SEC Week 11 Recap

Boy, this one”s coming mighty late. I”ve been working on some new-feature development at EAV Buzz between diaper changes. So where were we? Oh yeah, Ohio State showed itself to be the weak Big 10 team we all knew they were, and LSU is No. 1 again. Hurrah.

It”s a good thing the La. Tech game wasn”t on real TV and that Oregon had the weekend off, because the Tigers” win was hardly as strong as 58-10 would suggest. Not a bad win, really, and the final score looked good. But had there been an easy comparison between this LSU win and a good Oregon win, the Tigers might be the ones really hoping Kansas loses along the way.

As it stands, though, LSU is squarely in the driver”s seat should the Tigers make it through the SEC Championship Game unscathed. One would hope Ole Miss is not much of a challenge, and god knows what to expect with Arkansas.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Not a good week for my picks, as Auburn, Alabama and Arkansas all went down. Bad week to pick the “A” teams.

Mark Richt beat Auburn by having his players and fans wear black, I hear. I”m not sure if he thinks the Dawgs can beat Kentucky just on talent, but if not here are some “motivational” suggestions:

- Wear black pants
- Wear no pants
- Change the player names on jerseys to things like “Commitment” and “Excellence”

Alabama losing to Mississippi State was fun. I don”t hate Nick Saban, but I”ve grown to really hate the arrogance of Alabama fans. Your team is not good. Deal with it.

And I hope Arkansas looks like they did against Tennessee when we play them next Friday.

For the week: 3 – 3

For the season: 66 – 13

Not the year for this

To Scott Rabalais – awww, isn”t he cute! Look at those cheeks!!! – of The Advocate (the Baton Rouge daily, not the national gay newspaper): LSU doesn”t need Auburn and Alabama to lose this year in order to win the SEC West, so you don”t need to use your Saturday column to pimp the idea that if Georgia beats Auburn and the Tide falls to Sir Croom, LSU gets a trip to Atlanta without even playing in the SEC today.

We”ve got Ole Miss next week to seal it, dude.

SEC Week 11 Predictions

LSU competes in the Swimsuit Competition this weekend, looking to win some style points by rolling Louisiana Tech. And the Tigers had better look good, lest the humans in control of the BCS gain an opportunity to push Oregon up to No. 2. The computers will already punish the Tigers for playing Tech (Sagarin No. 106) more than the Ducks playing Arizona (Sagarin No. 69). And given that La. Tech was blanked by hapless Ole Miss 24-0 and lost to Cal by 30, LSU had better look like the team that took down Virginia Tech 48-7, not the one that struggled for 30 minutes against Tulane.

There’s no reason to think LSU wouldn’t tear La. Tech apart, given the talent differential and the Tigers’ motivation. But it could be the pressure is too much.

LSU 34 – 10

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 18 Auburn at No. 10 Georgia – LSU may need Georgia to win out and find their way to the SEC Championship Game to hold off Oregon and/or Oklahoma in the BCS (beating another Top 10 team in Atlanta = good. Beating Tennessee = not as good). But at the same time, an Auburn win makes LSU’s victory over the War Eagles look better, a loss makes it look worse. Kind of a win/win, lose/lose proposition. So what does this game come down to? Georgia leans on the run, and Auburn’s good at stopping it. Auburn 13 – 10

No. 15 Florida at No. 34 South Carolina – I can’t pick the Cocks after what Arkansas did to them last week. Turn Tebow & Co. loose. Gators 34 – 24

No. 22 Alabama at Mississippi State – This seems to be an upset favorite for a bunch of folks. MSU is last in the SEC in total offense, and simply can’t throw the ball. Alabama is vulnerable through the air (the SEC’s No. 11 pass defense), but not so much on the ground (SEC No. 4). I like the Tide here. Alabama 21 – 13

No. 33 Arkansas at No. 24 Tennessee – The Vols no longer own the SEC’s worst defense (No. 11 in scoring and total defense), but they’re still weak across the board. If Arkansas can put together any kind of passing game against the Vols’ SEC-worst pass defense, the lanes will open wide for McFadden and Jones. They might even open wide if Arkansas can’t pass. Hogs 27 – 21

