Monday, September 1, 2014

SEC Power Rankings After Week 1

1. Georgia - After Week 1, it's Georgia then everybody else. Gurley is incredible to watch. I hope he stays healthy.

2. South Carolina - Got 50 hung on 'em and still 2nd? The East is that weak.

3. Tennessee - Utah State was dominated, and I was impressed. Butch Jones may have this team bowl eligible in his 2nd season.

4. Florida - Rained out. Will Muschamp is hoping that's not a metaphor for his career.

5. Missouri - Meh.

6. Kentucky - Great win over Tennessee-Martin, but... Tennessee-Martin.

7. Vanderbilt - Temple? Really? Not a good start for new coach Derek Mason. 

1. Texas A&M - Win like that on the road in the SEC and I believe in  you until proven otherwise. Kevin Sumlin almost has me convinced he's a coaching wizard.

2. Auburn - Mark it down. Winner of A&M - Auburn wins the West. I can't wait to watch that game.

3. Alabama - If West Virginia could do that to Bama's D, there's hope for Ole Miss. Alabama's defense looked soft.

4. Ole Miss - I need to see improvement from the offense, the line especially, before the Rebs move up.

5. LSU - The Tigers didn't look too hot in the latest Les Miles rabbit out of his hat victory. This could be a very disappointing year down in Baton Rouge.

6. Arkansas - For one half against Auburn, the Hogs looked much better. The offensive line created big holes. The running backs were physical and fast. I was impressed. This team might win a couple SEC games.

7. Mississippi State - The SEC West is so strong I don't know what to do with the Bulldogs. Yes, they might be better than 7th, but for right now I was slightly more impressed by Arkansas. Blame it on how terrible Southern Miss looked.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Six Reasons the Ole Miss Offense is Headed Up

The Ole Miss offense was offensive in a bad way for the first three quarters of football in its 35-13 win over Boise State Thursday. Bo Wallace threw three interceptions; The rushing game was almost non-existent and the false start penalties were way too numerous. Needless to say, the offense, with all its weapons, fell short of our expectations. Should we adjust those expectations, or were those three quarters just growing pains on the way to something much better? It's probably foolish to draw too many conclusions after just one game, but I've got a few reasons why the offense will only get better from here.

1. False starts can be ironed out. To be sure, those false state penalties will be talked about in great detail in the film room this week and practiced even more. I'm betting you won't see many false starts in Week 2.

2. Less penalties will allow Hugh Freeze to utilize the running game more. Ole Miss could never commit to the run against Boise State due in part to persistent penalties and the resulting long yardage situations. With less penalties against Vanderbilt you'll see more runs on 1st and 2nd down.

3. A more effective ground game and less penalties will keep Bo Wallace out of bad situations. Wallace's weakness is his impatience. When he thinks the entire offense is on his shoulders, and that he has to be the one to make the plays he presses too much and makes bad decisions. When the Rebels are running the ball effectively Wallace doesn't feel that pressure. Plus, Wallace is entitled to some 1st game jitters, too. He'll watch the film this week and calm down. If 1 and 2 (above) come to pass, Wallace will be just fine. Don't forget his four touchdown passes. He looked great in the 4th quarter.

4. The offensive line will get better. Teams usually improve the most between that 1st and 2nd game. With new starters across this line, this group is still finding its way. It'll get better.

5. Vanderbilt. The Commodores looked really bad in their loss 37-7 to Temple. Temple? Yes, Temple. The Owls finished 2-10 in 2013, and they smoked Vanderbilt. James Franklin left and then Vanderbilt fell straight off a cliff into the abyss. Ole Miss will get better this week, and then work out everything it practiced against Vanderbilt, and the Rebels will move to 2-0 a much-improved football team.

6. 4th quarter Ole Miss was awesome. At one point Wallace threw three consecutive completions for touchdowns. The Rebels were positively lethal. With a little more consistency and a running game to balance it out Ole Miss could still be unstoppable.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Uncle Lucky's SEC Picks

I have an Uncle from Brooklyn named Lou. Up there they call him "Lucky" Lou. I always called him Uncle Lucky. Legend has it that Uncle Lucky knows how to pick winners. Personally, I'm not so sure, because Uncle Lucky still drives a 1984 Toyota Corolla and wears really old track suits. He also smells like an odd mix of garlic and Listerine. Uncle Lucky hates bad breath, but I digress.

Because I know that I'm not lucky, I've invited my Uncle Lucky to help me with my picks this year. So here goes...

Oh, and one last thing, you'll enjoy Uncle Lucky's picks more if you read them with a Joey Buttafuoco accent. You can do it. Channel your inner Tony Soprano. Rocky is also a good voice.

On to Uncle Lucky's Picks:

Tennessee-Martin at Kentucky (11 a.m., SEC Network)
I'm insulted that my nephew wants this to be my first pick. It reminds me of the time that my buddy Lenny tried to get me to eat these chips ahoy cookies when there was a perfectly good cannoli in his ice box. But whatever. If you really need me to help you with this one you might consider doing something different with your money. Horse racing. That's an idea (don't worry about, you can pay me later). But if you insist, you gotta take the Wildcats in this one. Now back up a little, you're mouth breathing on me, and it makes me uncomfortable.

