Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tulane: Post Game

I don't think I really have to recap what happened in this game. We all saw it, unless you were too drunk to get up. I was up at 2:30am because of the baby, so I didn't have that problem.

I would like to start by saying that the defense played very very well for the entire game. We gave up one long touchdown drive and that was about all. Tulane got one or two other nice drives that stalled with a turnover or a punt, but the defense was mostly dominant.

The offense? Well, the coaches need to figure out what's going wrong with the offense. Do you realize that Matt Flynn hasn't played well in a game since Virginia Tech?

After scoring an easy touchdown on our first possession, the offense went backwards for most of the first half. Part of the problem was the offensive line either getting penalties or giving up pressure on the quarterback. The right side, so good against South Carolina, seemed to struggle in particular. The left side and the middle didn't exactly shine, however.

The other part of the problem was Flynn holding the ball too long. I don't know if the receivers were not open or if he didn't see them, but we have a serious problem in our passing game. Flynn's numbers were deceptively good. He was 16 of 29 for 257 yards, with one interception. however, he lost over 40 yards and 6 downs on sacks. He was harassed all night, and often could not find a receiver. I don't know if the problem is that Early isn't there or what, but the coaches need to figure out very quickly if this team is better with Matt Flynn or with Ryan Perrilloux behind center.

The running game, when we finally decided to rely on it, did very well. Taking out Flynn's sacks, we averaged almost 6 yards per carry and scored 4 touchdowns on the ground.

I would like to point out, however, that there really was no chance that Tulane would beat us. We played a very very poor first, about as poor a first half as you could imagine us playing, and we still went into the locker room ahead. Tulane played with passion and energy to our unfocused lack of effort, but we lined up and beat them with talent in the second half after killing their momentum. Yes, we played a very poor game, but we still won by 25.

I saw Chad Jones, Kelvin Sheppard, Drake Nevis, and Ricky Dixon all get significant playing time. Nevis had never played before, and is playing because of the injury to Charles Alexander. Jones, Sheppard, and Dixon had all played before but got more playing time today than ever before.

I don't know if I'm going to watch a replay of that. It would be too painful.

Tomorrow: What happened to Florida and the rest of the top 10? It sure was an exciting day of football after our game.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Game Day: Tulane

Once again, I blog with a wiggly baby in my arms, along with her stuffed toy lion. Once again, Mr. Peabody and Sherman accompany me.

Today is a pretty big day in the SEC. Several interesting games will be going on, some of which will even be televised.

Here is my schedule for the day:

Now - 11:00am: Errands and other non-football related activity.

11:00am - 2:00pm: LSU at Tulane, ESPN2. Tulane is probably the weakest team we play all season. We can really name our score. There probably isn't one player on Tulane's team who could have earned a scholarship to play football at LSU. I just want to get the starters out early, get the backups and young players some game experience, avoid injuries, and reward some walk ons. I may even take the unprecedented step of changing the channel to another game if it gets to the point of playing walk ons.

2:00pm - 2:30pm: Watch the end of South Carolina against Mississippi State. I don't know how good of a team SC is without Brinkley. If they're really going to challenge for the East, they need to win this one, obviously. MSU is not that bad of a team though, and is certainly capable of winning if South Carolina isn't at their best.

2:30pm - 4:00pm: I don't think we're getting Cal vs. Oregon locally, which is a shame because it's clearly the best game on at this time. It's probably the most interesting game of the game nationwide if you don't have a massive SEC bias like I do. No SEC games will be going on at this time, at least not on television. I may do more non-football related activity.

4:00pm - 7:00pm: Bama vs. Florida State, CBS. It's an interesting game, but honestly I think Bama is a superior team. At least, they're superior to the team I saw play Clemson in the first half of the opening week of the season. their offense looked absolutely awful early in that game. If the offensive line has solidified itself, Florida State is a dangerous team. I have to claim a certain amount of ignorance about Florida State, but we can analyze a little. They lost to Clemson, and beat UAB and Colorado in fairly close games. They aren't running the ball effectively, and Drew Weatherford is not a world-beater at QB. They're averaging less than 23 points per game, but their defense has been very solid. They'll have to take big strides to beat Bama unless Bama goes out and plays a bad game.

7:00pm - 10:00pm: Auburn at Florida, ESPN. Word is that ESPN will return to Baton Rouge next week if LSU and Florida both win. LSU doesn't have a serious game, but Florida does. Auburn sure has not looked very good on offense, but their defense returns a lot of previously injured players this week. It was solid to begin with, and should be even better now. Auburn will be getting better again next week when Brad Lester returns. They'll finally have a playmaker on offense. To win this game, they're going to have to find offense somewhere and hope their defense dominates. I'm not rooting for either team (I don't really care that much if GameDay goes to LSU and I don't care if Florida is that highly ranked), but it sure would be nice if Florida suffered some hard body-blows to soften them up.

Friday, September 28, 2007

More on Florida

That's right. Gratuitous Bullwinkle images are back.

I have truly and completely run out of things to say about Tulane, which is amazing since I've said so little.

I want to say yet one more thing about the Florida quarterback. I've read an awful lot about how Tim Tebow is taking a lot of punishment and is going to get himself hurt. I've read about how quarterbacks shouldn't take those kinds of hits on a regular basis, and that he is a shoulder separation or broken collarbone waiting to happen.

I agree that Tebow is so valuable to Florida that they need to do everything they reasonably can to avoid getting him hurt, while at the same time not asking him to avoid the things that make him so dangerous. My bone of contention here is the unsupported assumption that Tebow is like other QBs. If Matt Flynn, Andre Woodson, John Parker Wilson, or Brandon Cox was taking 28 hits in a game, that would be a very big cause for concern indeed, but I don't think it's such a big deal for Tebow.

To avoid burying the lede further, my point here is that Tebow is a power running back with a strong and accurate arm. He's not a normal quarterback out there trying to get yards with quickness and foot speed. If Tebow had a weak or inaccurate arm, he'd be a Division 1 power running back in the PJ Hill (Wisconsin) or Jerome Bettis mold. If he wasn't a quarterback, he'd be one of the best power running backs in the country.

That is to say, while he is certainly not immune to injury, he's a lot tougher than your typical quarterback.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Change Your Argument

My last words (for a while) complaining about polls will be contained in this post. If you don't like that LSU is #2 in the polls instead of #1, stop complaining about that. Instead, complain about how the voters decide how they will vote. It will come off less self-serving, and will avoid the arguments about which team is actually better. Instead of complaining that the pollsters can't see that LSU looks like the better team at this point, complain about the methodology by which the voters decide their votes, because they use silly and indefensible criteria in determining their rankings. Criticize the silliness and the indefensibility, not the results the silliness and indefensibility generate, because in a highly subjective world, the results are defensible even if the methodology isn't.

College football polls are poorly run. I think this is so obvious that it really doesn't require explanation, but I'll try anyway.

College football polls start in the pre-season before any games are played. Teams are "ranked" based on media perception and hype going into the season, along with such niceties as "returning starters" and "coaching". But mostly it's based on hype. It bears only a passing resemblance to actual football analysis.

Cases in point: At the beginning of this year, Auburn was a top 20 team and Michigan was a top 5 team. Both of those teams have looked REALLY REALLY bad.

Once the games start, teams will usually only move down the polls if they lose or play a close game against a team they are expected to blow out. Teams usually move up because the teams ahead of them do something to warrant moving down. Rarely does a team move up simply due to looking really really good. A team ahead of them has to look bad.

Case in point: Louisville, as a top 10 ranked team, gave up 42 points to Middle Tennessee State University, a Sun Belt Conference team that is now 0-4 on the season, yet they did not move down in the polls. Not even an inch. Of course, if the pollsters had been paying attention and thinking about it even a little bit, they would have moved Louisville way down the polls, and the upset Kentucky pulled over them wouldn't look like like such a big deal. Louisville went and put out significant evidence that they are not that good of a team, but it was ignored because they didn't look bad enough to move down, even out of the Top 10. Two weeks later, they're out of the top 25 completely due to a loss to lowly Syracuse

Other case in point: Auburn has looked terrible, and has lost two close games to teams that are generally considered to be inferior. Both games were close and went down to the end, and if Auburn had actually won them, I'm sure they would be in the top 15 now, even though they've looked absolutely awful at stretches.

So, you have a situation where teams are initially ranked based on factors that have little to do with actual football ability, yet those initial rankings won't change in the face of additional evidence unless a team either loses or looks really really bad. Looking merely bad, like Auburn did after during its Week 1 win against Kansas State, won't make you move down. Looking really good won't make you move up unless a team ahead of you does something to look really bad.

It's an indefensible system. And yet, talking heads defend it all the time. Well, maybe they don't "defend" it exactly, but they often spout the indefensible assumptions as if they are gospel. You'll frequently hear something said like, "I'll vote them #1 until someone beats them," or "USC proved it was #1 last night by beating up on Nebraska." In a sport where not all teams play each other and rankings are determined by vote, voters are expected to exercise discretion and use judgment, but they don't. They pretty much just apply a generally agreed-upon set of rules that don't make a whole lot of sense when you really think about them.

