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Week 4: Around the SEC, Part 1

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It was a big week around the SEC, and while two of the biggest games went pretty much exactly as expected, two others were nail-biters not decided until the very end, with much on the line.  Let's get to the action and the analysis:

Georgia Tech 38
Mississippi State 7

Now what kind of pathetic bullshit is this?  Pardon my French, and I usually like to keep the front page language safe for kids and pets, but sometimes you just can't express what you mean succinctly without resort to a 7- or 8- or 12-letter word.  this is one of those times.  

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That dude wishes he was watching from the stands.

OK, let's be fair.  Statistically, this game appeared to be closer than the score.  MSU actually got over 400 yards of total offense, including almost 300 yards passing, and may finally have figured out that Wesley Carroll is not a starting quarterback in the SEC at this point in his career.

All in all, this may be what I call a "productive loss", a loss that still counts as an L, but that may actually be a building point for future success.  They couldn't score, but they moved the ball on the GT defense, which has actually been kind of stout this year.  Or it could just be the latest episode of a disastrous, soon-to-be-cancelled sitcom.

Next Week: MSU at LSU.

Alabama 49
Arkansas 14

A thorough pasting of the Razorbacks by a vastly superior Crimson Tide team.  Bama ran all over the Razorback defense, and hardly needed to pass at all to score 35 offensive points.

There's really not that much to say about this game, other than that I think I underestimated Bama before the season started.  Sure, I knew and everyone else knew that Arkansas would be one of the weakest teams in the league, but I don't think anyone could have guessed the gap between these two teams would be as wide as it is.  And I think that's for the dual reasons that a) Arkansas is even worse than expected, and b) Bama is much better than expected.

I think it remains to be seen where Bama goes from here, but they have a high level of confidence heading into one of their toughest games of the year, a road game against Georgia, who I genuinely believe is part of a 2-team elite in the SEC this year.

Glenn Coffee led the way with 10 rushes for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns, as he put in his bid to be this week's And The Valley Shook SEC Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week.

Next Week: Alabama at Georgia; Arkansas at Texas.

Florida 30
Tennessee 6

I watched almost every snap of this abortion of a football game.  Holy crap, is it possible for me to be any more wrong about a football team than I was about Tennessee?  I said this team looked good to me in pre-season.  And honestly they did.  They have talent around the field, and they should be capable of beating anyone if they play their best.

I heard the announcers say something that could not possibly be more troubling if you're a Tennessee fan.  The announcer said that Phil Fulmer had told them that his team lacks leadership, and that all the energy of the team comes from the staff rather than the players.  I honestly do not believe I have ever heard of a coach saying such a negative thing about his team.  

What he's saying is that his team lacks character, and that they don't try.  Their seniors and other veterans have failed.  He's also telling stories on himself, because unlike Nick Saban at Alabama last year, another team that lacked leadership, this it he team Phillip Fulmer built himself.  If the veteran players lack leadership qualities, it's because he either recruited the wrong players or he trained them not to be leaders.

That's just awful.  There's an air of negativity around this team now, and it does not appear to be limited to the team.  The fans are negative; the crowd is negative; the press is negative.  In fact, it's hard to say what came first, the team negativity or the fan negativity.  But when fans are filing out of the game in the first half, something is desperately wrong there.

I think if I was Phillip Fulmer, I would try to identify the sources of the negativity within the team, the veterans who are not leaders, and I would separate them from the team.  Even if they're your best players.  Get them out.  Go with younger players the rest of the way, even if you have to lose a lot more games.  I can guarantee that if the problems are as bad as they're made out to be, you're going to lose more games anyway.  You'll lose to Georgia, Auburn, and Alabama, and you may lose to South Carolina and Vandy as well, if you can't correct your effort and leadership problem.

Heck, it may cost you your job to do what I'm suggesting, but your job is on the line anyway, and at least it will look like you're doing something to correct the problem.

But how about Florida?  In my opinion, they look like the best team in the conference right now.  No one has lined up and hit them in the mouth yet, and when someone does we'll see more of what they're made of.  Right now, though, they look better than anyone else, because they have both an offense and a defense.  Georgia also has an offense and a defense, but Florida's looks a little better right now.

Next Week: Ole Miss at Florida; Tennessee at Auburn.