There’s Alabama, and then there is everybody else

 It is a wonderful, COOL Monday morning. Hope you had a good weekend.

FYI. I will not be writing anything about the University of Georgia football program this morning. There is too much to say so I will dedicate all of  Tuesday’s entry to the Bulldogs.

But elsewhere,  what did we learn on the first Saturday in October?

1. There is Alabama and then there is everybody else:  A year ago it was clear that Florida and Alabama had separated themselves from the rest of the SEC. After Florida got its act together and beat Kentucky last week, I had people telling me that Florida was still in the same class with Alabama, the nation’s No. 1 team. I was told that Florida’s players were embarrassed by their beat down in last December’s SEC championship game in Atlanta. I was told that Florida couldn’t wait to march into Bryant-Denny Stadium and get some revenge.

Nope. Not even close. Alabama looked at the Florida threat and barely broke a sweat Saturday night. I still have people who are telling me that Alabama can’t go 12-0 for the third straight consecutive regular season? So I’ll ask you: Who is going to beat this team? Nobody in college football is playing with as much talent, power, coaching, and attitude as the Crimson Tide right now. Again, look at the Alabama schedule and tell me who is going to beat them? Auburn is a candidate but that game is in Tuscaloosa.

2. Florida will get another shot at Alabama: As tough as that beating was for the Gators, Florida coach Urban Meyer has the best possible teaching tool to keep his team engaged. They will get another shot at Alabama in the SEC championship game on Dec. 4 if they take care of business. We’re making some huge assumptions but here is what I see: Even though Florida has clearly slipped and is a work in progress, I don’t see anybody else in the SEC who can beat them.  South Carolina may have a shot but the Gamecocks play at Florida on Nov. 13. It’s hard to see the Gators losing that one if a division championship is on the line. Florida and Alabama played twice in 1999 with the Crimson Tide winning the regular season game 40-39 and the dominating the Gators in a rematch in the SEC championship game. That could happen again in 2010.

3. Les Miles’s luck is about to run out: One of my colleagues wrote that Les Miles doesn’t have nine lives. He has 99 lives. I agree. I have never seen a team with such a bad, poorly coached offense, continue to win games. LSU is 5-0 and ranked No. 9 in the coaches’ poll because the Tigers have a great defense (coached by John Chavis) and outstanding special teams (with Patrick Peterson).  They have been good enough to win five ugly football games and needed a huge dose of luck to beat Tennessee at home on Saturday (More on that in the next item). But now the Big Boy part of the schedule kicks in and LSU fans are rightfully concerned. LSU goes to Florida this week and still has Auburn (Oct. 23), Alabama (Nov. 6), and Arkansas (Nov. 27) left to play. This could still end very badly for the Man in the Hat.

4. Give the SEC officials credit. They got it right in the LSU-Tennessee game: I beat on the officials a bunch last season when it appeared they were getting one big call wrong almost every week. But they got it right at the end of the Tennessee-LSU game. I talked to Rogers Redding, the SEC supervisors of officials once on Saturday night and again on Sunday. If you missed it, find the clip and take a look. LSU trailed 14-10 and was driving in the closing seconds for what would be a winning touchdown. Mass chaos reigned on the LSU bench in the final 30 seconds (Haven’t we read this before?) and as a result the snap flew by quarterback Jordan Jefferson and the clock ran out. Tennessee was celebrating because they had just upset the No. 10 team in the nation on the road. But back in the secondary there were three flags. Tennessee’s defense had 13—that’s right—13 players on the field. LSU got an untimed down and scored to win 17-14.

 As painful as it was for Tennessee, the officials got it right. Tennessee got caught trying to sub too many players and trying to match LSU’s personnel when they should have stayed put, because LSU was self-destructing. Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said he didn’t have time to get his players on the field. But Redding read the rule to me and it is clear that there is not an ulimited amount of time to get defensive substitutions on the field. The Tennessee defense got set but unfortunately it was set with 13 players. The official can’t stand over the ball forever  or the clock would just run out. Then you have another set of issues.

