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Post Bye week thoughts from the couch

Tuesday October 16, 2012

It was a perfect day outside for the bye week – which, of course, meant 12+ hours of football on TV.

  • I was just thinking that Les Miles hadn’t been all that Les Miles-ey lately, and the gambles you anticipated in such a close game never materialized. It was a fairly conservative and close-to-the-vest game on both sides, actually. Miles didn’t disappoint though with the quote of the night: “That was Death Valley. That was the place where opponents’ dreams go to die.”
  • The home field was definitely big for LSU as it was for South Carolina a week earlier. It’s not that the Gamecocks were overwhelmed by the Tiger Stadium crowd, but they didn’t have the tidal wave of energy on which they thrived in their win over Georgia. With home field playing such a large role over the past couple of weeks, I was reminded that Georgia only has two true road games remaining, and those come against teams with some pretty demoralized fan bases. It’s hard to imagine running into a buzzsaw of a crowd in either of those games.
  • Aside from home field, line play was the biggest difference in South Carolina’s games against Georgia and LSU. The Gamecock offensive line isn’t as good as Georgia made them out to be, and LSU was often able to get good penetration with just a four-man rush. On the other side, LSU’s makeshift offensive line performed better than expected. South Carolina was still able to tip countless passes at the line, but Mettenberger largely stayed upright, and the Tigers eventually found some success with the run. Georgia fans couldn’t have been happy with the relative success of both LSU lines.
  • LSU also had success running to the outside. Georgia had a nice outside run by Gurley on their first play a week ago, but we didn’t see much of it afterwards. The Tigers hit on a few screens too which reminded me how much trouble the Dawgs have executing that basic play. I’m not talking about the quick passes to receivers that we saw too much of last week or the plays where a back flares out. Just your garden-variety screen. The backs seem to have trouble separating, and the throws are rarely in a good place. I can’t explain it, but for all Murray does well, the screen has never been a strong point with him as the starter. It’s unfortunate because LSU showed how the play can counter South Carolina’s aggressive defense.
  • There have been far too many comparisons of Texas to Georgia on the air and around the Web since Saturday. I can’t find much to disagree with though.
  • Stanford got screwed. Usually that wouldn’t bother me so much, but that blown call was all that stood between us and more “WAKE UP THE ECHOS” nonsense for a team whose most successful passing plays were pass interference calls.
  • At the same time, Stanford got what they deserved. They stubbornly advertised the intention to line up and run it straight at a good rushing defense. The Irish got penetration each time because they could afford to sell out on a play they knew was coming. It’s a shame that a game with such bad offense was one of the most-watched games of the weekend.
  • Ole Miss had a drive against Auburn similar to Georgia’s quick field goal drive against Tennessee just before halftime. Auburn had shaken off a disaster of a 14-0 deficit to take the lead. The host’s field goal right before halftime tied the score and calmed things down. Ole Miss wasn’t quite able to put Auburn away until the final minutes, but the Ole Miss defense in the second half was more than enough to keep a weak Auburn offense at bay.
  • But, man…Auburn. You almost feel for quality, likeable players like McCalebb and Lutzenkirchen. Almost.
  • Smart move by Dan Mullen to run a play on his final fourth down. It’s gravy that the play resulted in one of the best catches of the weekend for a touchdown. Even if the play had failed, the Vols still would’ve started around their 10-yard line down by three with just enough time to run about two plays. A field goal there gives you very little, and Cordarrelle Patterson demonstrated on that last kickoff (as he had already done earlier in the game) that Tennessee’s best chance for late points was from the return game.
  • Along with Lattimore, I’m hoping that Tennessee’s Hunter and Patterson have long and successful NFL careers beginning with the 2013 season.
  • Not much to say about Kentucky-Arkansas, but congrats to the Wildcats for playing the role of Savannah State in a weather-shortened blowout. I hope they at least got a check out of it. Is Arkansas starting to get some things together? Wins over Auburn and Kentucky aren’t necessarily a sign of greatness, but they were solid and convincing wins. And they still have time to make some noise in the conference…

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