They're not saying "USC proved it was better than LSU" or "USC proved more on the field than LSU has proven" because neither is true. I don't think any reasonable, objective person can look at what USC has done on the field this year and at what LSU has done on the field this year and conclude that USC is the clearly better team. We've played 4 teams that are a combined 9-3 in games not against us. Granted, none of those teams are world-beaters, but MSU beat Auburn, Virginia Tech has grinded out wins, South Carolina beat Georgia, and MTSU pushed Louisville. And we didn't just beat them. We ran them off the field in all the games except the South Carolina game, where we sleepwalked through the second half and gave up a late touchdown to make the game look closer than it was. Until that game, we were averaging 45.3 points per game, and we were giving up an average of 2.3 points per game. Those numbers have changed, but they're still gaudy. We've done it with backups getting significant playing time, and without opening up our offensive playbook for two of the games. We held MTSU, the team that put 42 points up on Louisville, to less than 100 yards total on the game. They never even came close to our end zone.

USC has played three games, winning them by an average of 48 to 18. Not bad. Not bad at all, but they haven't dominated like we've dominated, and they haven't played their backups as much. They haven't done it against significantly better competition either.

No, they're not saying that USC has proven to be better than us, or that they've accomplished more on the field. Saying that would be absolutely silly. What they're saying is, "USC didn't do anything to make themselves look bad, so they won't move down." It doesn't matter how good LSU looks. LSU won't overtake USC until USC loses a game or lets an inferior team stay in a game until the end. At that point, if it ever occurs, we'll move ahead of USC regardless of what we've accomplished on the field, unless of course WE have lost a game or let an inferior team stay in a game until the end, at which point OU or Florida will pass us and then pass USC.

This is why I just don't pay much attention to polls. I try not to anyway, but it's quickly becoming one of the most popular topics of conversation on the message boards. I have taken on the task of trying to discourage this kind of poll watching.

I think polls do more harm than good to college football, especially when they're run as poorly as they are. If the polls started later in the season (say, after week 4) or if voters were more willing to make big adjustments in their rankings early in the season, which would treat pre-season polls as the useless instruments they really are, I wouldn't have such a big problem with them. I just don't like that they start out with so little supporting information, yet they aren't subject to significant change until ranked teams lose or look particularly bad.

To compound the problem, these problems persist throughout the season, until one poll becomes a substantial factor in deciding which teams can play for the national championship. The problems in the polls impact the integrity of the National Championship.

And before people wonder, yes, I would say the same thing if LSU was on top and USC was #2. I'd still have problems with the way the polls are run. I thought the same thing when it was Auburn that was getting screwed back in 2004. College football saw 3 major conference teams go undefeated that year, with Auburn shut out of the national championship game despite surviving a tougher schedule than either of the two teams ahead of them. It happened because USC and Oklahoma started the season ahead of Auburn and never did anything to warrant moving down. Auburn could have won every game they played by 40 and still would have ended up 3rd.

So quit bothering about the polls. It's really best if you ignore them as long as possible. If you must criticize them, criticize the flawed principles that underpin them, rather than the results they give. The results are questionable, but defensible, but the principles are ridiculous and indefensible. If you focus your wrath on the poll methodology, perhaps a movement to reform it will build, and you will accomplish a lot more than if you simply say, "LSU is getting screwed."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Around the SEC Preview

I have a guest blogging assistant this morning, as my 6 1/2 month old daughter prematurely decided she no longer wanted to be in bed.

This will be a pretty good week in the SEC, but it's partially offset by a strange TV schedule, and the failure of ESPN to air one of the more interesting matchups.

Mississippi State at South Carolina, 11:30am, Lincoln-Financial. Too bad I'll miss most or all of this game due to the LSU game's 11:00am scheduling. South Carolina's strong running game will have a test against MSU's strong defense. Unfortunately for South Carolina, their best defensive player, senior LB Jasper Brinkley, was lost for the season with a knee injury sustained against LSU. You really hate to see that for a guy who had emerged as a team leader and arguably his team's best player. He'll be back, but probably not before taking his skills to the NFL. He could apply for a medical redshirt if he wants, and come back next year. I think.

This year in the SEC, at least early, we're seeing a couple of elite teams (LSU and Florida) followed by a big pack of teams that are more or less even, all with their own strengths and weaknesses, but all of whom are more than capable of beating each other on any particular day. MSU and South Carolina are among these teams, and both have picked up a big win in the conference. It will be interesting to see if any of these teams break out of the pack and emerge as a 3rd power in the SEC. So far, the best candidates for it seem to be South Carolina and Kentucky, which is strange and exciting.

MSU's problem is a lack of dynamic offense, and I don't see that changing this year. Their offense will limit them all year. They won't be able to put up a lot of points on anyone or score a lot of quick points. They have a good running game, but they don't have a Darren McFadden on their roster, and their passing game is rather poor. They have to grind out yards on the ground 4-8 yards at a time, get turnovers, and play tough defense week after week in order to win. That's hard to do and it will take its toll. Any defensive slips or offensive turnovers will put this team in a deep hole in any given game. For this reason, while I think they're capable of beating anyone out there, they're going to have a tough time actually pulling it off consistently.

Ole Miss at Georgia, noon, no television that I know of. Strangely, this game is being played at noon with no television coverage (I think). It's actually a pretty interesting matchup. Georgia's solid running game and inconsistent passing game will be going up against Ole Miss's young, talented, but thin defense. Ole Miss's solid running game and overachieving passing game will be going up against Georgia's solid defense. Georgia's the better team, but they're coming off a big, draining, emotional win against Bama. Can they respond? Ole Miss proved they can stay with a very good team that isn't up for them. Either that or they proved they are a better team than we thought.

Florida Atlantic at Kentucky: The less said the better. Alright, not really. Kentucky obviously is doing some things right. They're 4-0. They're ranked. They have an explosive offense. But they still don't have much of a defense, and they're not a very physical team. As such, I think they're a threat to be upset by anyone who comes along, including Florida Atlantic. Will it happen? Probably not, but it could. I just think a team like this is a bad game waiting to happen. When it happens, it will be interesting to see if they have what it takes to a) win that game anyway, and b) recover from it mentally.

Alabama vs. Florida State (neutral site), 4:00pm CBS. In another strange and unusual television twist, the CBS game is at 4:00 rather than at 2:30pm. This means it will probably interfere with the 7:00 ESPN game. Bama is another one of those roughly equal teams in the big pack this year, and they've shown signs of breaking out of it. The running game is much better than expected, as is the defense. The passing game has struggled, but the potential remains there. If I was a big Bama fan, I would be very concerned about the extremely physical games my team is playing, especially with so little depth on defense. Those big players can only get worn out so many times before they struggle to come back from it week after week. They've played two games like that in succession, and this game will be another one. That will take its toll.

Florida State is very beatable. They just aren't a very good team at all. Their offense has struggled, getting only 200 yards passing and about 130 yards rushing per game. The only time I actually watched them play, the first half against Clemson, their offensive line was very poor. Supposedly it's improved a lot. They'll have a pretty good test against the Bama defense, which has caused teams problems this season.

North Texas at Arkansas, 6:00pm no television. Eh, who cares?

Eastern Michigan at Vandy, 6:00pm, no television. Vandy's drive for 6 wins continues. This one will be #3. They'll need to figure out how to win at least one more SEC game though. I still think Vandy is a pretty good team, but so is everyone else they still have to play in the SEC. Those other teams are a lot more accustomed to winning than is Vandy.

Auburn at Florida, 7:00pm ESPN. This is the marquee SEC matchup of the week, and it has a line of about 18 points in favor of Florida. Alright, Auburn's not a very good team. I don't think I'm telling anyone anything they don't already know. However, this is a team with a lot of playmakers on defense, good coaches, and an offense that is.. uh.. waiting to break out. They have talent at running back and offensive line. They're just very young at those positions. They're improving weekly. If they can take that big leap forward and become the playmakers that Auburn needs, they will do some things.

The bigger problem is the passing game, and there appears to be no solution to that problem on the horizon. At least not for this year. They simply need an infusion of talent, and that doesn't often come mid-season. Like MSU, they'll have to grind out wins with the running game and the defense.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tulane Preview

There are two items of big news for the Tulane game. First, we're wearing special uniforms with a pelican emblam, white pants, and a white helmet. Tulane will also be wearing special uniforms. Proceeds from sales of the uniform will go to Katrina relief. Unfortunately for them, I haven't heard of anyone being that excited about this game or about the uniforms. Which brings me to the second item of big news.

This game will be played at 11:00am on ESPN2 Saturday morning. It is my hope that the powers that be didn't see this coming when they scheduled the game. I think they expected an afternoon or evening game schedule by ESPN. Instead, symptomatic of a general lack of interest in this game, it's been picked up for the 11:00am game usually reserved for Illinois vs. Indiana or UVA vs. Maryland.

And it's not just television. At my last check, LSU still hadn't sold 9,000 out of its 40,000 ticket allotment.

News Flash to LSU Athletics Department: Most LSU fans don't really care about Tulane anymore. For people my age and younger, and probably for people significantly older than I am, we don't remember a time when Tulane was a serious threat to LSU. We don't remember a time when Louisiana had a large number of Tulane fans. We don't remember a time when Tulane fans really cared a lot about football or thought they had a superior team.

So, we play Tulane this week, likely in a partially full Superdome, before the tailgaters eat lunch.

But what about the game? Well, Tulane is 1-2 so far this year, having lost to Mississippi State and Houston. They beat Southeast Louisiana. They're giving up 33 points per game and scoring about 18 points per game. Their backup quarterback, Anthony Scelfo, has won the job over their previous starter Scott Elliott, who only completed an average of 11 passes per game. As a team, they're averaging about 180 yards passing per game and about 140 yards rushing per game.

I have a feeling we'll see a little of Scott Elliott before the game's over.