No. 25 Kentucky at Vanderbilt – Shouldn’t be a contest, as Kentucky’s generous defense is saved by Vandy’s weak offense. But the ‘Dores are surprisingly unwilling to be rolled over this year. Closer than one might think. Kentucky 24 – 17

SEC Week 10 Recap

A month ago, it felt great to see LSU get past mighty Florida in the last minute of the game. Three weeks ago I took the loss to Kentucky”s big offense in stride. Two weeks ago I chalked up the last-four-seconds win over Auburn to life in the SEC. Then Florida lost to Georgia, Kentucky was embarrassed by Florida and Mississippi State and Auburn”s loss to now-unranked South Florida doesn”t make the War Eagles seem like such a strong team.

Apparently, none of these nail-biters were legitimate clashes of the titans. LSU has simply been sliding by on its talent all this time; a fact that came clearly to light Saturday night against Alabama. An unprepared, undisciplined LSU team overcame itself by sheer talent to beat Bama. And just that quickly – a month after lauding the brilliant gameplan against Florida – I”m back off the Leslie bandwagon.

Two plays Saturday night best illustrate my frustrations with Miles and his offensive staff:

- The 4th and inches call. Instead of taking the almost-guaranteed QB sneak for a first down, Leslie and Crowton got cute and tried to leverage the rule book to pull Alabama offside. I”m still not sure LSU committed the “simulating a snap” penalty that was called, but there was no need to resort to trickery there, and the snowball effect of the first penalty and the unsportsmanlike penalty that followed when Carnell Stewart ripped off his helmet might have been catastrophic if LSU wasn”t so loaded with the talent to come back and win the game. And for Stewart – a senior – to pull off his helmet on the field shows a total lack of discipline.

- The Early Doucet option pass to Matt Flynn. Normally no big deal (but not trickery the Tigers needed on this night), but to send your starting quarterback out on a pass route in the first quarter when you”ve suspended your No. 2 quarterback is just plain stupid. Had Flynn been injured on that play, the fallback plan involved the guy who transferred from Harvard and isn”t in the media guide or burning the redshirt of talented freshman Jarrett Lee. Taking that risk in that situation when you”re up 10-3 in the first quarter is simply inexcusable. Just plain stupid.

Putting Flynn in the position to get hammered by an Alabama safety makes you wonder if maybe Miles really didn”t think through the timing of that last pass against Auburn or realize he was going for it on fourth down during the Florida game.

It seems that Miles and Crowton did what I warned against and bought into the “crazy coach” reputation. In this game, simple preparation, discipline (14 penalties for 130 yards) and game planning would have done the job just fine.

LSU should be able to handle La. Tech and Ole Miss in the next two weeks, but the events on the field in Tuscaloosa and Fayetteville Saturday have me concerned about the season closer against Arkansas, not to mention the SEC Championship Game.

I”m not so sure LSU deserves its No. 2 BCS ranking, and I”m not so sure the Tigers will make it to bowl season without another loss.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Arkansas put an epic 541 rushing yards down on South Carolina, including an SEC-record 323 yards by Darren McFadden (and, by the way, 163 yards by Felix Jones – averaging 13.6 yards a carry). And just when you thought the Hogs were dead. If I would have known Jerry Jones and every other Razorback of note was coming to this game, I might have picked Arkansas. But I didn”t.

And everybody else won as expected.

For the week: 6 – 1

For the season: 63 – 13

SEC Week 10 Predictions

I”m not one of the LSU fans who hates Nick Saban for leaving Baton Rouge and now winding up in Tuscaloosa. As I”ve mentioned before, he”s a mercenary and a darn good coach. LSU was never going to be his last stop, and I doubt Alabama will be, either. So before I get into predictions for the weekend, a tribute to The Fonz:

Now, outside of “the game LSU”s been waiting 10 months for” aspects of tomorrow, the LSU / Bama game is – this week – the fight for first place in the SEC West. Alabama still has to play Auburn, so Fonzie”s boys have a long way to go even if they get past my Tigers.

After putting up 41 points on the worst defense in the SEC (Tennessee – look it up), Alabama fans are back in the “we”re good!” mode they adopted after beating Arkansas (now 1-3 in the SEC) to start the season 3-0. They don”t talk so much about losing to Georgia and Florida State and barely surviving Houston and Ole Miss.

