The SEC Bachstory will be a weekly SEC recap posted every Monday morning breaking down all the big events from the previous weekend. In order to eliminate all confusion, the Bach in Bachstory is pronounced like back (Back to the Future, The Empire Strikes Back, Back in Black), you get the picture. This week we take a look at a dominant Crimson Tide team, a lazy Gator coaching staff, Mark Richt's swan song and more.
The Weekend That Was
If you missed the Alabama dismantling of Florida Saturday night, the Tide is good…really good. That was an absolute beat-down on a team that will be top ten in the final rankings and is almost as talented as Alabama is at every spot. Alabama did what they wanted, when they wanted and the defense was just as aggressive as it was a year ago. The "weak" spot of the team (the secondary) came up with big plays time after time and Courtney Upshaw was a man among boys. But there was one item that stood out to me above all else and that was Alabama's tackling. Every time there was a one on one play for Florida with an Alabama defender, the defender made the tackle. At one point I tried to count missed tackles and there were none…the Tide tackled everyone.
That right there is all about coaching, Nick Saban/Kirby Smart know how to coach defense and they know how to coach tackling. Trust me, next time you watch an Alabama game try and count how many missed tackles or arm tackles you see…I promise you won't get to your second hand. There will be no cute upset picks from this writer the rest of the year, no comments about Alabama needing to bring their A-Game or other stupid euphemisms to convince you that Alabama might lose a game because they aren't going to. People may have laughed at Alabama fans for claiming that Saban would win 3 of the next 4 BCS Championship games…Alabama fans are the ones laughing right now.
The Weekend That Wasn't
No one is going to argue that Urban Meyer is not a great coach, but the coaching staff of the Florida Gators mailed in their effort against Alabama. By no means am I taking anything away from Alabama, they were amazing all night but the Gator coaches were extremely lazy in their preparation for this game and frankly…pretty arrogant. There is a difference between out-executing a team and catching a team off balance and the jump-pass that Meyer ran with Tebow in the past had nothing to do with execution and everything to do with catching a team off guard. That kind of junk play works a couple times against good team, all the time against bad teams but it isn't going to work against elite teams.
Did everyone see Kirby Smart signaling to the defense to watch for the jump-pass? Great coaches aren't fooled by a trick play the tenth time you run it…to run that play against a Nick Saban coached team screams of arrogance and stupidity. When that ball was picked off the in end-zone everyone knew Florida had no business being in that game. Instead of trying to man up and beat the Alabama defense, they treated the Crimson Tide like Miami (OH). A smart coaching staff would have added an extra wrinkle on a play that everyone has seen, an arrogant coaching staff thinks they are smarter than the other guy and if that other guy is Nick Saban…you aren't. Florida was coached like they didn't need to game-plan for Alabama and to make zero adjustments against a team that has a "weakness" in the secondary is lazy. Meyer never gave Florida a chance to win that game and the team deserved better.
The Weekend That…What the Heck
Three years ago I was sitting in a Philadelphia hotel room watching the Auburn/LSU game as my wife was sleeping peacefully. Her only request was that I not make any noise and no sudden movements, this I had no problem with. As the time ticked away in Les Miles first test with fate and time management Matt Flynn chucked up a pass with a few seconds left down by one and in FG range. Auburn defender Jerraud Powers had perfect coverage but Flynn threw the perfect pass to Demetrius Byrd who caught the game winning TD pass with two seconds left on the clock. If the pall was tipped, batted away or had fallen incomplete there was a pretty good chance that the game would have ended with LSU down by a point in field goal range. I sat perfectly still on the bed watching this unfold as my wife continued to sleep…I watched her for the next two hours as I could not sleep after being so excited about what had just happened.
That brings me to this weekend when I was in a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina watching the LSU/Tennessee game while my now 14 week pregnant wife slept with the same requirements as three years earlier. You can watch the game if you don't make any noise and don't make any sudden movements. I should have known what I was in for once she told me those same words and Les Miles and company did not disappoint. There is no point in going through what has already been written a thousand times but it is safe to say that Les Miles is the luckiest man on the planet.
Coaches don't win national championships without a little bit of luck and while there were at least two moments in LSU's 2007 Championship year that the ball bounced Les Miles' way. People should start carrying replicas of a Les Miles foot in their pocket in place of a Rabbit's foot for good luck. Neither team deserved to win that game but as the madness ensued I stared at the television not making a sound, not moving an inch… just watching in disbelief.
As a side note, for those of you who are not on Twitter…you need to be. The last two minutes of that game are probably my favorite moments on Twitter of all time. It was hilarious…get on that guys, you won't be disappointed.
The Weekend That Will Be
There is a pretty decent slate of games this weekend in the SEC highlighted by the Alabama visit to Columbia, South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks. This game is interesting on a bunch of levels; first…Alabama is the best team in the country, second…Gameday will be there, third…odds are pretty good Spurrier's quarterback carousel will be spinning full speed, fourth…this is the first of many games Alabama will play with their opponent having a bye week before the game and finally, we will see how Carolina responds after a heartbreaking loss to Auburn two weeks ago. The other matchups include Tennessee visiting Georgia, Auburn playing at Kentucky, LSU at Florida, the Razorback and Texas A&M in the house that Jerry built and MSU playing at Houston.