The guy they try to get the ball to is Matt Forte #25. He rushed an ungodly 40 times against Southeast Louisiana University for a very impressive 303 yards. Matt Forte in that game accounted for more than 2/3 of Tulane's rushing totals on the season. I have a feeling he'll find the sledding a little tougher against LSU. He also has about 1/4 of Tulane's pass receptions.

This is a team that has had trouble offensively except in one game, and that was against SE Louisiana. Defensively, they haven't given up gaudy numbers, but they allowed Michael Henig to have a pretty good game against them, and allowed 300 yards passing to Houston.

Alright. We know the goal here is to get an easy win and get out. We want to use this game to
  • tune up for Florida
  • shorten the season for our best players by getting them out early
  • get our younger players some game experience
We want to spring out to a quick lead and get it to halftime before rotating in the backups and the next generation of players. Protect the starters from injury and wear and tear. In particular, we need Matt Flynn to come out of this game healthy enough to go against Florida. I really hope we don't see a repeat of last week's debacle where Flynn stayed in a game in which he was so ineffective.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 4 Around the SEC

In a week that saw only one significant upset on the national level (Michigan over Penn State), the action in the SEC was probably the most exciting stuff all weekend. The LSU-South Carolina game wasn't the most thrilling in the world, but it was the highest profile game of the week. Here's what happened this week around the SEC:

Georgia 26
Bama 23 (OT)

This was expected to be a good game, and it didn't disappoint in the least. These two teams played this game tough the entire time they were on the field. Georgia sprinted out to a 10-0 lead, but didn't appear comfortable at any time except for their first drive, in which they scored a quick touchdown after marching the length of the field with ease. Bama didn't give them anything easy the rest of the game.

I said of this game:
They key to this game is Georgia's young, talented, but inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford. When he's good, Georgia is a very good team. When he's bad, Georgia is a rather bad team. He was good against Oklahoma State and bad against South Carolina. If Bama's defense can keep him off balance, they'll have a good weekend. If they let Stafford get into a good rhythm and stay there, it's going to be a long night.
Stafford had an OK night, but neither great nor terrible. He was 19 for 35 with 224 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He avoided getting sacked. He had a one-game GTQBPI of 5.65, which is not great, but is not bad for a BIG game. He was not really the key to the game, however, because he had neither a great game nor a bad game. The key was Georgia's solid running attack, which put up 153 tough yards and wore down the Bama defense.

Kentucky 42
Arkansas 29

This was another one of those back-and-forth type games. Early, it looked like Arkansas would run away with it, as they scored they jumped out to a 20-7 lead. Then Kentucky made a furious rally to get it to 21-20 in the 3rd quarter. Arkansas scored the next 9 points on a safety and a touchdown return of the ensuing free kick before Kentucky scored the final 21 points of the game. I'm sorry I didn't get to watch this game, but I was watching the Bama-Georgia game instead.

Jones and McFadden torched the Kentucky defense as expected for 306 yards rushing between them, plus Felix Jones returned that free kick for a touchdown. Surprisingly, despite 338 yards rushing, almost 500 total yards of offense, and touchdowns by both the special teams AND the defense, Arkansas still didn't put up a ton of points. Having outgained Kentucky by 60 yards and scored two non-offensive touchdowns, I don't really understand why they lost so badly. Having not watched the game, I don't really have any insight.

But I have some takeaway lessons:
  1. neither of these teams have good defenses.
  2. both of these teams are very dangerous, but also beatable.
Since we play both of these teams, and Kentucky is likely to be ranked when we play them, we need to watch out.

Florida 30
Ole Miss 24

It's hard to imagine me getting it more wrong than this. Here is what I said:
The bad news is that Florida is so much better than Ole Miss that we won't really get an opportunity to gauge how good Ole Miss is.... I think Florida will be able to find a LOT of mismatches.

Blake Adams played a whale of a ballgame, with over 300 yards passing, 2 touchdowns, and a one-game GTQBPI of 9.03. That's outstanding against a team as good as Florida. It gave his team a chance to pull off a major upset, but in the end there was just too much Tim Tebow. Between his running and his passing, he accounted for 427 yards of offense and 2 touchdowns. His GTQBPI was 8.31, and he either ran or passed 51 times on the game. That's good enough to win the coveted GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Player of the Week for the 4th consecutive time.

Auburn 55
New Mexico State 20

Auburn stops the bleeding at least temporarily by getting an easy win over NMSU. Here's what I said of this game:
Keep an eye on that New Mexico State-Auburn score. Don't be surprised if New Mexico State has a shot at this game in the 4th quarter. Auburn's offense is struggling immensely due to poor blocking and lack of playmakers at the skill positions. NMSU plays that pass-happy Hal Mumme offense. If they can avoid giving Auburn short fields and can find a way to put up 3 touchdowns, they have a real chance here.
NMSU put up a few points, but they also committed 6 turnovers. They actually only outgained by about 40 yards on the game, but those short fields killed their chances. Auburn QBs had a solid game, even if they weren't spectacular. Next week, they get Florida but also get Brad Lester back. Let's see if that provides the magic cure to Auburn's ills.

Mississippi State 31
Gardner Webb 15

OK, they let a team from the former Division I-AA put up 15 points on them and stay within 2 scores. No one ever said MSU had a dynamic high-powered offense. They're going to have to grind out wins, even against weak teams, but they just ground out their 3rd win. In truth though, they jumped out to a 31-3 lead, and then gave up some scores when the game was out of reach. They need to figure out how to win 3 more to get to a bowl game. It won't be easy.

Tennessee 48
Arkansas State 27

Arkansas State stayed within striking distance for most of the game, but never could quite do more than keep it close. Before you start thinking about how Tennessee must have looked bad, keep in mind that Arkansas State gave Texas all they wanted earlier in the season.

That's all I have.

We're now in 1st place in the SEC West thanks to Bama's loss. We're the only undefeated SEC West team. The East has two undefeated teams in Kentucky and Florida. No, this isn't basketball.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

South Carolina: The First Replay

This morning I watched the first Tivo replay of the South Carolina game. Of course, as usual I kept an eye on right tackle Carnell Stewart on offense and right defensive ends Kirston Pittman and Rahim Alem on defense.

Before I get to them, I want to alter and amend my comments from yesterday. Flynn wasn't his sharpest this game, but I don't think he was as bad as I originally thought. He made some very good passes, but he had some dropped passes early. I think those drops rattled him a little bit, and it affected his play later in the game. Late in the game, he was clearly way off.

Of course, the primary culprit in the drops was Jared Mitchell. He's getting fairly well eviscerated on the message boards, but I would encourage fans to cut him a break. This was a growing experience for Mitchell. It was his first really meaningful action in a big game of his entire career. He didn't come through, but that's no reason to think he won't come through later. The coaches will just have to gauge his response to this subpar performance and see if he's responding appropriately. The coaches are really high on Mitchell and think his ceiling is very high. We might be without Early Doucet for a while too, and if so we'll need Mitchell to be a threat.

Alright. Onto the player isolations. Carnell Stewart has come so far in his first 4 starts at right tackle that he's not even the same player anymore. Carnell was abused by Titus Brown in the Mississippi State game, but he may well have been our best offensive player against South Carolina. He didn't miss a block, and opened up gaping holes on the right side. He got a D for his performance against MSU, and a B-minus as I recall for his performance against Virginia Tech. Well, he got a solid A against South Carolina.

He was all over the place, and Gary Crowton saw it by running plays to his side all night. If he keeps this up, he may sneak into post-season All-SEC teams.

On the defensive side, Kirston Pittman was a beast early in the game, but he disappeared a little bit towards the middle. He made some nice plays later in the game though. I don't know if USC made adjustments to account for him, or if he just didn't perform as well, but I think the coaches would love to see him perform up to how he performed in the first couple of series for an entire game. In particular, when the play called for him to drop into coverage and/or cover a back swinging out for a pass, he really struggled.

Just one more comment on the defense. Jonathan Zenon struggled yesterday. Carolina quarterbacks completed 4 passes against him, including one for a touchdown, which happens to be the only touchdown pass allowed on the season. I hope he can bounce back from that.

Once again, Chevis Jackson didn't give up a completion.

Tomorrow: Around the SEC.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

South Carolina: Post Game

Alright, let's get one thing straight before I even read the message boards or anything. We just beat a pretty good team with our quarterback at well below 100% in weather conditions that made everything difficult. Flynn gutted out a performance and we got a big win against a team that I think EVERYONE is going to have trouble beating.

OK, we have that out of the way. What thought processes could possibly have been going through the coaches' heads to make them think Flynn should have been playing in the 4th quarter. Flynn ended the game 8 of 19 with 71 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Let's just say his GTQBPI is going to be ugly with those stats. He clearly was not even close to being his usual self, and Perrilloux has been nothing short of awesome when he's gotten to play. In the 4th quarter, Flynn did everything the coaches must have feared Perrilloux would do. He threw an interception and he couldn't complete a pass. He didn't run aggressively and didn't throw accurately.

Perrilloux was excellent in a limited role. With Flynn ailing, Perrilloux's role not only wasn't expanded. It was contracted. He only threw one pass, and honestly I don't remember it. He did nothing but run the ball or hand it off, but he did it well. I really do not understand why Perrilloux didn't play more.

In the last quarter, it became obvious that Flynn was handing off virtually every time, and would only throw on obvious throwing downs. In addition to that limitation, everyone knew he wasn't a threat to run anymore. Perrilloux would have at LEAST made USC play against the QB run, and he was probably a bigger passing threat as well.

Should the Flynns happen to run into this blog, I just want to say that they seem like very lovely people. They're great sports about their son looking like Matt Damon, which is hardly an insult. Matt Damon's a good looking fella.