Fact of the matter: Alabama hasn”t beaten a team that”s currently ranked in the top 25. The only ranked team they”ve played is No. 10 Georgia. The Tide is No. 5 in total and scoring offense in the SEC, No. 8 in total defense and No. 6 in scoring defense playing a weak schedule.

LSU, on the other hand, is No. 3 in total offense in the SEC, No. 4 in scoring offense and No. 1 in total and scoring defense. The Tigers have beaten three currently-ranked teams and LSU”s only loss was to still-ranked-by-humans Kentucky.

Of course, stats and past performance don”t mean too much when you”re talking about an SEC game like LSU / Bama. The Tigers are clearly the more talented team and have the ranking and track record to prove it. In Tuscaloosa against your old coach in a game both sides recognize is full of soap-opera drama, however, the key for LSU is execution.

On offense, the Tigers need to avoid turnovers and penalties – and especially avoid the temptation to build on the Les Miles “crazy coach” reputation. Just throw athletes at Alabama and pick apart Saban”s vulnerable defense.

On defense, the health of Glenn Dorsey may be key, as LSU needs to pressure John Parker Wilson and shut down the run. How well the big guy can get around after Auburn”s cheap and illegal shot to his knee remains to be seen.

But above all else, LSU needs to take the Saban-bred emotion out of the game. The Tigers are playing for the SEC West title, not to show Fonzie he shouldn”t have left Baton Rouge. Let Alabama get caught up in all of that; LSU is the superior team and needs to remember that.

LSU 24 – 17

Elsewhere in the SEC:

No. 26 South Carolina at Arkansas – The Cocks have dropped two straight to SEC East teams, which puts S.C. back in the middle of the pack where they belong. Arkansas is simply not very good. Welcome to the last throws of Houston Nutt. Cocks 31 – 23

Vandy at No. 20 Florida – Gators 48 – 20

Elsewhere in SEC teams playing patsies:

Troy at No. 10 Georgia – Dawgs 48 – 17

Tennessee Tech at No. 16 Auburn – War Eagles 20 – 10

ULL at No. 27 Tennessee – Vols 56 – 24

Northwestern State at Ole Miss – Rebels 7 – 6

Spencer Tillman and how the "real" media reacts to stupidity

The fine folks over at Fanblogs have brought to light some fantastically bad “journalism” on the part of CBS college football talker Spencer Tillman. Basically, Tillman has no idea what he”s talking about; saying Tommy Tuberville used to be an assistant coach at LSU and things like that. One might think people who are paid to talk about college football might be able to write accurately about it, but whatever. What gets me as a media observer is the CBS Sportsline simply changed the content of Tillman”s piece to be accurate (in the part others pointed out was wrong) without any note that the original content was unbelievably wrong.

The content in Google”s cache reads:

Coach Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M is counting the days. Tommy Tuberville, who is a constant winner at Auburn, could be in line at either Texas A&M or LSU. LSU fans that still harbor distain for Tuberville might be wise to consider his 5-2 record against Alabama. And, we all know how important that game will become for the foreseeable future. Tuberville still has a house near College Station and was an assistant at LSU.

While live on the site is now has:

Coach Dennis Franchione at Texas A&M is counting the days. Tommy Tuberville, who is a constant winner at Auburn, could be in line at either Texas A&M or LSU. LSU fans that still harbor distain for Tuberville might be wise to consider his 6-2 record against Alabama. And, we all know how important that game will become for the foreseeable future. Tuberville still has a house near College Station and has a key assistant, Will Muschamp, who is familiar with the “LSU” way, having served as defensive coordinator from 2001-04.

See? Spencer wasn”t wrong about that at all!

Props to the writer in Huntsville who called Tillman on his basic non-understanding of facts and shame on CBS Sportsline for just brushing over the errors and correction with nary a note about information they originally published being laughably wrong.

Oh, and while you”re at it CBS, Tillman also says this:

Les Miles is probably headed for Michigan because Lloyd Carr is likely to hang it up at year”s end (despite an impressive seven-game recovery after an 0-2 start). Miles” contract allows for one out: the Michigan job.

