee is looking dang good. The defense is playing lights out, the running game continues to impress, and Crompton now looks like a completely different player. I imagine they finish up 8-4, and they might be the fourth best team in the SEC right now. I'm sure as hell glad we don't have to go through them again, that much is sure. I figure 2010 will be a tough year for the Vols just because of all the attrition, but say what you will about Kiffin, Tennessee is clearly a better team than they were a year ago.
  • Dan Williams, at nearly 330 pounds, is easily the best interior pass rusher in the SEC. Neither 'Bama nor South Carolina had a center-guard combo that could consistently block him on passing downs.
  • South Carolina is looking to continue their usual late season meltdown. Tennessee smoked 'em from the get-go, and now they are 6-3 with their three games remaining at Arkansas, Florida, and Clemson. They'll be 7-5 at best, and honestly I wouldn't be shocked to see them end up 6-6 again. It's more of the same for South Carolina.
  • And another late season implosion in Columbia really makes me wonder what will happen will Spurrier. Will he even want to return for 2010? He's been in Columbia five years now, and as a whole it's really been nothing but one big humbling experience for him. And honestly, if you are South Carolina, do you even want him back? Maybe, simply because he could be the best you can reasonably get, but on the other hand if you are serious about being a high-end team in the SEC that legitimately competes for conference titles -- and, hopefully, to continue taking your program to the next level -- it's clear that Spurrier will never do that for you. It's interesting times in Columbia, really. That's a program that has really put a lot into winning the past 15-20 years, and one that really doesn't have anything to show for it.
  • How many SEC teams will definitely have losing records? Vanderbilt obviously will, and Mississippi State should too. Five teams have already reached bowl eligibility, and Ole Miss will make it six next week against Northern Arizona. There are four more teams that are borderline -- Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Arkansas -- but I think all of those will probably make it. That would be ten bowl eligible teams in the conference, which means that we could see some bowl eligible teams getting left at home.
  • For all of the talk of Florida's speed and athleticism at the skill positions, the thing that always sticks out to me when I watch them is just how good of possession receivers they have. Cooper and Hernandez consistently out-fight opposing cornerbacks for balls each and every week, and often times it is nothing short of a wrestling match. And speed and athleticism don't have jack to do with that. You can talk all you want about how they spread you out and kill you with speed, but that's one physical football team.
  • Florida has officially clinched a berth in Atlanta with their win over Georgia today, and it certainly seems like the winner of the Alabama v. LSU game next weekend will follow suit. I know that LSU could still send the Tide to Atlanta by slipping up against either Ole Miss or Arkansas, but the more I see of those two the less I see it happening. 'Bama has got to beat the Bayou Bengals head-to-head, plain and simple. LSU could still give us a gift, but I imagine if we lose next Saturday the smart money is on us finishing up 11-1 and watching a Florida v. LSU rematch come the first week of December.
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