Alright, before I watch replays, let me just say that the offensive line sure looked great for big stretches of this game. It was probably the best game they played all year, and we proved we can ride the running game to victory when the passing game isn't working, even against a pretty good team. South Carolina is definitely a bowl-calibre team, and looks like they may challenge for the East. I started the week questioning their #12 ranking, but I hope they don't lose it. They played against a buzz saw of a defense and a very capable offense and had long stretches of effectiveness against both.

Alright, Bama-Georgia has started. It's off to watch that.

GameDay: South Carolina

OK, I got up at 4:30am today because the baby decided she REALLY didn't want to be in bed anymore. Is she excited about football? That's all I can assume.

So what are the plans for today? Well, there's football of course.

Now until 9:00am: chores, family activity, maybe watch a movie on Tivo, maybe go do the grocery shopping.

9:00am - 11:00am: ESPN GameDay is in Tuscaloosa, which is actually kind of disappointing. I had hoped they'd come here for the LSU-Bama game. I suppose they still might, but they usually don't go to the same place twice in one season. I may or may not watch any of it. Honestly, probably not. Mrs. GeauxTuscaloosa wants to go to the relatively new bakery in Northport. I love a good bakery, so she didn't have to twist my arm. This is a "bread" bakery rather than a "sweets" bakery. I really wish there was a good donut shop here in Tuscaloosa. I find Krispie Kreme to be all kinds of nasty. I know I'm in the minority on that, but when you were raised on donuts from Cal's Bakery in Gonzales, Louisiana, it's hard to go from that to this oddly flavored, oddly textured doughy donut from Krispie Kreme. Whenever I'm visiting my parents, we end up spending like $30 on donuts from Cal's. If anyone knows of a really good donut available in Tuscaloosa, I'm all ears. But I digress.

11:00am - 11:30am: Bide my time.

11:30am - 2:30pm: Florida at Ole Miss, Lincoln-Financial. When I was a kid, my Dad called the neighborhood convenience store the "Pac-A-Sac" even though it was a 7-Eleven, and later a Circle-K. It had previously been called Pac-A-Sac, but only for a couple years, and had changed its name before I was old enough to remember it. Since we moved to Gonzales when I was 2 years old, and it had undoubtedly changed its name by the time I was 5 years old, my Dad had only known this store as a Pac-A-Sac for a maximum of about 3 years, but continued to call it by that name for another decade. I have decided that I'm not quite old enough yet to refuse to call things by their new names, so I won't call it "Jefferson Pilot". It's "Lincoln-Financial", even if it sounds wrong. I'll just get used to it.

I can't say this matchup intrigues me at all. I'll watch it, because it's my first chance to see Ole Miss, and another chance to see Florida, but I have no expectations that Ole Miss will be able to stay in this game.

2:30pm - 6:00pm: South Carolina at LSU, CBS. The more I think about this game, the less supremely confident I become. USC has a really solid defense all around. They also have a very good running game. MSU was able to run the ball on us early in that game. Blake Mitchell has, at times, been a very good quarterback. Of course, he's the TYPE of quarterback we have mauled all season: a drop-back passer without good escapability. We're the clear favorite for very good reason, but this matchup is not as bad a lot of people, including myself earlier in the week, seemed to think.

Once again, a key is going to be how our offensive line is able to get a push against that defense. If we've shown any chinks in the armor, it's been on the offensive line.

6:00pm - 7:00pm: 2nd Quarter of Kentucky at Arkansas, ESPN2: I really want to know why ESPN schedules the #2 and #3 SEC matchups of the week to be played mostly at the same time. I know that the SEC probably gets more money by giving ESPN the #3 matchup rather than by giving that matchup to Lincoln-Financial, but as an SEC fan, I sure would prefer to see Kentucky at Arkansas rather than Florida at Ole Miss, but in order to see this game, I'd have to give up watching Georgia at Bama. I won't be doing that unless Georgia at Bama is a blowout.

Since SportsCenter and College Football Live haven't been bloviating endlessly on the subject of Darren McFadden's injury, I'm assuming he's good to go on this game. In the last few years, Kentucky has had an abysmal defense, and Arkansas proved last week it is very vulnerable to the pass. Kentucky is as good of a passing team as there is in the conference right now, with the possible exception of Florida, and McFadden and Jones put up yards against even the great defenses. There could be 90 points in this game.

7:00pm - 10:30pm or so: Georgia at Bama, ESPN: I believe I've said it before, but I'll say it again. The key here is Matthew Stafford. He's very talented and very young, but he is also inconsistent. When he's good and in a rhythm, Georgia is a very good team. When he's off-balance and out of rhythm, Georgia is very beatable. The key to this game will be what Bama does to try to disrupt Stafford, and how Stafford responds. If Stafford is sharp, I believe Bama has little chance to win this game. If Bama can make Stafford struggle, they will likely win this game.

Watch out also for special teams. Both teams have great return men who can put points on the board.

Final Note: Keep an eye on that New Mexico State-Auburn score. Don't be surprised if New Mexico State has a shot at this game in the 4th quarter. Auburn's offense is struggling immensely due to poor blocking and lack of playmakers at the skill positions. NMSU plays that pass-happy Hal Mumme offense. If they can avoid giving Auburn short fields and can find a way to put up 3 touchdowns, they have a real chance here.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Any Team Can Be De-Railed By Injuries

That's a picture of Glenn Dorsey and Charles Alexander, our two starting defensive tackles until yesterday. In practice yesterday, Charles Alexander injured his knee and is believed to be out for the rest of the season.

Alexander is a junior who has started most of the games the past two seasons. He's not a headline maker, but he's a blocker-eater who makes room for guys like Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson to make plays.

It's very unfortunate to him that he will probably miss the remainder of what could be such a great season. And despite Alexander's injury, it could still be a great season. There is not a great drop-off in ability between Alexander and his primary backup Marlon Favorite. The two have platooned at defensive tackle for most of this season and last season.

The more serious problem this creates for the roster is what to do with Alexander's backup's backup. You NEED four defensive tackles. With Alexander out, we have 3 who have played in Dorsey, Favorite, and Al Woods. Those three will likely have to play more, but we will definitely need a 4th.

This is where we miss Ricky Jean-Francois even more. Jean-Francois would likely have been the starting defensive end this year, but also slides inside to play defensive tackle at times. He could easily have been moved to play defensive tackle, and would have been just as disruptive in that role as he is at defensive end.

Without Jean-Francois available, the next option I suppose is to take away one of the freshmen's redshirt. Word is that the leading candidate among the freshmen defensive tackles is Drake Nevis. Honestly, I'm not that fond of redshirting players who are ready, and I think Les Miles redshirts players too often. I'm not happy he may be forced to make an exception to his pro-redshirting policy due to injury, however.

Another option is to slide Pep Levingston, a 3rd string defensive end who has been very visible when he's gotten into the games, down to defensive tackle. I don't know if Levingston is well-suited for defensive tackle, but he can play football. He's at least our 8th best defensive lineman with Alexander out, but at end he's mired at 3rd string due to the greater depth there.

I don't get a vote, which is probably for the best, but if I had a vote, I'd say move Levingston down to tackle unless Nevis is a better tackle RIGHT NOW.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 4: SEC Preview

There's not a whole lot of really outstanding games this weekend, but I'll give you what I've got. The interesting story-line here is that there are 4 SEC East teams going on the road to face SEC West teams. I've never noticed any East-West rivalry within the SEC, but if you feel it, watch out for how that shakes out.

Florida at Ole Miss, 11:30am Lincoln Financial: Sign #1 that this is not a great week is that this game is on television. The good news is that it's my first chance to lay eyes on Ole Miss. The bad news is that Florida is so much better than Ole Miss that we won't really get an opportunity to gauge how good Ole Miss is. Florida, of course, runs a lot of 5 receiver sets, the purpose of which is to make the opponent throw a lot of defensive backs in the games. Most teams don't have 5 or 6 really good defensive backs, allowing the offense to find the mismatches and exploit them. I think Florida will be able to find a LOT of mismatches. Still, I'll be watching.

Kentucky at Arkansas, 5:00pm ESPN2: Darren McFadden is hurt. I don't know if he's a go for this game or not. If he is, he will run all over Kentucky. If he's not, they'll have to run all over Kentucky with Felix Jones. Kentucky gives up a lot of points. Of course, Kentucky also scores a lot of points. They have good skill position offensive players and can really put some points on the board. Bama really exposed Arkansas' defensive backs last week, and Kentucky is a much better passing team than is Bama. This could be a very high scoring game.

New Mexico State at Auburn, 6:00pm GamePlan: Arkansas is reeling and looking really really bad early in the season. I have heard some talk that NMSU is not exactly a patsy. They have a pass-happy offense that puts up an average of about 37 points per game. Of course, they also give up a lot of points per game, and it remains to be seen that they can move the ball against a defense as good as Auburn's. If they can figure out how to score 3 touchdowns against Quentin Groves and company, they have a chance to win.

Gardner Webb at Mississippi State, 7:00pm XOS Webcast, whatever the hell that is: Alright, I think MSU is better than expected. I said more than once pre-season that I would be surprised if they won a conference game. Never let is be said that I have a problem admitting I got something wrong. They simply look better on defense than I ever expected. Now, considering how they looked against Auburn, and even against LSU, I think they have a SHOT against everyone left on their schedule except West Virginia. No, I'm not saying they'll end the season 10-2, but I don't think you can pencil a check in the loss column for anyone else they play. It really wouldn't surprise me at all if they figure out how to get 2 more conference wins, which, combined with wins against OOC opponents Gardner Webb and UAB, could get MSU into a bowl game. It's amazing what one unexpected win can do. They'll have a relatively easy one this week going against D-1AA opponent Gardner Webb. The drive to 6 wins is on.