I looked at the tape several times on Sunday and they got it right. Also, to those of you writing about the LSU player (T-Bob Hebert) snatching his helmet off during the fray:  Understand that since the excessive celebration call last year in the Georgia-LSU game, the SEC is not going to let something like that determine the outcome of a game. It did not impact play and is not going to get called in that situation.

 5. Oregon looks like the No. 2 team to me:  Oregon jumped over Boise State into the No. 3 spot in Sunday’s coaches poll. I think the Ducks should have jumped over Ohio State to No. 2. We’re talking a team that went to an SEC venue (Tennessee) on Sept. 11 and ran off 45 unanswered points to win 48-13. We’re talking about a team that fell behind 21-3 to No. 9 Stanford, which was seemingly imposing their will on the Ducks. But quicker than you could say “onsides kick” Oregon turned on the switch again and outscored Stanford 49-10 the rest of the way. I look at all that speed with running back LaMichael James and quarterback Darron Thomas. I see a really good coach in Chip Kelly. And I’ve decided that while  a bunch of people think No. 3 Boise might get cheated of a shot at the big game, it’s the Ducks who may really be the odd man out if No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State keep winning. With all due respect to Boise and Ohio State, the Oregon Ducks are the No. 2 team in the country. Alabama-Oregon in Glendale would be an incredible national championship game.

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Programming Note: Among our guests on “The Barnhart and Durham Show” this morning will be SEC supervisor of officials Rogers Redding to break down the end of the Tennessee-LSU game. We will also be ready to hear from the Bulldog Nation who are not very happy today. Please join us starting at 10 a.m. www.790thezone.com.

369 comments Add your comment

Ed

October 4th, 2010
11:10 pm

Agree that Alabama looks great and could go 12-0 again, but…they barely escaped at Arkansas and they play so many fresh teams this year. It would be the coaching job of the decade if they run the table again.

MikeP

October 4th, 2010
11:26 pm

Quote by SEC Fact Finder: Auburn Guy….I am not trying to be a smart **s, I really just noticed that. AU is a 6plus point dog to Kentucky, Whay is up with that?”

Someone that names himself “Fact Finder” should learn how to read betting odds. Auburn is a 6+ point favorite. KY is the ‘Dog.

MikeP

October 4th, 2010
11:28 pm

Auburn has dominated the Iron Bowl series recently, winning seven of the last ten. Return to normal this year when Auburn makes it 8 of the last 11.

SEC Fact Finder(the real one)

October 5th, 2010
1:05 am

Mike P…..in the USA today they had it listed as Auburn was the underdog, you dumba$$.

And what is the record of the Iron Bowl…………40-33-1 in Bama’s favor…..so win 7 more then you can talk and how bout winning a national championship, and stop combing your hair with your car’s dipstick..you dipstick…

Amazing Ducks

October 5th, 2010
3:05 am

GREAT blog from Ted Miller on ESPN.com tonight about the Ducks….and especially their UNDERRATED Defense.

“With Thomas at present, Oregon might have the best offense in the nation. It ranks No. 1 in scoring (56.6 points per game) and total offense (569 yards per game). It doesn’t give up sacks (one in five games). It runs the ball (No. 2 in the nation with 331 yards per game).

But Oregon also plays underrated defense. You’ve all heard the “one second half TD surrendered in the first five games” factoid. But the Ducks are 15th in the nation in scoring defense — 15 ppg — and fourth in pass efficiency defense.

Have the Ducks given up some yards yes? But they surrender only 4.73 yards per play.

Whoops. That’s not right. The Ducks surrender only 4.58 yards per play. Alabama’s defense gives up 4.73 yards per play. My bad.

Oregon is never going to do well in total defense because opponents get to run a lot of plays against it due to the Ducks offensive tempo — see a rank of 98th in time of possession.

Folks say defense wins championships. The Ducks defense is good enough to win a championship.”

Last week EACH of Oregon’s 7 touchdowns were on drives of LESS than 3 minutes (the field goal took almost 4 minutes….ugh!) With an offense like that the defense will be on the field a lot!

