I found a picture of a somewhat contemplative Les Miles. It fits my mood.
I am somewhat at a loss for how to view the rest of the season. I knew when the schedule was finalized that this team would be something of a mystery with Hatch/Lee at QB and with a bunch of new defensive backs and linebackers. We all knew that anything said about this team's prospects and quality would be guesswork until after the Auburn game. We all knew that if this team wanted to reach its yearly goal of winning the SEC, beating Auburn was almost a necessary step along the way.
Now we've beaten Auburn. Honestly, I did not expect it. I don't make predictions on this site and don't in general find the predictions of others to be interesting to read, but I thought we would probably not win this past game. I thought our QB play would not allow it unless we held Auburn to single digits, which would be very unlikely.
Now we've done it. Now, our team is not as much of a mystery as it was even a few short days ago. Now we have some idea of what this team is made of and what it can do. We know it can a) run the ball, and b) stop the run. We also know that when Jarrett Lee is hot, he is pretty darn good and we can unleash the power of our wide receivers. When Jarrett Lee is not hot, we're better off not passing unless we have to, even if Jarrett Lee is not in the game.
This of course leaves us with the burning question, how often will Jarrett Lee be hot? We don't have an answer for that one quite yet. I'll get back to you about that in, oh, November.
The schedule doesn't get much easier from here. We get Mississippi State next, and while they held Auburn to 3 points in Starkville, you have to think we're a lot better than they are. Unless we play well below our level, or unless MSU's backup quarterback gets named the starter and it is revealed he can pass, we should come out of that one 4-0. There are no easy games in this conference, however, and we will have to be ready. The fans can look ahead, but the players can't.
Then we get a week off to get Darry Beckwith and Andrew Hatch healthy before we take on the SEC East portion of our schedule.
We go to the Swamp to take on a Florida team that looks nigh invulnerable. The good news is that if we play our best we have a chance to win that game, the same way we beat Auburn. But Florida is better than Auburn. They have a more explosive offense and probably close to as good of a defense. The other part of the good news is that we can meet all of our goals of the season even if we lose to Florida.
After that, it's South Carolina in Columbia, and they've already put up their best game. It was against Georgia. They lost. Now they're back to struggling against weak competition. Once again, unless we play way below our level, or SC plays well above theirs, this is a game we should win handily.
Then it's Georgia at home. Like with Florida, I think this is a team that looks significantly better than we do to this point. They have an explosive offense and a solid defense, and they will be tough to beat. Once again, we w ill have to be at our best to have a chance, but at least the home field should help. This will be another tough one, and it would be epic if we win.
Once again at that point, it will be time to re-evaluate. We will be to the stretch run of the SEC schedule. We'll have Ole Miss, Alabama, and Arkansas left, along with OOC matchups Troy and Tulane. We can win all of those games, even if Alabama is looking a lot better than expected at this point.
All of our goals are in reach, and we probably don't have to pull off any big, dramatic wins to do it. Just beat all the teams in the West and beat South Carolina and we are more than likely in the SEC Championship Game. I'm not thinking BCS Championship Game yet, and I probably won't start at any time this season. Just give me a shot at the SEC and I'll be thrilled.
I guess we can say that the season has finally started, and we are looking pretty good. There's a long way to go though.