Arkansas State at Tennessee, 6:00pm GamePlan: Arkie State is the team that pushed Texas on opening weekend. I don't know if that means Arkansas State is any good or not. I know one thing though: Tennessee's team is quitting on Philip Fulmer.

Georgia at Alabama, 6:45pm ESPN: Once again, Bama is the subject of one of the most interesting matchups of the week. I think it's because there are a lot of teams in the SEC that are approximately as good as Bama. Arkansas was one of them, and Georgia is another. They key to this game is Georgia's young, talented, but inconsistent quarterback Matthew Stafford. When he's good, Georgia is a very good team. When he's bad, Georgia is a rather bad team. He was good against Oklahoma State and bad against South Carolina. If Bama's defense can keep him off balance, they'll have a good weekend. If they let Stafford get into a good rhythm and stay there, it's going to be a long night.

Around the country:

There are interesting games on Thursday and Friday with TAMU going against Miami and OU going against Tulsa. I don't know much about these teams, but OU's supposed to be a national championship contender.

Penn State at Michigan, 2:30pm ABC and GamePlan: The Lloyd Carr watch continues. A loss here against 10th ranked Penn State would put another nail in Carr's coffin. I have nothing against Lloyd Carr, but I'd much rather he be fired this year than hang around another year or two with the vultures circling. If Les Miles is going to leave, let him do it now rather than have his standing at LSU questioned for years. If Carr leaves Michigan and Miles isn't hired to replace him, we'll know we have Miles for a while. That's certainly what I want, but if I can't have that, I'd rather get settled in with a new coach as soon as possible.

Washington State at USC, 7:00pm ABC: If you're on a national championship/USC/Joe McKnight watch, tune into this game. Washington State is 2-1 right now, having lost to top 10 Wisconsin. Can they give USC a game? I guess so. Will they? Probably not, I guess.

East Carolina at West Virginia, 11:00am ESPN: It will be interesting to see if ECU can do to West Virginia what they did to Virginia Tech. That is to say, if ECU can throw off West Virginia offense, keep the score low, and have a chance to win it late. I doubt it, because WVU hass a lot more dynamic of an offense than does Virginia Tech.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

South Carolina: What to Expect

South Carolina is a pretty good team. Like a lot of SEC teams, they do some things very well and some things rather poorly. They're not a complete team, but they do some things well enough to win some games. They've been able to accentuate the positive enough to race out to a 3-0 start against Georgia and two patsies.

What do they do well? They run the ball. The duo of Corey Boyd and Mike Davis are averaging over 6.0 yards per carry each. Moreover, they were able to have success running the ball against Georgia, their lone good opponent, with 140 yards rushing. Corey Boyd carried the load with 14 carries, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. Mike Davis averaged over 6 yards per carry on 9 attempts.

What else do they do well? They play good defense. They held Georgia to 128 yards rushing, though they gave up a 100 yard rusher, allowing Knowshon Moreno to gain over 7.0 yards per carry. They mostly succeeding in the "rushing" game by sacking Matthew Stafford quite a lot. They forced Stafford to have an absolutely terrible game. He completed less than 50% of his passes, threw an interception without a touchdown pass, and averaged less than 5 yards per attempt. Plus he got sacked three times.

Their pass defense has been good all season as well. Against the patsies they've played, they haven't even given up 100 yards in the air per game, and the longest pass play completed against them so far this year went for 22 yards. They have not given up a passing touchdown.

Do they do anything else well? They kick and punt really well. Ryan Succop, in addition to having arguably the best name in the conference, is a really good kicker and punter. He's got good range on field goals, having hit from 40 and 41 so far this year. He hit three field goals to beat Georgia.

Now, where are they vulnerable? Their passing game has been very weak this year. Blake Mitchell has a GeauxTuscaloosa Quarterback Productivity Index of 4.43 yards per play, which is horrid. It's not the worst in the conference (thank you Brandon Cox and Michael Henig), but it's close, and it would have been worse than Brent Schaeffer's last year. For comparison, Casey Dick's GTQBPI is 6.58 yards per play. And Casey Dick is terrible.

I was a big Blake Mitchell fan in the pre-season. He had solid stats last year for the amount of time he played. I thought he was poised for a big senior season. Not so far, he isn't. And it's not going to be any easier for him this week. The LSU defense absolutely mauls drop-back pocket passers. We've faced three of them so far this season, and all three of them ended up being taken out of the game for poor performance.

We just get too much of a pass rush and we cover receivers too well for a pure drop back passer to have any success. The rush gets to them before they can find a receiver to throw to. Quarterbacks who can run and scramble for yards have been much more effective against us. South Carolina doesn't have a quarterback like that among the 3 they've played this year.

I also think they'll have a harder time running on this defense than they did against Georgia. I'm no trash-talker, but frankly this is the best defense in the country as far as anyone can tell. We give up 2.3 points per game. Corey Boyd and Mike Davis will get some yards, just like MSU's Anthony Dixon did. But we'll stop them enough to force a lot of 3rd and long yardage situations. Then we'll pin our ears back and come after Mitchell, letting our corners cover Kenny McKinley and the other receivers. Remember, Virginia Tech did not complete a single pass to a man being covered by any of our cornerbacks, even our backup cornerbacks. MTSU was only able to complete 8 passes all games, but I don't know if they got any against our corners.

So, to sum it up, South Carolina plays a very stout defense. They've let no one pass on them. Running on them is not particularly easy either. They run the ball well, and their kicking game is very good. Their passing game is terrible.

I think our defense can really disrupt their game, and force them into mistakes. They have thrown as many interceptions as touchdown passes this year, and we've been pretty good about getting turnovers. If we can get some points against their defense and turn them into a passing team, it's over. If they can keep it close and rely on their running game, that's their best chance. If they try to be one-dimensional in running though, I think we can stop them.

The key is going to be getting the same kind of jump on them we got on Virginia Tech. South Carolina doesn't have a come-from-behind style of offense. They have a grind-it-out style of offense. If they get behind by a couple of scores and need to get yardage, or get to the point where field goals don't help them, they're in real trouble.

And how do we get that kind of jump? Georgia showed that a good running back can get yards on them. I'm not sure we have a great offensive line at this point, but if we're going to get a jump on them, it's likely to come from the running game initially, and using that to open up the passing game.

That begs the next question: Flynn or Perrilloux? I think the answer is simple. If Flynn is 100%, play him. If Flynn is not 100%, then Perrilloux is probably the better player.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Injuries Abound

Tomorrow we'll start previewing South Carolina. Today we're going to talk about injuries, which I hesitate to do because I'm not sure I can say anything about them that hasn't been said ad nauseum already.

Early Doucet (pictured) and Matt Flynn are acknowledged by the coaching staff to be injured. Who knows who else isn't acknowledged to be injured? Doucet's injury is some kind of groin/abdominal injury. There is MUCH discussion of it on the message boards. If you go to TigerDroppings, you'll probably see half a dozen threads on the first page with titles like, "Does anyone know about Doucet's injury?"

Lots of people claim to know a lot about Early's injury, all claiming inside knowledge. They don't seem to agree with one another about his prognosis, however, so we don't know who has reliable information.

Opinions vary from "He'll be back for the Florida game" to "He's out for most of the year." However much he is out, it is a serious blow to this team and to this young man.

First, the team. Obviously, Early Doucet is our most experienced receiver. He started the season with about 10x more career receptions than the rest of our receiver corps combined. He's a veteran of some of the great SEC battles of the last few years. He's caught last-minute touchdown passes to win games against Arizona State and Tennessee. He's the best red zone receiver in recent memory at LSU. He's a guy we could count on in the clutch to make the big catch. We have a lot of other receivers with ability, but none with the proven record of performance. He's also a team leader.

Second, the man. This is Early's senior year. He's been here four years now, and it's finally his team. It's a few other people's team, but it's his team as well. In the past, he's shared the spotlight with Dwayne Bowe and Craig Davis, and before that it was Joseph Addai's and Andrew Whitworth's team, among others. It's hard to explain the mentality of an athlete in his senior year, particularly one like Early who has relished the leadership role and thrived in it. The seniors are the ones everyone looks to, and they're the ones who "own" the team, so to speak. If he didn't relish the leadership role, he could have gone to the NFL last year and probably been picked around the 2nd round. Instead he came back. I hope this injury doesn't cost him his senior year.

Matt Flynn's injury is a high ankle sprain, a term I don't think I had ever heard ten years ago. Now, I seem to hear it all the time. Flynn (pictured) could have played against MTSU but was held out for precautionary reasons. One thing they all say about high ankle sprains is that they just seem to linger and linger and linger without ever getting better. I hope that's not the case with Flynn.

At least, in Flynn's case, he's healthy enough to play right now. If it doesn't get better, he can still go as long as it doesn't get worse. Of course, an injury that limits Matt Flynn as a runner limits one of the strengths of his game. If Matt Flynn can't run, he's probably not as good of a QB right now as is Ryan Perrilloux.

Like with Doucet, Matt Flynn is in his senior year. Unlike Doucet, who previously shared the spotlight, Flynn has yielded it. This season is even more important then for Matt Flynn, who doesn't have as much past glory as Early Doucet has.

I would sure like to get Flynn back for the Tulane game to warm up for the Florida game, which now looks like the toughest game on our schedule. Perrilloux has filled in admirably, but I'd rather have a veteran like Flynn for that tough game.