But what I understand from numerous published reports (easily found through Google) is that Miles has a clause that says if he leaves for any job other than Michigan he owes LSU $500,000, but if he leaves for Michigan he owes LSU $1.25 million.

I think you may have a factual error there. CBS, you might want to change that – and not tell anybody you did. And somebody might want to double-check the rest of the “facts” Tillman has laid out.

Ryan Perrilloux, The Varsity and bad decisions

It”s unclear whether Les Miles will even suit Ryan Perrilloux up for the Alabama game Saturday [Perrilloux will not make trip to Tuscaloosa], but it”s clear that after whatever went down at The Varsity (the Baton Rouge live music venue, not the famous Atlanta drive-in) last Thursday, Ryan is once again in Leslie”s dog house. Never-used freshman linebacker Derrick Odom was charged with a misdemeanor and dismissed from the team, but no charges have or likely will come against Perrilloux. Odom was apparently captured on video – along with two others who have not been identified – coming back to The Varsity after hours, faces covered, trying to get into the place and ultimately smashing the window of an SUV. Derrick, I hope you enjoy junior college.

But the Perrilloux situation is much murkier and odd. It”s been reported that Perrilloux called his lawyer early Friday morning about the Varsity fight that started a string of allegations, so he was probably at the club and somehow involved in the fight. Almost 24 hours later, a Varsity employee told police that Perrilloux had pointed a gun at him, but later decided to drop the issue and said he could not pick Perrilloux out of a photo lineup.

See if you can:

Now, I know TV camera men have a hard time telling Perrilloux apart from Kelvin Sheppard when they”re both standing on the sideline wearing No. 11, but you”d think somebody who says “Ryan Perrilloux pointed a gun at me” would be able to identify Ryan Perrilloux in a photo. Obviously that situation smells of a Varsity employee who was making things up or an attempt to not have The Varsity / Chimes associated with the ultimate demise of Ryan Perrilloux (they do a fair business on game weekends, you know).

So Perrilloux may have done nothing worse than being out at The Varsity late on a Thursday night during LSU”s off week and being with guys who got in a fight. Yet Les Miles seems to have banished Perrilloux once again, not referring to him by name when discussing the quarterback situation this week and holding him out of practice all week and announcing today he won”t play Saturday because he”s missed practice.

Is that fair? Probably not. But Perrilloux has once again made himself a distraction for the Tigers, so he”s lost the benefit of the doubt. LSU players say their coaches constantly reinforce the idea that football players are targets and to always be aware of where you are, what you”re doing and who you”re with. For a guy like Perrilloux – poised to be the starter next year, likely to have a shot at the NFL and carrying the weight of two prior off-field problems – the best idea is to just avoid situations like he found himself in Thursday night. And for God”s sake, if a fight breaks out, walk the other way. Explain to your boys that you”ll give them $100,000 when you sign your NFL deal instead of getting their back right now.

I wouldn”t look for Perrilloux to get much more than mop-up duty the rest of the season. Would Leslie”s attitude be different if Matt Flynn”s ankle were still gimpy? Maybe so, but the fact of the matter is Perrilloux isn”t a big part of LSU”s offense, so it”s an easy choice for Miles to make.

I”ve been a proponent of more Perrilloux playing time, but Miles and Gary Crowton haven”t exactly structured the gameplan around him seeing a lot of action. I can”t find the stats for total snaps played, but his game-by-game pass attempts / rush totals look like this:

Mississippi State: 6
Virginia Tech: 9
MTSU: 33 (Flynn injured)
South Carolina: 9
Tulane: 5

Florida: 7
Kentucky: 7
Auburn: 5

Even with Flynn”s injury and Perrilloux”s 298-yard night against MTSU, it”s clear the trend is not toward a deeper involvement for Perrilloux this season. The Tigers might find themselves in trouble if Flynn goes down (the other alternatives being the guy from Harvard who”s not in the media guy and taking the redshirt off of Jarrett Lee), but Miles clearly believes he can win with Flynn and Perrilloux”s poor judgment will quiet the calls to get him into the games more often.

Only time will tell the fate of Ryan Perrilloux. Will he finally heed the advice of his coaches and just stay home at night? Will he continue to be in the wrong places and find himself off the team? Will he end up in Mike”s cage threatening tiger-cide late one night? We shall see.

