Three games equals one quarter of the college football season in the books. Which means we're 25-percent closer to the end of it, which is sad and depressing now that I type it out and oh dear God why do all good things come to and end!...
Anyway, while we all may still not know everything about the SEC after three games, we know a few things. And here are a few thoughts:
- I bet a year from now, when he's working for ESPN and Mike Leach is the head coach at Ole Miss, Houston Nutt will regret having his team read "Swing your Sword" before that Vanderbilt game.
- How bad is Auburn's defense? It allowed more yards in Saturday's loss to Clemson than LSU has allowed this entire season. They aren't just last in the conference in yards per game, they're 150 yards behind 11th-place Ole Miss. The lowest total yardage Auburn has allowed in a game this season, 448 yards to Utah State, is still one of the highest totals any SEC team has allowed through three games. Only Arkansas' 457 yards allowed to Troy last weekend tops it.
- Speaking of the Razorbacks, they seem to have met the chalk thus far this season, at least as far as I'm concerned. Tyler Wilson has transitioned to the starting role fairly seamlessly, as do most quarterbacks in Bobby Petrino's offense. The one question that remains unanswered is the rebuilding offensive line. Seven sacks allowed in three games wouldn't typically be a huge cause for concern, but we're talking about Southwest Missouri State, New Mexico and Troy here. Wilson will have to stay upright if he's going to pass the Pigs past Alabama this weekend.
- The Florida-Tennessee game was my first real shot to watch either team. It may just be a first impression, but Florida has one of the more athletic front-sevens in the league, and that alone will give them a puncher's chance in almost any game. Charlie Weis is also doing a pretty good job of deploying Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Trey Burton. John Brantley isn't that great of a quarterback, but with a well-managed running game he doesn't have to be.
- I'll say this for Tennessee -- Tyler Bray gives them the same chance in most games as the Gator front seven. There are only a handful of truly talented quarterbacks in this league. If you have one, you have a shot against anybody.
- On another note, I still maintain that the Precious missed his calling as a member of the Midnight Express alongside "Loverboy" Dennis, "Sweet" Stan and "Beautiful" Bobby. That two-point conversion he tried even seemed like a harebrained idea courtesy of James E. Cornette...
- Watching UF-UT was also my re-acquaintance with ol' Verne & Gary. You know, Gary Danielson catches a lot of flak from SEC fans, and while he deserves it, I have figured out one simple sentence, uttered four-to-five times a broadcast, that would go a long way towards earning him some new fans: "Know what I mean, Verne?"
- Alabama looks nearly identical to last season's edition. Efficient, though not spectacular on offense, with a suffocating defense. But one that still isn't making a lot of plays on their opponents' side of the line of scrimmage. Yeah, you can still have a really good defense without making those types of big plays, but the Tide's big problem last season was an inability to make big stops when it counted in their three losses.
- Coincidentally, big plays are the area where LSU's offense is still wanting. The little things have absolutely improved -- team passing efficiency, first-down yards per play, third-down conversion rate and red-zone stats are all up. And just like with Bama, LSU can have a pretty good offense by doing those things well. They can string together long drives and eat up time of possession, so long as Jarrett Lee continues to avoid turnovers. But LSU has had just 35 plays of 10 yards or more, and 9 of 20 or more. If the offense is going to take the next step and become a unit that can be lethal against anybody, those types of plays are the difference.
- There are seven offenses currently averaging more than 35 points per game in the SEC. Last season three teams finished at 35 or better. It should probably go without saying that how those numbers regress to the mean will go a long way in dictating the conference championship race.