This week, because all the SEC teams played, and none of them played each other, the regular Around the SEC feature will come in 2 parts. In Part 1, we will focus on the same games featured in Part 1 of Time to Bloviate.
Miami (Ohio) 13
Nicely done, Vandy. I didn't give you any credit to start this season, but so far you are exceeding expectations. I genuinely believed this to be a 50-50 game, but Vandy dominated from the beginning. Chris Nickson earned due consideration for the And The Valley Shook SEC Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week Award (ATVSSECOSPPOW). I didn't watch this game, because I thought it would suck. Instead, I watched...
South Carolina 34
NC State 0
...which really sucked. South Carolina's offense was putrid, and NC State's offense was worse. South Carolina's offensive line appears to be repeating its performance from last year, which is not good news if you're a South Carolina fan. Give credit where it's due to USC's defense, which utterly dominated, but they benefited from some unforced miscues, including 2 turnovers on bad snaps in the shotgun. They also benefited from NC State's starting quarterback being hospitalized with an injury early in the game. In particular, starting QB Tommy Beecher struggled, throwing 4 interceptions before suffering an "injury" and giving way to Chris Smelley. USC scored most of its points after NC State appeared to thoroughly give up. I regret that I watched this game.
Georgia Southern 21
The question is a stark and simple one, and it was stated plainly by Quinton McDawg: "So, was that the performance of a No. 1 ranked team?"
I have to state, in all candor, that it wasn’t. It was the performance of a top ten team, certainly. It was the performance of a team that is capable of finishing first in the land, undoubtedly. At this exact moment, early in the 2008 campaign, though, I cannot conscientiously claim that the Bulldog team that took the field in Sanford Stadium today would have beaten either the Buckeye team that took the field in Columbus or the Trojan team that took the field in Charlottesville.
Probably contributing to his ennui was the fact that starting defensive tackle Jeff Owens was seriously injured and appears to be out for a long time, if not the entire season. This is a team that has now suffered its second serious injury to one of its best players, having previously lost starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant for the season. A Pyrrhic Victory indeed.
Ho hum, another blowout of an overmatched team. Florida spread the ball around a lot, as eleven Gators were credited with at least one rushing yard, eight Gators made at least one reception, and three Gators attempted a pass.
With all that spreading of the ball, no one had a Tim Tebow-esque gaudy stat line.
Florida scored two defensive touchdowns against an offense that suddenly found itself lacking a big-time quarterback. It probably didn't help that Hawaii was playing this game at 6:30 am Hawaii time. You thought LSU's game started early?
Appalachian State 13
While much has been said about this game on this blog already, I want to mention one more small point. Chad Jones looked MUCH better returning punts during this game than he looked at any time last season. He had 3 returns for an average of 13.3 yards per return, which almost matched his season high of last year. He fielded eight punts and only bobbled one. If that was a mere glitch, we should be better at returning punts this year.
Incidentally, Chad Jones and Patrick Peterson are all over the place on special teams. Patrick Peterson covers the gunners on punt returns, and covers kicks and punts. Chad Jones is the return man, and is a gunner on punt coverage and is on the kickoff cover team as well. They make a great pair, I think.
La Tech 22
Mississippi State 14
MSU appeared to be cruising, ahead 14-3 in the second quarter, but they didn't score another point. MSU fans' worst fears were realized as once again they had ineffective QB play from their starter, as Wesley Carroll completed less than 50% of his passes and threw 4 interceptions, including a disastrous interception on a drive that appeared to be heading for a go-ahead score, but instead went the other way give La Tech more points.
The winning points were scored on a 9 yard touchdown drive set up by a fumble on a punt return.
On what was otherwise a glorious night for the SEC, and not a bad week overall as 2 SEC teams beat ACC competition and another SEC team beat a favored mid-major, MSU went out and laid an egg.
Last year, MSU started out slow, as LSU fans well remember, but figured out how to win games as the season progressed, as Bama and Auburn fans well remember. Sylvester Croom had better hope they figure it out again, or he will be right back on the hot seat again.