Put Alabama’s defense on the field that long and guess what??? They end up with more yards against them than Oregon. Oh, and Oregon also leads the nation in takeaways at 2.5 per game. The defense may appear to bend but they don’t break…especially in the 2nd half.

I’ve never seen a defense tire out an offense but that’s happened in 5 straight games now…and it shows with giving up only 7 points in the 2nd half.

Is Alabama deserving of their ranking…YOU BET! But Oregon also deserves the recognition it’s receiving….the Ducks are for REAL and a NC against Alabama would be a GREAT game to watch! I hope it happens!

Da Wild Rebel

October 5th, 2010
3:15 am

Mark your calendars: October 16, 2010 – The Ole Miss Rebels shock the world and beat Alabama in a shootout: 45 – 42.

Mark your calendars: October 16, 2010 – The UGA Bulldogs lose to Vanderbilt at home and are 1 – 6, having lost to Tennessee at home the week before.

GATOR FAN

October 5th, 2010
3:28 am

The VOLS simply GOT HOSED by the SEC. Of Coure the SEC refs want LSU to go 5 and 0!!!Cash People!

Judge

October 5th, 2010
7:13 am

Good one Tony. Yea I am with ya on this one. But, Florida IS playing at LSU and who really knows what is going to happen. Les may have luck on his side. And, Florida may be a little beat up after that Bama game. We will see. Have a good one. Roll Tide!!!!(from a dawg fan)

Palladin

October 5th, 2010
7:16 am

@Amazing Ducks – “Put Alabama’s defense on the field that long and guess what???”

Oregon would no longer have the nation’s leading scoring offense — that’s what.

The PAC 10 is fun to watch and the Ducks are every bit as good as Boise State, I’m sure.

Jake

October 5th, 2010
7:26 am

If the Vols would happen to win Saturday,, Mark will be history. Therefore there’s more heat on Ga. to win than the Vols. Turn-overs will be the key to this game Sat. Vols knew starting the season they were not to win games.

Amazing Ducks

October 5th, 2010
8:27 am

@palladin
Yes, I said Alabama is good but they’ve haven’t come up against an offense and especially a running back with the explosiveness as Oregon and LaMichael James.

Even those who watch them side by side agree. SI’s Corey Mathews even wrote about it in his Heisman watch. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/cory_mccartney/10/04/heisman.watch/index.html

Oh, and if Alabama’s defense was on the field as long as Oregon’s they would run out of gas by the end of the 3rd. Oregon IS the best conditioned team in the nation…just come and watch a practice or two….you’re always invited.

Read what Pete Thamel wrote In the New York Times in his article titled “Oregon Turns Practice Into Nonstop Sprint With Precision as Goal.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/02/sports/ncaafootball/02oregon.html

“As Oregon began pulling away from Tennessee in the middle of the third quarter last month, a Volunteers defensive end approached Ducks center Jordan Holmes with a plea.

“If you guys run two more plays at this speed,” Holmes recalled him saying, “I’m going to fall over dead.”

The tongue-wagging Tennessee lineman stayed upright, but Oregon never stopped. The Ducks scored 35 straight second-half points on the way to a 48-13 victory in Knoxville. The win showcased Coach Chip Kelly’s innovative no-huddle spread offense, which has averaged nearly a point per minute — 57.7 per game — thanks to a frenetic tempo that might represent the next offensive revolution in college football.

“I was dizzy walking off the field,” Gruden said. “It’s a philosophy that is the damndest thing I’ve ever seen. I love it and can’t get enough of it.”

This cacophony has become a must-see stop for other coaches. Kelly said that Boise State Coach Chris Petersen and Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator, came through during spring practice.

“The N.F.L. scouts on the sideline, the first time they come and watch practice, they’re like, ‘What the heck is this?’ ” Backup quarterback Costa said. “They’re mesmerized by it. There’s nothing like it.”

Palladin, don’t just come for a pratice. Come for a game. You’re invited to stay at my house and I’ll give you one of my tickets to a game at Autzen so you can see for yourself. (Autzen….the loudest per capita stadium in the United States. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/470624-power-ranking-the-50-loudest-college-football-stadiums#page/49)

I have family in Alabama and love to watch Bama. Come to Oregon and watch a game here.

