What happened to you on Saturday? This is the must read for every SEC football fan on Monday morning right here at Saturday Down South. Pulling no punches as we recap a weekend of SEC football action…
Johnny Football Rolls the Tide
Johnny Manziel, Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M walked into our house and kissed our wives on the mouth, then stared at us and waited for us to respond… and we couldn’t.
We arrogantly thought our defenses were too strong and our coaches were too wise to fall for that gimmicky crap. We thought they might be able to sneak a few jabs early but they can’t last four quarters, not with how hard we punch. We were wrong.
Texas A&M sent the message that not only do they belong in the SEC, but they might be the future of the conference.
This game shows that the SEC powers can no longer simply be so defensive minded. The problem with playing ball control offense for so long is that you stunt your offensive growth. Alabama and Florida are both examples of this in 2012. Alabama blinked, and they were down 20-0. They have pieces that should have allowed them to get right back in this, especially considering this A&M defense isn’t exactly the ’86 Chicago Bears (gave up 57 to Louisiana Tech). But that’s asking a team to become something they haven’t been or needed to be under Nick Saban. Quick-strike offense is unnatural. Instead of taking some risks, they continued playing Alabama-style football (13-play five-minute and 11-play four-minute scoring drives) and were able to control the ball and crawl back into the game. But that leaves zero room for error, and they made some errors.
Saban watched how Florida and LSU were able to wear down this A&M team late in the game, but guess what? Alabama’s defense isn’t as good as Florida’s or LSU’s. I know it sounds crazy to hear that, but it’s the truth. But Saban didn’t adjust his philosophy to match his team’s strengths. They have this amazing line, solid quarterback and dangerous weapons all over the offensive side of the ball, but they continue playing it slow and playing it safe. It came back to bite them.
Texas A&M’s game looked very similar to the games they played against Florida and LSU. Phenomenal offensive speed and organization for 15 minutes followed by a quiet 45 minutes after the defense makes adjustments. But they were able to hold on to the ball for a little bit longer against Alabama then they were against Florida and LSU and those few minutes were the difference between winning and losing.
Johnny Manziel became Johnny Football after only a few weeks early this season. On Saturday he became Johnny Heisman. His numbers alone this season should make him the favorite, but he needed to prove he could be Johnny Football for four quarters against the best team in the country. He did just that. 401 total yards and three touchdowns. Have you ever been to New York, Johnny?
Texas A&M controlled the day and forced Alabama to react. Now we’ll see how the rest of the SEC reacts and how the University of Texas reacts.
It was assumed that Texas A&M needed the SEC to expand their recruiting base to get more elite players. Traditionally, Texas picks who they want in the state of Texas, and A&M takes what’s left. I don’t think that will be the case anymore. Texas has an old coach and only plays one game a year that is of national interest. A&M has perhaps the country’s most dynamic young head coach, a quarterback who will be the biggest star in college football for at least the next two seasons and a schedule that includes four or five games of national importance. It’s not hard to sell Texas A&M over Texas right now to recruits, and they are definitely a much more appealing product to kids from the South than they were six months ago. It’s going to be interesting to watch.
The Death of the SEC, SEC, SEC Chant
This loss likely means the SEC’s streak of BCS National Championships will come to an end. With it comes the end of SEC fans hoping that other SEC teams succeed.
The SEC chant didn’t exist 10 years ago. Alabama fans wanted Florida to lose the championship game, because if they won, they might recruit better and thus be a bigger threat. Lately, we’ve all been held hostage by our collective success. Texas A&M freed us from the chains of sportsmanship.
I’m not saying we all need to become tree poisoners, but this conference is at its best when we all hate each other.
The one man everyone in the SEC hates, Lane Kiffin, is in the best position to put a one loss SEC team back into BCS title contention. But for that to happen he’ll have to do something that is totally unkiffinlike…he’ll have to win some big games.
Florida Avoids Disaster
Florida blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown in the closing seconds of their homecoming game against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (U-LA-La, but sung like Rod Stewart), preventing what would have been one of the worst losses in the history of the program. That’s right. Florida had an easier time with LSU than they did with U-LA-La. It’s a testament to just how awful Florida’s offense has become over the last several weeks.
Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease had been mentioned as a possible replacement for Joker Philips at Kentucky, and after seeing Florida’s offense over the last month, it appears Kentucky certainly has a type. Just look at Florida’s first quarter against U-LA-La. 3rd and 16, 3rd and 13, 3rd and 13, and 3rd and 3. Despite closing strong with that 3rd and 3 which they couldn’t convert, Florida is constantly facing 3rd and long situations with an average QB, average running backs, a below average O-Line and awful wide receivers – all of whom are getting worse each week.
Florida’s defense remains elite, but they are growing exhausted from having to pitch shutouts and do most of the scoring. They play Florida State in two weeks. It will be a struggle for the Gators to score more than six.
Derek Dooley’s legendary run at Tennessee is likely coming to an end. None of us will ever forget Dooley’s signature double overtime win over UAB in 2010. He will be remembered for his orange pants and blowout losses to ranked teams.
So, now that that’s over with, who gets the Tennessee job?
To get the Tennessee job, it seems to be mandatory that your father be a legendary coach and that your personal achievement be minimal. That really thins the herd, but three names have emerged from the ashes.
Dave Hart’s Short List (That I Made Up):
Jay Paterno – Spent 17 seasons on the Penn State coaching staff under his late father Joe Paterno. JayPa, which nobody calls him, is the dream mixture of impressive name and unimpressive resume. Bloodline over results.
Skip Holtz – His father Lou is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and won the 1988 National Championship at Notre Dame. Skip is a descent head coach at USF and actually might be too successful to get this job.
Charlie Weis Jr. – Only 19 years old, Weis Jr. is currently a Student Manager for the 1-9 Kansas Jayhawks coached by his hefty father. That’s about as impressive as Dooley’s stint as head coach at Louisiana Tech or Lane Kiffin coaching the Oakland Raiders. The idea of a student coach has to be appealing to athletic director Dave Hart. You could probably lock up the Jr. Cheeseburger for less than $16,000 a year. This is a no-brainer to me.
Plays That Mattered
Johnny Football, drops back, feels the pressure that isn’t there and looks to run and does… right into the back of his own lineman, he stumbles, and the ball pops out into the air. He stops and turns his back to the goal line and the defense and catches the ball, gathers himself, then begins to roll out again, this time the other direction, only to jump into the air and throw across this body to a wide open Ryan Swope for a Touchdown. That all happened on one play!
Loucheiz Purifoy does what what Loucheiz Purifoy does. This dude has been to special teams what Johnny Manziel has been to offense. He’s a game changer. Florida has one of the worst offenses in the history of the world, and they would have lost this game in OT.
A deep track on Saturday was Vanderbilt vs Ole Miss. Two improving teams who desperately needed another SEC win. On the road, Jordan Rogers hit Chris Boyd for a 26-yard TD with 52 seconds remaining to give Vandy a 27-26 win. Those nerds are bowling again. Congrats to coach James Franklin and his band of Merry Engineers.
What They Meant to Say
“I’ve heard people talk about this Nick Saban guy like he was a big deal or something, but I don’t get it. I think it was pretty obvious who the best coach on that field was. This is my first season here, and we are only a few plays on the entire season away from being undefeated. I just wanted to remind you all of that. Oh, yeah, did I’m mention I’m 48 and Saban is 61 and Mack Brown is 94? I’m just saying.” – Kevin Sumlin, Head Coach, Texas A&M
“I’ve been offered the job as Head Coach at the University of Tennessee, but I don’t know. There is still a lot I want to accomplish as a student manager here at Kansas. Dad is giving me a lot of freedom with in-game hydration decisions. – Charlie Weis Jr. aka Jr. Cheeseburger, 19 years old, front runner for Tennessee Head Coaching Job
“I should have seen this coming. I’ve let his program become the kind of place where it’s ok to cry after you win. I’ve been way too easy on these clowns.” – Nick Saban, Head Coach, Alabama
Photo Credit: Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE