A third of the way into the 2008 season, no fewer than five SEC teams considered to be at least marginal contenders for the conference title are facing big questions about their offenses.
Whatever offense Auburn runs, don’t call it the spread. "We don’t run Tony Franklin’s spread offense," coach Tommy Tuberville acknowledged. "You can’t put a square peg in a round hole." Auburn has a quarterback controversy, the spread took a back seat during the Tennessee game, and offensive coordinator Tony Franklin is feeling the heat.
Meanwhile, Tennessee will use this weekend’s game against Northern Illinois to experiment with the quarterback position. Starter Jonathan Crompton hasn’t been playing as well as he practices, and backup Nick Stephens "likely will see playing time" against NIU. Crompton has taken criticism for poor decisions and turnovers, and coordinator Dave Clawson doesn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement. "It’s not like we’re in a rhythm now so it’s not like you’re disrupting something that’s going really well."
Steve Spurrier and staff are "coaching just as hard as we did, you know, 10 years ago, eight years ago," but the struggles of the Gamecock offense relative to a stellar defensive performance to date are raising frustration levels. South Carolina has used three quarterbacks this year, and the starter for Saturday’s trip to Oxford probably won’t be named until Thursday. Spurrier laid into his offense after they failed to light up the scoreboard against a bad UAB team. "I told our guys I don’t see how some of you guys look in the mirror sometimes after the performance you played.," he said. "The effort level and the way they played is sad."
Things aren’t rosy at Georgia either. Injuries are taking their toll especially at tight end where former starting left tackle Kiante Tripp is getting work. Injuries to starter Tripp Chandler and reserve Bruce Figgins have forced the Dawgs to play redshirt freshman Aron White and move Tripp from the offensive line, his second position move in a year. The situation is serious enough that it might even require the Georgia coaches to evaluate the role of the tight end in the offense. In addition to the crisis at tight end, Knowshon Moreno is banged up, receiver Tony Wilson – Georgia’s best blocker on the perimeter – is out for the year, and Kris Durham will miss a few games. At least Brannan Southerland is back.
Even Florida isn’t immune from questions about their offense. Injuries on the offensive line, turnovers, and a critical fourth down failure have resulted in no shortage of suggestions on how to get the Florida offense back to its gaudy greatness. A running game that doesn’t center around Tim Tebow still hasn’t emerged. Let’s bow our heads…
LSU might argue, but is the conference’s best offense currently in Tuscaloosa? It sure looked like it.