But for the rest of 2007, don”t expect to see No. 11 on the field much – except on kicks, and that”ll be Kelvin Sheppard.

SEC Week 9 Recap

So, then. I’m feeling pretty good about my picks this week, except for the whole MSU beating Kentucky thing. Because I’m sure all of you predicted that. Some notes from the weekend:

- If Kentucky gets fined $50,000 for not keeping its students off the field after the LSU game, Georgia should get fined $500,000 for its head coach ordering his entire team onto the field to execute the world’s gayest motivational dance:

Mark Richt’s defenders talk about getting his team fired up by ordering such a massive display of unsportsmanlike conduct, but this was a low point in organizational control, class and coaching tactics. A big ole “fuck you” to the accepted code of conduct – ordered by the team’s head coach. Is Georgia so deflated by their repeated embarrassments at the hands of Florida; is Richt so unconvinced of his team’s talent; is he so desperate for a win that it takes a lame and pointless organized taunt by the entire team to motivate the Dawgs? Sad that it came to that, and shame on Richt for stooping to that level.

Best part of this is Richt’s quote about it in his post-game conference:

I spoke to the group after chapel before the game. I wanted to make sure they all understood that the celebration should be a team thing, not anyone’s individual on his own. It was going to be a team celebration, and just once. We weren’t trying to disrespect anyone.

Oh, yes, a fine topic for after “chapel”. What would Jesus do? He’d go out and purposefully take the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty … but only once. After that he’d be cool.

If Georgia gets past Auburn and makes the SEC Championship Game and tries something like that on LSU, let’s just say I’m pretty sure their penalty would be offset by (at least) one from LSU.

- Overshadowed forever by Richt’s very Christian-like celebration plan was the fact that Georgia beat the crap out of Florida and in the process exposed the way to stop Tebow and exploit the Gator defense. Timmy’s not quite broken in half yet, but there’s no way he can play his normal game for another year or two in the SEC.

- Things couldn’t have played out worse for LSU during the off week. Boston College should have lost to Virginia Tech, elevating LSU to the BCS Championship Slot, but the most improbable of comebacks erased that notion. And going into the week, LSU had victories over the teams sitting at Nos. 8, 11, 16 and 22 in the BCS and its one loss was to No. 14. Now LSU has wins over Nos. 11, 16, 20 and 26 and lost to No. 28. Of course, Ohio State has only beaten Nos. 29 and 31; Boston College has only beaten Nos. 11, 24; Arizona State has only beaten Nos. 30, 41 and 44 and Oregon has only beaten Nos. 12 and 19 and lost to No. 30.

- Could the SEC East be more of a mess? The prospect looms of a team with three conference losses representing the East in Atlanta. Tennessee’s horrible pass defense will have to shut down Kentucky (and beat Arkansas and Vandy) to win the East. Georgia will have to hope for a Tennessee loss and beat Auburn and Kentucky. South Carolina needs two Tennessee losses, a Georgia loss and needs to beat Florida and Arkansas. Florida needs two Georgia losses, a Tennessee loss and needs to beat South Carolina and Vandy. Kentucky needs to beat Tennessee and Georgia and have the winner of Florida / South Carolina lose their other game.

For the week: 5 – 1

For the season: 57 – 12

SEC Week 9 Predictions

After three straight “showdown” weekends, my LSU Tigers are letting others sort things out this week – before engaging Fonzie in the ultimate SEC 2007 Showdown next week. This week in the SEC:

No. 11 Florida vs. No. 18 Georgia – The Dawgs haven”t looked good since … well, have they looked particularly good in any game this year? And the Gators haven”t looked bad since the Auburn game. It”s hard to pick against Florida in the annual “Florida beats Georgia” game, and barring the inevitable serious injury to Tim Tebow happening this week, it”s hard to make a case for Georgia here. Call it a feeling; call it wishful thinking … Georgia 31 – 28.