OK, that's actually a picture of Matt Damon, but darnit the resemblance is uncanny and I couldn't find a head shot of Matt Flynn.

Switching gears, there's been a lot of talk about Les Miles not discussing injuries with the media. I am an attorney, but I am not a health care attorney so take this information for what it's worth. It is my opinion that it is illegal for football coaches to discuss players' injuries with the public without the express consent of the player. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (which makes health insurance neither portable nor accountable, but that's a discussion for a different blog) generally forbids health care provider from giving out your health care information without consent. It is my conclusion that the athletic trainers on the team and the team doctors are health care providers within the purview of the statute. The head coach, then, is a co-worker with the players' health care providers, and therefore are just are subject to its laws. The head coach would be treated just like the secretary at the doctors' office in that model.

Violation of HIPAA's privacy provisions can subject a person to civil liability. It wouldn't be a big deal, and I think it's very unlikely that Early Doucet and/or Matt Flynn would ever actually sue the university for discussing their injuries, but it is generally a good idea to obey federal laws whenever possible. Smart coaches who understand the privacy laws are starting to be more closed-mouthed about injuries, Les Miles among them.

Plus, I'm pretty sure Miles would rather keep that information out of the hands of his opponents anyway.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Heisman Candidate

OK, Tim Tebow is a big old goofball. He's also been by far the best offensive player in the SEC this season. I think he needs to be in the Heisman discussion.

I will rest my case in part on the GeauxTuscaloosa Quarterback Productivity Index, which as you may recall rates quarterbacks based on the following formula:

GTQBPI=((yards passing + 20*touchdown passes - 30*interceptions) + (yards rushing + 20*touchdown rushes))/(number of pass attempts + number of rushes)

It's a rate stat and is designed to give you a number in units of yards-per-play. It tells you how what kind of productivity you can expect when the offense puts the ball in his hands and tells him to do something. In 2006, the average around the SEC was around 7.0 yards per play. Jamarcus Russell led the conference with 9.16 yards per play.

This year, Tim Tebow is setting a blistering pace of 12.09 yards per play. It's second in the SEC to Ryan Perrilloux's 12.15 yards per play.

But let's examine the numbers a little further. the GTQBPI doesn't really say who is best. It says who is succeeding the most in their role. Because it examines how you're succeeding in your role, a below average QB like Casey Dick can have a fairly respectable 6.58 yards per play even though everyone acknowledges he is one of weaker QBs in the conference. His team doesn't ask much of him, though, so he's able to have success in his limited role. Meanwhile, a much better QB in John Parker Wilson is struggling with a 5.92 yards per play GTQBPI. He's a better QB than is Casey Dick, with more than double the passing yards, but his team asks him to throw as many as 45 times per game. With that level of expectation, he is not having a commiserate level of success.

A very high GTQBPI suggests a player may be ready to take on a bigger role with his team. He may be ready to help his team more by having more asked of him. With a guy taking on a bigger role, defenses will key on him more, and you can expect his rate of production decrease, because he's no longer taking teams by surprise.

Tim Tebow has an exceptional GTQBPI. Should he take on a bigger role in the Florida offense. While his 12.07 yards per play may suggest he should take on a bigger role, it would simply not be possible. Only 2 quarterbacks in the SEC have had more pass attempts plus rushing attempts (Wilson and Andre Woodson). He's leading the conference in passing yards and has far more rushing yards than any other QB. In fact, he has more more rushing yards than the rest of the SEC quarterbacks COMBINED. (Keep in mind though, several quarterbacks have negative rushing yards). Plus, Tebow runs option. Florida doesn't run a lot of straight handoff plays. When they run, they usually run either Tebow straight up, or run an option where Tebow has to make a read and a decision on what to do with the ball.

Almost every play Florida runs requires Tebow to either a) throw the ball, b) run the ball, or c) make a decision about whether to run it or give it to someone else. His role in the offense cannot be any bigger. And despite the fact that defenses know everything runs through him, he still has an extraordinary rate of production of 12.07 yards per play.

Perrilloux's rating is higher, but he has a much smaller role in the offense. The only comparable QB in the conference, as far as his role with the team, is Andre Woodson. Woodson is a great QB who is expected to be drafted in the top half of the first round by the NFL next April. He's a huge part of his team's offense. Woodson's GTQBPI is a very strong 8.35 yards per play, good for 3rd in the SEC. This is similar to his rating for last year. It is, however, far lower than Tebow's.

Tebow is simply dominating the defenses he's played, and he's done it against pretty fair teams in Troy and Tennessee. They may not be great defenses, but honestly Tebow's probably only going to face one great defense this year. He'll face a couple more good ones, but there's little reason to believe his production will drop off significantly against South Carolina or Georgia.

I don't pay much attention to the talking heads and their Heisman talk, but if Tebow isn't getting any Heisman pub yet, he should be very soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

SEC Roundup - Week Three

Since Pittman was at a wedding yesterday, I took some time out to watch all of the SEC games so I could do the roundup. No need to thank me.

Mississippi State 19, Auburn 14
It's hard to imagine a worse football game. State played three different QB's who combined for the cover-your-eyes awful line of 5/18 for 41 yards. Henig led the way with SIXTEEN yards passing. And they won. Auburn is a total mess right now. They are a better team than State, but five turnovers to zero is usually the kiss of death. I hate Auburn, so this was pretty damn enjoyable game.

Florida 59, Tennessee 20
Florida used this as a statement game. Remember how good we thought Cal looked against UT? Well, Florida upped the ante. The Gators still had the starters in midway through the fourth quarter as they tried to get a few extra votes in the polls. It worked. This is exactly why you run up the score, people. It impresses voters. This game was 28-20 with 5:30 left in the third. Then the Gators recovered a fumble for a TD and the onslaught began. 31 points in the final 20 minutes. Tebow, by the way, looks really good. He can still run, but he has shown accuracy and touch he didn't get to show last year. They are a legit title contender. As for the Vols... they simply cannot run the football. You won't beat good teams if you can't rush at least a little bit.

Vandy 31, Ole Miss 17
The wrong guy with the hyphenated game dominated the rushing attack. Green-Ellis went for 66 yards on 21 carries, which is fairly pedestrian. Jackson-Garrison, meanwhile, ripped off 119 yards and 3 TDs off 23 carries for the Commodores. Vandy has made a recent habit of flirting with a winning season, but this is the kind of performance that gets you there. Then again, it's just Ole Miss.

Georgia 45, Western Carolina 16
South Carolina 38, South Carolina St 3

Two SEC schools beat up on really bad teams who collected a large paycheck for their time. Who cares?

Alabama 41, Arkansas 38
I'm sure Pittman will have much more to say about this game, but let's just say Saban avoided a choke of truly epic proportions. Instead, Nutt gets the goat tag, as the entire football nation wonders why he didn't run the ball to protect the lead. OK, McFadden was out with cramps, but I hear this Felix Jones guy is pretty good. The two backs absolutely tore through Bama's defense, but with the game on the line, Nutt relied on his passing game short his best receiver. I'm baffled. It wasn't just that Bama choked on a 21-point lead, it was how quickly they coughed it up. Bama went up by 21 with 5:15 left in the 3rd quarter. With 12:05 left in the fourth, the game was tied. At 8:08, the Hogs had the lead. 28 points in 12 minutes of football? That can't happen. It's a good win for Bama and that last drive was super clutch by John Parker Wilson, even if he did get bailed out on the pass interference call in the end zone. I'm certainly not ready to say "Bama is back" off of this game, particularly given that the Razorbacks are in disarray right now. But it is a big win. We'll have a real prognosis after Bama plays Georgia.

Kentucky 40, Louisville 34
Brian Brohm may not even be the best quarterback in Kentucky. Andre Woodson was simply great against his cross-state rivals. I've seen better lines than 30/44 for 275 yards and 4 TDs, but what made the game so great was how calm he looked in the pocket. During that last drive, Woodson took his time and almost looked bored bringing his team down the field. He converted a fourth down on a short pass in the flat, he wasn't afraid to use the middle of the field, and he even threw in some run plays. Woodson had less than two minutes to drive the field, and he never hurried the play. He let it come to him. And he hit the game winning TD right after one of his lineman stupidly got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. 2nd and 25... and I was sure UK was going to score. But, I was having huge flashbacks to our Bluegrass Miracle as Brohm chucked the ball downfield in the last three plays. Knock it down, for godsakes. UK's defense is mediocre and its special teams were terrible. But Woodson was awesome. That was enough for the upset.

MTSU: The Awakening

Ryan Perrilloux has a very bright future at LSU. His present is not too bad either, and he's getting great experience to help him for when he has to lead this team through a real test. Hopefully that's not next week, as I'd much rather have Flynn available to play against the Gamecocks, who I think are a pretty good football team.

But back to Perrilloux. His line according to ESPN is 20 for 26, 298 yards passing, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception along with 8 rushes for 37 yards. That would give him a one-game GeauxTuscaloosa Quarterback Productivity Index of 10.74 yards/play, good for 2nd place on the week behind Tim Tebow. Incidentally, because Perrilloux not has extensive statistics and has been the primary QB in a game, he can now be ranked in the SEC GTQBPI standings. He is currently ranked #1 with a 12.15 yards/play GTQBPI. Tim Tebow is 2nd with 12.07 yards/play.

Granted, the entire Florida offense runs through Tebow, and Ryan has gotten most of his stats against MTSU.