AU Engineer

October 5th, 2010
9:08 am

Alabama’s defense is good, but it depends on a lot of substituting during the opposing team’s offensive possession of the ball. Oregon, just like AU run a two to three minute drill with no time for substituting, which wears the opposing team’s defense slap out. Running a basic 3-4 defense against a hurry-up offense will have Saban burning up his time outs faster than you can say roll tide. Those guys will be worn out. Alabama runs a ball control offense, so their defense practice against a ball control offense and that has worked well so far. The only offense they have left to play against that runs an up tempo game is Auburn and that offense is no joke and neither is the defense, they have plenty of healthy bodies this year. So once AU gets the lead the defensive line, linebackers and safeties go into attack mode and so far this year it has not been pretty for the opposing team. Here’s looking forward to an outstanding Iron Bowl.
War Eagle and Go Dawgs!!

MikeP

October 5th, 2010
10:10 am

Quote by SEC Fact Finder at 1:05 AM: “Mike P…..in the USA today they had it listed as Auburn was the underdog, you dumba$$.”

So USA Today is wrong and somebody that calls himself “Fact Finder” doesn’t know enough about college football to figure out a clerical error? Better get yourself a new handle. “Doofus” seems appropriate.

SAM

October 5th, 2010
3:46 pm

KINGATOR :
Death,Taxes and The Crimson Tide.Florida had their 2nd window of op.
First was The Visor.Now its the Urban Cryer.Done.

SEC Fact Finder(the real one)

October 5th, 2010
4:40 pm

Mike P…..GET OFF YOUR MOMS COMPUTER BEFORE SHE GETS HOME AND SENDS YOU BACK TO THE BASEMENT WITHOUT DINNER. For your information I was traveling and unlike you I have a job and that is why I asked the question while using this thing called a BlackBerry. The odds did not seem right so I asked ….and get off the computer once you get through looking at the XXX gay stuff you like so well and mommy catches you.

Grown ups talking here!

Chris

October 5th, 2010
5:05 pm

Tony,

It’s dangerous ground to say refs shouldn’t call a penalty because it didn’t effect the outcome. Using that standard the refs shouldn’t have called UT for to many men on the field should they? Based on the snap it had ZERO bearing on the play.

I personally think they didn’t throw the flag on the LSU player because the ref believed the game was over and UT would decline so whats the point right? If there had been 30 seconds left when the ball was snapped, I believe he would have thrown it. In either case if correctly called the helmet removal is enforced as a dead ball foul (Cody last year which is why it didn’t matter that it wasn’t called). So the live ball foul would have been enforced as half the distance, and then 15 yards as a dead ball foul against LSU. I like our chances better with one untimed play from the 15 instead of the one.

Thanks.

PA-Tiger

October 5th, 2010
9:33 pm

I don’t think that LSU was set for a full count before the ball was snapped. Take a look at their right guard/tackle, he moved a nano-second before the ball was snapped.

Also, the helmet throwing penalty should have been called.

Amazing Ducks

October 10th, 2010
11:46 am

“I still have people who are telling me that Alabama can’t go 12-0 for the third straight consecutive regular season? So I’ll ask you: Who is going to beat this team? Nobody in college football is playing with as much talent, power, coaching, and attitude as the Crimson Tide right now.”

Ya, well that didn’t take long…and I would bet Alabama loses again…. Auburn handily defeated SC last week .

Not quite so invincible…………

Mike

October 11th, 2010
12:05 am

I guess we will have to wait another week or two for Les miles luck to run out. 15 4th qtr comebacks in 5 years. It is not luck. 3 hard games to go. Do we have to win all of them for it not to be luck? Or is it only because of luck that we win any games. Is it luck to have the best winning percentage in the SEC since 2001. Second best since 2006? I guess Bama is back with everyone else now. Where is your genius Paul Johnson and his offense? What is their record? LSU only has 9 seniors. Lots of freshman and redshirt freshman playing. Katrina hurt our recruiting. We have now built it back. The lower 9th ward will never be back. Those folks are now in Houston, Dallas and Atlanta. Give us a break.