No. 16 South Carolina at Tennessee – What”s worse: getting embarrassed by Vandy or getting embarrassed by Alabama, Florida and Cal? That”s a tough one. If South Carolina had an offense, this game would be a cake walk. But they don”t. There”s not really much good to say about Tennessee at this point, but I like their chances of out-scoring the Cocks. Tennessee 24 – 17

Mississippi State at No. 14 Kentucky – Kentucky 31 – 20

Ole Miss at No. 22 Auburn – Auburn 38 – 6

Florida International at Arkansas – Huh? Arkansas 60 – 10

Miami (Ohio) at Vanderbilt – Oh, that Miami. Vandy 20 – 13

SEC Week 8 Recap

So that was fun. Just another year in the LSU / Auburn rivalry where little plays out as expected. And, this year, LSU comes out on top and is in the driver”s seat of the SEC West. A win over Fonzie in two weeks and LSU is practically guaranteed a spot in the SEC Championship Game. And holding the No. 3 BCS spot right now sets the table for LSU to make the BCS National Championship Game by going 5-0 from here out.

It”s difficult to remember much of what happened in the Auburn game prior to the game-winning touchdown (with 4 seconds left), but the short story:

- LSU gave up 296 yards of offense to Auburn, with 82 of those yards coming on Auburn”s late-game go-ahead drive. Auburn managed only three good drives in the game (including the most-impressive 90-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter), which accounted for 79 percent of their yards gained. For a beat-up, tired, illegally-chop-blocked LSU defense, not a bad showing. After eight straight weeks on the field, LSU is ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense and No. 6 in scoring defense (even with a 3-OT, 43-point give to Kentucky factored in). Lee Corso may not be impressed with the Tigers” D, but I am.

- LSU dropped 488 yards of offense on Auburn, a team that”s used to giving up 305 a game. Matt Flynn had his first 300-yard passing game and spread the ball out to eight different receivers. Eight different guys also carried the ball during the game, which was good use of the Tigers” depth on offense. The play calling was a little bland at times, but ultimately it was an effective gameplan.

- Flynn being mobile again was huge, especially on the final touchdown pass. Auburn left Demetrius Byrd in single-coverage so their safeties could watch Flynn and the LSU backs to keep the expected field goal try at 39-40 yards, not 29-30 yards. A gimpy Flynn doesn”t earn that defensive respect, and Ryan Perrilloux likely would not have been trusted to make a throw in that situation. Coupled with the return of Early Doucet, the mobility of Flynn was a huge factor in LSU”s win.

Overall, LSU played exceptionally well against a tough Auburn team, especially considering this was the eighth weekend in a row the Tigers have been on the field, and the last two weeks against Florida and Kentucky were draining, bruising games. This week off will be very welcome.

And though I”ve mentioned it before, the facts of the game-winning touchdown pass are worth repeating. It was not “crazy” to run that play. Les Miles was not making an all-or-nothing bet on it.

LSU had time to run the play, and they ran it brilliantly. Had the pass been incomplete, tipped, batted, juggled, fondled or otherwise molested, LSU would have had one, two, three or four seconds left on the clock. The defense Auburn called on the play made an interception highly unlikely and a touchdown catch doable.

Calling a timeout before the play would have clearly signaled to Auburn that LSU was going to make a pitch to the endzone. Doing that would have been risky. What LSU did was take Auburn (and brainless announcers and sports writers) by surprise and ran a high-benefit, low-risk play that just happened to be called done with one second left.

It was brilliant, and Gary Crowton and Les Miles deserve tremendous credit – and zero second guessing by writers who haven”t taken the time to actually analyze what happened – for the call. Demetrius Byrd gets huge points for recognizing the coverage, signaling Crowton for the call and making the catch, and Matt Flynn played the role of game-managing QB to perfection and delivered a perfect pass.

Elsewhere in the SEC:

Vandy over South Carolina. Obviously that wasn”t expected, and it”s a bummer. I”d rather not see Florida again in Atlanta.

Alabama put the hammer down on Tennessee, as I predicted. Fonzie”s offense played above their history, but seeing gushing stories like Yahoo”s Jason King”s about Bama”s dominance of the Vols makes me wonder if anybody other than me realized that Tennessee has the worst defense in the SEC. King certainly didn”t see fit to mention that in praising Alabama”s performance – why ruin a good story that includes Fonzie almost seeming human?

Arkansas beat up on Ole Miss and Mississippi State did as expected against West Virginia.

For the week: 5 – 1

For the season: 52 – 11

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