I didn't watch any of the game, because of the aforementioned wedding reception in Jackson, Mississippi. I managed to listen to the first LSU drive and the final quarter on the radio. How impressive is this team? Well, last night's 44 points represented the lowest offensive output of the season, and we did it with our backup quarterback and without our #1 receiver. All the while we've given up a total of 7 points on the entire season.

Got that? Our lowest offensive point total for a single game is more than 6 times the total number of points we've given up the entire season. Auburn's offense gave up as many points yesterday as our whole team has given up ALL SEASON.

Think about what it takes to accomplish that. It requires performance by all three phases of the game. First and foremost, your defense has to be outstanding to give up only 7 points in 3 games. Second, your offense can't commit turnovers deep in your own territory, and we have not. In fact, last night's game saw us commit our first two turnovers of the season, and only one put MTSU in good field position, but the defense held. Third, you can't give up big returns on special teams. Fourth, with the blowouts we've had, even your backups have to play well to avoid giving up points, and they have. The backup defense hasn't given up a point, and the backup offense hasn't committed a turnover.

So, let's give out our congratulations.
  • Congratulations to Ryan Perrilloux for getting his first college start and playing very well.
  • Congratulations to Demetrius Byrd for catching his first touchdown pass of his career.
  • Congratulations to Jared Mitchell for having the biggest game of his career, catching 6 passes for 82 yards while taking on a bigger role in the absence of Early Doucet.
  • Congratulations to Richard Murphy for scoring his first career touchdown.
  • Congratulations to Ricky Dixon for catching his first pass (for 9 yards).
  • Congratulations to Andrew Hatch for getting his first game action at quarterback.
I'm still wondering what happened to Early Doucet. Rumors are it is a groin injury of uncertain severity, but he was up and walking around at the game. Hopefully he and Matt Flynn will be back at full strength against a solid South Carolina team.

If I have any concerns about this game, it is that for the second consecutive game, a running QB was able to move the ball. Tyrod Taylor led Virginia Tech to the only points that have been scored against LSU this season, and Dwight Dasher moved the ball (albeit against the 2nd string) better than the starter did, and ended up as his team's leading rusher. This is not a concern going against Blake Mitchell and South Carolina, b a certain Mr. Tebow is coming to town a few weeks. Tebow is a lot better than Dwight Dasher. Bo Pelini is going to have to figure out how to make this defense account for a running quarterback a little better.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Game Day: MTSU

OK, it's Game Day again, this time for the Blue Raiders of MTSU. This will be a first for GeauxTuscaloosa, a football game that I will not be seeing. As explained earlier in the week, I will not be able to be home for this game. I'll be at a wedding for a friend. Yes, it's a friend who isn't interested in football.

I won't be able to listen to much of it on the radio, but I may be able to catch the second half on the way home. That means there won't be any "First Replay" or "Second Replay" posts. I'll have to figure out other things to talk about.

I'll also miss all of the second most interesting game in the SEC this week: Alabama vs. Arkansas. I said we'd find out more about Bama with their matchup against Vandy, and we did. We found out that Bama is a legitimate bowl team who is a threat to beat any team on their schedule. This week, we will find out even more. We'll find out if they're a legitimate threat in the SEC West, or are they just spoilers trying to get to the Music City Bowl.

So, here's my schedule of the day:

Now to 11:30am: Avoid GameDay on ESPN like the plague. Do some errands. Walk the dog. There is no interesting 11:00am game, so skip that.

11:30-2:30pm: Mississippi State at Auburn: Here in Tuscaloosa, sports talk radio has been absolutely dominated by criticism of Auburn this week. The Auburn fans are very upset at how bad their team has looked the first two weeks. I think highly of Tommy Tuberville's coaching abilities, but there is no one to blame but him for the fact that Auburn has such a poor offensive line and a lack of playmaking wide receivers. He's been recruiting and coaching these guys for their entire careers, and if they didn't recruit good receivers and offensive linemen 3 and 4 years ago such that he does not have that wave of juniors and seniors ready to take the reins of the offense, that's his own fault. Auburn fans are right to criticize him for it.

If you're 7 years into your tenure as coach and a true freshman is starting on the offensive line, either that freshman must be incredible or you have a lot to answer for. It looks like Tubby has a lot to answer for.

With such an inexperienced offense, this is a team that is likely to improve considerably over the course of the season, but for right now they're vulnerable, and it's my conclusion from observing these teams that MSU matches up pretty well with Auburn. They have a pretty good defensive line that can take advantage of Auburn's inexperienced offensive front and a very good left tackle who may be able to neutralize Auburn's best player, Quentin Groves. If Michael Henig can avoid the mistakes that doomed them against LSU, they have a shot to win this game.

If MSU wins, it's going to be a VERY interesting week in Alabama.

2:30-4:30, Tennessee at Florida. This is a very interesting game, because we don't really know how good Florida is. They've beaten up on some weak teams early in the year, but haven't faced a real test. Then again, we don't know how good Tennessee is either. Their defense certainly looked very vulnerable against Cal, and now they're missing a starting cornerback to injury.

I think Tennessee will get its points. The questions are
  1. Can Florida's inexperienced and untested defense hold Tennessee's offense to a reasonable number of points, giving its offense a chance to win the game?
  2. Has Tennessee's suspect defense improved as a result of its embarrassment against Cal enough to hold Tebow and company to a reasonable point total to give Lamarcus Coker and Erik Ainge a chance to win?
4:30-7:00pm: Drive to Jackson, Mississippi. I don't know what, if anything will be on the radio.

7:00pm-9:00pm or so: Attend wedding reception: The wedding itself is a small, very private family affair to which I am not invited (neither is anyone else who isn't related, from what I understand. The reception is where the action is. I decided not to get a hotel, because my wife and child will not be there. My wife was invited, but it was not possible to bring the baby because the venue is an art museum, with no children allowed in the building. That would have meant we'd have to get a sitter for the baby, and the whole thing just seemed way to fraught with danger and difficulty. Therefore, I'm going alone, and I'm coming back the same night.

9:00pm-whenever: I will be driving home, hoping to catch the second half of the game on the radio. As I get closer to Tuscaloosa, WWL will likely go out, and I'll switch over to the Bama-Arky game if it's still on.

The rumors around the message board is that Flynn is walking around in a boot and either a) is not ready to go, or b) shouldn't play and risk more serious injury. If so, it looks like Ryan Perrilloux may get his long-awaited first start. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Maize and Blue Got You Blue?

This blog has not yet discussed the rumors that Les Miles may be coaching the University of Michigan next year. I've been waiting for this post to discuss it.

Let me go on the record right now and say I sure would like for Miles to remain as coach of the LSU Fightin' Tigers for the near future.

To review, Les Miles is a Michigan man. He played under legendary coach Bo Schembechler. He coached under Bo as well. It's long been speculated that the Michigan position is his dream job. Meanwhile, Michigan's current coach is facing widespread rumors that this is his last year on the job, one way or another due to a combination of poor performance, age, and failing health.

So far, Miles has mostly refused to even discuss what is going on at Michigan. Let's examine why that is. First, people keep asking him about a job that is currently occupied. Despite popular opinion, Lloyd Carr has not been fired yet. He's still coaching the Wolverines. Miles knows it would be in very poor taste to go around talking about his interest in a job that is currently occupied. It would be ghoulish to talk about Lloyd Carr as if he was already fired while he's trying to prepare to play the Big 10 schedule. Keeping in mind that Lloyd Carr is Miles' friend, that makes it even less likely that Miles will talk about the job.

Put yourself in Les Miles' position. He has a friend who is struggling at a job there are strong rumors he'd want, if it was open. He keeps being asked about the job as if that friend is already fired. Do you think this is a comfortable topic of conversation for him?

Second, if his agent has been contacted by Michigan officials to gauge his interest in the job (which is certainly possible to have happened), he can't exactly go around saying that. If he says publicly, "Michigan contacted me," even if that's followed with, "and I told them I'm not interested," it would be confirmation that Michigan is calling around asking about coaches' interest in the job. How badly would that hurt Lloyd Carr and the Michigan players to know that Michigan administrators are already looking around for another coach? If that got out, Michigan's season would likely get even worse, and it would make the athletic director look bad. Miles would never do that, if for no other reason than that it would actually make it less likely he'd get the job if he didn't "play ball" with them.

Third, Les Miles has his own team to coach, one that appears to be on the verge of something special. He'd rather not have the distraction.

The unfortunate part of all this is that we'll likely face the talk of Miles going to Michigan for the rest of the season, until one of three things happens:
  1. Michigan actually hires Miles to coach their team;
  2. Michigan hires someone other than Miles to coach their team; or
  3. Michigan decides to retain Lloyd Carr (and he decides not to retire).
The good news is that while this will go on all year, it probably won't go on beyond this year. Most people thought this was Carr's last year regardless of what happened on the field. Many believe he was likely to retire after this year anyway. Now, it looks likely that if he doesn't retire, he'll be fired. And I can hardly blame Michigan. They've lost to their arch-rivals a bunch of times in a row. They haven't won their conference in a while. They've looked awful so far this year despite lofty expectations. Who could blame them for making a change.

But I digress. This is not going to be a Nick Saban-like situation, where LSU faced year after year of rumors that Saban was going to go after whatever NFL jobs happened to be available. Nope. This is going to be resolved this year unless Michigan takes the unexpected action of retaining Lloyd Carr (and Carr takes the unexpected action of not leaving on his own). By January, we'll know if Miles will be leaving or if we'll have him for the next several years, because once the Michigan job is filled, it will be filled for the next 4 years, minimum.