West Virginia vs. Alabama (2:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN2)
The Mountaineers have a coach named Dana. The only other Dana I ever knew is wearing concrete boots in close proximity to the beach, if you know whad I mean. What kind of mother names a kid Dana? I'll take Little Nicky to win and win big.

South Dakota State at Missouri (2:30 p.m., ESPNU)
Fuggetaboutit. Mizzou.

Arkansas at Auburn (2 p.m., SEC Network)
I once knew a mob boss that reminds me a lot of Brett Bielema, but that's got nuthin to do with nuthin. Anyway, he's in the witness protection program now. I heard on the street a few years ago that he was coaching football in Wisconsin or something. Wait a minute... Anyway, this "friend" of mine didn't know anything about football. He thought you could win by putting 10 people on the line of scrimmage and running it over and over again. That mighta worked in the Vince Lombardi days, but last I heard Vince Lombardi wasn't in the SEC. Anyway, we have this saying in Brooklyn, always bet the winner. I don't know exactly what it means, but between these two I think Auburn's the winner. I'll take the Tigers.

Again with the mouth breathing? Next time I'm bringing mints to pass around to you people.

Clemson at Georgia (4:30 p.m., ESPN)
Wha? You think Mark Richt can actually win a big game? You probly think Prego tastes better than homemade, too. Richt's a choke artist. In fact, after he leaves Georgia I got some buddies over at the docks that could use a guy like him to, you know, choke people. But that's another story. Aaron Murray is gone. Richt's a choker. Fuggetaboutit. Take Clemson.

Idaho at Florida (6 p.m., ESPNU)
My guy Guido scores more points on Friday nights at the bar than Jeff Driskel ever will, and Guido's not so good lookin' if ya know whad I mean.... Florida is a 36-point favorite. Fortunately for Will Muschamp, Idaho is as bad as gold chains with a burgandy track suit (gold goes better with the navy tracksuit I'm wearing, don't you think?). Muschamp will be swimmin with the fishes before this season is over, but not yet. I'll take the Gada's, but I'm not happy about it, if ya know what I mean.

Southern Miss at Mississippi State (5:30 p.m., SEC Network)
I have a hard time tellin' these two schools apart. Which one is the one where they stick their arms inside the cows? Nevermind. Look, Southern Miss hasn't won but one game in two years. The problem is that the Bully Dogs are 30.5-point favorites. I know that this Dak Prescott kid is in line to be the next Pope and all, but I'm just not so sure the Bulldogs are as great as the noise. That said, 1 game in two years? This pick reminds me of my Momma's Spicy Meatballs. It gives me heartburn, if ya know whad I mean. Her meat balls are so full of garlic and weird spices that I have to hold my nose when I eat them. I can't hurt Momma's feelings ya know. I'll take the Eagles, but I'm holding my nose.

Please back up from the computer. Sheesh.

Wisconsin vs. LSU (7 p.m., ESPN)
Les Miles reminds me of the time my friend Giovanni tried to eat nothing but vegetables for an entire week. "My marinara sauce has vegetables in it," I told him. He still wouldn't eat it. If that didn't make any sense, then you know what I'm talking about with Les Miles. HA! Anyway, I can tell my nephew Jake is getting impatient with me, so I'l get to it. I may be from Brooklyn, but I've never fallen off of one of those turnip trucks, if ya know whad I mean. I'm not picking no Big Ten school to beat an SEC team. No way. I'll take the Bayou Bengals.

Utah State at Tennessee (Sunday, 6 p.m., SEC Network)
We have this saying in Brooklyn: "You can't cover a 6-point spread against a team that finished 9-5 the year before when you're starting entirely new offensive and defensive lines." Okay, so I made that up, but it's true. I don't see Tennessee winning this one by much. I'll take Utah State.


Ole Miss vs Boise State: Players of the Game

Offensively, my Player of the Game is slot receiver Cody Core, who scored touchdowns of 30 and 76 yards, and finished with 110 yards total on just four receptions. Core's is a neat story. A year ago the coaches moved him to safety because they were trying to find him some playing time. Throughout spring and August it was almost a given that former 4-star recruit Quincy Adeboyejo would be the starting slot receiver, but the coaches gave Core another chance to show what he could do as a receiver.

"Cody just went out and won it in fall camp, and that's the great thing about life, man, competition that you can thrive on and have an opportunity to compete, and he and won it," Freeze said. 

Core was one of few surprises on the depth chart when it was released last week. Thursday night we saw why he won the job. His great hands and break-away speed translated into two big touchdowns. Core's my easy choice for Offensive Player of the Game. 

Defensively, I have to give it four guys, which I know is cheating, but together Mike Hilton (8), Senquez Golson (8), Cody Prewitt (7) and Keith Lewis (7) combined for half the team's tackles. Each recorded a tackle for loss, and Golson and Prewitt each had an interception. Their hitting was lights out, too. Literally. The defensive backfield looked good Thursday night.