Big Man on Campus (BMOC)
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama Linebacker
Courtney Upshaw was in the Florida backfield knocking someone on their back nearly the entire night. A lot of the time he was untouched as he blitzed from all over the place, but he dominated the Florida offense all night long. The stats speak are strong enough on their own…seven tackles, four tackles for loss, two pass breakups and a fumble recovery. Great game by the Alabama linebacker, but as a whole the Crimson Tide linebackers played a great game. Freshmen CJ Mosely had a pick six, Nico Johnson had an interception in the endzone and of course Upshaw outshined everyone which is why he is our BMOC this week.
Player Now Doing Charlie Work (PNDCW)
As a note to those who do not know what "Charlie-Work" is, do yourself a favor and start watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (the episode called "Dennis and Dee go on Welfare" explains it perfectly).
Caleb King, Georgia Running Back
King wasn't the sole reason for Georgia's unacceptable loss to Colorado but his fumble with two minutes left in the game sure makes him look like the goat. The Bulldogs were down by two and driving for a game winning touchdown or field goal; King put the ball on the ground and it was recovered by the Buffaloes. To add insult to injury this was not the first late game fumble that a Georgia running back has given up…Washaun Ealey was the last guilty part in Columbia a month ago.
4 Downs with the SEC
First Down – Huge Changes 2.0 or Richt is Fired
This is what will happen after this season ends but right now I lean towards Richt being fired after his team lost to Colorado. I can't believe I am even typing that sentence, how in the heck did Georgia lose to Colorado? This would be the most embarrassing SEC loss of the season if it wasn't for the fact that Ole Miss lost to Jacksonville State in week one. Georgia gets their best player back after a four week suspension, he goes off and has a huge game yet the team still is a train wreck. My inbox has been free of "Give Stacy Searels a chance emails" for the last two weeks because there is no question he will not be on the UGA sidelines next year. If Richt somehow returns Mike Bobo will be fired along with whoever is coaching the running backs and Richt will start from scratch on the other side of the ball.
You have to ask is Georgia that bad a team or is Richt unable to motivate his team to beat programs that they are much better than? The state of Georgia media is notorious for banging on Georgia Tech while holding the favorite Bulldogs up on a pedestal. Still on some radio shows today the local media is telling local radio stations that the Bulldogs can win out the rest of the season. How is that going to happen? This team can't hold onto the ball in crucial moments, they can't stop anyone on defense and the offensive line is about as soft as the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man. But the Georgia Media thinks that UGA can win out.
The bottom line comes down to the postseason; no post season equals no Mark Richt in 2011. It is that simple, if he fires Mike Bobo after the Auburn game with a bye week before Georgia Tech he might avoid getting the axe without a bowl game, but that may not be enough. The numbers validate his dismissal, if you focus on what he did in place of what he is doing we have Florida State all over again except Bobby Bowden won National Championships.
Second Down – Houston Nutt needed that win
How big was the Ole Miss win over Kentucky, well if they had lost the Rebels would be 2-3 with the 3 losses being to Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt and Kentucky at home. That really isn't going to help the coaching staff endear themselves to their fan-base but Ole Miss did beat Kentucky and now had some momentum going into their bye week before traveling to Tuscaloosa. A win before a bye week is huge and Houston Nutt is thrilled that he gets to talk about Alabama for the next two weeks and not about Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
Slowly Jeremiah Masoli is starting to come into his own in an offense that is 180 degrees away from what Oregon likes to do. Masoli had his best game of the year with three touchdown passes along with a rushing score but even with the big TD numbers, his overall stats were not out of this world. He only threw for 90 yards and added 43 more on the ground. Brandon Bolden will continue to be the man that makes that offense go and Masoli will be the caretaker. He had zero turnovers for the first time this season and if he can take care of the football, Ole Miss is going to be competitive.
Third Down – I know you were mad Derek Dooley but…
Nobody likes to lose a close game on the road in the SEC, but even with one of the most colossal screw ups by both Les Miles and Derek Dooley, Dooley needs to be better than he acted. Dooley's defense screwed up with 13 men on the field, that should never have happened but it did. Tennessee still had another chance to stop LSU and make a goal line stand, they didn't and LSU won the game. I get why he was upset, but to walk off the field without shaking your opponents hand is low-class and unacceptable at any level. Dooley represents a university and a group of men that deserve a better leader than he showed Saturday. I like Derek Dooley and I think even he would admit that he made an error in judgment but it looks really bad. Don't expect him ever to make that mistake again, I can imagine Vince gave him a call to show his support but I know he mentioned that he can't let his frustrations get the best of him.
Fourth Down – October a good month for MSU
Looking over the schedule for the next month there is one team that is going to benefit from a good October…Mississippi State. Their schedule for the month includes a win over Alcorn State, at Houston, at Florida, UAB and Kentucky. The two SEC games will be tough but Bulldog fans should expect their team to be bowl eligible going into the month of November. When was the last time Mississippi State knew they were going to be in the postseason before the last month of the season? Dan Mullen is doing a very good job a coaching up a team that has some talent but is not on the same level as the elite teams in the conference. He is exactly what MSU needed as their head coach and his hard work is starting to pay off. With the last three games at Alabama, Arkansas and at Ole Miss there is a chance they could get to seven wins and be slotted in a better bowl game than any 6-6 SEC team; but the post season in year two is nothing to complain about.
What were your thoughts on the past weekend in the SEC? E-mail me Brian Harbach
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