That means that this is unlikely to have a profound effect on recruiting, despite what the message boards are saying. Other teams can tell recruits "Les Miles may be going to Michigan" all they want. The fact is, by the time National Signing Day rolls around in February, we'll know one way or another. If Miles has left, we'll have another coach in place who can put together his own recruiting class. We may lose some recruits, and we may gain some others. No one, however, will be asked to sign with LSU facing uncertainty about who will be their coach in a year or two, which was the case every year Nick Saban was coach here.

I wish we weren't facing these rumors, but it's a compliment to the LSU football program that everyone seems to be assuming that Michigan is interested in Les Miles. Keep in mind, we're not sure they actually ARE interested in Miles, and Michigan message boards are definitely split on the subject. It is by no means certain that hiring Miles would be a popular move among Michigan fans. Which is fine by me, since I like him right here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

SEC Preview plus Matt Flynn

I can't help but notice that comments have slowed down considerably since I started posting Bullwinkle-related images at the front of blog entries. If there's a correlation there, I'm highly disappointed in my readership. Come on! It's Bullwinkle!

I woke up this morning to this headline on Tiger Bait: "Flynn Questionable". Miles says he's day to day, and that we'll know more about whether he'll play tomorrow. Also questionable is strong safety Craig Steltz.

Around the SEC:

Mississippi State at Auburn
, 11:30am, Lincoln Financial. I know I've said that I doubted MSU would win a conference game all season, but allow me to present this game as a potential upset. Having watched both of these teams play, I think MSU matches up pretty well against them. Auburn has a great right side defensive end in Quentin Groves, but MSU matches up with a left tackle (Michael Brown) who held Kirston Pittman in check for a whole game the week before Pittman earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors for his performance against Virginia Tech. Auburn's offensive line is VERY suspect, and MSU's defensive line is quite good. If Michael Henig can take care of the ball and if Michael Brown can hold Quentin Groves in check, MSU has a shot here.

Western Carolina at Georgia, noon: Georgia gets a salve for its post-South Carolina wounds by playing a D1-AA school that Bama absolutely trounced. Next week: Bama.

Tennessee at Florida, 2:30pm CBS: Finally, a CBS afternoon game. Tennessee's defense looked pretty bad against Cal, and frankly Tim Tebow looks like he's going to be the hardest person to defend in the entire conference this year. He's going to give defensive coordinators fits all year. I don't think there is a single person in the conference, not even Darren McFadden, who is so heavily integrated into his team's offense than is Tim Tebow for Florida. I think to beat Florida's offense, you have to play disciplined assignment-based defense; you need corners who can cover good receivers man-to-man; you need defensive linemen who can penetrate consistently; and you need linebackers fast and athletic enough to stop runners from getting to the corner. If your cornerbacks need to provide run support, they'll fake a run and throw it to the receiver the corner isn't covering.

The good news, if you're Tennessee, is that it looks like Florida's defense is going to give up a lot of points. This really is an interesting matchup, and it could get very high scoring. Tennessee's defense is going to have to play better than it did against Cal, but honestly Florida doesn't have the kind of speed that burned Tennessee repeatedly. I'm not saying Florida has no speed, but Cal had all-world type speed.

Arkansas at Bama, 5:45 ESPN: Bama has looked better than expected, but they haven't faced a guy like McFadden. This will be a tremendous test of their questionable front seven. Even without Marcus Monk, Arky is a bigger test than Vandy. Bama will get a big boost from their home crowd, but if McFadden or Jones breaks off a big run early, that could take the crowd out of it. On the offensive side of the ball, Bama really has to get John Parker Wilson rolling. He doesn't have a touchdown pass yet and is averaging only 6.4 yards per pass attempt. He's been one of the least effective QBs in the conference so far this season. I don't know much about Arkansas's defense, but they'll probably need Wilson to have a break out game if they hope to win this one.

Another interesting stat about John Parker Wilson: he has not scored a rushing touchdown either this season or last season. He was the only full-time starting quarterback in the SEC last year not to score a rushing touchdown last year. So far, five SEC quarterbacks have scored rushing touchdowns.

Ole Miss at Vandy, 6:00pm: Vandy, a team I maintain should be pretty good, tries to recover from a pretty devastating loss to Bama last week. They're better than Ole Miss, or at least they're better than the Ole Miss team that gave up about 1000 yards to Missouri. If not for some very untimely penalties and an injury to their QB, last week's game could have been different. If Nickson is healthy, look for him to try to take revenge on Ole Miss.

South Carolina State at South Carolina
, 6:00pm: Honestly, what is there to say that hasn't already been said. It's "State" versus "U". What more do you need?

Louisville at Kentucky, 6:30pm, ESPN Classic: That's right, it's on ESPN Classic. What does this say about this matchup? Nothing, really, but it is actually quite an interesting looking game. Frankly, despite Louisville's lofty top 10 ranking, they still have a lot to prove after giving up 42 points to Middle Tennessee State University. Granted, they scored 58 points against MTSU, and Kentucky is not known for stellar defense, but they can't afford to leave receivers open the way they did. If you don't believe it, check out the picture to the left. Neither of these teams has really proven to be any good this year. I suppose that's what they mean when they describe this as a "Credibility Game". The winner gets to say, in all honesty, that they've accomplished something. Good luck Cats.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Will the Real MTSU Please Stand Up

Middle Tennessee State University has played two games so far this season, and have looked like two different teams doing it. In their first game, they lost to lowly Florida Atlantic University 27-14, gaining only 217 yards of total offense, only 18 of which came on the ground. They fell behind 24-0 before scoring a couple late touchdowns to make the game look closer than it was.

In their second game, they scored 42 points on top 10 Louisville, gaining 554 yards of total offense, including 264 on the ground. They were in the game into the 4th quarter and were actually leading it late in the second quarter.

What do we know about MTSU? Well, one of their fans has made his way to Tiger Forums and has told us what to expect. Even he believes they looked like two different teams:
I wish I had the answer about the huge turnaround from game one to game two. We also accomplished it on a short week. To me that's nothing more than amazing. Last year we were co-champions of the Sun Belt based on a very conservative offense and a dominating defense. Our defense was supposed to be our strength again this year, but so far that hasn't happened. We tried the same style of play in our first game. Unfortunately, due to a couple of mishaps Florida Atlantic had 3 possessions before we ever touched the ball. After holding them to 3 and out they had to punt. It was a very bad punt, but it hit one of our players and FAU recovered. They ended up scoring. We then fumbled the ensuing kickoff. I think a combination of being on the field too long in the 1st quarter and the Florida heat/humidity really hurt us in that game.

We appeared to have a different game plan against Louisville. We went to more of a spread offense. We moved one of our biggest playmakers, Desmond Gee (pronounced "G") from running back to wide receiver. DeMarco McNair is our starting tailback. He runs a 4.35 forty. He is complimented by back-up Phillip Tanner. Tanner is a little bit bulkier, but he ran a leg on our track relay team. He has explosive speed as well. Joe Craddock, our QB, is a first year starter. He has a good arm and he has mobility.

We are hurting on the O-line. One reason why we went to the spread is because of a major lack of depth on the O-line. We have had numerous injuries at that position and we only had 7 scholarship O-linemen available for the Louisville game. I look for us to continue the spread offense because there is no way we can line up with the Tigers D-line.

Our defensive line is supposed to be our strength. We return basically all our 2-deep players from last year. We have not looked very good this year so far, but there is some real talent on the D-line. Our secondary is not bad. # 24 Bradley Robinson has really been hitting hard this year. If you saw the Louisville game you might remember he was the one who stuck Douglas on the goal line. Roy Polite has been laying the hits on as well. Our secondary might be the hardest hitting one you have faced this year.

Our linebackers are young, but talented.

This is going to be an extremely tough test for the Blue Raiders. If we play like we did the first game then it will be over in the 1st quarter. If we play like we did against Louisville, I look for some Tiger fans to be somewhat nervous at halftime, then your depth will take over.

I was very proud of the way we played at Louisville (even though I'm never happy with a loss). I think we showed flashes of the talent we have. We are nowhere close to being on the same level as a LSU, but this is college football and as fans we can always pull for our team, no matter the odds.
So there you have it. They play a spread out offense (or maybe they do). Their offensive line is not good. They are a pretty talented team for a mid-major. They are not expected to stay in the game the whole time.

There are a couple rumors really starting to fly around. I'm sure you've heard the whole Les-Miles-is-going-to-Michigan rumor. There's really nothing that can be done about that rumor. It's out there, and it's not going anywhere until either he leaves, Michigan hires someone else, or they decide to keep Lloyd Carr. Therefore, we can expect these rumors to persist for the entire season. I'll have some more thoughts on this in another post.

The other rumor going around is that Matt Flynn is more seriously injured than first thought. I will only say that someone on Tigerdroppings (yes, I still read it at times) posted something troubling yesterday, and it was quickly deleted by the administrators over there. I think we still beat MTSU pretty handily without Matt Flynn if it comes to that, but I'd rather not go against South Carolina at less than our best.

For what it's worth, Les Miles is denying that Flynn is out for the game:
"I think he'll be able to go, no question" Miles said of Flynn's status for Saturday's 7 p.m. home game against Middle Tennessee. "We figure he'll be available to us."

Flynn wore a large black boot around his ankle and up to his knee after practice.

"He puts that on after practice," LSU sports information director Michael Bonnette said. "He ran today. He threw."
What do I want out of this game:
  1. A convincing win with no significant injuries and without showing future opponents anything useful on film,
  2. The opportunity to get our best players out of the game early to help avoid injuries, and
  3. Playing time for young players and other backups
Tomorrow, we preview the rest of the SEC.