Random Thoughts from Around the SEC

Long year looms for Tennessee.

Two weeks into the college football season, a few thoughts:

Arkansas: The Hogs had a slow start against ULM, but they won with relative ease and the only thing you really need to know is that Ryan Mallett went 28-43 for 400 yards and three touchdowns. Yes the running game struggled and there are questions about the defense, but Mallett is the heart and soul of this team and as long as he is still lighting up the scoreboard every 'Bama fan must be very concerned over that road trip to Fayetteville.

Auburn: Only seventeen points against Mississippi State? Interesting. The defense had a better-than-usual showing, but from my vantage point that was more the end result of terrible execution and play-calling on behalf of Mississippi State than anything that Auburn was doing positive. Regardless, the overriding takeaway point from Thursday night was that Auburn could not have played with Alabama, LSU, Georgia, or Arkansas with that kind of performance, and that level of play may not even be enough to get them by Clemson or South Carolina. Like it or not, as much as Chizik and company have touted the whole "8 ain't it" garbage, they ought to feel pretty fortunate to just get eight if they play the rest of the season like they did Thursday night in Starkvegas.

Florida: The Gators ought to be glad they have a soft schedule early, because this is not a good football team right now. They are weak on both lines of scrimmage, the linebacker corps is inconsistent, they have no interior running game, and Brantley looks bad as a passer. I'll be honest, if this keeps up, don't be surprised if Trey Burton gets a lot more playing time in the next two weeks. Unless these guys really get it together soon, you have to look forward to them coming to Tuscaloosa. Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and our offensive line will eat their front seven for dinner if they don't it together quickly.

Georgia: Okay, terrible tackling on defense, game manager at quarterback, no game-changers at the skill positions... yes, that's a recipe for disaster. Or at least mediocrity. And A.J. Green isn't going to magically make all of that better, either. It helps that their schedule looks really weak right now -- MSU, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, Vandy, Idaho State, Auburn, and Georgia Tech -- but if this team loses to Arkansas this weekend then things could start to get interesting. Given that schedule, Richt isn't going to be able to quiet his critics by going 8-4 with performances like these.

Kentucky: Beating Western Kentucky was only slightly more impressive than the team bus not crashing between the hotel and the football stadium. Randall Cobb must be the most underrated player in the SEC. Still going to be a few weeks before we find out anything definite about this team.

LSU: After surviving against North Carolina, LSU carries a 10-3 lead over Vandy into the fourth quarter before wearing them down late. Jordan Jefferson looked bad, and even The Hat says there is a new QB battle between him and Jarrett Lee, though I'm not sure how putting a wildly inaccurate quarterback behind a bad offensive line is going to help anything, especially when he has a long reputation for being a poor decision-maker. Regardless, I'll reiterate, this team will out-talent its way into a lot of wins, but they've got a long way to go if they legitimately want to contend for an SEC or a national championship.

Mississippi State: With this tough of a schedule, MSU cannot get to Shreveport losing to Auburn, and are now probably behind the eight-ball for bowl eligibility. Also, for the praise I've given Mullen since arriving in Starkville, I must say his play-calling on Thursday night was highly suspect-at-best, and watching him rotate Chris Relf and Tyler Russell was about like watching Spencer Pennington and Marc Guillon take turns throwing the ball to the wrong team. Viewer discretion advised. Also, never seen a defensive front seven so incompetent at both rushing the passer and being unable to contain in the pocket. Usually even bad defenses can at least contain, even if they do give all day to throw. Ugly night all the way around for MSU.

Ole Miss: I'm still buying low on Johnny Reb, but having said that I'm pretty sure that Hoover would beat the living hell out of Tulane right now, and Ole Miss kind of sleepwalked through them. With performances like that in the next three weeks against Vandy, Fresno State, and Kentucky, an upset isn't out of the question. Still, though, Ole Miss could come into Bryant-Denny in five weeks with a 5-1 record without having actually beaten anyone. On the upside, Jeremiah Masoli played well and solidified his hold on the starting position, and he's really their only hope anyway.

South Carolina: Marcus Lattimore had 37 carries Saturday, and Steve Spurrier looks intent on riding him hard. Can a true freshman really be expected to have a 300 carry year and not hit a major wall down the stretch? We'll find out. Garcia looked good and the defense was solid, but the offensive line was terrible in pass protection. South Carolina may be the favorite in the East if Florida's struggles continues -- that sound you hear is hell freezing over -- but I've long-since learned not to read too much into a win, at home, over a mediocre-at-best Georgia team.

Tennessee: Well, that was fun, wasn't it? The Vols are just a bad football team in just about every single aspect right now, you name it and they struggle in that regard. It's just going to be a long year for Tennessee, and this won't be the last blowout loss they suffer. Credit Dooley for at least having his guys ready to play, but clearly they weren't in the same league as Oregon.

Vanderbilt: Well, they fielded a team at least, I suppose. They had uniforms and everything, which was a nice touch. Hard to find many more positives than that. They kept it respectable with LSU for three quarters, but at no point were they ever in legitimate position to get the victory and that probably says more about LSU than it says about Vandy. Three wins is probably overly optimistic at this point.

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