TigerEye Review—Week 5
Photo courtesy of Exxon Mobile
I don’t know if we can still call this the Gus Bus. Maybe the Lindsey Lamborghini?
The SEC West
Separation is beginning to occur between the upper two teams of the division and the remainder. Arkansas and Texas A&M are still showing potency on offense, but the two Mississippi programs are reeling from two disastrous weeks of conference play, and their numbers are showing abject failure to either move the ball on third down or score when in the red zone. And LSU? Stuck in the basement with three games against ranked opponents in the next month, two of which are on the road. That might leave the Bayou Bengals in danger of missing a bowl appearance for the first time in the 21st century. The last time that happened was 1999 under Gerry DiNardo.*
Auburn and Alabama are playing at the top of the NCAA on defense. Both Kevin Steele and Jeremy Pruitt are giving a class on what quality game planning, adjustment and execution with talented athletes at all positions can achieve week in and week out. Neither defense has really played a bad game, Colorado State and Clemson matches notwithstanding. The rest of the West is in trouble, though. Both LSU and MSU have shown troubling stretches in recent games, and just about anyone can score on the remaining three teams in the West.
The SEC East
Georgia and Florida are both pulling ahead in terms of efficiency with recent numbers showing significant improvement, but the pace of change is still somewhat slow. Neither team is out of the woods, so to speak, and “average” is the most common term that could be used to describe them. The rest of the East? Downright pitiful. Vandy and Kentucky are showing their lack of depth and quality of athletes, but what are the excuses being offered for Mizzou, South Cakalacky and that Sanitation Worker convention at Knoxville? When you host your two biggest division rivals at home and manage to record just seven first downs, it’s time to re-evaluate everything you once knew about your offense.
Not that these numbers on defense are that impressive considering the significant losses each team outside of Athens has suffered. Georgia’s dominance of the East is all but assured given a decent game against Florida’s suspect defense. Even a loss to Auburn won’t keep it out of Atlanta if the dawgs just keep to this level of efficiency. Florida could play spoiler to that plan, but it’s an outside chance at best. The rest of the East simply can’t be expected to compete for anything but second tier bowl games by the look of things.
The State of the Conference
Only three teams are showing potential to reach the playoffs from the Southeastern Conference. Of those three Auburn has the longest and most challenging road, having to play both of the other two during the regular season. While the rest of the conference will still have games they can play to upset that trifecta of excellence, there is definitely an “outside looking in” aspect to the remainder of the conference. If this continues at this rate until November, expect the Amen Corner to provide the deciding contests for who goes to and dominates the big dance at the end with the rest of league simply hanging on for the scraps left over.
But, however it ends, these past few weeks have been an absolute joy while watching a fast, hard hitting Auburn defense and an explosive offense win game after game. It’s been a little like watching Sullivan–Beasley light up the scoreboard again while those staunch Tuberville defenses that made “the Auburn game” a week of trepidation and dread for opposing teams in the early aughts of the last decade. Here’s hoping this ride continues all the way to Atlanta.
*1999 was also the last time Auburn beat LSU in Tiger Stadium, prompting my favorite joke of that season as Louisiana Tech upset Alabama 29–28 the same weekend (Sept 18, 1999).
Question: “Who feels worse after Saturday’s losses? Alabama coach Mike Dubose or LSU coach Gerry Dinardo?”
Answer: “Mike Dubose. Gerry at least got a sympathy hug from his wife” (Dubose had recently settled a $300,000 out-of-court infidelity case involving his former Athletic Department secretary.)
It’s hard not to like this latest turn of events